Picture: Democratic deficit in DC. How did the US become an oligarchs' playground?
Ellen Brown writes:
According to a new study from Princeton University, American democracy no longer exists.
Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of - or even against the will of - the majority of voters.
America’s political system has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where power is wielded by wealthy élites.
“Making the world safe for democracy” was President Woodrow Wilson’s rationale for World War I, and it has been used to justify American military intervention ever since. Can we justify sending troops into other countries to spread a political system we cannot maintain at home?
The Magna Carta, considered the first Bill of Rights in the Western world, established the rights of nobles as against the king. But the doctrine that “all men are created equal” - that all people have “certain inalienable rights,” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” - is an American original. And those rights, supposedly insured by the Bill of Rights, have the right to vote at their core. We have the right to vote but the voters’ collective will no longer prevails.
In Greece, the left-wing populist Syriza Party came out of nowhere to take the presidential election by storm; and in Spain, the populist Podemos Party appears poised to do the same. But for over a century, no third-party candidate has had any chance of winning a US presidential election.
The US has a two-party winner-takes-all system, in which our choice is between two candidates, both of whom necessarily cater to big money. It takes big money just to put on the mass media campaigns required to win an election involving 240 million people of voting age.
In state and local elections, third party candidates have sometimes won. In a modest-sized city, candidates can actually influence the vote by going door to door, passing out flyers and bumper stickers, giving local presentations, and getting on local radio and TV. But in a national election, those efforts are easily trumped by the mass media. And local governments too are beholden to big money.
When governments of any size need to borrow money, the megabanks in a position to supply it can generally dictate the terms.
Even in Greece, where the populist Syriza Party managed to prevail in January, the anti-austerity platform of the new government is being throttled by the moneylenders who have the government in a chokehold.
How did Americans lose their democracy? Were the Founding Fathers remiss in leaving something out of the Constitution? Or have we simply gotten too big to be governed by majority vote?
Democracy’s Rise and Fall in the USA (aka 'US')
The stages of the capture of democracy by big money are traced in a paper called “The Collapse of Democratic Nation States” by theologian and environmentalist Dr. John Cobb. Going back several centuries, he points to the rise of private banking, which usurped the power to create money from governments: The influence of money was greatly enhanced by the emergence of private banking. The banks are able to create money and so to lend amounts far in excess of their actual wealth. This control of money-creation .... has given banks overwhelming control over human affairs. In the United States, Wall Street makes most of the truly important decisions that are directly attributed to Washington.
Today the vast majority of the money supply in Western countries is created by private bankers. That tradition goes back to the 17th century, when the privately-owned Bank of England, the mother of all central banks, negotiated the right to print England’s money after Parliament stripped that power from the Crown. When King William needed money to fight a war, he had to borrow. The government as borrower then became servant of the lender.
In America, however, the colonists defied the Bank of England and issued their own paper scrip; and they thrived. When King George forbade that practice, the colonists rebelled.
They won the Revolution but lost the power to create their own money supply, when they opted for gold rather than paper money as their official means of exchange.
Gold was in limited supply and was controlled by the bankers, who surreptitiously expanded the money supply by issuing multiple banknotes against a limited supply of gold.
This was the system euphemistically called “fractional reserve” banking, meaning that only a fraction of the gold necessary to back the banks’ privately-issued notes was actually held in their vaults.
These notes were lent at interest, putting citizens and the government in debt to bankers who created the notes with a printing press. It was something the government could have done itself debt-free, and the American colonies had done with great success until England went to war to stop them.
President Abraham Lincoln revived the colonists’ paper money system when he issued the Treasury notes called “Greenbacks” that helped the Union win the Civil War. But Lincoln was assassinated, and the Greenback issues were discontinued.
In every American presidential election between 1872 and 1896, there was a third national party running on a platform of financial reform. Typically organized under the auspices of labor or farmer organizations, these were parties of the people rather than the banks. They included the Populist Party, the Greenback and Greenback Labor Parties, the Labor Reform Party, the Antimonopolist Party, and the Union Labor Party. They advocated expanding the national currency to meet the needs of trade, reform of the banking system, and democratic control of the financial system.
The Populist movement of the 1890s represented the last serious challenge to the bankers’ monopoly over the right to create the nation’s money. According to monetary historian Murray Rothbard, politics after the turn of the century became a struggle between two competing banking giants, the Morgans and the Rockefellers. The parties sometimes changed hands, but the puppeteers pulling the strings were always one of these two big-money players.
In All the Presidents’ Bankers, Nomi Prins names six banking giants and associated banking families that have dominated politics for over a century. No popular third party candidates have a real chance of prevailing, because they have to compete with two entrenched parties funded by these massively powerful Wall Street banks.
American democracy succumbs to globalisation
In an earlier era, notes Dr. Cobb, wealthy landowners were able to control democracies by restricting government participation to the propertied class. When those restrictions were removed, big money controlled elections by other means.
First, running for office became expensive, so that those who seek office require wealthy sponsors to whom they are then beholden. Second, the great majority of voters have little independent knowledge of those for whom they vote or of the issues to be dealt with. Their judgments are, accordingly, dependent on what they learn from the mass media. These media, in turn, are controlled by moneyed interests.
Control of the media and financial leverage over elected officials then enabled those other curbs on democracy we know today, including high barriers to ballot placement for third parties and their elimination from presidential debates, vote suppression, registration restrictions, identification laws, voter roll purges, gerrymandering, computer voting, and secrecy in government.
The final blow to democracy, says Dr. Cobb, was “globalization” - an expanding global market that overrides national interests: Today’s global economy is fully transnational. The money power is not much interested in boundaries between states and generally works to reduce their influence on markets and investments .... Thus transnational corporations inherently work to undermine nation states, whether they are democratic or not.
The most glaring example today is the secret twelve-country trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If it goes through, the TPP will dramatically expand the power of multinational corporations to use closed-door tribunals to challenge and supersede domestic laws, including environmental, labor, health and other protections.
What democratic alternatives are there for America?
Some critics ask whether our system of making decisions by a mass popular vote easily manipulated by the paid-for media is the most effective way of governing on behalf of the people. In an interesting Ted Talk, political scientist Eric Li makes a compelling case for the system of “meritocracy” that has been quite successful in China.
In America Beyond Capitalism, Prof. Gar Alperovitz argues that the US is simply too big to operate as a democracy at the national level.
Excluding Canada and Australia, which have large empty landmasses, the United States is larger geographically than all the other advanced industrial countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) combined.
Alperovitz proposes what he calls “The Pluralist Commonwealth”: a system anchored in the reconstruction of communities and the democratization of wealth. It involves plural forms of cooperative and common ownership beginning with decentralization and moving to higher levels of regional and national coordination when necessary.
Alperovitz is co-chair along with James Gustav Speth of an initiative called The Next System Project, which seeks to help open a far-ranging discussion of how to move beyond the failing traditional political-economic systems of both Left and Right.
Prof. Donald Livingston asked in 2002: What value is there in continuing to prop up a union of this monstrous size? .... There are ample resources in the American federal tradition to justify states’ and local communities’ recalling, out of their own sovereignty, powers they have allowed the central government to usurp.
Taking back our sovereign power
If governments are recalling their sovereign powers, they might start with the power to create money, which was usurped by private interests while the people were asleep at the wheel. State and local governments are not allowed to print their own currencies; but they can own banks, and all depository banks create money when they make loans, as the Bank of England recently acknowledged.
The federal government could take back the power to create the national money supply by issuing its own Treasury notes as Abraham Lincoln did. Alternatively, it could issue some very large denomination coins as authorized in the Constitution; or it could nationalize the central bank and use quantitative easing to fund infrastructure, education, job creation, and social services, thus responding to the needs of the people rather than to the needs of the banks.
The freedom to vote carries little weight without economic freedom: the freedom to work and to have food, shelter, education, medical care and a decent retirement.
President Franklin Roosevelt maintained that Americans need an Economic Bill of Rights. If our elected representatives were not beholden to the moneylenders, they might be able both to pass such a bill and to come up with the money to fund it.
Ellen Brown's full text (plus supporting links) is on her Web of Debt blog here (06.04.15).
# # Picture: Alcuin & Flutterby. Entire human knowledge. FAQs.
The picture above and the clickthrough image underneath it are by the artist, Daniel White. More examples of artwork by Daniel White, and by other artists and illustrators, are linked from this page here.
# # Textbox: The time immediately ahead will puzzle many. Benjamin Creme. 08.02.15.
The message in the textbox above was received by Benjamin Creme through esoteric channels on Sunday 8th February 2015. More background here.
# # Picture: Chimp terrorist by Eugenio Merino. False Flag Attacks. Reichstag 9/11.
Three related terms are in common use: False Flag, Black Flag and Black Swan. These can sometimes be confused.
A False Flag Attack is when a national government, or one of its covert agencies, carries out a terrorist attack on its own people and then falsely blames that atrocity on an enemy in order to launch a pre-prepared 'retaliatory' attack on the enemy.
In the initial stages of the newsbreak, the mainstream media are complicit, knowingly or unknowingly, in broadcasting the news of the attack in a tendentious manner.
In some cases, the news management outcome (propaganda) is designed to whip up public outrage so that new war, or war-on-terror, laws can be passed.
These new laws reduce citizen freedoms in the name of 'national security', and further empower establishment agencies to act unilaterally, and often in an unaccountable manner, in order to to confront the perpetrators of the perceived outrage.
Sometimes, complicit media outlets are provided with information about a False Flag Attack before it actually happens. An oft-cited example of this happened during 9/11 in September 2001.
The UK BBC (a news-managed deep state security outlet) reported on live television that WTC Building 7 had collapsed more than 20 minutes before it actually did collapse. While the collapse was being reported to camera by a BBC journalist, the fully intact building could be seen, still standing, in the BBC's live video feed in the background. More here.
Twenty minutes later, the free-fall controlled demolition took place. No planes, or holograms of planes were involved. Analysis suggests that the demolition of WTC7 was a pre-planned New York City insurance job, piggybacking on the main event of the pre-planned Twin Towers demolition.
A persistent feature of False Flag Attacks is that the contractors, agents or crisis actors who cause them often disappear afterwards. So do the key witnesses. If they don't accept silence bribes, they are quietly assassinated by tradecraft means such as poisoning, car crashes, 'suicides' or 'heart attacks'.
Sometimes a government will have prior knowledge of a planned outrage in advance; one that is being prepared by a foreign agency. The government may then deliberately choose to disregard this intelligence, in order to manufacture a political or business benefit from the outcome.
The term Black Flag Attack means the same thing as False Flag Attack.
A Black Swan Event is different. This is something, often quite small, which happens unexpectedly, but gives rise to major long-term consequences as time passes. These consequences could not reasonably have been foreseen, but become clear in hindsight as the downstream analysis matures.
A single happening can be both a False Flag Attack and a Black Swan Event, even though the two terms mean different things.
On the 18th March 2015, Washington's Blog (here) published a list of forty-seven well-documented False Flag Attacks. Some of these were planned in detail, but not carried out; others were executed as planned. In each case, sometime after the event, a government official admitted to the False Flag nature of the atrocity, either orally or in writing.
Here are sixteen examples of False Flag Attacks taken from that original list of forty-seven:
(1) 1931: Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is now known as the 'Mukden Incident' or the 'Manchurian Incident'. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found that: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasions admitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the incident was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army ….” More here and here.
(2) 1939: A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials (1945-49) that under orders from the chief of the Gestapo, he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources. These attacks were blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. More here.
(4) 1939: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila. The attack was blamed on Finland and used as a basis for launching the 'Winter War' against Finland. Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russia had been the aggressor. More here.
(5) 1940: The Russian Parliament, current Russian President Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev all admit that Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians at Katyn. This was then falsely blamed on the Nazis. More here.
(14) 1962: As admitted by the US government, recently declassified documents show that the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up American airplanes and to commit terrorist acts on American soil. This would then be blamed on the Cubans, in order to justify an invasion of Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro. In the end the invasion was never launched. More here and here.
(17) 1964: The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, manipulating data to make it look as though North Vietnamese boats fired on a US ship. This was done to create a false justification for the Vietnam War. More here and here.
(20) 1978: The German government admitted that the German secret service detonated a bomb in the outer wall of a prison and planted escape tools on a prisoner (a member of the Red Army Faction) who the agency wished to frame for the bombing. More here and here.
(21) 1984: A Mossad agent admits that his agency planted a radio transmitter in Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, Libya. This broadcast fake terrorist transmissions recorded by Mossad, in order to frame Gaddaffi as a terrorist supporter. US President Ronald Reagan ordered the bombing of the compound immediately afterwards. More in this book here.
(27) 1999: Senior Russian military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings. The attacks were falsely blamed on the Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya. More here and here.
(28) 2002: According to the US Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military murdered American teachers in Papua New Guinea.The murders were blamed on a Papuan separatist group in order to get the US to list the group as a terrorist organisation. More here.
(31) 2001: Senior police officials in Genoa, Italy, admitted that at the G8 summit in Genoa they planted two Molotov cocktails, and faked the stabbing of a police officer, in order to justify a violent crackdown on the protesters. More here.
(32) 2001: The US falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks (as shown in a memo from the Defense Secretary). This was one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence was 'overwhelming' that al-Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s régime, and that he (Cheney) 'probably' had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top US government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched as an oil grab, not as a retaliation for 9/11, or as an adventure in search of weapons of mass destruction. Despite previous lone wolf claims, many US government officials now say that 9/11 was a state-sponsored terrorist act, but Iraq was not the state involved. The US falsely blamed 9/11 on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it. More here and here.
(34) 2003: Police outside a 2003 European Union summit in Greece were filmed planting Molotov cocktails on a peaceful protester. More here.
(37) 2005: Undercover Israeli soldiers admit to having thrown stones at other Israeli soldiers so that they could blame it on Palestinians. This was used as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians. More here.
(43) 2013: High-level American sources admit that the Turkish government (a fellow NATO member) carried out chemical weapons attacks inside Syria which were blamed on the Syrian government. A high-ranking Turkish government official admitted on tape that there were plans to carry out attacks and blame them on Syria. More here.
(44) 2014: The Ukrainian security chief admits that the sniper attacks which started the coup in Kyiv were carried out in order to frame others. Ukrainian officials admit that their snipers fired on both sides, so as to create maximum chaos. More here and here.
The full Washington's Blog text is here (18.03.15). It includes links out to many other pages.
# # # Picture: Is God an idealist? Yoshi by Mark Ryden.
Picture: Into your eyes. Artwork by Linda Bergkvist.
The picture above and the clickthrough image underneath it are by the Swedish artist, Linda Bergkvist. More examples of artwork by Linda Bergkvist, and other artists and illustrators, are linked from this page here.
It seems that the ubiquitous investment bank has also put the squeeze on California and its school districts.
Not that Goldman was alone in this; but the unscrupulous practices of the bank once called the undisputed king of the municipal bond business epitomise the culture of greed that has ensnared students and future generations in unrepayable debt.
In 2008, after collecting millions of dollars in fees to help California sell its bonds, Goldman urged its bigger clients to place investment bets against those bonds, in order to profit from a financial crisis that was sparked in the first place by irresponsible Wall Street speculation.
Alarmed California officials warned that these short sales would jeopardize the state’s bond rating and drive up interest rates. But that result also served Goldman, which had sold credit default swaps on the bonds, since the price of the swaps rose along with the risk of default.
The controversial bonds came under increased scrutiny in August 2012, following a report that San Diego County’s Poway Unified would have to pay $982 million for a $105 million CAB it issued. Goldman Sachs made $1.6 million on a single capital appreciation deal with the San Diego Unified School District.
In a September 2013 op-ed in SFGate.com called "School Bonds Are a Wall Street Scam," attorney Nanci Nishimura wrote: ".... AB1388, signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, [gave] banks the green light to lure California school boards into issuing bonds to raise quick money to build schools."
"Unlike conventional bonds that have to be paid off on a regular basis, the bonds approved in AB1388 relaxed regulatory safeguards and allowed them to be paid back 25 to 40 years in the future. The problem is that from the time the bonds are issued until payment is due, interest accrues and compounds at exorbitant rates, requiring a balloon payment in the millions of dollars ...."
"Wall Street exploited the school boards’ lack of business acumen and proposed the bonds as blank checks written against taxpayers’ pocketbooks. One school administrator described a Wall Street meeting to discuss the system as like 'swimming with the big sharks'."
"Wall Street has preyed on these school boards because of the millions of dollars in commissions. Banks, financial advisers and credit rating firms have billed California public entities almost $400 million since 2007. [State Treasurer] Lockyer described this as “part of the ‘new’ Wall Street,” which “has done this kind of thing on the private investor side for years, then the housing market, and now its public entities."
Gullible school districts agreed to these payday-like loans because they needed the facilities, the voters would not agree to higher taxes, and state educational funding was exhausted.
School districts wound up sporting shiny new gymnasiums and auditoriums, while they were cutting back on teachers and increasing classroom sizes. (AB1388 covers only long-term capital improvements, not daily operating expenses.)
The folly of the bonds was reminiscent of those boondoggles pushed on Third World countries by the World Bank and IMF, trapping them under a mountain of debt that continued to compound decades later.
Among the hundreds of California school districts signing up for CABs were fifteen in Orange County. The Anaheim-based Savanna School District took on the costliest of these bonds, issuing $239,721 in CABs in 2009 for which it will have to repay $3.6 million by the final maturity date in 2034. That works out to $15 for every $1 borrowed.
Santa Ana Unified issued $34.8 million in CABs in 2011. It will have to repay $305.5 million by the maturity date in 2047, or $9.76 for every dollar borrowed.
Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified issued $22.1 million in capital appreciation bonds in 2011. It will have to repay $281 million by the maturity date in 2049, or $12.73 for every dollar borrowed.
Capital investments were once funded with property taxes, particularly those paid by wealthy homeowners and corporations. But California’s property tax receipts were slashed by Proposition 13 and the housing crisis, forcing school costs to be borne by middle-class households and the students themselves.
The same kind of funding shift has occurred in college education nationally. Tuition at public universities and colleges was at one time free. But in successive economic downturns, states have made up for shortfalls in educational budgets by raising tuition fees.
By 2012, tuition was covering 44% of the operating expenses of public higher education. According to a March 2014 report by Demos, 7 out of 10 college seniors now borrow, and their average debt on graduation is over $29,000. The result nationally is a student debt that has grown to $1.5 trillion.
One state escaped this nonsense: North Dakota. According to Demos, per-student funding has been slashed since 2008 in every state but North Dakota. What is so different about that state?
One thing that does single the state out is that North Dakota alone has its own depository bank. The state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND) was making 1% loans to school districts even in December 2014, when global oil prices had dropped by half.
How can the BND afford to make these very low interest loans and still turn a profit? The answer is that its costs are very low. It has no exorbitantly-paid executives; pays no bonuses, fees, or commissions; pays no dividends to private shareholders; and has low borrowing costs.
It does not need to advertise for depositors (it has a captive deposit base in the state itself) or for borrowers (it is a wholesale bank that partners with local banks, which find the borrowers). The BND also has no losses from derivative trades gone wrong. It engages in old-fashioned conservative banking and does not speculate in derivatives.
Unlike the vampire squids of Wall Street, the Bank of North Dakota is not motivated to maximize its bottom line in a predatory way. Its mandate is simply to serve the public interest.
North Dakota currently has a population of about 740,000, or the size of Santa Ana and Anaheim combined. If a coalition of several such cities were to form a municipally-owned bank, they too could have their own low-cost capital funding mechanism, allowing them to escape the budget-sucking tentacles of Wall Street’s vampire squids.
Picture: Putin. Merkel. Hollande. Poroshenko. 12th Feb 2015. Minsk Agreements.
Picture: White Spiritual Boy Account HSBC 2010 with Queen Elizabeth signature
Picture: Henry Kissinger with handcuffs. Capitol Hill, DC. 29th Jan 2015.
Picture: Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful
To the Youth in Europe and North America,
The recent events in France, and similar ones in some other Western countries, have convinced me to talk to you directly about them. I am addressing you, not because I overlook your parents, but because the future of your nations will be in your hands, and also because I find that the sense of quest for truth in your hearts is more vigorous and attentive.
I do not address your politicians and statesmen in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.
(1) The negative image of Islam in the West
I would like to talk to you about Islam; particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred, and its utilization, has unfortunately had a long record in the political history of the West.
I don’t want to deal here with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.
The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period, and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants, or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.
By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness of an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?
(2) The West’s Islamophobic agenda
You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity? Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and to remain latent? Which concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the superpowers, and which interests are safeguarded in the shadows of a distorted image of Islam? Hence, my first request is that you should take time to study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.
(3) The Holy Qur’an
My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, please try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about, and what they want you to keep away from.
I don’t insist that you accept my reading, or any other reading, of Islam. What I want to say is don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.
Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims? Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?
Have you ever asked yourself how, and on the basis of which values, Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world, and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?
(4) Impartial judgment
I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communications media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.
Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over those gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can serve to raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.
Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam, so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility towards the truth, future generations will write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and less resentment.
AB note: The source of the original English text of Seyyed Ali Khamenei's message is here (21.01.15). I have slightly edited the punctuation and sentence construction of that text on the screen above, to enhance its fluency for Anglophone readers. The emphases are mine. # # #Picture: The Divine Mercy. Stockbridge MA, USA. Started weeping in 2010.
Picture: Unwanted Zionist in Paris? Netanyahu. Charlie Hebdo march. Jan 2015.
Picture: Charlie Hebdo massacre. Paris. Wednesday 7th January 2015.
Picture: Charlie Hebdo massacre. Paris. Wednesday 7th January 2015.
Picture: Charlie Hebdo massacre. Paris. Wednesday 7th January 2015.
Picture: Charlie Hebdo massacre. Paris. Wednesday 7th January 2015.
Picture: Charlie Hebdo massacre. Paris. Wednesday 7th January 2015.
Picture: Feeling sucked out? The Vampire as AntiChrist.
Picture: Democracy in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah. Baby you can drive my car.
Picture: Vladimir Putin. Oil. Gas. The cards are on the table.
Picture: GCHQ. Is the UK Official Secrets Act unfit for purpose?
GCHQ whistleblower, Katherine Gun, suggests that a public interest defence should be introduced into the UK Official Secrets Act to protect whistleblowers, and to prevent governments from concealing politically inexpedient information from right-to-know stakeholders such the general public.
Gun, a GCHQ translator, was responsible for leaking details of an NSA-initiated operation to bug the offices of countries on the UN security council, in advance of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq by US-led G7 forces.
The deep state prosecution against Gun was dropped (she says) because she was planning to argue that what she did was out of necessity and to seek sensitive documents. "I was enraged by the subterfuge and potential blackmail the NSA wanted us to carry out. I went public and it was published in The Observer (London).”
Speaking alongside Katherine Gun at a recent ExposeFacts conference was Coleen Rowley, an FBI lawyer who exposed many of the agency’s intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks in the US. She said that the lessons learned afterwards demonstrated that the atrocity might have been stopped completely if intelligence had been shared effectively between agencies.
“We are told that national secrecy is protecting us. It’s precisely the opposite. If we had shared information we could have prevented 9/11.”
Norman Solomon, of ExposeFacts, commented that it is the official position of the Obama administration that whistleblowing is likely to be worse than intelligence penetration by a foreign power. "This is a war on journalism and a war on whistleblowing.”
Another whistleblower, Kirk Wiebe, who worked at the US NSA for thirty-six years, said that when he started working with the agency, care was taken to ensure that intercepted information on innocent people was deleted after thirty days. But now that mass surveillance is going on, the NSA is looking at everything all the time.
“It’s the most insidious threat to global democracy. No nation has been able to do this before. They want to stick it in a database so that if they think you were doing something suspicious, they can go back and look at it. It’s a dark cloud hanging over each of us.”
A British Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The UK firmly supports the right to freedom of expression. We take great care to balance individual rights with our duty to safeguard the public and the UK’s national security. If sensitive information about the work of UK authorities to maintain national security is made publicly available, or provided to those without authorised access, it could help terrorists to threaten British citizens or impede the efforts of the police and intelligence agencies to keep us safe, and ultimately threaten lives. This is about ensuring that, day in day out, they can do their job of protecting our country and our people.”
But, in actuality, are the British Cabinet Office and its invisible & unaccountable deep state minders the real terrorists? And is the existence of "bad terrorists", such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS, a direct product of the anti-Islamic foreign policies of the US and the UK, orchestrated by their corporation controllers in Wall Street and the City of London?
The original text of Owen Bowcott's piece in The Guardian (London) can be found here (21.11.14). # # # #
Picture: Anonymous. We are more than you. We are better than you.
Picture: Anonymous. Hungary. Legy Te A Valtozas. Be the change.
Picture: Anonymous. NSA Google.
Picture: Anonymous. You can't arrest an idea. Legalize the Constitution.
Picture: Vladimir Putin. Valdai Club, Sochi, Russia. Friday 24th October 2014.
On Friday 24th October 2014, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, took part in the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia. The meeting’s theme was The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.
Altogether, 108 experts, historians and political analysts from 25 countries took part, including 62 non-Russian participants. The plenary meeting summed up the club’s work over the previous three days, which concentrated on analysing the factors eroding the current system of institutions and norms of international law.
The full text of Vladimir Putin's address follows:
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the eleventh meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.
It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.
I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club’s influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the ‘Valdai spirit’ will remain - this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.
Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.
We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.
Today’s discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.
Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion’s participants have already said. It’s practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants’ views on some points and differ on others.
As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order - and what we are seeing today are events on this scale - have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.
The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.
Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.
The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world’s current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.
It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.
What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.
But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.
The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.
Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.
We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.
In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group’s ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.
The very notion of ‘national sovereignty’ became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world’s sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime’s legitimacy.
We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.
The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of ‘supra-legal’ legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient régimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that ‘big brother’ is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.
Let’s ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?
Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.
A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.
Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.
They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region’s countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.
During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.
Only the current Egyptian leadership’s determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?
As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.
Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state’s institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don’t forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?
What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels’ ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states’ affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.
We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.
Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.
Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR’s old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world’s biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.
Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: “We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.” In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US’] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.
But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world’s diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one’s own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.
Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as “the homeland is in danger”, “the free world is under threat”, and “democracy is in jeopardy”? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.
Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States’ prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.
The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries’ or their regional groups’ desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.
We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone’s door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.
Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.
Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe - such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions - and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.
Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.
Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today’s demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.
Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.
There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this ‘soft power’ resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.
At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.
So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules – even if they may be strict and inconvenient – but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.
Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world’s major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states’ geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.
Ukraine, which I’m sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defence system.
Colleagues, friends, I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.
Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament - but only serious discussions without any double standards.
What do I mean? Today, many types of high-precision weaponry are already close to mass-destruction weapons in terms of their capabilities, and in the event of full renunciation of nuclear weapons or radical reduction of nuclear potential, nations that are leaders in creating and producing high-precision systems will have a clear military advantage. Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify.
The next obvious threat is the further escalation of ethnic, religious, and social conflicts. Such conflicts are dangerous not only as such, but also because they create zones of anarchy, lawlessness, and chaos around them, places that are comfortable for terrorists and criminals, where piracy, human trafficking, and drug trafficking flourish.
Incidentally, at the time, our colleagues tried to somehow manage these processes, use regional conflicts and design ‘colour revolutions’ to suit their interests, but the genie escaped the bottle. It looks like the controlled chaos theory fathers themselves do not know what to do with it; there is disarray in their ranks.
We closely follow the discussions by both the ruling élite and the expert community. It is enough to look at the headlines of the Western press over the last year. The same people are called fighters for democracy, and then Islamists; first they write about revolutions and then call them riots and upheavals. The result is obvious: the further expansion of global chaos.
Colleagues, given the global situation, it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things. This is incredibly important and necessary; this is much better than going back to our own corners. The more we all face common problems, the more we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak. And the logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management. Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.
Practical experience shows that joint answers to challenges are not always a panacea; and we need to understand this. Moreover, in most cases, they are hard to reach; it is not easy to overcome the differences in national interests, the subjectivity of different approaches, particularly when it comes to nations with different cultural and historical traditions. But nevertheless, we have examples when, having common goals and acting based on the same criteria, together we achieved real success.
Let me remind you about solving the problem of chemical weapons in Syria, and the substantive dialogue on the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as our work on North Korean issues, which also has some positive results. Why can’t we use this experience in the future to solve local and global challenges?
What could be the legal, political, and economic basis for a new world order that would allow for stability and security, while encouraging healthy competition, not allowing the formation of new monopolies that hinder development? It is unlikely that someone could provide absolutely exhaustive, ready-made solutions right now. We will need extensive work with participation by a wide range of governments, global businesses, civil society, and such expert platforms as ours.
However, it is obvious that success and real results are only possible if key participants in international affairs can agree on harmonising basic interests, on reasonable self-restraint, and set the example of positive and responsible leadership. We must clearly identify where unilateral actions end and we need to apply multilateral mechanisms, and as part of improving the effectiveness of international law, we must resolve the dilemma between the actions by international community to ensure security and human rights and the principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state.
Those very collisions increasingly lead to arbitrary external interference in complex internal processes, and time and again, they provoke dangerous conflicts between leading global players. The issue of maintaining sovereignty becomes almost paramount in maintaining and strengthening global stability.
Clearly, discussing the criteria for the use of external force is extremely difficult; it is practically impossible to separate it from the interests of particular nations. However, it is far more dangerous when there are no agreements that are clear to everyone, when no clear conditions are set for necessary and legal interference.
I will add that international relations must be based on international law, which itself should rest on moral principles such as justice, equality and truth. Perhaps most important is respect for one’s partners and their interests. This is an obvious formula, but simply following it could radically change the global situation.
I am certain that if there is a will, we can restore the effectiveness of the international and regional institutions system. We do not even need to build anything anew, from the scratch; this is not a “greenfield,” especially since the institutions created after World War II are quite universal and can be given modern substance, adequate to manage the current situation.
This is true of improving the work of the UN, whose central role is irreplaceable, as well as the OSCE, which, over the course of 40 years, has proven to be a necessary mechanism for ensuring security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. I must say that even now, in trying to resolve the crisis in southeast Ukraine, the OSCE is playing a very positive role.
In light of the fundamental changes in the international environment, the increase in uncontrollability and various threats, we need a new global consensus of responsible forces. It’s not about some local deals or a division of spheres of influence in the spirit of classic diplomacy, or somebody’s complete global domination. I think that we need a new version of interdependence. We should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, this is a good instrument for harmonising positions.
This is particularly relevant given the strengthening and growth of certain regions on the planet, which process objectively requires institutionalisation of such new poles, creating powerful regional organisations and developing rules for their interaction. Cooperation between these centres would seriously add to the stability of global security, policy and economy. But in order to establish such a dialogue, we need to proceed from the assumption that all regional centres and integration projects forming around them need to have equal rights to development, so that they can complement each other and nobody can force them into conflict or opposition artificially. Such destructive actions would break down ties between states, and the states themselves would be subjected to extreme hardship, or perhaps even total destruction.
I would like to remind you of the last year’s events. We have told our American and European partners that hasty backstage decisions, for example, on Ukraine’s association with the EU, are fraught with serious risks to the economy. We didn’t even say anything about politics; we spoke only about the economy, saying that such steps, made without any prior arrangements, touch on the interests of many other nations, including Russia as Ukraine’s main trade partner, and that a wide discussion of the issues is necessary. Incidentally, in this regard, I will remind you that, for example, the talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO lasted 19 years. This was very difficult work, and a certain consensus was reached.
Why am I bringing this up? Because in implementing Ukraine’s association project, our partners would come to us with their goods and services through the back gate, so to speak, and we did not agree to this, nobody asked us about this. We had discussions on all topics related to Ukraine’s association with the EU, persistent discussions, but I want to stress that this was done in an entirely civilised manner, indicating possible problems, showing the obvious reasoning and arguments. Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but – I stress – civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.
Why? When I ask my colleagues why, they no longer have an answer; nobody says anything. That’s it. Everyone’s at a loss, saying it just turned out that way. Those actions should not have been encouraged – it wouldn’t have worked. After all (I already spoke about this), former Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed everything, agreed with everything. Why do it? What was the point? What is this, a civilised way of solving problems? Apparently, those who constantly throw together new ‘colour revolutions’ consider themselves ‘brilliant artists’ and simply cannot stop.
I am certain that the work of integrated associations, the cooperation of regional structures, should be built on a transparent, clear basis; the Eurasian Economic Union’s formation process is a good example of such transparency. The states that are parties to this project informed their partners of their plans in advance, specifying the parameters of our association, the principles of its work, which fully correspond with the World Trade Organisation rules.
I will add that we would also have welcomed the start of a concrete dialogue between the Eurasian and European Union. Incidentally, they have almost completely refused us this as well, and it is also unclear why – what is so scary about it?
And, of course, with such joint work, we would think that we need to engage in dialogue (I spoke about this many times and heard agreement from many of our western partners, at least in Europe) on the need to create a common space for economic and humanitarian cooperation stretching all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Colleagues, Russia made its choice. Our priorities are further improving our democratic and open economy institutions, accelerated internal development, taking into account all the positive modern trends in the world, and consolidating society based on traditional values and patriotism.
We have an integration-oriented, positive, peaceful agenda; we are working actively with our colleagues in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS and other partners. This agenda is aimed at developing ties between governments, not dissociating. We are not planning to cobble together any blocs or get involved in an exchange of blows.
The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world – I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.
We are well aware that the world has entered an era of changes and global transformations, when we all need a particular degree of caution, the ability to avoid thoughtless steps. In the years after the Cold War, participants in global politics lost these qualities somewhat. Now, we need to remember them. Otherwise, hopes for a peaceful, stable development will be a dangerous illusion, while today’s turmoil will simply serve as a prelude to the collapse of world order.
Yes, of course, I have already said that building a more stable world order is a difficult task. We are talking about long and hard work. We were able to develop rules for interaction after World War II, and we were able to reach an agreement in Helsinki in the 1970s. Our common duty is to resolve this fundamental challenge at this new stage of development.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Vladimir Putin's speech at the Valdai Club was followed by a Q&A which lasted three hours. Here is an edited summary of some of the points made:
Putin: What happened in Crimea? First, there was this anti-state overthrow in Kiev. Whatever anyone may say, I find this obvious - there was an armed seizure of power. In Crimea, people held a referendum. The decision to hold the referendum was made by the legitimate authority of Crimea - its Parliament, elected a few years ago under Ukrainian law prior to all these grave events. This legitimate body of authority declared a referendum, and then based on its results, they adopted a declaration of independence, just as Kosovo did, and turned to the Russian Federation with a request to accept Crimea into the Russian state.
Q: The peaceful process between the Palestinians and Israelis has completely collapsed. The United States never let the quartet work properly. At the same time, the growth of illegal Israeli settlements on the occupied territories renders impossible the creation of a Palestinian state. We have recently witnessed a very severe attack on the Gaza Strip. What is Russia’s attitude to this tense situation in the Middle East? And what do you think of the developments in Syria?
A (Putin): Regarding Palestine and the Israeli conflict. It is easy for me to speak about this because, first, I have to say and I believe everyone can see that our relations with Israel have transformed seriously in the past decade. I am referring to the fact that a large number of people from the former Soviet Union live in Israel and we cannot remain indifferent to their fate. At the same time, we have traditional relations with the Arab world, specifically with Palestine. Moreover, the Soviet Union, and Russia is its legal successor, has recognised Palestinian statehood. We are not changing anything here.
(Regarding the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land): We share the views of the main participants in international relations. We consider this a mistake. I have already said this to our Israeli partners. I believe this is an obstacle to normal relations and I strongly expect that the practice itself will be stopped and the entire process of a peaceful settlement will return to its legal course based on agreement.
We proceed from the fact that that Middle East conflict is one of the primary causes of destabilisation not only in the region, but also in the world at large. Humiliation of any people living in the area, or anywhere else in the world is clearly a source of destabilisation and should be done away with. Naturally, this should be done using such means and measures that would be acceptable for all the participants in the process and for all those living in the area.
Q: If I may I would like to go back to the issue of Crimea, because it is of key importance for both the East and the West. I would like to ask you to give us your picture of the events that lead to it, specifically why you made this decision.
A (Putin): On February 21, Viktor Yanukovych signed the well-known documents with the opposition. Foreign ministers of three European countries signed their names under this agreement as guarantors of its implementation.
In the evening of February 21, President Obama called me and we discussed these issues and how we would assist in the implementation of these agreements. Russia undertook certain obligations. I heard that my American colleague was also ready to undertake some obligations. This was the evening of the 21st. On the same day, President Yanukovych called me to say he signed the agreement, the situation had stabilized and he was going to a conference in Kharkov. I will not conceal the fact that I expressed my concern: how was it possible to leave the capital in this situation. He replied that he found it possible because there was the document signed with the opposition and guaranteed by foreign ministers of European countries.
I will tell you more, I told him I was not sure everything would be fine, but it was for him to decide. He was the president, he knew the situation, and he knew better what to do. “In any case, I do not think you should withdraw the law enforcement forces from Kiev,” I told him. He said he understood. Then he left and gave orders to withdraw all the law enforcement troops from Kiev. Nice move, of course.
We all know what happened in Kiev. On the following day, despite all our telephone conversations, despite the signatures of the foreign ministers, as soon as Yanukovych left Kiev his administration was taken over by force along with the government building. On the same day, they shot at the cortege of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, wounding one of his security guards.
Yanukovych called me and said he would like us to meet to talk it over. I agreed. Eventually we agreed to meet in Rostov because it was closer and he did not want to go too far. I was ready to fly to Rostov. However, it turned out he could not go even there. They were beginning to use force against him already, holding him at gunpoint. They were not quite sure where to go.
I will not conceal it; we helped him move to Crimea, where he stayed for a few days. That was when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. However, the situation in Kiev was developing very rapidly and violently, we know what happened, though the broad public may not know - people were killed, they were burned alive there. They came into the office of the Party of Regions, seized the technical workers and killed them, burned them alive in the basement. Under those circumstances, there was no way he could return to Kiev. Everybody forgot about the agreements with the opposition signed by foreign ministers and about our telephone conversations. Yes, I will tell you frankly that he asked us to help him get Russia, which we did. That was all.
Seeing these developments, people in Crimea almost immediately took to arms and asked us for help in arranging the events they intended to hold. I will be frank; we used our Armed Forces to block Ukrainian units stationed in Crimea, but not to force anyone to take part in the elections. This is impossible, you are all grown people, and you understand it. How could we do it? Lead people to polling stations at gunpoint?
People went to vote as if it were a celebration, everybody knows this, and they all voted, even the Crimean Tatars. There were fewer Crimean Tatars, but the overall vote was high. While the turnout in Crimea in general was about 96 or 94 percent, a smaller number of Crimean Tatars showed up. However 97 percent of them voted ‘yes’. Why? Because those who did not want it did not come to the polling stations, and those who did voted ‘yes’.
Q: Mr President, as I heard, one of your international colleagues said that you do not consider Ukraine a real country. You see Ukraine as a country formed out of what were pieces of other countries. Could you confirm this view? Is this your view? Do you think that Ukraine has the right to exist as a sovereign and independent state, and is it indeed a real country? Is Novorossiya - this region that has been spoken about of late - part of this country? If this is the case, why do the media, including reporters from my own newspaper, say that soldiers wearing Russian uniforms are in Novorossiya at this moment? I would like to take this opportunity to say that I trust the authenticity of the facts our reporter has provided, even though I know they came under inaccurate criticism from the Russian authorities today.
A (Putin): First of all, regarding my view of Ukraine’s sovereignty: I have never disputed that Ukraine is a modern, full-fledged, sovereign, European country. But it is another matter that the historical process that saw Ukraine take shape in its present borders was quite a complex one.
Perhaps you are not aware that in 1922, part of the land that you just named, land that historically always bore the name of Novorossiya .… Why this name? This was because there was essentially a single region with its centre at Novorossiisk, and that was how it came to be called Novorossiya. This land included Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Nikolayev, Kherson and Odessa Region. In 1921-22, when the Soviet Union was formed, this territory was transferred from Russia to Ukraine.
The communists had a simple logic: their goal was to increase the share of proletariat in Ukraine so as to ensure they had more support in various political processes, because in the communists’ view, the peasantry was a petty bourgeois group that was hostile to their aims, and so they needed to create a bigger proletariat. That is my first point.
Second, what also happened I think is that during the Civil War, nationalist groups in Ukraine tried to seize these regions but didn’t succeed, and the Bolsheviks told their supporters in Ukraine: Look what you can show the Ukrainian people. The nationalists didn’t manage to get hold of this territory, but you have succeeded. But it was all one country at the time and so this was not considered any great loss for Russia when it was all part of the same country anyway.
In 1954, Khrushchev, who liked to bang his shoe at the UN, decided for some reason to transfer Crimea to Ukraine. This violated even the Soviet Union’s own laws. Let me explain what I mean. Under Soviet law at that moment, territory could be transferred from one constituent republic to another only with the approval of the Supreme Soviets in each of the republics concerned. This was not done. Instead, the Presidiums of the Russian and Ukrainian Supreme Soviets rubber-stamped the decision to go ahead, but only the presidiums, not the parliaments themselves. This was a flagrant violation of the laws in force at the time.
In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Crimea pressed for and proclaimed autonomy with wide-ranging powers. Unfortunately, the authorities in Kiev then started abolishing these autonomous powers and essentially reduced them to zero, centralising all the political, economic and financial processes. The same goes for southeast Ukraine as well.
As for western Ukraine, perhaps you are not aware that Ukraine gained territory following World War II? Some territory was transferred from Poland and some from Hungary, I think. What was Lvov if not a Polish city? Are you not aware of these facts? Why do you ask me this question? Poland was compensated through the territory it gained from Germany when the Germans were driven out of a number of eastern regions. If you ask around, you will see that there are whole associations of these expelled Germans.
I cannot judge here and now whether this was right or wrong, but this is what happened. In this respect it is difficult not to recognise that Ukraine is a complex, multi-component state formation. This is simply the way historical developments went. The people of Crimea feared for their and their children’s future following a coup d’etat carried out with the support of our Western partners and decided to make use of the right to self-determination enshrined in international law. However, this does not in any way mean that we do not respect Ukraine’s sovereignty. We do respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and will continue to do so in the future. I hope very much for normalisation and development of Russian-Ukrainian relations and I think this is an inevitable process.
Q (from US speaker): Several weeks back, Mr Obama spoke of three challenges: Ebola, the Islamic State, and Russia, the Russian Federation, because of the events in Ukraine. This statement greatly angered the Russian leaders. And I must say that what I heard from you today was not talk of three challenges, but of a single global problem that you outlined – the United States.
Some in the United States will welcome what you said because these are not statements about ‘soft power’, perhaps, not about a Cold War, but about a ‘hot war’ in the global system created by the United States. Others will be surprised at your words and your tone, because many in the United States do not think that it is a good idea to completely destroy our ties, and I am one of these people.
I do not think that foreign policy should be based on not taking Russia’s interests into account, but I think that America’s interests need to be respected too. To be honest, I do not recognise the country that you described in your statements.
My question is, who is the ‘they’ that you refer to in your statements? Is it President Obama, is it the US élite, which sets the foreign policy, or is it the American people? What did you describe as the ‘United States’ genetic code in the post-war world’? Did you say that you cannot work with the United States in general or with their closest allies?
A (Putin): First of all, I did not say that we perceive the United States as a threat. President Obama, as you said, views Russia as a threat. I do not think that the United States is a threat to us. I think that, to use a hackneyed term, the ruling establishment’s policies are misguided. I believe that these policies are not in our interests and undermine trust in the United States, and in this sense they damage the United States’ own interests by eroding confidence in the country as a global economic and political leader.
There are plenty of things we can pass over in silence. But I already said, and Dominique mentioned the same thing too, that unilateral action followed by a search for allies and attempts to put together a coalition after everything has already been done is not the way to reach agreement. This kind of unilateral action has become frequent in US policy today and it leads to crises. I already spoke about this.
President Obama spoke about the Islamic State as one of the threats. But who helped to arm the people who were fighting Assad in Syria? Who created a favourable political and informational climate for them? Who pushed for arms supplies? Are you really not aware of who is fighting there? It is mostly mercenaries fighting there. Are you not aware that they get paid to fight? And they go wherever they get paid more.
So they get arms and they get paid for fighting. I have heard how much they get paid. Once they’re armed and paid for their services, you can’t just undo all that. Then they hear that they can get more money elsewhere, and so they go there, and then they capture oil fields in Iraq and Syria say, start producing oil, and others buy this oil, transport it and sell it.
Why are sanctions not imposed on those engaged in such activities? Doesn’t the United States know who is responsible? Isn’t it their own allies who are doing this? Don’t they have the power and opportunity to influence their allies or do they not want to do so? But then why are they bombing the Islamic State?
They started producing oil there and were able to pay more, and some of the rebels fighting for the so-called ‘civilised opposition’ rushed off to join the Islamic State, because they pay better.
I think this is a very short-sighted and incompetent policy that has no basis in reality. We heard that we need to support the civilised democratic opposition in Syria, and so they got support, got arms. And the next day half the rebels went off and joined the Islamic State. Was it so hard to foresee this possibility a bit earlier? We are opposed to this kind of US policy. We believe it is misguided and harmful to everyone, including to you.
As for the question of taking our interests into account, we would love to see people like you in charge at the State Department. Perhaps this would do something to help turn the situation around. If this does not happen, I ask you to get the message across to our partners, the US President, Secretary of State and other officials, that we do not want or seek any confrontation.
You think that with some respect for our interests many problems could be resolved. But this needs to be about action, not just words. Respecting others’ interests means, as I said in my opening remarks, that you cannot just put the squeeze on others by using your exceptional economic or military clout.
It is no good thing that they are fighting in Iraq, and Libya ended up in such a state that your ambassador there was killed. Are we to blame for these things? The [UN] Security Council took the decision at one point to declare a no-fly zone in Libya so that Gaddafi’s aircraft would not be able to bomb the rebels. I do not think this was the wisest decision, but be that as it may.
But what happened in the end? The United States started carrying out air strikes, including against targets on the ground. This was a gross violation of the UN Security Council resolution and essentially an act of aggression with no resolution to support it. Were we to blame for this? You did this with your own hands. And what was the result? Your ambassador was killed. Who is to blame? You can only blame yourselves. Was it a good thing for the United States that an ambassador was killed? It was a terrible thing, a terrible tragedy.
But you (the US) should not look for scapegoats if you are the ones who made the mistakes. On the contrary, you need to overcome the desire to always dominate and act on your imperial ambitions. You need to stop poisoning the minds of millions of people with the idea that US policy can only be a policy of imperial ambitions.
We will never forget how Russia helped the United States to obtain independence, and we will never forget our cooperation and alliance during World War I and World War II. I think that the American and Russian peoples have many deep strategic interests in common, and it is on these mutual interests that we need to build our foundations.
Q (Chinese speaker): My question is about Russia’s modernisation. You emphasised the notion of conservatism several times. I think this is a key concept for Russia’s modernisation. You know very well that Europe, the United States and East Asia also all have their concepts of conservatism. Could you explain this concept as you see it? How does it differ from other concepts of conservatism? Will it be a dominant concept in Russia’s modernisation or will it play more of a temporary role for a certain period?
A (Putin): First of all, we did not come up with the concept of conservatism. The conservatism that I am talking about is little different to the traditional interpretation of this concept and approach. But this does not in any way mean that conservatism is about some kind of self-isolation and reluctance to develop. Healthy conservatism is about using the best of all that is new and promising for progressive development.
If we want to survive, we need to support the basic pillars upon which we have built our societies over the centuries. These basic pillars include looking after mothers and children, preserving and cherishing our own history and achievements, and looking after our traditions and our traditional faiths. Russia has four traditional religions recognised by law and is a very diverse country.
We therefore need to create a solid base out of everything that helps us to shape our identity as the multi-ethnic Russian nation, the multi-ethnic Russian community, while at the same time remaining open to everything new and effective in the world, everything that can contribute to growth.
Q: I would also like to raise the question of modernisation and look at it from the economic angle. I think we would all agree that Russia’s future place in the world and place as a great power will depend greatly on its economic development. May I suggest that the greatest failure of your three presidential terms since 200, or of the only very limited success in diversifying Russia’s economy, is that Russia is still highly dependent on oil prices, which remain very volatile and inclined to a downward trend?
I want to ask what you can do during your third term to increase diversification, get business running better, stop the flight of Russian capital that gets spent on buying real estate in London and encourage investment in Russia instead?
A (Putin): Let me note first of all that we were in third place for attracting direct foreign investment last year, after the United States and China. The sanctions and the games underway with various ratings will probably change this situation. But let me tell you that development continues and there is no stopping it. If I recall correctly, we attracted around $93 billion last year.
What should we do to boost Russia’s attractiveness? What steps will we take and how will we respond to changes that affect us, changes in energy prices say, which as you rightly said, are very volatile?
First, we have put together a big programme for improving the business climate. The Economic Development Minister told me yesterday that we have made some substantial progress as far as assessments of the business climate we offer is concerned. The Doing Business rating has moved us up several points. This is recognition that our efforts are not in vain.
We have a constant dialogue underway with our business community and have put together a comprehensive plan for joint action, and let me stress the joint nature of these efforts, to reduce red tape, put the banking system in order, make investment simpler and protect private investment. We have a whole package of measures. Overall, we are succeeding so far in carrying out these plans.
We also put in place a system for regional development. This covers the Far East and eastern Siberia. We will put the emphasis on offering preferential conditions for business in these regions, especially when it comes to greenfield projects and incentives for regional authorities supporting these projects, through the establishment of priority development areas. We have a whole package of measures and incentives here.
As for energy prices, yes, we see that they are volatile. You know that we calculated our budget for 2015 on the basis of $96 a barrel. But we will meet all of our social obligations in full. There is no doubt on this point. We will not make any sudden changes to our macroeconomic indicators and macroeconomic policy.
We will monitor our gold and currency reserves and our national currency’s exchange rate and will gradually shift to a floating exchange rate. We will not throw our reserves to the winds but will use them to ensure the needed balance. Of course we will pay close attention to the unemployment level, which at the moment is at a minimum. We will reduce inefficient spending if need be.
We will put the emphasis above all on attracting investment, especially private investment. I am confident that working on the Russian market will continue to be of interest to our traditional partners. Over the current period, we have had growth in industrial output and in the agriculture sector. I have absolutely no doubt that this trend will continue.
Q: I would like to ask two questions. First, you have a very hard stance towards people who take to the streets in all regions of the world. But I am certain that people will continue taking to the streets. In the last five years, there have been many protests in many countries. People are unhappy As a result of existing technologies, as a result of the fact that they do not trust their élite. Do you think that we will be able to change the world without a revolution? Don’t you think that we should be more flexible in this regard?
And my second question concerns Europe. Many people feel that Europe’s position on the Ukrainian crisis can only be due to US pressure. Do you feel that Germany’s position can be explained by US pressure?
A (Putin): As far as protests are concerned, you said that I have a very hard stance towards all mass protests in the world. That is not true. I do not have a hard stance towards mass protests; I have a hard stance and negative attitude towards breaking the law.
Mass protests and rallies are an entirely legitimate method for expressing one’s opinion and fighting for one’s interests, but all of this needs to happen within the framework of the law. Revolutions are bad. We have had more than enough of those revolutions in the 20th century. What we need is evolution. I am certain that we can move forward by following that path.
As for sanctions, whether or not they are due to pressure, it is not up to me to judge that. You are probably better aware of how all this happened. The Vice President of the United States, for example, said just recently that they had to put serious pressure on their European partners for them to impose sanctions. He said that, not me. So it seems they did apply pressure.
Do the Europeans need these sanctions or not? I think they do not. After all, nobody ever makes decisions under the pressure of sanctions, even small nations; and a large nation like Russia certainly isn’t going to take any steps that our partners who are trying to pressure Russia would like us to take under pressure. This is entirely counterproductive and does not lead to solving any problems.
Do the sanctions affect us? Our industrial output grew by 2.5% in the first eight months of this year. Last year, industrial output grew by only 1.5% during the same period. Last year, our agriculture sector grew 2.5% during the first eight months of the year, whereas this year, we had 4.9% growth for the same period of time. We are closing our budget with a surplus of over one trillion rubles.
Yes, our foreign exchange reserves have declined somewhat and are currently around $450 billion. This has to do with the fact that the Central Bank is using these funds to affect the rate of the national currency. But as I have already said, there will be limits to everything and we will not spend our reserves mindlessly.
It is important to keep in mind that we also have Government reserves: one fund is somewhere around 80 billion; another is around 90 or 100 billion. So the fact is, we have reserves. We will use them for a certain period, in order to get through difficult times, as we did in 2008.
With regard to mass demonstrations, let’s look at Occupy Wall Street. Where is that movement? It was nipped in the bud. And nobody says that they were treated badly. They were treated well, but they were suppressed. They were embraced so tightly that nobody had time to say a word, and it is unclear where it all dissipated.
Q: Mr President, you mentioned the development of Siberia and the Far East; this is an extremely important direction. You called it a strategic objective for the 21st century. This is probably part of an even broader foreign policy objective that you declared: a shift in focus towards Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region. Incidentally, you declared this at nearly the same time as President Obama, who stated approximately the same policy for the United States, the same vector.
Since the United States itself is one of the main Pacific nations, many countries in East and Southeast Asia are allied with the United States, and in the context of the current tensions in Russian-US relations, could Russia have difficulties conducting a policy of increasing our economic and political presence in the Asia-Pacific Region and, therefore, creating an external impulse for developing Siberia and the Far East?
A (Putin): I don’t think so. And if certain countries succumb to pressure from the United States and curtail cooperation with Russia to the detriment of their own national interests, then that is their choice.
The world has changed. It is impossible to suppress technology or investments if they are profitable and beneficial. It is impossible. You can slow something down for a period of time, but in general, this is not a method of development. In spite of everything that is happening, in spite of all the sanctions, during the first six months of 2014, our trade with the EU totalled over $260 billion. It didn’t go anywhere. Can it go down? Maybe, I suppose, if, for example, we fully halt our energy exports to EU countries. Do we want that? Of course not. Why would we do that, when this is a good client who pays?
Can you imagine it happening because that is what our partners, say, in Europe, want? I have a hard time imagining it. Why? Because, what is the alternative? The Middle East crises are no less intense than ours, and perhaps even more acute, much more so with the emergence of the Islamic State - what could happen there? Suppose there is shale oil, shale gas from the United States. Is that possible? I suppose in some places it may be. But how much will it cost?
If the Europeans go for US shale oil and gas, this is a direct path towards reducing their competitiveness, because this will be more expensive than our pipeline gas or oil supplied through our pipelines with a “short haul” for delivery and logistics with extraction sites in Russia. That would simply mean killing their competitive edge. I don’t know what kind of colony Europe would have to be to go for that. I think that common sense will prevail and it will not come to that.
The same is true of Asia. Who can force major Asian nations to stop cooperating with Russia to the detriment of their interests? These are illusions. And we do not need to feed those illusions. In general, it is harmful, fundamentally harmful to build one’s policy according to those principles, just as it is harmful for Europe to continue trying to dictate to others using the old methods. I spoke about this as well. It truly seems as though they really want to recreate a bipolar system in order to continue throwing their weight around.
What is happening in Europe? I will not name the country here, but I spoke with one of my former colleagues in Eastern Europe. He told me proudly, “Yesterday, I appointed a Chief of Staff.” I was very surprised. “Oh yeah? Why is this an achievement?” “What do you mean? It has been many years since we’ve appointed a Defence Minister or Chief of Staff without approval from the US ambassador.” I was so surprised that I said, “Wow. Why is that?” And he said, “That’s just how it is. They said that if we want to join the EU, we first need to join NATO. And this is what’s necessary to join NATO. We need to have military discipline.”
I asked him, “Listen, why have you sold your sovereignty? What is the volume of investments into your nation?” I will not tell you the volume, because it will immediately become evident which nation I am talking about. It is minimal! I said, “Listen, are you crazy? Why did you do this?” He replied, “Well, that’s just how it’s turned out.”
This cannot continue forever. Everyone must understand that, including our American friends and partners. It is impossible to keep humiliating one’s partners forever in such a way. That kind of relationship breaks down; I know this, I’ve been here a long time. You can draw them in now and force them to do some things, but this cannot continue forever, and certainly not in Asia - especially not in Asia. There are countries there that truly - there are few such nations in the world - that really command their sovereignty. They treasure it and won’t let anybody near it.
Q: Mr President, a question on energy. Will Europe freeze in the winter if Russia does not sign the agreement with Ukraine that is so important for us? What is the catch in these talks? Why hasn’t there been any success in agreeing with Ukraine on the price for two or three months now, when there are constant meetings? And another question: How will Russia build the new energy strategy with the European Union, which has suddenly changed the rules and begun to liberalise its market, and will offer to buy gas from Russia at one price?
A (Putin): I will start with the latter part of your question. We have long been in discussion with our colleagues in the European Commission about the Third Energy Package, so this was not born yesterday. We feel that this decision is harmful for Europe. At first glance, it seems like liberalisation, the creation of market conditions. In fact, we believe, it’s nothing of the sort, because everything was liberalised long ago in the oil sector; oil is traded on the exchange, and the price is set at the exchange. Of course, you can partially manipulate the prices for a period by sharply increasing the volume being traded, by increasing production, but that is also impossible to maintain forever, because it will be damaging to shale oil producers and to traditional black gold exporters.
In the gas sector, for example, nothing is more sustainable than long-term contracts that are tied to the market price for oil. This is an absolutely fair pricing system. What can be more liberal than the market price for oil, which is traded on the exchange? There are standard parameters that indicate the calorific value of gas which is comparable to the calorific value of oil, and everything can be easily calculated by experts. And an important factor for our European consumers is that they can be certain that this volume will definitely be delivered according to those rules of setting the price. This creates certainty in European energy security. And Russia has never - I want to stress this - has never failed to abide by its commitments, not a single time.
In 2008, a crisis occurred because Ukraine practically blocked transit. But Russia was not responsible for this. Regardless of what anyone says, the experts are all fully aware of this.
What happened in 2008? Ukraine did not want to sign a new contract with Russia, and the old one had expired. And without signing a new contract, they began siphoning certain volumes of gas from the export pipeline in the winter. At first, we tolerated this, simply indicated to them that this was unacceptable. We tolerated it for some time, and then said that every day, we will reduce the amount of gas pumped equal in volume to the amount illegally taken - essentially stolen. They stole one million cubic metres one day, so the next day, we reduced the volume pumped out by a million cubic metres. And we continued this, from day to day. Eventually, we reduced it to zero. But this was not our doing. We cannot deliver free gas. What kind of behaviour is that?
Now over to the existing threats and what is going on there. As you may know, last year, to help Ukraine pay the debt it accrued since 2013 - they stopped paying last July and by November the unpaid debt had added up - to normalise the situation we said, and I have to repeat this: we will lend you $3 billion and we will reduce the price in the first quarter of 2014 to below the lowest limit. However, we will keep this price for the second quarter only if Ukraine uses the loans it receives to pay off its entire debt for 2013 and makes regular payments at the lowest rate - $268.5 for 1,000 cubic metres.
The result is that Ukraine's debt for the previous year was not paid out and the current payments for the 1st quarter were not made in full. Therefore, in full compliance with its agreements, Gazprom shifted to contractual pricing. As we all remember, the contract was signed in 2009. It has been in effect all this time and was never questioned by our partners in Europe, by us, or by our Ukrainian friends. This contract has been in effect all these years. The Timoshenko government signed it. The current authorities in Kiev, including Energy Minister Prodan attended the signing ceremony and are fully aware of all this. Now it suddenly turns out that this was a bad contract and it needs to be revised. Why? Yet again, they don’t want to pay.
Everybody knows these figures, but I would like to repeat them. Last year we issued Ukraine a loan for $3 billion. The official debt for this year has already reached $5.6 billion. However, we are willing to revise it with a $100 discount on the gas price. This still adds up to $4.5 billion for last year and this year. Thus, a $3 billion loan plus a $4.5 billion debt adds up to $7.5 billion.
In addition to that, Gazprombank lent its client in Ukraine, a private company, $1.4 billion to buy gas for the chemical industry at the lowest price of $268. The same Gazprombank gave Naftogaz Ukrainy another $1.8 billion to balance current accounts.
Nobody wants to pay off their debts. We undertook a huge responsibility. Now we have agreed on almost everything - the price and the payment procedure. I would like to stress that under the contract and in line with current agreements, Gazprom has switched to advance payment, which means we will only ship as much gas as we are paid for in advance. Under the previous arrangement, we first shipped the gas and they paid a month later. However, since they don’t pay, we cannot carry on in the same way. We said, and this is in strict compliance with the contract, that first they pay and then we ship. Everybody agreed to this as well. Our Ukrainian partners agreed and the members of the European Commission admitted this was fair: they have to repay their debt to us and shift to advance payment.
The IMF and the European Commission have confirmed what our Ukrainian friends are saying. Ukraine now has $3.1 billion to pay its debt. This is not the entire $4.5 billion, only $3.1 billion. Technically, we could assume a tough stance and say we want it all. I had to put some pressure on Gazprom, and I would like to apologise to its shareholders, including foreign shareholders for this, but I asked Gazprom not to insist and to let them pay at least the $3.5 billion and then argue over the balance.
So, they have $3.5 billion, and they say: either we use the entire amount to pay our debt and then we have nothing left to make advance payments, or we prepay future shipments, but then we would not be able to repay the debt. In the latter case, we would ask for an extension of our debt repayment until March or April 2015. What does this mean for us? I can say with a great degree of certainty that if we agree to this, we will get nothing for the last month. This has happened a countless number of times before. Therefore, we said no, we are not doing this anymore.
What did the European Commission suggest - and this was publicly voiced by Mr Ettinger? They suggested that we again lend money to our Ukrainian partners to pay for future transit. Another loan from us, or we can ship without prepayment. This is also a loan – a commodity loan, this time. We told our friends in Ukraine and in the European Commission that we will not do this anymore. Russia's total loan to Ukraine currently stands at nearly $11 billion.
In January, Ukraine is to receive another $3 billion tranche from the IMF. So we told them that we know Ukraine is to get money is January, and we want them to get it, so let us move this payment from January to December. In reply, they said this was impossible due to the complicated decision-making procedure at the IMF. Then I suggested that they provide Ukraine with a bridge loan for a month, since everyone knows that there will be payment in January. The reply was they could not make that decision in the European Union, the European Commission, because they have a very complicated lending procedure. All right, we asked for a guarantee from a top class European bank instead. And again, we hear that this is a complicated procedure, they cannot do it right now.
You know, the mentality here in Russia, and in Ukraine, is different from Europe. Here if a man invites a woman to a restaurant, he will pay the bill, while you would normally go Dutch, when everybody pays for themselves. However, this is a different situation. The European Union has chosen association with Ukraine and undertook certain commitments. Why don’t you help Ukraine and issue it a bridge loan for a month, only for one month?
We are having a very professional and amicable discussion with our partners both in Ukraine and in the European Commission. We took on a huge responsibility and great risks and we think it would be absolutely fair if we shared these risks with our European or American partners. Why are they humiliating Ukraine with these $40 million handouts? What should them do with them? Give them at least $1.5 billion, and only for a month.
I very much hope that this issue will be resolved shortly, maybe next week. If this is the case, then there is and can be no threat. However, if this does not happen, we will again face the threat of gas siphoning from the export pipeline, which, in turn, could lead to a crisis. We don’t want to see this happen. However, Russia would never cause a crisis. We will comply with all our contractual commitments with great care and ship in a timely manner.
Q: Mr President, I would like to talk about your image in the world. I am an American, as you can tell by my accent. There are quite a few Americans here. You are possibly the most demonised politician in the world today. We now see a demonstration of various levels of ignorance, of inability to speak out and to establish necessary contacts. On the other hand, if we take a global view, you may be one of the most popular people in modern history. I would even say that from a distance - from the Eurozone and from America - you are seen as a saviour, a man who is saving the situation. What do you think about this?
A (Putin): I want to make sure you understand me correctly so that when I make any historical references nobody says I am comparing myself to anyone. Otherwise, many things can get distorted. When Bismarck first appeared on the international European arena, they found him dangerous because he spoke his mind. I also always try to say what I think and to make the conversation more to the point and effective. On the one hand, this may be attractive to some. On the other, this may impress some people because few can afford this. But Russia can.
Q: On September 11, 2001, I was in America. I watched America change after that day. It is different now. It has become more hardened. Tolerance levels have gone down. The President’s rating went up sharply. Everybody became very patriotic. America became more aggressive in its foreign policy and closed itself to the rest of the world.
Perhaps I am mistaken, and if so please convince me that I am wrong, but I get the impression that Russia is beginning to repeat the mistakes made by America. Your rating is very high and that’s great. However, this fantastic patriotism you have in your country in my view is beginning to break up into the right and wrong kinds of patriotism. The right kind refers to those who support you and everything you do, while the wrong one applies to people who have the nerve to criticise you or, say, disagree with you on some issues. I think in some cases, patriotism finds its expression in a very dangerous form of nationalism, which is sharply on the rise in Russia, the way I see it.
Simultaneously I will try to argue with one of the statements you made in your address. I think Russia has become closed to the world lately. This is not only because the world is shutting Russia out, but also because Russia is doing things that shut it from the rest of the world. Certain educational exchange programmes have been shut down, certain NGO’s have been cut off from funding even though they were not involved in politics, and there is a search for foreign agents and registration of dual citizenship. There are many things I can name here – things that, in my view, speak of a certain tendency. I used to believe that the more Russia was integrated into the global community and the world into Russia, the safer it would be. However, now it seems you have decided differently: the less Russia - Russian society, civil society - is integrated into the world, the safer Russia would feel.
Over the years since September 11, America, where I live, proved to me that it has become less democratic. I have the impression that Russia is becoming less democratic. If I am mistaken, please show me where I went wrong.
A (Putin): First, regarding whether Russia is shutting itself off or not. I already said this in my address and will say it again - we do not intend to shut ourselves off. The fact is that others are trying to seal Russia off. This is obvious. Your leaders say as much in public - they say they want to punish Russia and it will pay dearly, it will become an outcast and so forth. However, it is unclear how they intend to resolve global issues with such an outcast - and it seems as though they also realise that it is impossible.
Therefore, I would like to reiterate that we do not intend to seal ourselves off - this is not our goal. Moreover, I believe this would only do us harm. Meanwhile, I can say to those who are trying to do this to us that it is futile and impossible in the modern world. Some 40 or 50 years ago, this may have been possible, but not now. Clearly all such attempts will fail. And the sooner our colleagues see this, the better.
As for the growing patriotism, you compared it to the United States. Yes, this is true. Why did it happen in the United States? Why is it happening here? The reason is the same: people felt endangered. In the USA after September 11, people did not feel safe and they rallied around the country’s leadership. Meanwhile the leaders had to react in a way that would match the level of trust. I am not sure they did everything right. Now that all this time has passed since the introduction of troops into Afghanistan, there are so many losses. Now the coalition intends to pull out, while it is not clear what will happen next. You see, this is complicated. Nevertheless, this is how they reacted. That is one thing.
The second point has to do with various NGO’s and so forth. This does not mean shutting the country off at all. Why did you think so? This is self-defence. We were not the ones to adopt the foreign agents’ law. This was done in the United States where you now live, that is where this law was passed. True, they tell me now that this was done back in the thirties to protect against Nazism and propaganda. Then why haven’t you abolished it? You have not.
Moreover - and I have already mentioned this - certain participants in political activities are being questioned by the relevant US agencies. The law is still in force. We are not shutting down the NGOs that are, say, working with the United States or living off their grants, if we take the humanitarian sphere, education or healthcare. You said some educational programmes have been stopped. No, they have not. The Government has announced the implementation of one such programme only recently. I don’t know if this may have to do with some budget limitations, but nothing else.
We invite teachers to our leading universities; they even come to the Far East, and work at all our universities. We are introducing a system of so-called mega grants, when leading scholars and teachers from various universities around the world, including the United States, come to work here for months, for six or more months, forming research teams.
We are against having political activity within Russia financed from abroad. Are you trying to say this is permitted in the USA? They do not let observers even close to polling stations. The Prosecutor General threatens them with prison. The US even chases away OSCE representatives, and you are telling me about democracy.
A former European leader told me, “What kind of democracy is it in the USA - you cannot even consider running in an elections if you don’t have a billion, or even several billion dollars!” What kind of democracy is that? Besides, you elect your president using a system of electoral delegates, while we have a direct democracy.
Moreover, as I have said many times already, you know that the Constitution is designed in such a way that the number of electors voting for a given candidate may be greater, while the number of people they represent is smaller. Thus, the President can be elected by a minority of voters. Is this democracy? What is democracy? It is power of the people. Where is people’s power in the USA? There is none. Meanwhile, you are trying to convince us that we don’t have it.
We certainly have our drawbacks. They apply to the system. Many of them clearly come from the past. There is a lot we need to change. We are doing it gradually, but not through revolution - I would say there were enough in the 20th century, we have had enough - but through evolution.
I am aware of the criticism of the selection system [of candidates to the posts of regional leaders] through the local bodies of power and so forth. However, this practice exists in quite a few countries that you do not find undemocratic. We pay attention and we try to fine-tune this system. We have no desire to return to our totalitarian past. This is not because we fear anything, but because this path leads to a dead end - I am certain of this, and more importantly, Russian society is sure of this. These are the instruments of a democracy; they actually vary and have to correspond to the current level of society’s development.
For instance, they have just held elections in Afghanistan. Your USA Secretary of State was there to organise the elections, telling them what to do during the vote count. Nonsense! Is that democracy?
I remember they told me of Afghanistan as a sample of democracy, which has come to that country. This is ridiculous. It would have been funny if it were not so sad. Therefore, we are ready for dialogue and for change.
You spoke of NGOs; many of them were ‘cased’ as we say, though they were not involved in politics. This was a mistake. This needs to be set straight.
Q: What about nationalism?
A (Putin): Patriotism can turn into nationalism. I agree with you here, this is a very dangerous tendency. We have to keep this in mind and make sure it does not happen. It is dangerous for the country. I am the biggest nationalist in Russia. However, the greatest and most appropriate kind of nationalism is when you act and conduct policies that will benefit the people.
However, if nationalism means intolerance of other people, chauvinism - this would destroy this country, which was initially formed as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state. This would lead us not only into a dead end but also to self-destruction. Russia will do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Picture: Nikolai Patrushev. The sobering-up of the Ukrainians will be painful.
On Wednesday 15th October 2014, Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev (63), the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, gave an interview to Ivan Yegorov of Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Moscow), a Russian government newspaper of record. Patrushev sought to explain the covert geopolitics which have emanated from Washington since the 1980s, and to relate these to the deliberate Western destabilisation of Ukraine in 2014.
Q (Yegorov): The realities of recent months are a coup d'etat in Ukraine, military operations by the Ukrainian authorities against the inhabitants of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and a frenzied anti-Russian course by Kiev. Would it have been possible to predict this turn of events a year ago?
A (Patrushev): Our specialists were warning of the high probability of an escalation of the situation in Ukraine in the context of political and economic instability, particularly under external influence. At the same time it should be acknowledged that the probability of an imminent instant seizure of power in Kiev with the open support of militant groups of Nazis was not considered at that time.
Prior to the coup, Moscow was implementing in full all its partnership commitments to Kiev. We were constantly providing material and financial aid, without which Ukraine was in no condition to cope with its chronic economic difficulties. To support our neighbours, material and financial resources amounting to tens of billions of dollars were mobilized. Unfortunately for many people in Ukraine this aid became, in time, so customary that its importance for the country's survival was simply forgotten.
As for longer-term predictions, the Ukraine crisis was an entirely expected outcome of systematic activity by the United States and its closest allies. For the past quarter of a century this activity has been directed towards completely separating Ukraine and the other republics of the former USSR from Russia and totally reformatting the post-Soviet space to suit American interests. The conditions and pretexts were created for colour revolutions, supported by generous state funding.
Thus, Victoria Nuland, US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, has repeatedly stated that during the period 1991 through 2013 Washington spent 5bn dollars on "supporting the desire of the people of Ukraine for stronger, more democratic government". According to figures from open sources alone (e.g. US Congress documents), the total amount of state funding for various American programmes of "aid" to Ukraine in the period 2001 through 2012 came to at least 2.4bn dollars. That is comparable with the annual budget of some small countries. The US Agency for International Development spent about 1.5bn dollars, the State Department nearly half a billion, and the Pentagon more than 370m dollars.
According to congressional records, organizations such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Peace Corps, and the Open World Centre took part in Ukrainian aid programmes, in addition to the well-known USAID and other departments.
Q: Maybe this money went to a good cause and helped to build a real "democratic" society in Ukraine, as the Americans understand it?
A: I do not know what kind of a good cause that could be, if as a result of this activity in Ukraine an entire generation was raised which is completely poisoned with hatred of Russia and with the mythology of "European values". It has not yet realized that these values, even in the positive sense of the term, are not actually designed for Ukrainians. Nobody intends to set about boosting living standards in Ukraine or establishing these young people in Europe, which is itself having great difficulty coping with extremely serious challenges and threats.
I think the "sobering up" of the Ukrainians will be harsh and painful. It remains to be hoped that this will happen relatively quickly, and a whole string of objective factors could promote that. I would like to note another factor that is of fundamental significance. Irrespective of the subsequent development of events, the significance of the one for the other - Russia and Ukraine - will persist. Ukraine will simply not be able to develop successfully without Russia, whether anyone likes it or not. Such is the objective interdependence of economic, logistical, and other links that has developed over the centuries.
But whereas for Russia the total severance of these links would be a painful blow, for Ukraine it would be disastrous. It is no accident that current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was obliged, in the wake of his ousted predecessor, to raise the question of postponing the implementation of the economic section of the already signed association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. It is to be expected that the victory euphoria of other Kiev rulers will also give way to a more sober assessment of the real state of affairs.
Q: Some experts think the Ukraine crisis was only a pretext for a new deterioration in the West's relations with Russia. Is that so?
A: It is true that if the catastrophe in Ukraine had not happened some other grounds would have been found to step up the policy of "containment" of our country. This course has been pursued unswervingly for many decades; only the forms and tactics of its implementation change.
As you know, after World War II the confrontation between the USSR and the West headed by the United States took the form of a "Cold War". The military-political component of this standoff was entrusted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formed on the initiative of the United States on the 4th April 1949. An analysis of NATO's practical activity indicates that in creating the alliance the United States was pursuing two main objectives.
First, a military bloc directed against the USSR was formed under American leadership. Second, Washington forestalled the emergence in Western Europe of an autonomous grouping of states that could have competed with the United States. It should be recalled that the territory of the United States itself, which essentially established unilateral military control over the allies, is not included in NATO's zone of responsibility.
After the breakup of the USSR and the termination of the Warsaw Pact, which united Europe's socialist countries and which by definition represented the main danger to NATO, not only was the bloc not disbanded, it began to expand even more in quantitative and military terms.
Q: But surely NATO was not the only factor that influenced the breakup of the Soviet Union?
A: In the Cold War period a whole string of ideological doctrines emerged in the West that served as justification for an anti-Soviet political course. One of the authors of this kind of research was Zbigniew Brzezinski, an American political scientist and statesman of Polish extraction. He established the so-called strategy of "vulnerabilities" in relation to the USSR, and under President Reagan this became the basis of American policy towards our country.
The implementation of the strategy was guided by the National Security Council headed by the President of the United States. The identification and definition of "vulnerabilities" and the task of organizing ways of converting them into substantial problems for the USSR were entrusted to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
It is noteworthy that the then CIA Director, William Casey, decided to enlist prominent scholars in this work, first and foremost economists but also experts from the business world who had real experience of business wars with competitors. As a result of large-scale analytical work, the USSR's "vulnerabilities" in the political, economic, ideological, and other spheres were defined and systematically studied.
Our country's main "vulnerability," as defined by the CIA, was its economy. After detailed modelling, the American experts identified its "weakest link", namely the USSR budget's extremely high dependence on the export of energy resources. A strategy of provoking the financial and economic bankruptcy of the Soviet state was formulated, envisaging two interconnected objectives: the bringing about of a sharp reduction in revenue to the USSR's budget from foreign trade, combined with a substantial increase in expenditure on resolving problems created from outside.
A reduction in world oil prices was envisaged as the main measure for reducing the income side of the budget. This was successfully achieved by the mid-1980s when, as a result of US collusion with the rulers of a number of oil extracting countries, an artificial surplus of crude was created on the market and oil prices fell almost by a factor of four.
A growth in the Soviet Union's expenditure was provoked in several areas: the transition from the strategy of American opposition to the USSR in Afghanistan to the strategy of dragging it deeply into the Afghan war; the incitement of antigovernment demonstrations in Poland and other states in the socialist camp with a view to provoking Moscow into additional expenditures on stabilizing the situation in Eastern Europe; the whipping up of the arms race, among other things by introducing the Strategic Defence Initiative bluff, and so forth.
It should be said that at that time the Americans succeeded in achieving their objectives. The outcome of their activity was a substantial excess in the USSR's expenditure over income, which ultimately provoked a profound economic crisis that extended into the political and ideological spheres.
Shortsighted attempts by the Soviet leadership to alleviate the situation through foreign financial aid gave Washington additional levers of influence over Moscow. The "recovery" measures proposed by the West and implemented through the IMF and the World Bank to liberalise foreign trade without a smooth transition from the previous monopoly system led to the final collapse of the economy.
In the assessment of American experts, it was the strategy of "vulnerabilities", which demonstrated the colossal effectiveness of economic variety of Cold War compared with "hot" war, that was decisive in promoting the elimination of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact.
Q: After the breakup of the USSR, could Russia still somehow have opposed the new redivision of the world, or was the surrender of its positions and its former allies, such as Yugoslavia, already predetermined?
A: By the end of the 20th Century a kind of sociopolitical "fault line" had formed in this region, standing out most clearly in the disintegration of the multiethnic and multifaith Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The leaders of the United States and the leading NATO countries exploited a military-political situation that was developing favourably for them in order to realise their long-term aims in Southeast Europe.
In the 1990s the Russian Federation, for well-known reasons of an internal and external nature, lost the dominant influence in the Balkans that the Soviet Union had enjoyed and embarked on the path of conciliation with the West.
It was in the Balkans that the unilateral and totally uncompensated surrender by Russia of its positions in the international arena was manifested most distinctly.
In 1991-1996 the bodies that shaped our country's foreign policy did not officially even have any such concept as "national interest". They nurtured groundless expectations of gratitude for obedience from the Western partners and some kind of special benefit for our country from close and unconditional cooperation with the United States. In practice our American partners almost immediately stopped taking us seriously and only gave us a condescending "slap on the shoulder", so to speak, from time to time.
The NATO bloc, under cover of peacekeeping and without encountering serious objections from our side, operated increasingly confidently outside its own zone of responsibility, sought the rights to lease strategic infrastructure facilities for lengthy periods, and effectively brought the organs of military command and control of a number of Balkan countries under its own control by various means. The Alliance's subunits became firmly established in the region.
Other states taking part in peacekeeping missions, including Russia, set themselves no such objectives, having reconciled themselves to the role of junior partners and preferring not to see the self-evident fact: The war in the Balkans could perfectly well be regarded as a rehearsal and a prologue to larger-scale steps to redivide the world.
Q: Is it likely that it was these steps that led to the clash of interests between Western countries and Russia in the entire post-Soviet space?
A: The United States has been behaving particularly assertively and shamelessly over the past 20 years in and around this space. Encouraged by the weakening and subsequent elimination of the USSR, American ruling circles did everything possible to ensure dominance over the major sources of raw materials resources in our country and in Central Asia, as well as the transit routes for their export. Washington planned to extend its sphere of direct influence to the regions of the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and the Caspian.
All these territories were named a US zone of strategic national interests. The only remaining obstacle to the realization of the Americans' plans to take complete control of the corresponding deposits and transport corridors was Russia, which preserved its military potential to inflict unacceptable damage on the United States.
American strategists saw the solution to this difficulty in the final collapse of the system of state power and the subsequent dismemberment of our country. The first region that was supposed to leave Russia was the North Caucasus.
Particular importance was attached to Chechnya, which declared its independence and was temporarily under the effective control of the West. Extremists and their supporters in Russia were offered support by the special services of Britain, the United States, and allies in Europe and the Islamic world.
In these conditions the Russian leadership adopted a firm, principled stance of defending the unity of the state. Ultimately, as a result of the firm political will displayed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and at the cost of enormous efforts, it proved possible to stop attempts to detach Chechnya from Russia and then to consolidate the Republic's place within the Federation.
After 11th September 2001 the world community recognized the terrorist threat as the main threat and a global threat, reaching the understanding that countering this threat requires common efforts. As a result there was, in particular, a slight weakening of the West's attacks on Russia because of its campaign against international terrorists in the Caucasus, while we did not object to the operation by the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan. The announcement of the formation of a broad antiterrorist coalition followed.
At that time Washington displayed a certain readiness to collaborate, although in actual fact it did not intend to abandon the policy of "containment" with regard to Russia. More and more new NATO facilities moved up to our borders. International law was supplanted by the law of force (let us recall the aforementioned dismemberment of Yugoslavia, followed by Serbia, the occupation of Iraq, and the invasion of Afghanistan by the so-called coalition forces).
After 7th-8th August 2008, when the Georgian leadership, with US support, attempted to annihilate South Ossetia, the world once again changed substantially. For the first time in many decades Washington provided direct support to a foreign state that had perpetrated an attack on Russian citizens and peacekeepers.
Everything was staked on surprise. The Georgian dictator believed that a military incursion on the opening day of the international Olympic Games would put Russia in a difficult position, and the Georgians, taking advantage of this, would carry out their "blitzkrieg". However, the Russian leadership reacted promptly to the sharp deterioration in the situation and the necessary measures were adopted to halt the aggression.
Q: It was at that time that people started talking about the shaping of a new geopolitical reality - the multipolarity of the modern world. How did the United States react to this?
A: After the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, Washington was clearly alarmed by Russia's obvious intention to take its place among the world powers of the 21st century and uphold the principle of equal opportunities and full autonomy in global politics. And also to convert the state's financial income from the exploitation of natural resources into real economic and defence potential and human capital.
The American leadership also clearly disliked the prospects of Russia's collaboration with China and India, the introduction of the practice of summits in the BRICS format, the successful activity of other organizations in which Russia occupies leading positions (e.g the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community), and the formation of the Customs Union.
In the context of the growing world financial and economic crisis, major new players in the international arena such as China, India, Brazil, and Iran as well as the growing economies of Southeast Asia and South Korea became increasingly significant factors for the United States. As a consequence, incidentally, we saw the emergence of new conceptual principles in Washington such as the American-Chinese special partnership, the strategic collaboration between the United States and India, the establishment of direct dialogue between Washington and Iran, and so forth.
Indications of the need to resume the beneficial dialogue with Russia on a whole range of issues began to emerge from the new administration of President Barack Obama. This positive inclination on the part of the American authorities could only be welcomed.
However, it soon became clear that Washington is not inclined towards real cooperation. It confined itself to mere statements of friendliness and the devising of certain negotiation tracks from which the benefit to Russia, in the end, proved almost zero. After a while even totally nonbinding positive dialogues of this kind came to an end and the US attitude towards Russia began once again to be reminiscent the Cold War.
Q: And the logical culmination of this policy was the Ukraine crisis?
A: The coup d'etat in Kiev, accomplished with clear US support, followed the classical pattern tried and tested in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, but never before had such a scheme affected Russian interests so profoundly.
Analysis shows that by provoking Russia into retaliatory steps the Americans are pursuing the very same objectives as in the 1980s with regard to the USSR. Just like back then, they are trying to identify our country's "vulnerabilities". At the same time, the US is pursuing the objective of neutralising European economic competitors who have, in Washington's opinion, grown excessively close to Moscow.
I would like to remind you that Washington has always sought to have levers of pressure on Russia. Thus, in 1974 the famous Jackson-Vanik Amendment was adopted, restricting trade relations with our country. It appeared to have completely lost its relevance immediately after the breakup of the USSR, but it was still in force right up to 2012, when the so-called "Magnitsky List" was promptly adopted in its place.
The current sanctions are in the same category. The US Administration's activity in the Ukrainian sphere is taking place within the framework of an updated White House foreign policy course aimed at holding on to American leadership in the world by means of the strategic containment of the growing influence of the Russian Federation and other centres of power. In this context Washington is actively making use, on its own terms, of NATO's potential, seeking to use political and economic pressure to prevent any vacillations on the part of its allies and partners.
Q: Why is the American élite clinging so stubbornly to the right to control other people's natural resources at a time when the Western expert community is declaring the importance of the development of alternative energy sources that are supposedly capable of taking the place of oil and gas in the near future?
A: In actual fact, specialists are certain that no real substitute for hydrocarbons as the basis of power generation will emerge in the next few decades. Furthermore the understanding prevails in the West that the total capacity of nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and other power stations will meet no more than one-fifth of world demand.
Nor should another important aspect be forgotten. In the modern world we can observe a steady growth in the shortage of food and drinking water for the growing population of the planet. The absence of the most elementary means of existence pushes desperate people into manifestations of extremism and involvement in terrorism, piracy, and crime. This is one reason for the acute conflicts between countries and regions and also for mass migration.
The shortage of water and irrigated land is not infrequently the cause of friction, for instance, between the Central Asian republics. The problem of water resources is acute in a number of other countries in Asia and particularly in Africa.
Many American experts, in particular the former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, assert that there are vast territories "under Moscow's power" which it is incapable of exploiting and which therefore "do not serve the interests of all humanity". Assertions continue to be heard about the "unfair" distribution of natural resources and the need to ensure so-called "free access" to them for other states.
The Americans are convinced that people must be thinking in similar terms in many other states, particularly those neighbouring on Russia, and that in the future they will, as is nowadays the custom, form "coalitions" to support the corresponding claims on our country. As in the case of Ukraine, it is proposed to resolve problems at Russia's expense but without taking its interests into account.
Even during periods of a relative thaw in relations between Russia (the USSR) and the United States, our American partners have always remained true to such notions.
Therefore irrespective of the nuances in the behaviour of the Americans and their allies, the Russian leadership still faces this task as a constant: To guarantee the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Motherland, to defend and multiply its riches, and to manage them correctly in the interests of the multiethnic people of the Russian Federation.
Sources and full text here (21.10.14) and here (22.10.14).
Picture: Paperhead by Nikita Veprikov (2014). Kremenchug, Ukraine.
"Paperhead" by Nikita Veprikov (2014).
Nikita Veprikov is a 22-year-old CG artist from Kremenchug, Ukraine. More examples of his artwork can be found here.
# # #
# # #Picture: Xi Jingpin makes 4-point proposal for SCO development. Sept 2014.
Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Friday 12th September 2014.
It is our common responsibility and mission to bring more security and benefit to the SCO member states and their people.
Firstly, safeguarding regional security and stability is the SCO member states' responsibility.
Currently, we should focus on combating religion-involved extremism and internet terrorism.
I suggest that the SCO members launch a consultation on an anti-extremism convention and initiate studies on a mechanism for actions against internet terrorism.
We should take it as our own responsibility to safeguard regional security and stability, enhance our ability to maintain stability, continue to boost cooperation on law enforcement and security, and improve the existing cooperation mechanisms.
I call on the SCO members to grant the group's Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS) a new function in combatting drug trafficking.
We should make concerted efforts to crack down on the three evil forces of terrorism, extremism and separatism.
Secondly, the SCO member states should adhere to the goal of common development and prosperity.
The member states should discuss the possibility of conducting more extensive and higher level cooperation in trade and investment, in a bid to push forward regional economic integration.
I urge member states to reach an agreement on establishing the SCO financial institution at an early date and beef up policy coordination on energy and food.
I call on member states to enact an SCO partnership plan in science and technology, and to speed up the building of an information sharing platform on environment protection.
Thirdly, the SCO member states should comprehensively promote people-to-people exchanges.
I suggest that the SCO member states strengthen capacity building on international communication, enhance media cooperation, and support personnel training in the fields of public policy, administration and judiciary.
China is willing to provide training opportunities for 2000 people of the SCO member states from 2015 to 2017, including officials, as well as management and technological staff.
China will also invite 50 youth leaders from SCO member states to study in China every year over the next five years.
Fourthly, the SCO should expand external exchanges and cooperation.
Any country that is willing to join the SCO and meets the criteria is welcome to apply for membership of the organization.
I urge a strengthening of the cooperation between the SCO member countries and its observers, as well as communication between SCO member countries and the organization's dialogue partners. The SCO should cement cooperation with international and regional organizations, such as the United Nations and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.
The SCO member countries, observers and dialogue partners are welcome to vigorously participate in the joint building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and promote regional connectivity.
The SCO is facing significant opportunities and a bright prospect. Member states should stick to the 'Shanghai Spirit' of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.
We should join hands to deal with threats and challenges with the strength of unity and cooperation, and jointly push forward SCO's development.
AB comment: The Shanghai
Cooperation Organisation has three levels of membership. The core
foundation member states are Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China,
Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The observer states include Afghanistan,
India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. The dialogue partner states include
Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka.
India is likely to become a core SCO member in 2015, having formally applied for this status in September 2014.
SCO is a separate organisation from the BRICS and the Eurasian Union,
but the interests of all three groups overlap substantially and, in de
facto and de jure terms, they will supplant the G7 & NATO within
five years. Already 180+ nations are formally or informally aligned with
the BRICS. The CELAC, ALBA, ASEAN, UNASUR and AU transnational groupings are increasingly involved, now, in manifesting this new global alignment.
decline of the Western G7 fiat paper banking cartel will be presaged by
the collapse of the US (DC corporation) petrodollar and the incremental disintegration of the EU and NATO.
Germany, France, Turkey and Iran are likely
to join the BRICS. The UK will become geopolitically neutral, like
Switzerland. New gold and asset-backed regional currencies will be
issued worldwide. Fiat paper currencies will be marginalised in
international trade, and will die out altogether by 2025.
Presidency from 2014-2015 is in the hands of Russia. Already Russia has
planned over 100 different SCO-related events for this period. The
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has made some introductory comments
about the Russian Presidency of the SCO here (15.09.14).
# # Picture: The Future Historians' List. Significant names in G7 banking collapse.
Argentina is playing hardball with the vulture funds, which have been trying to force it into an involuntary bankruptcy.
The vultures are demanding what amounts to a 600% return on bonds bought for pennies on the dollar, defeating a 2005 settlement in which 92% of creditors agreed to accept a 70% haircut on their bonds.
A US court has backed the vulture funds; but in the middle of August 2014, Argentina sidestepped its jurisdiction by transferring the trustee for payment from Bank of New York Mellon to its own central bank. That play, if approved by the Argentine Congress, will allow the country to continue making payments under its 2005 settlement, avoiding default on the majority of its bonds.
Argentina is already foreclosed from international capital markets, so it doesn’t have much to lose by thwarting the US court system. Similar bold moves by Ecuador and Iceland have left those countries in substantially better shape than Greece, which went along with the agendas of the international financiers.
The upside for Argentina was captured by President Fernandez in a nationwide speech on 19th August 2014: "When it comes to the sovereignty of our country and the conviction that we can no longer be extorted, and that we can’t become burdened with debt again, we are emerging as Argentines. If I signed what they’re trying to make me sign .... we would enter into the infernal cycle of debt which we’ve been subject to for so long."
The deeper implications of that infernal cycle of debt cycle have been explored by Adrian Salbuchi: Where territories were once captured by military might, today they are being annexed by debt.
The still-evolving plan is to drive destitute nations into an international bankruptcy court whose decisions would have the force of law throughout the world. The court could then do with whole countries what US bankruptcy courts do with businesses: sell off their assets, including their real estate. Sovereign territories could be acquired as the spoils of bankruptcy without a shot being fired.
Global financiers and interlocking private megacorporations are increasingly supplanting governments on the international stage. An international bankruptcy court would be one more institution making that takeover legally binding and enforceable.
At present, sovereign governments can say no to the strong-arm tactics of the global bankers’ collection agency, the IMF. However, an international bankruptcy court would allow creditors to force a nation into bankruptcy, where territories could be involuntarily sold off in the same way that assets of bankrupt corporations are.
For Argentina, says Salbuchi, the likely prize is its very rich Patagonia region, long a favorite settlement target for ex-pats. When Argentina suffered a massive default in 2001, the G7 mainstream media machine proposed that Patagonia be ceded from the country as a defaulted debt payment mechanism. Debt for Territory: swapping public debt for government land.
The corporate banksters' idea would be to transform a perceived Argentine public debt default into direct equity investment in which creditors can become land owners where they can develop industrial, agricultural and real estate projects.
Ceding Patagonia from Argentina was first suggested in 1896 by Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, as a second settlement location for what became Zionist Palestine.
In 2002, an IMF deputy manager called Anne Krueger asked: “Should countries like Argentina be able to declare themselves bankrupt?” Krueger's article was posted on the IMF website and flagged up as proposing some new and creative ideas on what to do about Argentina. With the US DC corporation and its Fed money laundry itself now bankrupt and facing imminent public default, this American-sourced idea has become contemporaneously risible
In today’s delicate post-2008 banking system, a new sovereign debt crisis could thwart the corporate élite’s plans for an orderly transition towards a new global legal architecture which would allow orderly liquidation of financially-failed states like Argentina.
Argentina’s present debt crisis can be traced back to 1955, when President Juan Domingo Perón was ousted in a very bloody US/UK/mega-bank-sponsored military coup.
Perón was hated for his insistence on not indebting Argentina with the G7 mega-bankers. In 1946 he rejected joining the IMF. In 1953 he fully paid off all of Argentina’s sovereign debt. Once the mega-bankers got rid of him in 1956, they shoved Argentina into the IMF and created the Paris Club to engineer decades-worth of sovereign debt for vanquished Argentina, something they’ve been doing until today.
Many sovereign countries have been subjected to similar treatment. When the country cannot pay, the IMF sweeps in with refinancing agreements with strings attached, including selling off public assets and slashing public services in order to divert government revenues into foreign debt service.
It is worth asking a fundamental common-sense question: Why should national governments indebt themselves in hard currencies, decades into the future with global mega-bankers, when they could just as well finance these projects and needs far more safely by issuing the proper amounts of their own local sovereign currency instead?
The big banksters' financial claims on wealth - bonds, mortgages and bank loans - are lent out to become somebody else’s debts in an exponentially expanding process. National economies have been obliged to pay their debts by cutting back new research, development and new physical reinvestment. This is the essence of IMF austerity plans, in which the currency is “stabilised” by further international borrowing on terms that destabilise the economy at large. Spiraling debt results in price inflation, since businesses have to raise their prices to cover the interest and fees on the debt.
For governments to escape this austerity trap, they need to spend not less, but more money on the tangible capital formation that increases physical productivity.
But where to get the investment money without getting sucked into the debt vortex? Where can Argentina get funding if the country is shut out of international capital markets? The common-sense response, Salbuchi observes, is for governments to issue the money they need directly.
An alternative which can have virtually the same effect is for nations to borrow money issued by their own publicly-owned banks. Public banks generate credit just as private banks do; but unlike private lenders, they return interest and profits to the local economy. Their mandate is to serve the public, and that is where their profits go.
Funding through their own government-issued currencies and publicly-owned banks has been successfully pursued by many countries historically, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, China, Russia, Korea and Japan.
Sovereign nations do need to be able to buy foreign products that they cannot acquire or produce domestically, and for that they need a form of currency or an international credit line that other nations will accept. But today, a global change is becoming manifest: sovereign nations are breaking away from the dying oil and weapons driven US dollar as the global reserve currency.
Do we need a new Bretton Woods Accord? Or, as the BRICS seem to be suggesting, is that exactly what we do not need?
Ellen Brown's full text is on her Web of Debt blog here (25.08.14). # # Picture: Press by Pawel Kuczynski.
Picture - Politics by Pawel Kuczynski.
The two images above, and their clickthroughs, are by the Polish satirist, Pawel Kuczynski. More examples of Pawel Kuczynski's work can be found here.
# # #
The US government's decision to apply more sanctions on Russia is a grave mistake and will only escalate an already tense situation, ultimately harming the US economy itself.
the effect of sanctions on the dollar may not be appreciated in the
short term, in the long run these sanctions are just another step toward
the dollar's eventual demise as the world's reserve currency.
only is the US sanctioning Russian banks and companies, but it also is
trying to strong-arm European banks into enacting harsh sanctions
against Russia as well.
Given the amount of business that European banks do with Russia, European sanctions could hurt Europe at least as much as Russia.
the same time the US expects cooperation from European banks, it is
also prosecuting those same banks and fining them billions of dollars
for violating existing US sanctions. It is not difficult to imagine that
European banks will increasingly become fed up with having to act as
the US government's unpaid policemen, while having to pay billions of
dollars in fines every time they engage in business that Washington
European banks are already cutting ties with American citizens and businesses
due to the stringent compliance required by recently-passed laws such
as FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). In the IRS's quest to
suck in as much tax dollars as possible from around the world, the agency has made Americans into the pariahs of the international financial system.
As the burdens the US government places on European banks grow heavier, it should be expected that more
and more European banks will reduce their exposure to the United States
and to the dollar, eventually leaving the US isolated. Attempting to isolate Russia, the US actually isolates itself.
Another effect of sanctions is that Russia will grow closer to its BRICS (Brazil Russia India China South Africa) allies.
These countries count over 40 percent of the world's population, have a
combined economic output almost equal to the US and EU, and have
significant natural resources at their disposal.
Russia is one of
the world's largest oil producers and supplies Europe with a large
percent of its natural gas. Brazil has the second-largest industrial
sector in the Americas and is the world's largest exporter of ethanol.
China is rich in mineral resources and is the world's largest food
Already Russia and China are signing agreements to
conduct their bilateral trade with their own national currencies rather
than with the dollar, a trend which, if it spreads, will continue to erode the dollar's position in international trade.
more importantly, China, Russia, and South Africa together produce
nearly 40 percent of the world's gold, which could play a rôle if the
BRICS countries decide to establish a gold-backed currency to challenge the dollar.
US policymakers fail to realize that the United States is not the global hegemon it was after World War II.
They fail to understand that their overbearing actions toward other
countries, even those considered friends, have severely eroded any good
will that might previously have existed. And they fail to appreciate
that more than 70 years of devaluing the dollar has put the rest of the world on edge.
is a reason the euro was created, a reason that China is moving to
internationalize its currency, and a reason that other countries around
the world seek to negotiate monetary and trade compacts. The rest of the world is tired of subsidizing the United States government's enormous debts,
and tired of producing and exporting trillions of dollars of goods to
the US, only to receive increasingly worthless dollars in return.
US government has always relied on the cooperation of other countries
to maintain the dollar's preeminent position. But international patience
is wearing thin, especially as the carrot-and-stick approach of recent
decades has become all stick and no carrot.
If President Obama
and his successors continue with their heavy-handed approach of levying
sanctions against every country that does something US policymakers
don’t like, it will only lead to more countries shunning the dollar and accelerating the dollar's slide into irrelevance.
The full text of Ron Paul's article is here
(10.08.14). Dr Ron Paul is a former Republican Congressman from Texas
who was in office from January 1997 to January 2013 . During that time
he served spells as the Chairman of the US House Financial Services
Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, and as a member
of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations. More about the Ron Paul Institute can be found here, and a related Twitter feed is here.
Picture : Venn diagram. Yes. No. Wait. 180th anniversary of birth of John Venn.
Samah Jabr: Why is the word 'terrorist' so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?
Meetings with the diplomatic corps have become a tradition. We need this direct conversation to make an overall assessment of the situation in the world, to set current and long-term foreign policy objectives and on that basis to more effectively coordinate the work of our missions abroad.
I would like to begin by saying that the Foreign Ministry and our embassies are under a lot of pressure; we see this, we are aware of this, but this pressure will not be reduced. It will only increase, just as the requirement to show efficiency, precision and flexibility in our actions to ensure Russia’s national interests.
You know how dynamic and unpredictable international developments may sometimes be. They seem to be pressed together and unfortunately are not all of a positive nature. The potential for conflict is growing in the world, old contradictions are growing ever more acute and new ones are being provoked. We come across such developments, often unexpectedly, and we observe with regret that international law is not working, the most basic norms of decency are not complied with and the principle of all-permissiveness is gaining the upper hand.
We are observing this in Ukraine as well. We need to understand clearly that the events provoked in Ukraine are the concentrated outcome of the notorious deterrence policy. As you may know, its roots go deep into history and it is clear that unfortunately, this policy did not end with the end of the Cold War.
In Ukraine, as you may have seen, at threat were our compatriots, Russian people and people of other nationalities, their language, history, culture and legal rights, guaranteed, by the way, by European conventions. When I speak of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens I am referring to those people who consider themselves part of the broad Russian community, they may not necessarily be ethnic Russians, but they consider themselves Russian people.
What did our partners expect from us as the developments in Ukraine unfolded? We clearly had no right to abandon the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol to the mercy of nationalist and radical militants; we could not allow our access to the Black Sea to be significantly limited; we could not allow NATO forces to eventually come to the land of Crimea and Sevastopol, the land of Russian military glory, and cardinally change the balance of forces in the Black Sea area. This would mean giving up practically everything that Russia had fought for since the times of Peter the Great, or maybe even earlier - historians should know.
I would like to make it clear to all: our country will continue to actively defend the rights of Russians, our compatriots abroad, using the entire range of available means - from political and economic to operations under international humanitarian law and the right of self-defence.
I would like to stress that what happened in Ukraine was the climax of the negative tendencies in international affairs that had been building up for years. We have long been warning about this, and unfortunately, our predictions came true.
You know about the latest efforts to restore, to maintain peace in Ukraine. Foreign Ministry staff and the Minister himself took an active part in this. You know about the numerous telephone conversations we had on this subject.
Unfortunately, President Poroshenko has resolved to resume military action, and we failed - when I say ‘we’, I mean my colleagues in Europe and myself - we failed to convince him that the road to a secure, stable and inviolable peace cannot lie through war.
So far Mr Poroshenko was not directly linked to the orders to begin military action, and only now did he take full responsibility, and not only military, but political as well, which is much more important.
We also failed to agree to make public the statement approved by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine on the need to maintain peace and search for mutually acceptable solutions.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that after the ceasefire was declared, no substantive, as you say, negotiations on the settlement of the situation ever began. Virtually, a disarmament ultimatum was given. However, even the ceasefire was not bad overall, though not enough to settle the situation on a long-term basis in a way that would be acceptable to all the people living in the country, including those in its southeast.
A constitution was made public, but it was never discussed. Even within Ukrainian society there is a discussion of whether it is good or bad, but nobody definitely ever discussed it with the east.
Of course, everything that is going on in Ukraine is the internal affair of the Ukrainian state. It pains us to see people dying, especially civilians. As you may know, the number of refugees in the Russian Federation is growing. We will of course provide assistance to all those who need it. However, killing journalists is unacceptable. I reminded the Ukrainian President of this yesterday yet again.
In my view, we are observing a focused effort to liquidate all media representatives. This applies to both Russian and foreign journalists. Who could be afraid of fair reporting? Probably those, who are committing crimes. We strongly hope that the Ukrainian authorities act on their promises to carefully investigate the crimes.
More new hotspots are appearing on the world map. There is a deficit of security in Europe, in the Middle East, South-East Asia, in the Asia-Pacific region and in Africa. The global economic, financial and trade systems are becoming unbalanced, and moral and spiritual values are being washed out.
There is hardly any doubt that the unipolar world order did not come to be. Peoples and countries are raising their voices in favour of self-determination and civilizational and cultural identity, which conflicts with the attempts by certain countries to maintain their domination in the military sphere, in politics, finance, the economy and in ideology.
I know this has no direct bearing on us, however what is being done to the French banks can cause nothing but indignation in Europe in general and here as well. We are aware of the pressure our American partners are putting on France to force it not to supply Mistrals to Russia. We even know that they hinted that if France does not deliver the Mistrals, the sanctions will be quietly lifted from their banks, or at least they will be significantly minimised.
What is this if not blackmail? Is this the right way to act on the international arena? Besides, when we speak of sanctions, we always assume that sanctions are applied pursuant to Article 7 of the UN Charter. Otherwise, these are not sanctions in the true legal sense of the word, but something different, some other unilateral policy instrument.
In the past 20 years, our partners have been trying to convince Russia of their good intentions, their readiness to jointly develop strategic cooperation. However, at the same time they kept expanding NATO, extending the area under their military and political control ever closer to our borders. And when we rightfully asked: “Don’t you find it possible and necessary to discuss this with us?” they said: “No, this is none of your business.” Those who continue insisting on their exclusivity strongly dislike Russia’s independent policy. The events in Ukraine prove this. They also prove that a model of relations full of double standards does not work with Russia.
Nevertheless, I hope pragmatism will eventually prevail. We need to get rid of ambitions, of attempts to establish a ‘world barracks’ and arrange everybody by rank, or to impose single rules of behaviour and life, and to finally begin building relations based on equality, mutual respect and concern for mutual interests. It is time we admit each other’s right to be different, the right of every country to live its own life rather than to be told what to do by someone else.
Colleagues, in its foreign policy Russia has been consistently proceeding from the notion that solutions to global and regional conflicts should be sought not through confrontation, but through cooperation and compromise. We advocate the supremacy of international law while supporting the UN’s leading role.
International law should be mandatory for all and should not be applied selectively to serve the interests of individual select countries or groups of states, and most importantly, it should be interpreted consistently. It is impossible to interpret it in one way today, and in a different way tomorrow to match the political goals of the day.
World development cannot be unified. However, we can look for common issues, see each other as partners rather than competitors, and establish cooperation between states, their associations and integration structures.
These are the principles we were guided by in the past, and they continue to guide us now as we promote integration within the CIS. Strengthening close friendly ties and developing mutually advantageous economic cooperation with our neighbours is the key strategic priority of Russia’s long-term foreign policy.
The driving force behind Eurasian integration is the trio of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The Agreement on the Eurasian Economic Union, signed in Astana on May 29, symbolises a qualitatively new step in our relations. A powerful centre of economic development that attracts business and investors, a common market is being formed in Eurasia. That is why our CIS partners show a strong interest in this union. I hope that very soon, Armenia will become a full-fledged member of this union. Negotiations with Kyrgyzstan are at an advanced stage. We are open to other Commonwealth states as well.
As we promote the Eurasian integration project, we are in no way trying to separate ourselves from the rest of the world; we are ready to consider prospects for creating free trade zones both with individual states and with regional associations and unions, primarily the European Union, of course.
Europe is our natural and most significant trade and economic partner. We strive to find new opportunities to expand our business cooperation, to open up new prospects for mutual investment and to lift trade barriers. This requires an upgrade of the legal contractual base of our cooperation and the stability and predictability of ties, primarily in such strategically important areas as energy. Stability on the entire territory of Eurasia and sustainable development of the EU economies and Russia depend on well-coordinated cooperation based on consideration for mutual interests.
We have always held high our reputation of a reliable supplier of energy resources and invested in the development of gas infrastructure. Together with European companies, as you may know, we have built a new gas transportation system called Nord Stream under the Baltic Sea. Despite certain difficulties, we will promote the South Stream project, especially since ever more European politicians and businessmen are coming to understand that someone simply wants to use Europe in their own interests, that it is becoming a hostage of someone’s near-sighted ideologised approaches.
If we return to Ukraine, the violation by Ukraine of its commitments regarding the purchase of our natural gas has become a common problem. Kiev refuses to pay on its debt. This is absolutely unacceptable. They have not paid for November-December of last year, though there were no arguments whatsoever then.
Our partners are using blatant blackmail - this is what it is. They demand an ungrounded reduction of prices on our goods, though the agreement was signed in 2009, and the parties complied with it in good faith. Now, as you may know, the court in Kiev has lifted all accusations against Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Tymoshenko, who signed the contract. Thus, the Kiev court authorities admit that they have done everything right not only by international law, but by Ukrainian law as well. But they do not wish to comply, or to pay for the product already received.
As of June 16, as you may know, we have transferred Ukraine to a pre-payment system, so they will get exactly the amount of gas they pay for. Today they do not pay; therefore, they are not getting anything - only in the so-called reverse mode. We know all about this reverse mode: it is a fake; there is no reverse mode. How can you supply gas two ways along the same pipeline? One does not have to be a gas transportation expert to understand that this is impossible. They are playing tricks with some of their partners: in fact, they are getting our gas and paying some western partners in Europe who are not receiving their volume. We are quire aware of this.
We are not taking any action at this point only because we do not want the situation to deteriorate. However, everyone should draw the proper conclusions from the situation. The main thing is that honest gas consumers and suppliers should not suffer from the actions of Ukrainian politicians and bureaucrats.
Generally, all of us - Ukraine, our European partners, and we - should seriously consider how to reduce the probability of any type of political or economic risks or force majeure situations on the continent.
In this connection, I would like to remind you that in August 2015 we will be marking 40 years of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This anniversary is a good reason not only to turn to the basic principles of cooperation on the continent that were laid back in 1975, but also to jointly make them work, to help them take root in practical European politics.
We have to work consistently to rule out any unconstitutional coups in Europe, any interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, the use of blackmail or threats in international relations or the support of radical and neo-Nazi forces.
All of us in Europe need a sort of safety net to make sure that Iraqi, Libyan or Syrian - and unfortunately, I have to say also Ukrainian - precedents do not become contagious. This is especially dangerous for the post-Soviet area, because the states have yet not gained political or economic strength, they do not have a stable political system. It is very important that the constitutions of these states be treated with great care and respect.
Why is this important - and not only on the post-Soviet area, but all over Europe? Because even in those countries of Western and Eastern Europe where things seem to be going fine, there are quite a few hidden ethnic and social contradictions that may become acute any moment, may serve as ground for conflicts and extremism, and may be used by external forces to rock the social and political situation to achieve an illegitimate undemocratic change of power with all the negative consequences.
Firm guarantees of indivisible security, stability, respect for sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs should become the basis that we can use to build a common space for economic and humanitarian cooperation that would spread from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean - I already spoke of this as a single space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
I would like to ask the Foreign Ministry to draft a set of proposals in this respect, with special focus on the inadmissibility of any attempts to influence internal political processes from the outside. The job is to work the traditional principle of non-interference into the modern European realities and initiate a serious international discussion on the subject.
We also need to continue strengthening the eastern vector of our diplomacy, to more intensively use the impressive potential of the Asia-Pacific region in the interests of the further development of our country, primarily, of course, of Siberia and the Far East. We should continue to direct Russia’s policy in Asia and the Pacific at maintaining the security of our eastern borders and at supporting peace and stability in the region. The coming leadership of Russia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the SCO and BRICS summits to be held in Ufa in the summer of 2015 work to support this.
We need to strengthen overall partnership and strategic cooperation with the People’s Republic of China. We can say that a strong Russian-Chinese connection has taken shape on the international arena. It is based on a coincidence of views on both global processes and key regional issues. It is of primary importance that Russian-Chinese friendship is not directed against anyone: we are not creating any military unions. On the contrary, this is an example of equal, respectful and productive cooperation between states in the 21st century.
We intend to further develop our relations with our traditional partners in this area of the world: with India and Vietnam, who are playing an ever-greater role in the world; with Japan and other countries, including the ASEAN states. We intend to further use the potential of the growing markets in Latin America and Africa and the great experience of political and humanitarian relations with the countries there.
Our contacts with the United States of America are of great importance for the whole world. We do not intend to shut down our relations with the USA. True, bilateral relations are not in their best shape, but - I would like to stress this - not through Russia’s fault. We have always tried to be predictable partners and conduct our affairs on the basis of equality. However, in return, our lawful interests were often ignored.
Now over to various types of international meetings. If we are assigned the observer role without a decisive vote on key issues that are of vital importance to us, then such meetings are of little interest to us. We should not sacrifice our vital interests just for the sake of being able to sit and observe. I hope our partners will eventually come to understand this obvious fact. So far, we have been hearing ultimatums or mentoring. Nevertheless, we are ready for dialogue, but I would like to stress that this should be an equal dialogue.
Colleagues, the complicated and unpredictable situation in the world places great demands on Russian diplomats’ professional level. The Foreign Ministry’s staff in Moscow and the Russian embassies abroad worked effectively and in coordinated fashion during the serious situation with Crimea and Ukraine, and I want to thank you for this. I particularly note the work done by the heads and staff of Russia’s representative missions at the UN and other key international organisations.
We must continue working with just such energy and dignity, in a spirit of tact, restraint and sense of measure of course. Our position must be based on clear and unshakeable principles of international law and legal and historical justification, on truth, justice, and the strength of moral superiority.
For my part, I can say that our country’s leadership will continue to do everything necessary to give you good conditions for your professional activity. As you know, I have signed presidential executive orders raising the wages of Foreign Ministry staff. Wages of people working at the central office will increase 1.4-fold on average.
Pensions for diplomatic personnel taking their retirement after January 1, 2014, will increase 3.5-fold on average. Pay for the heads of foreign diplomatic missions will increase four-fold on average in ruble equivalent. Pension top-ups for ambassadors and permanent envoys going into retirement have also increased considerably.
Wages in rubles for personnel at diplomatic missions abroad will be increased a bit later, from January 1, 2016, but this will be a four-fold increase. I hope that these steps will help to boost the Foreign Ministry’s human resources potential and thus make us more effective in carrying out our foreign policy.
I also ask the Government to speed up the decision on providing additional guarantees for personnel from other agencies and administrative and technical personnel working at Russian missions abroad, especially in situations where there are terrorist threats.
The Foreign Ministry has raised the question of giving diplomatic service the official legal status as a special type of civil service in Russia. We will examine this proposal.
This concludes my opening remarks.
I thank the members of the media for the attention they have given our work.
Source: here (01.07.14). # # # Picture: $100B China money for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. BRICS.
Picture: Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, London, UK. June 2014. + David Cameron.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies are well-known around the world. Today, you are hosting this event together. This shows the great importance you attach to China, and is a reflection of inclusiveness.
Inclusiveness is the mark of human civilization and progress.
Chinese thinkers before the Qin Dynasty valued the notion of harmony without uniformity and believed in peace as being most precious. This coincides with the belief of ancient European philosophers that harmony generates justice and kindness.
The history of human development shows that the Eastern and Western civilizations, though of different origins, both appreciated the importance of harmonious coexistence, inclusiveness and mutual learning.
Inclusiveness and common development are needed all the more in the 21st century. We need not only to increase employment and promote balanced, coordinated, fair and equitable development within a country; we also need to achieve development that features peaceful coexistence and common growth among countries and regions. Inclusive development should indeed be a common goal pursued by all countries in the world.
The world is paying great attention to China. There are all kinds of views about China' s economic growth.
A line from a Chinese poem reads: "A mountain, when viewed in face, may look like a range; when viewed from the side, it may look like a peak." That means a mountain, seen from different angles, will leave people with different impressions. What it implies is that different conclusions may be drawn when people see things from different perspectives.
The UK is the first to complete industrialization, while China is the biggest developing country in the world. I believe your interest in China is actually about whether the world can achieve inclusive development.
China's pursuit of a new type of industrialization, informationization, urbanization and agricultural modernization is a pursuit of inclusive development on the biggest scale in the world.
After more than 30 years of reform and opening-up, and through the hard work of our people, China has steadily improved the lives of its 1.3 billion people, lifted over 600 million people out of poverty, and ensured the people's right to survival and development.
China's development has been achieved in an open environment.
The firm goal of our 1.3 billion people is to achieve modernization, which will be a long journey. China is the second biggest economy in the world, but it ranks after 80th in the world with a per capita GDP of US$6,800. In China' s vast central and western as well as northeastern regions, per capita GDP is slightly over US$5,000 and it is a mere US$3,000 in some western provinces.
Some 200 million Chinese still live below the poverty line by World Bank standards.
At the same time, fast economic growth has been accompanied by a growing pressure on resources and the environment. These will remain our difficulties and challenges in the long run. To achieve modernization, it is important to complete industrialization and urbanization. This is exactly what the Chinese people are working for at present and for some time to come.
(1) China's urbanization
In the past few decades, China' s urbanization has been advancing, but it is still lagging behind on the whole. Over 600 million Chinese are still living in rural areas. Due to inadequate financial resources and limited public goods, the 200 million rural migrants cannot enjoy the same public services as those who have been living in cities with urban residency.
Between now and 2020, we need to grant urban residency to 100 million of such rural migrants, mainly in eastern China. We also need to encourage another 100 million rural residents in central and western regions to settle down in cities and towns nearby.
In addition, there are 100 million Chinese living in run-down city areas, which need to be redeveloped at a faster pace. To address these three problems, each involving 100 million people, is a pressing task for China as it pushes forward the new type of urbanization.
But our challenges go beyond that. Even if we had solved all the above-mentioned problems for the 300 million people, we still have several hundred million farmers who will move to cities in the coming years. This will be difficult to accomplish without over ten years or even longer, and the tasks will only be more difficult on our way ahead.
For any country to complete industrialization, it has to achieve agricultural modernization, raise agricultural productivity and, on normal cases, keep the percentage of agricultural population low. China will not be an exception. To have so many people move to live and work in cities in an orderly manner will be a long process. That is why we say that China will not be able to become a medium-level developed country and achieve modernization until the middle of the century.
(2) China's industrialization
Industrialization is an important aspect of modernization. It took western countries over 100 years to achieve industrialization, while China has instituted a full-fledged industrial system in just a couple of decades.
China now leads the world in the output of many industrial products. You are all familiar with goods "made in China" , but China mainly produces medium- to-low-end products. It has to advance to a medium-to-high level in industrial development.
Industrial upgrading will serve our joint response to climate change. It is also a natural choice for China if it is to break energy, resources and environment bottlenecks. China will pursue a new type of industrialization, advocate green and low-carbon development and step up efforts to conserve energy and reduce emissions so that Chinese products will be more energy-efficient and environment-friendly, and China will achieve internally-driven growth through innovation.
This will also bring huge business opportunities for the world. In the coming five years, China will import more than US$10 trillion worth of goods, and invest over US$500 billion overseas. Outbound visits by Chinese tourists will exceed 500 million. China will be happy to share its development dividends with other countries in the world.
In the modernization drive of such a populous country like China, there is no example to follow.
We face a whole range of challenges and need to make hard exploration and efforts. After decades of fast growth, China' s growth has moderated to a medium-to-high speed compared with the double-digit rate in the past. Some people begin to worry that the Chinese economy will not maintain sustained growth and will head for a hard landing. I can assure you that such things will not happen, because economic growth in China is supported by urbanization and industrialization.
What is more, there are big gaps between urban and rural areas and among different regions as well as unreasonable industrial structure. All these mean potential and huge domestic demand for China' s development. As long as we keep to the right direction and work hard, we will be able to maintain medium-to-high growth of the Chinese economy for a long time to come.
Since the beginning of this year, the Chinese economy has maintained stability on the whole, despite considerable downward pressure. We will continue to follow a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy. We will not resort to massive stimulus measures; instead, we will further innovate the thinking and model of macro-regulation, combine a ranged approach with a targeted approach in adjustment; strengthen anticipatory adjustments and fine-tuning, and ensure economic growth will stay within a proper range between the minimum rate needed for job creation and the CPI growth ceiling to keep inflation under control.
We have confidence in meeting the growth target of about 7.5% set for this year. This will also lay a solid foundation for our future development.
China' s economic aggregate has exceeded US$9 trillion. An annual growth of around 7.5%, adjusted for inflation, will be translated to an increment of about US$1 trillion, equivalent to a medium-sized economy.
This is no easy job, but it will bring huge business opportunities to China and the world. I have given you so many figures, not to play a game of numbers, but to show you that China has the condition and ability to promote balanced, coordinated, sustained and healthy economic development.
(3) China's peaceful development
To achieve modernization in a big developing country like China, and to fulfil the Chinese dream of great national renewal requires a peaceful international environment and stable neighbourhood. Otherwise, we cannot focus on development. This is an irrefutable truth.
The Chinese people love peace. Our ancestors taught us that we should not do to others what we don' t want others to do to us, and that we must help others achieve success if we want to achieve success ourselves. This has been imprinted into the DNA of the Chinese nation and become an accepted code of conduct for the Chinese people. Expansion is not in the Chinese DNA, nor does China subscribe to the logic that a strong country is bound to be hegemonic.
The achievements China has made through development in the past three decades are attributable to an external environment of peace and stability. The path of peaceful development has benefited the Chinese people and enabled different countries to achieve win-win development. This is the one important thing we have learned from our development over the past decades and we will never give it up. China will remain committed to inclusiveness, openness, peace and cooperation even after it becomes stronger in the future.
China is a major responsible country. China stands for mutual respect, equality and peaceful coexistence among countries and acts in accordance with the UN Charter and the norms governing international relations.
China calls for peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts through diplomatic channels, and opposes the use of force or interference in other countries' internal affairs.
China is steadfast in pursuing the path of peaceful development and follows a win-win strategy of opening-up. China is ready to work with other countries to foster an international environment of enduring peace.
China has over the years contributed significantly to peace and stability in Asia. Thanks to the common ground China reached with neighboring countries for cooperation and win-win progress, a sound atmosphere has been created for handling differences through negotiations and consultations; hence the prosperity and development of East Asia today.
China follows a neighbourhood policy of building friendship and partnerships with surrounding countries and wants to live in peace with all its neighbors.
But for those acts of provoking incidents and undermining peace, China will have to take resolute measures to stop them so as to prevent the situation from getting out of control, and bring the situation back to the track of dialogue and negotiations. I believe as long as countries in the region engage in dialogue and negotiations with sincerity and good faith, the environment of peace and tranquility will be maintained.
History tells us that war means the failure of human wisdom.
Peace is the result of reflection on disasters and sufferings. As the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said: "In history lies all the secrets of statecraft. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
We must learn lessons from the past, face history squarely, and be forward-looking. We need to seek political settlement of international and regional issues, and work together to counter traditional and non-traditional security challenges, and advance prosperity and development of the world.
(4) China's reform and opening-up
China' s modernization needs not only a peaceful and stable external environment, but also strong impetus from reform and opening-up.
China' s big population means tremendous creativity, and its market has huge vibrancy.
I once worked as the Party secretary of a village production team in Fengyang county, Anhui province, back in the 1970s, in a time of planned economy. I was responsible for assigning work to the hundreds of farmers in the village every day.
The villagers worked hard in the field from dawn to dusk, but still they could make very little for a decent meal. Later, to enforce rural reform, the system of household contract responsibility was introduced, which gave villagers the right to decide what crops to grow and how to grow them. In just a few years, food was no longer a problem.
It is reform and opening-up that has given hundreds of millions of Chinese vast space for pursuing their own development, and spurred steady social progress. Reform has led to fast development of China. It has provided a driving force for economic growth today, and it will sustain China' s development in the years to come.
The key to reform is to streamline administration and delegate government power.
To further energize the market and encourage greater creativity from society, the government needs, first and foremost, to reform itself by delegating powers on matters outside its mandate, and leave to the market what should be decided by the market.
Though the economy was operating under difficulties last year, we managed to unleash the potential of private investment through streamlining administration and delegating power.
The reform of business registration system in March this year was followed by a surge of over 40% in the number of newly registered businesses, giving a strong boost to new business start-ups and job creation.
We will also advance structural reform and give more play to the role of private capital by easing market access.
All in all, the purpose of reform is to inspire the enthusiasm of the Chinese people and provide more platforms for their innovation and creation, so that there will be a chance for everyone' s dream to come true.
Of course, to delegate power does not mean that the government will give free rein to everything. We will delegate power while enforcing government regulations with tighter oversight on, and law-based handling of, the production and selling of counterfeit and shoddy goods, IPR infringement and environmental pollution.
Opening-up is in itself a way of reform. We will implement a new round of opening-up, ease market access for foreign investment, and open the services sector and hinterland and border areas more widely to the outside.
We will explore, through the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, a management model featuring pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list approach. Our purpose is to provide a level playing field for Chinese and foreign investors and businesses alike.
China regards the UK as a choice of destination for outbound investment and hopes British companies will take China as their major investment destination.
Deepening reform and opening-up is bound to unleash enormous vitality in the Chinese economy, benefiting the Chinese people, bringing more opportunities to the world, and making important contribution to the inclusive development of the world.
The global economy is on the whole showing signs of recovery, but there are still many uncertainties and destabilizing factors.
Developed and developing countries have become the twin engines of world economic growth. Countries need to continue to demonstrate the spirit of solidarity, coordination and cooperation shown in the course of coping with the international financial crisis, vigorously carry out reform and innovation, enhance coordination on macroeconomic policies, remove protectionist barriers, and foster a level playing field to expand converging interests and share the fruits of globalization.
The past ten years, since establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries, has witnessed fruitful results in bilateral cooperation in business, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges, and other fields.
During my visit, I had in-depth and candid talks with the government leaders of the UK.
The two countries issued a joint statement. The two sides shared the view that China and the UK need to strengthen political trust and strategic cooperation, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, increase communication and coordination at the UN Security Council, and, in such multilateral mechanisms as the G20, work together to uphold the multilateral trading regime, promote negotiations on a China-EU investment treaty, and feasibility studies on establishing a China-EU free trade area, and increase dialogue on climate change and counter-terrorism, etc.
The two sides need to make full use of the guiding role of the annual meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries, and other mechanisms to ensure that our cooperation operates smoothly and efficiently across the board. China and the UK may work together to contribute to the development of China-EU relations as a whole.
China and the UK need to work as partners for common growth and inclusive development. We need not only to expand, but also enrich our cooperation. We need not only to do business with each other, but also conduct more high-tech cooperation.
China will work more closely with the UK in infrastructure, manufacturing, urbanization and other areas to increase two-way trade and investment.
China and the UK will launch direct trading between the RMB and sterling, and China will open an RMB clearing bank in London, which will enhance our financial cooperation.
The UK leads the world in innovative development, especially in new and high technologies, energy conservation, environmental protection and scientific research, and China is implementing a strategy of innovation-driven development. This represents broad prospects for our cooperation in science, technology and innovation.
We shall make good use of the Research and Innovation Partnership Fund set up to facilitate high-standard development projects and research findings, with a view to providing a strong support for the development of our two countries.
China-UK cooperation is not limited to the economic field: we also need to strengthen people-to-people exchanges.
The British culture values scientific thinking, good reasoning and accommodation of others, while it is China' s tradition to emphasize openness, inclusiveness and mutual learning. China and the UK, though thousands of miles apart, are actually "distant neighbors" .
Our respective science and technology, culture and arts, as well as academic thinking, each has its own proud tradition, and has been a source of mutual inspiration.
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is popular in China, while The Peony Pavilion, composed by the Chinese writer Tang Xianzu of the Ming Dynasty, has been put on stage here in the UK.
The British use English as their mother tongue, while in China 300 million Chinese are learning English, more than most of the countries in the world.
And although China was where tea was first discovered, the British drink more tea than most people in the world.
Right now, over 130,000 Chinese students are studying in the UK, accounting for half of the number in all EU countries. China and the UK need to deepen their cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and step up cooperation in education and culture.
The UK government has agreed to simplify visa application for Chinese citizens. This means more Chinese people will be able to visit or come to work in the UK, injecting more vitality to the UK economy.
Both the UK and China are great nations. We both have a time-honored history and each has created a splendid past. Now, both countries are determined to ride the tide of the times and seek new changes.
As the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote: "Man cannot make occasions, but he may seize those that offer."
Similarly, the famous Chinese writer, Su Shi of the Song Dynasty, remarked that: "When your turn comes, seize it; and when opportunity knocks at the door, grab it, or it will slip away."
China and the UK, the East and the West, developing countries and developed ones alike, should seize opportunities, meet challenges together, and build a better world through inclusive development.
The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that he wants the Magna Carta (sealed in June 1215) to be taught to children of all backgrounds as part of his fightback against extremism.
Clause 39 of the Magna Carta reads: "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."
Perhaps Mr Cameron should first consider a revision class on the principles of the Magna Carta for his UK government cabinet members who promote secret trials, the use of secret evidence and terrorism preventative investigation measures, and the deprivation of the citizenship of British nationals while abroad, all of which appear to flagrantly violate clause 39.
It would seem that many in government have also forgotten what it means to be British.
Source: Fahad Ansari letter in the Guardian (London) here (16.06.14). UK Establishment anti-Muslim background here (20.06.14), here (19.06.14) and here (18.06.14). # # #
The epic financial crash of 2008-2009 made the hitherto prevailing ideology of freewheeling capitalism - governments get out of the way and leave it all to the markets - untenable.
In the quarter-century of managed capitalism from 1948-1973, UK income growth per capita grew at 2.4% a year. Britain broadly paid its way in the world in traded goods; unemployment averaged 2% and there were no banking crashes to speak of.
Under Margaret Thatcher's deregulated capitalism from 1980-2007, income growth was just 1.7%; competitiveness sharply worsened until today Britain is trading goods at a £110bn deficit a year; unemployment is still nearly 7%, and it ended with the most catastrophic financial-economic crash for a century. Who wants to stick with such a failed model?
It's not as though wholesale privatisation and deregulation have worked well. 'Light' regulation has led to Libor-rigging, money-laundering, tax avoidance on an industrial scale, a deeply unbalanced economy that has hollowed out Britain's industrial base, and an almost daily cascade of corporate scandals.
Nor have the new semi-monopolistic private oligarchs distinguished themselves. G4S, Serco, A4E and Atos have all been disgraced: squeezing out profit and not serving the public interest. This has been the general model. And several major private sectors of the economy - notably energy, housing, rail, pensions, and banking - have manifestly failed badly.
The issue is not state or markets. The task is to find a better way to enable both to play complementary rôles in optimising market development with the wider national interest; a model which all the most successful economies have followed since the Second World War.
Source: Michael Meacher in the Guardian (London) here (18.05.14).
Picture: BigPharma. FatPharma. Statins - the honey in the poison-flower.
On Saturday 8th March 2014, a scheduled Boeing 777-200ER international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Malaysia) to Beijing Capital International Airport (China) took off. Less than half an hour later it had 'gone missing'. The plane was never found.
That was the public script contrived for mainstream media consumption.
The aircraft was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 different nations. 154 were Chinese.
It is still too early for regular members of the general public to take anything more than a provisional view about the fate of the plane, but one thing is manifestly clear. With pantotal global surveillance, the GPS satellite nexus, international military radar, and active passenger web comms, the plane's precise location must have been known with documented exactitude by the intelligence cadres of all major governments within 48 hours. And that location must have been cross-checked and confirmed between all relevant international agencies.
Why haven't these major governments been able to talk publicly about the incident?
One possible answer is that a deep-state, corporation-driven terrorist group, more powerful than the governments themselves, was involved.
If the elected governments admitted openly that such a potent organised crime syndicate existed, they would have to leave power before their next elections. It would be proof positive that they and their intelligence-military complexes were not fit for purpose.
Behind the scenes, and despite frantic efforts at international news coordination, no credible cover story could be concocted about MH370 which would not have been more damaging to those puppet governments than the élite unexplained disappearance narrative which was being retailed by default.
In the covert world, there will be a paper trail in existence, and there will be an electronic data estate relating to the disappearing. But before the major inside leaks and disclosures begin to diffuse out from these widely distributed caches, what are the theories currently being circulated to explain how the plane disappeared?
In the global alternative news community, the major assumption is that the takeout and disappearing of Malaysia Airlines MH370 was a dying G7 cartel hit against China, as was the earlier Uighur knifing rampage on Saturday 1st March 2014 in Kunming,Yunnan province.
Similar dying hits were launched against Russia with the Volgograd bombings in December 2013, the confected gay boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics (most foreign Heads of Government stayed away), and the Nazi-continuum Blackwater/Xe/Academi interference engendering the imposed coup in Ukraine (snipers targeting both sides in the demos etc).
These BlackOps were G7-sourced rages against the BRICS machine. China is slowly and steadily devaluing the Renminbi against the US dollar with (perhaps) 10% down being planned for 2014. She is also, increasingly, doing bipartisan deals with other countries in Yuan/Renminbi rather than in Dollars or Euros.
Russia, with its growing energy supply power and its clout in the Middle East, is terminating the US petrodollar and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which are G7 Nazi-continuum projects of long standing.
China and Russia are slowly and inexorably backing their currencies with accredited and unencumbered gold holdings in preparation for an Asia-initiated global currency reset which will not permit the forex participation of fiat paper QE currencies such as the US Dollar and the Euro.
That the rogue faction fiat paper banksters in the West are now under terminal pressure is evidenced by the lack of deliverable gold in their vaults, and the fact that their in-the-know bankers are being suicided and assassinated, privately or publicly, at an increasing rate. It's even obvious in the MSM and the financial press: the rats are fighting in the sack; no loser is to be left standing.
There is plenty of stuff out in the open, now, for historians of the near future to rewrite global history: The Second Fall of Rome. The DC private corporation has had its day.
But what exactly happened to MH370? I list below six of the emergent stories. Some of these cross-connect. The first originates from Indonesia, the second from the US, the third from Canada, the fourth from Russia, the fifth from Iran, and the sixth from Japan.
(1) The aircraft did not hit the water and landed safely at an unknown location. Of all the large aircraft lost at sea there has never been a situation where wreckage and/or bodies have not been clearly visible on the surface.
A witness observed a plane flying low over the Maldives. A low flight would have kept the aircraft from local radar detection.
There were said to have been high-status Chinese technicians on the flight carrying important drafts of new technology patents, and other substantive technical documents and data.
The aircraft landed in Diego Garcia, possibly escorted by rogue-faction US military fighters. Exemplar source here.
(2) The disappearing of MH370 was a failed attempt to murder a group of major world leaders in The Netherlands, at The Hague Nuclear Security Summit in March 2014. The plane was to be used as a nuke.
On board the aircraft, were twenty scientists with Cosmic Top Secret clearances. For some reason, these people had become superfluous to needs and required termination. What happened to the plane and its occupants is not clear. Exemplar source here.
It is, perhaps, worth recalling in this latter context, that there are thirty nine levels of security clearance above the level of the US President: there are thirty nine levels of people more important than Barack Obama in the US. On this view, visible politicians in the G7 banking cartel are simply hired actors who front up in the media for deep-state corporate interests. Often these actors are thrown away at the next election or are given plausible sinecures.
(3) MH370 was shot down by a newly unveiled US Navy Laser Weapons System (LaWS).
The location of the downed plane was correctly identified by an admiral of the Vietnamese armed forces. An international coverup ensued.
The motive for the attack was to provide Russia with a warning in the form of a decisive demonstration of the LaWS weapons system following her activities in and around Ukraine and Crimea. The LaWS attack on MH370 was a response to the earlier public test of the Topol missile system by the Russian military.
A further major motive was a G7 grab for Malaysian oil, using the MH370 disappearing as a preliminary threat to get talks moving.
Also, but subsidiary in motive, twenty employees of Freescale Semiconductor Inc of Austin, Texas (US) are said to have been on MH370, heading for a conference in Beijing. Several of these employees were Chinese nationals. It would be in the commercial interests of the G7 banking cartel if these people were not to arrive. Exemplar source here.
(4) According to an unnamed Russian intelligence source who spoke to the Russian-language Moscow newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets, MH370 was seen on the ground near Kandahar (Afghanistan), near the Pakistan border. This report has never been retracted (in English) by the Russian government. Exemplar source here.
The Kandahar reference may fit in with a larger itinerary. MH370, it has been suggested, landed first, secretly, in India; it was then moved to Kandahar and then, after much behind-the scenes haggling, to a military hangar in Beijing. This story is not clear about where the passengers and crew were taken off the plane, though some, again, suggest that Diego Garcia may have been a port of call between India and Kandahar, or even before India.
(5) MH370 did not crash in the ocean. If it had, it would have left a huge, easily-visible debris field.
Only a remote-hijacking, fly-by-wire scenario can explain the plane’s disappearance.
The Malaysian government has been given sealed evidence by one or more foreign governments concerning the fate of MH370. As a condition of receiving that evidence, Malaysia is not allowed to divulge it.
The secrecy of the information is such that disclosure would have a major negative impact of the global economy. All commercial aircraft are fitted with electronic backdoors to allow remote-hijacking of the MH370 type by élite groups. It is a standard way to remove troublemakers. Modern cars are the same. These days, planes or cars can be flown or driven remotely like drones or radio-controlled toys.
If this was generally known, international tourist, business and political travel by air would cease, international trade would seize up, and large numbers would be knocked off the gross global domestic product. This would lead to vast unemployment, austerity and multiple revolution.
Any bright, geeky, motivated teenager with a laptop and a cell phone could hack into commercial aircraft fly-by-wire systems. Technologies have been patented for protecting these fly-by-wire systems, for example: US Patent #8,391,493. This is said to have been 'disappeared' from Patent Office records for élite management purposes. Exemplar source here.
(6) The plane was remotely hijacked by electronic code insinuations into the onboard computer flight plan and, in a covert step-by-step progression over several days, was flown via Diego Garcia, Israel and Florida to the Netherlands.
The original passengers and crew were removed at Diego Garcia.
It is reported that a cloned version of the plane was photographed at Tel Aviv airport (picture here).
At a rogue DC corporation military facility in Florida (US), the aircraft was loaded with a nuclear weapon.
The plane was then flown towards the Netherlands where it was used as a threat against world leaders gathering for the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th March 2014. The plane was stopped by the Dutch airforce. Exemplar source here.
Notice, incidentally, that as far as Russia was concerned, Sergei Lavrov the Foreign Minister attended the Netherlands summit, but President Vladimir Putin did not. Ostensibly, Putin stayed in Moscow to deal with the developing Crimea and Ukraine situations.
In the context of the narratives cited above, the continuing search for MH370 debris using submarine drones around western Australian waters in the southern Indian Ocean may just be cynical establishment distraction and obfuscation. If so, this search will be maintained until the black box is said to have gone quiet, and sheeple news management can move on in preparation for the next faked-up, war-on-terror, false flag attack.
AB note: This Malaysia Airlines MH370 story is now being updated on a separate page here.
Picture: Other worlds. Other dimensions. Other spiritualities. #1ab
Picture: What is the Higher Evolution? Angels, Gods, Genies, ETs, Aliens.
Picture: The Vrillon Transmission. Extraterrestrial TV hijack. UK; Nov 1977.
Picture: The Future Historians' List. Significant names in G7 banking collapse.
Picture: Female, Male or What? Has the third human sex already arrived?
# Picture: Great Grimsby UK. GO HOME SKINT CHANNEL 4.
#Picture: Greater Periwinkle 1. Vinca major . Apocynaceae.
Greater Periwinkle - Vinca major (Apocynaceae). In April, this is flowering in the wild all over Northern Europe and elsewhere.
The generic name Vinca is from the Latin 'vincire', meaning to bind about or fetter, to encircle, to confine, to restrain, or to envelop. The name is said to be based on its trailing, connecting, perennial habit. In England, the plant has a number of local names including Bachelor's Buttons in Somerset, and Dicky Dilver in Suffolk.
In traditional English herb lore, the leaves of the Periwinkle are stuffed into a couple's mattress to enhance fidelity, love, passion and harmony. Some say its active ingredients may be useful in love potions.
In the sixteenth century, 'The Book of Secrets of Albertus Magnus: Of the Virtues of Herbs, Stones, and Certain Beasts' spoke of the power of the Periwinkle to produce love between a man and his wife. It must be powdered and mixed with leeks and earthworms and then added to the couple’s meals.
More recently it has been used in herbal medicine as an astringent and tonic, in menorrhagia, in haemorrhages, and also as a laxative and gargle. Made into an ointment, it can be useful for piles and inflammatory conditions of the skin.
The leaves and seeds of the Periwinkle contain vincamine, a vinpocetine precursor, which is used medicinally to enhance memory in aging and forgetful minds.
Other pictures of the Greater Periwinkle can be seen here, here, here and here. The best academic Flora reference is probably C.A.Stace NFBI 3 (2011): 550. #
When we know we're being watched, we impose restraints on our behaviour – even clearly innocent activities – just as surely as if we were ordered to do so.
The mass surveillance systems of today, systems that pre-emptively automate the indiscriminate seizure of private records, constitute a sort of surveillance time-machine; a machine that simply cannot operate without violating our liberty on the broadest scale.
And it permits governments to go back and scrutinise every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever spoken to, and derive suspicion from an innocent life. Even a well-intentioned mistake can turn a life upside down.
To preserve our free societies, we have to defend not just against distant enemies, but against dangerous policies at home.
If we allow scarce resources to be squandered on surveillance programmes that violate the very rights they purport to defend, we haven't protected our liberty at all: we have paid to lose it.
Picture: Aaron Swartz 1986-2013. There is no justice in following unjust laws.
# Picture: Bosnia anti-government protests. February 2014.
Picture: Spying Birds. Angry Birds. Unlawful spying by the US NSA.
Surveillance and Privacy: Edward Snowden's interview on German TV
At the beginning of 2014, the American patriot and whistleblower, Edward Snowden, gave an interview to Hubert Seifel in Moscow. It was broadcast on the German public television channel ARD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland). ARD is a consortium of public broadcasters in Germany, founded in 1950.
On Monday 3rd February 2014 a full transcript in English of that interview was released on the web. The text is as follows:
Q: Mr Snowden, did you sleep well the last couple of nights because I was reading that you asked for a kind of police protection? Are there any threats?
A: There are significant threats, but I sleep very well. There was an article that came out in an online outlet called BuzzFeed where they interviewed officials from the Pentagon, from the National Security Agency and they gave them anonymity to be able to say what they want and what they told the reporter was that they wanted to murder me. These individuals - and these are acting government officials - they said they would be happy, they would love to put a bullet in my head, to poison me as I was returning from the grocery store, and have me die in the shower.
Q: But fortunately you are still alive with us.
A: Right, but I'm still alive and I don't lose sleep because I’ve done what I feel I needed to do. It was the right thing to do and I’m not going to be afraid.
Q: "The greatest fear I have", and I quote you, "regarding the disclosures is nothing will change." That was one of your greatest concerns at the time but in the meantime there is a vivid discussion about the situation with the NSA; not only in America but also in Germany and in Brazil and President Obama was forced to go public and to justify what the NSA was doing on legal grounds.
A: What we saw initially in response to the revelations was sort of a circling of the wagons of government around the National Security Agency. Instead of circling around the public and protecting their rights, the political class circled around the security state and protected their rights.
What’s interesting is though that was the initial response, since then we’ve seen a softening. We’ve seen the President acknowledge that when he first said "We’ve drawn the right balance. There are no abuses," we’ve seen him and his officials admit that there have been abuses. There have been thousands of violations of the National Security Agency and other agencies and authorities every single year.
Q: Is the speech of Obama (recently) the beginning of a serious regulation?
A: It was clear from the President’s speech that he wanted to make minor changes to preserve authorities that we don’t need. The President created a review board from officials that were personal friends, from national security insiders, former Deputy of the CIA, people who had every incentive to be soft on these programs and to see them in the best possible light. But what they found was that these programs have no value. They’ve never stopped a terrorist attack in the United States and they have marginal utility at best for other things.
The only thing that the Section 215 phone metadata program, actually it’s a broader metadata program of bulk collection - bulk collection means mass surveillance - program was in stopping or detecting $8.500 wire transfer from a cab driver in California and it’s this kind of review where insiders go; we don’t need these programs. These programs don’t make us safe. They take a tremendous amount of resources to run and they offer us no value. They go "we can modify these." The National Security Agency operates under the President’s executive authority alone. He can end or modify or direct a change of their policies at any time.
Q: For the first time President Obama did concede that the NSA collects and stores trillions of data.
A: Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all. Everything. Even if you’ve never been suspected of any crime. Traditionally, the government would identify a suspect, they would go to a judge, they would say we suspect he’s committed this crime. They would get a warrant and then they would be able to use the totality of their powers in pursuit of the investigation. Nowadays, what we see is they want to apply the totality of their powers in advance - prior to an investigation.
Q: You started this debate. Edward Snowden is, in the meantime, a household name for the whistleblower in the age of the Internet. You were working until last summer for the NSA and during this time you secretly collected thousands of confidential documents. What was the decisive moment? Or was there a long period of time or something happening? Why did you do this?
A: I would say sort of the breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress. There’s no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs.
The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public. But neither of these things we were allowed to discuss. Even the wider body of our elected representatives were prohibited from knowing or discussing these programs and that’s a dangerous thing. The only review we had was from a secret court, the FISA Court, which is a sort of rubber stamp authority
When you are on the inside and you go into work everyday and you sit down at the desk and you realize the power you have - you can wire tap the President of the United States, you can wire tap a Federal Judge - and if you do it carefully no one will ever know because the only way the NSA discovers abuses are from self-reporting.
Q: We’re not talking only of the NSA as far as this is concerned, there is a multilateral agreement for co-operation among the services and this alliance of intelligence operations is known as the Five Eyes. What agencies and countries belong to this alliance and what is its purpose?
A: The Five Eyes alliance is sort of an artifact of the post-World War II era where the Anglophone countries are the major powers banded together to sort of co-operate and share the costs of intelligence gathering infrastructure.
So we have the UK’s GCHQ, we have the US NSA, we have Canada’s C-Sec, we have the Australian Signals Intelligence Directorate, and we have New Zealand’s DSD. What the result of this was over decades and decades was a sort of a supra-national intelligence organization that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries.
Q: In many countries, as in America too, the agencies like the NSA are not allowed to spy within their own borders on their own people. So the Brits, for example, they can spy on everybody but the Brits, but the NSA can conduct surveillance in England. So in the very end they could exchange their data and they would be strictly following the law.
A: If you ask the governments about this directly they would deny it and point to policy agreements between the members of the Five Eyes saying that they won’t spy on each other’s citizens, but there are a couple of key points there. One is that the way they define spying is not the collection of data. The GCHQ is collecting an incredible amount of data on British Citizens just as the National Security Agency is gathering enormous amounts of data on US citizens. What they are saying is that they will not then target people within that data. They won’t look for UK citizens or British citizens.
In addition, the policy agreements between them that say British won’t target US citizens, US won’t target British citizens, are not legally binding. The actual memorandums of agreement state specifically on that that they are not intended to put legal restriction on any government. They are policy agreements that can be deviated from or broken at any time. So if they want to on a British citizen they can spy on a British citizen and then they can even share that data with the British government that is itself forbidden from spying on UK citizens.
So there is a sort of a trading dynamic there but it’s not, it’s not open. It’s more of a nudge and wink and beyond that the key is to remember the surveillance and the abuse doesn’t occur when people look at the data; it occurs when people gather the data in the first place.
Q: How narrow is the co-operation of the German Secret Service BND with the NSA and with the Five Eyes?
A: I would describe it as intimate. As a matter of fact, the first way I described it in our written interview was that the German Services and the US Services are in bed together. They not only share information, the reporting of results from intelligence, but they actually share the tools and the infrastructure; they work together against joint targets in services and there’s a lot of danger in this. One of the major programs that faces abuse in the National Security Agency is what’s called "XKeyscore." It’s a front-end search engine that allows them to look through all of the records they collect worldwide every day.
Q: What could you do if you would sit so to speak in their place with this kind of instrument?
A: You could read anyone’s e-mail in the world. Anybody you’ve got an email address for, any website you can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at you can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop shop for access to the NSA’s information. And what’s more, you can tag individuals using "XKeyscore."
Where let’s say I saw you once and I thought what you were doing was interesting or you just have access that’s interesting to me, let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network. I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere. I can track your real name. I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence - hide your identity - the NSA can find you and anyone who’s allowed to use this, or who the NSA shares their software with, can do the same thing. Germany is one of the countries that has access to "XKeyscore."
Q: This sounds rather frightening. The question is does the BND deliver data of Germans to the NSA?
A: Whether the BND does it directly or knowingly, the NSA gets German data. Whether it’s provided, I can’t speak to until it’s been reported because it would be classified, and I prefer that journalists make the distinctions and the decisions about what is public interest and what should be published.
However, it’s no secret that every country in the world has the data of their citizens in the NSA. Millions and millions and millions of data connections from Germans going about their daily lives, talking on their cell phones, sending SMS messages, visiting websites, buying things online. All of this ends up at the NSA and it’s reasonable to suspect that the BND may be aware of it in some capacity. Now whether or not they actively provide the information, I should not say.
Q: The BND basically argues if we do this, we do this accidentally, actually, and our filter didn’t work.
A: Right. So the kind of things that they’re discussing there are two things: They’re talking about filtering of ingest, which means when the NSA puts a secret server in a German telecommunications provider, or they hack a German router, and they divert the traffic in a manner that lets them search through things, they’re saying "if I see what I think is a German talking to another German, I’ll drop it." But how do you know?
You could say, "Well, these people are speaking the German language. This IP address seems to be from a German company to another German company." But that’s not accurate and they wouldn’t dump all of that traffic because they’ll get people who are targets of interest who are actively in Germany using German communications.
So realistically, what’s happening is when they say there’s no spying on Germans, they don’t mean that German data isn’t being gathered. They don’t mean that records aren’t being taken or stolen. What they mean is that they’re not intentionally searching for German citizens. And that’s sort of a fingers-crossed-behind-the-back promise. It’s not reliable.
Q: What about other European countries like Norway and Sweden, for example, because we have a lot of, I think, underwater cables going through the Baltic Sea?
A: So this is sort of an expansion of the same idea. If the NSA isn’t collecting information on German citizens in Germany, are they as soon as it leaves German borders? And the answer is yes. Any single communication that transits the internet, the NSA may intercept at multiple points. They might see it in Germany, they might see it in Sweden, they might see it in Norway or Finland, they might see it in Britain, and they might see it in the United States. Any single one of these places that a German communication crosses, it’ll be ingested and added to the database.
Q: So let’s come to our southern European neighbours then. What about Italy? What about France? What about Spain?
A: It’s the same deal worldwide.
Q: Does the NSA spy on Siemens, on Mercedes, on other successful German companies, for example, to prevail, to have the advantage of knowing what is going on in a scientific and economic world?
A: I don’t want to pre-empt the editorial decisions of journalists, but what I will say is there’s no question that the US is engaged in economic spying.
If there’s information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests - not the national security of the United States - they’ll go after that information and they’ll take it.
Q: There is this old saying "you do whatever you can do," so the NSA is doing whatever is technically possible.
A: This is something that the President touched on last year where he said that just because we can do something, and this was in relation to tapping Angela Merkel’s phone, just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should. And that’s exactly what’s happened. The technological capabilities that have been provided, because of sort of weak security standards in internet protocols and cellular communications networks, have meant that intelligence services can create systems that see everything.
Q: Nothing annoyed the German government more than the fact that the NSA tapped the private phone of the German Chancellor Merkel over the last 10 years. Obviously, suddenly this invisible surveillance was connected with a known face, and was not connected with a kind of watery shady terrorist background. Obama now promised to stop snooping on Merkel, which raises the question: did the NSA tape already previous governments in Germany - previous chancellors - and when did they do that and how long did they do this for?
A: This is a particularly difficult question for me to answer because there’s information that I very strongly believe is in the public interest. However, as I’ve said before, I prefer for journalists to make those decisions in advance, review the material themselves and decide whether or not the public value of this information outweighs the sort of reputational cost to the officials that ordered the surveillance.
What I can say is we know Angela Merkel was monitored by the National Security Agency. The question is how reasonable is it to assume that she is the only German official that was monitored? How reasonable is it to believe that she’s the only prominent German face who the National Security Agency was watching? I would suggest it seems unreasonable that if anyone was concerned about the intentions of German leadership that they would only watch Merkel and not her aides. Not other prominent officials. Not heads of ministries or even local government officials.
Q: How does a young man from Elizabeth City in North Carolina, 30 years old, get in such a position in such a sensitive area?
A: That’s a very difficult question to answer. In general, I would say it highlights the dangers of privatizing government functions. I worked previously as an actual staff officer, a government employee for the Central Intelligence Agency, but I’ve also served much more frequently as a contractor in a private capacity.
What that means is you have private for-profit companies doing inherently governmental work like targeted espionage, surveillance, compromising foreign systems. And anyone who has the skills who can convince a private company that they have the qualifications to do so, will be empowered by the government to do that and there’s very little oversight. There’s very little review.
Q: Have you been one of these classical computer kids sitting red-eyed during the night in the age of 12/15 and your father was knocking on your door and saying, "Switch off the light. It’s getting late now"? Did you get your computer skills from that side? When did you get your first computer?
A: Right. I definitely have had, shall we say, a deep informal education in computers and electronic technology. They’ve always been fascinating and interesting to me. The characterization of having your parents telling you to go to bed, I would say, is fair.
Q: If one looks to the little public data of your life, one discovers that you obviously wanted to join in May 2004 the Special Forces to fight in Iraq. What did motivate you at the time? You know, Special Forces, looking at you in the very moment, means grim fighting and it means probably killing. And did you ever get to Iraq?
A: No, I didn’t get to Iraq. One of the interesting things about the Special Forces is that they’re not actually intended for direct combat. They’re what’s referred to as a force multiplier. They’re inserted behind enemy lines. It’s a squad that has a number of different specialties in it, and they teach and enable the local population to resist or to support US forces in a way that allows the local population a chance to help determine their own destiny, and I felt that was an inherently noble thing at the time. In hindsight, some of the reasons that we went into Iraq were not well-founded and I think did a disservice to everyone involved.
Q: What happened to your adventure then? Did you stay long with them or what happened to you?
A: No, I broke my legs when I was in training and was discharged.
Q: So it was a short adventure in other words?
A: It was a short adventure.
Q: In 2007 the CIA stationed you with a diplomatic cover in Geneva in Switzerland. Why did you join the CIA by the way?
A: I don’t think I can actually answer that one.
Q: Okay, if it’s what you have been doing there forget it, but why did you join the CIA?
A: In many ways, I think it’s a continuation of trying to do everything I could to prosecute the public good in the most effective way, and it’s in-line with the rest of my government service where I tried to use my technical skills in the most difficult positions I could find in the world, and the CIA offered that.
Q: If we go back, Special Forces, CIA, NSA… it’s not actually in the description of a human rights activist, or somebody who becomes a whistleblower after this. What happened to you?
A: I think it tells a story, and that’s no matter how deeply an individual is embedded in the government, no matter how faithful to the government they are, no matter how strongly they believe in the causes of their government, as I did during the Iraq war, people can learn. People can discover the line between appropriate government behaviour and actual wrongdoing, and I think it became clear to me that that line had been crossed.
Q: You worked for the NSA through a private contractor with the name Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the big ones in the business. What is the advantage for the US Government or the CIA to work through a private contractor to outsource a central government function?
A: The contracting culture of the national security community in the United States is a complex topic. It’s driven by a number of interests, between primarily limiting the number of direct government employees, at the same time as keeping lobbying groups in Congress, typically from very well-funded businesses such as Booz Allen Hamilton.
The problem there is you end up in a situation where government policies are being influenced by private corporations who have interests that are completely divorced from the public good in mind. The result of that is what we saw at Booz Allen Hamilton, where you have private individuals who have access to what the government alleges were millions and millions of records that they could walk out the door with at any time with no accountability, no oversight, no auditing. The government didn’t even know they were gone.
Q: At the very end you ended up in Russia. Many of the intelligence communities suspect you made a deal, classified material for asylum here in Russia.
A: The Chief of the Task Force investigating me as recently as December said that their investigation had turned up no evidence or indications at all that I had any outside help or contact, or had made a deal of any kind to accomplish my mission. I worked alone. I didn’t need anybody’s help.
I don’t have any ties to foreign governments. I’m not a spy for Russia or China or any other country for that matter. If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all of my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason, I think people really need to consider who do they think they’re working for? The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that, as far as my personal safety, I’ll never be fully safe until these systems have changed.
Q: After your revelations, none of the European countries really offered you asylum. Where did you apply in Europe for asylum?
A: I can’t remember the list of countries with any specificity because there were many of them, but France & Germany were definitely in there, as was the UK. A number of European countries. All of whom, unfortunately, felt that doing the right thing was less important than supporting US political concerns.
Q: One reaction to the NSA snooping is, in the very moment, that countries like Germany are thinking to create national Internets in an attempt to force Internet companies to keep their data in their own country. Does this work?
A: It’s not gonna stop the NSA. Let’s put it that way. The NSA goes where the data is. If the NSA can pull text messages out of telecommunication networks in China, they can probably manage to get Facebook messages out of Germany. Ultimately, the solution to that is not to try to stick everything in a walled garden, although that does raise the level of sophistication and complexity of taking the information. It’s also much better simply to secure the information internationally against everyone, rather than playing "let’s move the data". Moving the data isn’t fixing the problem; securing the data is the problem.
Q: President Obama in the very moment obviously doesn’t care too much about the message of the leak. And together with the NSA, they do care very much more about catching the messenger in that context. Obama asked the Russian president several times to extradite you, but Putin did not. It looks that you will stay for the rest of your life, probably in Russia. How do you feel about Russia in that context and is there a solution to this problem?
A: I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that these leaks didn’t cause harm. In fact, they served the public good. Because of that, I think it will be very difficult to maintain sort of an ongoing campaign of persecution against someone who the public agrees serves the public interest.
Q: The New York Times wrote a very long comment and demanded clemency for you. The headline "Edward Snowden Whistleblower" and I quote from that: "The public learned in great detail how the agency has extended its mandate and abused its authority." And the New York Times closes: "President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home." Did you get a call, in-between, from the White House?
A: I’ve never received a call from the White House and I am not waiting by the phone. But I would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can bring this to a conclusion that serves the interest of all parties. I think it’s clear there are times where what is lawful is distinct from what is rightful. There are times throughout history, and it doesn’t take long for either an American or a German to think about times in the history of their country, where the law provided the government to do things which were not right.
Q: President Obama obviously is, in the very moment, not quite convinced of that because he said that you are charged with three felonies and I quote: "If you, Edward Snowden, believe in what you did you should go back to America, appear before the court with a lawyer, and make your case." Is this the solution?
A: It’s interesting because he mentions three felonies. What he doesn’t say is that the crimes that he has charged me with are crimes that don’t allow me to make my case. They don’t allow me to defend myself in an open court to the public and convince a jury that what I did was to their benefit.
The Espionage Act was never intended (it’s from 1918), it was never intended to prosecute journalistic sources: people who are informing the newspapers about information that’s of public interest. It was intended for people who are selling documents in secret to foreign governments, who are bombing bridges, who are sabotaging communications, not people who are serving the public good. So it’s, I would say, illustrative that the President would choose to say someone should face the music, when he knows the music is a show trial.
Picture: Letter to Angela Merkel Germany re Nazi gold stolen from US in 1930s
Original images of letter here (p1) and here (p2). Source and Neil Keenan video commentary here (04.01.14).
Was one of the results of the Edward Snowden NSA GCHQ surveillance disclosures in 2013 to confirm that the main function of G5 governance in the West is to lie to the people, lie to the media, lie to the courts, lie to international allies, lie, lie and lie again? And that one of the main functions of the deep, unelected, security state is to oblige their G5 governments to do this at all times?
My reaction when I learned that I had been asked to deliver the keynote to this conference was probably similar to the one some of you had, which was: "wait, what?"
And the reason is that my cryptographic and hacker skills are not exactly world-renowned. You know, the story has been told many times of how I almost lost the biggest national security story in the last decade, at least because I found the installation of PGP to be insurmountably annoying and difficult.
There's another story that's very similar that illustrates the same point, that I actually don't think has been told before, which is that prior to my going to Hong Kong, I spent many hours with both Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden trying to get up to speed on the basics of security technology that I would need in order to report on this story. They tried to tutor me in all sorts of programs, and finally concluded that the only one, at least at that time, for that moment, that I could handle was TrueCrypt.
They taught me the basics of TrueCrypt, and when I went to Hong Kong, before I would go to sleep, I would play around with TrueCrypt. I kind of taught myself a couple of functions that they hadn't even taught me and really had this sort of confidence.
On the third or fourth day, I went over to meet both of them and I was beaming with pride. I showed them all of the new things that I had taught myself how to do on TrueCrypt, and pronounced myself this Cryptographic Master; that I was really becoming advanced.
I looked at both of them and I didn't see any return pride coming my way. Actually, what I saw was them trying really hard to avoid rolling their eyes out of their heads at me, to one another.
I said: "Why are you reacting that way? Why isn't that a great accomplishment?" They sort of let some moments go by. No one wanted to break it to me, until finally Snowden piped in and said: "TrueCrypt is really meant for your little kid brother to be able to master. It's not all that impressive."
I remember being very deflated, and kind of going back to the drawing board. Well, that was six months ago. In the interim, the importance of security technology and privacy technology has become really central to everything it is that I do. I really have learned an enormous amount about both its importance and how it functions. And I'm far from the only one. I think one of the most significant outcomes of the last six months, but one of the most underdiscussed, is how many people now appreciate the importance of protecting the security of their communications.
If you go and look at my inbox from July, probably 3-5% of the emails I received were composed of PGP code. That percentage is definitely above 50% today, and probably well above 50%. When we talked about forming our new media company, we barely spent any time on the question. It was simply assumed that we were all going to use the most sophisticated encryption that was available to communicate with one another.
And I think, most encouragingly, whenever I'm contacted by anyone in journalism or activism, or any related fields, they either use encryption, or are embarrassed and ashamed that they don't, and apologise for the fact that they don't, and vow that they're soon going to.
It's a really remarkable sea-change, even from the middle of last year, when I would talk to some of the leading national security journalists in the world, who were working on some of the most sensitive information, and virtually none of them knew what PGP or OTR or any other of the leading privacy technologies were, let alone how to use them. It's really encouraging to see this technology spreading so pervasively.
I think that this underscores an extremely important point, one that gives me great cause for optimism. I'm often asked whether I think that the stories that we've been learning over the last six months, the reporting and the debates that have arisen, will actually change anything and impose any real limits on the US surveillance state.
Typically, when people think the answer to that question is yes, the thing that they cite most commonly is probably the least significant, which is that there's going to be some kind of debate, and our representatives in democratic government are going to respond to our debate, and they're going to impose limits with legislative reform.
None of that is likely to happen. The US government and its allies are not going to voluntarily restrict their own surveillance powers in any meaningful way. In fact, the tactic of the US government that we see over and over, that we've seen historically, is to do the very opposite, which is that when they get caught doing something that brings them disrepute and causes scandal and concern, they're very adept at pretending to reform themselves through symbolic gestures, while at the same time, doing very little other than placating citizen anger and often increasing their own powers that created the scandal in the first place.
We saw that in the mid-1970s, when there was serious concern and alarm in the United States, at least as much as there is now, if not more so, of the US government's surveillance capabilities and abuse. What the US government did in response was that they said: "Well, we're going to engage in all of these reforms that will safeguard these powers. We're going to create a special court that the government needs to go to get permission before they can target people with surveillance."
That sounded great, but then they created the court in the most warped way possible. It's a secret court, where only the government gets to show up, where only the most pro-national security judges are appointed. So this court gave the appearance of oversight, when in reality it's the most grotesque rubber stamp that is known to the Western world. They almost never disapprove of anything. It simply created the appearance that there was judicial oversight.
They also said they were going to create Congressional committees; the intelligence committees that are going to have as their main function overseeing the intelligence committees, and making certain that they no longer abuse their power. What they did instead was immediately install the most servile loyalists of the intelligence committees as head of this 'oversight committee'.
That's been going on for decades, and today we have two of the most slavish, pro-NSA members of Congress as the heads of these committees who are really there to bolster and justify everything and anything the NSA does, rather than engage in real oversight. So, again, it's designed to prettify the process while bringing about no real reform.
This process is now repeating itself. You see the President appoint a handful of his closest loyalists to this 'independent White House panel' that pretended to issue a report that was very balanced and critical of the surveillance state, but in reality introduced a variety of programs that, at the very best, would simply make these programs slightly more palatable from a public perspective, and in many cases, intensify the powers of the surveillance state, rather than reining them in in any meaningful way.
So the answer to whether we're or not going to have meaningful reform definitely does not lie in the typical processes of democratic accountability that we're all taught to respect. But they do lie elsewhere. It is possible that there will be courts that will impose some meaningful restrictions by finding that the programs are unconstitutional.
It's much more possible that other countries around the world who are truly indignant about the breaches of their privacy security will band together and create alternatives, either in terms of infrastructure, or legal régimes that will prevent the United States from exercising hegemony over the Internet or make the cost of doing so far too high. I think even more promising is the fact that large private corporations, Internet companies and others will start finally paying a price for their collaboration with this spying régime.
We've seen that already, when they've been dragged into the light, and finally now are forced to account for what it is that they're doing, and to realise that their economic interests are imperilled by the spying system, exercising their unparalleled power to demand that it be reined in. I think that all of those things are very possible as serious constraints on the surveillance state.
But I ultimately think that where the greatest hope lies is with the people in this room and the skills that all of you possess. The privacy technologies that have already been developed: the Tor Browser, PGP, OTR, and a variety of other products are making real inroads in preventing the US government and its allies from invading the sanctity of our communications.
None of them is perfect. None of them is invulnerable, but they all pose a serious obstacle to the US government's ability to continue to destroy our privacy. And ultimately, the battle over Internet freedom, the question of whether or not the Internet will really be this tool of liberation and democratisation, or whether it'll become the worst tool of human oppression in all of human history will be fought out, I think, primarily, on the technological battlefield.
The NSA and the US government certainly knows that. That's why Keith Alexander gets dressed up in his little costumes, his dad jeans and his edgy black shirt and goes to hacker conferences.
And it's why corporations in Silicon Valley, like Palantir Technologies, spend so much effort depicting themselves as these kind-of rebellious, pro-civil-libertarian factions, as they spend most of their time in secret working hand-in-hand with the intelligence community and the CIA to increase their capabilities, because they want to recruit particularly younger brainpower onto their side, the side of destroying privacy and putting the Internet to use for the world's most powerful factions.
What the outcome of this conflict is, what the Internet ultimately becomes really is not answerable in any definitive way now. It depends so much on what it is that we, as human beings, do. One of the most pressing questions is whether people like the ones who are in this room, and the people who have the skills that you have, now and in the future, will succumb to those temptations, and go to work for the very entities that are attempting to destroy privacy around the world, or whether you will put your talents, skills and resources to defending human beings from those invasions, and continuing to create effective technologies to protect our privacy. I am very optimistic because that power does lie in your hands.
I want to talk about another cause for optimism that I have, which is that the pro-privacy alliance is a lot healthier and more vibrant. It's a lot bigger and stronger than, I think, a lot of us, even who are in it, often appreciate and realise. Even more so, it is rapidly growing. And, I think, inexorably growing.
I know, for me, personally, every single thing that I have done, over the last six months, on this story, and all of the platforms I've been given, like this speech and the honours that I've received, and the accolades that I've been given, are ones that I share completely with two people who have been critically important to everything that I have done.
One of them is my unbelievably brave and incomparably brilliant collaborator, Laura Poitras. You know, Laura doesn't get a huge amount of attention, which is how she likes it, but she really does deserve every last recognition, honour and award because although it sounds cliché, it really is the case that without her, none of this would have happened.
We have talked every single day, virtually, over the last six months. We have made almost every decision, certainly every significant one, in complete partnership and collaboration. Being able to work with somebody who has that high level of understanding about Internet security, about strategies for protecting privacy, has been completely indispensable to the success of what we've been able to achieve.
And then, the second person who has been utterly indispensable and deserves every last accolade, and to share in every last award, is Edward Snowden.
It is really hard to put into words what a profound effect his choice has had on me, and on Laura, and on the people with whom we've worked directly, and on people with whom we've indirectly worked, and then millions and millions of people around the world. The courage and the principled act of conscience that he displayed will shape and inspire me for the rest of my life, and will inspire and convince millions and millions of people to take all sorts of acts that they might not have taken because they've seen what good for the world can be done by even a single individual.
But I think that it's so important to realise, and to me this is the critical point, that none of us, the three of us, did what we did in a vacuum. We were all inspired by people who have done similar things in the past. I'm absolutely certain that Edward Snowden was inspired in all sorts of ways by the heroism and self-sacrifice of Chelsea Manning.
And I'm quite certain that, in one way or another, she (Chelsea Manning) was inspired by the whole litany of whistleblowers and other people of conscience who came before her to blow the whistle on extreme levels of corruption, wrongdoing and illegality among the world's most powerful factions. They in turn were inspired, I'm certain, by the person who is one of my greatest political heroes, Daniel Ellsberg, who did this forty years ago.
Even beyond that, I think it is really important to realise that everything that has been allowed to happen over the last six months and, I think, any kind of significant leak and whistleblowing of classified information in the digital age, both past and future, owes a huge debt of gratitude to the organisation which really pioneered the template, and that's WikiLeaks.
You know, we didn't completely copy, to the letter, the model of WikiLeaks. We modified it a little bit, just like WikiLeaks modified what it has decided it's best tactics and strategies are as it went along, and I'm sure people who come after us will modify what we have done to improve on what we have done and to avoid some of our mistakes and some of the attacks that have actually been successful. But I think the point that is really underscored here, and it was underscored for me, probably most powerfully, when Edward Snowden was rescued from Hong Kong, from probable arrest and imprisonment for the next thirty years by the United States, not only by WikiLeaks, but by an extraordinarily courageous and heroic woman, Sarah Harrison.
There's a huge network of human beings, around the world, who believe in this cause, and not only believe in it, but are increasingly willing to devote their energies and their resources and their time, and to sacrifice for it. There's a reason that that's remarkable, and it kind of occurred to me in a telephone call that I had with Laura, probably two months or so ago. Although we've communicated every day, we've almost never communicated by telephone. One of the few exceptions was we were going to speak at an event at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and we got on the phone the night before to sort-of talk about what ground she would cover, and what ground I would cover.
What she said to me is: "You know, it's amazing if you think about it." She went through the list of people who have devoted themselves to transparency and the price that they have paid. She said Edward Snowden is stuck in Russia facing thirty years in prison, Chelsea Manning is in prison, Aaron Swartz committed suicide. People like Jeremy Hammond and Barrett Brown are the subjects of grotesquely overzealous prosecutions by virtue of the acts of transparency they've engaged in. Even people like Jim Risen, who is with an organisation like the New York Times, faces the possibility of prison for stories that he's published.
Laura and I have been advised by countless lawyers that it is not safe for us to even travel to our own country, and she said: "It's really a sign of how sick our political future has become, that the price for bringing transparency to the government, and for doing the job of the media, and the Congress, that they're not doing, is this extreme form of punishment."
You know, she was right, and she had a good point. I had a hard time disagreeing with the thing as anybody would. But I said, you know, there's actually another interesting point that that list reveals. The thing that's so interesting to me about that list is that it actually keeps growing, as long as it is. The reason why that's so amazing to me is because the reason the people on that list, and others like them, pay a price, is because the United States knows that it's only hope for continuing to maintain its regimen of secrecy, behind which it can engage in those radical and corrupt acts, is to intimidate, deter and threaten people who are would-be whistleblowers and transparency activists from coming forward and doing what it is that they do by showing them that they would be subjected to even the most extreme punishments and there's nothing anybody can do about it.
It's an effective tactic. It works for some people, not because those people are cowardly, but because they're rational. It really is the case that the United States and the British government are not only willing, but able to essentially engage in any conduct, no matter how grotesque, no matter how extreme, no matter how lawless, with very little opposition that they perceive is enough to make them not want to do it. So there are activists who rationally conclude that it's not worth the price for me to pay in order to engage in that behaviour. That's why they continue to do it. But the paradox is that there are a lot of other people, I think even more people, who react in exactly the opposite way.
When they see the US and the UK government showing their true face, showing the extent to which they're willing to abuse their power, they don't become scared or deterred, they become even more emboldened. And the reason for that is that when you see that these governments are really capable of that level of abuse of power, you realise that you can no longer, in good conscience, stand by and do nothing. It becomes an even greater imperative for you to come forward and shine a light on what they're doing, and if you listen to any of those whistleblowers or activists, they'll all say the same thing.
It was a slow process to realise that the acts in which you engage are justified, but they were finally convinced of it by the actions of these governments themselves. It's a really sweet irony, and I think it calls for serious optimism, that it is the United States and its closest allies who are sowing the seeds of dissent, who are fuelling the fire of this activism with their own abusive behaviour.
Now, speaking of the attempt to intimidate and deter, and the like, I just want to spend a few minutes talking about the current posture of the United States government, with regard to Edward Snowden. It's become extremely clear, at this point, that the US government, from the highest levels on down, is completely committed to pursuing only one outcome. That outcome is one where Edward Snowden ends up spending several decades, if not the rest of his life, in a small cage, probably cut off, in terms of communication, with the rest of the world. And the reason why they're so intent on doing that is not hard to see. It's not because they're worried that society needs to be protected from Edward Snowden, and from him repeating these actions. I think it's probably a pretty safe bet that Edward Snowden's security clearance is more or less permanently revoked.
The reason they're so intent on it is because they cannot allow Edward Snowden to live any sort of a decent and free life because they're petrified that that will inspire other people to follow his example, and to be unwilling to maintain this bond of secrecy when maintaining that bond does nothing but hide illegal and damaging conduct from the people who are most affected by it.
And what I find most amazing about that is not that the United States government is doing that, that's what they do. It's who they are. What I find amazing about it is that there are so many governments around the world, including ones that are capable of protecting his human rights, and who have been the biggest beneficiaries of his heroic revelations, who are willing to stand by and watch his human rights be crushed, him be imprisoned for the crime of showing the world what's being done to their privacy.
It has really been startling to watch governments, including some of the largest in Europe, and their leaders, go out in public and express intense indignation over the fact that the privacy of their citizens is being systematically breached, and genuine indignation when they learn that their privacy has also been targeted. Yet, at the same time, the person who sacrificed in order to defend their basic human rights, their rights to privacy, is now having his own human rights targeted and threatened in recrimination. And I realise that for any country like Germany or France or Brazil, or any other country around the world, to defy the dictates of the United States, there's a cost of doing that. But there was an even greater cost to Edward Snowden to come forward and do what he did in defence of your rights, and yet he did it anyway.
I think that what's really important to realise is that countries have the legal and the international obligations, by virtues of the treaties that they've signed, to defend Edward Snowden from political persecution, and prevent him from being in a cage for the rest of his life, for having shone a light on systematic abuses of privacy, and other forms of abuses of secrecy. But they also have the ethical and moral obligation as the beneficiaries of his actions, to do what he did for them, which is to protect his rights in return.
I want to spend a little bit of time talking about one of my favourite topics, which is journalism. When I was in Hong Kong, with Laura and Ed Snowden, and I've been reflecting on this a lot in the course of writing a book that I've been writing over the course of the past couple of months about everything that's happened, one of the things I realised in looking back on that moment and also in talking to Laura about what took place there, was that we spent at least as much time talking about issues relating to journalism and a free press as we did talking about surveillance policy. The reason is that we knew that what we were about to do would trigger as many debates over the proper role of journalists vis-à-vis the state and other power factions, as it would the importance of Internet freedom and privacy, and the threat of the surveillance state.
We knew, in particular, that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting, and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, which calls itself the United States and British media.
And so we spent a great deal of time strategising about it, and we resolved that we were going to have to be very disruptive of the status quo. Not only the surveillance and political status quo, but also the journalistic status quo. And, I think, one of the ways we can see what it is we were targeting, lies in the behaviour of the media over the past six months, since these revelations have emerged almost entirely without them and despite them.
One of the more remarkable things that has happened to me is I gave an interview, three weeks or so, or a month ago, on the BBC. It was on this program called Hard Talk, and I, at one point, thought I had made what I thought was the very unremarkable and uncontroversial observation, that the reason why we have a free press is because national security officials routinely lie to the population in order to shield their power and to get their agenda advanced, and that the goal and duty of a journalist is to be adversarial to those people in power, and that the pronouncements that this interviewer was citing about how these government programs are critical to stopping terrorists should not be believed unless there's actual evidence shown, that they're actually true.
When I said that, he interrupted me (and I'm sorry, I don't do pompous British accents well, so you'll just have to transpose it in your own imagination onto what I'm saying) and he said: "I just need to stop you, you have said something so remarkable!" He was like a Victorian priest scandalised by seeing a woman pull up her skirt a little bit above her ankles.
He said: "I just cannot believe that you would suggest that senior officials, generals in the United States and British government, are actually making false claims to the public! How can you possibly say something like that?"
And that is not aberrational. It really is the central view of, certainly, American and British media stars, that when, especially people with medals on their chests, who are called generals, but also high-ranking officials in the government, make claims, that those claims are presumptively treated as true without evidence, and that it's almost immoral to call them into question, or to question their veracity.
Obviously, we went through the Iraq war, which those two very sane governments specifically and deliberately lied about repeatedly to their people, over the course of two years, to justify an aggressive war that destroyed a country of 26 million people. But we've seen it continuously over the last six months as well. The very first document that Edward Snowden ever showed me was one that he explained would reveal unquestionable lying by the senior national intelligence official of President Obama, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. That was the document that revealed that the Obama administration had succeeded in convincing a secret court to oblige phone companies to turn over, to the NSA, every single phone record, of every single telephone call, local and international, of every single American, even though that National Security official, James Clapper, before the Senate, just months earlier, was asked: "Does the NSA collect whole data about the communications of Americans?" and he answered: "No, sir." That we all now know is a complete lie.
There are other lies that the NSA and the US government's top officials have told. And by 'lie' I mean, advisedly, things they know to be false that they're saying anyway to convince people of what they want them to believe. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, repeatedly said that they are incapable of accounting for the exact number of calls and emails that they intercept from the American telecommunications system, even the program that we ended up exposing. Boundless Informant, counts with exact mathematical precision, exactly the data that he said he is incapable of providing. Or the NSA and the GCHQ, which have repeatedly said that the purpose of these programs is to protect people from terrorism, and to safeguard national security, and that they never, unlike those evil thieves, engage in spying for economic reasons.
And yet, report after report that we revealed, from spying on the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras, to the spying on American (allied) states at economic summits where economic accords were negotiated, to energy companies around the world in Europe, Asia and Latin America, just completely negate these claims and prove that they are lies. And then we have President Obama, who repeatedly says things like: "We cannot, and do not, spy on the communications of Americans without warrants," even though the 2008 law that was enacted by the Congress had (a clause that urged) the US government not to ease up on American (private citizen surveillance) without warrants.
And what you see here is real lying. And yet, at the same time, the same media that sees it, acts scandalised if you suggest that their claims should not be taken at face value, without evidence, because their rôle is not to be adversarial. Their rôle is to be loyal spokespeople for those powerful factions that they pretend to exercise oversight over.
Just one more point on that, which is to understand just how the American and British media function. You can pretty much turn on the TV, at any moment, or open an Internet website, and see very brave American journalists calling Edward Snowden a criminal and demanding that he be extradited to the United States, and prosecuted and imprisoned. They're very brave when it comes to declaring people who are scorned in Washington, and who have no power, and have become marginalised; they're very brave in condemning them, standing up to them, and demanding that the rule of law be applied to them faithfully. "He broke the law, he must pay the consequences." And yet, the top national security official of the United States government went to the Senate and lied to their faces, everybody now knows, which is at least as much of a serious crime as anything Edward Snowden is accused of.
You will be very hard pressed to find even a single one of those brave, intrepid journalists ever thinking about, let alone expressing, the idea that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper ought to be subject to the rule of law and be prosecuted and imprisoned for the crimes that he committed, because the rôle of the US media and their British counterparts is to be voices for those with the greatest power, and to protect their interests and serve them.
Everything that we've done over the last six months, and everything that we've decided over the last month about forming a new media organisation, is all about trying to subvert that process and reanimate and reinstil the process of journalism for what it was intended to be, which was as a true adversarial force, a check against those with the greatest power.
So I just want to close with one last point, which is the nature of the surveillance state that we've reported over the last six months. Every time I do an interview, people ask similar questions such as: "What is the most significant story that you have revealed?" or: "What is it that we have learned about the last story that you just published?" And what I've really begun saying is that there really is only one overarching point that all of these stories have revealed. And that is, and I say this without the slightest bit of hyperbole or melodrama, it's not metaphorical and it's not figurative, it is literally true, that the goal of the NSA, and its Five Eyes partners in the English-speaking world (Canada, New Zealand, Australia and especially the UK) is to eliminate privacy globally. To ensure that there can be no human communications that occur electronically, that evade their surveillance network.
They want to make sure that all forms of human communication, by telephone or by Internet, and all online activities, are collected, monitored, stored, and analysed by that agency, and by their allies. That means that to describe that is to describe a ubiquitous surveillance state. You don't need hyperbole to make that point, and you don't need to believe me when I say that that's their goal. Document after document within the archive that Edward Snowden provided to us declares that to be their goal. They are obsessed with searching out any small little crevice on the planet where some form of communication might take place without their being able to invade it.
One of the stories that we're working on now (I used to get in trouble when I was at The Guardian for previewing my stories; I'm not at The Guardian anymore, so I'm going to do it anyway), is this: the NSA and the GCHQ are being driven crazy by the idea that you can go on an airplane and use certain cellphone devices or Internet services and be away from their prying eyes for a few hours at a time. They are obsessed with finding ways to invade the systems of online, onboard Internet services and mobile phone services. The very idea that human beings can communicate, even for a few moments, without them being able to collect, and store, analyse, and monitor what it is that we're saying, is simply intolerable. That is their institutional mandate.
And when I get asked questions, when I do interviews in different countries: "Well, why would they want to spy on this official?" or: "Why would they want to spy on Sweden?" or: "Why would they want to target this company here?" the premise of those questions is really flawed. The premise of the question is that the NSA and the GCHQ need a specific reason to target somebody for surveillance. That is not how they think. They target every form of communication that they can possibly get their hands on. And if you think about what individual privacy does for us, as human beings, let alone what it does for us on a political level, that it really is the thing that lets us explore boundaries and engage in creativity, and use the mechanisms of dissent without fear, when you think about the world in which privacy is allowed to be eliminated, you're really talking about eliminating everything that makes it valuable to be a free individual.
The surveillance state, by its necessity, by its very existence, breeds conformity, because when human beings know that they're always susceptible to being watched, even if they're not always being watched, the choices that they make are far more constrained, are far more limited, cling far more closely to orthodoxy, than when they can act in the private realm, and that's precisely why the NSA and GCHQ, and the world's most powerful (factions) throughout history (always have) as their first goal (at the top of their list) the elimination of privacy, because that's what ensures that human beings can no longer resist the decrees that they're issuing.
We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual - rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.
For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure - deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.
We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com
The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information.
While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.
Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.
(1) Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information
Governments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users’ reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.
(2) Oversight and Accountability
Intelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.
(3) Transparency About Government Demands
Transparency is essential to a debate over governments’ surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.
(4) Respecting the Free Flow of Information
The ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country’s borders or operate locally.
(5) Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments
In order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty - or “MLAT” - processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.
Voices For Reform AOL is committed to preserving the privacy of our customers’ information, while respecting the right of governments to request information on specific users for lawful purposes. AOL is proud to unite with other leading Internet companies to advocate on behalf of our consumers. Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL.
Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook.
The security of users’ data is critical, which is why we’ve invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information. This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world. It’s time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way. Larry Page, CEO, Google.
These principles embody LinkedIn’s fundamental commitment to transparency and ensuring appropriate government practices that are respectful of our members’ expectations. Erika Rottenberg, General Counsel, LinkedIn.
People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it. Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.
Twitter is committed to defending and protecting the voice of our users. Unchecked, undisclosed government surveillance inhibits the free flow of information and restricts their voice. The principles we advance today would reform the current system to appropriately balance the needs of security and privacy while safeguarding the essential human right of free expression. Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter.
Protecting the privacy of our users is incredibly important to Yahoo. Recent revelations about government surveillance activities have shaken the trust of our users, and it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world. Today we join our colleagues in the tech industry calling on the United States Congress to change surveillance laws in order to ensure transparency and accountability for government actions. Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo.
Voranai Vanijaka writes in Thailand's Bangkok Post here (08.12.13). His views are similar to some of the ideas Russell Brand has been articulating in the West, for example here (05.11.13) and here (24.10.13).
What is democracy? The freedom to elect our chosen dictators?
Are leaking, whistleblowing, hacking and revolution now more effective than voting? And are they more patriotic?
Picture: Vicar with dog collar. Charles, you sound so sexy when you read to us.
Picture: You must believe us. We are senior spies. We know how the world works.
Picture: Female protester & policeman crying together. Sofia Bulgaria Nov 2013.
Picture: There are no authorities over you souls. Do not give away your power.
This has been a time for discernment. Indeed, it is imperative that you go within, as always, in order to discern for your own soul's resonance what you are being told or broadcast through your electronic instruments of communication.
There are those who are in terrible fear lest they are revealed for the beings of darkness that they are. They bring lies in the form of smiles and reassurances that all is well .... as long as they are among your 'leaders' in this world you will be taken care of; no one will be left behind. Just give your will over to them. Sound familiar?
Many times in humanity's history these words of assurance have led to its further enslavement. There are no authorities over your souls. You are your own authority. Do not be lured by smiling faces with daggers hidden behind their backs.
The harsh reality is that many who are on a conscious path to enlightenment have been swayed by hope. A hope that has been fed to those seekers who truly believe that life can be lived in a different way, with impeccability of soul.
Hope is not knowingness. Hope is in the future. Being in your own power is NOW. Giving over your power to a leader or a group of people leaves your own power by the wayside.
The situation facing humanity now is partially a result of looking to 'leaders' for your next step. You are your own authority. You know your next step. You are great and powerful spiritual beings. You are leaders. Remember that followers can easily be led to and off a high cliff.
The stinking, vile effluent flowing from those who would make you slaves to their whims is flowing across the Earth Mother in virulent thought-forms which are taking the innocence of children, the joy of youth and the pride of men and women in their prime, as well as leaving the elders without hope of peace and security in their time of completion.
Only you can change this. Your own power is within. This is a time for you to take your own power and change your world. No one can do this for you.
Are you determined to make this world a place that will nurture those to the seventh generation? How many are willing to stop relying on others to make your world a better place? It won't be dinars, dollars, yen, pounds that will change it for the better; it will be compassion, sacrifice, kindness, humility and strength of character.
There has never been an easy road to Ascension. Each soul follows its path through lifetimes of learning until it is ready to completely transcend this Earthly school. This has to be a conscious process. It is wake-up time. The old way isn't working, is it?
Each soul must awake itself. You need courage to face and feel the dependence that you have agreed to with your 'leaders'. Now is the time for independence. Now is the time for Love incarnated. Now is the time for your soul's flight of Ascension. Now is the time to free yourselves of dependence upon 'leaders'.
You are no longer little children to be led by 'leaders'. Be aware please, that the dark ones have infiltrated to some extent some of your messengers. Go within and feel what is true and what is distraction to keep you in a state of dramatic expectancy, playing with your emotions. Use your discernment, please.
Think on these things this night. Good night. Loving dreams to you. I Am St Germain.
We, the undersigned, write this letter to most vigorously condemn the heavy-handed clamp down of your police forces on the peaceful protestors at Taksim Square and Gezi Park in Istanbul, as well as in other major cities of Turkey, which, according to the Turkish Medical Association, has left 5 people dead, 11 blinded due to indiscriminate use of pepper gas, and over 8,000 injured.
Yet, only days after clearing Taksim Square and Gezi Park relying on untold brute force, you held a meeting in Istanbul, reminiscent of the Nuremberg Rally, with total disregard for the five dead whose only crime was to oppose your dictatorial rule. There are more journalists languishing in your prisons than the combined number of those in China and Iran. Moreover, you described these protestors as tramps, looters and hooligans, even alleging they were foreign-led terrorists. Whereas, in reality, they were nothing but youngsters wanting Turkey to remain a Secular Republic as designed by its founder Kemal Ataturk.
Finally, while you aspire to make your country a member of EU, you refute all criticism levelled at you by its leaders, on grounds of Turkey being a Sovereign State. Notwithstanding, may we respectfully remind you, on grounds of the Convention signed on 9 August 1949, Turkey is a member of Council of Europe, and by virtue of ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, on May 18 1954, it has also indisputably placed itself within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. Consequently, your orders which led to the deaths of five innocent youths, might well constitute a Case to Answer, in Strasbourg.
Dr. Claire Berlinski (writer)
Lady Cholmondeley (President - Chopin Society)
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour MP)
Maurice Farhi MBE (writer)
Lord Julian Fellowes (screenwriter, Oscar winner - Gosford Park)
Jack Fox (actor)
James Fox (actor)
Christopher Hampton CBE (playwright, screenwriter, Oscar winner - Dangerous Liaisons)
Rachel Johnson (novelist)
Fuad Kavur (film maker)
Sir Ben Kingsley (actor, Oscar winner - Gandhi)
Edmund Kingsley (actor)
Branko Lustig (producer, Oscar winner - Schindler's List & Gladiator)
David Lynch (film director, Palme D’Or - Mulholland Drive)
Dr Andrew Mango (biographer of Ataturk)
Marquess of Downshire (landowner)
Lord Monson (writer)
Edna O’Brien (writer)
Hugo Page QC (barrister)
Sean Penn (actor, director, Oscar winner - Milk & Mystic River)
Frederic Raphael (writer, Oscar winner - Darling)
Susan Sarandon (actress, Oscar winner - Dead Man Walking)
Fazil Say (composer, pianist)
Christopher Shinn (playwright)
Dr David Starkey CBE (constitutional historian)
Sir Tom Stoppard (playwright, screenwriter, Oscar winner - Shakespeare in Love)
Lord Strathcarron (documentary maker)
Ronald Thwaites QC (barrister)
Igor Ustinov (sculptor)
Vilmos Zsigmond (cinematographer, Oscar winner - Close Encounters).
24th July 2013
AB comment: Published as a full-page, paid-for advertisement in The Times newspaper (London), there is some dispute about who coordinated the signatories to the open letter to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (text above) and who paid for it.
Ongoing commentary on Erdoğan, political evolution and media persecution in Turkey here (20.01.14), here (02.01.14), here (28.12.13), here (27.12.13), here (23.11.13), here (15.11.13), here (04.10.13), here (30.09.13), here (30.09.13), here (16.09.13), here (20.08.13), here (20.08.13), here (05.08.13), here (31.07.13), here (30.07.13), here (29.07.13), here (26.07.13), here (26.07.13), here (26.07.13), here (26.07.13), here (25.07.13) and here (25.07.13).
Picture: Benjamin Fulford, Chodoin Daikaku and Alexander Romanov. July 2013.
Picture: A State of the Union address. Fisher Body 21 Plant, Detroit MI 48202.
Picture: Obama gone yet? Statue of Liberty peeps anxiously around its plinth.
Picture: American child asks President Obama about NSA PRISM surveillance.
Picture: Putin ousts another puppet of the Western Nazi continuum (Morsi)
In the corridors of Western power, Vladimir Putin is not popular. He has a disconcerting habit of getting things done. Putin, a Russian patriot, started to reshape covert geopolitical power structures when he and his colleagues moved to stamp out the influence of the Rothschild and Rockefeller syndicate maggots at work inside Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-90.
These parasites, mostly oligarchs, mummy-got-me-ready chess players, and P2 Lodge mafia proxies, were agents of the G7 Nazi continuum. Their aim was to secure Russian oil and gas to prop up the US petrodollar Ponzi nexus. They failed and, from 1998 onwards, Vladimir Putin made sure that they failed publicly.
Just as the Soviet Union was deliberately collapsed by the G7 élite syndicates, it had been deliberately constructed to fail by a previous generation of those same puppeteers many decades earlier.
The EuroZone was another bankster toy. Manufactured to launder unbacked fiat paper currency to Asia, it is now being collapsed by the very same banksters who set it up in the first place.
In Western fractional banking, it doesn't matter whether you build up or whether you smash down; you make big money each way and in the process you generate useful debt to control sovereign treasuries. After each collapse there is a fire sale. If you're a banker, you don't just buy the dips; you create the dips. Money is the mechanism which makes people poor.
With China and one hundred and eighty other BRICS alliance nations, Putin's Russia is teaching the G7 Nazi continuum a rather obvious lesson: fiat paper currencies are not money; gold is money.
What is happening worldwide now is that the BRICS nations are accumulating gold and beginning the process of freeing up the trillions (some say quadrillions) of dollars' worth of suppressed gold held outside the markets in the Global Collateral Accounts.
The G7, scenting the inevitable capitalist end-game, is rushing around trying to counter the BRICS alliance initiatives by rigging the markets to keep the price of gold down, by printing trillions of new fake dollars and euros on QE computer screens, by squeezing Western taxpayers with a media-backed austerity charade, and by accumulating off-ledger black-screen accounts which contain impossibly vast quadrillions and quintillions of notional syndicate wealth such as that found in the Committee of 300's White Spiritual Boy and Spiritual Wonder Boy accounts. More here, here and here.
Some say it all started with the Monaco Accords in August 2011; others say it started with the World War Two victors' carve-up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Still others say that it died with America's assassination of her own President in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963. John F.Kennedy had become too friendly with M1 in Indonesia for Shylock's liking. For the greater good of Western banking, it was time for him to die.
What has all this got to do with Putin and Morsi in Egypt in 2013? Everything. It's the same battle: the G7 banking syndicate versus the rest of the planet.
The outfit expediently fronted by Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, and now called the Muslim Brotherhood, was founded in 1928 as an Islamic revivalist movement with a Wahhabi/Salafi tribal exclusivity. It came into being following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent banning of the caliphate system of government which, the story runs, had united Muslims for centuries.
In fact, Muslims, like Christians and Jews, had never been united and rarely passed up an opportunity to persecute, torture or murder their faith opponents in other Islamic culti. As a vehicle of intolerance, spiritual fascism and social agitation, the Muslim Brotherhood was perfect for sophisticated Nazi manipulation.
Just before and during the Second World War, the Nazis covertly took over the MB and turned it into a controlled terrorist organisation. The Third Reich used the Muslim Brotherhood to provide expendable and uncritical cannon-fodder to fight against British and French colonial influences in the Middle East.
The Nazi-continuum (the élite Nazi diaspora) is still embedded in several major Western governments, is still protected by rogue factions within their national security cadres, and it has kept the MB running in the background ever since. In the Western view, the radical 'Islamists' are useful fools to be manipulated, they don't cost much, and they can be made angry easily.
The Muslim Brotherhood, unbeknown to most of its current members, is a long-established Middle Eastern street gang which works for the Western banking syndicate to create opportunities for financial profit by fomenting unnecessary international conflict.
Its Egyptian branch, when briefly in government for a year between June 2012 and July 2013, lined up publicly with the private armies of the G7 war profiteers in an attempt to destabilise Syria. The plan was plain. Once Assad had gone, and the country was in ruins, its banks could be looted, its oil and gas could be stolen, foreign military bases could be established for drug trafficking purposes, and Qatar and Saudi Arabia could build their gas pipeline through Syria, unopposed, to supply Europe and support the US petrodollar scam.
Putin and the BRICS alliance saw all this. They agreed that there had to be régime change in Syria and that the Assad clique had to go; what they didn't want, and would not allow, was another capitalist looting fest by the G7 such as they had contrived in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Russia plus China, plus a changed Turkey, plus the US Pentagon patriots, now have more influence, collectively, within the Egyptian military than do the Washington DC private corporation and the City of London private corporation.
The exact division of labour between Russia and China within the BRICS alliance adjustment of global geopolitics is yet to become clear. It seems that Putin is looking after Europe and the Middle East, while the new Chinese leadership is seeing to Asia, Africa and Australia. China, for example, is a powerful driving force behind the imminent reunification of North and South Korea.
In Europe, Russia and Germany are privately and quietly growing closer. The EuroZone is now seen as a lost cause by most significant opinion-makers in Berlin on the simple grounds that it is not in Germany's financial interest, any more, to waste time with the little people.
This is particularly the case when one of Germany's biggest commercial institutions, Deutsche Bank AG (Frankfurt), has an international derivatives exposure of $72.8 trillion. This sum is in excess of twenty times more than the total GDP of Germany itself. Faced with a domestic ticking time bomb of this nature, Greece, Spain, Italy and, yes, France, can go hang.
The word on the block is that Angela Merkel of Germany is quietly pursuing an Ostpolitik with Russia of the kind which was originally initiated by Willy Brandt in the 1960s. This will result in a Russian/German-led Eurasian Union being slipped into place by 2015.
In the lead up to this long-desired Eurasian outcome, a new, strong currency DeutschmarkZone in Northern Europe is likely to emerge, involving Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Finland. France will be consigned to the outer darkness of a local and much-devalued French Franc. And Greece, Spain and Italy? They can eat olives. The Western banks have finished with them.
Late note: The brief thirteen month Muslim Brotherhood spell in Egyptian government was ended at the beginning of July 2013 by a cackhanded and anti-democratic military coup. If ever practical proof was needed that the Egyptian revolution was as yet incomplete, this was it. Among avoidable own goals scored by the Egyptian military at this juncture was the partisan suppression of Islamic media outlets, along with CNN and al-Jazeera TV, and the appointment of Mohamed ElBaradei as deputy interim president. Indeed, ElBaradei would have been shoehorned in as interim prime minister had not the Salafi Nour party strenuously blocked the appointment. ElBaradei is well known in Middle Eastern diplomatic circles for being a bought-and-paid-for asset of Western intelligence and corporate interests.
Alcuin Bramerton is a human being seeking to operate happily in the post-religious world. The New Spirituality interests him. His friend, Flutterby, is not in physical incarnation on the Earth-plane at present, but he advises Alcuin on spiritual matters. And there is a lot happening. Unreported by the mainstream media, a man in a grey suit is standing by the yoghurt shelves in a supermarket in Cornwall. He is looking for morphine suppositories. This man is not the promised messiah. Coincidentally, at another remote location in southern England, a man with false teeth is eating a cheese soufflé for lunch. He bites on something hard. There is a second pair of false teeth in his cheese soufflé. This man is not the promised messiah either. Epiphanies of this kind illustrate just how difficult it can be to determine the exact size of God in becquerels per cubic light year. But still the attempt is made.