Thanks to a Reader, L:
While it has been known that China and Russia are relentlessly stacking gold, a recent turn of events point to something big going on under the surface with silver.
Two summers ago, Hugo Salinas Price told the Russians how to introduce a Silver Rouble.
This is important to understand – not a silver-backed rouble, but an actual silver coin!
For lack of a better term since its still unofficial, we’ll call it the Russian Silver Rouble.
He told them how to make the coin, and what did he tell them? Think of our pre-1965 coinage. Hugo told the Russians to use a 90% silver alloy.
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Pepe Escobar follows the New Silk Road, and I have found him to be very realistic in his analysis. Here are two recent articles — simple — but carefully packed with information — that may help to inform us. [The emphasis in these two articles is from ~J.]
From Asia Times
via op-ed news
New Silk Road infrastructure projects could bring back a peaceful and prosperous Eurasia
The geopolitical focus of the still young 21st century spans the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf all the way to the South China Sea alongside the spectrum from Southwest Asia to Central Asia and China.
That happens to configure the prime playing ground, overland and maritime, of the New Silk Roads, or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The epicenter of global power shifting East is ruffling feathers in some US political circles — with a proliferation of parochial analyses ranging from Chinese “imperial overstretch” to Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream provoking “nightmares.”
The basic argument is that Emperor Xi is aiming for a global power grab by mythologizing the New Silk Roads.
The BRI is certainly about China’s massive foreign exchange reserves; the building know-how; the excess capacity in steel, aluminum and concrete production; public and private financing partnerships; the internationalization of the yuan; and full connectivity of infrastructure and information flows.
Yet the BRI is not a matter of geopolitical control supported by military might; it’s about added geopolitical projection based on trade-and-investment connectivity.
The BRI is such a game-changer that Japan, India and the “Quad” (US, Japan, India, Australia) felt forced to come up with their own “alternative,” much-reduced mini-BRIs — whose collective rationale essentially lies in accusing the BRI of “revisionism” while emphasizing the need to fight against Chinese global domination.
The basis of the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, introduced in October 2017, was to define China as a hostile existential threat. The National Security Strategy (NSS) and the National Defense Strategy (NDS) amplified the threat to the level of a new doctrine.
The NSS states that “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” The NSS accuses China and Russia of wanting “to shape a world antithetical to US values and interests.” It also accuses Beijing of “seek[ing] to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region” and of “expand[ing] its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.”
The NDS states that Beijing “seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.”
That’s the new normal as far as multiple layers of the US industrial-military-surveillance-media complex are concerned. Dissent is simply not permitted.
Time to talk to Kublai Khan
“Revisionist” powers China and Russia are regarded as major double trouble when one delves into the direct link between the BRI and the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). The EAEU is itself one step ahead of the Russia-China strategic partnership announced in 2012, crucially a year before Xi announced the BRI in Astana and then Jakarta.
At the BRI forum in Beijing in May 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin solidified the notion of a “greater Eurasian partnership.”
The Russian “pivot to Asia” started even before Maidan in Kiev, the referendum in Crimea and subsequent Western sanctions. This was a work in progress along multiple sessions inside the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BRICS and the G-20.
Kazakhstan is the key link uniting BRI, EAEU and the SCO. Russia and Kazakhstan are part of one of the top overland connectivity corridors between East Asia and Europe — the other going through Iran and Turkey.
Xinjiang to Eastern Europe by rail, via Kazakhstan and Russia, now takes 14 days and soon will drop to 10. That’s a major boost to trade in high value-added merchandise — paving the way for future BRI high-speed rail able to compete head-on with low-cost maritime transport.
As for Moscow’s drive to be part of the BRI/EAEU economic connectivity, that’s only one vector of Russian foreign policy. Another one, as important, is enhanced German-Russian trade/investment relations, a priority also for German industrialists.
China for its part is now the top foreign investor in all five Central Asian “stans.” And it’s crucial to remember that Central Asia is configured not only by the five “stans” but also by Mongolia, Xinjiang and Afghanistan. Thus the SCO drive to solve the Afghan tragedy, with direct participation of major players China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Iran.
The BRI strategy of forging a pan-Eurasian connectivity/logistical grid naturally poses the question of how Beijing will manage such an open-ended project. The BRI is not even in its implementation phase, which officially starts next year.
It’s useful to compare the accusations of “revisionism” with Chinese history. When Marco Polo reached the Yuan court in the late 13th century he saw a multicultural empire thriving on trade.
It was the Silk Road trade routes and not the projection of military power that epitomized Pax Mongolica. The 21st century Pax Sinica is its digital version. Is Xi a new emperor or a post-modern version of Kublai Khan?
The Yuan dynasty did not “control” Persia, Russia or India. Persia, a superpower then, linked the Nile, Mesopotamia and the Indus with trade with China. During the Tang Dynasty in the 8th and 9th centuries, China also had projected influence across Central Asia all the way to northeastern Iran.
And that explains why Iran, now, is such a key node of the BRI and why the leadership in Tehran wants the New Silk Roads solidified. A China-Russia-Iran alliance of — Eurasia integration — interests cannot but rattle Washington; after all, the Pentagon defines all those geopolitical actors as “threats.”
Historically, China and Persia were, for centuries, wealthy, settled agricultural civilizations having to deal with occasional swarms of desert warriors — yet most of the time in touch with each other because of the Silk Road. The Sino-Persian entente cordiale is embedded in solid history.
And that brings us to what lies at the heart of non-stop BRI dismissal/demonization.
It’s all about preventing the emergence not only of a “peer competitor,” but worse: a New Silk Road-enabled trade/connectivity condominium — featuring China, Russia, Iran and Turkey — as powerful across the East as the US still remains across the much-troubled “Western Hemisphere.”
That has nothing to do with Chinese neo-imperialism. When in doubt, invoke Kublai Khan.
. . . and . . .
From Asia Times
via op-ed news
Perhaps a Confucian path would be the right direction toward Eurasian integration
The Chinese constitutional amendment allowing Xi Jinping the possibility of further presidential terms — staying in power long enough to bring “national rejuvenation” combined with the Russian election re-confirming Vladimir Putin in the presidency have assured consistency and continuity for the Russia-China strategic partnership way into the next decade.
This will facilitate the interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EEAU); policy coordination inside the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS and the G-20; and the overall drive towards Eurasia integration.
The strengthening of what should be viewed as the Putin-Xi era could not but render Western liberals — and neoliberals — absolutely livid.
Capitalist interests have always believed their own propaganda narrative, which directly links capitalist expansion with the inevitable spread of democracy.
Critical thinking is, at last, debunking it as a grand illusion.
What in fact happened since the early 1980s was that Western turbo-capitalism avidly profited from a variation of neo-slave labor in China’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs). [Note: We may talk about China, but that didn’t stop us from benefiting.] Compound it with the proverbial hubris of Western elites betting that China — regarded at best as a source of cheap labor as well as an enfeebled Russia during the 1990s would never accumulate enough know-how to challenge the West, geo-economically and geopolitically.
The historical record is implacable, showing there’s no connection whatsoever between “free” trade — usually freer for those with extra economic heft and political liberalization. For instance, the Prussian monarchy lowered trade barriers and that led to the creation of the Zollverein in 1834. And the Third Reich between 1933 and 1938 offered a heady mix of hardcore capitalism and totalitarianism.
China’s system, where a (Marxist) party controls the state for the purposes of national cohesion certainly does not qualify as a liberal democracy. Dissenter Minxin Pei, the author of China’s Trapped Transition, already knew 12 years ago that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would never go the Western liberal democracy way (Pei did understand Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping’s commands to the letter).
He got it right that China has “no interest in becoming a member of the [Western] club. They want the economic benefits from the Western liberal order but reject its political values and fear its security alliances. Now they are in a strong enough position attempting to build their own clubhouse.”
What Pei got wrong is that the CCP would smother China’s economic growth (“The prospect of a Japanese-like stagnation is real.”) Xi Jinping and his new dream team need enough time to successfully tweak the Chinese economic model.
Away from childish 24/7 demonization, the fact is Russia today is a democracy, albeit imperfect. And it’s important to analyze how a young democracy can be manipulated. The third chapter of F. William Engdahl’s new book Manifest-Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance details the rape of Russia; how Boris Yeltsin’s “free market reforms” facilitated by the “Harvard boys” allowed a small coterie of billionaire oligarchs — Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich among them — to take over an economy suffering from shock therapy.
Between 1991 and 1997, Russian GDP collapsed by a whopping 83% while investment into the economy fell by 92%.
The case of Khodorkovsky is emblematic. Through Yukos, he owned key Siberian oil fields and was about to sell them all to Western corporate interests back in 2003 when Putin went after him. There’s no question this was avidly studied by the Beijing leadership. Control of key national resources is the ultimate red line.
For Putin as well as Xi, the supreme arbiter is the national state, not a bunch of oligarchs like it’s become a norm across the liberal and neoliberal West. On a BRICS level, compare it with the current usurper installed in the Brazilian presidency, who’s doing his best to hand over most of the pre-salt oil reserves as well as aviation giant Embraer to foreign interests.
When in doubt, ask Confucius
It has become a ritual for guardians of the Western establishment to weep hard about the “fading liberal world order.” At least some admit it is “neither liberal nor worldwide nor orderly.”
Lesser guardians may be more realistic, noting how Western politicians have been completely bypassed by popular anger in myriad latitudes, yet still believing it’s possible to “rebuild democracy’s moral foundations.”
It’s not — not under the predominant neoliberal creed, the post-mod TINA (there is no alternative). The guardians, left and right, cannot possibly understand the rise of populism — because those under the populist influence clearly see how the myths of “rule of law” and “national sovereignty” are fast dissolving in the mud. The guardians at best mourn, nostalgically, “the loss of elite influence.”
China, Russia, Iran and Turkey — all implicated in Eurasia integration — may all rank as authoritarian systems at different levels. And cases can be made that, with the exception of China they still underperform economically compared to their true potential.
Yet one thing they value most of all is national sovereignty amid a multipolar system. That’s their conceptual counterpoint to the il(liberal) world (dis)order. That’s their answer to TINA.
As for “the loss of elite influence,” that’s code for a self-described coterie of the wealthy and powerful claiming a fuzzy democracy moral high ground which only unmasks their deep fear as the Western unipolar moment dissolves sooner rather than later.
All these contradictions are in sharp relief when we look at the European Union. The EU, since the Maastricht treaty, has been steered into becoming what Angela Merkel herself defined as Bundesrepublik Europa — the Federal Republic of Europe.
Anyone familiar with Brussels knows how those waves of tax-free Eurocrats milk an ultra-centralized and bureaucratically Kafkaesque regulation system as they remain completely out of touch with normal, real-life Europeans.
The EU’s notion of promoting “economic integration” including heavy doses of austerity could not be more anti-democratic.
Add to it scandals at top state level that do nothing but corrode the belief in the primacy of the Western liberal democracy model. The latest involves the real possibility that Colonel Gaddafi probably financed the 2007 Sarkozy presidential campaign in France; an outstandingly murky affair featuring the politics of energy, the politics of water, and the proverbial major weapons contracts through which Western liberal democracies discard any moral high ground.
Now compare it with Xi Jinping as hexin lingdao (the nucleus of the leadership) a sort of primus inter pares in a Sinified version of Plato’s Republic.
Greek-Roman-Enlightenment political theory is not the only game in town anymore. Yet not a chance the hubristic West will start listening to Confucius.