In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Once again on the meaning of Brexit

Posted by seumasach on August 2, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

2nd August, 2016

“Brexit means Brexit!” but what is Brexit? Well, now we know. It is the alignment of the UK with the policy which will dominate the next US presidency:  the strategy of containment or isolation of China.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in brexit crisis, Containing China | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Remain: an open door for Corbyn

Posted by seumasach on July 25, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

25th July, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn is on safe ground in making a U-turn over Brexit. He had originally insisted that Article 50 should be triggered immediately but now seems to have backed down on this and is talking about the possibility of a second referendum after negotiations have been completed. Of course, there will be no negotiations until Article 50 is triggered but let’s not get bogged down in technicalities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in British economy | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

After Brexit: Obama back on track

Posted by seumasach on July 15, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

15th July, 2016

It looks like Brexit was Obama’s preferred option all along. In any case, both sides of the Atlantic have been suspiciously quick to catch on to the idea of a TTIP between the US and the UK  after Britain has jumped from the back to the front of the cue. Obama has a new global role for us now that US-EU TTIP is dead in the water. It’s not exactly independence day but it’s not entirely bad news either.

Of course, a trade deal with the USA, between two de-industrialised debtor nations,  offers little in itself. But there has to be more to it. Hopefully, it’s one step back in order to take several steps forward.

First of all, it’s about what we’re no longer doing. We are no longer America’s poodle in Europe pushing through a neo-liberal agenda, TTIP, a new cold war, NATO expansionism and aggression and acting as wrecker and saboteur of last resort in the process of European construction. Brexit is independence day for Europe. Rather than a domino effect as hoped by the neocons, now marginalized by Theresa May, we are seeing a wave of Euro- enthusiasm across Europe following Brexit and to follow there will be a swathe of Eurozone measures aimed at banking and fiscal union, control of borders and European security. We can also expect friendly overtures towards Russia, China and Iran.

Anglo-American diplomacy will also go into high gear with detente with Russia. The appearance of  a sell-out will be countered by sabre-rattling in the South China Sea.

Ironically, Brexit, conceived by Little Englanders  of the UKIP or IngSoc milieu, is the catalyst for global transformation. It pertains more to the wider world than to Britain itself.

Nevertheless, there must be something in it for us unless, amidst all the theatricality, we are to be given the role of real life proles in an Orwellian Oceania. One of most striking features of the new government is the ommission of Osborne not because he jumped the gun in his negotiations of a deal in Washington the other week, but because of his association with austerity. The government’s disavowal of austerity and declared intention of investing heavily in UK economy and infrastructure seems incompatible with the pound’s very vulnerable status. It only makes sense if some kind of global currency reset is imminent along with Chinese style real economy QE on a global scale. That appears to be a long shot but Brexit may have triggered a global transformation which astonish us all.

As for Britain’s relationship to all this: look for Brexit to be the mother of all mudge and fudge. At some point we can reintegrate ourselves into a Europe, or Eurasia, which will, in any case, no longer be the one we left.

Posted in Global peace process | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The new Mrs T and the City

Posted by seumasach on July 5, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

5th July, 2016

It seems that Theresa May’s victory is not so certain after all. Andrea Leadsom, the self-proclaimed successor to Mrs Thatcher, is all the rage amongst the rank file Tories. Her victory would certainly have repercussions. In Scotland the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister would certainly constitute that”material change of circumstances” that would trigger a new referendum on independence. In fact, a referendum would be unnecessary: a unilateral declaration of independence would go unopposed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Battle for Europe | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

All quiet on the Brexit front

Posted by seumasach on July 4, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

4th July, 2016

Suddenly an eerie silence descends on Britain’s tumultuous political scene.

One or two shots are still going off: Gove has a drink problem according to the Johnson camp; Leadsom may have been stashing money offshore it is suggested and has been outed as a Remain supporter until only recently. Any remaining obstacles to Theresa May as prime minister are being removed. That’s all.

On the other side of the house the anti-Corbyn forces are going quiet. It looks like Corbyn will be staying.

The coup has failed. Neocon forces, those who gave us the Iraq War, have not seized control over both sides of the House.

Having “taken our country back” we now await events elsewhere to give us direction. Specifically, the US presidential elections. If our relationship with the EU is now in question the “special relationship” is no less so. Under Obama it appeared to come to an end and even now Kerry is talking up reversing Brexit. Trump may applaud British isolationism but intends the same for his own country. Clinton, if the FBI don’t take her out, remains the great hope of the Atlanticists and neocons. She promises the renewal of the Anglo-American partnership and hegemony.

We can expect May’s cabinet to reflects Britain’s suspension between Europe and America: on the one hand Gove or Fox, who would seek to trigger article 50 and commence hostilities against Europe and on the other Osborne, who still wants another special relationship. that with China, and , therefore, implicitly, to reverse Brexit.

Last Thursday vote has resolved nothing. The people have decided without, on either side, having the remotest clue what the stakes were. We are now undergoing a crash course in the geopolitical forces that are to shape the century.

Posted in Battle for Europe | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Globalists v. globalists

Posted by seumasach on July 2, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

2nd July, 2016

Pundits of every hue, seduced by the image of true -born Englishmen wielding pitchforks in the face of the dark forces of Mammomisn, are interpreting the Brexit vote as a victory over “the globalists”. As if the likes of Rupert Murdoch are not globalists.

Rather than elite versus people the contest is very much within elites and both sides are globalists.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Battle for Europe | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

“Brexit means brexit’?

Posted by seumasach on June 30, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

30th June, 2016

This is all becoming quite surreal. The fall of Boris Johnson seems to be a result of his attempt to present the Brexit vote as a mandate to renegotiate our membership of the EU. The theory must have been that the Europeans heartbroken to lose us, would do anything to ingratiate themselves to us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Battle for Europe | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Brexit Fraud

Posted by seumasach on June 30, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

30th June, 2016

The British people have just voted to leave the EU but the prime minister has refused to leave. His heart just isn’t in it. Nor does he want to step down now. Surely, as prime minster he is obliged to accept the result of the referendum which he called and duly invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, specially crafted to the needs of a country which has been on the way out for some time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Battle for Europe | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Brexit: a neoconservative coup

Posted by seumasach on June 26, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

26th June, 2016

Now that we have voted for Brexit we will not know what exactly the program of the Remain camp was.

However, the program of the Brexit leadership was blurted out by an emotional Nigel Farrage in the early hours of Friday morning:

“For the whole of Europe.  I hope this victory brings down this failed project and leads us to a Europe of sovereign nations, trading together, being friends together, co-operating together.  And let’s get rid of the flag, the [EU] anthem, Brussels and all that has gone wrong.”

It may come as a surprise to little englander Brexit voters that they weren’t voting to leave Europe but to destroy it. It wasn’t a vote against globalisation but for Anglo-American globalisation. Neo-conservatism, the infection that just won’t go away, is back in the form of a new unelected junta about to take control of Britain. It’s chief ideologue is Michael Gove of the neocon Henry Jackson society. According to Gove:

“For Europe, Britain voting to leave will be the beginning of something potentially even more exciting — the democratic liberation of a whole continent”

So we are to leave Europe in order, subsequently, to meddle in it.

This is Gove’s permanent revolution agenda to borrow a term from one of the neocons great inspirational figures, Leon Trotsky.

In my last article on the EU question I noted that that Cameron had failed to negotiate the opt-outs that City of London interests would require whilst at the same time Brexit would leave British banks excluded from the EU. That depended on the assumption, of course, that the EU still existed. If it could be subverted then the dilemma could be resolved.

As a Brexit campaigner from Chatham House told me it was a question of stepping back from Europe and watching it disintegrate. This implies passivity on behalf of these Brexit interests but I would suggest that in reality they would be proactive. Just as the State Department and the CIA have been proactive in destabilizing Europe’s periphery with a view to destabilizing Europe itself.

The fact that Brexit is only a trigger for “more exciting” perspectives explains many of the peculiarities of the Brexit campaign. They have done nothing to elaborate a clear alternative to EU membership, they don’t want to leave any time soon and many of their promises over the NHS and immigration have already been shown to be worthless.These things are beside the point and there will be no attempt to negotiate in good faith It also explains why 250 billion has already been “made available” to the British economy i.e. the City of London: while the revolution is awaited in Europe an interim bailout of the zombie banks is inevitable. All the talk of freeing up funds for social spending, the Brexit turn to the working class, is simply hot air. It’s the banks, silly!

Of course, Brexit brings in its stead enormous costs. We have ,at one fell swoop, thrown away all our geopolitical trump cards- cards which would have enabled us to negotiate a way out of the troubled waters of end of empire. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China was of enormous potential benefit to us but was entirely dependent on our being a bridge into Europe. A deal with our largest creditor and, therefore, holder of sterling denominated assets was crucial if we were to achieve , at least, an orderly decline in our currency. It also brought with it the possibility of a new role for the City as an offshore trading hub for the Yuan and the extension of the finance necessary for national reconstruction. That is all effectively over- powerful financial interests did not want the deal and they have won out.

And yet, man does not live by bread alone. The English people have expressed a wish to regain control of their own destiny. They have every right to do so. The regional integration process which is everywhere evident, from Mercosur and ALBA, to the African Union, Asean and the Eurasian Union concerns the voluntary ceding of sovereignty not the submission to a Bonaparte or a Bolivar. It is true that the UK, in as far as it still exists, can negotiate deals with whoever it wishes without belonging to the EU’s formal structures. Were it a question, that is, simply of Brexit rather than of turning Britain into a base for a neocolonial project, for the next episode in the extension of the Empire of Chaos.

Here is the rub. Here is why the British people made a catastrophic error on Thursday, one which they will live to bitterly regret. Britain will pay a terrible price for hosting a neocon junta which is set to continue Britain’s long and dishonorable tradition of interference in the sovereign affairs of other countries. Until we remove it “the markets” will be ruthless. China who intimated back in 2010 that they were no longer buying UK government bonds, no longer have a motive to hold them or to invest them in Britain. Several hundred billion could be dumped for gold, for example, leaving sterling reeling and subjecting Britain to an apocalyptic inflationary crisis.

In the meantime events are moving a breakneck speed.

All the signs are that the Junta has already lost it’s nerve following the massive, unprecedented falls in sterling on Friday. Following Cameron’s resignation Johnson and Gove appeared at one of the most lackluster press conferences ever given. It was positively funereal. Johnson appeared to be in state of bewilderment  whilst Gove with his langue de bois makes Van Rompuy look like d’Artagnan. Significantly, Johnson blurted out some incoherences seemingly addressed to Britain’s youth implying that there would still be free movement. He knows and fears that while the brexiteers hold the cabbage patches, the youth may hold the streets.

At the same time the European leadership have shown that they are not completely inept and have seen through the game. That’s why they put out the blunt message: get out now! They know that Gove wants to string things out, a bit like Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk, scoring propaganda points whilst awaiting for Clinton and the neocon cavalry to help put the European “establishment”to the sword.

On the home front, Salmond and McGuinness, two of the sharpest cards in British politics reacted promptly and appositely. The union is now dead in the water: Scotland will begin negotiations to remain in Europe and will only be able to do so as an independent country. We will inevitably choose that option especially as the true enormity of Thursday’s aberration become evident. At the same time, there can be no repartition of Ireland now that the existing border has de facto ceased to exist.

Unsurprisingly, the Brexit vote has triggered a conspiracy to remove Corbyn from the Labour leadership.

Britain now enters into a prolonged economic and constitutional crisis. Its resolution depends most of all on the recognition of the sovereign wishes of all the nations which make up the UK and the exposure of the false position of the Brexit Junta and its neoconservative, neocolonial agenda.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Cameron spins the City’s demise

Posted by seumasach on February 21, 2016

 

Cailean Bochanan

21st February, 2016

It is unusual for the British establishment to risk a consultation with the people unless major changes are underway- changes which are sufficient to provoke divisions in the establishment itself. It goes without saying that the negotiations with the EU are not essentially about child benefit for Polish families living in the UK. They are about “sovereignty” although in a very limited sense: the “sovereignty” of the City of London. The deal struck triumphantly by Cameron is revelatory. It shows that conflict within the establishment  concerns the least bad option for the City: whether to face exclusion from the EU market and displacement by Paris or Frankfurt as Europe’s leading financial centre or to remain inside Europe and to take up arms against a sea of Eurozone banking regulations and by opposing end them. That is the question!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Battle for Europe, UK economy | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Britain in its bubble

Posted by seumasach on December 5, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

5th December, 2015

When Bassar-al Assad is re-elected as president of Syria in about 18 months time it is unlikely that David Cameron will still be in office. He is no doubt delighted to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Wednesday in the House of Commons but it may turn out to be a pyhrric, pig in a poke.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

If you can’t beat them join them!

Posted by seumasach on October 20, 2015

Or WW3 “to stop the bloodshed”

Cailean Bochanan

20th October, 2015
Russia’s bold move to finally bring effective military force to bear against ISIL has given rise to some strange political activity in the West and heightened, collective, cognitive dissonance.
Casually turning on the TV to watch the Scottish National Party’s conference in Aberdeen I couldn’t believe my eyes when a Syrian “refugee” was given the platform and proceeded to deliver a rant against Syria’s President Assad which would be worthy of John MacCain. According to this gentleman extremism in Syria is caused by Assad and we need to establish “No bomb zones” to protect civilians. Readers may notice a similarity between “No bomb zones” and the famous “No fly zones” which also never happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Syria | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cameron fends off Robertson on Libya

Posted by seumasach on October 15, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

18th October, 2015

Once again Cameron’s nemesis, the spectre of the disastrous Libya intervention, has raised its head. This time SNP foreign policy spokesman, Angus Robertson, speaking during Prime Minister’s question time in the House of Commons, has referred to the “total anarchy and civil unrest: in Libya” as one of the “unintended consequences” of that war. He went on to ask, in reference to the military intervention in Libya as well as those in Iraq and Afghanistan: “What assurances can you give that you have learnt lessons from past mistakes and you will not repeat them?” As it transpired, Cameron fended off the attack with some ease, quipping: “Would you be happier with Gaddafi running Libya?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Libya | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The anti-Corbyn coup is stillborn

Posted by seumasach on October 12, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

12th October, 2015

The long awaited coup against Jeremy Corbyn has finally materialized. Up to fifty Labour MPs are reported to be prepared to vote for military action in Syria were it to be put to a vote. What possessed them to put forward this woefully mistimed move is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they had been reading Socialist Worker and been inflamed by its reports of “some 10,000” barrel boms “dropped in the first six months of this year” and how Russia “wants to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is crumbling, so it is attacking all forms of opposition.” In any case, they have decided that the time has come for another UK intervention to protect civilians by creating safe havens for them. That would involve, as Labour MP John Woodcock put it, “greater involvement from air forces to sustain a no-fly zone and will certainly require an end to the hand-wringing over President Putin’s disgraceful deceit in bombing anti-Assad rebels rather than Daesh [Isis].”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Syria | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The left on the horns of a Chinese dilemma

Posted by seumasach on October 4, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

4th October, 2015

I had the impression that Osborne’s recent and startling announcement of various deals with China, including the integration of our financial markets, no less, had been met by a stunned silence. But John McDonnell, the new Shadow Chancellor made this reference to them in his speech to the Labour Party Conference:

“I found the Conservatives’ rant against Jeremy’s proposal to bring rail back into public ownership ironic when George Osborne was touring China selling off to the Chinese state bank any British asset he could lay his hands on.”

“Ironic” is putting it mildly: The Chancellor has essentially admitted the failure of the Thatcher revolution and called in the state to rescue Britain. Only it’s not the British state, which no longer knows how to run anything unless it’s into the ground. You might have thought the left would be enjoying this “irony” a bit more than they appear to be. More, for example, than William Keegan writing in the Guardian who is dismayed that Osborne is “kowtowing to a communist Chinese government” and denounces his “cloying approach to a regime notorious for its abuse of human rights”. Keegan is something of a soft left neo-keynesian and , therefore, those criticisms could be largely expected. What about the hard left?
In an article in Socialist Worker Alex Callinicos gives us the line. He is, of course, scrupulously politically correct:

“The problem here isn’t that the companies are foreign-owned.”

Why shouldn’t foreign companies take the place over? Don’t they have rights too? The problem lies elsewhere. Callinicos points out that Chinese companies are “still subject to considerable state control” and that capital “is still not allowed to flow freely in and out of the country” However, Callinicos insinuates this is changing and China is embracing the free movement of capital.
So we have two major threads in this leftist discourse: on the one hand, dealing with China is wrong because China is communist and , on the other , it is wrong because China is no longer communist.
Callinicos goes on to denounce the fact that Chinese investment will be centered on the the City of London at the expense of the “national base of companies operating in Britain.” Callinicos’ thinking in all this is particularly fuzzy. Capital exported from China can still be and is controlled by the Chinese leadership for all their rhetoric about free markets. This is particularly true of the banks. As Dend Xaoping himself used to say:”Whatever you do keep control of the financial system!” In addition, I don’t believe the behavior of Chinese banks will merely replicate that of our own: riding high on bubbles and carry trades, manipulating rates and prices and laundering funds of dubious origin. If they did China certainly wouldn’t be in the position it is today. Anyway, as Osborne announced, there is already large scale Chinese investment in the real economy, largely in infrastructure and housing. There is every reason to believe that this would increase with funding available from Chinese banks operating in the City. The principles of Chinese finance contradict completely those the City of London. We are, therefore, looking at systemic change in the British financial system.
The British left desperately need to get to grips with this issue and quickly. This is because they have essentially abandoned their neo-Keynesian perspectives and accepted the need to balance budgets. But how can they reconcile this with their claim to be anti-austerity. Balanced budgets imply genocidal austerity unless there is some countervailing tendency. That tendency is incoming investment something which, seemingly unbeknown to the left, we have been beneficiaries of for decades. All that is happening,as Osborne’s policy shows, is that the form this investment takes is changing.
For a long time China was obliged to accept fiat pounds to cover its massive trade surplus with Britain and reinvest these pounds in UK government bonds. This was win/win for Britain and largely explains the surprising prosperity of post-Thatcherite Britain. The bankruptcy of the City and its subsequent bailout changed all that. China ceased to buy new UK government bonds (note that, in addition to its massive trade deficit, Britain no longer has a current account surplus not including trade) although they agreed not to divest from existing bonds, sinking sterling. Instead, they wanted to reinvest the surplus funds in the UK. So, on the one hand, we can no longer fund our deficit with Chinese bond purchases and on the other we have the prospect of hundreds of billions worth of inward investment. So balanced budgets and Osborne’s policy are two sides of the same coin. It would be truly reckless to embrace balanced budgets without wholeheartedly welcoming the incoming investment which will render the outcome far less austere. The left are caught in a dilemma which they must resolve if they don’t want to be outflanked by the Tories.

Posted in British economy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

There will be no Third World War

Posted by seumasach on September 28, 2015

Thierry Meyssan

Voltairenet

28th September, 2015

The liberal hawks and the neo-conservatives have been unable to provoke the confrontation with Russia for which they were trained during the Cold War. Finally, the voice of reason has prevailed. While discrete negotiations are under way to seek an end to the crisis in Ukraine, Russia and China are preparing to convince the United States and their allies to participate in a global alliance against Islamic terrorism. After 5 years of tension, both the project for the seizure of power by the Muslim Brotherhood – the « Arab Spring » – and the proclamation of a Caliphate have failed. Peace is saved.

Read more

Posted in Global peace process, Syria | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Osborne blazes the Deng Xiaoping trail

Posted by seumasach on September 28, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

28th September, 2015

Once again I have been proved to be wrong. I had interpreted the decentralization of the British state as the key development linked to inward, especially Chinese, investment and predicted that a Tory/SNP duopoly would dominate Britain in the coming years. But Osborne’s barnstorming performance in China, following on from Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, opens up completely different perspectives. His idea of integrating our financial markets with those of China suggests nothing less than a Chinese takeover of the City of London rather than piecemeal investment in Britain’s devolved regions/nations. This chimes in too with Corbyn’s plan for a National Development Bank which is tantamount to central planning, hitherto an absolute taboo. It is not difficult to see that the kind of infrastructure overhaul that Britain requires cannot be done merely through devolved assemblies and combined councils but must be Britain wide and centrally planned. It also makes much more sense for China to finance the whole thing through the banks which can issue credits for projects as required just as they would do in China. And so we go from the Panarin-type post-imperial scenario of fragmentation to one of systemic transformation of Britain as a whole.

Such a radical revolution is inconceivable without opposition. It is striking that as Osborne blazes the trail down China way, the knives are out for Cameron back home. Cameron has been until recently vociferous in his claim that Assad must go. He obviously had an intuition that someone must go: but it has turned out to be himself. He has called it a stab in the back but the blows are coming from all sides, decisively from Michael Ancram, et tu Ancram, who has raised the specter of Libya, hitherto the politically correct war, ominously drawing the parallel between Cameron and Libya and Blair and Iraq. This is deadly and given the reality of what was done to that once thriving country and its catastrophic consequences for Africa and Europe this just won’t go away. Of course, just about all of us were implicated, but all the more need for a scapegoat.

An excellent analysis of recent events in Australia by WSWS focuses on a conflict between the ardently pro-Chinese Malcolm Turnbull and “powerful sections of the Australian military and intelligence apparatus as well as the media and political establishment, not least within the Liberal-National Coalition”This presumably parallels tensions here and it looks like Cameron has found himself on the wrong side of this argument. In other words, the proposed financial merger with China will go ahead over the dead bodies of assorted dead-enders, security state and MIC interests and neocons. In these historic September days the Blairites and the Cameronites have commenced their exit from the British political scene.

Is this another Glorious Revolution? In 1688 certain Dutch financial interests were invited to take over Britain to establish a financial system orientated towards war and empire. This time we have invited a foreign power in the to rebuild an economy gutted by a failed hegemonic project. We have come a full circle since this marks decisively the end of empire and a new historical époque in which war will no longer be the normal state of affairs

Posted in Multipolar world, British economy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

George Osborne: We should embrace China, not fear its rise

Posted by seumasach on September 20, 2015

“The Chinese Communist Party, the biggest communist party in the world and , in my opinion, one of the best.”

Father Ted Crilly

“Recent volatility should not and will not put us off. It should drive us forward, so that we integrate China’s new financial markets with our own so they are deeper and better able to absorb shocks.”

George Osborne

This must be the most neglected and most surprising aspect of this Tory government’s policy. Not only have they signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China, begun to issue UK government bonds in Yuan and broken ranks with the USA in becoming the first Western country to sign up for the AIIB: they are now also about to “integrate our financial markets” with those of China (completely mind-boggling!). Since the nature of China’s financial system, with its orientation to productive imvestment, is the complete opposite of our own this can only be seen as a totally revolutionary step: something which chimes in with Corbyn’s proposal for a National Investment Bank. But while Corbyn comes across as an unreconstructed Bennite, Osborne is more a born again follower of Deng Xaoping. The left are now taking control of both major parties in Britain! Watch out for a wave of interest in things Chinese and a politically-correct campaign against Chinaphobes.

Guardian

19th September, 2015

The United Kingdom must strive to become China’s “best partner in the west” by forging ever closer economic ties that will bring benefits to all parts of the country, George Osborne has said.

Read more

Posted in British economy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jeremy Corbyn and the new political centre

Posted by seumasach on August 15, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

15th August, 2015

The Blairites may be right in claiming that a Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn won’t win the 2020 general election. But they are missing the point : by that time we can expect the most pressing issues in British politics to have been resolved. The next five years are crucial in setting the direction for a new, post-imperial Britain and Corbyn as Labour leader buoyed up by the mass movement that will put him there will play a crucial role. The Blairites have misread this badly denouncing Corbyn as throwback to the past when, in fact, it is they who hold that position.

British politics is in a state of flux and it will be become more and more evident that things cannot be understood within the framework of the old left/right divide. The significance of the recent developments in Greece has been missed : pragmatism prevailed over ideology. The contradiction is that ideological rigidity and sectarianism  seems more entrenched than ever, at least, in certain quarters.

Last night’s Corbyn  rally in Glasgow bore out that point : it was very much a rally of the faithful in an atmosphere of revivalist enthusiasm. All the leftist shibboleths new and old were itemized: global warming, identity politics, even the old warhorse “class”, nationalization, socialism and so on. Of course, Corbyn has to press all the right buttons but I maintain despite that that he will prove to be a pragmatist. Otherwise, what was someone like myself who has long dissociated himself from the left doing there?

I was there because I anticipate Corbyn playing a strong hand concerning the most pressing issues we face and because I don’t expect these issues to be resolved by the victory of either the left or the right. I expect them to define a new center ground in British politics which can draw support from left or right or neither.

The first of these is the renewal of Trident. Corbyn will oppose it vehemently and hopefully the British people will take tp the streets in their millions to the same end. The left have always opposed it on moral grounds and have claimed, to counter the right, that it is not effective as a deterrent. Actually, it is very effective as a deterrent : would Russia still exist as a unitary state without it? The left’s longstanding opposition is, however, no longer the point. What clinches the argument is that the Cold War is over and Jeremy Corbyn seeks constructive cooperative relations with Russia. He does this as a pragmatist despite his ideological difficulty with what he chooses to see as a homophobic government. The simple fact is that Russia has no aggressive intent towards Britain, quite the contrary, and since there is no other nuclear threat in sight there is no need to cough up 100 billion for Trident. Apparently, many in leading military circles also hold this view and not many of them will be Corbyn supporters.

The cost of Trident is anyway prohibitive for a country in the kind of financial state we’re in. The left has developed a complacent view on the debt since there has been no run on UK bonds or on sterling despite QE. They fail to see that this because the Chinese have agreed not to ditch sterling assets. The Chinese have instead sought a deal with the UK government evidence for which can be found in the rarely noted Comprehensive Geostategic Partnership we have signed with China and the fact that we are issuing UK government bonds in RMB. To Corbyn’s credit he does not share the prevailing left view that the debt doesn’t matter and that we can simply go on for ever borrowing money from people who don’t want to lend to us or simply go on devaluing the currency to monetize the debt and then force feed it to China and others in exchange for their exports. Without actually explaining this he admits that the budget has to be balanced. Actually, the principle is also a problem since interest payments are only manageable due to negligible interest rates. Anyway, Corbyn shares with the SNP and the Tories the new consensus view that the debt is a problem and, given that, the ridiculous costs of Trident are also a problem – to be overcome simply by canceling it.

Corbyn’s realism about Britain’s financial plight also extend to the realization that simply cutting the budget won’t work. Whether we like it or not the survival of millions of people and Britain’s social cohesion depends on welfare spending and that isn’t likely to change soon. We need to look at the other side of the equation; income. There isn’t any: we lose massive amounts every month running up our monster trade deficit. Almost everything we consume we import and our exports are limited by a depleted industrial base. We must therefore, reinvest in that base both to boost exports and to substitute for imports. Corby proposes a financial system orientated to this end, some form of national investment bank. How can anyone disagree with this even if the modalities remain to be determined?

Whatever form it takes it is clear that foreign investment will play a major role in the recapitalization of Britain. The deal with China probably concerns this and ,in fact, it’s already happening. However, were Britain to withdraw from Europe this investment would be threatened. The recent Greek crisis saw a surge of anti-European and anti-German feeling and, most notably, a shift on the radical left towards a eurosceptic position. Corbyn has already come out for the EU in principle and has thus provided something of a corrective to left’s Little Englander drift. The fact that born-again eurosceptic Owen Jones is sharing his platforms illustrates this. The anti-European left and right will then hopefully be marginalized by the time of the referendum and they will have been by a new pragmatic consensus.

Corbyn’s promise to renationalize the railways looks highly ideological but he certainly knows what he;s talking about on this question. Privatization has been a disaster which has seen a natural monopoly milked and undermined by private interests. Adam Smith wouldn’t have any problem with nationalization in this case. In the end it may just come down to a form of words : the mess has to be sorted out by the state in the interests of the nation. Is that or isn’t it nationalization? How many London commuters find the remedy just as sweet by any other name. One could say the same regarding the disarray in the utilities or the education system. Does any state simply leave these things to hobble along anyhow or assume that the market will for some obscure reason sort everything out? Only, Britain it would seem. The utilities only work at all because they’re being run by people like EDF, a state run company – although the state ,of course, isn’t Britain. But maybe the British state can have at least some say. After all, we’re British!

The simple reality is that the required program for Britain is fairly obvious and we can expect to find it insinuating its way into the manifestos or discourse of the most unlikely bedfellows. We’ve understood that we don’t want any more wars and must now turn our attention to the mess on the home front.(Does that mean it has to be like Dad’s Army?) Ideology, however, still reigns and it’s only right and fair that the most passionate adherents of the various secular faiths should have one last chance to insult each other in a frenzy of self-righteous indignation before going quiet in the face, hopefully,  of the  concurrence of the mainstream on simple pragmatism.

Posted in British economy | Leave a Comment »

New Cold War or War onTerror?

Posted by seumasach on June 15, 2014

Cailean Bochanan

15th June, 2014

The betrayal of the Iraq army leadership facilitating last week’s capture of Mosul by the so-called ISIL may become a watershed in US foreign policy in providing a significant diversion from the Ukrainian fiasco and turning attention from quasi-cold war tensions towards the new Obama doctrine already outlined in his West Point speech, anticipated by Blair’s 23rd April speech and ratified by an intervention by Kofi Annan last week on BBC Newsnight.
What is this new doctrine? It is called, with great originality, the War on Terror. Thus, we return to 2001 and the post-9/11 doctrine but in a geo-political environment which has become completely transformed. In 2003 , on the eve of the Iraq War, the USA was still regarded as the undisputed global superpower, even though a resurgent Russia and China were already disputing that status. Today it has suffered a series of military reverses and the catastrophic state of its economy and society can longer be hidden. After the dismissal of Rumsfeld in 2006 in a palace coup the stage was set for Obama to turn around US foreign policy in the aftermath of the failed Iraq and Afghan wars. He is generally regarded as having failed in this respect and that judgement has seemed to have been confirmed by the dramatic events of the last week. We appear to be condemned to relive the historical cycle of US military intervention.
But, as I say, the context is completely different. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan post-9/11 were the beginning of a global war for hegemony. This war failed and no such perspectives are in sight for a severely weakened USA. Rather than being the opening shot in an attempted roll-back of Russian and Chinese power War on Terror II could lead to a re-engagement of these two emerging superpowers by Washington. Tony Blair’s above-mentioned speech already prefigures this development:

“In this speech I will set out how we should do this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China.”
This was followed up by Kofi Anna’s call for a de facto alliance with Russia , China and Iran:
“Mr Annan – the UN’s former envoy to Syria – said he did not believe that there was the “stomach” for “boots on the ground”, but that a group made up of permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and possibly Egypt could agree a common approach.”
Already, the ISIL surge has raised a prospect that was previously unthinkable: joint US-Iranian military co-operation.
I have, for some time, been talking up a strategic alliance between Washington and Moscow as the great paradigm shift in global geo-politics. It was, admittedly, difficult to see how such a shift could come about. Indeed, the failure of Obama’s reset was just another amongst a litany of seeming failures. But if that remains a strategic goal of Obama, and I believe that it must, then War on TerrorII would be the key to its realization.

The roller-coaster unleashed by the Arab spring continues. The events in Iraq last week serve as a cover for the surreal Ukraine fiasco, which in turn obscured defeat in the Syrian war which in turn diverted the world’s attention from the chaos engendered in Libya by NATO intervention. Since the hand of the NATO and Western intelligence assets is clearly present in all these scenarios you might think Obama’s strategy is merely to cover failure with even more failure. But their may be a different logic at play,a convoluted logic of end of empire. If so, the cycle may be broken in Iraq and by the time the ISIL has been checked we may see the clear outlines of a new international order.

Posted in Iraq, New Cold War | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

It came in with the bond markets and it will go out with the bond markets

Posted by seumasach on July 1, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

1st July, 2011

We have a sense that capitalism is coming to an end. If by capitalism we mean that system which was introduced into England subsequent to the Dutch invasion of 1688 then that is true.

With the setting up in 1694 of the Bank of England, a consortium of private financiers came to the fore or rather came to exercise their power from behind the scenes of Britain’s political facade. In this original public-private partnership, they lent to the government at interest and used the bonds issued as the basis for leveraged banking. Swift defined concisely this new interest:

“that set of people, who are called the Monied Men; such as had raised vast Sums by Trading with Stocks and Bonds, and lending upon great interest and Premiums; whose perpetual Harvest is War, and whose beneficial way of Traffick must very much decline by a Peace”

Elsewhere he talks of “a new estate” to whom every house and foot of land in England paid a rent-charge, free of all taxes and defalcations” and where “the gentlemen of estates were, in effect, but tenants to these new landlords”

A whole class, “these new landlords” on behalf of whom the entire nation is taxed. Does this not ring a bell in post-bailout Britain?: the whole nation is mortgaged to the banker elite, which for all that their methods have evolved since the early seventeen hundreds, are essentially the same “interest” as Swift was describing and warning us about. At least, in Swift’s day the consortium’s original loan was from their own funds, however ill-gotten: today the banks are lending back to the government the funds they received from the government to bail them out, basic usury as conceived then has become the fraudulent shenanigans of the notorious “carry trade”. Now that there is no longer even the pretence that banking is about investing in business, understood as legitimate business, and now that the various bubbles from the dot.com through the housing market to commodities have exploded in our faces the monied men limit themselves to milking the state for all its worth and the ultimate bankruptcy of the system is the bankruptcy of the state itself. Curiously, the flow of funds into government bonds is being characterised as a “flight to safety”, yet the returns provided fall well short of inflation generated by endless treasury money issuance. Where then is the profit in the profit system? Wealth creation is over and the financiers are limiting their ambition to, instead of creating new wealth, monopolising all that already exists. It’s not at all clear where, if anywhere, the rest of us fit into the picture. We’ll soon find out: the peril of the “flight to safety” is becoming evident and nothing will glitter which is not gold. The burst of the bond bubble and the collapse of the dollar/pound will be dramatic events indeed, the cue for our long awaited awakening or our plunge into the abyss.

Posted in UK economy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Tory split on Brexit opens

Posted by seumasach on August 29, 2016

A senior Conservative told the paper: “There’s a tussle going on here. The chief culprit is the chancellor.

“He has taken the position that there are no red lines, that you’ve got to stay part of the market and it doesn’t matter what you give way on. Hammond is operating as a blocking mechanism.”

Soon the divisions in the Labour Party will pale in comparison with those in the Tory Party. Hammond’s position is de facto “remain”. Remaining in the single market means remaining in the EU or possibly the EEA. The latter option is really quite pointless since it is merely a kind of downgraded membership. Hammond’s goal will be to split the Brexit camp and neutralise it: this is all too easy since they lack any coherent programme. As soon as a negotiation plan becomes an imperative the enormity of the Brexit fiasco will be there for all to see. As so often throughout history the worst thing that can happen to an oppositional movement is that they are put into power. Soon they will long for the old days of endless complaining and finger-pointing and, it has to be said, lying about the EU without any need for an alternative geopolitical vision.

Britain will retain access to single market and curb migration under plans considered by Theresa May

Telegraph

28th Auigust, 2016

Britain will retain access to the single market for financial sector and the car industry while curbing migration under plans being considered by Theresa May.

Read more

 

Posted in brexit crisis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

TTIP has failed-but no one is admitting it, says German Vice-Chancellor

Posted by seumasach on August 28, 2016

 

“The UK was seen as one of the strongest supporters of TTIP in the EU, so its departure following the Brexit vote would remove one of the US’s closest allies in the talks.” 

Brexit is accelerating the uncoupling of Europe and the USA and the emergence of an independent Europe. In this sense, Brexit has been entirely salutary. Contrary to the myths pedalled by the Brexit camp, Britain has exerted great influence inside Europe- but it has been largely negative. If Britain now seeks a trade deal with the USA they will be in weak bargaining position and if it any ways resembles TTIP that will render a trade deal with Europe even more difficult than it would be anyway. In trying to negotiate trade deals with conflicting blocks our dilemma is worryingly reminiscent of that of Ukraine. Ukraine’s interests lay with the Eurasian free trade area but her “identity” pushed her towards the chimera of a deal with the EU.

Independent

28th August, 2016

The free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States have failed, but “nobody is really admitting it”, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said.

Posted in Battle for Europe, brexit crisis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire

Posted by seumasach on August 27, 2016

The loss of the Turkey “vassal” secures the failure of the state Department’s Syria policy. At the same time, China has made a bold move in supporting Damascus militarily showing that they cannot be “contained” in the Asia-Pacific. The writing is on the wall for US hegemony as it has been for some time: the question really is can the USA abandon exceptionalism and enter into power sharing agreements with it’s rivals. Such leadership is badly needed but as the USA fragments into a chaos of interest groups, lobbies and identities where can it come from? Both Clinton’s neoconservative revival and Trump’s anti-China isolationism look like the pure fantasy of a nation unable to realistically assess it’s own status.

Mike Whitney

UNZ

25th August, 2016

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:

Read more

Posted in Global peace process, Multipolar world | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Joe Biden came, saw, but failed to conquer Turkey

Posted by seumasach on August 26, 2016

M.K.Bhadrakumar

Asia Times

26th August, 2016

If US Vice President Joe Biden hoped for a trade-off with Turkish President Recep Erdogan – US assurances over Euphrates River ‘red line’ for Kurdish militia in lieu of Turkey’s acquiescence with Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen remaining in Pennsylvania – that was not to be. ‘Euphrates Shield’ pre-empted Biden’s bidding. Erdogan thereby made Gulen’s extradition a ‘stand-alone’ issue. US’s Syria policies are in free fall and Turkey is increasingly eyeing Russia and Iran as its key interlocutors to resolve the Syrian problem.

Read more

Posted in Multipolar world, Syria | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Chinese political donations highlight Australian anxieties

Posted by seumasach on August 25, 2016

Since the anglo-saxon economic model is simply incapable of generating investment in the real economy Australia, like the UK and the USA, has become dependent on inward investment from China. It is now rebelling against this dependence, biting the hand that feeds it, along with it’s kith and kin in the USA and Britain in an alliance of losers. In this Oceanic dystopia “security concerns” trump economic interests. At the same time the notorious role of big money in running the political system suddenly becomes a problem when it’s a question of China rather than the homegrown oligarchy, or the Americans, buying politicians.

Asia Times

24th August, 2016

MELBOURNE–An influx of political donations from Chinese concerns has focused anxieties about the rising superpower’s growing influence here, while sparking calls for reform of the country’s lax political finance laws.

Read more

Posted in Containing China, Oceania | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Putin ‘wants to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Moscow’

Posted by seumasach on August 25, 2016

This is the logical culmination of the emergence of Russia as the dominant military and diplomatic force in the Middle East.

Independent

25th August, 2016

Vladimir Putin is ready and willing to host peace talks aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Egypt’s president.

Read more

Posted in Palestine | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Milosevic exonerated, as the NATO war machine moves on

Posted by seumasach on August 24, 2016

Neil Clark

RT

2nd August, 2016

The ICTY’s exoneration of the late Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, for war crimes committed in the Bosnia war, proves again we should take NATO claims regarding its ’official enemies’ not with a pinch of salt, but a huge lorry load.

 Read more

Posted in Disband NATO! | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Is Theresa May trying to replicate Merkel’s approach to China?

Posted by seumasach on August 23, 2016

“At the moment, however, the Sino-British “golden era” in relations, ushered in by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cameron last fall, looks like in shambles. Faced with a choice between America and China, May could indeed think that the tested relationship with Washington remains “more special” than the blossoming one with Beijing.”

Asia Times

22nd August, 2016

While British Prime Minister Theresa May probably may like to take a leaf out of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s book, she is no stateswoman like her counterpart nor is Britain comparable to Germany in geopolitical terms. As Merkel effectively engages China and Sino-German trade turnover grows, Beijing sees Germany as the locomotive that pulls the EU economic and political trains. On the other hand, post-Brexit Britain, faced with a choice between America and China, may finally opt for the tested relationship with Washington.

Read more

Posted in brexit crisis, Containing China | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Brexit X-men: how the prime minister’s key negotiators are coping

Posted by seumasach on August 22, 2016

It may be that something will happen this autumn to distract attention from the travails of the hopelessly divided Brexit camp, something like a financial crash. This could put the whole process on the back-burner much to the relief of Johnson & co who simply don’t know what they are doing, just as millions of Brits simply didn’t know what they were voting for in practice. Failing this deus ex machine the divisions within the camp will be there for all to see rendering the necessary pre-article 50 agreement on a brexit plan impossible.

Guardian

21st August, 2016

When Boris Johnson was working for the Daily Telegraph in Brussels in the early 1990s, rival British correspondents dreaded midnight calls from their news desks in London. Sonia Purnell, Johnson’s biographer, who worked with him at the time, recalls that Boris’s stories about the curvature of bananas, the shape of cucumbers and other EU absurdities were known as “duvet blasters”. Despairing reporters were ordered out of bed to write follow-ups. “The stories were almost always wrong but they would still blast everyone’s duvets,” says Purnell. For the young Johnson, it was good journalistic fun.

Read more

Posted in brexit crisis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Brexit: Don’t let Remain supporters stall

Posted by seumasach on August 21, 2016

It is not the Remain camp which is stalling Brexit so much as the Brexit camp itself. They are yet to come up with a program for Brexit. They did not do so in the course of the referendum campaign apart from vagaries about trading with the rest of the world, except China as it turns out. They will never come up with a program for the simple reason that there are no good options and no options at all that they can agree on. Without agreement on a future framework for Britain article 50 will not be triggered. The brexiteers have dedicated entire lifetimes to reaching this point and they just don’t know what to do.

Telegraph

21st August, 2016

Iain Duncan Smith has urged Theresa May to crack on with Britain’s divorce from the European Union as he accused Remain supporters of trying to delay the process.

Read more

Posted in brexit crisis | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

End the Syrian war

Posted by seumasach on August 21, 2016

Pakistan Today

21st August, 2016

First Russian involvement changed the fortunes of the Syrian civil war to a large extent. Then first some, and later much, of the world began a sort of decoupling with the Gulf regimes, especially Saudi Arabia, and moved closer to Iran. Then the Syrian Arab Army started regaining lost cities and highways, especially the route from the Turkish border to the disputed city of Aleppo; which no longer supplies rebels with American anti-tank weapons, etc. And now, with the Americans, GCC, Nato, etc, on the back foot, the Chinese have also engaged with the war, training the Syrian forces as they close the noose around the rebels, particularly ISIS.

Read more

Posted in Global peace process, Syria | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,032 other followers

%d bloggers like this: