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.
The U.S., having no need of or gift for statecraft, has long practiced what I’ve taken to calling the diplomacy of no diplomacy. You can’t expect much from bimbos such as Antony Blinken or Wendy Sherman, Blinken’s No. 2 at the State Department. All they can do is roar, even if they are mice next to any serious diplomat. But have the European powers now followed along? I fear to ask because I fear the answer. But I must, given recent events. Early last year, when Petro Poroshenko stated publicly that the post-coup regime in Kyiv had no intention of abiding by diplomatic commitments it made in 2014-15 to a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis, a few eyebrows arched, but not over many. Who was the former Ukrainian president, anyway?
Anthony Johnson of Nurses United UK explains the reasons for the historic strike by nurses in December. He notes that the strike is not just about the cost of living crisis and pay hikes but also about saving the NHS from privatization. He explains how over the decades, successive governments have shrunk the health service, leading to poor working conditions and staff vacancies. He also talks about the impact of the wrecking of the NHS on the British people and health professionals in other parts of the world.
The United States has rapidly become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), tied with Qatar. A significant reason for this meteoric increase is because Europe replaced Asia as the top market for US LNG in 2022, as Brussels pledged to boycott Russian energy over the proxy war in Ukraine. Among the principal importers of US LNG are France, Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, and Italy. Europe is now paying significantly more for expensive US LNG than it had previously for Russian pipeline gas. As of 2022, Europe had the highest energy prices on the planet. This was a key factor in fueling an inflation crisis that spread worldwide, and hit Europe especially hard.
On December 6th, The Grayzone revealed how British military and intelligence agencies were deploying technology created by shadowy private intelligence firm Anomaly 6 to illegally spy on citizens across the globe. The company’s technology effectively transforms every individual on Earth into a potential target for surveillance and/or asset recruitment by monitoring the movements of their smartphone. Anomaly 6 embeds tracking software in popular applications, then slices through layers of theoretically anonymous data to uncover a wealth of sensitive information about a device’s owner. Anomaly 6’s services are provided to Britain’s soldiers and spies through Prevail Partners, a private military company which The Grayzone has exposed as Whitehall’s arm’s-length cutout for prosecuting its proxy war in Ukraine.
Over the past 20 years, the Mediterranean Sea has become a graveyard as the EU’s brutal “Fortress Europe” policies unleash brutal hostility against migrants and refugees. While mainstream media has often sensationalized the problem as a “migrant crisis” or “refugee crisis,” little scrutiny has been placed on the role of Europe and other countries of the Global North in producing this crisis of mass displacement through the War on Terror or the historic underdevelopment of the former colonial world. Authors Helen Benedict and Eyan Awwadawnan join The Chris Hedges Report to discuss their book, Map of Hope and Sorrow: Stories of Refugees in Greece. Helen Benedict is a novelist and journalist. Her previous books include The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, and Wolf Season.
What really hit me last year was the dearth of correct analyses in main stream media and in politics with regards to the war in Ukraine. Little if anything is based on facts. More than 90% of the published output is propaganda. The 'western' plan was to draw Russia into Ukraine to then 'kill' it by economic sanctions. As Biden said when he announced those: We have purposefully designed these sanctions to maximize the long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and our Allies.And I want to be clear: The United States is not doing this alone. For months, we’ve been building a coalition of partners representing well more than half of the global economy. Twenty-seven members of the European Union, including France, Germany, Italy — as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many others — to amplify the joint impact of our response. I just spoke with the G7 leaders this morning, and we are in full and total agreement. We will limit Russia’s ability to do business in Dollars, Euros, Pounds, and Yen to be part of the global economy.
The CIA is using the spy agencies ofa European NATO ally in order to launch sabotage attacks in Russian territory, according to journalist Jack Murphy. Murphy is a former US special operations officer who has extensive contacts inside the military and intelligence services. Citing multiple US government sources, Murphy reported that the CIA and the European state spent years developing “sleeper cells that the allied spy service has activated to hinder Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine by waging a secret war behind Russian lines.” Infrastructure that has been sabotaged in Russia includes railways, bridges, fuel depots, military facilities, power lines, and electrical plants. The NATO ally began sending sleeper cells into Russia in 2016, and with the help of “‘an extensive network’ of front companies,” the CIA and the European state smuggled in explosives, weapons, and other equipment.
When the president of the poorest, most corrupt nation in Europe is feted with multiple standing ovations by the combined Houses of Congress, and his name invoked in the same breath as Winston Churchill, you know we’ve reached Peak Zelensky. It’s a farcical, almost psychotic over-promotion, probably surpassed only by the media’s shameful, hyperbolic railroading of the country into war with Iraq, in 2003. Paraphrasing Gertrude from Hamlet, “Methinks the media doth hype too much.” Let’s remember that before ascending to his country’s presidency, Volodymyr Zelensky’s greatest claim to fame was that he could play the piano with his penis. I’m not joking. And he ran on a platform to unite his country for peace, and for making amends with Russia. Again, I’m not joking.
In the spring of 2020, the European Union announced an ambitious plan to overhaul farming practices in fields and valleys across the continent. Named Farm to Fork, it calls for less fertiliser and pesticide use, and more organic production. Veteran sustainable food and farming experts welcomed the strategy as one that just might have a genuine shot at transforming the agriculture sector and result in better public health, contribute to ending the vertiginous decline of biodiversity, and lower greenhouse gas pollution. The response from Europe’s powerful industrial agriculture sector was swift and unequivocal: Farm to Fork will result in disaster. “Lower yields”, “higher food prices”, “unviable incomes for farmers”’ are among the outcomes predicted by an army of Brussels lobbyists, who are employed by the agrochemical industry and its allies in the intensive farming sector.
Health workers in the UK are intensifying their agitation, demanding a wage hike at par with soaring inflation. On Tuesday, December 20, nurses affiliated with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) went on strike in NHS hospitals across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Nurses are protesting the Tory government’s refusal to further discuss the demands of the nursing community for increased wages and to mitigate the ongoing and acute cost of living crisis. On Thursday, December 15, over 100,000 nurses went on strike, demanding the same. On Wednesday, December 21, ambulance drivers in England and Wales affiliated with unions Unite and GMB also went on strike, demanding wage hikes and more staff. The union, Unite, has pointed out that “ambulance staff have seen their wages collapse in value this year, down by £2,400 [2901.36 USD], with NHS pay having fallen by £6,000 [7253.40 USD] since 2010.”
Montreuil, France - Inspired by Shareable’s coverage of the sharing economy, Bibliothèque D’Objets De Montreuil, also known as La BOM, opened its doors as a “Library of Things” in April 2022 in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil. La BOM’s president and founder Sylvain Mustaki had been searching for a way to make a difference in an economic climate that disenfranchised people who struggled financially. Mustaki says that Libraries of Things (LoT) help reduce waste through the loaning and lending of useful but costly everyday tools, appliances, and other items, but says empowering everyday people to share is his focus. I’m afraid we have difficult times coming, particularly for poor people. Building a community based on sharing and mutual help is the best chance for the people to get through hard times. We had to do something.
From 11am on Monday November 21st, Extinction Rebellion and other aligned groups took nonviolent action at thirteen sites across central London, targeting the offices of companies and organisations which have links to the fossil fuel industry. The groups sent a universal message that it’s time to ‘cut the ties’ with fossil fuels. Actions took place at BP, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, BAE Systems, Church House, Ineos, Eversheds Sutherland, Schlumberger, the International Maritime Organisation, the Institute of Economic Affairs, JP Morgan, Arch Insurance, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The actions follow the conclusion of COP27 in Egypt, which was widely critisised for the heavy presence of representatives of oil and gas companies.
The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is not particularly perceived by the EU’s political elite or mainstream media as a rightwing ideologue or warmonger. But seen through a different, non-western prism, it is hard not to mistake him for one. Borrell’s recent comments that “Europe is a garden” and that “the rest of the world is a jungle” were duly condemned as ‘racist’ by many politicians around the world, but mostly in the Global South. Borrell’s remarks, however, must also be viewed as an expression of superiority, not only of Borell personally, but of Europe’s ruling classes as a whole. Particularly interesting about the EU top diplomat’s words are these inaccurate depictions of Europe and its relationship with the rest of the world: “We have built a garden”, “everything works” and “the jungle could invade the garden”.
Athens, Greece - Workers walked off the job in Greece and Belgium on Wednesday during nationwide strikes against increasing consumer prices, disrupting transportation, forcing flight cancellations and shutting down public services in the latest European protests over the rising cost of living. In Greece, where workers were holding a 24-hour general strike, thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki. Brief clashes broke out at the end of demonstrations in both cities, with small groups of protesters breaking off from the main march to throw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. The clashes were over within minutes.