It is always the same when Japanese premiers travel to Washington to summit at the White House. Nothing seems to happen and nobody pays much attention even when important things happen, when we should all pay attention, and, when we do pay passing attention, we usually get it wrong. In January 1960, when Premier Nobusuke Kishi visited Washington, President Eisenhower blessed the war criminal and signed a security treaty the Japanese public vigorously opposed. That week Newsweek marked Kishi down as “that friendly, savvy Japanese salesman.” Kishi proved a salesman, all right. Three years later he used armed police to clear the Diet of opposition legislators and force ratification of the Anpo treaty, as the Japanese call it, with members of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) the only ones present to vote on it.
In an attempt to grossly exaggerate China’s defense spending, and simultaneously downplay the US military budget, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published a jaw-droppingly deceptive graph. If a student presented this in a statistics 101 class, the teacher would likely give them an F. But because it involves Washington’s public enemy number one, Beijing, the US regional reserve bank was awarded a Golden Star for exemplary service in the New Cold War. The St. Louis Fed listed the world’s top six countries by military expenditures, but used two separate axes: the spending of China, Russia, Britain, India, and Saudi Arabia was depicted on the left axis, which went from $0 to $300 billion; but a separate right axis was created just for the United States, which went from $400 billion to $1 trillion.
The Global Firepower ranking was published on January 6. The annual report classifies the world’s strongest militaries based on over 60 factors, including size, spending and technological advancements. The report, which placed the United States military on top, followed by Russia, China, India and the UK, raised more questions than answers, with some accusing GFP, the organization that compiled the report, of being biased, sloppy and highly politicized. For example, while Russia maintained its former position as the second strongest military in the world, Ukraine jumped by seven spots, to occupy the 15th position. This raises questions: how did GFP possibly estimate the current capabilities of the Ukrainian military nearly a year after a devastating war that destroyed much of Kyiv’s original military hardware, especially when the Pentagon itself is still unable to track the massive shipments of weapons delivered to Ukraine since the start of the war?
Russia’s military operation in Ukraine is approaching its first birthday. Top military brass in Russia have long declared that the conflict is not between Russia and Ukraine, but rather Russia and NATO. Simply put, Ukraine is a pawn in another U.S. war. Europe’s economy and military have been sacrificed on the altar of U.S. warmongering toward Russia. Winter is here and Ukraine’s prospects for getting out of the conflict with anything resembling “victory” have dissipated, if they ever really existed at all. Such has been admitted by two of the foreign policy establishment’s most criminal members: Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates. In an op-ed with the Washington Post, Rice and Gates argue that time is not on Ukraine’s side. The U.S. must act fast or watch Ukraine suffer eventual defeat. Of course, for neocon hawks like Rice and Gates, a negotiated settlement is simply out of the question.
Emmanuel Todd is a widely respected anthropologist and historian in France. In 2022, Todd published a book titled “The Third World War Has Started” (“La Troisième Guerre mondiale a commencé” in French). At the moment, it is only available in Japan. But Todd outlined the main arguments he made in the book in a French-language interview with the major newspaper Le Figaro, conducted by the journalist Alexandre Devecchio. According to Todd, the proxy war in Ukraine is “existential” not only for Russia, but also for the United States. The US “imperial system” is weakening in much of the world, he observed, but this is leading Washington to “strengthen its hold on its initial protectorates”: Europe and Japan.
“China to Have 1,500 Nuclear Warheads by 2035: Pentagon.” That was the headline at ABC News on November 29, the day the Department of Defense released the 2022 edition of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” also called the China Military Power report. The Pentagon’s claim that China’s nuclear stockpile would jump from some 400 warheads today to an estimated 1,500 in 2035 was widely reported in the popular media and seized upon by military hawks in Congress to clamor for increased military spending. During the first two weeks of December, the House and Senate authorized a fiscal year 2023 Pentagon Budget of $858 billion—some $45 billion more than President Biden requested, with most of the added funds earmarked for weaponry to counter China.“China to Have 1,500 Nuclear Warheads by 2035: Pentagon.” That was the headline at ABC News on November 29, the day the Department of Defense released the 2022 edition of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” also called the China Military Power report. The Pentagon’s claim that China’s nuclear stockpile would jump from some 400 warheads today to an estimated 1,500 in 2035 was widely reported in the popular media and seized upon by military hawks in Congress to clamor for increased military spending. During the first two weeks of December, the House and Senate authorized a fiscal year 2023 Pentagon Budget of $858 billion—some $45 billion more than President Biden requested, with most of the added funds earmarked for weaponry to counter China.
In 1996, the eight countries on the Arctic rim – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States – formed the Arctic Council, a journey that began in 1989 when Finland approached the other countries to hold a discussion about the Arctic environment. The Finnish initiative led to the Rovaniemi Declaration (1991), which established the council’s precursor, the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. The main concern for these governments at the time was the impact of ‘global pollution and resulting environmental threats’ to the Arctic, which was destroying the region’s ecosystem. There was little understanding of the scale and implications of the polar ice cap melting (consensus about that danger was amplified by the research of scientists such as Xiangdong Zhang and John Walsh in 2006 and the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007).
Economic coercion, through the imposition of sanctions, is an act of war. Many of these sanctions have caused hardship, especially for the civilian populations of targeted countries. But just as a rifle recoils on the shooter’s shoulder, potentially causing injury, so too can sanctions backfire on the user. That is the title of a new book, “Backfire: How Sanctions Reshape the World Against U.S. Interests.” This is not to say that sanctions don’t cause suffering, but they have a mere 13% success rate in altering a targeted state’s behavior in the way desired. The failure of sanctions has long been recognized, although that seems not to have dampened U.S. persistence in adding ever more of them. The blowback effect has begun, and more is predictably on the horizon.
China’s central bank has taken a series of steps to accelerate the global drive toward de-dollarization, challenging the hegemony of the greenback. The People’s Bank of China is increasing the share of gold in its foreign-exchange holdings, bucking the US dollar, which has for decades been dominant in reserves. This January, China also signed an agreement with Argentina’s central bank for a currency swap deal, in which Beijing will provide 130 billion Chinese yuan (roughly $19 billion USD) to help Buenos Aires stabilize its currency and economy. The South American nation said it is “committed to deepen the use of the RMB [renminbi] in the Argentine market for bilateral exchange”. (Renminbi is the official name for the Chinese currency, also known as the yuan.)
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin via video link on December 30, which drew alarm from certain Western media outlets. The New York Times, for example, concluded that the call came amid a "weak moment" for both leaders. Readers were led to believe that both China and Russia find themselves "isolated and desperate." However, the assertion conceals a more difficult truth. That is, the U.S.-led unipolar order has experienced a number of challenges to its stability over the course of 2022 that show no sign of letting up in the new year. The signs of decay are both external and internal. Geopolitically, the United States finds itself playing a profitable yet unsustainable role in the Ukraine crisis.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was overthrown in April 2022 in a soft coup supported by the United States. Khan argued that he was targeted due to his independent foreign policy, comparing his ouster to the CIA coup in Iran in 1953. Since leaving office, Khan has held massive protests across the country, blasting the unelected coup regime for surrendering its sovereignty to Washington. “The US has made Pakistan a slave without having to invade it,” Khan fumed. “The people of Pakistan will never accept the imported government.” Khan has also become a leading voice on the international stage calling for the rebirth of the Non-Aligned Movement. He argues that Pakistan should have been non-aligned in the first cold war. And he insists his country must be independent today in the new, second cold war between the US on one side and China and Russia on the other.
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The United States government held the US-Africa Leaders Summit in mid-December, prompted in large part by its fears about Chinese and Russian influence on the African continent. Rather than routine diplomacy, Washington’s approach in the summit was guided by its broader New Cold War agenda, in which a growing focus of the US has been to disrupt relations that African nations hold with China and Russia. This hawkish stance is driven by US military planners, who view Africa as ‘NATO’s southern flank’ and consider China and Russia to be ‘near-peer threats’. At the summit, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin charged China and Russia with ‘destabilising’ Africa. Austin provided little evidence to support his accusations, apart from pointing to China’s substantial investments, trade, and infrastructure projects with many countries on the continent and maligning the presence in a handful of countries of several hundred mercenaries from the Russian private security firm, the Wagner Group.
Russia has spent years trying to decrease its dependency on the US dollar. But especially since the escalation of the proxy war in Ukraine in 2022, Moscow has accelerated its drive toward de-dollarization. Western sanctions have locked Russia out of the US-dominated international financial architecture. Numerous Russian banks were disconnected from the SWIFT inter-bank messaging system. Washington and Brussels even froze a staggering $300 billion of the Russian central bank’s foreign exchange reserves. In response, Russia’s central bank has largely abandoned the US dollar and euro, and instead it plans to buy Chinese yuan on the currency market. In the span of less than a year, the yuan has quickly replaced the dollar as the most sought foreign currency in Moscow.
Late last November, several fringe group of anti-lockdown protests happened across China, dubbed “the A4 paper protests” hyped by western media; led by western-backed Chinese right-wing violent QAnon anti-lockdown/anti-vaxers, supported by Chinese western-backed medical industrial complex and pro-western elites, together they forced the government to abandon the “dynamic zero-COVID” policy. This has been no more than an orchestrated western-backed color revolution, and a Chinese right-wing riot for their selfish agenda, that does not represent the majority of the Chinese and World’s opinion. Since the Wuhan outbreak on December, 2019, China adopted the “Dynamic Zero-COVID” policy, included: mass testing, contact tracing, lockdown and makeshift hospitals for every patients, that had quelled more than 100 outbreaks across the country for the past three years.
On November 26, local elections were held throughout Taiwan, an island that has always been part of China, but since 1949 has been ruled by a fascist leadership driven out of the mainland by the victorious Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Taiwan has since been “protected” by the military U.S. fleet, while Taiwan’s rulers maintained 48 years of martial law and a brutal regime of “White Terror”. In 1987, the regime allowed bourgeois elections. Before the 2022 elections, Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, had campaigned for her ruling “Democratic Progressive Party” (DPP) candidates with the assertion that Taiwan is an independent nation, and should prepare to wage war. As a Nov. 25th CNN article describes: Polls opened in Taiwan on Saturday in local elections that President Tsai Ing-wen has framed as being about sending a message to the world about the island’s determination to defend its democracy in the face of China’s rising bellicosity.