New Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: a Blow Against the Empire (and a potential major power shift)

(The BRICS development bank is capitalizing further as well; perhaps a multipolar world.)  Good.  (This is longish, but it’s not a short subject.)

 (The transcript)

A few key highlights:

“The World Bank, under U.S. congressional pressure, has said, look, we’re not going to finance countries becoming independent of the United States; our function is to make them export more to the United States and to buy from the United States. So the funding of the World Bank has mainly been to fund infrastructure developments, vastly overpriced, to Third World countries to create money for American engineering firms; also to lend out dollars and to indebt countries to it; and worst of all, to promote privatization. And that’s really the big difference between the Chinese Development Bank’s philosophy and the World Bank.

The World Bank is pressured everywhere for privatization of public utilities, of basic infrastructure, and then it will make loans to the governments to develop this infrastructure or the roads and the external economies, and then sell them cheap to American buyers, who essentially will create monopolies and turn infrastructure into a rent extraction to squeeze out interest, dividends, management fees that are all going to be paid to the Americans. And this has been raising the price of basic utilities–communications, transportation, water, and other things throughout the Third World. And this has made these economies uncompetitive with the United States that has a mixed economy where the government subsidizes infrastructure. So the Chinese Development Bank is to help make other countries get independent of this sort of neocon, neoliberal, right-wing economic philosophy and work government-to-government, help governments develop infrastructure, so that they can provide basic services at a lower cost or a subsidized cost, or even freely to the populations. That’s how the European countries and American economy got rich. And the only way to help repeat this process is to make a clean break from the United States and the World Bank.

(The transcript)

“Now, what China gains by having them as members is the fact that now that this is a multilateral supranational organization, it will be very hard for countries that borrow from the bank to undertake their own development projects to then write down the loans. They can’t treat this bank in the way that they would treat private bondholders. This bank will be treated in the same way that the IMF or the World Bank or the European Central Bank is. Its loans will be immune from the haircuts and the write-downs that you’re having elsewhere. So this is China’s way–by bringing in the European countries, this is China’s way of protecting its own investments and its own loans to these countries without really risking a chance that England can play the role of a wrecker, which, of course, is what the United States would like it to do and why the United States pushed it into the common market originally.

PERIES: And, Michael, this also puts the whole issue of the U.S. dollar as a universal currency in question. Obviously, the Chinese are also interested in making sure the yuan/renminbi is also a part of these, part of what benefits from this relationship with these countries.

HUDSON: Well, the U.S. is using the dollar as a Cold War weapon. As I mentioned in the previous section, it’s been urging countries that owe money to Russia not to pay. [incompr.] Russia, the Ukraine, to treat the Russian debt as if it were foreign aid and didn’t have to be repaid, and as if somehow it were an odious debt. That was proposed by the U.S. banking interests.

China, if it can succeed with the other BRICS, with Russia, Brazil, and other countries, in creating an alternative area, it can turn the tables on the U.S. It can say, the debts to the World Bank are odious debts. They claimed to be foreign aid. They were counted in the United States budget as foreign aid. But they weren’t aid at all. They underdeveloped the countries. They made them import-dependent. They blocked their ability to produce their own food. So if China and the BRICS can achieve a critical mass as an alternative to the dollar, they can then treat the dollar in the way and that the U.S. financial strategists have been trying to treat it against any potential Cold War enemy, which means any country north of Maine, any country west of California, any country east of Rhode Island or south of Texas. The United States has turned the finance system, the dollarized system, into a Cold War tool, and other countries are moving as quick as they can, are being driven to move as quick as they can out of the U.S. orbit to protect themselves from being stiffed by the U.S. and to be free of U.S. financial aggression, in which the World Bank, is even more than the IMF, the most aggressive neoliberal, neocon institution.”

And what are the reactions from the World Bank and IMF?

File under: ‘We’re not scared of the Big Bad Wolf!’:  ‘ADB, IMF, World Bank To Cooperate With China-Led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Leaders Say’, at the

“ADB President Takehiko Nakao and China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei have conducted discussions about possible cooperation between the two regional lenders, they said at a China Development Forum 2015 session in Beijing, Reuters reported. At the same event, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said her fund would be “delighted” to work with the AIIB, as there was “massive” room for cooperation on infrastructure financing in the Asia-Pacific region.

asian infrastructure

(China’s President Xi Jinping meets with guests at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in October 2014.)

A similar message came from World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

A ‘ha ha!’ from the Guardian:

A growing number of close allies were ignoring Washington’s pressure to stay out of the institution, the Financial Times reported, in a setback for US foreign policy.

In China the state-owned Xinhua news agency said South Korea, Switzerland and Luxembourg were also considering joining.

The Financial Times, quoting European officials, said the decision by the four countries to become members of the AIIB was a blow for Washington, which has questioned if the new bank will have high standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.

Japan, China’s main regional rival, has the biggest shareholding in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) along with the United States, and the Manila-based bank is headed by a Japanese, by convention.

Japan is unlikely to join the China-backed bank but the head of the ADB, Takehiko Nakao, told the Nikkei Asian Review that the two institutions were in discussions and could co-operate.”

Four days later via the Guardian:

At least eight more countries may join the lender by the 31 March deadline, Jin Liqun, secretary general of the interim secretariat that is establishing the AIIB, told a panel at the conference on Sunday.

The fund will have approval from its shareholders at the start to double its capitalisation to $100bn, he said.

“China will follow the rules of the international community and will not bully other members but work together with them and try to reach consensus in all the decisions we make without brandishing the majority shareholder status,” he said.

In an editorial published on the same day, China’s official Xinhua news agency suggested that the US might be embarrassed that many of its allies had not heeded its warnings”. 

Pepé Escobar has a wider angle take on all of it, some of it a bit past my historical knowledge (and no: he didn’t say ‘China’s wet dream’), and remember that China’s economy is largely State Capitalism.  After referencing ancient Chinese symbols, ideograms, multiple Silk Roads (both by land and by sea), the newest dream pivoting to Eurasia; and US reactions to Xi Jinping’s framing it as a “geopolitical, ‘peaceful development”, “win-win” answer to the Obama administration’s Pentagon-driven pivoting to Asia “, comes:

“Beijing has been quick to dismiss any notions of hegemony. It maintains this is no Marshall Plan. It’s undeniable that the Marshall Plan “covered only Western nations and excluded all countries and regions the West thought were ideologically close to the Soviet Union”. China, on the other hand, is focused on integrating “emerging economies” into a vast, pan-Eurasian trade/commerce network.”

Along with mentions of an array of financial networking, trade and development deals in Eurasia and among the BRICS nations, Escobar references the “Russia-China financed $280 billion high-speed rail upgrade of the Trans-Siberian railway, and posits that “this is where the New Silk Road project and President Putin’s initial idea of a huge trade emporium from Lisbon to Vladivostok actually merge.”

One qualifier he gives is this, and sadly, I know almost nothing about it, but as he advises, we must keep our eyes peeled for developments:

It can be argued that the success of the entire Silk Road hinges on how Beijing will handle restive, Uyghur-populated Xinjiang – which should be seen as one of key nodes of Eurasia. This is a subplot – fraught with insecurity, to say the least – that should be followed in detail for the rest of the decade. What’s certain is that most of Asia will feel the tremendous pull of China’s Eurasian drive.

And Eurasia – contrary to perennial Brzezinski wishful thinking – will likely take the form of a geopolitical challenge: A de facto China-Russia strategic partnership that manifests itself in various facets of the New Silk Road that also bolsters the strength of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).”

He posits with a few ‘given this, given that’s’ that there will be an SCO alignment that unites at least 60% of Eurasia, with a population of 3.5 billion people and a wealth of oil and gas that more than matches the Gulf Cooperation Council states.  The BRICS began a development bank last summer, and it’s now capitalized at $100 billion, as well.

Yes, a bipolar, or perhaps multipolar world is likely comin’ down the road.

He links to a great read by Peter Lee on whether or not this is “the twilight of Chinese Party” as key ‘experts’ argue (with hand-rubbing glee); not that he’s a fan of the PRC.  Toward the end of the piece he gets to this stellar belief of his:

“Because…so I guess I should offer my views on The Future of the CCP after all.  It’s actually pretty simple.

In my opinion, the world is run by jerks in suits.  When regime change occurs, the new nation is still run by jerks in suits.  The PRC will be no exception.

But back to China’s Dreams: a major piece of infrastructure to facilitate these dreams is afoot:

‘China’s international payments system ready, could launch by end-2015’ – sources’; a Reuters exclusive!!!/s

“The launch of the China International Payment System (CIPS) will remove one of the biggest hurdles to internationalizing the yuan and should greatly increase global usage of the Chinese currency by cutting transaction costs and processing times.

It will also put the yuan on a more even footing with other major global currencies like the U.S. dollar, as CIPS is expected to use the same messaging format as other international payment systems, making transactions smoother.

CIPS, which would be a worldwide payments superhighway for the yuan CHN= CNY=CFXS, will replace a patchwork of existing networks that make processing renminbi payments a more cumbersome process.”

Yves Smith (Naked Capitalism) offers this caution:

“The sudden rush of countries joining China’s infrastructure bank, including supposed US allies like the UK, Germany, and France, demonstrates the desire of not just emerging but also advanced economies to have access to international institutions that are not dominated by the US. Whether the infrastructure bank actually winds up being better, as opposed to simply different than existing institutions remains to be seen. But as Hudson describes, the World Bank sets a low bar.”

I’ll end with Pepé’s opening:

“…it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger (to the U.S.)

emerges capable of dominating Eurasia

and thus also of challenging America

~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997

Take that, Zbig!

Coming soon: How will The Empire Strike Back?  Stay tuned, as they say.

40 responses to “New Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: a Blow Against the Empire (and a potential major power shift)

  1. Was following parts of this today, makes one giddy with optimism. And WI Congressman Marc Pocan (D-Madison) says Barry needs at least another 50-60 votes to get Fast Trac authority while the count is actually not getting smaller as more and more Republicans are joining the Progressive Caucus on this issue, to oppose the TPP (for various reasons).

  2. Meant US Congressman, sorry.

  3. srsly? that’s good news, nonquiote. wonder how goes it with TTIP (tafta)?
    me, too: giddy as a schoolgirl. fuck the Empire.

    but oh, the Empire Strikes back, and i’d missed it. Moar hits: ‘An Influential Voice Slams U.S. Handling of New China-Led Infrastructure Bank’

    “Is the AIIB merely a thinly veiled Chinese attack on the international financial architecture created by the United States and its allies after World War II? What does European enthusiasm for the AIIB signify for the global strategic competition shaping up between the U.S. and China?

    Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank and former U.S. Trade Representative and Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush, says there is certainly a risk that the new bank could end up being a vehicle for Chinese influence but also calls the Obama administration’s approach “mistaken both on policy and on execution.”

    Zoellick whines:
    “The U.S. could have engaged with China on the former’s concerns over anti-corruption, transparency and governance issues but failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
    Fears about the potential of the AIIB to counter the World Bank’s influence are also overblown. After all, a top Chinese think tank worked with the World Bank during Zoellick’s tenure to produce “China 2030,” a widely studied blueprint for economic reform. Moreover, the World Bank works regularly with outside financial actors, including Islamic and Arab funds, regional banks and private sector players. “If I had been at the World Bank, I would have tried to embrace the AIIB as a partner,” Zoellick said.”

    and yada, yada, yada. wonder what miz lagarde means by ‘trade’? and oh, dear, is she on a charm offensive.

    only comment to her Tweetie: “Hyder Rajput@IMFNews IMF=Killing people by providing them loans!

  4. Yes, Pocan was on a live radio interview this afternoon. I may have previously sent you the link to Sly, John Sylvester afternoon talk radio from Southern Wi which I listen to online when I have a chance, podcasts mostly up within a week or so. Pocan joked he never saw so many congress-critters getting a free ride on Air Force One. The BHO press is on, but apparently not all that effective regarding *free trade.*

  5. you may have done, amigo, but i likely said that i need to read, or at least see their lips move. ;-)

    thought i’d check in with wikileaks though (i am a major fan), and lookie! they were leaked more chapters; this chronicles one, the investment chapter.

    gotta go, kids are due in soon. arrgh: hold down control, press -, then + to see the whole tweet.

  6. Spoil those kids to your heart’s content.

  7. now hold the phone; i thought they were supposed to spoil *me*!

  8. I’m not sure you can view this Chinese initiative as a multipolar movement, it might be better described as a bipolar emergence of Chinese economic power to bring China and their currency onto an equal platform with Western monetary power. It will also help integrate Asia under stronger Chinese influence and economic control countering the US Asian pivot.

    The projects this fund will finance, as best I can discover, will be roads and cellphone towers. Better roads for these countries to export their resources to China and cellphone towers for local merchants to use their Chinese cellphones to make deals to sell their resources. I would hope some local sustainable and productive projects could be found to finance.

    The UK and other European countries joining this new bank, against US wishes, was puzzling at first and then I remembered this was about money, lots of money. The always mercantile Brits will be skimming their rents through their currency arbitrage as moneychangers when the flow of billions of Yuan’s hit the markets.

  9. good points, peter, although i included the BRICs bank into the possible ‘multipolar’ mix. yeppers, it’s not a give-away, it’s designed for china’s benefit in the main, but michael hudson seems to srsly believe that no austerity measures will be built into the loans. we’ll see, but skewering dollar hegemony appeals to me greatly, as does giving some alternatives to the essentially NATO profiteering and rent extraction via WB and IMF.

    any thoughts about pepé’s caveats about china’s treatment of the uyghurs as nixing/curtailing this effort? i was also trying to remember some of the reasons that china was incentivized to create the CIPS superhighway. wasn’t one of the reasons that there was some major jimmying of the exchange rates going on?

    dunno much about the british and currency arbitrage. i’d love to know more.

  10. Thank you for addressing this subject, wendye. Very much in the whole process was the early alignment of China and Russia triggered by the largely economic confrontation with US policies in Ukraine that have affected Russia, along with the sanctions process. There was no question of remaining with World Bank structures in that case, since for Russia it has been a matter of survival and cold war tactics revived most clearly in that case, with the US doing everything it could propagandawise to provoke Russia into an actual military conflict.

    Insofar as there has been actual conflict and death within Ukraine, we are not just talking about financial strategies here. Between a rock and a hard place, there is no alternative to reorganizing the practical structures of commerce when the only operative system is so massively corrupt as to be a destructive force to nations who would willingly cooperate if their own survival were not at risk.

  11. yep, the IMF and NATO were created post wwII for the benefit of oligarchs, and now are both allied with nato.

    i’d mentioned that wikileaks leaked the egregious investor state corporate grabs and de factor new legal framework above. you may like to read one of the pieces assange had aggregated yesterday on this link. ‘the scoop’ is one of them: “Leak Confirms NZ Surrender to US”. man, bless wikileaks is all i can say. if people don’t rebel and get it stopped, it will be a bad sign. the “keep this all private for five years” is even more evil and telling. they need to remember: we got the guillotines!

    and this:

    got your good letter; i’ll email when i can.

  12. China’s economy is larger than all the other BRICS combined so the BRICS Bank is a Chinese Bank designed to serve the other BRICS countries and we will have to wait and see if China will demand harsh conditions when the other countries have major economic problems. It’s telling that Stiglitz sees the BRICS Bank as complementary not competitive with the WB and IMF.

    I think the important thing to understand is that these are all Capitalist banks designed to support and expand Capitalist economies whatever currency or leadership they promote. This is in contrast with the Bank of the South, Chavez’s initiative to truly represent and support a Multipolar World that was anti-capitalist and included the smaller underrepresented countries. Brazil joined this initiative but soon, fearing Chavez’s and the Bolivarian Revolution’s growing influence, began to undermine it.

    The US faux concern about this new investment bank and about China’s record on Human Rights and the environment while hypocritical are based on facts that are evident in some of their African ventures.

    I don’t know much about arbitrage but I do like the sound of the word. It seems that huge profits can be extracted by taking advantage of extremely small errors or variations between currency markets when huge sums of capital are involved.

    OT, I’m glad I don’t travel in airplanes anymore with crazy pilots crashing planes with the help of the new security doors on the cockpit.

  13. yes, yes, yes, all capitalist profiteering ventures, but for now i’ll try to hope that michael hudson is right in his contention that the aiib won’t be the financial neoliberal usurper of citizens that the others are.

    great point on the banco sur: did it ever actually get capitalized to even the extent they’d hoped when chavez created it? *that* could be a major game-changer, yes. oops, the troops just got in from a tractor ride in the fields; gotta go, so the noise levels will blot out any thinking for now. but i did find this very interesting link. true? not so? i dunno the media site.

    Reasons behind Russia’s reluctance to join AIIB: Duowei

  14. I’m just absorbing an article posted by Russian Insider – Nicolai Petro: “Orthodox Morals and Values Shaping the Future of the Russian World”. The excerpt I am posting here concerns the issue of multipolarity, but the article as a whole agrees nicely with the Duowei link, so thanks very much for that and your other links, wendye, which I will pursue further.

    ” . . .until his speech at the 2013 Valdai Club meeting, he [Putin] did not explicitly say what values Russia stood for. . . pluriculturalism is potentially one of Russia’s main contributions to global development. ‘We have amassed a unique experience of interacting with, mutually enriching, and mutually respecting diverse cultures,’ he told his audience. ‘Polyculturalism and polyethnicity are in our consciousness, our spirit, our historical DNA.’

    Polyculturalism is also one of the driving factors behind the Eurasian Union, a project initiated by the president of Kazakstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, that Putin has wholeheartedly embraced. . .”

  15. i admit that the russian insider piece doesn’t track well for me, juliania. perhaps too flowery inclusive concepts, but i’m not the russian fan you are. ;-) but the sentiments are indeed heady.

    but to tell the truth, i’m wondering if the duowei piece isn’t by way of disinformation. i’d thought that russia was said to be charter member, so it makes little sense that they’re on the fence, no matter how much foreign investment they’ve received recently.

  16. peter, i took a wee crash course on currency arbitrage at investopedia (grin), and one would think that’s an area in which a targeted algorithm for flash-trading would reap buckets of filthy lucre of any sort.

    i wouldn’t be a bit surprised by stories of chinese ruining peoples lives in africa, as the state did in china itself damming some of the major rivers and causing farms to dry up and die, and likely people to die s well.

    yes, they are after resources, but as far as i know, don’t run endless military operations/wars to secure them, just use other methods whose results may be egregious, but don’t leave failed states on purpose. just spit-balling here.

    on edit: arggh, i forgot where i’d been heading on currency. why would brits be worse? and i’m musing about the london whale, and so many of the extremely corrupt practices of the banks in the UK having been started in the US (Jamie Dimon, and exported to the UK as ‘free market’ (read: steal all you can get away with, if ya get caught, pay a few bucks in fines).

    the usa has military operations in every nation in africa, from what i read from nick turse. and cia everywhere as USAID, NED, tra la la.

  17. Wendy, it’s not that the Brits are worse it’s just they were first to sign on to this new bank so they get the opportunity to handle this new currency flow and reap the profits from this legal arbitrage.

    China doesn’t seem to care who controls the politics in their targeted countries so long as they are willing to deal on economic cooperation and the more corrupt the easier to extract their needs and profits. They probably shake their heads and laugh at the US for spending trillions on military dominance when they simply pay billions, of US supplied dollars, for what they need. The second colonization of Africa is in progress but this time the Chinese will reap much of the remaining wealth without pointing a gun.

    Even if China and Russia are successful in breaking the Dollar dominance in the world economy all that will mean is that their version of a Capitalist New World Order will dominate and neither they or the other BRICS have any interest in a truly fair or sustainable world, remember they are all Capitalists.

  18. ah, now i get why you’d referenced the british. and yeppers, it’s capitalism all the way. but from my vantage point, i’m till glad to see a major challenge to dollar hegemony; perhaps it’s just a good first step toward post-revolutionary new agreements on loans that benefit people, not profiteers.

    one commenter at naked capitalism had said this:

    “(I do wonder if China’s ‘money men’ aren’t contemplating running the same ‘Super Imperialist’ game the US has practiced so successfully for the last half-century somewhere down the road for themselves. As Hudson has repeatedly noted the new game in town is financial warfare using ex nihilo (out of nothing) money instead of much more destructive and expensive weapons. People – or at least their governing elites – find it much harder to resist an invasion of money than one by foreign troops.)”

    so we’re all three on that same page. ‘susan the other’ wrote:
    “To counter the US push to isolate China trade, the Chinese are making trade deals with the other Asian countries that do not have restrictions against trading with state owned enterprises, if those trades benefit the importing (?) countries. This might be a promise not to dump cheap products and not to force a race to the bottom, neoliberal style. China avoids accusing the US of exploiting Asian labor, which we can probably assume is a guaranteed practice under the secret rules and loopholes of the TPP. Looks like China would like to realize the gain on Chinese labor as well as high tech products and expertise. The AIIB fits this philosophy. As Hudson says, the AIIB operates government to government, not government to privateer, and seeks to conserve the wealth of itself and its partners. So does this make the privateers more competitive? A race to the bottom for the oligarchs. Love it.”

    oh, and i cross-posted this at ohio barbarian’s new home site, and you or anyone may want to comment there. he’s been reading some books on china, so he’ll no doubt have some opinions. ;-)

    on edit; from today: the joining nations are rolling in now:

    “Russia, Australia and the Netherlands on Saturday became the latest three countries to say they plan to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), adding clout to an institution seen as enhancing China’s regional and global influence.

    The AIIB, seen as a challenge to existing institutions World Bank and Asian Development Bank, has drawn a cool response from the United States, despite which European US allies including Britain, France, Germany and Italy have already announced they would join the bank.

    Other countries such as Turkey and South Korea have also said they would join. Brazil, China’s top trading partner, said on Friday it would sign up and that there were no conditions set. “Brazil is very interested in participating in this initiative,” the office of President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement.”

    but oh, no! not the usa, and they’ve been invited:

  19. There was much in the Russian Insider piece that did not pertain to your subject, wendye, which is why I didn’t include it in the quote I proffered. But the matter of multipolarity is germane, particularly as we have seen in other conflicts how one faction is pitted against another to the detriment of both.

    Whatever one’s opinion of Putin, and I don’t know the man at all, his popularity in such a diverse nation as the Russian Federation is a fact. Crimea was vastly relieved not to be exposed to what eastern provinces of Ukraine have suffered, even though they too did not escape the conflict unscathed. The movie “Crimea: the Way Back Home” is worth a looksee – the segments I saw were at and were enlightening on that.

  20. (Continuing on)

    I felt the article you linked on Russia’s reluctance to join the investment bank mentioned the multipolarity issue insofar as Russia being mostly concerned at present in maintaining its own integrity, and perhaps in future itself have a similar project so that (I’m speculating here) there would be perhaps three systems down the road offering the same services. It would rein in World Bank hegemony to have this happen, and the Valdai speech Putin gave makes similar points. He even now calls the US ‘partners’, and that is what it must eventually become if the world is to have peace.

    Presently Russia has its hands full with real defensive issues, which are forcing it to develop its own financial systems; whereas China has made more progress on this front. I saw an incredible hydrogen powered tram at RT recently – that is a huge step forward. Russia is nowhere near doing things like that, thanks to the US ‘help’ during the Yeltsin years.

    I am a great one for national priorities on traditional grounds because I feel those differences are sacred. Such as for you the indigenous peoples you champion. It is the same for Russia. They should be given respect for wanting to develop from the tradition in which they came into being. Yes, I am a fan – of this aspiration, the current one. They have a long way to go but their government is trying where ours is not. I would be a fan of this one as well, were it on a similar path – after all, I did become a citizen when I thought it was.

    Meanwhile, huge boos to the Saudis!

  21. The Coalition of the Wahabbi (ISIS, and USrael).

  22. the west (NATO) taking against ‘the evil putin’ has indeed increased and solidified his popularity. i did go back and scan the russian insider piece, and again, while the declarations by putin are grand and inspirational, he is, after all, an oligarchical politician. i remember chuckling at this section in its honesty:

    “The use of this term as a “community of Orthodox Christians living in unity of faith, traditions and customs,” goes back to at least the beginning of the 19th century, but it was re-purposed as a political concept in the early 1990s by Pyotr Shedrovitsky, an influential political consultant interested in the role that cultural symbols could play in politics. He believed that creating a network of mutually reinforcing social structures in the former Soviet states among people who continue to think and speak in Russian—the “Russky mir”—could be politically advantageous to Russia. Its practical foreign policy appeal stemmed from the fact that, by claiming to speak on behalf of nearly 300 million Russian speakers, a weakened Russia would instantly become a key regional player, as well as an influential political force within the countries of the former Soviet Union.”

    as far as i know, there IS no sense of shared culture in the usa, although putin’s advice that we go back to our early christian roots makes me nauseous, to say the truth. those ‘beliefs’ were exactly what underpinned Manifest Destiny, including first american genocide/slavery and the colonization and slavery of african americans, which is still extant today in far too many respects. american exceptionalism.

    i can laud putin as a major diplomat who has prevented several wars now, perhaps even world wars. his prose is very fine (or his speech writers’ is), but after reading what it was like to live under his regime in piece by chris floyd, matt taibbi, yasha levine, and many lgbt citizens, i’m not prepared to see him in any sort of romantic light. as floyd says, one needn’t gloss over his curtailing of civil liberties, allegiance to his fellow kleptocrats, etc. in order to condemn our potomac ‘leaders’ for their hideous designs in the new cold war which just could have let to nuclear annihilation as worse.

    i really do like it that neither china nor russia is aiming to move militarily against the Empire’s global full spectrum domination, but aim to undermine the petrodollar as reserve currency so that one day..the u.s. won’t be able to run the shock doctrine and failed state resource grabs by military means.

    as far as the indigenous, they are no more monolithic than latino/latinas or blacks, whom i suppose i always champion when they are of the disenfranchised class. holy hell, some first american tribal leaders learned the lessons of their greater masters only too well, and are corrupt, inhumane grifters in league with The White Devil, or in rasta-speak: “Babylon”. ;-)

    but again: i praise putin highly in the areas i find him praiseworthy. srsly.

  23. You can see what a political statement ‘ Community of Orthodox Christians’ is when you discover that only 41% of Russians are actually Christians with Muslims and even neopagans left out of that tradition and customs.

    One thing I found very interesting in my reading about Chechnya and the trans Caucasus is that the growth of Islam in that area is relatively new, the last 150yrs. Its growth was a direct result of these people seeking protection from Mother Russia and her community of Orthodox Christians.

  24. yes, peter, ‘repurposed’ made me think of us politics. thanks for the historical lesson. i know that i’d made a face wondering about muslims in russia, not just in the periphery nations. i did google, and only found a very polite site ‘muslims in russia’. well, one source called something security claimed that only four mosques were permitted in russia, but considering the source…and all that…

    but how interesting. and here i’d come back to fetch your al jazeera link after seeing bruce’s quip via email. maybe tomorrow; the wheels fell off the bus here big time today, and i am exhausted as all giddy-up.

  25. i’ve read the al jazeera piece you’d rec’d earlier, peter, and it is indeed interesting that the brigade considers female warriors against the empire as behaving within the muslim holy words, but also as a righteous reaction against ‘weaker males’. even so, it takes some needle-threading to parse ‘defense’ v. ‘offense’, especially when establishing a caliphate seems to be the end goal (most westerners claim ‘global caliphate’ in headlines, but as i’ve said, i’ve pretty much steered clear of all isis/isil conversations or articles, reckoning that much of the western reaction is agitprop of the highest (or lowest) order. odd and repugnant second to last paragraph, though.

    “Barnett is right in suggesting that no one should pity the young Muslim girls joining ISIL’s ranks. Theirs is a subversive and militant agenda that does not frown at destruction or the mass killing of innocents. However, this very premise of pity and its habitual and racist allotment to Muslim women is part of the reason ISIL manages to lure Muslim girls living in the West.”

    and yes, if they are lured by the ‘feminine mystique’ of killing innocents, i do pity them. but i thought of this piece at upsidedown world, comparing/contrasting emerging equitable gender roles among the zapatistas and the rojava kurds. i’ve long enjoyed the history of the zapatista women becoming full citizens in their communities, where at first they marched two paces behind the males, metaphorically and actually. ;-)

    also, if you or any others here would like to be enabled to author posts, just ask. my understanding was that this was supposed to be the weekend that fdl switched to a new server, and the ptb might know if my.fdl would live or not. if not, i’ll send out a few invitations to come here, knowing the many drawbacks of such a small megaphone venue, as well as other limitations.

  26. If you can show me where Putin has recommended the US ‘return to its Christian roots’, wendye, I will be happy to agree with you that is a wrong concept. I did not take the entirety of claims in the essay I quoted to be correct, and the whole concept of Russki mir can only apply, it seems to me, in an historical cultural context that is unique to the Slavic countries.

    Pardon me, but you are sounding very like ‘my way or the highway’ in referencing American journalists who have lived in Russia. I don’t doubt I would be very disoriented living there also, because I adhere to the values which you support here. Sounds like exceptionalism in a different form. I say and I believe that each country, as each person, has a set of beliefs by which they live, and ought to be respected for that.

    I’m surprised you really think our indigenous people, sovereign as they most certainly wish to be considered, have a completely separate culture from the rest of us. Living here on Indian land, I don’t find that to be the case. I don’t have their culture; but it is beautiful, there is no doubt, and forms their concepts of this land in lovely ways. In Russia, the mix is totally different. But the same respect for traditions should ideally be fostered, the same concern for people living their lives.

    It is not because the West is antagonistic that Putin is popular; he was popular before this, only now more so. I bow to the people of Russia; they have suffered much and they know their own hearts.

    Don’t you want peace? I do.

  27. er…there’s a lot here to try to untangle, juiliania. first, i don’t believe i ever mentioned any belief that indigenous cultures being separate from *us*, but some may certainly be. i was referring to not all indigenous being exemplary citizens or putative leaders, as in the ones willing to sell out the air and water to extractive mining and coal-burning concerns, etc. so…i believe you have misread me there. it’s especially ironic to me given the many times you’ve said that my religion is first american…or something. never mind; i don
    t even know what mine is, if i indeed have one. ;-)

    yes, what i’d meant that the empire and its clients have *expanded and solidified* putin’s popularity and approval.

    the author of the russian insider *said* he was quoting putin, but who can say for certain, although he said it several different ways:

    “But, in a jab at the West, Putin notes that some aspects of pluriculturalism are no longer well received in the West. The values of traditional Christianity that once formed the very basis of Western civilization have come under fire there, and in their place Western leaders are promoting a unipolar and monolithic worldview. This, he says, is “a rejection . . . of the natural diversity of the world granted by God. . . . Without the values of Christianity and other world religions, without the norms of morality and ethics formed over the course of thousands of years, people inevitably lose their human dignity.”

    The abandonment of traditional Christian values has led to a moral crisis in the West. Russia, Putin says, intends to counter this trend by defending Christian moral principles both at home and abroad.”

    oops, more later; mr. wd just pulled in with groceries to put away.

  28. It’s interesting that you and the author chose the, destruction and killing innocents, phrase to conflate with the ‘feminine mystique’ which to me shows deep Western conditioning and constant, hardly accurate, propaganda in an otherwise excellent analysis of women and Islam. It leaves the reader with the impression that these brave Muslim women only join the Islamic State to kill babies and other innocents, while destroying whatever they can, not fighting to build the caliphate that guaranteed protection to all except apostates.

    This kind of projection, whether from Amerikans or a Pakistani writer shows how easily people absorb, as fact, propaganda such as the fabricated story of the IS burying alive hundreds of women and children near Sinjar and many other similar BS horror stories, they can’t hide mass graves in the desert. We all know that the US and countries such as Pakistan make no distinction between innocent civilians and combatants in their wars on “terrorists” and many people view Muslim children, now including girls, as nothing more than junior terrorists.

    I’m not well informed on the roles of women in the Zapatistas but I haven’t seen any lady sub Commandantes speaking yet but walking beside their men may be a step towards equality.

    I haven’t read your link about the Kurds but I did read most of their suicide bombers were chosen from young women who lost their virginity before being married and were allowed an honorable way to repay the tribe for their not being available as suitable wives.

  29. part II: juliania. from the link:

    “As used by the state, Russky mir is typically a political or a cultural concept. In both senses it is used by groups working for the Russian government to strengthen the country’s domestic stability, restore Russia’s status as a world power, and increase her influence in neighboring states. From the state’s perspective, the Russian Orthodox Church can be a useful tool for these purposes.

    As used by the Church, Russky mir is a religious concept. It is essential for reversing the secularization of society throughout the former Soviet Union, a task Patriarch Kirill has termed the “second Christianization” of Rus. The Russian Orthodox Church sees the Russian government, or for that matter, any government within its canonical territory, as tools for this purpose.”

    …and including ‘the world granted by god’, putin wants russia as a religious state in the way of Manifest Destiny, if i’m reading correctly. but i for one, want nothing but a secular one, albeit with the best spiritual values contained in both secular soul-searching and the tenets of many of the earth’s religions (not that they are often adhered to). what would we the US Empire’s national sacred belief? the free market? endless war exporting democracy for some?

    i do try hard to live briefly in your mind and belief system as both a believer and a russian orthodox. but that you can ask me this: “Don’t you want peace? I do.”…makes me wonder if we can only meet on shores here and there, and are doomed to talking past each other in the main.

  30. Well, wendye, if you look at what I quoted, and the points I was making, I very deliberately sought common ground with the points of your postings and did not stray into church areas at all. You did that, and pounced upon all the parts of the article in question that I had left out of the discussion. It is your obsession with Christianity as an evil in itself which divides us, not my assertions. And it may well be, sadly, that my own assertions even when carefully phrased towards what I know is our common ground, are regarded here with suspicion because of my faith. I can’t help that.

    We certainly have our differences on religious grounds, just as most people in the world do. The distinction of a national character I felt was a good one, especially when it came to language and history – I left it at that. If we cannot find common ground but are always cast on the rock of our personal faiths or non faiths, we really can’t discuss solutions to the meaningful ethical problems we do have in common.

    I am puzzled why this antagonizes you, that Putin refers to God. So did Martin Luther King, deeply entrenched in his Baptist faith – all his speeches are full of that. I don’t believe Putin wants to convert the world to Russian Orthodoxy. He wants his country to be an example of that faith after it had been so persecuted under the Soviets – an example of tolerance and acceptance of the spiritual beliefs of the many diverse cultures that make up the Russian Federation. That warms my heart, though I prefer complete separation of church and state in this country for the reasons I described, that each nation has a national history it must come to terms with and elevate – that’s the wisdom, the only one, that I have to offer here.

    By the way, I just finished “The Prince of Tides” and I really love it – tried to discuss it on Ohio Barbarian’s book review post, but I don’t think it got through moderation there. I love the insert of the children’s tale (interestingly titled “The Southern Way”) and what it allegorically conveyed, and the poetic and poignant evocations of the Carolinian coastal regions – so beautiful. I’m going to reread it – it’s great. Thank you.

  31. ach, peter; i may well have fallen for her framing. partially because it seemed she’d been almost embedded with them, but also because i was curious as to why the only posts on fdl that had many comments were…boston bombing ones.

    i’d hate to go back to read mason-in-blue’s again, but he was challenged as to his assertions that the koran said what he’d quoted. one, or perhaps two, commenters said that the salafist holy credo did not say anything about killing innocents, and the phrases stuck in my mind.

    i’ll hope that one day there will be a female subcommandante, but my stars, they’ve come a long way in male/female egalitarianism such a short time.

  32. hmmmmm. it’s not that i believe christianity is evil, but the policy uses it’s been put to in this country are often odious to me. as i said, i don’t believe we do have any established cultural identity, either, partially because of the fact that colonization and subjugation of the ordinary people is still ongoing: especially among blacks and first americans, more recently muslims, of course. but i’m glad you are against the intersection of church and state in this nation, seriously.

    as far as putin’s words, i’ll have to refer again as peter did, to “community of Orthodox Christians living in unity of faith, traditions and customs” as an object lesson for ‘the west’. it just leaves out too many people, but it’s indeed their lookout who to choose for leadership in their own country.

    sorry you believe i’m pouncing, juliania. but i’m going to the barbarian’s to answer a couple comments. i’ll let him know that your comment is in moderation, although i thought he’d changed that as a default in the wordpress ‘discussions’ settings. one of mine had sat in moderation for three days, so i finally emailed him. ;-)

    on edit: let me cite this example from a piece I wrote a few weeks ago, in which the Reverend William E. Alberts, both a United Methodist and Unitarian Universalist minister, calls out Billy Graham’s son Franklin the Hater for his deleterious diatribes against Islam. Alberts is an example of a moral/ethical man of God who believes that the Empire should have done some heavy soul-searching post 9/11, obviously understanding the concept of “chickens coming home to roost”. Graham is perhaps his polar opposite, but the heir to his father’s political ministry.

  33. Fred’s diaries at FDL on the BB Trial have been excellent especially showing how much hard evidence the Govt developed and presented in court. The fact that the T brothers tracked themselves, unintentionally, with a Garmin GPS when they traveled to buy the pressure cookers and other bomb supplies would be hilarious if this wasn’t a murder trial.

    When Fred diverted from his professional observations to his opinions on Islam and forgiveness from God the Kookoo clocks began blaring in my house, this religious babble from a guy who believes in Astrology. The only beings that DT should seek forgiveness from are the people he killed and injured.

    I’m beginning to think that Westerners are incapable of understanding Political Islam or Muslims and the hypocrisy of Westerners condemning Muslims for killing non-combatants, intentionally or not, is just more stinking exceptionalism.

    The Islamic State could continue killing for a hundred years and never come close to the Western tally of murder and mayhem with our God on our side.

    All Patriarchal societies are violent and repressive but I am beginning to wonder if Islam may offer more real protection for women and other oppressed groups than our civilization has ever even attempted to provide.

  34. i dunno, peter; are astrology and belief in god contradictory? (i do kinda like a bit of natal astrology myself, i admit, especially when it comes to physical/bodily manifestations.) but mason has said that he knows he’s been reincarnated some hundred plus times, and while i hate stepping on a man’s religion per see, i don’t find reincarnation credible. but i loved the metaphor of the kookoo clocks blaring. ;-) (is there a term for audio imagery?)

    but mason’s fans are pleased with his spiritual takes, apparently, ‘a warrior for peace’ and all that. i think i know what you mean about the rest, but i’d taken his piece (or at least his quoting sufi islam) that it buttressed his long contention/belief that all the world’s major religions held the same values of right and wrong.

    but as for this: “All Patriarchal societies are violent and repressive but I am beginning to wonder if Islam may offer more real protection for women and other oppressed groups than our civilization has ever even attempted to provide”…i’m just not seeing it, to say the truth, but then i do know that i may have a glaring misunderstanding of sharia law and what that ostensibly means for muslim women. and yet, as the al jazeera piece demonstrated, maybe their aid in fighting back against the west will be truly transformative. it sure ain’t no ‘lipstick feminism’.

    but for me, killing anyone is just not for me, although i know i could easily kill another human as a reflexive reaction to anyone trying to kill my loved ones.

    oh, and i wish i could remember more, but MFI had said at ian welsh’s once that no, islam is *not* a religion of peace, and more along the lines of two eyes for an eye, etc. i have no idea. but the (new?) holy war against brown people is being waged by many putative christians. as an aside, my father-in-law actually believes that obama is a muslim, and explaining that were it so, he wouldn’t be waging war all over the world against them doesn’t resonate for a moment. but then, he believes that he’s also a socialist. i sigh, “don’t i wish; but…no.” ;-)

  35. Wendy, you and I may not support killing but we live in a civilization that depends and supports killing on an industrial scale, of people and the planet, and we seem to be part of a small minority that will even talk about this issue.

    As I wrote earlier I don’t think Westerners, because of our conditioning, can really understand the Muslim world, we see everything through that conditioning, even if we believe we have risen above our conditioning.

    The discussions about Islam still appear to me to be projection using our so called morals and metrics to judge or classify good or bad Muslims. For over 100yrs the West has denied the people of the ME their right to make their own decisions and we imposed structures that guaranteed they could not progress, all for our greedy needs and we even have the arrogance to define what progress means. Even our desire for them to find nonviolent ways to resist is a form of repression, dictating our failed methods to try to change a Beast without a conscience that has murdered millions.

    The Islamic State is probably the only viable Idea that is capable of uniting the Muslim World and because we have destroyed any alternative path to their liberation the West is responsible for their excesses, we taught them well. Our “enlightened” exceptionalism has so deeply penetrated their societies that it will be a grueling and violent ordeal to return to their own version of civilization and their right to make progress, on their terms and to make their own mistakes.

  36. very ably expressed, peter. well, at least *you* have overcome your conditioning enough to not only talk about it, but flip conventional thought on its head. yes, i’m still caught in the greater web of my propaganda conditioning, even from the ‘left’. as i’d understood a few headlines, IS is largely a construct of the Empire’s neocons and related military industrial congressional news-o-tainment complex to give more reasons and targets for unrelenting war. a bit akin to the changing faces of new and vibrant axes of evil.

    for instance, i was unaware of the events you’d described up yonder. in much the same way i avoided events, player, changing coalitions in syria, and comedic headlines and memes like the Empire now supporting “centrist bad guys” or somesuch.

    i know that it’s a tangential subject, but i got to thinking about the new holy wars, and the fact that the west was only too eager to depose *secular* middle eastern leaders for fun and profit, and all of the unintended (or were they, like libya? iraq? egypt?) consequences that are even now creating multi-faceted civil wars and failed states.

    i’ll stop now my reveries turned to sub-saharan africa and what *we’ve* wrought there as well, and a hegg-ache is threatening. but thanks for elucidating your wider thoughts. i’ll consider them.

  37. I do agree with you wendye, on the political/evangelical merrygorounds that seem to have usurped clear thinking in the name of Christianity launching into this century but also in Colonial days, which no doubt color the reservations many have on Putin’s admonitions. And certainly some strident expositions of Orthodoxy that you find in blogs on the web don’t give a very good example of the depth of the faith’s vision – I’m very exasperated by a lot of it.

    You are right, ‘pouncing’ wasn’t a good word, and I gladly retract it. I just meant that my point wasn’t about the theology of the article but about tolerance in mulitpolarity that the Russian Federation has advocated.

  38. ‘mulitpolarity’? There’s one for the books. Sorry.

  39. your excerpt may have been we got off-track to begin with, although i claim not guilty to many of your charges. ;-) but at the end of a long, hard day of cleaning up after 5 peeps, 3 sick chirren, and a not-toilet trained puppy, i’ll say that the reason i went looking for the russian insider to begin with, was that your quote seemed to *not* be applicable to this post.

    ‘multipolar’ is meant to convey more than one global force to the US empire’s total hegemony, or full spectrum domination if you will: not only military muscle, NATO force, but also, an maybe more importantly: trading oil in petro-dollars, and the dollar as reserve currency, all in favor of lining the banksters’ and their client states’ pockets. you could factor in the power of neoliberal built-in austerity defaults via the asian bank (oceania, in the main), imf and world bank. they of course, work in concert to screw ordinary citizens, and privatize the commons “in extreme emergencies’ (not).

    anyway, i need to stick one link in before i fade for the night. sleep well.

  40. this is a great piece that includes the early (2010) why’s and wherefors of the genesis of the chinese to developp the AIIB, but the author speaks to the reasons so many nations (esp. the EU) are eager to redirect some of their lucre outside the constraints of the imf, world band, and asia development bank. (cameron gets righteously skewered)

    he also mentions which first news i’d forgotten: ” China has an offer on the table to buy Greece’s main port at Pireaus; and in recent years has been repeatedly purchasing Italian and other southern European countries sovereign bonds to help those economies weather their recent debt crisis.”

    A Global Economic ‘Grand Game’? China’s Bank & Waning USA Hegemony, by JACK RASMUS

    two brief excerpts:

    “A good example of the kind of ‘economic arm-twisting’ by the USA still going on today is the pressure exerted by USA government and courts to force Argentina to agree to terms demanded by USA shadow banksters with regard to the repayment of loans; or the moves underway by USA government and banksters to drain Venezuela’s currency reserves to effect a collapse of its currency, the Bolivar, to set off import inflation to set the stage for another coup and political intervention. Those are extreme, but not untypical, examples; countless ‘lesser’ forms of pressure on EMEs occur frequently by the USA through its control of decisions by the IMF and World Bank.” [snip]

    “But while the USA focuses on undermining economic relations between Europe and Russia, China continues to ‘slip in the back door’ and deepen its economic relationships with Europe. Today it’s the AIIB. Tomorrow the Yuan as an officially accepted trading currency. Thereafter the Yuan as the dominant trading and reserve currency, and an even deeper European dependence on China money capital flows.

    China thus represents by far a much greater challenge to US economic hegemony in Europe, and indeed globally as well. But the USA blindly continues to engage in economic adventurism in Europe to contain a Russian threat there that doesn’t exist.”

    Yes. Fools.

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