A Different View: New IMF Rules To Isolate China and Russia?

[The IMF has, says Congress and the NYTimes, become more inclusive of China and Russia (see previous Frontlines post, https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/ny-times-on-the-liberalizing-of-the-international-monetary-fund/).  But others, looking deeply, see the new IMF rules as counter-attacks on Chinese and Russian other-imperialist initiatives.  See this lengthy article for more details. — Frontlines ed.]

The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia

by Michael Hudson, CounterPunch, December 15, 2015

The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).

Russia’s 2013 loan to Ukraine, made at the request of Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian government, demonstrated the benefits of mutual trade and investment relations between the two countries. As Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out, Ukraine’s “international reserves were barely enough to cover three months’ imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine’s bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent.”[1] Continue reading

Western Moves to Isolate Russia Spurs China-Russia Energy Deal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday in Shanghai, where they signed a deal to send gas through a pipeline from Siberia to China. Credit Pool photo by Mark Ralston

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Shanghai for the last two days. Continue reading

Should anti-Imperialists oppose only US imperialism?

[The world imperialist system today has entered a period of crisis, internal instability and disarray, growing internal conflict and inter-imperialist contention, conflict, and the beginnings of opposing bloc formations. It is a far-from-healthy and broadly discredited system, forcing the costs of its desperate wars and troubled (and false) bourgeois “recoveries” on the masses of people worldwide. Wave upon wave of resistance and rebellion has begun, sometimes toppling old imperialist puppets, though finding the path to create liberated societies very difficult. Fantasies that the US had, since WW2, successfully formed a system of efficient and unchallengable control of world imperialist domination, have fallen on hard times. Imperialist Russia and imperialist China have grown from the defeat of socialism and the seizure of power by capitalists, and have set upon an assertion of power and authority in regional, economic, political, military, monetary and financial affairs (though each is struggling to contain growing internal discontent). Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries who only think in the framework of decades-long opposition to US hegemony in the world system will look in vain, and to their own discredit, for friends or allies among the contending imperialists. The only path forward is to build revolutionary proletarian class-conscious parties and mass-based political forces with eyes wide open, independent of ties and influence by any and all imperialists.
Revolutionary Frontlines has recently received a new study from redpath.net, which examines the shape of the imperialist system today, with special emphasis on the still-debated role of China and Chinese imperialism. The introduction to this path-breaking study and analysis is posted here below. The entire document can be viewed at the website of http://www.red-path.net, where the document (produced by an independent research and writing group) was first posted. It can also be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mlmrsg.com/79-statements/82-is-china-an-imperialist-country-considerations-and-evidence. — Revolutionary Frontlines]

IS CHINA AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY?  by NB Turner, et al.

It has long been known and understood that the entire world has been under the control of capitalist-imperialism. For a time, a section of this world broke from it, beginning with the victory of socialism in Russia and continuing through the Chinese Revolution, constituting a socialist world. Yet, in time, the socialist countries, through internal class struggles in politics and economics, were seized by capitalist conciliators and advocates, and then by capitalists themselves, who were largely within the ruling communist parties themselves. First in Russia, and later in China, when these counter-revolutions and coups took place, there ensued a period of entry and integration into the world imperialist system. The Soviet Union, at first under the existing signboard of socialism, continued much of its established national and economic power relations into a new social-imperialist bloc (socialist in name, imperialist in reality). The Russian capitalist-imperialist attempt to maintain this bloc, or important sections of what had been part of this bloc, and its historic allies, has continued in the years since the “socialist” signboard was discarded. In China, the defeat of the proletariat and the capitalist capture of state power, after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Zedong, have also led to a period of integration into the world imperialist system. China still operates under a “socialist” signboard, but has conducted itself unambiguously as a capitalist power.
Before the last decade, especially since the demise of the “socialist bloc,” the US was commonly seen as the sole Superpower, to which all other powers had to defer. The system which the US had designed, at the end of WW2, was global in scope, and to some more “democratic” in appearance than the old colonial empires. But it was built around the elitist privilege of power and authority, meaning the US as Superpower was at the centerpiece of the controls.
But in the last decade the imperialist world system is not what it used to be. Throughout the world, corrupt and comprador regimes have faced significant and often unprecedented mass popular opposition movements which have revealed the deep instability of the old neo-colonial arrangements. Continue reading

Thousands of anti-Putin protesters march in Moscow

Russian opposition protesters some holding portraits of political prisoners shout anti-Putin slogans as they march through a street next to the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday, June 12, 2013.Thousands of Russian opposition activists are marching through Moscow decrying President Vladimir Putin's authoritarian rule and calling for the release of people they consider political prisoners. Wednesday's march is in support of 27 people who face charges related to a protest that turned violent on the eve of Putin's inauguration more than a year ago. The banner reads liberty to the captives on May 6! for our and your freedom! ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO — AP Photo

Russian opposition protesters some holding portraits of political prisoners shout anti-Putin slogans as they march through a street next to the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday, June 12, 2013.Thousands of Russian opposition activists are marching through Moscow decrying President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule and calling for the release of people they consider political prisoners. Wednesday’s march is in support of 27 people who face charges related to a protest that turned violent on the eve of Putin’s inauguration more than a year ago. The banner reads liberty to the captives on May 6! for our and your freedom!
ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO — AP Photo

Published: June 12, 2013

— Thousands of Russian opposition activists marched through Moscow on Wednesday, decrying President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule and calling for the release of people they consider political prisoners.

The march on Russia Day, a national holiday, was to show support for 27 people arrested after a protest turned violent on the eve of Putin’s inauguration more than a year ago. Sixteen of the defendants have remained in jail pending trial on charges that could send them to prison for up to 10 years.

The arrests, especially those of ordinary Russians who had joined the anti-Putin rallies for the first time and who in some cases seemed to have been grabbed at random, appeared to have been part of Kremlin efforts to deter people from joining any future protests. Continue reading

Power Politics 101: Promoters of butcher Assad, Beware — Russia follows capitalist realpolitik

[Seeing the writing on the wall–that the days of their “ally” Assad of Syria are numbered–capitalist-imperialist power Russia (a growing imperialist contender to US’ imperial hegemon) seeks to ensure and preserve a piece of post-Assad Syria for its own regional interests.  Those who have made spurious claims that the Russian/Assad-ist Syrian alliance is somehow an anti-imperialist front, will have to adjust their framework, substantially…..Meanwhile, talks between US imperialists and the “official” Syrian opposition have, simultaneously, been held.  The fragmentary and formative revolutionary people’s forces have, to all indications, played no role in either set of talks with imperialists, as they have been either decimated or, driven underground or into exile, are making difficult preparations for the future. — Frontlines ed.]

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Russia in ground-breaking talks with Syrian opposition

03 Feb 2013 – MUNICH, Germany (AFP)

[Photo:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov]
Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.

Moscow said Saturday it wanted to keep in regular contact with the Syrian opposition, after its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib met for the first time.

“I reminded Khatib that after the creation of the coalition and the appointment of their leader, we immediately demonstrated our interest in maintaining regular contact,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We will make that happen,” he added.

[Photo: A rebel fighter poses in front of a Soviet-made T55 tank abandoned by pro-Syrian regime forces in al-Yaqubia in northern Syrian, on February 2, 2013. Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.]

Lavrov had earlier Saturday held talks with US Vice President Joe Biden and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi amid strong disagreement between Moscow and Washington about ways to end the 22-month Syria conflict, which according to the United Nations has claimed upwards of 60,000 lives.

Khatib, who became the head of the coalition late last year, reiterated on the opening day of the Munich talks Friday an earlier surprise announcement that his group is ready for dialogue with the Damascus regime — subject to conditions including the release of 160,000 detainees.

Lavrov said Moscow welcomed the initiative, adding: “If we take into account the fact that the coalition was founded on a refusal to engage in a dialogue with the regime, it’s a very important step.” Continue reading

Syria: A darkening horizon

29 May 2012. A World to Win News Service. The photos of dozens of dead little children – their bodies lying side by side in a row, each upturned face tearing at the heart of anyone who has ever loved a child and bringing to mind other children all over the world – convey only a part of the horrifying situation that the Syrian people face.

It may be that the Bashar al-Assad regime and/or its allies carried out the massacre in Houla, not as an act of madness or simple revenge but a calculated attempt to divert the anti-regime revolt into an inter-religious civil war. At the same time, the UN Security Council resolution condemning this crime is an obscene act of hypocrisy and worse. The US and Russia are trying to use this tragedy as an occasion to step up their contention and negotiations over who will dominate Syria. The interests of the Syrian people and the just demands of the movement against the regime, and the lives of the people, including children, count as nothing in this reactionary manoeuvring.

 

The Security Council resolution reflected not a concern with human life but the contest between the US and its allies on one hand and Russia on the other as to how foreign domination of Syria is to be divided up in the near future. Bizarrely, the resolution mentions Syrian government tank and artillery fire, and not the apparent close-quarter executions of many of the victims. This has allowed the Syrian government room to claim that the killings were carried out by “terrorists”, presumably meaning Islamic fundamentalists, an explanation for which no evidence has been presented. Western diplomats assert that the resolution’s wording was designed to gain Russian acceptance for what turned out to be a unanimous Security Council vote. But this unanimity had criminal purposes on both sides.

 

The UN pretends to be working for a peaceful solution to the crisis through a ceasefire, a kind of freeze-in-place. This is the least likely alternative, one that none of the imperialist powers involved really believe possible, and one that the US and its allies are working to make impossible. The US is determined that Syria, often described as a Russian “client regime”, will become an American client regime at any cost.

The US and Russia seem to be in agreement in seeking to preserve the essential structure of the Assad regime, especially the military and security forces, without Assad. How this could happen is currently being negotiated between the US and Russia. The US has a powerful argument: either Russia can accept some continuing influence in an American-dominated Syria, or it risks having no influence at all.

This situation was laid bare in an article in The New York Times (26 May 2012) that was in its own way as shocking and cynical as the Houla massacre, in terms of the future of the Syrian people. At the recent G-8 summit in Camp David, Maryland, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev told US President Barack Obama that Russia was not willing to see the UN Security Council authorize a regime change in Syria on the Libya model, where an American-led military intervention under the guise of protecting civilians allowed the US to topple a regime it deemed problematic. Russia apparently has come to consider Assad a “liability”, meaning that it no longer believes he can remain in power, but Moscow is not willing to be entirely forced out of a country where its interests predominate militarily (Russia has a small naval station, its only outpost in the Mediterranean), economically (Russia has extensive investments in Syrian gas and oil, and Syria is a leading buyer of Russian arms) and politically, although the US has also had relations and influence. Continue reading

Russian police and troops clash with protesters in Moscow

[Russian protests have grown quickly to an unprecedented and massive scale.  The Russian people, having experienced socialism first-hand, and a subsequent counter-revolution which brought back capitalism and imperialism, are now faced with a daunting future and mixed experience to draw from–and the confusing domination by pseudo-democratic capitalist parties and imperialist agents.  Revolutionaries in Russia are challenged to develop revolutionary forces, including a revolutionary communist party, to chart the new path forward–which, given the changes they have faced over the last century, will undoubtedly have new characteristics, based on the current conditions.  Charting such paths in formerly socialist countries, facing anew the crises of the world imperialist system, will require fresh investigations, analyses, forces, and analyses on the part of this and future generations of the international communist movement, wielding and developing the basic tools of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. — Frontlines ed.]

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov reportedly among those arrested on second day of protests against rule of Vladimir Putin

in Moscow,guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 6 December 2011

Police and interior ministry troops have clashed with protesters in Moscow during a second day of protests against the rule of Vladimir Putin.

Around 600 protesters were reported to have gathered near Triumphal Square in central Moscow, but they included many pro-Kremlin youths in blue anoraks who had also turned up, chanting: “Russia, Putin!” while the opposition protesters shouted: “Freedom!” and “Russia without Putin!”

The crowd was held back by dozens of riot police and it appeared that opposition supporters were struggling to make it past police to the rally. Moscow police spokesman Maxim Kolosvetov said about 250 people had been detained as scuffles broke out.

An Associated Press reporter saw at least two flare-type fireworks thrown into a crowd of pro-Kremlin demonstrators gathered outside the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. It was not immediately clear who had thrown the devices or if they caused any injuries.

Earlier, thousands of police and troops flooded the streets of Moscow before the planned protest. According to the Associated Press, hundreds of police blocked off Triumphal Square, then began chasing demonstrators, seizing some and throwing them violently into police vehicles.

The Interfax news agency reported that among the detained was Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the liberal opposition and fierce critic of Putin. Continue reading