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Something quite extraordinary happened in early November in Kabul. Taliban interim-Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov got together to discuss a range of political and economic issues. Most importantly, they resurrected the legendary soap opera which in the early 2000s I dubbed Pipelineistan: the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Call it... Read More
The plenary session is the traditional highlight of the annual, must-follow Valdai Club discussions – one of Eurasia’s premier intellectual gatherings. Vladimir Putin is a frequent keynote speaker. In Sochi this year, as I related in a previous column, the overarching theme was “global shake-up in the 21st century: the individual, values and the state.”... Read More
The 21st century, geopolitically, so far has been shaped by the U.S.- engineered Forever Wars. Forever Wars: Afghanistan-Iraq, part 2, ranging from 2004 to 2021, is the fourth in a series of e-books recovering the Pepe Escobar archives on Asia Times. The archives track a period of 20 years – starting with the columns and... Read More
Pax Americana was always a minor character in a zombie apocalypse flick. Pax Americana is actually The Eternal Return of the Living Dead. “Pax” was never in order; War Inc. rules. The end of WWII led directly to the Cold War. The unipolar moment was an arc from the First Gulf War to the bombing... Read More
Fatima, Maliha and Nouria
Dear reader: this is very special, a trip down memory lane like no other: back to prehistoric times - the pre-9/11, pre-YouTube, pre-social network world. Welcome to Taliban Afghanistan – Talibanistan – in the Year 2000. This is when photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed it overland from east to west, from the Pakistani... Read More
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So we have the CIA Director William Burns deploying in haste to Kabul to solicit an audience with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new potential ruler of a former satrapy. And he literally begs him to extend a deadline on the evacuation of US assets. The answer is a resounding “no.” After all, the... Read More
The horrific Kabul suicide bombing introduces an extra vector in an already incandescent situation: It aims to prove, to Afghans and to the outside world, that the nascent Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is incapable of securing the capital. As it stands, at least 103 people – 90 Afghans (including at least 28 Taliban) and 13... Read More
After 20 years and a staggering US$2.23 trillion spent in a “forever war” persistently spun as promoting democracy and benefiting the “Afghan people,” it’s legitimate to ask what the Empire of Chaos has to show for it. The numbers are dire. Afghanistan remains the world’s 7th poorest nation: 47% of the population lives below the... Read More
In the end, the Saigon moment happened faster than any Western intel “expert” expected. This is one for the annals: four frantic days that wrapped up the most astonishing guerrilla blitzkrieg of recent times. Afghan-style: lots of persuasion, lots of tribal deals, zero columns of tanks, minimal loss of blood. August 12 set the scene,... Read More
August 12, 2021. History will register it as the day the Taliban, nearly 20 years after 9/11 and the subsequent toppling of their 1996-2001 reign by American bombing, struck the decisive blow against the central government in Kabul. In a coordinated blitzkrieg, the Taliban all but captured three crucial hubs: Ghazni and Kandahar in the... Read More
The ever-elusive Afghan “peace” process negotiations re-start this Wednesday in Doha via the extended troika – the US, Russia, China and Pakistan. The contrast with the accumulated facts on the ground could not be starker. In a coordinated blitzkrieg, the Taliban have subdued no less than six Afghan provincial capitals in only four days. The... Read More
China and Russia will be key to solving an ancient geopolitical riddle: how to pacify the 'graveyard of empires'
So this is the way the Forever War in Afghanistan ends – if one could call it an ending. Rather, it’s an American repositioning. Regardless, after two decades of death and destruction and untold trillions of dollars, we’re faced not with a bang – and not with a whimper, either – but rather with a... Read More
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Assaulted by cognitive dissonance across the spectrum, the Empire of Chaos now behaves as a manic depressive inmate, rotten to the core - a fate more filled with dread than having to face a revolt of the satrapies. Only brain dead zombies now believe in its self-billed universal mission as the new Rome and the... Read More
While the dogs of demonization bark, Russia's newfangled armaments are flat out beating the competition
The annual MAKS aerospace show kicked off its 2021 installment at Zhukovsky Airport outside Moscow – not with a bang, but with multiple bangs. MAKS – whose name is an acronym for the Russian mouthful Mezhdunarodnyj aviatsionno-kosmiches, literally international aviation and space show – is famous for showing off the latest hits in aerospace and... Read More
The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: \
Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan's bull by the horns
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago. The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but... Read More
Deploying diplomatic skills refined from Doha to Moscow, the Taliban in 2021 has little to do with its 2001 incarnation
A very important meeting took place in Moscow last week, virtually hush-hush. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, received Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s national security adviser. There were no substantial leaks. A bland statement pointed to the obvious: They “focused on the security situation in Afghanistan during the pullout of Western military contingencies and... Read More
The US is on the verge of its own second Vietnam repeated as farce in a haphazard retreat from Afghanistan
Let’s start with some stunning facts on the Afghan ground. The Taliban are on a roll. Earlier this week their PR arm was claiming they hold 218 Afghan districts out of 421 – capturing new ones every day. Tens of districts are contested. Entire Afghan provinces are basically lost to the government in Kabul, which... Read More
The West’s ‘rules-based order’ invokes rulers’ authority; Russia-China say it’s time to return to law-based order
We do live in extraordinary times. On the day of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President Xi Jinping, in Tiananmen square, amid all the pomp and circumstance, delivered a stark geopolitical message: I have offered a concise version of the modern Chinese miracle – which has nothing to do with divine... Read More
Let’s start with the written word. In Geneva, the US and Russia issued a joint statement in which “we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Assorted Dr Strangeloves will cringe – but at least the world has it in writing, and may breathe a sigh of... Read More
Andrei Martyanov is in a class by himself. A third wave baby boomer, born in the early 1960s in Baku, in the Caucasus, then part of the former USSR, he’s arguably the foremost military analyst in the Russian sphere, living and working in the US, writing in English for a global audience, and always excelling... Read More
Henry Kissinger, 97, Henry the K. for those he keeps close, is either a Delphic oracle-style strategic thinker or a certified war criminal for those kept not so close. He now seems to have been taking time off his usual Divide and Rule stock in trade – advising the combo behind POTUS, a.k.a. Crash Test... Read More
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One cannot but feel mildly amused at the theatrical spectacle of the US troop pullout from Afghanistan, its completion day now postponed for maximum PR impact to 9/11, 2021. Nearly two decades and a staggering US$2 trillion after this Forever War was launched by a now immensely indebted empire, the debacle can certainly be interpreted... Read More
Few people, apart from specialists, may have heard of the JCPOA Joint Commission. That’s the group in charge of a Sisyphean task: the attempt to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal through a series of negotiations in Vienna. The Iranian negotiating team was back in Vienna yesterday, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi.... Read More
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Putin’s address to the Russian Federal Assembly – a de facto State of the Nation – was a judo move that left Atlanticist sphere hawks particularly stunned. The “West” was not even mentioned by name. Only indirectly, or via a delightful metaphor, Kipling’s Jungle Book. Foreign policy was addressed only at the end, almost as... Read More
It’s not by accident that the Hegemon is going no holds barred to harass and try to smash Eurasian integration by all means available. It’s a scorpion battle inside a vortex of distorted mirrors inside a circus. So let’s start with the mirrors in the circus. The non-entity that passes for Ukrainian Foreign Minister traveled... Read More
War, Russophobia and Pipelineistan
Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of war – with dire consequences for the whole of Eurasia. Let’s cut to the chase, and plunge head-on into the fog of war. On March 24, Ukrainian President Zelensky, for all practical purposes, signed a declaration of war against Russia, via decree No. 117/2021. The decree... Read More
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Let’s start with comic relief: the “leader of the free world” has pledged to prevent China from becoming the “leading” nation on the planet. And to fulfill such an exceptional mission, his “expectation” is to run again for president in 2024. Not as a hologram. And fielding the same running mate. Now that the “free... Read More
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to exchange views with his US counterpart in Alaska. Image: Facebook
Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi will seek to make shark's fin soup out of Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan at the Anchorage summit
Leviathan seems to be positioning itself for a geopolitical Kill Bill rampage – yet brandishing a rusty samurai high-carbon-steel sword. Predictably, US deep state masters have not factored in that they could eventually be neutralized by a geopolitical Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. In a searing, concise essay, Alastair Crooke pointed to the heart... Read More
I have a new book out, Raging Twenties: Great Power Politics Meets Techno-Feudalism. For those who don’t use Amazon, here is a mini-guide on how to order and buy the book. The journey of a book finding its readers is always an idiosyncratic, mysterious and fascinating process. To set the scene, permit me a short... Read More
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Moscow is painfully aware that the US/NATO “strategy” of containment of Russia is already reaching fever pitch. Again. This past Wednesday, at a very important meeting with the FSB board, President Putin laid it all out in stark terms: Not without a touch of wickedness, Putin added this was no exaggeration: "In fact, you don’t... Read More
The late Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski for some time dispensed wisdom as an oracle of US foreign policy, side by side with the perennial Henry Kissinger – who, in vast swathes of the Global South, is regarded as nothing but a war criminal. Brzezinski never achieved the same notoriety. At best he claimed bragging... Read More
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Future historians may register it as the day when usually unflappable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decided he had had enough: Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on an official visit to Moscow, had to take it on the chin. Lavrov, always the perfect gentleman, added, “I hope that the strategic review that will... Read More
Academic Stephen Wertheim's new book shines revealing light on the birth of US global supremacy, just as it reaches its...
As the Exceptional Empire gets ready to brave a destructive – and self-destructive – new cycle, with dire, unforeseen consequences bound to reverberate across the world, now more than ever it is absolutely essential to go back to the imperial roots. The task is fully accomplished by Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global... Read More
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One year ago, the Raging Twenties started with a murder. The assassination of Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi militia, by laser-guided Hellfire missiles launched from two MQ-9 Reaper drones, was an act of... Read More
No Washington-designed “maximum pressure” has been able to derail a crucial milestone this Sunday: the end of the UN arms embargo on Iran, in accordance with UN Security Council 2231, which has endorsed the 2015 JCPOA deal. The JCPOA - or Iran nuclear deal – was unilaterally ditched by the Trump administration. But that, notoriously,... Read More
Let’s cut to the chase: with or without a sanction juggernaut, China simply won’t be expelled from the global semiconductor market. The real amount of chip supply Huawei has in stock for their smart phone business may remain an open question. But the most important point is that in the next few years – remember... Read More
It took one minute for President Trump to introduce a virus at the virtual 75th UN General Assembly, blasting “the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world”. And then it all went downhill. Even as Trump was essentially delivering a campaign speech and could not care less about the multilateral UN, at least the... Read More
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The concept of “History in the making” has been pushed to extremes when it comes to the extraordinary public service being performed by historian, former UK diplomat and human rights activist Craig Murray. Murray - literally, and on a global level – is now positioned as our man in the public gallery, as he painstakingly... Read More
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When the Ronald Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups recently engaged in “operations” in the South China Sea, it did not escape to many a cynic that the US Pacific Fleet was doing its best to turn the infantile Thucydides Trap theory into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The pro forma official spin, via Rear Adm. Jim... Read More
No less than 78.03% of Russians have just voted in support of constitutional amendments. Among these, we find the paramount Atlanticist obsession: the possibility that Vladimir Putin will be able to run for two more presidential terms. Predictably, anguished cries of “Dictator! Dictator!” have been lobbied like deadly shells all across the Beltway. They might... Read More
Greece invented the concept of barbaros. Imperial Rome inherited it as barbarus. The original meaning of barbaros is rooted in language: an onomatopoeia meaning “unintelligible speech” as people go “bar bar bar” when they talk. Homer does not refer to barbaros, but to barbarophonos (“of unintelligible speech”), as in those who don’t speak Greek or... Read More
So what’s goin’ on in Iran? How did the Islamic Republic really respond to Covid-19? How is it coping with Washington’s relentless “maximum pressure”? These questions were the subject of a long phone call I placed to Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran – one of Iran’s premier, globally recognized analysts. As Marandi... Read More
A Chinese anti-US propaganda poster from the Korean War era. Photo: Facebook
In 1999, Qiao Liang, then a senior air force colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Xiangsui, another senior colonel, caused a tremendous uproar with the publication of Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America. Unrestricted Warfare was essentially the PLA’s manual for asymmetric warfare: an updating of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.... Read More
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Beijing is turbocharging its Belt and Road and other game-changing plans despite Covid-19 and US hybrid warfare
Amid the deepest economic contraction in nearly a century, President Xi Jinping had already made it very clear, last month, that China should be ready for unprecedented, relentless foreign challenges. He was not referring only to the possible decoupling of global supply chains and the non-stop demonization of every project related to the New Silk... Read More
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Hybrid War 2.0 on China, a bipartisan U.S. operation, is already reaching fever pitch. Its 24/7 full spectrum infowar arm blames China for everything coronavirus-related – doubling as a diversionist tactic against any informed criticism of woeful American unpreparedness. Hysteria predictably reigns. And this is just the beginning. A deluge of lawsuits is imminent –... Read More
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the cover-19 epicenter Wuhan, Hubei Province, on Mar 10. 2020.
Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the... Read More
Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban. We should start by stressing three points. 1- The Taliban wanted... Read More
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The New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – were launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, first in Central Asia (Nur-Sultan) and then Southeast Asia (Jakarta). One year later, the Chinese economy overtook the U.S. on a PPP basis. Inexorably, year after year since the start of the millennium, the U.S.... Read More
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stresses urgent need for international coordination 'to build a shared future'
Few postmodern political pantomimes have been more revealing than the hundreds of so-called “international decision-makers,” mostly Western, waxing lyrical, disgusted or nostalgic over “Westlessness” at the Munich Security Conference. “Westlessness” sounds like one of those constipated concepts issued from a post-party bad hangover at the Rive Gauche during the 1970s. In theory (but not French... Read More
The United States may be destined for a shorter historical existence than the Mongol era established by Genghis Khan
A considerable spectrum of the liberal West takes the American interpretation of what civilization consists of to be something like an immutable law of nature. But what if this interpretation is on the verge of an irreparable breakdown? Michael Vlahos has argued that the US is not a mere nation-state but a “system leader” –... Read More
PastClassics
The Shaping Event of Our Modern World
Analyzing the History of a Controversial Movement