Caitlin Johnstone describes the slow, suffocating strategy used by the side with all the resources and all the time in the world, the side which knows it can just relax and wait for the other side to starve to death. By Caitlin Johnstone CaitlinJohnstone.com Forbes has published two back-to-back articles about the analysis of retired Navy captain and political scientist Bradford Dismukes titled “To Defeat China In War, Strangle Its Economy” and “If Russia Invades Europe, NATO Could Sweep The Seas Of Russian Merchant Ships.” The articles were authored by a man named David Axe, who is my new favorite small-time war propagandist because he’s so desperate to be recognized for his imperialist stenography that he often approaches his spin jobs in an informatively unskillful and ham-fisted way. The best one I’ve found so far is this 2013 piece about the time he spent with the “rebels” of Syria, who he takes great pains to assure us are not terrorists or extremists but brave freedom fighters who’d successfully “liberated” large swathes of Syrian territory. Each of the two Dismukes articles focus on how the same military strategy can be employed against the first- and second-most powerful nations which have resisted absorption into the U.S.-centralized power alliance, namely China and Russia respectively. They explain how “a coordinated effort by the whole of the U.S. government and its closest allies” can be used to “strangle” those nations economically via blockades which cut them off from trade and resources should the time come for an aggressive confrontation, thus minimizing the need for direct military combat. “Cutting off China from its trading partners and sources of oil, natural gas and other resources could be the best, and least costly, way for the United States to defeat China in a major war,” Axe explains. “In wartime, the U.S. and allied fleets could blockade Russian sea trade, putting a choke-hold on the Russian economy that could force Moscow to end the war on terms favorable to Washington and its friends,” he writes. Unspoken by Axe and Dismukes is the fact that both Russia and China are nuclear-armed nations, so direct hot warfare is something the U.S. power alliance would want to avoid anyway. Indeed, the articles present a vision for confrontation with Russia and China that is not just realistic but probable, and not just probable but currently underway. This is exactly the reason the empire-like network of allies loosely centralized around the United States has been so forceful about controlling crucial resources like oil on the world stage; it’s not so that the US can use the oil itself, it’s so it can control who will have access to it. It’s also why they’ve been working to surround both China and Russia militarily via military bases and NATO expansionism. These are the chess pieces that have been put in place during the slow-motion third world war between the U.S.-centralized empire and the governments which haven’t yet been absorbed into it. In order to avoid nuclear conflict, the imperialists know they’ve got to be patient and strategic, which they’ve learned can lead them to victory from past experience in the previous Cold War against the Soviet Union. The fact that they’re imperiling the life of every organism on our planet in the meantime is for them mostly a non-issue. This is how the U.S.-centralized empire prefers to kill now. Not like a tiger, pouncing on its prey with old-school ground invasions and ripping out the jugular, but more like a python: slow, patient strangulation and suffocation. That’s what you’re seeing with the murderous starvation sanctions that have been placed on Iran and Venezuela. With Yemen, where in addition to deadly blockades the Saudis have been deliberate targeting farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites and cholera treatment centers with U.S.-assisted airstrikes. With North Korea, where boats full of dead people have been washing up on Japan’s shores because fishermen get stuck out at sea trying to catch food since they can’t afford enough fuel to get back to shore, which former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attributed to U.S. sanctions. With Gaza, where people are being deprived of an adequate amount of nutrients due to an Israeli blockade designed to “put the Palestinians on a diet.” It’s a slow, suffocating strategy that only works if you’re the side in power, the side with all the resources and all the time in the world, the side which knows it can just relax and wait for the other side to starve to death. Not with the “shock and awe” invasions of the Bush era, but with sanctions, blockades, coups, psyops, CIA-backed uprisings and the arming of opposition forces like David Axe’s “rebel” friends. This is one of many reasons you can be dismissive of any Donald Trump supporter who defends their president by arguing that he “hasn’t started any new wars.” What they mean is he hasn’t launched any tiger-style old school ground invasions. He’s still attacking and killing with python-style sanctions and blockades and imperiling the world with dangerous new Cold War escalations. He’s still continuing the slow-motion third world war. And we may be certain that if Joe Biden wins he will do the same. This is important to be aware of, because it changes what it means to be anti-war. We don’t have to just oppose direct hot war conflicts like the one we were afraid earlier this year might erupt between the U.S. and Iran (which could still happen); we also need to aggressively fight the new strangulation-style warfare that is being increasingly favored by the US-centralized empire. When it first rose to power with the Bush administration the neoconservative ideology of doing whatever it takes to ensure continued U.S. unipolar hegemony was widely criticized. Now it’s the bipartisan beltway consensus, and if you question it you’re smeared as freakish and suspicious. You never even hear the word neoconservative or neocon anymore in mainstream U.S. discourse, not because it went away but because it became the normalized default mainstream worldview. And while all these imperialist psychopaths are waving literal Armageddon weapons around in the name of an imaginary god named unipolarism, we’re also hurtling toward ecosystemic collapse and any number of other potential Armageddon-level events. We’ve got to turn away from this trajectory as a species and begin collaborating with each other and with our ecosystem if we are to turn this disaster around. Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books “Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone” and “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” This article was re-published with permission. Consortium News

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French President Emmanuel Macron is set to visit Baghdad and possibly Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region on Wednesday, underscoring the sudden ubiquity of Turkey-France disputes – on religious, historical and ideological grounds, in the Mediterranean, Cyprus, the Levant, the Maghreb and the Sahel, as well as on French soil.

“Macron to visit Iraq in two days, maybe the Kurdish region,” analyst Michael Tanchum tweeted on Monday, referring to an area recently invaded by Turkish troops. “Seems like a full court press against Turkey’s expeditionary positions.”

The increased tensions between Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began in June, when a French frigate near the coast of Libya seeking to enforce a NATO arms embargo and search a cargo ship was harassed and targeted by Turkish naval vessels escorting the ship, according to France. Ankara rejects this account and says the cargo ship was carrying humanitarian aid.

“It was already tense between Turkey and France when that happened,” Guillaume Perrier, long-time Turkey correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde, told Ahval in a podcast. “But for sure this incident opened a new period.”

Macron described Turkey’s role in Libya, where it has been supporting the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), as criminal for a NATO member. Referring to France leading the 2011 NATO invasion that toppled Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and its backing of GNA foe General Khalifa Haftar, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said France helped drag Libya into chaos.

Days after the Beirut blast early this month, Macron visited Lebanon to offer French assistance in rebuilding. Erdoğan denounced the French leader’s visit as colonial and making a spectacle of disaster. Erdoğan, who famously replayed the Christchurch mosque attack video at 2019 campaign rallies, and his backers tend to accuse others of Ankara’s own foibles, in what appears to be an impressive lack of self-awareness.

“Paris does not hesitate to cooperate with illegal actors such as the coup plotter Khalifa Haftar and terrorist groups such as the (Kurdish militant groups) YPG/PKK,” Sakarya University lecturer Kemal Inat wrote for Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency the day before Erdogan hosted Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, labelled a terrorist group by the United States and European Union, in Istanbul.

Inat smartly argued that Macron took office in 2017 thinking he had to overtake Germany and put France at the forefront of EU influence or face losing out to the far-right. This helps explain why one of his first diplomatic initiatives was brokering talks between Libyan foes GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar, and why this week he again invited Sarraj to Paris for negotiations.

Macron has strongly backed Athens and Nicosia in their maritime and territorial disputes with Turkey and last week dispatched French warships to the eastern Mediterranean. As Germany has been looking to mediate Turkey-Greece tensions and oversee Libya negotiations, it would be a coup for Macron to be able to broker a Libya settlement, though Sarraj is unlikely to commit to any deal without Erdoğan’s approval.

In Libya, Turkey has sought to ensure the survival of its maritime deal with the GNA, put an Islamist ally in power and renew strong commercial ties. French oil giant Total has been working in Libya since the 1950s and last year invested $650 million in the Waha concessions, based in Sirte province. A Turkey-backed GNA assault on Haftar’s forces in Sirte would thus mean an assault on French interests. Some have speculated that the July air strike on Turkish assets at Watiya airbase was carried out by French jets.

The two leaders’ duel for influence extends further south. France has a significant military and commercial presence in Niger, and relies on Nigeran uranium for its nuclear power. Last month, Turkey and Niger signed a series of economic and defence cooperation deals that included mining allowances. “Turkey’s recent diplomatic progress in Niger has put a chink in the armour of France’s Sahel redoubt,” Tanchum wrote last week for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.

Domestic concerns help explain why Macron is quick to denounce Ankara’s assertive foreign policies, as well as Erdoğan’s response. Despite neither facing an election anytime soon, both hope to appeal to more patriotic voters.

“It’s useful for both Erdoğan and Macron to have such a rival at the moment, for domestic reasons mainly, and for reaffirming diplomatic strategy,” said Perrier. “Macron has to look for votes on the right … This means he has to show he’s strongly opposed to Turkey’s role in the Mediterranean and inside France.”

Last month, the French government denounced Erdoğan’s decision to re-convert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque – a decision that came days after the French Senate issued a 244-page report on the growing and dangerous influence of Islamists in France.

The report pointed to the Muslim Brotherhood as the most problematic group and cited Turkey, which is responsible for half the foreign imams in France while representing just 5 percent of the population, as the main supporter of these so-called religious “separatists”.

In January, Macron delivered a speech on this form of separatism in Molouse, near the German border, which has a sizable Turkish community that tends to support Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “He used that word to target Turkish political activities inside France,” said Perrier.

“He deliberately targeted Turkish interests and tensions created by Turkish groups to please the rightist voters,” said Perrier. “We know that AKP supporters, AKP organisations in France are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood … We know they support organisations like COJEP in Strasbourg, which is very active.”

COJEP, an NGO with 15 branches across Europe, on its website claims to fight racism, promote human rights and help migrants gain citizenship. Perrier says it is mainly run by former members of Turkey’s far-right National Movement Party (MHP), has significant influence among French Turks and supplies candidates for the pro-AKP Justice and Equality Party (PEJ).

Since the AKP embraced the MHP as its parliamentary partner in 2017, the ultra-nationalist MHP-linked Grey Wolves have been empowered in Turkey and across Europe. A recent report by MENA Studies Centre estimated that 20,000 are active in Germany and at least 5,000 in Austria, and the numbers are rising.

In June, Grey Wolves in Vienna attacked the rally of a Kurdish women’s organisation looking to raise awareness about violence against women in Turkey, spurring a state investigation which led to the creation of a government body to examine foreign-backed nationalist and Islamist groups.

In late July, French Armenians in Decines, on the Rhone, rallying in support of their homeland were targeted by Turkish nationalists, including hooded Grey Wolves youths carrying knives and iron bars and encouraging each other to “find the Armenians” and attack them. Turkish nationalists resent Armenians accusing the late Ottoman Empire of a genocide against their people.

“Let the Turkish government give me 2,000 euros and a weapon and I will do what needs to be done, wherever in France,” local Grey Wolves leader Ahmet Cetin reportedly said in a video from the event.

Cetin is now in prison and will be in court next month on charges of inciting violence and armed assembly. “One of the most virulent Turkish extremists in France, Cetin is well known and followed,” said an article last week in Le Parisien. Perrier said Cetin ran as a PEJ candidate in the 2018 local elections and that his Instagram account shows a clearly defined political stance.

“He appears on social media like a gang leader who pretends to raise an army in France, a Turkish army, with weapons,” said Perrier, adding that this sort of nationalist hate speech is increasingly common. “This is more and more popular among the French-Turkish community, which is about 500,000 and mostly pro-AKP…The MHP and Grey Wolves are very popular among them.”

Cetin’s threat may not be an idle one. In the 1970s and 80s, Grey Wolves death squads often killed foes of the military regime on Turkish streets and occasionally executed enemies of Turkey in Europe, mainly Kurds. In 1981, a Grey Wolf tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Vatican City. Erdoğan has hinted at plotting assassinations against Turkish foes abroad.

“Turkey is more and more perceived as a troublemaker inside French politics,” said Perrier. “Erdoğan is understood now as a potential threat to Europe.”

Ahval

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