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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Petrobuck Waterloo


Arrayed for War,

Michael Hudson, who has the clearest views of international flows of finance and goods, of any economist I have read, looks at the American ("Super Imperialist") relationship with Venezuela.
There is no way that’s Chavez and Maduro could have pursued a pro-Venezuelan policy aimed at achieving economic independence without inciting fury, subversion and sanctions from the United States. American foreign policy remains as focused on oil as it was when it invaded Iraq under Dick Cheney’s regime. U.S. policy is to treat Venezuela as an extension of the U.S. economy, running a trade surplus in oil to spend in the United States or transfer its savings to U.S. banks.
By imposing sanctions that prevent Venezuela from gaining access to its U.S. bank deposits and the assets of its state-owned Citco, the United States is making it impossible for Venezuela to pay its foreign debt. This is forcing it into default, which U.S. diplomats hope to use as an excuse to foreclose on Venezuela’s oil resources and seize its foreign assets much as Paul Singer’s hedge fund sought to do with Argentina’s foreign assets.
Just as U.S. policy under Kissinger was to make Chile’s “economy scream,” so the U.S. is following the same path against Venezuela. It is using that country as a “demonstration effect” to warn other countries not to act in their self-interest in any way that prevents their economic surplus from being siphoned off by U.S. investors.


​Moon of Alabama:
Venezuela - U.S. Aid Gambit Fails - War Plans Lack Support
A day after the U.S. coup attempt in Venezuela the U.S. game plan was already quite obvious:
The opposition in Venezuela will probably use access to that 'frozen' money to buy weapons and to create an army of mercenaries to fight a 'civil' war against the government and its followers. Like in Syria U.S. special forces or some CIA 'contractors' will be eager to help. The supply line for such a war would most likely run through Colombia. If, like 2011 in Syria, a war on the ground is planned it will likely begin in the cities near that border.
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/02/venezuela-us-aid-gambit-fails-war-plans-lack-support.html#more

​Pepe Escobar:
Caracas has committed the ultimate cardinal sin in the eyes of Exceptionalistan; oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges.//
Venezuela is a key cog in the machine. Psycho killer Bolton admitted it on the record; “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” It’s not a matter of just letting ExxonMobil take over Venezuela’s massive oil reserves – the largest on the planet. The key is to monopolize their exploitation in US dollars, benefitting a few Big Oil billionaires.
Once again, the curse of natural resources is in play. Venezuela must not be allowed to profit from its wealth on its own terms; thus, Exceptionalistan has ruled that the Venezuelan state must be shattered.​..​
By now it’s firmly established what happened in Caracas was not a color revolution but an old-school US-promoted regime change coup using local comprador elites, installing as “interim president” an unknown quantity, Juan Guaido, with his Obama choirboy looks masking extreme right-wing credentials...
 Contrary to Western corporate media fake news, the latest elections in Venezuela were absolutely legitimate. There was no way to tamper with the made in Taiwan electronic voting machines. The ruling Socialist Party got 70 percent of the votes; the opposition, with many parties boycotting it, got 30 percent...
In a country where a full tank of gas still costs less than a can of Coke, there’s no question the chronic shortages of food and medicines in local clinics have forced at least two million people to leave Venezuela. But the key enforcing factor is the US embargo...
It’s enlightening to see how the “Venezuelan people” see the charade. In a poll conducted by Hinterlaces even before the Trump administration coup/regime change wet dream, 86% of Venezuelans said they were against any sort of US intervention, military or not,..
Psycho killer Bolton’s by now infamous notepad stunt about “5,000 troops to Colombia”, is a joke; these would have no chance against the arguably 15,000 Cubans who are in charge of security for the Maduro government; Cubans have demonstrated historically they are not in the business of handing over power...
It all comes back to what China and Russia may do. China is Venezuela’s largest creditor. Maduro was received by Xi Jinping last year in Beijing, getting an extra $5 billion in loans and signing at least 20 bilateral agreements.
President Putin offered his full support to Maduro over the phone, diplomatically stressing that “destructive interference from abroad blatantly violates basic norms of international law.”...
By January 2016, oil was as low as $35 a barrel; a disaster to Venezuela’s coffers. Maduro then decided to transfer 49.9% of the state ownership in PDVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, to Russian Rosneft for a mere $1.5 billion loan. This had to send a wave of red lights across the Beltway; those “evil” Russians were now part owners of Venezuela’s prime asset.
Late last year, still in need of more funds, Maduro opened gold mining in Venezuela to Russian mining companies. And there’s more; nickel, diamonds, iron ore, aluminum, bauxite, all coveted by Russia, China – and the US. As for $1.3 billion of Venezuela’s own gold, forget about repatriating it from the Bank of England...
Eurasia energy integration will mostly bypass the petrodollar; this is at the very heart of both the BRICS and SCO strategy. From Nord Stream 2 to Turk Stream, Russia is locking down a long-term energy partnership with Europe. And petroyuan dominance is just a matter of time. Moscow knows it. Tehran knows it. Ankara knows it. Riyadh knows it.
So what about plan B, neocons? Ready for your tropical Vietnam?

Paul Craig Roberts figures that Russia and China protecting Venezuela could change the world. (It would...)
Maduro, despite being the duly elected president with the mass of the people and military behind him, apparently lacks the power to arrest the American puppet who, despite the absence of any law or election as a basis, has declared himself to be president, thus creating a Washington-backed “government” as an alternative to the elected one. The inability of Maduro to defend democracy from within is a sign of the weakness of his office. How can Maduro possibly be a dictator when he is helpless in the face of open sedition?
If Russia and China quickly established a military presence in Venezuela to protect their loans and oil investments, Venezuela could be saved, and other countries that would like to be independent would take heart that, although there is no support for self-determination anywhere in the Western World, the former authoritarian countries will support it. Other assertions of independence would arise, and the Empire would collapse.

​Ruling Class Consciousness in Venezuela:
A former USAID/OTI member who helped devise US efforts in Venezuela said the “objective was that you had thousands of youth, high school, and college kids that were horrified of this Indian-looking guy in power. They were idealistic.
Being "horrified" that the "Indian-looking" Hugo Chávez was in power does not seem "idealistic". One might call it racist though. A number of those white, well off, U.S. trained college kids joint politics in right wing parties. They wanted to take power. But to sell one of theirs as a leader of a country where the majority is mestizo was a problem.
To solve that problem the Random Guy, despite being known only by 20% of Venezuelans, was selected to lead the U.S. coup attempt:
A figure named Juan Andrés Mejía would have been next in line but for reasons that are only now clear, Juan Guaido was selected.
“There is a class reasoning that explains Guaidó’s rise,” Sequera, the Venezuelan analyst, observed. “Mejía is high class, studied at one of the most expensive private universities in Venezuela, and could not be easily marketed to the public the way Guaidó could. For one, Guaidó has common mestizo features like most Venezuelans do, and seems like more like a man of the people.
Guaido is a stand in. He was selected because he somewhat looked like the majority of the people of the country.
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/02/racism-and-the-fight-over-venezuela.html#more

​French Elites have no Plan-C. The escalation of violence against the citizens of France is their final offer. 
These TNT-grenades with rubber shrapnel work well. He'll never hold a camera again. Take a look.
A man's hand was blown off by a police grenade in Paris on Saturday during the 13th straight week of Yellow Vest protests.
Capturing the graphic aftermath of the incident was Ruptly - the video agency of Russia's RT...
An eyewitness said that the injured man is a photographer for the Yellow Vests who was taking photos of people outside the National Assembly as several protesters tried to force their way inside...
An eyewitness told the AFP that the grenade which obliterated the protester’s hand was fired by police to disperse the crowd. -RT

​5 Fights Between France and Italy. It's not just the meeting of Italian government populists with Gilets Jaunes. Italy has some serious scores to settle with France. (Also:France holds over 280 billion Euros of Italian government debt, and would be hurt more severely than any country but Italy by a default.)​
https://www.politico.eu/article/5-fights-between-france-and-italy-yellow-jackets-luigi-di-maio-emmanuel-macron/

​Global Corruption Map is interesting, and it does not identically match my perceptions, nor likely yours, but it;s interesting to look at the global corruption rankings, forms of government (US: "flawed democracy" ranks marginally more corrupt than France, and nowhere near the real leaders in propriety)

Iran Is Cornered, Thierry Meyssan, Thanks Eleni.
At the end of Ahmadinejad’s second mandate, President Barack Obama attended secret negotiations in Oman with the Rafsandjani-Rohani team. The principle for the nuclear agreement was then approved. Ayatollah Khamenei side-lined the candidature of Ahmadinejad for the Presidential election by using Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, and favoured the election of Cheikh Rohani, probably ignoring certain aspects of the agreement he had concluded with Obama. Cheikh Rohani was betting on his secret agreement with the US Democrats. He anticipated the cancellation of US sanctions, and promised a better life for his electors. Once he was elected, he dismantled the system that had enabled Iran to avoid the sanctions, then pretended to negotiate in Switzerland with the major powers the agreement which already been recorded with the USA alone. However, the signature of the 5+1 agreement was not followed by the lifting of sanctions. Since the Iranian economy could no longer avoid them, it collapsed. When Donald Trump entered the White House, he scrapped the agreement with Iran, plunging the Rohani team into panic. Rohani had committed the error of believing that the President would quickly be removed and that the Democrats would shortly be back in power. Iran rejected Donald Trump’s offer of negotiation and is today economically strangled.  

Mike Kreiger:
When it comes to “the system” as it pertains to the U.S., I can think of several key things I expect to change radically by 2025:
​ ​U.S. dominance of the global financial system and the USD as sole and indispensable global reserve currency will end.
​ ​Unipolar geopolitical world order through which the U.S. empire and its military beats all non-client states into submission one way or the other will end. Multi-polar world order to emerge.
​ ​Death of the neocon and neoliberal political consensus, both domestically and in the realm of foreign policy.
​ ​Peak Corporatism — Populist politics on both the right and left will unite around the idea that corporations are too powerful and harm competition. Tech giants, banks, etc, will finally be put in their place one way or the other.
​ ​Massive Spending — Populism + recession = massive government spending. Everyone will talk about how we have unlimited funds to bailout banks and start wars, but no money to actually help people and improve infrastructure. This will resonate with most people.
These are just a few of the very big picture changes I foresee, and they can happen a lot faster than people realize, particularly once the economy tanks. I think many expect the status quo to survive the next downturn and consolidate power and wealth even more, like they did the last time around. On this point I strongly take the other side. The status quo and its institutions will not survive the next turn of the cycle. Beyond that, it’s still anyone’s guess as to what emerges on the other side.


Charles Hugh Smith, Telltale Signs of Recession:
Though every recession is unique, all recessions manifest in similar ways in the real economy. By real economy, I mean the on-the-ground economy we observe with our own eyes, as opposed to the abstract statistical model reflected in official declarations of when recessions begin and end.
One characteristic that never makes it into the abstract statistical representation of recession is the light switch phenomenon: business suddenly dries up, as if someone turned a light switch off. This is especially visible in discretionary purchases, which include everything from smart phones to vehicles to eating out.
http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2019/02/telltale-signs-of-recession.html

​Feeling Queasy​

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