Category Archives: Law/Geopolitics/ Politics

North Korea: “Grand Deception” Revealed

Christopher Black | Monday, March 13, 2017,

In 2003 I had, along with some American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild, the good fortune to be able to travel to North Korea, that is the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, in order to experience first hand that nation, its socialist system and its people. The joint report issued on our return was titled “The Grand Deception Revealed.”

That title was chosen because we discovered that the negative western propaganda myth about North Korea is a grand deception designed to blind the peoples of the world to the accomplishments of the Korean people in the north who have successfully created their own circumstances, their own independent socio-economic system, based on socialist principles, free of the domination of the western powers.

At one of our first dinners in Pyongyang our host, Ri Myong Kuk, a lawyer, stated, on behalf of the government, and in passionate terms, that the DPRK’s Nuclear Deterrent Force was necessary in light of US world actions and threats against the DPRK. He stated, and this was repeated to me in a high level meeting with DPRK government officials later on in the trip, that if the Americans would sign a peace treaty and non-aggression agreement with the DPRK, it would de-legitimize the American occupation and lead to reunification.

Consequently there would be no need for nuclear weapons. He stated sincerely that, “It’s important that lawyers are gathering to talk about this as lawyers regulate the social interactions within society and within the world,” and added just as sincerely that, “the path to peace requires an open heart.”

It appeared to us then and it is apparent now, in absolute contradiction to the claims of the western media, that the people of the DPRK want peace more than anything else so they can get on with their lives and endeavours without the constant threat of nuclear annihilation by the United States. But annihilation is what they in fact face and whose fault is that? Not theirs.

We were shown American documents captured in the Korean War that are compelling evidence that the US planned an attack on North Korea in 1950. The attack was carried out using American and south Korean forces with the assistance of Japanese Army officers who had invaded and occupied Korea decades before.

The North Korean defence and counter-attack was then claimed by the US to be “aggression” which the United States manipulated in the media to get the UN to support a “police operation,” the euphemism they chose to use to carry on what was in fact their war of aggression against North Korea. Three years of war and 3.5 million Korean deaths followed and the US has threatened them with imminent war and annihilation ever since.

The UN vote in favour of a “police action” in 1950 was itself illegal since Russia was absent for the vote in the Security Council. The quorum required for the Security Council under its Rules of Procedure, is all member delegations so that all members must be present or a session cannot proceed.

The Americans used a Russian boycott of the Security Council as their opportunity. The Russian boycott took place in defence of the position of the Peoples Republic of China that it should have the China seat at the Security Council table, not the defeated Kuomintang government. The Americans refused to do the right thing, so the Russians refused to sit at the table until the legitimate Chinese government could.

The Americans used this opportunity to carry out a type of coup in the UN, to take over its machinery for its own interests by arranging with the British, French and Kuomintang Chinese to back their actions in Korea by a vote in the absence of the Russians.

The allies did as the Americans asked and voted for war with Korea, but the vote was invalid, and the “police action” was not a peace-keeping operation nor justified under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, since article 51states that all nations have the right of self defence against an armed attack, which is what the North Koreans faced and had reacted to.

But the Americans have never cared much about legalities and they did not then for the American plan in its entirety was to conquer and occupy North Korea as a step towards the invasions of Manchuria and Siberia and the law was not going to get in their way.

Many in the west have little idea of the destruction carried out in Korea by the Americans and their allies; that Pyongyang was carpet bombed into oblivion, that civilians fleeing the carnage were strafed by American planes.

The New York Times stated at the time that 17,000,000 pounds of napalm were used in Korea just in the first 20 months of the war. More bomb tonnage was dropped on Korea by the US than the US dropped on Japan in World War Two. American forces hunted down and murdered not only communist party members but also their families.

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At Sinchon we saw the evidence that American soldiers forced 500 civilians into a ditch, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire. We stood in an air raid shelter with walls still blackened with the burnt flesh of 900 civilians, including women and children who had sought safety during an American attack.

American soldiers were seen pouring gasoline down the air vents of the shelter and burning them all to death. This is the reality of the American occupation for Koreans. This is the reality they fear still and never want to repeat. Can we blame them?

But even with this history, Koreans are willing to open their hearts to former enemies. Major Kim Myong Hwan, who was then the main negotiator at Panmunjom on the DMZ line, told us that his dream was to be a writer, a poet, a journalist, but said in sombre tones, that he and his five brothers “walk the line” at the DMZ as soldiers because of what happened to his family.

He said their struggle was not against the American people but their government. He was lonely for his family lost at Sinchon; his grandfather strung up a pole and tortured, his grandmother bayoneted in the stomach and left to die. He said, “You see, we have to do it. We have to defend ourselves. We do not oppose the American people. We oppose the American policy of hostility and its efforts to exercise control over the whole world and inflict calamity on people.”

It was the opinion of the delegation that by maintaining instability in Asia, the U.S. can maintain a massive military presence and keep China at bay in its relations with South and North Korea and Japan and use it as a lever against China and Russia. 

With the continuing pressure within Japan to remove the U.S. bases in Okinawa, the Korean military operations and war exercises remain a central point of American efforts to dominate the region

The question is not whether the DPRK has nuclear weapons which it is legally entitled to have, but whether the United States, which has nuclear arms capability on the Korean peninsula, and which is now installing its THADD missile defence system there, a system that threatens the security of Russia and China, is willing to work with the North toward a peace treaty.

We found North Koreans avid for peace and not attached to having nuclear weapons if peace can be established. But the American position remains as arrogant, aggressive threatening and dangerous as ever.

In this age of American “regime change,” “pre-emptive war” doctrines, and American efforts to develop low yield nuclear weapons as well as their abandonment and manipulation of international law it was not surprising that the DPRK plays the nuclear card.

What choice do the Koreans have since United States threatens nuclear war on a daily basis and the two countries that logic dictates would support them against American aggression, Russia and China, join with the Americans in condemning the Koreans for arming themselves with the only weapon that can act as a deterrent against attack.

The reason for this is unclear since the Russians and Chinese have nuclear weapons and built them to act as a deterrent to an attack by the United States just as North Korea is doing. Some of their government statements indicate that they fear not being in control of the situation and that if North Korea’s acts of defence draw a US attack, they will be attacked as well.

One can understand that anxiety. But it begs the question why they cannot support North Korea’s right to self-defence and put more pressure on the Americans to conclude a peace treaty, a non-aggression agreement, and to withdraw their nuclear and armed forces from the Korean peninsula.

But the great tragedy is the clear inability of the American people to think for themselves, in the face of continual deceptions, and to demand that their leaders exhaust all avenues of dialogue and peacemaking before even contemplating aggression on the Korean Peninsula.

The fundamental foundation of North Korean policy is to achieve a non-aggression pact and peace treaty with the United States. The North Koreans repeatedly stated that they did not want to attack anyone, hurt anyone or be at war with anyone.

But they have seen what has happened to Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and countless other countries and they have no intention of having that happen to them. It is clear that any U.S. invasion would be defended vigorously and that the nation can endure a long, arduous struggle.

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At another location on the DMZ we met a Colonel who set up field glasses through which we could see across the divide between north and south. We could see a concrete wall built on the South side, a violation of truce agreements. The major described such a permanent structure as a “disgrace for the Korean people who are a homogenous people.”

A loud speaker continuously blared propaganda and music from speakers on the south side. The irritating noise goes on for 22 hours a day, he said. Suddenly, in another surreal moment, the bunker’s loudspeakers began belting out the William Tell overture, better known in America as the theme from the Lone Ranger.

The Colonel urged us to help people see what is really going on in the DPRK, instead of basing their opinions on misinformation. He told us “We know that like us the peace loving people in America have children, parents and families.” We told him of our mission to return with a message for peace and that we hope to return someday and “walk with him together freely in these beautiful hills.” He paused and said, “I too believe it is possible.”


So while the people of the DPRK hope for peace and security the United States and its puppet regime in the south of the Korean peninsular wage war, carrying out for the next three months the largest war games ever conducted there, involving air craft carriers, nuclear armed submarines and stealth bombers, aircraft and large numbers of troops, artillery and armour.

The propaganda campaign has been taken to dangerous levels in the media with accusations that the North murdered a relative of the leader of the DPRK in Malaysia, though there is no proof of this, and no motive for the north to do it. The only ones to benefit from the murder are the Americans and their controlled media using it to whip up hysteria about the North and now allegations of the North having chemical weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, friends, they think we were all born yesterday and that we haven’t learned a thing or two about the character of the American leadership and the nature of their propaganda. Is it any wonder that the North Koreans fear that any day these on going war “games” can be switched to the real thing, that these “games” are just a cover for an attack, and in the meantime to create an atmosphere of terror for the Korean people?

There is a lot than can be said about the real nature of the DPRK, its people and socio-economic system, its culture. But there is no space for that here. I hope people can visit as our group did and experience for them selves what we experienced. Instead I will close with the concluding paragraph of the joint report made on our return from the DPRK and hope that people take it in, think about it, and act to bring on its call for peace.

The people of the world have to be told the complete story about Korea and our government’s role in fostering imbalance and conflict. Action must be taken by lawyers, community groups, peace activists, and all citizens of the planet, to prevent the U.S. government from successfully generating a propaganda campaign to support aggression in North Korea. The American people have been subjected to a grand deception. There is too much at stake to get fooled again. This peace delegation learned in the DPRK a significant piece of truth essential in international relations. It’s how broader communication, negotiation followed by maintained promises, and a deep commitment to peace can save the world – literally – from a dark nuclear future. Experience and truth free us from the threat of war. Our foray into North Korea, this report and our on-going project are small efforts to make and set us free.”

 

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

 

http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/13/north-korea-the-grand-deception-revealed/

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The Sinister Agenda Behind the Washington War On Cash

1.01.2017 Author: F. William Engdahl

4213123312It’s kinda sneaking up on us like an East Texas copperhead pit viper. It began to get some wide attention in 2016, with prominent economists and financial media suddenly talking about the wonderful benefits of a “cashless society.” Then the government of Narenda Modi completely surprised his citizens by suddenly announcing withdrawal of larger denomination currency notes from circulation, forcing Indians to put their cash into banks or lose it. Now, everywhere we turn, it seems, someone is arguing the Nirvana benefits of a cashless, “digital” money world. It reminds me in an eerie way of a statement attributed to then US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger in the 1970’s. He reportedly stated, “If you control oil, you control entire nations; if you control food, you control the people; if you control money, you control the entire world.” Consider the following in this regard.

Modi and a USAID ‘Catalyst’

On November 8, 2016 in a surprise televised address, Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi announced that, within a deadline of days, all Indian currency notes of 500 and 1,000 Rupees must be put in a bank account and exchanged for smaller denomination notes. At today’s exchange rate 1,000 Rs is roughly equal to $15. This would perhaps be equivalent to the US Treasury outlawing all cash notes larger than a $10 bill.

Overnight, Modi’s government de facto outlawed an estimated 86 percent of all cash in circulation by value. People had 50 days to hand in the notes or they become worthless. Yet the government, despite stating it would issue new, more secure 500Rs and 1000Rs bills, had nowhere near the equivalent value of new notes ready for replacement. They say it may take up to a year to print enough, which means confiscation, de facto. Faked opinion polls with slanted questions done only via smart phone apps of which only 17% of the population has access, claimed that “90% of Indians approve” the demonetization.

Yet it’s far worse. India is an underdeveloped country, the largest in the world in population terms with more than 1.3 billion people. By demanding Indians turn in all 500Rs and 1,000Rs bills to banks, Modi is forcing major change in how Indians control their money in a country high on the corruption scale where few trust government let alone private banks, and prefer to deal strictly in cash or hoard gold for value. Nearly half the population, some 600 million Indians, do not hold a bank account and half of those, some 300 million Indians, lack a government identification, necessary to open an account.

When he presented his shock announcement, Modi pitched it in terms of going after India’s black economy. Soon he shifted gears and was praising the benefits of a “cash-less society” to enable Indians to enter the digital age, appealing to younger Indians, savvy in smart phones and digital networks, to convince the older of the benefits of online banking and consuming. The drastic demonetization declaration was planned by Modi and five other inner-circle ministers in complete secrecy. Not even the banks were told before. The question is what is behind, or rather who is behind this drastic form of monetary shock therapy?

Beyond Cash

The answer is as sinister as it is suggestive of a larger global agenda by what I call in one of my books the Wall Street “Gods of Money.” The Modi cash-less India operation is a project of the US National Security Council, US State Department and Office of the President administered through its US Agency for International Development (USAID). Little surprise, then, that the US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner in a December 1, 2016 press briefing praised the Modi demonetization move stating, “…this was, we believe, an important and necessary step to crack down on illegal actions…a necessary one to address the corruption.”

Keep in mind that USAID today has little to do with aiding poorer countries. By law it must follow the foreign policy agenda of the President’s National Security Council and State Department. It’s widely known as a conduit for CIA money to execute their dirty agendas abroad in places such as Georgia. Notably, the present head of the USAID, Gayle Smith, came to head USAID from her post as Senior Director at the US National Security Council.

German economist and blogger, Norbert Haering, in an extensive, well-documented investigation into the background of the bizarre Modi move to a cash-less India, found not only USAID as the key financial source of the project. He also uncovered a snake-pit of organizational vipers being funded by USAID to design and implement the India shock therapy.

USAID negotiated a co-operation with the Modi Indian Ministry of Finance. In October, 2016 in a press release USAID announced it had created and funded something it named Project Catalyst. The title of their report was, “Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership.” Its stated goal it said was to bring about a “quantum leap” in cashless payment in India.

They certainly did that. Maybe two quantum leaps and some.

If we dig a bit deeper we find that in January, 2016, USAID presented the Indian Finance Ministry a report titled, Beyond Cash: Why India loves cash and why that matters for financial inclusion. Financial “inclusion” for them means getting all Indians into the digital banking system where their every payment can be electronically tracked and given to the tax authorities or to whomever the government sees fit.

Astonishingly, the report, prepared for USAID by something called the Global Innovation Exchange, admitted that “97% of retail transactions in India are conducted in cash or check; Few consumers use digital payments. Only 11% used debit cards for payments last year. Only 6% of Indian merchants accept digital payments…Only 29 percent of bank accounts in India have been used in the last three months.” The US and Indian governments knew very well what shock they were detonating in India.

The Global Innovation Exchange includes such dubious member organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a major donor to the Modi war on cash initiative of USAID. It also includes USAID itself, several UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR. And it includes the US Department of Commerce and a spooky Maclean, Virginia military contractor called MITRE Corporation whose chairman is former CIA Director, James Rodney Schlesinger, a close associate of Henry Kissinger.

The USAID Project Catalyst in partnership with the Indian Finance Ministry was done, according to the USAID press statement, with a sinister-sounding organization called CashlessCatalyst.org. Among the 35 members of CashlessCatalyst.org are USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, VISA, MasterCard, Omidyar Network of eBay billionaire founder Pierre Omidyar, the World Economic Forum-center of the globalization annual Alpine meetings.

War on Cash

However, a most interesting member of the USAID Project Catalyst together with the Indian Ministry of Finance is something called Better Than Cash Alliance. In point of fact the US-government-finance Project Catalyst grew out of a longer cooperation between USAID, the Washington-based Better Than Cash Alliance and the Indian Ministry of Finance. It appers to be the core public driver pushing the agenda of the global “war on cash.”

India and the reckless (or corrupt) Modi government implementing the USAID-Better Than Cash Alliance agenda is clearly serving as a guinea pig in a mass social experiment about how to push the cash war in other countries. The Better Than Cash Alliance is described by the UNCDF, which is its Secretariat, as “a US $38 million global alliance of governments, private sector and development organizations committed to accelerating the shift from cash to electronic payments.”

The Better Than Cash Alliance website announces that the alliance, created in 2012, is a “partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth.” It’s housed at the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in New York whose major donors, in turn, surprise, surprise, are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MasterCard Foundation. Among the Better Than Cash Alliance’s 50 members are, in addition to the Gates Foundation, Citi Foundation (Citigroup), Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, United States Agency for International Development, and Visa Inc.

Recently the European Central Bank, which has held negative interest rates for more than a year, allegedly to stimulate growth in the Eurozone amid the long-duration banking and economic crisis of almost nine years, announced that it will stop printing the €500 note. They claim it’s connected with money laundering and terror financing, though it ominously echoes the Modi India war on cash. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, whose shady role in the 1990’s rape of Russia through his Harvard cronies has been documented elsewhere, is calling for eliminating the US $100 bill. These are first steps to future bolder moves to the desired Cash-less society of Gates, Citigroup, Visa et al.

US Dual Standard: Follow the money…

The move to a purely digital money system would be Big Brother on steroids. It would allow the relevant governments to monitor our every money move with a digital trail, to confiscate deposits in what now are legal bank “bail-ins” as was done in Cyprus in 2013. If central banks move interest rates into negative, something the Bank of Japan and ECB in Frankfurt are already doing, citizens have no choice than to spend the bank money or lose. It is hailed as a way to end tax avoidance but it is far, far more sinister.

As Norbert Haering notes, “the status of the dollar as the world’s currency of reference and the dominance of US companies in international finance provide the US government with tremendous power over all participants in the formal non-cash financial system. It can make everybody conform to American law rather than to their local or international rules.” He adds, referring to the recent US Government demand that Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank pay an astonishing and unprecedented $14 billion fine, “Every internationally active bank can be blackmailed by the US government into following their orders, since revoking their license to do business in the US or in dollar basically amounts to shutting them down.”

We should add to this “benevolent concern” of the US Government to stimulate a War on Cash in India and elsewhere the fact that while Washington has been the most aggressive demanding that banks in other countries enact measures for full disclosure of details of Swiss or Panama or other “offshore” secret account holders or US nationals holding money in foreign banks, the USA itself has scrupulously avoided demanding the same of its domestic banks. The result, as Bloomberg noted following the suspiciously-timed Panama Papers offshore “leaks” of May, 2016, is that the United States is rapidly becoming the world’s leading tax and secrecy haven for rich foreigners.

Perversely enough, in 2010 the US passed a law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FACTA, that requires financial firms to disclose foreign accounts held by US citizens and report them to the US IRS tax office or the foreign banks face steep penalties. The EU signed on to the intrusive FACTA despite strong resistance. Then, using FACTA as the model, the Paris-based OECD drafted an even tougher version of FACTA in 2014 to allegedly go after tax avoiders. To date 97 countries have agreed to the tough OECD bank disclosure rules. Very few have refused. The refusers include Bahrain, Nauru, Vanuatu—and…the United States.

World’s Biggest Tax Haven

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, a financial wizard or a Meyer Lansky to see a pattern. Washington forces disclosure of secret bank accounts of its citizens or companies abroad, while at the same time lifting control or disclosure inside the United States of private banking accounts. No surprise that such experienced private bankers as London’s Rothschild & Co. have opened offices in Reno Nevada a stone’s throw from Harrah’s and other casinos, and according to Bloomberg, is doing a booming business moving the fortunes of wealthy foreign clients out of offshore havens such as Bermuda, or Switzerland which are subject to the new OECD international disclosure requirements, into Rothschild-run trusts in Nevada, which are exempt from those disclosure rules.

Rothschild & Co. Director, Andrew Penney noted that as a result, the United States today, “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.” Today Nevada, Meyer Lansky’s money laundering project of the 1930’s with established legalized gambling, is becoming the “new Switzerland.” Wyoming and South Dakota are close on the heels.

One area where America’s institutions are still world class is in devising complex instruments of financial control, asset theft and cyber warfare. The US War on Cash, combined with the US Treasury and IRS war on offshore banking is their latest model. As Washington’s War on Terror had a sinister, hidden agenda, so too does Washington’s War on Cash. It’s something to be avoided at all costs if we human beings are to retain any vestige of sovereignty or autonomy. It will be interesting to see how vigorously Casino mogul Trump moves to close the US tax haven status. What do you bet he doesn’t?

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
http://journal-neo.org/2017/01/21/the-sinister-agenda-behind-the-washington-war-on-cash/

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Washington’s ‘Pivot to Asia’: A Debacle Unfolding

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In 2012 President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter launched a new chapter in their quest for global dominance:  a realignment of policies designed to shift priorities from the Middle East to Asia.  Dubbed the ‘Pivot to Asia’, it suggested that the US would concentrate its economic, military and diplomatic resources toward strengthening its dominant position and undercutting China’s rising influence in the region.

The ‘pivot to Asia’ did not shift existing resources from the Middle East, it added military commitments to the region, while provoking more conflicts with Russia and China.

The “pivot to Asia” meant that the US was extending and deepening its regional military alliances in order to confront and encircle Russia and China.  The goal would be to cripple their economies and foster social unrest leading to political instability and regime change.

The US onslaught for greater empire depended on the cooperation of proxies and allies to accomplish its strategic goals.

The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ had a two-pronged approach, based on an economic trading pact and various military treaty agreements.  The entire US strategy of retaining global supremacy depended on securing and enhancing its control over its regional allies and proxies.  Failure of the Obama regime to retain Washington’s vassal states would accelerate its decline and encourage more desperate political maneuvers.

Strategic Military Posturing

Without a doubt, every military decision and action made by the Obama Administration with regard to the Asia-Pacific Region has had only one purpose – to weaken China’s defense capabilities, undermine its economy and force Beijing to submit to Washington’s domination.

In pursuit of military supremacy, Washington has installed an advanced missile system in South Korea, increased its air and maritime armada and expanded its provocative activities along China’s coastline and its vital maritime trade routes.  Washington has embarked on a military base expansion campaign in Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

This explains why Washington pressured its client regime in Manila under the former President ‘Nonoy’ Aquino, Jr., to bring its territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands before a relatively obscure tribunal in Holland.  The European ruling, unsurprisingly in favor of Manila, would provide the US with a ‘legal’ cover for its planned aggression against China in the South China Sea.  The Spratly and Paracel Islands are mostly barren coral islands and shoals located within the world’s busiest shipping trade routes, explaining China’s (both Beijing and Taipei) refusal to recognize the ‘Court of Special Arbitration’.

Strategic Economic Intervention: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The US authored and promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a trade and investment agreement covering 12 Pacific countries designed to ensure US regional dominance while deliberately cutting out China.  The TPP was to be the linchpin of US efforts to promote profits for overseas US multi-nationals by undercutting the rules for domestic producers, labor laws for workers and environmental regulations for consumers.  As a result of its unpopular domestic provisions, which had alienated US workers and consumers, the electorate forced both Presidential candidates to withdraw their support for the TPP – what one scribbler for the Financial Times denounced as “the dangers of popular democracy”.  The Washington empire builders envisioned the TPP as a tool for dictating and enforcing their ‘rules’ on a captive Asia-Pacific trading system.  From the perspective of US big business, the TPP was the instrument of choice for retaining supremacy in Asia by excluding China.

The Eclipse of Washington’s “Asian Century”

For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars  in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources and encircle China and North Korea.

Under the Obama-Clinton-Kerry Regime, the imperial structures in Asia are coming apart.

Washington’s anti-China TPP is collapsing and has been replaced by the Chinese sponsored Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with over fifty member countries worldwide, including the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAEN), plus Australia, India, South Korea and New Zealand.  Of course, China is funding most of the partnership and, to no one’s surprise, Washington has not been invited to join…

As a result of the highly favorable terms in the RCEP, each and every current and former US ally and colony has been signing on, shifting trade allegiances to China, and effectively changing the configuration of power.

Already Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia have formalized growing economic ties with China.  The debacle of the TPP has just accelerated the shift toward China’s new trade pact (RCEP).  The US is left to rely on its ‘loyalist four’, a stagnant Japan, Australia, South Korea and its impoverished former colony, Philippines, to bolster its quest to militarily encircle China.

The Dangers of ‘Popular Democracy’: President Duterte’s Pivot to China and the End of US Supremacy in SE Asia?

For over a century (since the invasion of the Philippines in 1896), especially since the end of WWII, when the US asserted its primacy in Asia, Washington has used the strategic Philippine Archipelago as a trampoline for controlling Southeast Asia.  Control of the Philippines is fundamental to US Imperialism: Washington’s strategic superiority depends on its access to sea, air, communications and ground bases and operations located in the Philippines and a compliant Philippine ruling class..

The centerpiece of US strategy to encircle and tighten control over China’s maritime routes to and from the world-economy is the massive build-up of US military installations in the Philippines.

The US self-styled “pivot to Asia” involves locating five military bases directed at dominating the South China Sea.  The Pentagon expanded its access to four strategic air and one military base through the ‘Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement’ signed by the Philippine President Aquino in 2014 but held up by the Philippine Courts until April 2016.  These include:

(1) Antonio Bautista Airbase on the island of Palawan, located near the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

(2) Basa Airbase 40 miles northwest of the Philippines capital of Manila, overlooking the South China Sea.

(3) Lumbia Airbase located in the port of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, a huge US facility under construction.

(4) Mactan – Benito Ebuen airbase located on Mactan Island off the coast of Cebu in the central Philippines.

(5) Fort Magsaysay located in Nueva Ecija, on Luzon, the Philippine Army’s Central Training and command center, its largest military installation which will serve the US as the training and indoctrination base for the Philippine army.

Pentagon planners had envisioned targeting Chinese shipping and air bases in the South China Sea from its new bases on western shores of the Philippines.  This essentially threatens the stability of the entire region, especially the vital Chinese trade routes to the global economy.

Washington has been intensifying its intervention in the South China Sea relying on decrees issued by its previous proxy President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino, III (2010-2016).  These, however, were not ratified by the Congress and had been challenged by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Washington’s entire “pivot to Asia” has centered its vast military build-up on its access to the Philippines.  This access is now at risk.  Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who succeeded Aquino in June 2016, is pursuing an independent foreign policy, with the aim of transforming the impoverished Philippines from a subservient US military colony to opening large-scale, long-term economic trade and development ties with China and other regional economic powers.  Duterte has openly challenged the US policy of using the Philippines to encircle and provoke China.

The Philippine “pivot to China” quickly advanced from colorful rhetoric to a major trade and investment meeting of President Duterte and a huge delegation of Philippine business leaders with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing in late October 2016.  During his first 3 months in office Duterte blasted Washington for meddling in his ongoing campaign against drug lords and dealers.  Obama’s so-called ‘concerns for human rights’ in the anti-drug campaign were answered with counter-charges that the US had accommodated notorious narco-politician-oligarchs to further its military base expansion program.  President Duterte’s war on drugs expanded well beyond the alleged US narco-elite alliance when he proposed two strategic changes: (1) he promised to end the US-Philippine sea patrols of disputed waters designed to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea; and (2) President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington, especially in Mindanao, because they threatened China and undermined Philippine sovereignty.

President Duterte, in pursuit of his independent nationalist-agenda, has moved rapidly and decisively to strengthen the Philippines ‘pivot’ toward China, which in the context of Southeast Asia is really ‘normalizing’ trade and investment relations with his giant neighbor.  During the third week of October (2016) President Duterte, his political team and 250 business leaders met with China’s leaders to discuss multi-billion-dollar investment projects and trade agreements, as well as closer diplomatic relations.  The initial results, which promise to expand even more, are over $13 billion dollars in trade and critical infrastructure projects.  As the Philippine’s pivot to China advances, the quid pro quo will lead to a profound change in the politics and militarization of Southeast Asian.  Without total US control over the Philippines, Washington’s strategic arc of encirclement against China is broken.

According to a recent ruling by the Philippine Supreme Court, the controversial US military base agreement (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) imposed by the former President Aquino by fiat without congressional ratification can be terminated by the new President by executive order.  This ruling punches some major holes in what the Pentagon had considered its ‘ironclad’ stranglehold on the strategic Philippine bases.

The Duterte government has repeatedly announced its administration’s commitment to a program of economic modernization and social reconstruction for Philippine society.  That agenda can only be advanced through changes that include multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments, loans and technical cooperation from China, whereas remaining a backward US military colony will not only threaten their Asian economic partners, but will condemn the Philippines to yet another generation of stagnation and corruption.  Unique in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has long been mired in underdevelopment, forcing half of its qualified workforce to seek contract servitude abroad, while at home the society has become victims of drug and human trafficking gangs linked to the oligarchs.

Conclusion

Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, enshrined in its effort to corral the Asian countries into its anti-China crusade is not going as the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team had envisioned.  It is proving to be a major foreign policy debacle for the outgoing and (presumably) incoming US presidential administrations.  Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been forced to denounce the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), one of her own pet projects when she was Secretary of State.  The Pentagon’s military base strategy stuck in a 1980’s time-warped vision of Southeast Asia is on the verge of imploding.    The Philippines, its former colony and vassal state, is finally turning away from its total subservience to US military dictates and toward greater independence and stronger regional ties to China and the rest of Asia.  Southeast Asia and the South China Sea are no longer part of a grand chessboard subject to Pentagon moves for domination.

In desperation, Washington may decide to resort to a military power grab– a coup in the Philippines, backed by a coalition of Manila-based oligarchs, narco-bosses and generals.  The problem with a precipitate move to ‘regime change’ is that Rodrigo Duterte is immensely popular with the Philippine electorate – precisely for the reasons that the Washington elite and Manila oligarchs despise him.  The mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, himself a former victim of a Washington-instigated regime change, has stated that any US backed coup will face a million-member mass opposition and the bulk of the nationalist middle and powerful Chinese-oriented business class.  A failed coup, like the disastrous coup in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez could radicalize Duterte’s policy well beyond his staunchly nationalist agenda and further isolate the US.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-pivot-to-asia-a-debacle-unfolding/5552830

See James Petras latest book from Clarity Press: ISBN: 978-0-9972870-5-9, $24.95 / 252 pp. / 2016 http://www.claritypress.com/PetrasVIII.html

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