Aug 012022
 
 August 1, 2022  Posted by at 8:14 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Salvador Dali The knight of death 1934

 

 

If you’re Chinese or Russian, and you watch videos of the top three “most powerful” people in the US, Biden, Kamala and Pelosi, what do you think? You think all three are incoherent and should not be anywhere near any decisive, let alone nuclear, lever.

If you’re anybody anywhere, and you look at the top three “most powerful” people in the world, Xi, Putin and Biden, what do you think? You think two of them have got it together (nothing to do with you liking them or not), and one can’t even read coherently from a teleprompter.

Nowhere near half of Americans understand these two things to be true, but probably some 90% of Chinese and Russians do, as well as a vast majority of people in other non-US/NATO/EU countries.

Another threesome: Sergei Lavrov (Russia), Tony Blinken (US) and Liz Truss (UK) are all foreign ministers (or Secretaries of State, give the beast a name). Who would you trust to represent your own interests best in the field of diplomacy? It’s not even a question, is it? If the US or UK had a Lavrov, he would be their man (he would most likely decline). But they don’t. The US has a nobody (they have lots of those!) in the role, and the UK has someone with zero qualifications who dreams of getting the top job.

The world outside of the G7 or G20 (give the wheel a spin) sees this happening. Is it any wonder they clamor to be part of BRICS? The “collective west” is fast finishing off itself, and yes, you’re right, that is a dangerous moment. It’s also why it very much looks like the “collective west” is trying to open a second theater of war in Europe. One that looks a lot like the one they opened in Ukraine. And the EU, to its utter shame, does nothing to prevent this from happening – on its “own” soil!.

I know, there’s Crazy Nancy on her way to Taipei as well as we speak, we’ll get to that yet. Imagine: you’re 80-odd years old, and you want your legacy to be WWIII. Not your grandchildren, but live nukes. Just imagine that.

Kosovo’s unilateral secession from Serbia was recognized by the “main Western powers” in 2008. But not China, Russia, or the UN!. Not too long after Bill Clinton’s NATO bombed the heebeejeebees out of former Yugoslavia in 1990. Just because they could. Today, the US -and NATO- try to use a tiny sliver of former Yugoslavia to ignite a major fire in Europe, a second fire besides Ukraine.

Kosovo is the size of half a postage stamp, only two US states are smaller, Rhode Island and Delaware. 1.8 million people live there, it’s like one NYC borough. But you can use the historic hatred to rekindle the flames. Right, Blinken? Well, turns out there are still some Serbs living in Kosovo, because that’s where they grew up.

The brilliant Kosovo PM now has the fantastic idea to start a fight with these Serbs, over the fact that their cars have Serb license plates and they themselves have Serb IDs, a whole 14(!) years later. Yeah, that’s worth a fight, obviously.

So America’s “top diplomat” Blinken invited Kosovo president Osmani and PM Albin Kurti to DC last week.

 

 

I’ll let some people other than me explain this to you. First, political analyst Alexandar Pavic:

In Kosovo As In Ukraine, The Same Western ‘Invisible Hand’ Foments Conflict

In addition to the conflict in Ukraine, Europe is now faced with the prospect of renewed conflict in Kosovo, Serbia’s breakaway province (officially named Kosovo and Metohija according to the Serbian constitution). Kosovo’s unilateral secession was recognized by the main Western powers in 2008. This came nine years after NATO’s attack on Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, after which NATO forces occupied the province and helped install an ethnic Albanian-led government dominated by former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army terrorist organization.

The current crisis was triggered by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, who initially wanted to force the majority Serb population in the north of the region to accept Kosovan license plates and ID papers starting from August 1, and to ban entry to the province or issue temporary papers to travelers with Serbian-issued plates and documents.

Kurti attempted a similar stunt in September 2021, triggering a crisis where local Serbs in northern Kosovo organized roadblocks and Kosovo police reportedly beat up and intimidated Serb civilians, while the authorities in Belgrade put the Serbian military on high alert and ordered overflights by fighter planes over the administrative border between Serbia proper and Kosovo. The EU eventually brokered a temporary agreement, pending a final deal that was supposed to have been reached by April 2022, under EU auspices. However, nothing has come of that.

From Kosovo to Ukraine, it seems there’s a pattern regarding agreements in which Western powers have a hand. Since the start of this year’s special military operation in Ukraine, Russian officials have repeated time and again that the West had never pressed Kiev to fulfill its part of the 2015 Minsk 2 peace agreement, intended to end Kiev’s standoff with the Donbass republics. Recently, former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko openly admitted that Ukraine never intended to fulfill the agreement but was merely buying time until it could build up an army capable of overrunning Donbass.

The situation with Kosovo is not much different. The EU brokered an agreement between Pristina and Belgrade in April 2013, the so-called Brussels Agreement, by which Serbia was supposed to dismantle its “parallel” police and judicial structures in Kosovo and convince the Kosovo Serbs to accept integration into the Kosovo police and legal system, without recognizing the territory’s independence. And the Belgrade authorities did this, despite a large public outcry over the move.

 

However, there was a second part to the agreement, by which Pristina was obligated to form an Association of Serb Municipalities, with substantial local powers and ties to Serbia proper. The Albanian part of the Brussels Agreement has not been fulfilled to the present day. Or, as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic noted on July 31, that 3,390 days have passed since the Brussels Agreement was signed, and still no sign of the Association.

As in the case of Ukraine, the collective West has put absolutely zero pressure on the side it supports to fulfill its part of a signed international agreement. And again, as in the case of Ukraine, this has encouraged Pristina to take an increasingly belligerent stance, which may very well lead to a more serious conflict.

There’s an additional ingredient to the Kosovo mix, thanks to the Ukraine conflict. Namely, the Serbs – both in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina – stand practically alone among European peoples in refusing to join Western sanctions against Russia, and in consistently demonstrating open support for Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. As a result, the government in Belgrade has been under constant, increasing pressure by the main Western capitals, as well as the EU and NATO, to change its policy and join the West’s collective economic suicide.

Since Belgrade has proven to be a tough nut for the West to diplomatically crack when it comes to opposing Russia, it’s not at all far-fetched to imagine that the Kosovo Albanians just might be seen by the West as a useful tool by which to additionally turn the screws on Belgrade. In the same cynical way in which the unfortunate Ukrainians are being used to pressure and weaken Russia.

 

Next, from RT, about Richard Grenell. No love lost on my part about him, but he did negotiate a bunch of peace deals, and knows the territory much better than Blinken.

Trump’s Kosovo Envoy Slams US Over Crisis

Richard Grenell, who negotiated a Kosovo-Serbia deal under the Trump administration after a turn in charge of the US intelligence community, blamed the “reckless” prime minister in Pristina for the renewed tensions with Belgrade on Sunday and slammed the State Department for enabling him. “What’s happening in the Balkans isn’t Russia. Whoever says this to you is trying to manipulate you,” Grenell tweeted on Sunday evening. “This is about Albin Kurti trying once again to give it [to] Serbia. He is living in the past.”

“The people of Kosovo want peace and jobs, Albin. Stop picking fights,” Grenell added. Serbian military was placed on high alert and local Serbs put up roadblocks earlier in the day, after Kosovo police showed up at two administrative crossings with Serbia, intending to enforce Kurti’s decision to confiscate Serbian license plates and documents. This would have effectively cut off the remaining Serbs living in the north of the breakaway province.

According to Grenell, this was all about Kurti “making unilateral moves to reject Serbian IDs and license plates inside Kosovo,” which he called “unnecessary.” Describing the PM a “far left radical and experienced fascist,” Grenell further called his actions “foolish” and “reckless,” and urged Serbian leaders to “not take the bait.” “Even the Albanians know Kurti is the problem,”Grenell tweeted. He also blamed Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Kurti and Kosovo president Vjosa Osmani earlier in the week.

US President Joe Biden has “ignored the Balkans,” the envoy added, pointing out that he had negotiated multiple agreements between Kosovo and Serbia under President Donald Trump, trying to overcome the conflict through economic cooperation. Grenell also accused the EU of orchestrating war crimes charges against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci to punish him for working with Trump – resulting in Kurti and Osmani taking power.

And then Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and research director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Why Are Serbia And Kosovo On The Brink Of War Again?

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina occur regularly, as a result of the fact that the Kosovo issue has not been resolved since 1999, when the province de facto gained independence after the US-led NATO campaign against the former Yugoslavia. However, this time there is a risk of more or less routine friction escalating into a dangerous conflict, because the context has changed dramatically.

The problem of Kosovo was solved at the end of the twentieth century in strict accordance with the then dominant approach, and in the seeming absence of an alternative. Disputes in most of Europe (ie. outside the former USSR) were settled according to the EU’s ideas of fairness, and where they could not be worked out amicably, pressure was exerted on those who rebelled, up to the use of military force (primarily American, as always).

[..] it was the EU that regulated the processes taking place locally, and, in general, this setup was taken for granted. Moreover, other powers which have been traditionally active and important in the Balkans – Russia and Turkey – indicated their presence (sometimes quite clearly), but did not pretend to have a decisive voice in the way things were arranged. This framework also defined the room to maneuver for the countries of the region, including those who were most loudly dissatisfied, like Serbia.

Now two main circumstances have changed. First, the EU is in such a vulnerable state that it is not ready to take full responsibility for the extremely complex political situation in its immediate periphery. It cannot promise membership, and more precisely – even if such a pledge were made, it doesn’t guarantee anything.

The EU’s management of the central Balkan problems – in Bosnia and Kosovo – has not led to the desired outcome over the past quarter of a century. Thus, it’s all the less likely that it will work out now. Because the second circumstance is that Russia and the West (the EU plus the US and NATO) are in a state of acute confrontation.

As a result, there is no reason to expect Moscow’s assistance in resolving the situation (be it Kosovo or Bosnia). Right now, the West’s favorite practice of “selective interaction” (we work together with Russia where we need it, we refuse to engage on other issues) can no longer be applied. There will be no cooperation: Russia and the West will be on opposite sides of the barricades everywhere, no matter the issue at hand. We are in a systemic cold war. And this reality can greatly influence what will happen in the Balkans.

The question is to what extent regional actors have retained their passion for showdown, revenge or expansion. There are suspicions that this zeal has been exhausted and emasculated. But if it still burns, then external forces will enter the fray this time, supporting opposing sides.

Blinken et al, which very much includes his EU counterparts, see the past struggles in the Balkans as something they can reignite at their convenience today. The initial boundaries are simple. Russia will come to the aid of Serbia. Kosovo will appeal to Albania. And then to NATO. So the idea is you got this hot cauldron, with 5-6-15 nations, and NATO can do whatever it wants in there.

But NATO has no chance in Ukraine, and it doesn’t have one in Kosovo. But it can ship billions worth of weapons in there and pay Raytheon. Problem I see with this genius plan is that Russia saw it coming from lightyears away. And that is the same issue as the difference between Lavrov and Blinken: they may have the same job title, but there’s no comparison.

 

 

 

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Nov 092015
 
 November 9, 2015  Posted by at 1:33 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Giles Duley Afghan boy lands on Lesvos Nov 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to do something, urgently, that should have been done months- if not more- ago. There has to be a UN emergency summit on the European refugee crisis, it has to involve leaders at the very highest levels, and it has to take place within weeks at the latest. Or else.

Of course any leader could call for the summit, and if Merkel waits too long -as she is wont to do- someone else should. But she is the best person for the job. No-one else who leads an entire continent looks ready to take this on, and moreover it’s her own country that quite possibly faces the gravest consequences of the crisis.

That is to say, for now Germany still comes in way after Greece in that regard, but if Alexis Tsipras would attempt to call such a summit, his appeal would fall on deaf ears, and at best lead to lots of international Merkel-style diddling (or ‘Merkeln’, as the Germans put it). And there’s already been far too much of that.

The renewed urgency comes from a number of directions. First, the continuing drownings of refugees in the Aegean sea. The lack of urgency with which those drownings have been met has become a huge and immediate threat to Merkel, if only because the entire European project has already died with the babies washing up on the shores of Greece.

Even if it will take a long time for people to recognize that, given the ideological ‘union’ blindness that pervades Brussels and European capitals. Angela’s legacy risks being not only her responsibility for thousands of deaths, but also the very demise of the EU. And that’s just for starters.

Secondly, It was Merkel herself last week who warned of renewed military conflicts in the Balkans if the approach to the refugee crisis wouldn’t change, and rapidly.

According to Merkel, if Balkan countries -continue to- build fences and razor wire barriers at their borders, one after the other, some countries risk ‘getting stuck’ with huge numbers of refugees on their territories that they are not in the least prepared for. Which makes Friday’s German announcement, mere days after Merkel’s warning, all the more ominous:

Germany Imposes Surprise Curbs On Syrian Refugees

Angela Merkel has performed an abrupt U-turn on her open-door policy towards people fleeing Syria’s civil war, with Berlin announcing that the hundreds of thousands of Syrians entering Germany would not be granted asylum or refugee status. Syrians would still be allowed to enter Germany, but only for one year and with “subsidiary protection” which limits their rights as refugees. Family members would be barred from joining them.

[..] the interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, announced that Berlin was starting to fall into line with governments elsewhere in the EU, who were either erecting barriers to the newcomers or acting as transit countries and limiting their own intake of refugees.

[..] the suddenness of the move by the country that has been pivotal in the EU’s biggest ever immigration crisis will ripple across the region with unknown consequences, particularly in the transit countries of the Balkans and central Europe through which hundreds of thousands have been trekking towards Germany.

The German curbs will encourage these countries to establish barriers of their own to the refugee wave. Merkel is also pressing countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia to establish “reception centres” or camps where refugees can be processed and screened before they reach Germany. The countries are resisting because no one knows what to do with those who are screened and do not pass muster for passage to Germany.

Around the same time that Germany pressures Balkan countries to establish ‘reception centers’, it votes down plans for ‘transit zones’ on its own territory. Some are more equal than others? Berlin had better beware.

The third ‘urgency’, curiously downplayed by media and politics, comes in the shape of a warning by the EU itself, albeit “buried in a 204-page report on the future of the European economy”.

European Union Predicts 3 Million More Refugees By End Of Next Year

The European Union predicted Thursday that up to 3 million additional asylum seekers could enter the 28-member bloc by the end of next year, suggesting the staggering pace of new arrivals in recent months shows no sign of abating. The forecast, buried in a 204-page report on the future of the European economy..

The EU expects 3 million refugees in 2016. This year, there will be ‘only’ 1 million. Of which resettlement deals have been made for 160,000, and at last count 116 have actually been resettled. Somebody better start taking this serious, or it will get very terribly out of hand. And that’s not to say it hasn’t already, with well over 3000 refugees having drowned in the Mediterranean, hundreds of them children.

This is a humanitarian disaster that nobody’s willing to recognize as one, and that is exactly what has to stop. The reason why this prediction is hushed up across the board is of course obvious: the 1 million refugees in 2015 have already strained resources, international relationships and indeed entire governments to such an extent, wars could start just because of that.

Add another 3 million, and the chances of a peaceful 2016 in Europe grow terribly slim. But not talking about it will of course slim down those chances further. And even if the total of 4 million refugees expected by the end of next year will be less than 1% of the EU’s 500 million population, someone better do something fast, or else.

The fact that Europe risks being strained to the point of military conflict, and there’s precious little reason to doubt Angela Merkel’s assessment of the situation, means that what needs to be done is to make the entire world aware that this is a global issue, not a regional one. And that’s where the UN emergency summit comes in.

Obviously, Germany is overwhelmed right now. But doing a U-turn on the open-door policy is not going to solve that problem. It will merely shift it, either within Germany itself, or towards the Balkan countries the refugees travel through to come to the Bundesrepublik.

Decision making by the EU Brussels has failed shamefully. And not only on the refugee crisis. But since Merkel is the no. 1 voice of power in Europe, that puts the shame on her as well. As we’ve said before, the only way to handle an issue such as this, is to put the people first.

You can’t let the people, the children, drown at random and expect to come away with your positions intact. And just because international politics these days focuses a lot on trying to deflect responsibilities by pointing to others, and to international bodies, blood on one’s hands doesn’t wash off easily, and in the end not at all.

Blaming the refugees themselves, as the head of EU border agency Frontex attempted once again by labeling them , is as useless as it is disgraceful. People fleeing war zones to save their lives are not ‘illegals’.

Blaming the ‘smugglers’, an even more popular EU pastime, makes no sense either. If the smugglers were Europe’s biggest concern, it would grant safe passage to refugees. That would stop ‘smuggling’ in one fell swoop. But it would demand a level of political courage that nobody, not Merkel either, possesses.

What drives policies across the board still comes down to the prevailing wish, fed to European populations by media and politics, to keep things as they are. To maybe invite the token refugee, but to prevent sudden or large changes in the society people happen to live in.

And while that may be understandable, it doesn’t mean it’s always realistic. Sometimes change is inevitable. We may find it easier to accept that when it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes than in the case of mass migrations, but all of these are regular occurrences throughout history. In the end, all we can do is make the best of it, in the most humane way we know of, or descend into mayhem.

One more thing that needs repeating time and again though politicians won’t like it: Europe’s leadership knew the refugee problem was coming. Angela Merkel was warned by her Bundespolizei at least eight months ago, but there were warnings even way before that. Everyone just chose to ignore them.

Refugee Crisis Was Not Unexpected, Top UN Official Says

Director-General of the United Nations office in Geneva, Denmark’s Michael Moller: [..] “The crisis we have today, we knew it was going to happen. The leaders of Europe were told it was going to happen at least two years ago.”

[..] there will be even greater problems, unless we sit down globally and figure out structures and ways to deal with this in the future. Not to reinvent the wheel every time that happens, but to rethink completely and strengthen the humanitarian system, because I guarantee you that it will happen again.

Moller say the same thing I do: “we need to sit down globally”. He doesn’t provide a timeframe, but between the lines it’s clear he doesn’t think either that there’s time to waste. A UN emergency summit may be all that stands between us and ‘anarchy’, in one way and shape or the other.

This summit must include the presidents and prime ministers of all major nations (and please leave out the EU). Obama, Putin, Xi Jinping and Merkel, but also the leaders of Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon (where the majority of Syrian refugees are) and all Balkan countries. Countries like Canada, Brazil and Australia can and must be called upon to grant asylum to many more refugees than they do now.

In this week’s issue of the New Yorker, George Packer describes how America took in more than a million refugees from South East Asia in one year 35 years ago, and how it can and should make such an effort once more:

America’s Apathy About The Syrian Refugees

[..].. the U.S. has accepted fewer than two thousand Syrians. In September, President Obama announced an increase in the quota for the coming year to ten thousand. That figure represents just half the monthly total of Indochinese refugees brought here in 1980. One refugee advocate called it “an embarrassingly low number.” And yet even this humble goal is unlikely to be reached.

The world has a narrow window left to prevent an already grave humanitarian disaster into something much worse, to prevent antagonism and military action that will set loose the evil genies of the Pandora’s box that is Europe’s past, once again, and genies of surrounding regions too. There is no need for that. Not yet.

The world, united in such a summit, must also look beyond the refugee crisis, and, as the UN’s Moller says, “rethink completely and strengthen the humanitarian system”. Because there are other dangers on the horizon, potentially much worse. Climate refugees are an obvious one, but even more, there’s the economic downturn nobody seems to be willing to acknowledge (at their own peril).

As I wrote a week ago, in an article quoted by Zero Hedge on Wednesday in their piece on German opposition parties warning of a domestic civil war:

Europe Will Never Be The Same; Neither Will The World

Ignorance and denial threatens to lead to a needless increase in nationalism, fascism, violence, misery, death and warfare. If we were to acknowledge that the change is inevitable, and prepare ourselves accordingly, much of this could be avoided.

There are two main engines of change that have started to transform the Europe we think we know. First, a mass migration spearheaded by the flight of refugees from regions in the world which Europeans have actively helped descend into lethal chaos. Second, an economic downturn the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 80 years or so (think Kondratieff cycle).

Negative ideas about refugees are already shaping everyday opinion and politics in many places, and this will be greatly exacerbated by the enormous economic depression that for now remains largely hidden behind desperate sleight-of-hands enacted by central bankers, politicians and media.

There are fine theories around coming from fine people, on how refugees can benefit a host country’s economic systems. But they are the kind of people who are perpetually looking at economic growth. And no such growth is guaranteed – to put it awfully mildly.

Therefore, it doesn’t really matter to the issue if refugees do or do not contribute ‘positively’ to a country’s economics, because all countries are facing a giant slowdown and depression caused by an inevitable debt deflation. And that makes it all the more urgent for people, and societies, to be prepared for all possible outcomes, including worst case scenarios.

The depression is guaranteed, and so are millions more people fleeing the ruins that were ones their homes, and their hopes for a decent future for their children.

Every day that Merkel loses in calling this highest-level, highest-urgency, UN summit, is a day that more people will drown. And that means one more day that we all will lose more of our own humanity, and of our claims for others to show us theirs.

In our own way, we’re all already drowning and washing up devoid of life, and of human values, somewhere on a cold and lonely distant beach.