Thursday, January 31, 2019
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Of all the powers that governments have, none is more potent and powerful than being the world's reserve currency because it's the primary driver of global trade and wealth.
Few folks in American can even comprehend that when the dollar loses its lofty status as the world's reserve currency then America becomes just another south of the border styled bankrupt banana boat republic. Our standard of living crashes and burns. Nobody in America believes that such a thing could possibly ever happen. Delusion is extremely comforting for clueless Americans!
Of all the insidious and evil things that one nation can do to another nation, sanctions are among the worst because they destroy economies and always result in massive human suffering. It's a tool that should never be used, let alone used lightly. However, the US is sanctions obsessed. We've got sanctions against many nations including Russia, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Syria and more. Sanctions are administered by the Treasury Department's OFAC or Office of Foreign Asset Control. The Treasury Department even proudly publishes its sanctions on its website, here.
Since the world justifiably fears the devastating effects of crippling economic sanctions, many nations also seek ways to bypass them. That was damn near impossible because all financial and commercial transaction aka TRADE are settled through the SWIFT payment system. SWIFT facilitates the transfer of money and a brief explanation of it is here. The US controls SWIFT so if a nation doesn't comply with US demands including sanctions, the US will weaponize SWIFT by sanctioning non compliant nations. It's also known as a monetary blockade and is worth understanding.
The Payments Network As Economic Weapon
What happens if the US Empire can no longer use SWIFT and sanctions as powerfully destructive blackmail weapons? Bear in mind that the US doesn't advocate for sound money and free trade because as a fascist corporatist nation we tend to favor protectionism and monopoly. For instance, it's generally believed that we imposed deadly sanctions on Cuba, a major sugar producer, because the US sugar barons lobbied (bribed) Congress Critters for these sanctions that resulted in a very lucrative monopoly. Consequently, not only do US sugar consumers get to 'enjoy' the highest sugar prices in the world but it's cost us dearly in terms of candy manufacturers who have literally been forced to relocate their operations outside the US because being globally competitive requires access to free market sugar prices. Even more horrifying is that the US sugar industry is also responsible for the environmental disaster known as Florida's red tide.
How US Sugar Subsidies Bring a Red Tide of Algae to Florida's Shores
Anyway, the focus of this post isn't corporatism and the environment but how nations are bypassing SWIFT and how the movement will accelerate the demise of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. I'm going to list several links worth reading.
E.U. Finalizes Deal with Iran to Evade U.S. Trade Sanctions
The European Union (E.U.) is ready to open an alternative channel to drive trade and finance with Iran that would sidestep U.S. sanctions against the Islamic republic, Germany’s foreign minister said Monday.U.S. Sanction Power May Be Reaching Its Limit
The “special purpose vehicle,” or SPV, is part of a joint E.U. efforts to keep alive international trade with Iran alive after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a previous Obama-era trade agreement last May, slamming it as a “horrible, one-sided deal.”
Six years ago, in the course of investigating London-based bank Standard Chartered Plc over suspicions it had flouted U.S. sanctions against Iran, the New York State Department of Financial Services published an email from a senior executive to one of his counterparts in New York. “You f***ing Americans,” the message read. “Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians?”LOL, that's pretty damn blunt and frankly it's how the rest of the world perceives the US and its endless bullying.
It’s a sentiment that has echoed through halls of power in recent weeks following President Trump’s May 8 decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and impose unilateral sanctions, despite all indications that the country was complying.
Europe Unveils "Special Purpose Vehicle" With Russia and China To Bypass SWIFT, Jeopardizing Dollar's Reserve Status
Europe, Russia and China join forces with a new mechanism to dodge Iran sanctionsRussia's alternative to SWIFT payment system poised to eclipse the original – MP
European Union's foreign policy chief announced Monday that the bloc was creating a new payment mechanism to allow countries to transact with Iran while avoiding U.S. sanctions.
Russia’s money transfer system, developed as an alternative to SWIFT is now more popular than the global network...India to trade with Iran using national currency, not dollars
The Central Bank of Russia, which has developed the SPFS, said earlier that 416 Russian companies and government organizations had joined the system as of September. They include the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations, including Gazprom Neft, Rosneft, and others.
The development of SPFS began in 2014 in response to Washington’s threats of disconnecting Russia from SWIFT. The first transaction on the SPFS network involving a non-bank enterprise was held in December 2017.
The more the US tries to use its currency, financial systems, and market share as a club, the more the nations of the world seek independence from it...And so it begins. It's also critically important to know that the dollar is really a petro dollar. So long as oil trades in dollars, the US can force the enforcement of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. However, once that paradigm changes and it is changing, the dollar is in trouble. The petro dollar itself is interesting and is explained here:
Petro Dollar = ISIS Dollar, Saudi Arabia, Sunni Salafist Wahhabism and US Foreign Policy - Connect the Dots
Here's the biggest problem that the US faces: ARROGANCE ON STEROIDS. America simply REFUSES to accept that the world is no longer unipolar where it calls the shots and controls everything. A powerful multipolar world is rapidly emerging because other economic powerhouses like China and India, as well as energy rich Russia, are rising. Economically, the Asian world is also an extremely powerful economic block.
These nations will NOT genuflect before the US and its stupid insanity. They absolutely will do what is in their best national interests and today the entire planet EXCEPT for the US seems to be focused on peaceful trade and NOT war.
It's more than tragic that American leadership including every president in my lifetime refuses to accept the wise advice of Thomas Jefferson.
Because of the neocons and military industrial complex along with their bankster/corporatist partners in crime, America has entangled itself in shitholes all over the world and this ugly turn toward empire has left us bankrupt ($22 trillion in debt that can never be paid) and economically on the verge of collapse. Moreover, we murdered millions in pursuit of unquenchable hubris.
Until we get back to Jefferson's foreign policy views, the downward spiral will continue to accelerate until we ourselves become a 3rd world shithole.
Therefore, the next time you read about 'World Reserve Currency' and SWIFT and sanctions, it's a damn good idea to pause and understand what is at stake here, what is happening and how America and Americans are about to be swallowed by the Evil Empire.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
A long, long time ago America was the most respected nation on the planet because the people were free and enjoyed economic and civil liberties. Those days are long gone and America is now viewed as a dangerous and menacing threat to humanity everywhere. America is now viewed as a bully with a deadly military and a refusal to give up the empire, whatever the cost.
While Trump's presidency has been interesting to say the least, he's had some extraordinarily lucid moments like advocating for pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan. On the other hand his neocon administration that includes Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are all hardcore neocon interventionists.
One of the dumbest things that Trump ever did was nullify the JCPOA or Iran Deal. Iran agreed to NOT enrich uranium or build nuclear bombs in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Iran was in total compliance yet Trump and the neocons rescinded a very sane treaty that made the world a safer place. It's my belief that the forces behind rescinding the JCPOA is the real axis of evil, the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance.
Yes, the US is still plotting against Iran and would love nothing better than to go to war. However, Americans are sick of the never ending wars and Europe isn't cooperating either. Europe was devastated by 2 world wars. America, protected by 2 big oceans, was spared the devastation that ravished European cities and soil. A war on Iran would constitute WW 3, a major conflagration involving the US and ???? against Iran and probably Russia, China, Turkey and others.
Europe, Russia, China, the Middle East, Turkey and Iran are all close to each other, and some within easy missile striking distance. Most of these nations have also been destroyed by wars and revolutions. As the US turns more militaristic, the rest of the world is turning to peace and trade.
Based on the trajectory of valid national interests, largely TRADE, being a motivating factor to avoid war at all costs, the US remains the immovable object that just dishes out endless ultimatums, threats and sanctions.
The latest, beside the Trump Administration attempting to engineer a coup in Venezuela, evolves around ratcheting up ally support for War on Iran. Pompeo and the Trump Administration have organized what is called the Warsaw Conference which is being held in Warsaw, Poland in February. It's was expected to be a critically important foreign policy event attended by foreign ministers and very high ranking government officials. The purpose of the event was to dupe traditionally allies into a war on Iran.
There's only one problem. Europe is pretty much shunning the event by keeping high ranking official away and sending low ranking nobodies. This is indeed a slap in the face to America's neocons.
The American Conservative has a very interesting piece on the Warsaw Conference.
Another Setback for Trump’s Bankrupt Iran Policy
An international backlash has forced the Trump administration to back away from describing next month’s gathering in Warsaw as an anti-Iran conference...More importantly, everybody is noticing something that rarely happens. Other nations, especially European nations, are finally standing up to and actually defying bully America and for damn good reasons. News sites that specialize on the Middle East are also taking notice. Al Monitor, a DC based site that specializes on the Middle East, also comprehends that the purpose of the Conference was to rally support to tougher measures against Iran.
Much like Nikki Haley’s failed anti-Iran Security Council meeting last fall, the Warsaw conference has been rebranded to avoid calling attention to how internationally isolated the U.S. is in its hostility to Iran...
The damage to the administration’s conference has already been done, and many other governments aren’t sending representatives or will probably send only low-ranking officials. Russia has already announced that their government is boycotting the event. The fact that Iran still isn’t invited to participate tells everyone that the gathering was intended to be an anti-Iranian one.
US allies try to dilute anti-Iran agenda for Warsaw summit
An international conference in Poland next month that the Donald Trump administration had intended to showcase global unity and resolve to isolate Iran is instead highlighting wariness among US allies. European allies are scrambling for excuses to send lower-level diplomats instead of their foreign ministers to the Feb. 13-14 Warsaw conference and also are looking for ways to dilute the agenda...What is really happening? The negative response of the international community to the real purpose of the Warsaw Conference, ratchet up support for War on Iran, has been changed by the US to a less incendiary purpose like promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. LOL, what a freaking joke...the US NEVER intends to promote peace and stability anywhere. US foreign policy really hasn't changed much and the neocons still control it. However, what has changed is the courage of the world to stand up to the US and reject its dictates and threats.
Europe understands that trade is the path to peace and given it's proximity to all the players in the region like Russia (loaded with gas), Turkey, oil rich Iran, India (buys Iranian oil) and even further away oil/gas hungry China, these folks share a monstrous landmass that houses most of humanity. As the EU plans for its own military for purposes of defense, the US no longer controls Europe and Europe no longer fears its neighbors.
Meanwhile, everybody fears the crazy US and they are scrambling to assert their own sovereignty and national interests by disobeying their long time masters. It's a very wise decision.
The neocons haven't lost yet but they are beginning to lose because the American people and the world are just sick of these evil rat bastards.
Sunday, January 6, 2019
When it comes to the Middle East and Islam, few in the West understand it or can grasp the geopolitical, religious and cultural dynamics that continue to devour a region in never ending power plays that are perpetually tethered to energy (oil and gas) wealth, power and religion. For all the oil and gas wealth in the Middle East, most folks live in impoverished misery while their rulers live like obscenely wealthy rock stars.
Americans tend to view Islam as one cohesive religion; it's not and Islam has always been a volatile feuding mess of Islamic sects steeped in tribalism. While the 2 main sects are Sunni (roughly 80-90%) and Shia (roughly 10-20%), there are offshoot minority sects like the Kurds, Alewites, Druze and others. Moreover, there are indeed competing versions of Sunni Islam which is the focus of this article because there has been a little noticed but shattering upheaval. Let's start with a map.
The Sunni-Shia rift has existed for over a millennium and while it has little to do with theology, it's got a lot more to do with culture and a feud evolving around who was the legitimate successor to the Prophet Mohammad upon his death. When the Arabs invaded Persia (Iran) and Islamized it, Persia was a high culture nation steeped in accomplishments that was literally conquered by Arab barbarian savages. Hence, the Persians tended to develop their own brand of Islam based on their own culture. Iranians are not Arabs, they are an Indo-European people and throughout their history Iranians have always referred to themselves as Persians which they are.
Today, the Shia mostly live in Iran (roughly 90% Shia) and Iraq (roughly 60-70% Shia). All Muslim nations have Shia minorities. There are also other weird anomalies that plague major players. In oil rich Saudi Arabia a lot of its oil is in a region where the Shia minority live. The Saudis ruthlessly persecute the Shia minority. In Iran, a lot of its oil happens to be located in southwest corner of Iran where the Sunni minority lives. The Iranians tend to negotiate with the Sunnis to keep the peace.
Sunni Islam itself is far from cohesive theologically and culturally. The Turkish Ottoman Empire ruled the Islamic world from the 14th century until the end of WW I when the Ottoman Empire which had been in severe decline was finally finished off by western powers as punishment for siding with the Germans in WW I. Turkey became Islamized when invading Mongols converted to Islam. The Ottoman Empire was ferociously conquest oriented and its armies conquered and conquered. They finished off the Byzantine Empire in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople, now Istanbul. The Ottomans sought to militarily Islamize Europe but were stopped at the Gates of Vienna in 1683 by Christian forces led by the Polish King Sobieski, an incredibly heroic piece of Christian European history, here. There are other notable battles involving Christian Europe fighting Islamization.
As the ruler of the Islamic world, the Ottoman Sultan was also the Caliphate or leader of the Muslim religion.
The rise and fall of the Islamic caliphate in history
The caliphate was one of the oldest Islamic institutions in the history. The Ottoman caliphate was the last Sunni caliphate of the late medieval and early modern era that lasted 13 centuries and was abolished in 1924The fall of the Ottoman Empire was a catastrophic event for the Muslim world and primarily because it had no concept of the nation state or national sovereignty. Post WW I, the Middle East was organized into a conglomeration of various nation states whose fictitious borders were literally drawn by and propped up by western nations, especially Britain and France. These were 'fake' nations but western governments didn't care so long as they controlled them. The discovery of oil added a whole new dimension to the Middle East and it literally became a global petro empire.
The successors of Prophet Muhammad, who was the head of the Islamic state, were called "caliphs," a term translated as "successor" in English. Starting from the 11th century, various states were established on the lands the Muslims ruled, from the Atlantic Ocean to deep inside China and the authority of the caliph became symbolic in these countries.
The Making of the Modern Middle East
Oil was coming into geo-political play in the early 1900's, especially with the advent of modern mechanized warfare, and specifically in nations with existing military empires.Getting to the 'here and now' is not that complicated but it does require a basic understanding of Islam.
1. Understand the 1400 year old Sunni-Shia rift.
2. Understand Sunni rifts.
The Shia World
The Sunni-Shia rift is well known. Iran is roughly 90% Shia while Iraq is roughly 60-70% Shia. When George W. Bush and US neocons made the incredibly stupid decision to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein, a Sunni strongman who ruled a Shia majority nation, the US literally drove Iraq to its natural ally, Shia Iran. With Syria, they form what is known as the Shia Crescent.
However, Syria is not a Shia majority nation but a roughly 90% Sunni majority nation. Yet, Syria is ruled by a democratically elected Alweite (an offshoot of Shia Islam) Bashar Assad who is extremely popular with the Sunni population. Why? Obama and Hillary Clinton were Saudi Stooges who militarily intervened in Syria to depose Assad and deliver control of Syria to Saudi Arabia and Sunni Salafist Wahhabism. Syria's Sunnis despise Wahhabism and tend to embrace the secular and tolerant, as do many Syrians. Assad's Syria actually enjoys religious liberty and the various groups manage to get along and respect each others various religious beliefs.
The morons in the US foreign policy establishment were convinced by their Saudi masters that deposing Assad would be EASY, a cake walk so to speak, because its Sunni majority would rise up against Assad. WRONG! Syrian Sunnis actually Stand With Assad, and always have. The last thing Syria's Sunnis want is to become Wahhabized, Saudi style.
Bahrain is a Shia majority nation under the rule of the Sunni minority; the Shia are ruthlessly suppressed and brutalized. Bahrain is also home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
I've basically outlined the Shia world that comprise the Shia Crescent or a group of nations that are Shia majorities (Iran, Iraq, Bahrain) and/or Shia friendly but Sunni majority like Syria.
The Sunni World
At its core, the Sunni world is essentially divided in 2 groups and they are anything but cohesive.
1. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Salafist Wahhabism
1. Turkey, a longtime enemy of Saudi Arabia, with strong sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood
The primary competing factions of Sunni Islam are vying for control and there is no real theological dispute. On one hand the Saudis seek to Wahhabize and control the Sunni world, as well as obliterate Shia Islam while neutering Turkey.
On the other hand Turkey, the proud and strong Sunni remnant of the Ottoman Empire, is ruled by Tayyip Erdogan, a man who is dedicated to reconstituting the Ottoman Empire and dismantling secular Turkey. After WW I, the reformer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk transformed Turkey into a secular nation with a secular constitution. However, the nation has been growing more Islamist and secular institutions are vanishing under Erdogan. Journalists are being locked up. Persecutions of the Kurds has been going on for decades. Many in Turkey want a secular Turkey and reject an Islamist Turkey. Erdogan wins elections by very narrow margins and many allege vote fraud. Meanwhile Erdogan is transforming Turkey into a nasty theocracy. It's probably reasonable to assume that Turkey may be headed for civil war between the theocrats and secularists, something that Erdogan understands which is why he moves slowly in implementing a Sharia based Sunni theocracy.
While under the control of the Ottoman Empire the Saudi Wahhabists frequently revolted against the Ottomans who would dispatch an army to put down revolts. There has always been much bitterness between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and it's deeply rooted in their histories as well as competition for control of Sunni Islam. It's an internal Sunni struggle and the competition is about power and not theology. The Saudis view Erdogan and Turkey as a threat to the Saudi royal family and Wahhabism, as well as an impediment to the Saudis controlling Sunni Islam regionally and globally. Turkey views the Saudis as a danger to Turkey and its regional ambitions and both view themselves as powerful big players in the region. Well, they are.
However, now things are a whole lot more interesting ever since Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Sunni Qatar in July 2017. It was a major geopolitical eruption as Qatari diplomats were evicted from various nations and Sunni Qatar became the victim of a blockade by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Many believe that the blowup with Qatar was the foolish brainchild of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Salman is also responsible for horrific war in Yemen that is killing thousand of impoverished Houthi. This war has received massive international attention as Mohammed bin Salman plays strongman by literally committing genocide of the Houthi (a Shia offshoot), and all with help from President Trump and then Secretary of Defense Mattis, both of whom are fiercely and foolishly loyal to Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman. That's an issue that is finally getting attention in Congress. The Saudis seem to literally OWN Washington DC and its institutions.
Sunni Qatar has strong economic ties with Shiite Iran, the sworn enemy of Sunni Wahhabist Saudi Arabia. Iran has been providing food for Qatar ever since the Saudi-Egyptian-UAE-Bahrain blockade intended to starve Qatar into obedience to the House of Saud. The big economic tie is the huge and hugely profitable gas field in the Persian Gulf shared by Iran and Qatar. It's a very significant gas field that reportedly contains 1,800 trillion cubic feet of natural gas or 25% of the world's natural gas reserves. Iran calls it South Pars while Qatar calls it North Dome. Sunni Qatar does what is best for Qatar and while it has had political and theological issues with Iran, it also nurtures its economic ties.
While Qatar admits to funding Sunni rebels in Syria, it also claims that it has provided only limited support of providing small arms but refusing to send heavy arms like tanks. Qatar has been accused by the Saudis, the kingpin of Islamist terror, of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization singled out by American neocons as a terrorist organization. The Muslim Brotherhood is indeed ruthlessly Islamist but it doesn't engage in international terrorism, unlike the Saudis and the Wahhabists who fund and organize global terror operations. Indeed the Saudis and US are largely responsible for the carnage in Syria as both armed and funded jihadis and terrorists determined to depose Assad.
The US obsession with purple finger democracies in the Middle East has been a big fail. The US supported elections in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) won. The reign of Mohamed Morsi was short and the US intervened to put the military in change. That's an ongoing problem in the Muslim world, elections tend to result in Islamist control and then the West tries to overthrow them by creating military dictatorships. These cycles of violence, oppression, theocracy and military dictatorships never end.
While America and Europe developed over a long period of time along the lines of tolerance, human rights and religious liberty, these attributes are virtually non existent in the Middle East which is basically a quagmire of tribalism, autocratic ruling families and theocracy. Syria seems to be the one notable exception as tolerance is a reality as the Sunni, Shia, Christians, Alewites, Druze, Kurds etc. manage to get along. However, Obama and Hillary Clinton singled out tolerant Syria for destruction and for reasons that never made any national security sense for the US. Syria was NEVER a threat to US national security. Furthermore, the US neocon quest to invade Iran has always been on the table as a goal. Putting Syria under Wahhabist control is just part of militarily encircling Shiite Iran.
As if it isn't bad enough that the fragile Middle East blew up with Saudi-Egyptian-UAE-Bahrain furor over Sunni Qatar and it's economic alliance with Iran, there was the earth shattering Jamal Kashoggi affair. Kashoggi's life was mostly spent deep inside the highest echelons of the Saudi royal family. For reasons that are still not clear, Kashoggi left Saudi Arabia and relocated to Turkey. He also became a Washington Post columnist and had planned to live his life in the US and Turkey. Kashoggi wasn't just murdered, he was literally tortured and cut to pieces on the orders of Mohammed bin Salman in what has been dubbed Saudi bone saw diplomacy. The event would have gone unnoticed had it not been for Turkey having an audio tape of the entire horror. Turkey's Erdogan was naturally euphoric! He had the good on his arch enemy and exposed it to the world. One Muslim nation murdering a Muslim in another Muslim nation is not uncommon and the Kashoggi affair probably would have been viewed with a global yawn had Kashoggi not been a Washington Post (WaPo) columnist. WaPo and Turkey obviously got the story going viral with the US and global media. LOL, the world was aghast or pretended to be. Everybody with half a brain cell knows that the Saudis are famous for murdering their enemies, real or imagined.
The big winner in the Kashoggi affair was obviously Turkey. The big loser was obviously Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has been on a losing streak because its horrifically inhuman genocidal war on Yemen which is getting global attention. Also, it's been speculated that the reckless MbS wanted a war on Qatar and that the US managed to talk him out of it. At least the US was sufficiently sane to NOT blow up the extremely volatile Middle East worse than it was already blown up by US interventions and ongoing regional squabbles and alliances.
The good news is that Saudi Arabia and MbS are losing. They may fund and control terrorist hate preaching mosques all over the US, Europe, Pakistan, Indonesia and Asia but they are failing to Wahhabize the Middle East. Saudi's economy is in deep trouble because it has nothing except oil and its oil reserves are predicted to dry up in several decades - pumped dry. Besides, the world is swimming in oil and OPEC no longer controls its price and supply. With a busted oil cartel and no real economy so to speak of, Saudi Arabia is headed for irrelevance. The sooner the better!
It's also critically important to understand that a very significant percentage of the world's proven oil reserves are in Shia Iraq and Iran. Oil reserves by nation in a world increasingly swimming in oil is here.
Also, major proven oil reserves in millions of barrels:
1. Venezuela 300,878 The socialist government of Venezuela is too dumb to figure out how to exploit its own massive oil wealth. The country should be very rich instead of an impoverished hellhole.
2. Saudi Arabia 266,455 (some question Saudi Arabia's word that it has this much oil)
3. Canada 169,709
4. Iran 158,400
5. Iraq 142,503
6. Kuwait 101,500
7. UAE, 97,800
8. Russia 80,000
With oil being the black gold of wealth and power as well as the sole economy in many Middle East nations, it's also terrifying to the Sunni oil world that Shia Iraq and Iran are second only to Venezuela in global oil reserves. Do Sunni Arab nations seek to wipe out Shia control of Iran and Iraq just to steal-control their vast oil reserves? That is NOT a conspiracy theory.
There are very few smart leaders in the world and most are ego driven imbeciles who vastly overestimate their intellectual prowess. However, there are exceptions. Putin and Erdogan stand out as incredibly smart geopolitical operators. Sunni Erdogan maintains and nurtures some very interesting relationships, especially with Russia and Iran but other nations as well as he focuses on trade. Putin the chess player continuously plays the idiot US foreign policy establishment like a Stradivarius. Trump, who is anything but dumb, is becoming a quick study in the art geopolitics for a man who spent his entire life building hotels, casinos, condos and golf resorts. Trump's Art of the Deal mentality and ability to assess a situation has emboldened him to reject the status quo and 'same old, same old' decrepit foreign policy establishment in DC. By pulling out of Syria and downsizing in Afghanistan, he's laying the groundwork for a real change in US foreign policy. Moreover, it's being speculated that pulling out of Iraq may also be on the table, a situation that could be expedited by the fact that the Iraqi Parliament is currently debating on whether or not to just kick us out.
As things now stand it doesn't appears as if Saudi Arabia will get its wish - the US waging war on Iran for the exclusive benefit of Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism. Pulling out of Syria is another blow to the Saudis and its Wahhabist jihadis, as well as America's Republican and Democrat neocons aka Saudi Stooges.
Trump doesn't get everything right and he certainly committed a grave miscalculation by nuking the JCPOA, otherwise known as the Iran Deal that kept Iran from enriching uranium and building nuclear bombs in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Here's what Trump does understand: staying in Syria is a path to war on Iran, a decades old dream of Saudi Arabia to finally crush its theological enemy and steal its vast oil reserves. The Saudis can't do it without US support. Saddam Hussein was supposed to do it but the 8 year Iran-Iraq War was fought to a standstill with massive casualties that left Iraq broke. In any event, a US War on Iran automatically drags the US into a war with Russia and Turkey and possibly even China who stands with Russia and Iran on the issue. With neither Russia, China or Turkey willing to standby and DO NOTHING as the US destroys Iran, logic and fear of a global nuclear war leaves the US war on Iran off the table, and much to the consternation of America's neocons and Saudi Arabia.
The US has always sided with Saudi Arabia because it controls the petro dollar, another complicated but critical issue, here. The Saudis happen to be the kingpins of Islamist terror because it embraces the most intolerant and repressive form of Islam ever to exist - Sunni Salafist Wahhabism. It's no coincidence that 15 of the 19 911 Muslim terrorists were Saudi nationals. Despite overwhelming evidence that the Saudis are indeed responsible for Islamist terrorism everywhere, the US continues to coddle these savages as if they are BFF - best friends forever.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton further destabilized the Arab Muslim world by murdering Qaddafi and destroying Libya, a nation that posed no national security threat to the US. Furthermore, Libya was the most prosperous and economically successful nation in Africa before Obama and Clinton substantially razed it to the ground and allowed it to be overrun by ISIS and Sunni Salafist Wahhabists.
Libya: From Africa’s Richest State Under Qaddafi, to Failed State After NATO Intervention
These days, Libya is in a chronic state of civil war. The situation in Libya is so horrifyingly dire that human slave markets now exist. Again, thank President Obama and Hillary Clinton for this nightmare.
Executions, torture and slave markets persist in Libya: U.N.
Obama and Clinton also started the Sunni Salafist Wahhabist war against Syria in an attempt at regime change - taking out President Bashar Assad. Neither Assad nor Syria did anything to deserve being destroyed but Obama and Clinton were obsessed with destroying it anyway and for no justifiable reason, other than the fact that US presidents are clearly subservient to the House of Saud.
Trump seems to be a game changer as he slowly and methodically digests and evaluates the Middle East, its players and its insanity. However, Trump still has strong loyalties to Saudi Arabia and that's indeed troubling.
In April, 2018 Trump told a crowd at one of his rallies "We have spent $7 trillion — trillion with a T — $7 trillion in the Middle East, You know what we have for it? Nothing. Nothing.". Trump is sounding like he's fed up with the whole mess, a mess he never made but nevertheless is forced to deal with. The neocons in DC and within Trump's own administration are stroking out. Ending stupid wars and packing up and leaving isn't supposed to be on the foreign policy table. GASP! The outrage was so intense that Secretary of Defense Mattis resigned in protest. My views on Mattis are here.
Big influential Sunni Middle East nations Turkey and Saudi Arabia hate each other and always have as they vie for control of Sunni Islam and regional power. Sunni Egypt (over 91 million folks) is also important and viewed as a critical player. Egypt is under a military dictatorship after the Egyptians elected Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist extremist who was booted from power by the military; these days Egypt and is mostly focused on domestic security within its own borders and has neither the inclination or resources to military meddle anywhere. Smaller Sunni nations like the UAE and Jordan tend to ally with Saudi Arabia but not at the expense of agitating its Shia or Alewite neighbors. Then there is Sunni controlled Bahrain with a brutalized Shia majority.
Sunni Qatar is most interesting as the odd man in the region because it economically allies with Shia Iran and refuses to capitulate to the House of Saud.
With the Saudis failing to oust Assad and Wahhabize Syria to solidify its power in the region, the House of Saud is looking more and more like a collapsing House of Cards and that situation was recently intensified when Trump announced that he was pulling out of Syria. Saudi Arabia has economic problems (no economy except for oil) and is facing the fiscal curse of low oil prices.
Erdogan's Turkey is also a NATO nation and Turkey plays geopolitics as cleverly as Putin. Turkey has energy and economic ties with Russia and Iran because it shuns anything that empowers the Saudis. Together Iran, Turkey, Russia and Qatar represent a formidable force.
Trump has got to understand that he can't appease his own neocons by starting a war on Iran because it would mostly assuredly result in war with Turkey and Russia, both are strong allies of Iran, not to mention that China could be dragged into one very oily mess with the potential for mushroom clouds. Let's not forget that Trump likes and respect Putin and has always sought to get along with Russia, despite extreme pressure from the Russia haters in DC. Some in the insane US foreign policy establishment have moved from BOMB, BOMB, BOMB Iran to BOMB, BOMB, BOMB Russia, whom they blame for Hillary Clinton's humiliating 2016 general election defeat. The entire RussiaGate story is a hoax perpetrated by Hillary Clinton, the Obama Administration, the media and the Deep State.
The only viable and sane foreign policy option for Trump is to pull out of the Middle East and force these folks to solve their own problems, regional differences, tribal feuds and religious animosities. Without the backing of US Military that has a long history of siding with Saudi Arabia, the players in the Middle East will settle down and peacefully negotiate solutions to problems. Why? Because they will have no other options. Moreover, they tend NOT to war with each UNLESS Old Glory is leading the charge. Trump may be taking that away from them as he should.
Of course, there are other problems with the Muslims world. Pakistan remains a nuclear armed nightmare. However, the object of its hatred, India, is also nuclear armed so the concept of mutually assured destruction, something the US and Russia fully comprehend from decades of experience, will probably keep the peace.
Afghanistan is a failed 18 year old US war; we've spent $2 trillion there according Brown University's Cost of war project, here. Americans were told that we went to war in Afghanistan to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Well, that was accomplished in 2011 but the mad generals refuse to leave.
Israel? That another very complicated issue and it's further complicated by the fact the the Israelis have a very sinister relationship with the House of Saud. However, Israel depends on the US for foreign aid, a ton of it and $38 billion in aid which is an obscene amount of American taxpayer dollars, here. Israel isn't about to do anything to piss off the US or Trump. Like it or not, Israel is America's 51st state, a situation that really needs to change. Nothing has done more to harm America than the US-Saudi-Israeli alliance, something that many view as the real axis of evil.
The Kurds seem to be always oppressed and they live mostly in Turkey, Syria and Iran. The US is NOT going to explode the region into war to create a new Kurdish nation of Kurdistan. Already, the Kurds are negotiating with Syria. Despite media and government propaganda that the US is in Syria for, among other things, the protection of the Kurds, this is total bullshit, as the US could care less about the Kurds who have been dragged into the US-Saudi game to get rid of Assad.
When we think about the Middle East and its regional hostilities we need to think of it in terms of this: imagine the US in a state of perpetual civil war because Southern Baptists hate Catholics who hate Methodists and on and on...and they all fight to kill each other over their interpretation of Christianity and the Bible. That's precisely how the tribal Middle East operates. Of course, other issues come into play like oil and gas, pipelines (another very complicated issue) and complex tribal relationships that the West cannot even begin to comprehend.
Whatever happens in the Middle East, it's not our war or problem. We only ended up there to protect our oil supply back when Saudi Arabia controlled most of the world's oil and we desperately needed it but those days are long gone, oil is everywhere, it's cheap and the US is now a major oil producer, here.
Oil is nearly as plentiful as the grains of sand in the shifting Middle East deserts and as the winds of regional conflict and power brew in a region of the world that is religiously, politically and economically unstable, those folks need to be LEFT ALONE to solve their own damn problems and issues. Maybe someday they will all wake-up and figure out that religious tolerance and human rights are indeed core ingredients for prospering economies. Jihadis chopping off heads and the brutality of Shariah Law are not conducive to peaceful co-existence or liberty or prosperity or world peace.
Meanwhile, no corporation in their right mind will invest economically in the Middle East which is precisely why their economies are doomed. Businesses definitely demand the rule of law, peace, tolerance and secure property rights, all of which are crucial components of direct foreign investment. Without a capital friendly environment, nations simply wither and fail. Investment dollars can go to the US, Canada, Europe, Asia (a real hot spot of economic development), Australia, New Zealand, Russia and other parts of the world where the folks are civilized, civilization is valued and the rule of law are cherished.
Is the Middle East destined to always be a feuding mess? Well...that answer is entirely up to the folks who live there.
Meanwhile, Trump is right. "We have spent $7 trillion — trillion with a T — $7 trillion in the Middle East, You know what we have for it? Nothing. Nothing."
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