Cambio en el clima de época

Dos notas recientes del analista financiero Tom Luongo nos llamaron la atención. La primera se refiere el discurso del presidente de Rusia, Vladimir Putin, en el Foro Económico de Valdai; la segunda habla de la próxima cumbre sobre Siria a llevarse a cabo en Sochi, también en Rusia. Ambas hablan de un cambio en el clima de época y salieron publicadas estos días en el sitio web Zero Hedge:

Título: Putin Lays Down The Law At Valdai

Texto: Every year Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Valdai Economic Forum.  And each year his talk is important.  Putin isn’t one to mince words on important issues.

With tensions between Russia and the West reaching Cold War levels, Valdai represented the first time we’ve heard Putin speak in a long-form discussion since Helsinki and the events thereafter — IL-20, Khashoggi, etc.

So, this talk is worth everyone’s time.  And when I say everyone’s I mean every single person who could be affected by the breakdown of the U.S. political system and how that spills over onto Russia’s shores.

In other words, pretty much everyone on the planet.

Because what Putin did at Valdai was to lay down the new rules of conduct in geopolitical affairs.  He put the U.S. and European oligarchs I call The Davos Crowd on notice.

There is a limit to your provocations and attempts to undermine Russia.  So don’t cross that line.

Peace Through Strength

The big quote from his talk is the one everyone is focusing on, and rightly so, Russia’s policy about using nuclear weapons.

It’s not that Putin’s stance was any different than in the past. Russia will strike back at an aggressor under any circumstance where the future of Russia is at stake.  It was his assurance that in doing so 1) it would be just and righteous “dying like martyrs” and 2) so swift and brutal the aggressors would “die like dogs” bereft of the chance to ask for salvation.

Those are strong words.  They are the words of a meek man.  And the word meek, as Jordan Peterson reminds us, describes someone who has weapons, knows how to use them and keeps them sheathed until they have no other option.

The reaction from the audience (see video above) was nervous laughter, but I don’t think Putin was having one over on anyone.

He was serious.  This is the very definition of meek.

It is really no different than the attitude of Secretary of State James Mattis who said, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f$*k with me, I’ll kill you all.

Men like this are not to be tested too hard.  And Putin’s response to the shooting down of the IL-20 plane and its crew was to cross a bunch of diplomatic lines by handing out S-300s to Syria and erecting a de facto no-fly zone over Western Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Notice how there have been no attacks or even harsh language coming out of Israel or the U.S. in the past few weeks.  The failure of the British/French/Israeli operation to sucker Trump into an invasion of Syria is now complete.

And I’m convinced that Nikki Haley paid the price.

All of this highlights the major theme that came out of Putin’s comments.

Strength through resolve.  Resolve comes as a consequence of defending culture.

Putin wasn’t boasting or grandstanding about Russia’s hypersonic weapons capability.  He told everyone they are deployed.  He did this to shut up the U.S. neoconservative chattering class who he rightly says whisper in President Trump’s ear that they can win a nuclear conflict with Russia.

They are insane.  And you have to treat them that way.

Culture First

Putin sees himself, quite rightly, as the custodian of the Russian people and, as such, the Russian state as the reflection of Russian culture.  If you are going to have a state and someone is going to be the head of it, this is the attitude that you want from that person.

In his dialogue with an Orthodox priest Putin wholeheartedly agreed with the idea that “the state cannot dictate culture” but rather, at best, be the facilitator of it through its applications of law.

In a back and forth with a very enthusiastic Russian dairy farmer, who was quite proud of his cheese, Putin reminded the man that while he loved sanctions (from European competition) protecting his business today he should not get used to them. They will be removed at some point and the farmer would have to stand on his own wits to survive in the international market.

Putin understands that subsidies breed sloth.  That was a message he made loud and clear.

It’s why when the sanctions first went into effect in 2014 over the reunification of Crimea and during the Ruble crisis Putin shifted state subsidies away from the petroleum sector which had thrived and gotten soft during years of $100+/bbl oil and shifted that money to agriculture.

The fruits of that successful policy shift he confronted head on at Valdai.   Russia’s food production across all sectors is flourishing thanks to a cheap ruble, which the U.S. keeps beating down via sanctions, and the Russian state getting out of the way of investment.

At the time he incurred the wrath of Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Putin ignored him, much to everyone’s surprise.  The message was clear, we’ll help you out of your current troubles but it’s time to do business differently.  Because it was Rosneft that needed the biggest bailouts in late 2014/early 2015 having tens of billions in dollar-denominated debt which couldn’t be rolled over thanks to the sanctions.

The Limits of Empire

Ultimately, Putin looked resigned, if confused, to the insanity emanating from U.S. policy.  But it’s obvious to him that Russia cannot get caught up in the tit-for-tat nuisances put up to derail Russia’s future.

He mentioned the Empire loses its way because it believed itself invulnerable or as my dad used to say about certain athletes, “He reads his own press clippings too much.”

There is a solipsism that infects dominant societies which creates the kind of over-reactions we’re witnessing today.  Power is slipping away from the U.S. and Trump is both helping the process along while also trying to preserve the core of what’s left.

And no interaction during Putin’s talk was more indicative of his view of the U.S. empire than his interaction with a Japanese delegate who asked him about signing a peace treaty with Japan.

And Putin’s answer was clear.  It’s Japan’s pride and political entanglements that preclude this from happening.  Signing the peace treaty is not necessary to solving ownership of the Kuril Islands.  Russia and Japan are both diminished by having this obstacle in the way.

The issue can resolve itself after the peace treaty is signed.  The current state of things is silly and anachronistic and keep the divide between Russians and Japanese from healing.  Create trust through agreement then move forward.

That’s what is happening between Russia and Egypt and that is why Putin is winning the diplomatic war.

And it’s why Trump is losing the diplomatic war.  Putin knows where Trump is.  He was there himself seventeen years ago, except an order of magnitude worse.  The problems Trump is facing are the same problems Putin faced, corruption, venality, treason all contributing to a collapse in societal and cultural institutions.

Putin knows the U.S. is at a crossroads, and he’s made his peace with whatever comes next.  The question is, have we?


Título: More Peace Dividends As Merkel And Macron Join Syria Summit In Sochi

Texto: Over the summer Russian President Vladimir Putin went on a charm tour across Europe.  In a whirlwind weekend he danced and dined his way through two important meetings, first at the Austrian Foreign Minister’s wedding and then a garden party summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

I wasn’t the only one to note the importance of these two meetings.  Because this was the beginning of a new era in Russo-European relations.

The first dividend from this was Merkel refusing Trump over stopping construction of the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

The dividends from that weekend continue to roll in. 

Because Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have both agreed to join Russia and Turkey at the next meeting in Sochi to craft a political solution to the Syrian civil war.

This is a major event.

It furthers the split on foreign policy between EU leadership and that of the U.S. It also recognizes both Russia’s diplomatic and military achievements in Syria, which are nothing short of game-changing from a geostrategic perspective.

From the RT article linked above:

Russia’s previous efforts to sit down and work out a path to peace in Syria with regional players were dismissed as insignificant or outright fraudulent by the US-led West. The Istanbul four-way is grounds for cautious optimism that Russia is being accepted as a key influence, experts believe.

“Western countries are realizing that without Russia and Turkey there can be no settlement in Syria. Likewise, Russia and Turkey realize they need to agree with Western countries,” Marianna Belenkaya, a Middle East analyst for Russia’s Kommersant daily, told RT.

The EU has a very real stake in the Syrian crisis, Nikolay Surkov believes. They need to talk to Damascus and Moscow if they want to avoid a new migrant influx, he says.

This change in Germany and France’s position on Syria comes through being resolute and trustworthy.  Strength emanates out from the person or group that brokers honestly.

I said recently that Donald Trump gives spine to the spineless within the GOP.  That his willingness to fight the Democrats and the Deep State on their terms and come out victorious, c.f. Kavanaugh, is changing the domestic political landscape in tectonic ways.

So too, I’m coming to believe, is the case with Putin.  His unwillingness to barter away Russia’s future for short-term gains but instead tackle head-on the U.S.’s hypocrisy and aggression on the world stage and win is having a huge effect on other world leaders.

And this announcement by Merkel and Macron to attend Sochi is a perfect example of that.

Germany and France are now looking to broker with Russia against the wishes of the U.S. political and military establishment who have done everything possible to prolong the war and shield the collapse of ISIS east of the Euphrates River and support Al-Qaeda-linked groups in the province of Idlib.

This implies even further marginalization of the war mongers in D.C. who refuse to give up on the removal of Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria.  The facts on the ground are that Assad is popular having been strong enough to court partners who assisted the Syrian Arab Army in re-taking most of the country.

This is a dead-end position, removing Assad, and supporting it, even weakly, has cost both Merkel and Macron dearly.  And if she, in particular, is to survive the next few months in office, she will have to look to the German electorate as someone willing to change course on immigration.

Assisting Russia and Turkey achieve political stability in Syria will go a long way towards that end.  With Trump in the White House wanting to pull U.S. troops out but being sabotaged at every level by his foreign policy staff, there is a real possibility of things aligning to see that come to fruition after the U.S. mid-term elections in two weeks.

The U.S. is in an increasingly untenable position in the Middle East.  Iraq’s recent elections and camel-trading have pushed aside the U.S.-backed Haidar Abadi in favor of a government far more aligned with Iran than the U.S.

Afghanistan is in the early stages of U.S. withdrawal after seventeen years of war.  The new leadership in Pakistan is as unhappy with the U.S. as Trump is with Pakistan.  China, India and Turkey will refuse to stop buying Iranian oil in two weeks.

The plan to isolate and destroy Iran’s current government will fail. And the neocons in Trump’s cabinet who sold him on this plan will pay the price.

After the IL-20 incident which could have easily sparked a much wider conflict I believe everyone on the geopolitical stage peaked a bit into the Abyss only to find neoconservatives, crazy Wahabist Saudis and Israeli Likudniks staring back.

And, in short, they were afraid. (with apologies to T.S. Eliot)

Because something has to give here.   And all the signs point to a loss of power and control over the geopolitical landscape by the deepest of Deep State actors in the U.S. and the U.K.

Macron knows that France is implicated in the IL-20 incident.  And he also knows that Putin allowed him to save face by blaming the Israelis and implementing a No-Fly Zone over western Syria and the eastern Mediterranean to calm things down.

With his approval numbers plummeting along with every other EU-firster quisling of The Davos Crowd in Europe Macron finally realized that the Russians will be on the winning side of this conflict.

So does Merkel.  But, I think she’s known this for a lot longer than Macron.

Germany has been giving mixed signals all year to the various provocations like the Skripal poisoning emanating from the U.K.  Germany was slow to accept, if it ever did, the White Helmets story about this year’s annual chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta.

This may be a desperation move on the part of the lamest of lame-ducks on the world stage, but if it gets us materially closer to the ever elusive Grand Bargain in the Middle East I’ll take it.

In fact, I’ll sing an hosanna or two in Merkel’s honor if that happens before going back to blasting her for everything else she’s done.

Because as rare as they are in the Peace corner of Geopolitics, one must remember to first “Take the Win” before moving onto the next problem to discuss.

Russia continues to rack up win after win in all the areas that are important geopolitically.  Putin knows that the best way to win this game is to simply wear his opponent out.

And with the Saudis in serious trouble on the world stage over Khashoggi-gate, the Arabian peninsula, not Syria, becomes the next geopolitical hot potato as The Game of Thrones there breaks out across the GCC — Gulf Cooperation Council.

Since he now has the biggest weapons Putin now has the leverage to force those who have been playing both sides — the U.S. and Russia — against each other to choose sides.

All three of those players — France, Germany and Turkey– will be sending representatives to Sochi now while the U.S. sends weapons to Ukraine, harasses Russian fishermen and threatens more economic sanctions it is having an increasingly hard time enforcing.

This is a clear signal to everyone else that it’s time to sack-up and set things to right.


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