Saturday, December 17, 2011

White ribbons come to China protests....The Soros/Rothschild/CIA plan plays out.

The Soros/Rothschild plan to seize the rest of the world begins in earnest.... The world needs to take a giant insectiside spray can to the Rothschilds, Soroses, and their minions.... China reacts....

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Soros/Rothschild/CIA plan plays out... Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites....

The Soros/Rothschild/CIA plan plays out... Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites....

BEIJING -- "Batman" star Christian Bale was roughed up by security guards who stopped him visiting a blind activist living under house arrest in China.

Video footage of the scuffle was shot by a camera crew traveling with the Hollywood actor as he promoted a film he has made in the country.

CNN posted scenes of the confrontation between Bale and the guards on its website Friday.

The run-in and publicity is likely to cause discomfort in China's government-backed film industry, which hopes Bale's movie "The Flowers of War" will be a creative success at home and abroad.

The star's actions are sure to focus attention on the plight of Chen Guangcheng, guarded around the clock by plain-clothed and uniformed workers who have blocked dozens of reporters and fellow activists trying to see him in the past.

Bale was to leave China on Friday and his representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale and his wife Sibi are escorted by security guards as they arrive for the premiere of the "Flowers of War" in Beijing on Dec. 12.

Bale, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for last year's "The Fighter," traveled Thursday with a crew from CNN to the village in eastern China where Chen, the blind lawyer, lives with his family in complete isolation.

They were stopped at the entrance to Dongshigu village in Shandong province by unidentified men.

'An inspiration'
The video footage shows Bale asking to see Chen, with a CNN producer providing interpretation, but being ordered by one of the guards to leave. He then asked why he was unable to pass through. The guards responded by trying to grab or punch a small video camera Bale was carrying.

"What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale was quoted as saying by CNN.

Chen's case has been raised publicly by U.S. lawmakers and diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, all to no response from China.

CNN said Bale first learned of Chen from news reports when he was in China filming "The Flowers of War," China's official submission this year for best foreign language film Oscar.

"Chen Guangcheng is a newsworthy figure ... and as such it is in the interest of CNN's global viewers to hear from him," CNN said in a statement. "Mr. Bale reached out to CNN and invited us to join him on his journey to visit Chen."

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was blinded by a fever in infancy, angered authorities after documenting forced late-term abortions and sterilizations and other abuses by overzealous authorities trying to meet population control goals in his rural community. He was imprisoned for allegedly instigating an attack on government offices and organizing a group of people to disrupt traffic, charges his supporters say were fabricated.

Although now officially free under the law, he has been confined to his home in the village eight hours' drive from Beijing and subjected to periodic beatings and other abuse, activists say.

While Bale's visit focuses new attention on Chen's case, CNN's role raises questions about activism and advocacy among reporters, said David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project website at the University of Hong Kong.

"It made me instantly uncomfortable, wondering how it all came together. It raises questions about where the lines are drawn," Bandurski said.

Politically sensitive subject
The incident also drew strong interest — most of it highly positive — on social networking sites such as Twitter and its Chinese equivalent, Weibo.

Having their star's name pinging across the Internet in connection with such a politically sensitive subject puts promoters of "The Flowers of War" in a bind. The film opens in China on Friday and next week in the United States.

Directed by the renowned Zhang Yimou, it is also the most expensive Chinese movie ever made, at $94 million, some of which came from the state-owned Bank of China.

The movie centers on the 1937 sacking of the eastern city of Nanjing, a central event in China's pre-revolutionary "century of humiliation" and has been described by some critics as hewing to official propaganda portraying Chinese as heroic victims and Japanese as one-dimensional cartoon villains.

While China has the world's third-largest film industry — both in box office and output — it has made relatively little global impact. Story lines are often heavily influenced by the ruling Communist Party, whose culture commissars must approve scripts and have final say over whether a film gets released....

Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites....

BEIJING — Officials announced new rules on Friday aimed at controlling the way Chinese Internet users post messages on social networking sites that have posed challenges to the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machinery.

For many users, the most striking of the new rules requires people using the sites, called microblogs, or weibo in Chinese, to register with their real names and biographical information. They will still be able to post under an alias, according to a report by Xinhua, the state news agency.

Some analysts say the real-name registration could dampen some of the freewheeling conversations that take place online, and that sometimes result in a large number of users criticizing officials and government policy.

The rule on real-name registration had been expected for several months now by industry watchers, and Internet companies in China had already experimented in 2009 with some forms of this. It was the ninth of 17 new microblog regulations issued on Friday by Beijing government officials, who have been charged by central authorities with reining in the way microblogs are used.

The regulations also include a licensing requirement for companies that want to host microblogs and prohibitions on content, including posts aimed at “spreading rumors, disturbing social order, or undermining social stability.” But officials have long put pressure on microblog companies to self-censor, and the lists of limits on content is more an articulation of the boundaries already in place.

The regulation announced by the Beijing officials only apply to companies based in the capital, where several of the largest microblog platforms, including Sina and Sohu, are based.

One large rival, Tencent, is based in Shenzhen, a special economic zone in the south, and an editor there said Friday that the authorities had yet to issue any new regulations that would affect the company. But analysts expect that that city and others across China will soon put in place rules similar to the ones announced by Beijing.

“It’s just a further sign of the way things are going,” said Bill Bishop, an analyst and businessman based in Beijing who writes about the Internet industry on a blog, Digicha. Some Internet users, he added, might now ask themselves “why bother to say something? You never know.”

There were many comments of outrage on Friday from those posting on microblogs. “Society is going backwards,” wrote one user by the name of Cheng Yang. “Where is China’s path?”

Many prominent commentators and writers with influence over public opinion already post under their real names. For example, Pan Shiyi, a wealthy real estate developer who posts regularly, has more than seven million followers. He recently used his platform to advocate for stricter air pollution reports from the Beijing government.

"In fact, serious weibo users have already opted to use their real names out of their own interests,” said another editor at Tencent who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of talking about government policy.

Internet companies hosting microblogs have been told to comply with the new rules within three months. Sina and Tencent each have more than 200 million registered users; it is unclear how the companies will go about ensuring that each user has registered with real data.

But Mr. Bishop said the technology was already in place and had been used by one large Internet company, Baidu, when it ran its own version of a microblog, which no longer exists. The registration information that users enter online can be matched up against a police database, he said.

Leaders here have long discussed how to better control the Chinese Internet, which has about 485 million users, the most of any country. Most vexing for officials has been the speed with which information can spread on microblogs. This year, several incidents highlighted the reach of microblogs, including posts that ignited mass anger over both the Wenzhou high-speed train crash and the hit-and-run death of a two-year-old toddler, Yueyue.

China has for years blocked Twitter and Facebook, and officials here carefully monitored the rebellions this year in the Middle East to see how they were organized and what role social networking sites played.

But Chinese officials also see the microblogs as useful. The sites allow people to vent anger, and officials can track posts to see the direction of public opinion. More and more officials are also being encouraged to use microblogs for propaganda and to mold discussions. Talk within the party about controlling the Internet accelerated after a policy meeting of the party’s Central Committee in October that focused on culture and ideology.

In the announcement Friday, Beijing officials said micro-blogs should “actively spread the core values of the socialist system, disseminate socialist advanced culture, and build a socialist harmonious society.”

Zioconned America Mimics Russia, China, North Korea and Malaysia....

Zioconned America Mimics Russia, China, North Korea and Malaysia....

Leading American Internet businessmen warn that the draconian copyright bill on the verge of being passed by Congress would let the US government use censorship techniques “similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran.”

If you want to know what the United States would look like after this bill is passed, just look at what’s been happening in Russia: The Russian government has been crushing dissent under the pretext of enforcing copyright law.

As the New York Times noted last year:

Across Russia, the security services have carried out dozens of similar raids against outspoken advocacy groups or opposition newspapers in recent years. Security officials say the inquiries reflect their concern about software piracy, which is rampant in Russia. Yet they rarely if ever carry out raids against advocacy groups or news organizations that back the government.


[A] review of these cases indicates that the security services often seize computers whether or not they contain illegal software. The police immediately filed reports saying they had discovered such programs, before even examining the computers in detail. The police claims have in numerous instances been successfully discredited by defendants when the cases go before judges.


The plainclothes officers who descended upon the Baikal Wave headquarters said they were from the division that investigated commercial crime. But the environmentalists said they noticed at least one officer from the antiextremism department, which tracks opposition activists and had often conducted surveillance on the group.


Baikal Wave’s leaders said they had known that the authorities used such raids to pressure advocacy groups, so they had made certain that all their software was legal.

But they quickly realized how difficult it would be to defend themselves.

They said they told the officers that they were mistaken, pulling out receipts and original Microsoft packaging to prove that the software was not pirated. The police did not appear to take that into consideration. A supervising officer issued a report on the spot saying that illegal software had been uncovered.

Before the raid, the environmentalists said their computers were affixed with Microsoft’s “Certificate of Authenticity” stickers that attested to the software’s legality. But as the computers were being hauled away, they noticed something odd: the stickers were gone.

In all, 12 computers were confiscated. The group’s Web site was disabled, its finances left in disarray, its plans disclosed to the authorities.

The police also obtained personnel information from the computers. In the following weeks, officers tracked down some of the group’s supporters and interrogated them.

“The police had one goal, which was to prevent us from working,” said Galina Kulebyakina, a co-chairwoman of Baikal Wave. “They removed our computers because we actively took a position against the paper factory and forcefully voiced it.”

“They can do pretty much what they want, with impunity,” she said.


Mr. Kurt-Adzhiyev said he now realized that the authorities were not so much interested in convictions as in harassing opponents. Even if the inquiries are abandoned, they are debilitating when they require months to defend.

Since the American copyright bills (SOPA and PIPA) target online activities, the same thing happening to Russian critics’ computers could happen to the websites of any Americans who criticize the government, the too big to fail banks, or any of the other powers-that-be.

Indeed, the American copyright bill is modeled after the Chinese system. :

Given that Joe Lieberman said that America needs an internet kill switch like China, that the U.S. economy has turned socialist (at least for friends of those with control of the money spigot), and that the U.S. government used communist Chinese torture techniques specifically designed to produce false confessions in order to sell the Iraq war, I guess that the bill’s Chinese-style censorship is not entirely surprising.

Of course, it might seem over-the-top to worry about copyright laws being used to stifle government criticism in America … if it weren’t for the fact that:

  • Some folks have alleged that copyright infringers are terrorists. See this, this, this and this
  • The U.S. government has been using anti-terrorism laws to crush dissent
  • In modern America, questioning war, protesting anything, asking questions about pollution or about Wall Street shenanigans, supporting Ron Paul, being a libertarian, holding gold, stocking up on more than 7 days of food, or liking the Founding Fathers may get you labeled as a suspected terrorist
  • We’ve gone from a nation of laws to a nation of men making laws in secret....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Man of steel, Park Tae-joon...

Man of steel, Park Tae-joon...
By Yong Kwon

On December 13, a modern-day miracle-maker passed into history. His contribution to South Korea's epic economic ascension has been largely overshadowed by the legacy of president Park Chung-hee.

However, those who only see the achievements of the late dictator should note that without the tireless effort of another Park, the drive for economic development could have been scuttled at its very inception. The late hero's name was Park Tae-joon.

He was born in 1927 near the growing port city of Busan. In 1933, he crossed the Korea Strait to join his father, who had emigrated to Japan for better job opportunities. Excelling in school, he began studying mechanical engineering at Waseda University in 1945, but dropped out and repatriated to Korea at the end of World War II.

In the midst of the post-liberation political chaos, Park entered the Korea Military Academy and met Park Chung-hee, who was at the time a ballistics instructor. Park Tae-joon described his first encounter with the future president as having felt "like the chill of the morning air blowing through the front door". It was the beginning of a dynamic partnership.

After serving with distinction in the Korean War in the early 1950s, Park Tae-joon reunited with Park Chung-hee and served under him as his chief of staff. Praising his work ethic and obsessive perfectionism, then-Colonel Park Chung-hee described him as a "piece of iron".

The close bond between the two Parks was evident in the run-up to the 1961 coup d'etat. According to anecdotes, Park Chung-hee asked his former pupil to not participate in the military uprising so that he would be able to take care of the elder Park's family if the coup failed. Nonetheless, as Park Chung-hee's forces marched into Seoul early on May 16, 1961, Park Tae-joon was present at the headquarters of the anti-government forces, throwing in his lot with his superior.

This act of defiance firmly placed Park Tae-joon in the inner circle of the new regime, and he was soon elevated to a significant position in the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, the new junta's governing body that paved the way for Park Chung-hee's Third Republic.

After helping design president Park Chung-hee's first Five Year Plan (1962-1964), Park Tae-joon turned from commanding soldiers to nurturing Korea's nascent industry. In 1964, he became the head of Korea Tungsten Company, forerunner of today's TaeguTec, and managed what was then one of a handful of frail companies that exported abroad.

As gifted of a soldier and economic planner he was, it was in the corporate world that the full extent of his skills became truly evident. President Park's economic planners decided that South Korea needed to achieve self-sufficiency in steel to establish the foundations of other industries.

However, the astronomical cost of constructing the infrastructure and the sheer magnitude of the project baffled many domestic industrialists. Was it truly feasible for a country with an individual per annum income of US$100 to engage in such a massive gamble? President Park turned to Park Tae-joon.

Park Tae-joon was also a deep believer in steel self-sufficiency, calling it the "rice of industry". In 1965, he began studying foreign steel industries, and by 1968 Park Tae-joon was travelling to various countries actively seeking the necessary funds and technology to begin constructing steel mills in South Korea.

Objectively, it was difficult for any organization to lend or invest the required vast sums to a hopelessly underdeveloped Third World economy. Summing up the sentiments of others, the president of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development told Park Tae-joon that it was too premature for South Korea to engage in such a high-tech industry and suggested concentrating his efforts in labor-intensive manufacturing. Turned down by the world, Park Tae-joon decided to turn to another source.

A few years' earlier, Seoul and Tokyo had signed the "Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea", with Japan promising millions of dollars in grants and soft loans to the Korean government. Park Tae-joon consulted with Park Chung-hee and persuaded him to divert a portion of the funds set aside for agricultural development to construct steel mills in the sleepy seaside town of Pohang.

It was extremely controversial. Bureaucrats in Seoul questioned his every decision and looked at the enterprise with doubt. Tokyo was also wary of changing the already agreed upon financial arrangements. Even Park Chung-hee disagreed with him on the level of government involvement in the would-be steel company. Nonetheless, Park Tae-joon managed to dog all his detractors into agreeing with his plan.

Recognizing what the funds represented, he made an ultimatum to his workers on the day that the steel mill construction began: "We are using the funds from Japan that contain the blood and sweat of our forefathers. If we fail to complete this steel mill ... let us all drown ourselves in the East Sea!" This was the beginning of the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO).

It was an endeavor on which South Korea's future was riding, and no one took the project more seriously than Park Tae-joon. Visiting the construction site, he wore his military uniform and carried with him a commander's baton. He considered military discipline to be essential; after all, he was jump-starting a nation's heavy industry in an empty field with people who had little to no experience.

The international community looked at the steel mill enterprise with skepticism. Japanese companies that provided the essential technology for steel-making doubted South Korea's ability to produce a competitive industry. Korean economists were also nervous - many already considered President Park's highway project a waste of public funds and the budget for the steel mill in Pohang was three times the entire cost of the Seoul-Busan highway.

In April of 1971, Park Tae-joon inaugurated the first steel mill, and by 1973 he surprised every detractor. POSCO laid the foundations for South Korea's shipbuilding industry, which began in pits dug in the beaches near Pohang. Within a few decades, South Korea was dominating the global share of ship-making, beating out Japan and Britain.

In addition, POSCO acted as the engine that drove forward the growing automobile industry, whose exports also gave momentum to South Korea's rapid economic ascent.

People began calling Park Tae-joon the Andrew Carnegie of South Korea - but this may be an unfair comparison. Carnegie built his steel mills in a country that already had the technological know-how and the industrial basis for creating the necessary infrastructure.

Park Tae-joon created the infrastructure out of brute force of will, and POSCO under his chairmanship produced 21 million tons of steel, nearly twice what Carnegie's mills produced in 35 years. By the time Park Tae-joon left POSCO's chairmanship in 1992, the gamble had turned into the third-largest producer of steel in the world.

His accomplishments had by the late 1970s already earned him a legendary status among industrialists. In 1978, while touring a steel mill in Japan, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping asked chairman Yoshihiro Inayama of Nippon Steel Corporation whether he could build a similar steel mill in China. Inayama replied that such an undertaking would be impossible because China did not have Park Tae-joon - to which Deng jested in return that he only needed to import Park.

On top of his industrial contributions, Park Tae-joon was acutely aware of the importance of educating future generations and established the Pohang University of Science and Technology in 1986 and the Research Institute of Industrial Science & Technology in 1987, both foremost facilities for education, research and development in South Korea.

After the assassination of Park Chung-hee in 1979, Park Tae-joon entered politics as a member of the National Assembly and became a crucial member in the coalition government that brought about both the Roh Tae-woo and Kim Dae-jung governments.

He was forced out of politics in 1992 under scrutiny from president Kim Young-sam over alleged corruption charges, which later turned out to be false. He returned to government during the economic fallout in 1997, working to resolve the economic crisis, and briefly served as prime minister in 2000 before being forced out over charges of real estate speculation.

Nonetheless, nothing so far suggests that he abused his deep connections in government or industry for personal gain.

Those who knew of him understood his significance - someone said of Park Tae-joon that "when Korea needed an army, he was an officer; when it needed to raise its economy, he was a businessman; when it needed a vision, he was a politician".

It would not be an overstatement to suggest that he embodied the political and economic transformation in South Korea since its founding. He lived life without a moment's breath wasted; many of his close colleagues said that the only thing hotter than the molten steel in the mills of Pohang was Park Tae-joon's passion, the epicenter of the industrial complex - and today his Herculean heart continues to forge South Korea's future.

He is survived by his wife, five children and a more prosperous country.

Yong Kwon is a freelance writer for Korean, Russian and Central Asian affairs.

Global Military Balance Shifts as Economic Winter Hastens Western Decline...

Global Military Balance Shifts as Economic Winter Hastens Western Decline...

By Dr. Jacob....

An eventual shift in the global military balance is one of the inalienable fallouts of the economic winter experienced by the Western world. While military spending in the U.S., the reigning super power, is increasingly coming under the scanner, the extended defense holiday in Europe signals that the continent's global influence is on irreversible decline.

Even as the U.S. and Europe tend to spend less on military, China, serious contender for the superpower status, is ramping up spending. Russia is aggressive in its defense strategy despite the fact that a weary NATO looks a lesser threat than before.

"With the eurozone economy still sluggish and governments fixated on containing the sovereign debt brushfire that has consumed three member states, defense continues to be an afterthought in Europe," Forecast International said in a media release.

The leading defense intelligence provider said it expects that total European defense expenditure will barely reach $280 billion by 2015. That amount will soon be dwarfed by the combined spending of China, India, the rest of the emerging world and the highly aggressive Gulf Arab nations.

Defense spending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) paints a skewed landscape. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data, the U.S. spends 4.8 percent of its GDP on military while China spends 2.1 percent. However, in terms of value, China's military spending has risen nearly 200 percent in the last decade to reach the 2010 spending of about $200 billion.

The U.S. could remain the undeniable military super power in the foreseeable future by virtue of its ability to funnel massive amounts of money into this sector. According to SIPRI, at $700 billion per year, the U.S. military spending is larger than the combined spending of the next 17 countries.

Europe pales in comparison. France and Britain, pre-eminent European military powers, spend only 2.3 and 2.7 percent respectively on defense. Germany's military spending is pegged at 1.3 percent while Italy spends 1.8 percent of GDP. Russia spends 4 percent of GDP on defense.

"Little in the near-term environment lends hope that a rethink toward defense prioritization is in the offing," says Forecast International. "Austerity programs are draining government ministries of funding and any reversals of this trend will first be felt in areas outside defense."

And the results are already visible.

Commenting on the NATO mission in Libya, the then U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in June that the vast majority of the military bloc's European members did not have the capability to carry out air attacks. "Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't ...The military capabilities simply aren't there," Gates said.

Gates also issued a stern warning for the European allies, suggesting that if Europe didn't live up to its responsibility it would lose its position as America's favored military ally. "...if current trends in the decline of European defense capabilities are not halted and reversed, future U.S. political leaders-those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me-may not consider the return on America's investment in NATO worth the cost," Gates said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While the U.S. still managed to spend a large share of its GDP on defense in 2010, the European members of the military bloc spent only 1.7 percent of GDP. According to IHS Jane's, Europe's military spending will decline even further in the coming years. It estimates that between 2010 and 2015, the military spending of the European members of NATO will decline to decline by 2.9 percent.

"The end result of the ongoing decline and flattening of already-limited defense allocations will be armies that struggle to project power, conduct training exercises, maintain combat readiness, and entice new recruits. Modernization programs will be postponed or forsaken entirely," Forecast International adds.

Dragon Moves up in Defense Pecking Order

According to the ZIOCONNED CIA World Factbook, Gulf Arab countries traditionally top the chart of military spending. As of 2005 Oman spent 11.4 percent of GDP on defense while Qatar and Saudi Arabia spent 10 percent. Israel's defense spending was 7.3 percent. Among emerging powers, India spent 2.5 percent while Brazil spent only 1.7 percent.

However, China's ascendance in the defense pecking order has been the most stupendous in recent times. Earlier this year, the Pentagon had warned that China's aggressive military build-up and modernization will make it a formidable power by 2020 and change for once and all the military balance in the Asia Pacific region.

In an annual report submitted to Congress, the Pentagon said though China was unlikely to wield global reach and match up to the U.S. in terms of the ability to handle high-intensity combat operations far abroad, it will become an unquestionable regional military power in the years ahead.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is sprucing up its conventional military capabilities by developing better missile technologies. China is also well on course to developing its JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile. The Pentagon had calculated that JL-2 would be operational by 2010, but continued delays have hit the program to develop this lethal weapon.

"Most reports agree that the JL-2 will have a range of about 8,000 km, while some reports suggest that the missile will have an estimated range at least 9,000 kilometers," according to global

There were also reports that China would start building a fully indigenous aircraft carrier this year. If the program goes ahead as expected, China will have a second aircraft carrier by 2015.

China's stealth fighter, J-20, had created a lot of ripples in the defense world this year when it conducted its celebrated test flight. According to the Pentagon, the J-20 "highlights China's ambition to produce a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes, advanced avionics and super-cruise capable engines over the next several years."

Moreover, China is actively harnessing technologies to develop lethal space and counterpace capabilities. The Pentagon also has said PLA has set up "information warfare units" in a bid to gain upper hand in cyber warfare, the modus operandi of the future. The Pentagon report had pointed out that targets inside the United States had been victims of cyber attacks that took origins in China in the recent past.

In stark contrast, the images from the United States and Europe are less than upbeat. In August this year, the U.S. announced massive spending cuts in the defense sector as part of the debt deal unveiled by the White House.

The White House fact sheet said defense spending will be reduced by a whopping $350 billion in ten years, a decision that would deal a crippling blow to many of Pentagon's vaunted weapon programs.

The U.S. could be eying to cut down military spending in future by slimming down its nuclear arsenal and being choosy about weapon purchases, besides reducing personnel costs. There is also the risk of really big ticket projects like the aerial refueling tanker getting sidelined or slowed down.

And in Britain, the country's only aircraft carrier was decommissioned recently because of budget constraints.

Analysts say Europe faces the dire threat of becoming a fringe player if it continues to undermine the importance of sheer military power. "The shrinking of (defense) assets and degradation of capabilities happened over an extended period of time. Defense investment in Europe has steadily declined since the early 1990s as governments placed a premium on 'soft power' alternatives over military strength," says Forecast International's Europe Military Markets Analyst Dan Darling.

"Europe needs to summon the political willpower to strengthen defense or accept that out-of-area operations going forward will have to be limited in number and restricted in scope. There is already a finite capacity regarding further Libya-type operations, let alone a similar mission to the one still going on in Afghanistan. A decline in ability to project power comes with a decline in global influence. Such decline may be relative, but it is a decline nonetheless."....LOL the skewing by Zioconned Western World knows no bounds....LOL

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oil in troubled waters; Caspian Ecology Teeters On the Brink....

Oil in troubled waters; Caspian Ecology Teeters On the Brink....
Science 18 January 2002:
Vol. 295 no. 5554 pp. 430-433
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5554.430

As nations around the world’s largest lake bicker over oil rights, the wildlife of the Caspian Sea is in a state of siege from which it may never recover

ASTRAKHAN, RUSSIA—Lev Khuraskin stepped gingerly across the shoal, avoiding the dead seagulls and cormorants rotting in the sand and their squawking, orphaned chicks. The rail-thin biologist, his face leathered from decades on the sun-drenched Caspian Sea, crept up to a seal lolling near the water and straddled it, pressing his hand against the back of its neck to subdue it as a colleague skittered over to draw blood. Fit seals don’t like being messed with, but this emaciated and listless male submitted calmly. “It’s very ill,” says the team’s leader, Vladimir Blinov of VECTOR, Russia’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology.

The seal that lay dying on Malyi Zhemchuzhnyi Island is one of the latest casualties in the Caspian Sea’s unfolding ecological drama. Sturgeon, prized for their caviar, are hovering near enough to oblivion that three of the five nations around the Caspian’s shores—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia—agreed last June to an unprecedented 6-month ban on fishing the species. Too little, too late, some fear. “The question is whether the species can be saved at all,” says Lisa Speer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit based in New York City.

Adding to the mounting horror of ecologists, Mnemiopsis leidyi, a comb jelly notorious for having devastated anchovy populations in the Black Sea, invaded the Caspian a few years ago. New findings suggest that this voracious free-floater has done a similar number on the Caspian’s kilka, or sprat, by “driving numerous species of zooplankton toward extinction,” says ecologist Henri Dumont of Ghent University in Belgium. Mnemiopsis is more bad news for the seals, which feed on kilka and are already reeling from epidemics of canine distemper virus in 1997 and 2000 that killed thousands.

If the Caspian’s wildlife only had natural invaders to deal with, that would be bad enough, but this lake—the largest in the world—is a pressure cooker of political and commercial forces. Ranged around its shores are the growing economy of Russia in the north and fundamentalist Iran in the south, with Muslim ex-Soviet republics in between. Both Russia and the United States are vying for influence in the region, a process accelerated by the war in nearby Afghanistan.

Complicating the picture are the Caspian’s vast oil reserves. The Soviets largely ignored this resource, but the newly independent republics are keen to exploit it. Production in the Caspian is expected to ramp up fivefold to 5 million barrels a day by 2020. “For the time being, there’s no proof that oil exploration or extraction will pose a major hazard to the Caspian environment—if it’s done properly,” says Arkadiusz Labon, a Toronto-based fisheries consultant who coordinated a major fish stock survey in the Caspian last year. However, he and others note, a major spill—always a possibility in this geologically unstable region (see sidebar)—could spell disaster.

Oil in troubled waters

Two millennia ago the Caspian was a sacred place for Zoroastrians, who would meditate at temples near jets of flaming gases that vented from the naphtha-rich sands of the Apsheron Peninsula, a nub of land jutting into the Caspian in present-day Azerbaijan. Later generations of Persians, still awestruck by the pillars of fire, recognized a commodity and by the late 1500s were scooping petroleum from shallow wells.

True development of the oil fields began in 1875 when Ludvig and Robert Nobel, brothers of renowned Swedish industrialist Alfred, bought up land near Baku. Boring deeper wells, they and their crew learned how to work Apsheron’s fickle semifluid sands. Oil production increased by 50 times over the next decade, reaching 1 million tons a year. When after a brief independence Azerbaijan was absorbed into the Soviet Union, the Nobels were out and central planning was in.

Although the Soviets discovered three giant oil fields in the Caspian basin, they left them mostly untapped. They found it easier and less costly to extract oil from their vast petroleum reserves in western Siberia and even went as far as banning offshore drilling in the north Caspian to protect the sturgeon’s feeding grounds and spawning migration routes.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, oil investments from the West poured into the Caspian, turning the region into a “Wild East.” But although oil exploration has not yet had a major impact on local ecology, the same cannot be said for fishers out to make a fast buck by harvesting the Caspian’s other precious resource: caviar.

Of fish and jellyfish

With their long snouts and ridged, scaleless bodies, the young sturgeon swimming circles in a glass tank at the Caspian Fisheries Research Institute here in Astrakhan look more like baby dinosaurs than fish. But having long outlived the dinosaurs since debuting in the fossil record 200 million years ago, the venerable sturgeon is facing its toughest test yet. The Caspian is home to the world’s biggest population of sturgeon. The sea’s four major varieties—stellate sturgeon, or sevruga (Acipenser stellatus), Russian sturgeon (A. guldenstadti), Persian sturgeon (A. persicus), and beluga (Huso huso)—supply about 90% of the total caviar harvested worldwide. It’s a lucrative commodity: As Science went to press, one firm, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, was advertising sevruga caviar at $1448 per kilogram. Beluga roe, meanwhile, was fetching more than $2500 per kilogram. Russia alone says it hauled in $40 million last year from caviar exports, although some observers claim that the figure for legal exports was closer to $100 million.

The sturgeon’s enemies are legion, but poachers may be taking the heaviest toll. Last year they fueled a shadow caviar market estimated at $400 million, according to Russia’s Interior Ministry. Rampant poaching since the Soviet meltdown has sent sturgeon stocks crashing, with beluga numbers less than 10% of what they were 2 decades ago, the government estimates. Last year Russia began working with Interpol to try to crack down on smuggling, but most observers say it will take years, if not decades, to stamp it out. Other factors in the decline include dams on the Volga River that cut off access to spawning areas, and perhaps pollutants that accumulate in fat and may render eggs infertile. “The whole ecology of the rivers has changed,” says biologist Ellen Pikitch of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City.

Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) got three Caspian nations to agree to a 6-month moratorium on fishing sturgeon last June. Some experts contend that the ban, which ended on 1 January, did little good for the sturgeon, because it took hold after the main fishing season in the spring.

A recent census of Caspian fish corroborates that view. Last summer, the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP), a World Bank and European Union initiative, undertook a rare comprehensive survey of Caspian fish stocks. Over 6 weeks last August and September, the CEP team used sonar to chart and characterize fish populations everywhere but in the coastal waters of Turkmenistan, which did not allow access. Sonar is an imperfect technique, particularly for bottom-feeding fish like sturgeon, so the team captured and released fish as well.

Although the researchers are still analyzing their data, the emerging picture is dire indeed. “We found very few mature sturgeon,” says Labon. “That’s a sure sign of dramatic overfishing.” As expected, the team found ample young sturgeon, indicating that hatcheries in the Volga delta and Iran have averted total calamity. But the hulking fish are late breeders, taking years to reach sexual maturity. That means poachers and other fishers will be netting more and more juveniles in an increasingly frustrating search for caviar.

Soon a scene of the past?

Russians haul in sturgeon on the Volga delta near Astrakhan.


Labon argues that a 10-year fishing ban—without loopholes such as a permissible “scientific” catch—is essential to rescue the sturgeon from extinction. However, a total moratorium could backfire by driving the entire caviar trade underground, argues NRDC’s Speer. Her organization, for one, is campaigning for a ban on trade of beluga only, the most endangered species. It will make that pitch when the CITES standing committee on sturgeon meets in March to review this year’s proposed catch quotas. NRDC will also lobby the next conference of CITES parties in November to elevate beluga to the most endangered Appendix One list, which would ban beluga export from any signatory nation.

The sturgeon is not the only Caspian fish under siege; some other species are facing a more insidious, if spineless, threat. First sighted off the Iranian coast in 1998, the comb jelly Mnemiopsis within months had managed to swarm across much of the rest of the Caspian. The delicate, luminescent creature, looking more like a miniature starship than an animal, appears to have stowed away in the ballast water of ships in the Black Sea, reaching the Caspian via the Volga-Don Canal.

Based on the jelly’s voracious habits in the Black Sea, researchers expected it to gulp its way through the bottom of the Caspian’s food chain, grazing on zooplankton that are the staple of kilka and many other fish. Over the past couple of years, says Labon, professional fishers along the Caspian have been asking, “Where have all the kilka gone?” In Iranian waters, Ghent’s Dumont adds, “they don’t catch anything but jellies now.” The CEP fish survey spotted this decline. According to Labon, the survey found that kilka and herring populations “are severely depressed” compared to 2 years ago. His team is still crunching numbers to determine precisely how much these fish have declined.

A kilka crash is bad news for the fishing industry in Iran, where there’s a big market for the sprats. But for the beleaguered seals that feed on kilka, it could be a crushing blow.

Hunting a killer

It has been a tough few years for the Caspian’s seals. Two years ago, a mystery epidemic killed several thousand of them, including many young ones. A CEP seal ecotoxicology team, led by Susan Wilson of the Tara Seal Research Centre in Northern Ireland, and the VECTOR group—working independently—unmasked canine distemper virus as the likely villain (Science, 22 September 2000, p. 2017). When seals began dying in droves again last spring, both teams headed out to different parts of the Caspian to find out why.

Their preliminary, unpublished findings suggest that canine distemper is not the seals’ only foe. After sampling dead or dying seals washed up on the Apsheron Peninsula, Wilson’s team found that—unlike what they had observed in 2000—the victims were mostly adults. Analyzing tissue back in the lab along with samples from Iran and Turkmenistan, Wilson and her team so far have found no sign of canine distemper or any other virus.

Hard times.

The CEP ecotoxicology team’s Hormoz Asadi observes a seal on the Apsheron Peninsula. The comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi (top) may have abetted last year’s die-off.


Wilson’s team believes that pollution may be a contributor to last year’s die-off. The researchers are now testing their samples for levels of the pesticide DDT and other long-lived pollutants. Such chemicals are also the prime suspect in the seals’ plummeting birthrate, says Wilson. But she and her colleagues are pursuing other lines of inquiry, including bacterial infections and poor nutrition.

The VECTOR team’s findings add more intrigue. Blinov’s group says it detected a flu strain last spring, similar to one that jumped from birds into people in Hong Kong in 1997, in some of the dead seals they had sampled in 2000, as well as a nearly identical strain in a single sick seal in Russia’s Lake Baikal. “If avian viruses could overcome host barriers and infect humans in Hong Kong and cause pandemic outbreaks in seals,” says Blinov, “we thought, ‘What might occur tomorrow?’” Tests for virus in seals sampled last year on Malyi Zhemchuzhnyi Island are still under way, but they have come up negative so far.

That jibes with the CEP ecotox findings, but it fails to penetrate the mystery of where canine distemper is lurking, or whether the avian influenza that VECTOR spotted was a red herring or a continuing threat to the seals. Wilson speculates that canine distemper, at least, could reemerge in a couple of years. She notes that the evidence is looking more solid that distemper was behind a mass die-off in 1997 and may periodically afflict Caspian seals.

If canine distemper does resurface next year, the seals could be in for a double whammy. Both the CEP and VECTOR teams have reported that many ill or dead seals were underweight and some were emaciated, which may point to a food shortage. Wilson carried out a limited survey of seal feces collected on Apsheron last year and found that kilka appeared to make up only a tiny proportion of their diet, suggesting that the seals had to make do with less-nutritious prey. “We need to extend these diet studies,” Wilson says. But it does seem to bear the tentacle-marks of Mnemiopsis.

Dumont and other experts argue that steps must be taken quickly to rein in Mnemiopsis. After Mnemiopsislevels in the Caspian last fall exceeded those ever reached in the Black Sea, a scientific advisory committee called on littoral nations to approve plans to unleash a predator this spring to control the invader. Their choice was Beroe ovata, a heftier comb jelly that dines almost exclusively on Mnemiopsis. Beroe slipped into the Black Sea in 1997 and quickly brought the villain to heel. There, Mnemiopsis populations had plunged so low by last year that it was hard to find specimens for analysis. Beroe, says Dumont, “is almost too good to be true.”

Azerbaijan and Iran are pressing hard for Beroe to be introduced, but it’s unclear whether the other Caspian governments will climb aboard. Signs look unfavorable for agreement on something as contentious as biological pest control—no matter how benign Beroe would appear—when tensions are already running high over oil rights.

Political hardball

Like 49ers staking claims in California, the five littoral nations have asserted overlapping territorial claims in the Caspian itself. Last summer, Iranian gunships chased an Azeri research vessel out of waters claimed by both countries. A meeting planned for last October at which the countries had agreed to demarcate borders was abandoned after the 11 September terror attacks, although the leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are scheduled to visit Moscow later this month in part to revive the negotiations.

Eternal flames.

At the Surakhany Fire Temple, ancient Persians meditated on Baku’s perpetually burning hills, including the Kirmaky gas seep (top).


The Caspian nations are playing hardball because their oil is considered a major prize by Western powers. The newly independent states could act as a counterweight to OPEC, because the Caspian oilfields would greatly augment the few reserves—including Siberia and the North Sea—not controlled by the Middle East-dominated cartel. Caspian oil “can offset [OPEC's] efforts to keep prices high and their use of high prices for political dictates,” says Brenda Shaffer, research director of Harvard University’s Caspian Studies Program.

Apart from Russia, the three countries with the largest Caspian reserves—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan—have welcomed alliances with the West, which they think will help them convert their black gold into cash and limit Russian influence in their affairs. Beyond oil and gas, the region is important to the United States, which “needs to develop friends like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the Muslim world, due to their clear separation of religion and state,” says Shaffer. Russia, meanwhile, has bolstered its sphere of influence by strengthening ties with Iran and forming alliances with other ex-Soviet littoral states.

Sound like a powder keg waiting to be lit? Quite so, says Terry Adams, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates and founding president of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company oil consortium: “The seeds of future Caspian conflict were planted early.” And with an international effort to safeguard the Caspian’s ecology nowhere in sight, the lake itself can only suffer in the process.

Science. ISSN 0036-8075 (print), 1095-9203 (online)

A massive credit crunch and A financial implosion of historic proportions are around the corner....

A massive credit crunch and A financial implosion of historic proportions are around the corner....

Sometimes banks gamble, and lose....big time, they always do....

On 12 December 2011, Global Research had an article suggesting that banks, and others, still hold a vast amount of worthless assets.

The suggestion is that many, many billions in 'ghost assets' will disappear by 2013.

The Derivative Debt Bubble: "Ghost Financial Assets" and the Widespread Discounting of Western Public Debt)

Think of a French bank holding Greek government bonds which are suddenly worth only half of what they were before.

And it may not just be Greek bonds.

And it is not just French banks that may suffer.....UK and US and other EU Banks too.....

According to the Global Research article:

There is the possibility of a decline of 30% in the US dollar, in the Euro and other major currencies in 2012.

The United Kingdom could be absorbed into Euroland by 2020.

Scotland may break with England.

A global and US recession could involve falling tax revenues and further drops in home values.

US private debt is far worse than in Greece.

Europe has takes steps to reduce expenditures and debts.

But the US continues increasing debt.

"We have entered a phase involving the decimation of Western banks...

"Customers of all financial operators - banks, insurance companies, investment funds, pension funds - are now questioning the soundness of these institutions.

"The Economic Collapse", on 13 December 2011, gives us
17 Signs That The European Financial System Is Heading For An Implosion Of Historic Proportions

From this we learn:

Greece has raised taxes and reduced government spending.

This has caused the Greek economy to slow down and tax revenues to decline.

100,000 businesses have closed.

A third of the population is living in poverty.

The following are signs that the European financial system is heading for an implosion of historic proportions.

When you reduce government spending you also slow down the economy.

2 As the economy slows down in Europe, unemployment will rise.

3 Germany, and the other wealthy nations of northern Europe, are sick and tired of bailouts and do not plan to hand over trillions of Euros.

4 The European Central Bank could print trillions of Euros, but this would go against existing treaties and most of the major politicians in Europe are strongly against this right now.

When the CIA hits the economies of such countries as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, India, Russia, Indonesia, or China, the global economy suffers.

5 Europe is rapidly running out of time.

6 Germany has kept the focus exclusively on fiscal deficits.

This crisis was not caused by fiscal deficits (except in the case of Greece).

Spain and Ireland were in surplus, and Italy had a primary surplus.

7 There are dozens of European banks in danger of failing.

Nobody wants to 'throw any more money into those black holes'.

We could start to see banks fail in rapid succession.

Charles Wyplosz, a professor of international economics at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, says:

"Banks will collapse, including possibly a number of French banks that are very exposed to Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain."

8 According to financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, European banks need to reduce the amount of lending on their books by about 7 trillion dollars in order to get down to safe levels.

9 European banks are overloaded with worthless assets that have a book value of trillions of Euros.

10 Either the Germans will have to allow the ECB (European Central Bank) to print money out of thin air to buy bonds with, or, "we will finally see the market determine the true value of European government bonds."

11 Huge amounts of European sovereign debt are scheduled to be 'rolled over' next year (Money is due to be paid back to lenders; so new money must be borrowed.).

The poor cannot afford to shop anywhere on the fancy commercial streets....
12 Once the new treaty is ratified, eurozone governments will lose the power to dramatically increase government spending.

The coming recession could become a full-blown depression.

13 Credit rating agencies are warning that more credit downgrades may be coming in Europe.

14 S&P has put 15 members of the eurozone (including Germany) on review for a possible credit downgrade.

The stock prices of many major European banks are in the process of collapsing.

Bank 'runs' have been reported in certain parts of Europe.

At the start of 2010, savings and time deposits held by private households in Greece totaled €237.7 billion.

By the end of 2011, they had fallen by €49 billion.

Savings fell by a further €5.4 billion in September and by an estimated €8.5 billion in October.

17 Economic activity is slowing down.

In October, Japanese machinery orders dropped 6.9%, following an 8.2% drop in September.

South Africa has recently reported a 5.6% drop in manufacturing activity.

Britain recorded a 0.7% decline.

China’s October exports fell 1.7% after dropping 3.8% in September.

Korea’s exports are down three consecutive months. Singapore’s were off in September and October. Indonesia’s plunged 8.5% in October after slipping 2% in September. India’s dropped 18.3% after being flat in September.

"Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions."

What governments could do:

1. Nationalize or close down the zombie banks everywhere globally....

Nationalize the US Federal reserve....and the ECB. STOP Corruption at the TOP and End ALL Wars and regional conflicts peacefully NOW. Straiten the UN Body politics and Veto powers and end its utter corruption. Slash intelligence budgets everywhere since it has proven to be utterly futile, biased towards crooked policies [9/11...comes to mind] and useless....

2. Get government financial institutions to lend to business.

3. Ban the trade in 'derivatives' and other forms of gambling by banks and financial institutions.

4. Slash spending on defense and handouts to the rich.

Increase taxes on the rich and on corporations taxation's loop-holes.....

5. Increase spending on infrastructure.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

US the loser in Asia push...., as usual....

US the loser in Asia push...., as usual....
By Tanaka Sakai

Translation by Hase Michiko

In his remarks to the Australian parliament on November 17, President Barack Obama declared that the United States was making the Asia-Pacific region a top priority. While promising a continued US military presence in the region, Obama also expressed his intention to strengthen US-China cooperation.

This declaration, however, was made at the same time as Obama announced a series of anti-China measures: to station US forces permanently in Australia for the first time, to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a multilateral trade agreement that excludes China - and to discuss the South China Sea Islands at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, to Beijing's displeasure. Therefore, the Japanese media view Obama's emphasis on Asia as strengthening an anti-China containment ring.

In Japan, there is heightened expectation for Obama's new policy, which is thought to signal that the US is finally treating China as an enemy. However, the "awkward timing" of the US announcement doesn't sit well with me. Since the late-1990s, US-China relations have seen China's ascension and America's decline, especially in the economic arena. An anti-China policy of the United States would inevitably involve pro-US Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN.

Those Asian nations, however, cannot afford to antagonize China because it has replaced the US as their biggest trading partner. The same is true for the United States: it cannot go too far in antagonizing China, the largest holder of US treasury bonds, because if China sold them, US finance and the dollar would collapse.

If the US intended to treat China as an enemy and fortify its anti-China containment as a national strategy, it should have started sooner. From the perspective of the interests of both the Asian nations and the United States, it is absurd for the US to adopt an anti-China policy in Asia at a time when China has become the most important country in the economic arena.

Give Asia priority - abandon UK and Israel
If one puts the issue in a global, rather than Asian, perspective, one begins to see another meaning of the US declaration to give Asia top priority. The flip side of an emphasis on Asia is putting less emphasis on the Middle East and Europe, the regions that previously received top US priority.

In the Middle East, Israel has dictated US world strategies since the1970s, but Israel now needs US support more than ever. Until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, US domination in the Middle East had served Israel well. After the 9.11 attacks in 2001, US world strategy so focused on the Middle East that some said it had become a Middle-Eastern country, while US allies in Asia, including Japan, were close to being ignored.

Since then, however, there has been a backlash against the extreme anti-Islam policy of the United States in the form of an anti-US , anti-Israel Islamist movement; since the revolution in Egypt last spring, Islamism has been accelerating under the rubric of democratization. Previously pro-Israel Egypt and Turkey have since turned anti-Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, once a puppet of the US and Israel, is increasingly defiant in its attempt to gain United Nations membership. Even in formerly secular Tunisia and Morocco, the Islamists are rising in the elections.

The United States has not changed its pro-Israel policy. US politics is still under the thumb of right-wing Israelis. However, the US followed the wishes of the Israeli right-ring in carrying out "democratization" as a way to overturn the government, and as a result anti-American, anti-Israel Islamism has risen.

For this reason, it has now become impossible for Israel to press the US to change the current situation in ways more favorable to Israel. Besides, US military forces are scheduled to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year. US military influence in the Middle East will decrease dramatically.

At the very time that all this was happening, the Obama administration launched its policy of giving Asia top priority. The US government will maintain the appearance of being at Israel's beck and call, but in practice it is about to abandon Israel surrounded by its enemies. The Muslim Brotherhood is overjoyed. From a Middle-Eastern perspective, Obama's emphasis on Asia means the "abandonment of Israel".

US global policy-making has also been dictated not only by Israel but by the United Kingdom. To the UK, the 40-year-long Cold War was a long-term strategy to fortify its alliance with the US with the objective of confronting the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, the US-UK alliance controlled the world through financial markets. Today, however, as the US-UK financial system continues to break down, Obama's emphasis on Asia means a shift to prioritizing Asia over the US-UK alliance, and this is not good news for the UK.

The European Union is in the midst of a euro crisis. American and British speculators are trying to crush the euro, their potential rival, to protect the US dollar as the key international currency. Financial integration of the euro zone, which would strengthen the EU, is needed to stave off the ongoing crises.

The EU, centering on Germany, has been battered by the US and UK in this crisis. Therefore, after the current crisis the EU will reduce its dependency on the US and strengthen its collaboration with countries like Russia, which are anti-US and geopolitically important to the EU. Just as Europe was going through this transition, Obama unleashed his "Asia First" announcement, which is virtually a declaration of a "Europe Second" policy.

The United States was traditionally an "Atlantic country". This time, the US has announced that "we are a Pacific country". To Europe, this means that the US will not emphasize Europe as before. American speculators caused the bond crisis, hurting the EU; the EU in turn is likely to think: "If the US is not going to emphasize Europe, we won't emphasize the US , either."

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Europe-US military alliance, will lose its importance, too. The end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan in 2014 will likely be a turning point.

US -China strategy not transformed
Let's turn to Asia again. The most important question left unanswered in Obama's Asia-first announcement is "whether the US is going to treat China as an enemy in earnest." "Does the US consider China an enemy or a future ally?"

The question itself and the ambiguity surrounding it existed 100 years ago, when the United States supported Sun Yat-sen's Nationalist Revolution. The United States considered China a prospective ally until the Korean War in 1950 (which is why the US made China a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council after World War II even though it was then a divided and weak country).

Between the Korean War and president Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972, the United States was dominated by the Cold-War camp (the military-industrial-British complex) and tended to view China as an enemy. Nixon's China visit transformed the situation, and the United States has since had the mixed policy of viewing China both as an enemy and as a prospective ally.

In US politics under the powerful influence of the military-industrial complex supported by the UK and Israel, previous US administrations deliberately left ambiguous the question of whether China was an enemy or an ally. Although the ambiguity lingers, since the 1990s when it lifted the economic sanctions that it had imposed after the Tiananmen Square incident, the US has gradually been treating China more as a prospective ally in the situation in which it began to develop as an economic superpower.

The strongest recent expression of the US embrace of China as a prospective ally was the proposal for a "US -China G2", recognizing China as "a responsible superpower (-to-be, along with the US ) during the former George W Bush administration.

If Obama's "Asia First" declaration was a clear indication of "China as an enemy", that would be a reversal of the China strategy that the US had maintained until the end of the Bush administration. But it is unclear whether Obama's Asia-first policy is a policy to treat China as an enemy. This vagueness is a continuation of the deliberate ambiguity in the US strategy toward China since Nixon's visit to China. The conclusion drawn from the foregoing analysis is that Obama has not reversed the previous course of US strategy toward China.

The interests of the military-industrial complex, which pushed the US to treat China as an enemy, have been paralyzed by the failure of the wars on terror. Large US companies, including financial interests, are making profits in China and would not want to be driven out of the Chinese market as a result of worsening US-China relations. I do not think that there are many at the center of power in the US who wish to promote "an anti-China policy that goes beyond campaign rhetoric".

Recently, even the military-industrial complex has refrained from promoting an overt anti-China agenda. The Department of Defense is said to be working on a military strategy called "Air-Sea Battle" to contain China. At a recent Pentagon press conference, however, the discussion remained opaque, only revealing that "it is a not a strategy, not a concept of operations, ... and is not directed at any particular country". [1]
One explanation that is circulating is that the Air-Sea Battle concept involves a shift from the old way of attacking an enemy (China) by launching planes from huge aircraft carriers to one of launching unmanned fighters and short-range missiles from smaller warships. But the Pentagon has not clarified the strategy.
The Bush administration, too, tended to keep the goals of "transformation" secret, but the main goals were to upgrade US military technology, to make the military smaller and lighter, and to ensure profits for the military-industrial complex by pouring in huge development funds. The true aim of Air-Sea Battle, too, may be to increase profits for the military-industrial complex while suggesting that it is a strategy to counter China's growing military power.

The Obama administration made its "Asia First" announcement simultaneously with announcing plans for the TPP and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The timing suggests a bargain: "Accommodating the wishes of Asian nations like Japan, South Korea and Australia nervous about China's rise, the US will not withdraw its forces from the Asia-Pacific. In exchange, Asian countries, through TPP and FTA, must restructure their economic systems to assure US corporate profits". [2]

Trampling with free trade agreements
In Australia, Obama emphasized that "reductions in US defense spending will not - I repeat, will not - come at the expense of the Asia Pacific". This gives the impression that the US government is increasing its military expenditures in the Asia-Pacific despite overall budget reductions.

However, there is a 20-year-old pattern in which every time the Japanese government has sought continued US military presence, the US has made it contingent on Japan's increased share of expenditures for US bases in Japan, resulting in a greater financial burden on Japan. If this pattern holds, the Australian government will shoulder part of the cost of building new Marine barracks and other expenditures for having US Marines stationed in Australia.

If some of the US Marines in Okinawa are to be moved to Australia, and if the Australian government is to pay for the transfer, the US only dictates the terms of the exchange. Neither the US nor the Australian government has disclosed anything about cost. But given the dire state of US finances, it is highly possible that Obama announced that "America will give Asia a top priority (as long as Asia bears the cost)." It is reasonable to think that TPP and US military presence come with an expensive price tag.

The US government has announced that it will shape TPP into a free-trade agreement among countries that abide by a rules-based order. The US thinks that China's lack of a rules-based order - it's a party dictatorship - makes it ineligible to join TPP. However, Vietnam, with a one-party rule similar to China's, has been allowed to participate in the negotiations. This suggests that the US treats TPP as part of the anti-China containment ring that excludes China politically.

If TPP is a US -led containment ring directed against China, the question remains whether it is effective. My conclusion is that TPP will not be effective in containing China. To many Asian countries, China is the biggest trading partner, and China's importance will only increase in the future. By contrast, the United States, which was long the greatest trading partner of most Asian nations, has lost its middle classes' spending power and will lose its status as a dominant trading partner.

Given the precedent set by the US-Korea FTA, moreover, participation in TPP would compel Japan to change its economic rules modeled on American ones. The United States in the past few years has been rife with corrupting tendencies, allowing large corporations to change government rules to their liking through lobbying activities. Japan, as a TPP member nation, would be put under constant pressure to reshape its domestic economic institutions to benefit US businesses. The "rules" in the US government's "rules-based order" are those that are prevalent in the US and favor large US businesses.

China and Russia may take over WTO
Asian nations nervous about China's rise are begging the US not to leave Asia. The US government is telling them: "We are not leaving Asia, but you must pay for our base expenditures. In addition, join TPP or the US-Korea FTA and make your domestic systems profitable for US companies."

The United States is not to blame. The dependency of Asian nations like Japan is allowing the US to pursue a crafty strategy.

The more the US publicizes its anti-China containment, the more quickly China will strengthen its military to counter it. The more China strengthens its military, the more fearful Asian countries will become, increasing their dependency on the US , and the United States will take advantage of the dependency to impose a corrupt American-style economic system on Asia.

The corruption of their economic systems will in turn weaken Asian nations, including Japan. China, which is excluded from TPP, will be spared this baptism of corruption. China alone will profit from TPP.

On top of this, the United States will be an unreliable importer of Asian goods while Asian countries will continue to increase their economic dependence on China. The current US strategy toward Asia only reinforces China's superiority. By the time Asian nations give up on a weakened America, their economic systems will be in tatters as a result of TPP, and there will be no choice for them but subservience to an even more powerful China.

The US Asia policy looks to be a "disguised multipolarism (polycentrism)" which actually "strengthens China while pretending to contain it" and "pushes Asian nations toward China while professing to ally with them."

In terms of the international trade system, Russia's accession to the WTO, which is likely to occur by the end of this year, will benefit China. China and Russia are fortifying their strategic ties. Once Russia is admitted to the WTO, China, already a WTO member, will work together with Russia to recruit the other BRIC countries - India and Brazil - and developing countries like South Africa, to transform the WTO politically from a system favoring advanced economies into one favorable to emerging and developing countries. [3]

The Doha round of the WTO has stalled for the past several years. It is possible, however, that by the time the WTO gets moving again, it may have been taken over by emerging countries and may try to dominate the world as a completely transformed body.

Some people may think that China would not want to maintain a free-trade system, but they are wrong. While weak economies tend to lose under a free-trade system, it benefits stronger economies. The economic strengths of BRIC are approaching the level at which it suits their national interests to promote a free-trade system.

Tanaka Sakai is the creator, researcher, writer and editor of Tanaka News (, a Japanese-language news service on Japan and the world. The title of Tanaka Sakai's new book is translated as
The Day Japan Breaks with 'Subordination to the US': Amidst the Multipolarizing New World Order.

Hase Michiko taught women's studies at San Jose State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She participates in Women for Genuine Security and has served as a translator and interpreter at international meetings.

Air-Sea Battle: What's It All About, Or Not , AOLDefense, November 10, 2011.
2. See
3. See
Russia clears final hurdle for WTO membership, November 10, 2011.