Michael Hudson Talks with Katie Halper and Aaron Maté About the Broader Ramifications of the US/NATO Conflict with Russia

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Yves here. The transcript below is only of the portion of the Michael Hudson podcast with Katie Halper and Aaron Maté that is outside their paywall, but Michael assures me that the rest was almost entirely a personal chat. But you should consider subscribing! Note I would have embedded the podcast and/or the YouTube clip, but the YouTube embed blocked local viewing, and the ways I use to copy over podcast codes didn’t work. So apologies.

Originally published at Useful Idiots

KATIE HALPER:  Professor Michael Hudson, thank you so much for joining us.  We’re really excited to have you.

We wanted to start off by asking you if you could provide an overview of what the economics driving this conflict are—and by conflict, I mean the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and, of course, with the rest of the world, or really the conflict between Russia and US, and the economic fallout.

MICHAEL HUDSON:  Well, it depends on what side you’re looking at. From the Russian side, I don’t think the economic factors were primary.  They were threatened by NATO’s expansion and really a plan to attack the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine.  So, I think Russia’s calculations were simply military.  The West’s calculations were quite different.

And if you looked at what the results of the conflict are, you have to assume that everybody was talking about the results [as] were known.  They’re very clear.  The results are a very large increase in fuel prices, oil, and energy prices, a very large increase in agricultural prices with declining supplies.  This will leave most of Africa and Latin America—third-world countries, the Global South—unable to pay their foreign debts, which is going to result either in a massive debt default or it will result in a debt repudiation.

Countries are going to have to choose.  Are they going to have to operate their homes without energy, their factories without energy—and energy consumption per capita is directly connected to GDP for the last 150 years.  Every chart shows energy use, GDP, and personal income go up together.

So, what are countries going to do when they can’t afford to pay the higher prices for energy?  Well, Janet Yellen, who was the Federal Reserve head and [now] the Secretary of the Treasury says, ‘Well, what we’re going to do is use the International Monetary Fund to preserve America’s unipolar hegemony.’  I think she used almost those words.  We have to keep American control of the world and we’re going to do it through the IMF.  And that means in practice using the IMF to create special drawing rights, which will be sort of like free money, the bulk of which will go to the United States to support its military spending abroad for all of this huge military escalation. And it will enable the IMF to go to countries and say, ‘We will help you pay your debts and not be foreclosed on and get energy, but it’s conditional.’  On usual conditions:  you have to lower your wages; you have to pass anti-labor legislation; you have to agree to begin selling off your public domain and privatize.

The energy and food crisis caused by the NATO war against Russia is going to be used as a lever not only to push privatization, largely under control of US investors and banks and financiers, but it’s also going to lock countries into the US orbit all the more, both the Global South and especially Europe.

One casualty is obviously going to be Europe and the euro.  The euro has been plunging in value day after day after day, as people realize that it’s lost its export markets in Russia and much of Asia, and now at home, too, because exports require energy to be made.  Its costs of imports are going up, especially energy.  It’s agreed to use, I think, now $3 billion to build new port facilities to buy US natural gas—liquified natural gas at three to seven times the price that it’s paying now, which will make it almost impossible for German firms to produce fertilizer to grow crops in Germany.  The euro’s plunging.

The largest plunge of all has been the Japanese yen, because Japan imports all of its energy and most of its food and is keeping its interest rates very low in order to support the financial sector.  And so, the Japanese economy is being sacrificed and squeezed.  And I think this is…you can’t say, ‘Gee, this is an accident.’  This is part of the plan, because now the United States can say, ‘Of course we don’t want your yen to go down so much that your consumers have to pay more.  We will, of course, give you SDRs—special drawing rights—and we will give you American aid.  But we do want you to rewrite your constitution so that you can have atomic weapons on your soil so that we can fight against China to the last Japanese. Just like we’re doing in Ukraine, let us do it for you.’

And, of course, the Japanese love that.  The government loves that idea.  They love sacrificing the population, which is what they’ve been doing ever since the Plaza Accord and the Louvre Accord of the 1980s that basically wrecked the Japanese industrial economy from this huge upswing to just a mass shrinkage.

So, those are the economic effects of the war.  And in the newspaper, you think the war is all about Ukrainians and NATO fighting Russians, and it’s really a war by the United States to use the NATO-Russia conflict as a means of locking in control over its allies and the whole Western world, and in Janet Yellen’s words, re-establishing American unipolar power.

AARON MATÉ: And do you think that, assuming that this is the US strategy, taking your argument at face value, do you think that this strategy will succeed?

MICHAEL HUDSON:  Ultimately, it’ll be self-defeating.  And almost every US politician and military speech has the phrase, ‘Gee, we don’t want America to shoot itself.’  And obviously they’re all worried about it.  It’s a huge gamble.

Apparently, the military was not even consulted in the sanctions that were put against Russian energy.  And the military wasn’t consulted even on the plans by the State Department and the National Security…the neo-cons that are running the NATO war.  And so, obviously, there’s a lot of doubts within the military, but they don’t speak up—that’s not what they do.

It’s amazing that in Europe the only opposition to this is coming from the right wing, people like Marine Le Pen.  Not from the left wing.  So, the left wing in Europe…I shouldn’t say the left, I should say what is now the right wing, the Social Democratic parties, the Labour Party, those are the parties that are thoroughly behind NATO.  And there doesn’t seem to be a political imperative in these countries, except going along with the policy that’s going to squeeze their balance of payments and lock them into dependency on the United States.

So, what seems to be happening if there’s no fight back on the part of Europe?  Obviously, if you look at the United Nations vote on whether to come out with a policy against Russia, many countries either abstained or voted against it.  So, the big economic result is structural.  It means there’s like an iron curtain between the white Western world (Europe and North America) and Eurasia (China, India, and Russia, and their surrounding territories).  And if you have China, India and Russia—or what [Halford John]Mackinder called Eurasia, the world core—then, are you going to have the rest of Asia coming along?  The question’s going to be, what happens with Taiwan, Japan, and North Korea?  They’re pretty much up for grabs.  And yet two days ago, the NATO leader, [Jens] Stoltenberg, said NATO has to have a presence in the South China sea, that NATO has to defend Europe in the Pacific, in China.  So, you can see the conflict that’s coming there.  And I think you also had one of the NATO people—a European politician, negotiator—saying this war cannot be settled economically.  It cannot be settled by treaty.  It can only be settled militarily.

Well, so then you’re back to, how is the military going to affect the economy?  Well, Russia cannot afford to lose, because if it loses, NATO is going to put atomic weapons right in Ukraine, right next to its border, as it wants to do in Latvia and Estonia.  And the US, apparently, is taking a position, ‘We can’t lose, because if we lose, Biden won’t be reelected.’  And Biden apparently is now running the military and economic campaign with a view towards how can he be reelected in November [2024]—with the only real variable in the American strategy being the American public itself, which, unfortunately, there’s almost no discussion of what we’re talking about today, except your show, the internet, [The Vineyard of] The Saker and the others.  So, everything is up for grabs.

AARON MATÉ:  And by the way, if this is Biden thinking, he’s doing so, even though most Americans don’t wake up caring about Ukraine, it’s not their top concern.  But there’s a very different attitude inside the White House.  Obviously, they do.

So, let me ask you about Russia.  Can Russia afford to weather all of this?  As we’re speaking, Russia has recently cut off gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria.  Let’s say other parts of Europe follow suit and refuse to pay in rubles for gas payments, as Putin has demanded.  Can Russia afford to cut off more countries from receiving Russian energy, or is Putin bluffing there, do you think?

MICHAEL HUDSON:  No, of course it can afford to cut it off because Russia is pretty much self-contained.  It’s how it survived the 1990s and the shock therapy. Any country that could survive the shock therapy, nothing is going to be that serious again.  So, it’s already shown that it can survive, 20 years ago, 30 years ago.  And it can survive much better than Europe can survive.

AARON MATÉ:  Michael, let me push back there.  It survived, but the 90s took a very heavy toll on Russia.

MICHAEL HUDSON:  Yes, it did. Absolutely.

AARON MATÉ:  Are you suggesting that Russia might face that again?

MICHAEL HUDSON: No, I don’t think it’ll be that serious again, because now it has the support of China, India, and other countries.  Before it was completely dismantled from within.  Now, it’s not dismantled from within.  It’s rebuilt; certainly, it’s military.  It’s rebuilt enough of its economy and made enough links with other economies who are politically supporting it.  Because Biden has said again and again, ‘We’ve got to destroy Russia because if we destroy Russia, we will cut it off in China, and then we can go against China as our real enemy.’  So, we’ve got to cut up the world potentially opposing us, first Russia and then China, maybe India, too.  And he’s been very explicit in this, so you can imagine where this leaves China and India. India has already said, ‘Well, look, we’re economically linked to Russia.  We’re going to continue to link.’

Russia’s foreign reserves were stolen in the West.  It’s going to basically work with China to create some kind of mutual currency swaps like United States arranges with Europe and other countries—currency swaps so that they can hold each other’s currency.  And China knows that, ultimately, it will be repaid through a new pipeline to deliver gas to China.  So, I think a decision has been made in Russia that it’s decoupling with the West.  Certainly, decoupling from Europe, decoupling from the United States, except for marginal trade, and [from] reorienting itself towards the West because it can’t afford to deal on these terms anymore.

So, yes, it’s going to be painful.  But I think the Russian people, who get a very different report of the war and the violence and terrorism that’s going on than the American press [gives], the Russians seem to be 80% behind Putin.  It’s not like it was in the 90s when they were utterly demoralized.

The military fighting is not going to end this year or next year.  It’s going to take at least 30 years.  And it will end probably with a split between Europe and the West on the one hand and Eurasia on the other hand, with more and more of Africa and South America linking itself to the Eurasian economy as Europe and the American economies shrink.

Almost everyone sees shrinkage.  I think President Xi of China said the other day, he sees that the American economy is shrinking, and certainly the European economy is shrinking, for a decade or as long as it continues the neoliberal course.  And I think that’s pretty obvious—it’s going to shrink.  And Xi also said that’s because a centrally planned economy, which they call socialism or Marxism with Chinese characteristics, is more efficient than democracy, because democracy really turns into oligarchy very quickly, and the oligarchy turns into a hereditary aristocracy.

And the West is not a democracy anymore.  The West is turning into a hereditary aristocracy. And the Chinese are trying to prevent the financial class from becoming an independent class, pursuing policies that impoverish labor, because for them banking and credit is still a public utility. That’s the most important sector to be [saved] in China, and that’s what makes China so different from the United States.  You could say that bankers and Wall Street are the central planners of the US, and their central planning is in favor of the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, and bankers are in charge of China through the Treasury, which is run by party officials that are not seeking to make capital gains for wealthy families but are using finance to build up their industry and infrastructure and make themselves independent of the West, so that America can never do to China what it did to Russia.

AARON MATÉ:  And if you were to predict the first places where we’re going to see a major fallout, major unrest as a result of higher commodity prices due to this war on Ukraine, where will it be?

MICHAEL HUDSON:  I would say Latin America, Africa, third-world countries that have not followed World Bank policy for the last 70 years and not produced their own food, but produce the export crops, so they’re dependent on importing food, primarily American grain and importing American energy.  And probably the central economic game of the NATO war against Russia was to reconcentrate control of the world energy trade in the hands of American, English, and Dutch oil companies.

So, basically the oil companies and the US are going to let the third-world countries go into a crisis.  If they default on their bonds, then the United States and the bondholders get to treat Latin America like they treated Argentina or Venezuela and grab whatever assets they have outside of their country.  Like Venezuela had investments in the United States and gold that it left in the Bank of England that were grabbed.

There’s going to be a huge asset grab.  That is supposed to be how this unfolds, and the most obvious assets to the grabbed are going to be in Latin America and Africa.  Maybe some Asian deficit countries.  So, this is the weakest link, and that’s why there’s this fight within the IMF at the upcoming meetings, to create these special drawing rights to give them money on the condition that there is a class war.

So, what we’re seeing, really, isn’t a war between NATO and Russia.  It’s a class war of the neoliberals against labor across the world to establish the power of finance over labor.

AARON MATÉ:  And so, do you think that there’s a threat of an even worse hunger crisis in this world, one that we’re not talking about and should be preparing for it?

MICHAEL HUDSON:  A threat?  That’s the objective!  Yes, of course. That’s what they’re aiming at.  If you read what Klaus Schwab says at the World Economic Forum, he said there are 20 percent too many people in the world, especially in the Global South.  This is what all the big foundations are for.  The billionaires, they all say, ‘We’ve got to thin out the population, there’s too many consumers that don’t produce enough wealth for us.’  If they produce wealth for themselves, that doesn’t count because that’s not for us and we don’t get it.  So, yes, that’s not going to be an accident.  Obviously, anyone who looks at the basic economic trends can see that this is inevitable—and you have to assume that this was discussed as part of the whole big neoliberal plan of the Biden administration and the Deep State behind it.

KATIE HALPER:  How different is this from what we saw with Trump, how continuous, or how much of an aberration do we have between the different administrations?

MICHAEL HUDSON:  It’s pretty much the same.  The same groups are still in control.  Trump was going to appoint that general who was going to basically clean out the State Department and the CIA, but his son-in-law convinced them not to appoint this person.  And Trump didn’t have anyone in his administration able to close down this whole neocon group there.  So, basically, he let them destroy, essentially.  They just ignored what he did.  He wanted to withdraw troops from Syria and the Army just refused to withdraw the troops. Nobody followed his orders.  So, he was an aberration politically, but the presidency of the US these days is pretty much a figurehead for the Deep State behind it.  So, I don’t think there’s that much difference.  The Republicans are as much behind this plan as the Democrats.

AARON MATÉ:  Let me ask you about the economic toll on Ukraine from this conflict, and not just from Russia’s invasion, but the last eight years since the US-backed coup.  And maybe we can start with what happened in the fall of 2013, because the conventional story that we get told a lot in the US is that basically this whole crisis began when Ukraine was in talks with the EU under Yanukovych, the ousted president.  And Yanukovych was going to sign this agreement with the EU and that’s what most Ukrainians wanted.  It would have brought liberty to Ukraine, and then Russia basically sabotaged it and ordered him not to.  And that’s when Ukrainians came out to protest…

KATIE HALPER:  This is not…you’re not saying this, Aaron, right? You’re saying this is the mainstream narrative that we’ve been fed.

AARON MATÉ:  Yes, this is the mainstream narrative that we’ve been fed.  And so that’s when Ukrainians came out to protest with the Maidan revolution, as it’s called, and that’s what led to the coup in February of 2014 that ousted Yanukovych.

Can you talk about what that narrative gets wrong, especially the actual terms of the agreements that Yanukovych was being asked to sign by the EU and what that would’ve meant for Ukraine?

MICHAEL HUDSON:  Well, Russia couldn’t really tell Yanukovych what to do.  Yanukovych was always independent.  Russia offered a better deal, and Yanukovych said the deal that the EU was offering would make it much poorer than the continuation of the relationships that it had with Russia, which, after all, were its traditional relationships.  So, Yanukovych didn’t sign the EU deals.  And at that point, it wasn’t the Ukrainians that protested. It was a neo-Nazi group that was positioned in…that set itself up with snipers all around Maidan square, and it was the Nazi group that began firing on the policemen to make it appear as if it were the government, and to fire on the general crowd.  So, basically, the coup was sponsored by the United States who put in the officials that were designated by Ms. Nuland, and the Ukrainians had hoped that somehow joining the EU would make them prosperous.  Well, that’s the myth that Europe had, that if it would only take US advice, it would end up as prosperous with as many consumer goods as the United States.  And it was all a myth.

But when Yanukovych’s board looked at it, they said, ‘Well, we’re not going to make money this way, basically.’  And the kleptocrats who were running Ukraine at that time…the Ukrainians weren’t running Ukraine.  It was considered by the World Bank, every agency, to be the most corrupt country in Europe, and the kleptocrats thought, ‘Wait a minute.  If we sign that then the Europeans are going to take over our property and they’re going to want to buy us out, and we’re going to end up with some yachts and some real estate in England like the Russians.  But it’s really going to be a giveaway.’  So, they were certainly behind Yanukovych, saying, ‘This is not a good deal with this.’

That’s when the US decided that it needed a coup, and even at that time it wanted…it realized that it had the idea of long-term fighting against Russia as the first domino to fall in the fight against China.  That was already in the discussion already at that time in 2014.

AARON MATÉ:  Right.  Carl Gershman is the former head of the National Endowment for Democracy.  He called Ukraine, quote, “The biggest prize,” and what he saw as a struggle against Russia, he thought that actually bringing Ukraine into the Western orbit would actually lead to regime change even in Russia, and lead to Vladimir Putin’s downfall.

MICHAEL HUDSON:  Well, he was a Trotskyist, a neocon, and a virulent Russia-hater.

KATIE HALPER:  An example of that great Trotskyist-to-neocon trajectory that we see so much.


AARON MATÉ:  One small point though.  I think the protest that happened initially against Yanukovych, I think that was actually a large mass of people.  That wasn’t neo-Nazi.  I think the neo-Nazi…

MICHAEL HUDSON:  Right.  But they didn’t do the coup.  They weren’t behind the coup.

AARON MATÉ:  The coup was definitely the far-right, as they’ve even taken credit for—as they even take credit for, openly.

You mentioned the kleptocrats in Russia.  Let me ask you about that.  What is the real state of the oligarchy in Russia?  We hear in the US constantly about the Russian oligarchs, and they’re sort of blamed for all the world’s ills.  What is the actual reality of Russian oligarchs?  How has that evolved under Putin?  This oligarch class was obviously created under [Boris] Yeltsin with the advice of US technocrats who came in.  What is the actual power of the oligarchs in Russia now, and their relationship with Vladimir Putin?

[To hear the rest of the interview, please go to UsefulIdiots.substack.com.]

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  1. fresno dan

    Well, Janet Yellen, who was the Federal Reserve head and [now] the Secretary of the Treasury says, ‘Well, what we’re going to do is use the International Monetary Fund to preserve America’s unipolar hegemony.’ I think she used almost those words. We have to keep American control of the world and we’re going to do it through the IMF. And that means in practice using the IMF to create special drawing rights, which will be sort of like free money, the bulk of which will go to the United States to support its military spending abroad for all of this huge military escalation. And it will enable the IMF to go to countries and say, ‘We will help you pay your debts and not be foreclosed on and get energy, but it’s conditional.’ On usual conditions: you have to lower your wages; you have to pass anti-labor legislation; you have to agree to begin selling off your public domain and privatize.
    the usual suspects saying the usual
    I’m sure glad we got Biden instead of Trump /s

    1. fresno dan

      and of course, watching both Fox and MSNBC is like watching professional wrestling and thinking you are viewing athletics…(now that I think about it, watching all US media is nothing but propaganda – we live in the disinformation sea way before the disinformation burea was created)

  2. Charlie Sheldon

    I watched the whole video and it was excellent. I do wonder, though, if Russia and China and others have seen this happening and did their risk calculation and determined that this was the time to take an action to literally knock off the dollar by using the Ukraine SMO as the means to then shut off gas to Europe and break the EU and force the third world (or the South) to align with them and a new currency system. In that sense I disagree with Hudson that this SMO was purely military, I think, overlaying it, was this broader financial strategy now underway.

    I guess we’re gonna find out.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Perhaps it’s a both-and situation, with the Shock Doctrine playing a role. Hypothesis: Russia saw a replay of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the works. The CMC did not begin in October 1962 when a U-2 detected missiles in Cuba. It began months earlier when the USA set up a cruise missile base in Turkey, and the USSR responded by beginning to deploy missiles to Cuba. In 2021 Russia assessed the USA would attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO, either formally or informally, and then deploy missiles there. Russia further noted these missiles, unlike those of 1962, would be right on their border instead of 500km + across the Black Sea, and realized it would have to therefore take preventive action ASAP. Thus the two draft “red line” treaties submitted to the US and NATO in December 2021, making it clear if the USA (and its tool NATO) didn’t agree Russia would have to assure its vital interests were addressed “by other means.” The situation became urgent when Russia realized the Ukraine Army was concentrating on the “line of control” separating the Donbass insurgent areas from the rest of Ukraine.

      Those other means began on February 24 2022. The group-thinking neocons, have pushed all other voices out of the insider conversations and imbibed deeply of their own kool-ade, only in the last few weeks began to realize they had once again failed to anticipate the potential downsides of their own actions. In order to avoid the wrath of their marionettists on Wall Street and in Texas the neocons brought to the foreground one of the financiers’ back-burner projects, namely to break up Russia, China et al as described by Dr. Hudson. Thus, per the Shock Doctrine, not allowing the crisis of their blunder going to waste. How it turns out remains to be seen.

      1. sinbad66

        And another factor could have been that, at the Munich Security Conference, Zelenskyy had talked openly about reviving Ukraine’s nuclear weapons program and no one said boo. The Russian knew that, with old Soviet plans, they could easily do it. That, plus everything else you had mentioned, made the Russian say ‘OK, we’ve heard enough’ and they took action.

      2. orlbucfan

        It’s long past time the Powell Memo $$Cabal$$ and their neocon leeches got a taste of their own medicine. A big one. The one thing this American dreads is the blood of a lot of innocents will be shed. But, hey, too many humans exist anyway.

    2. KS

      If you read some of Pepe Escobars work on the Silk Road, I think you are correct. I have also been watching the economic fallout, and it seems to be going in two directions. One is strengthening the US dollar, through what some call the Dollar Milkshake method, the other is investment in commodities. What we are seeing it a splitting of future visions of international economics. The counter to Yellen’s plan is Glazyev’s economic model, in which Putin has even said Russia is prototyping by pegging their currency to gas, gold and soon probably oil and others. This, if it gets established will counter the US plans as there is then an alternative option for poorer nations. It also emphasizes Hudson’s words on that this is a class war. Russia/China on the side of labor.

  3. Eclair

    Thanks so much, Yves and Company, for posting this, along with, earlier, the Mearsheimer lectures and, today, the excellent interview with Jacques Baud.

    All of this, even sifting out some of the prejudices and shortcomings of the writers/speakers, leaves me deeply unsettled. The US seems to be run by a clique of psychopathic ‘mean girls,’ who have been threatened by a newcomer; one who is richer, has a fancier car and house, and is attracting all the football players. Knives, both verbal and steel, are drawn and no quarter will be given. And no thought for the collateral damage, which could include the splintering of our already fractured federation of States. Along with nasty and brutal ideological ….. I can’t find a word that is not already ‘loaded.’

    We are witnessing a vendetta against a nation that happens to occupy a large land mass (larded with desirable resources from fossil fuels to lithium to agricultural land) wedged between two other emerging nations who are not as well-endowed and are natural markets for these resources. Wow, what a powerhouse a coalition of China-Russia-India would be! No wonder the mean girls want to destroy Russia.

    Today it’s fossil fuels and lithium, tomorrow it’s water. And, waiting in the wings, if not already on stage, climate disruption.

  4. The Rev Kev

    With the shift to a multipolar world, it seems that Washington is determined to maintain a unipolar world – one that no longer exists. So this is nothing less than a desperate, reckless gamble. Break through or crash. So, push the Russian Federation into attacking the Ukraine so that it can be economically crippled by international sanctions until it implodes – with a resultant regime change. Keep it as a pariah state which will help it be split into smaller exploitable countries. From there, do the same for China with either Taiwan or Japan acting as the local Ukraine. A side benefit of getting other countries to sign up for this sanction regime is that it will cripple those countries in the long run. So this means that the EU will never evolve to be a competitor with the US as not only will the cost of energy cripple them, but the burden of buying US military equipment will hang heavy over their economies. So it will be the International Monetary Fund routine for them of lowering wages, passing anti-labor legislation and selling off public domains and privatization. Hopefully *glance around* they won’t revolt and overthrow their suicidal governments.

    But somebody forgot tell all those other countries what their part was in this script. The Russian Federation did some fancy financial judo and not only has their economy adapted, they are winning in the Ukraine. The bulk majority of the world took one look and said ‘Include me out!’ India and Saudi Arabia doing this must have really stung. And now Russia has brought time for the Chinese to adapt and be ready for their turn which will be many years delayed. Why? Because western stocks of armaments have been so badly depleted. The US has had to tell Taiwan that they will have to wait about four years before they can be supplied. But wait, their’s more. The world has been given a great reason to de-dollarize. And countries have learned the vital lesson that the west will seize your assets if they want and international law be damned. So this effort at a unipolar world is not only failing but it will reconfigure world relations in ways that will take years if not decades to play out. And to my own discomfort and surprise, I think that if we are honest, that we can thank the Russian Armed Forces for all this.

  5. RobertC

    Michael Hudson — And yet two days ago, the NATO leader, [Jens] Stoltenberg, said NATO has to have a presence in the South China sea, that NATO has to defend Europe in the Pacific, in China.

    Cdr Salamander provides this timely chart What Our NATO Friends are Bringing to Sea

    Now who in ASEAN will step forward to provide docks, warehouses, etc facilities for refueling, maintenance (and wartime repairs), training, etc?

  6. hexagram

    This seems to be the argument: The US/EU/NATO are to be condemned for installing the government they wanted in Ukraine — the “most corrupt country in Europe” –, but the kleptocrats who ran Ukraine and Yanukovitch (his “board”) get a pass for preferring to align with Russia for their own private gain.

    Like Mearsheimer, this analysis may explain why Russia is doing what it is doing, but it doesn’t excuse it. Bringing a modern war down onto the population of Ukraine seems to be an acceptable policy choice to these critics. Surely, if the West had enforced its vision for Ukraine in this fashion, Michael Hudson wouldn’t be so silent on the issue.

    1. RobertC

      Putin has precedence in the Bush Doctrine’s Pre-emptive Strikes executed as Preemptive war

      A preemptive war is a war that is commenced in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived imminent offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending (allegedly unavoidable) war shortly before that attack materializes. It is a war that preemptively ‘breaks the peace’.

      President Bush was not the first nor the last US president to initiate preemptive war.

      1. lance ringquist

        Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.

        basically its nafta billy clintons disastrous policies that will reverberate in america and around the world for decades to come. its called blowback!

        we can never recover till nafta billy clintons disastrous policies have been reversed

        “In January 1998, the neoconservative Project for the New American Century sent a letter to President Bill Clinton calling on him to overthrow the Iraqi government and making that goal an official “aim of American foreign policy.”



        NATO Bombings of Yugoslavia Aggression Against Sovereign State – Lavrov———————————–epeatedly insisted there was no such promise, that it had all been “myth” or “misunderstanding,” and moreover that NATO’s vast expansion had been necessary and has been a great success


        The US ‘Betrayed’ Russia, but It Is Not ‘News That’s Fit to Print’

        New evidence that Washington broke its promise not to expand NATO “one inch eastward”—a fateful decision with ongoing ramifications—has not been reported by The New York Times or other agenda-setting media outlets.

        By Stephen F. Cohen
        —————————————we now know yugoslavia and milosivic were found innocent: Bill’s deeds have lessons for Americans. Had we learned them, maybe no U.S. forces would be fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.


        By ben Avram MacJean
        Friday Oct 14, 2016 · 12:53 PM CDT


        “clearly this is fascism,

        “bill clinton did this,

        NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days following accusations that Milošević was ethnically cleansing Albanians in Kosovo.

        The late Milošević was quietly and de facto cleared of all charges by the Hague Tribunal in 2016, but by the time the truth came out, Yugoslavia was long gone, broken into 7, more manageable and exploitable, countries. One of those profiteers, Albright’s financial management company, was involved in the privatization of Kosovo’s telecommunications company. From Wikipedia, one can learn that she too likely profits well from her war mongering, along with other untouchables”

        bill clinton did this to the mexicans,

        “There’s no other option for us. It’s either certain death in our villages where we can’t survive, largely due to NAFTA, or maybe dying on the road.”

        “a bill clinton mouth piece,
        In a March 28 New York Times article, Thomas Friedman wrote:

        “For globalization to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is… The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

        As NATO troops entered Kosovo, the same newspaper announced Kosovo’s new currency will be the U.S. dollar or German mark, currencies of the two countries most responsible for Yugoslavia’s break-up. And after months of being told that Slobodan Milosevic was the problem, we heard Washington Balkans expert, Daniel Serwer, explain:
        “It’s not a single person that’s at issue, there’s a regime in place in Belgrade that is incompatible with the kind of economy that the World Bank… has to insist on…”

        ” Bill Clinton elaborated:

        “If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.”

        “Tribalism” was the word used by 19th century free trade liberals to describe nationalism. And this war was all about threatening any nation which might have ideas of independence.”

    2. timber

      You seem to assume Yanukovitch was following policy contrary to what most Ukrainians wanted. Yet when Zelensky ran for office he won a landslide on the platform of peace and economic integration with Russia – Yanukovitch’s policies. You also assume there would be less war and suffering if Russia chose not to defend her peoples from US funded Azov types when many think her fate might turn into Syria’s on a far grander scale, had see not defended her people.

      1. Telee

        Yesterday I followed a link from NC which, written by a Ukrainian from Kharkov, gave a description of the internal politics and policies of Zelensky as seen from someone who has first hand experience. Yes, Zelensky won by 70% running on a platform of peace, but when in office changed directions and his approval rating dropped to 20%. He promptly outlawed opposing political parties, appointed foreigners including from the US in his cabinet, Punished his critiques with jailing and right sector death squads etc. Quite revealing! And then our media and politicians talk about fighting for freedom and democracy. That alone should make one skeptical of the establishment disinformation program.

        Here’s the link. Well worth the read. https://consortiumnews.com/2022/04/29/ukraine-the-real-zelensky/

        1. RonR

          Interesting. Consortiumnews.com appears to be blocked in Canada. Our puppet doing his thing ???

          1. The Rev Kev

            Can’t get it here in Oz either. It just times out. The censorship is getting rather blatant now.

    3. John Steinbach

      For Russia, the US/NATO (Really no difference) takeover & armament of Ukraine and NATO expansion into the Baltics and, apparently now Scandinavia, is an existential matter. The politics leading up to the US orchestrated coup are irrelevant.

      Imagine China occupying Mexico & arming it to the teeth, and the US response. Whether by conscious design or simply effect, Hudson is correct in the broad outlines of the geopolitical outcome of the War.

      I do question a 30 year war scenario & the likely hood that there will still be a functional global economy in 30 years.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Yanukovitch had already agreed to step down and new elections were scheduled when Vickie and the Nazis decided to oust him with the Maidan coup.

      What was the big hurry? Perhaps the US didn’t have its preferred puppet lined up yet?

      Let’s not forget there was already an 8 year war that was brought down on the people of Ukraine that started after the coup.

      If the US had simply done nothing, none of this would have happened and Ukraine would likely be peacefully trading with both Russia and the EU right now instead of being turned into rubble.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        A fine point I overstated previously: Yanukovich had agreed to early elections in writing but the date was not yet fixed. The formal opposition had also agreed to the deal.

        The day after it was inked, Yanukovich went to Kharkiv for some sort of scheduled event/meeting. The Right Sector types took to the square and got very ugly. Yanukovich went by helicopter. His official car went there too. The car was shot at, his office and official residence were seized.

  7. RobertC

    I’ve been reading (rereading in some instances) Jan Krikke‘s essays at AsiaTimes. Three years old but still timely is Red China is turning green In the rush to modernize, China neglected its environment, but now its growing middle class is demanding environmental responsibility

    As Michael Hudson, TRK and others have explained, we need to look beyond the immediacy of the NATO-Russia conflict.

  8. Timothy Dutra, MD, PhD

    As a Forensic Pathologist, maybe I think too much about death. I feel like I’m back in August, 1914, but this time this war of all against all will result in and end in a full-blown thermonuclear mass extinction.

  9. Susan the other

    Ukraine is the Berlin Wall of the 21st century. It is the barrier against social influence from China’s Belt and Road economics. Social more than economic because by trading with China the EU would quickly learn that the Chinese have good socialist practices. It occurred to me, just cogitating on all this, that we set up Afghanistan to be our barrier against China in south Asia. But with Afghanistan at one end and Ukraine on the other it is more tactical against Russia and for procuring free Russian oil. I still believe that whoever controls oil controls the world. And will do so until we can establish alternative energy. Right now that is Russia. Our next move, after our failure in Ukraine, will be to build a Berlin Wall around all of the EU. I don’t think it can be accomplished politically because the EU needs oil. So if the standoff takes 20 or 30 years it is long enough to lose our control of the neoliberal world. And even still, once alternatives are established using oil as a bribe or threat will no longer work. There will be no petrodollar; no petrorouble There will only be good government. And we have pretty much forgotten how to do that. “The West is not a democracy anymore” because it is losing oil, power and credibility. So, since we have neither protected our own resources nor maintained “good government” we will one day soon be at a disadvantage. I believe we have already lost the political war.

  10. shinola

    IIRC, “NATO” is an acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I guess my memory of world geography must be faulty – Just what part(s) of China, India, Japan, etc. are adjacent to the North Atlantic?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i e been yelling to whomever the same
      russia/china etc have a right to their own dern sphere of i fluence
      …and our monroe do trine doesnt/shouldnt co er the whole world.
      im sickened by my country

      1. Susan the other

        I feel depressed about it too. Makes me conjure up a mental relief that it should be possible to actually have a military, like the military we have which is virtually invincible – but not really and nobody wants to test it – but has lots of integrity – that that military could actually carry out an anti-war coup. I mean, who is in a better position to create peace? And even be joined by the heads of other militaries to work together against the conniving insurgencies of all the neoliberal/neocon profiteering politicians who would love nothing more than a WW3.

    2. jsn

      In the Gondwanaland of the NeoCon hive mind, all land is the same: when NATO is your tool, all water looks like the Atlantic.

    3. Acacia

      Just what part(s) of China, India, Japan, etc. are adjacent to the North Atlantic?

      Wir brauchen mehr Lebensraum. (W. S. Burroughs voice)

    4. K.k

      They don’t call em the (nato)Nazi Arming Training Organization for nothing!

      As you know very well know, we are an empire. Our ruling class and their State believe the world is their sphere of influence. And for some of these new money tech dorks, i suspect the whole solar system is “our” sphere of influence. Im surprised they have not claimed the sun and its solar energy as their property and accordingly extract rent for it. Maybe once they figure out a blockade of sunshine falling on “adversary” territory.
      Would not put it pass these psychopaths.
      Apologies for superfluous post, just venting a bit.

  11. Robert Dannin

    Hudson always provides excellent commentary on political economy, but his social-historical analysis veers off the deep end here, particularly his references to the Mackinder-Alexander Dugin geopolitical garbage about Eurasianism.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is an unsubstantiated attack and is therefore in bad faith, a violation of house rules. You are accumulating troll points. You need to back up your attempts at drive-by shootings or stand down.

      1. Robert Dannin

        Unsubstantiated? Eurasianism is an iteration of geographical determinism that dates to Ibn Khaldun’s “Muqqadimah” published in the 14th century. Like Karl Wittfogel’s long-discredited theory of “oriental despotism” it is pure ideology that has been resurrected by both sides; Putin claims that Ukraine never existed as a nation while Timothy Snyder writes that Russia itself isn’t a real country, only a rump post-Soviet state whose historical legacy is that of an empire governed for centuries by non-Russophone foreigners.

        Rather than explain the logic of economic cooperation between Russia, India and China — probably because he can’t — Hudson employs eurasianism in the service of anti-imperialism. No different than the vapid argument that the Monroe Doctrine is a bulwark against anti-democratic foreign powers.

        Drive-by? I think most NC readers are intelligent enough to recognize vulgar determinism.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You continue with your bad faith argumentation with your very first word, “Unsubstantiated?” as if getting ugly proves you did support your initial argument, as opposed to merely assert. You repeat that lame strategy at the end. Your comment was a drive-by attack, and sneering otherwise does nothing to change the lack of remotely adequate backup for your first comment.

          So we already have two instances of bad faith on top of your initial remark. So now we are up to four violations of our written site Policies (the first one had two violations, being an asshole and bad faith argumentation). A mere two gets you banned.

          But no, you seem determined to set a NC record for childish conduct.

          You again gratuitously insult Hudson, who is a vastly more important intellectual figure than you are, asserting that he can’t explain “the logic of economic cooperation between Russia, India and China”. Honestly, since you’ve twice maligned Hudson, you get what you dished out. This is pure unadulterated dipshittery. Anyone who knows squat about trade, and Hudson started out as a balance of trade expert and therefore with his nose deep in trade relations, knows that geographic proximity is the single biggest determinant of bilateral trade levels. You act as if Hudson can’t look at a map and see the long borders between these countrie? Seriously? This is such an obviously fabricated aspersion that you should hang your head in shame for attempting it.

          And you are the one who depicts it as “pure ideology” when the Financial Times (among many others) points out that the Belt and Road initiative has revived interest in Mackindler. But oh noes, per you, they are all captives of “pure ideology” rather than noticing the fact that China’s ability to revive historically important and valuable trade routes has geopolitical significance? Are the Chinese captives of “pure ideology” too? It looked to me they didn’t want to have to become a naval power to protect their trade routes and have to go toe to toe with the US.

          Mackinder’s concepts are crude tools but this is geopolitics and all the tools are crude and bad. Zbigniew Brezinski’s “Game Plan,” which divides the world with Mackinder-like crudity, is no different.

          And as to your remarks re Russia, you are merely parroting claims of Ukrainian nationalists (and Snyder is such a hysterical Russia hater as not to be credible, witness his conduct on Russiagate). Since you don’t read Russian and aren’t an expert in this area, let’s turn the mike over to an academic who grew up in Eastern Europe and actually does read Russian and has extensive contacts back home:

          The reason is that most people in Eastern Europe other than Ukrainian nationalists have been thinking of Ukraine as not a real country ever since 1991. This applies even more so to Belarus — Ukraine at least has Taras Shevchenko to build some cultural legacy around, while Belarus has nothing — but probably precisely because there is nothing to build around in Belarus, there has been very little anti-Russianism in Belarus and Belarus will be eventually reabsorbed bloodlessly.

          I was born in the mid-80s. Without being subject to any Putinist and Russian nationalist propaganda, I have been thinking of Ukraine as a fake made up country ever since it became independent.

          That context is easily lost to non-Slavic people, but the name itself gives it up — as you’ve properly heard, it means “periphery”, “borderland”, etc. And it means that in all Slavic languages, so one picks up on that clue immediately as a kid, realizes this is not a real ethnonym, and from there on just can’t take it seriously.

          Belarus (which was actually “Belorussian SSR” in Soviet times) is the same situation — you can’t really literally call yourself “White Russian” and seriously claim not to be Russian. And again, everyone picks up on that immediately.

          So Ukrainian nationalism had for a long time been looked at with amusement in the region, until it was pumped up to be what it is now, and until the connection with Nazis bubbled up to the surface (that had been suppressed in Soviet times, probably in order to not reawaken it by the mere knowledge of it, and thus younger people weren’t really aware of it).

          Also, it has to be well understood than in Soviet times the republics were seen as provinces of an otherwise unitary state, with the borders between them being meaningless. Nobody viewed them as potential new states (few people read obscure articles in constitutions), except apparently the local elites who were dreaming of gaining the freedom to loot without central control. Remember the famous story of the KGB having to use its spy satellites to figure out that the Uzbek party leadership had been lying about cotton production, after which Sharof Rashidov is rumored to have committed suicide? Well, in an independent Uzbekistan Islam Karimov was free to do whatever he wanted without fear.

          BTW, there are two other situations like that in the region — Macedonia and Bulgaria and Moldova and Romania.

          Macedonia shows what the future of Ukraine would be if it continues to exist — there was no such thing as Macedonia until the mid-20th century, it was an ethnically mixed region with a Bulgarian plurality. But the Bulgarians lost the wars and then the Serbs and Greeks partitioned it, and after several generations of ethnic cleansing and forced Serbization and Macedonization (ironically, with the active assistance of the Russians), now there is an actual Macedonian nation. And the process has gone too far to be easily reversed. But that Macedonian nation can only exist on a militantly anti-Bulgarian basis, and so it does, to the point where there isn’t even a proper road between the two countries as the Macedonians don’t want to build it in order to guard against any potential Bulgarian influence (meanwhile there is a shiny brand new highway from Skopje towards Serbia).

          Ukraine is on that trajectory, but not as far along yet, and apparently the Russians decided to put an end to it while they still could.

          Moldova, on the other hand, does not have bad relations with its parent nation and will likely be reabsorbed into Romania, perhaps in the course of the Ukrainian partition.

          This is only a small portion of his analysis, and the rest unlike yours includes ample citations with links, so don’t even try arguing when you don’t have the goods.

          You are no longer welcome here. A textbook case of Dunning Kruger effect and nasty too.

          1. Michael Hudson

            Thanks, Yves.
            I simply had in mind India’s strong refusal to take an anti-Russian stand, explaining that its trade was largely with Russia. (Your point about proximity being the major determinant of trade, as in US/Canadian trade.) In conjunction with Chinese President Xi’s meeting with President Putin promising deep and lasting friendship and cooperation, this triad is resolving the long-simmering China-India conflict on their border, bringing peace to it.
            Then we have highly populated Indonesia, rejecting U.S. demands that Putin be dis-invited to the G-20 meetings this autumn. Along the the Belt and Road Initiative, all one needs to do is to look at the map, look at the U.N abstentions on U.S. sanctions against Russia, and look at how national leaders are following the trade and investment patterns — and ultimately, of course, simply their own national interest in regional consolidation and protection by creating a multipolar economy, that is, creating their own polarity.

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              THANX, DOC & YVES!!!!

              A better world is possible. To get there we must understand the reality on the ground and not the made up BS!!!

              Keep on Keeping on!

              Everyone Fights. No One Quits!

              Long Live the Public!

          2. deplorado

            Hi Yves,

            I would love to read more of this analysis. Is it possible to post it or share it with NC?


          3. Jim

            Yves, thank you for the text you included, and for the polemical smack-down! Is there a link to the original analysis, with the citations and links? This looks like a great resource.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I had refrained from posting it because it would constitute far and away the longest comment evah at NC and is also a bit disjointed because 1. It was written for my information as opposed to intended to be published and 2. I had posed some questions and it responded to them, albeit in a pretty expansive and roundabout manner.

              Here are some key bits:

              A lot of people in Russia do miss the USSR, and not just because of patriotic reasons, but for economic social justice ones too. But then there is also a strong and building up nationalism, which sees the USSR as a failed project built at the expense of the Russian nationality. Which indeed is kind of what happened — while Russians (and Belarussians and Ukrainians back when they were largely the same thing) were being slaughtered in the GPW, life in Tashkent and Dushanbe, thousands of kilometers away, was safe, and people there weren’t even drafted at the same rate. Then we have the famines, GULAG camps, and all the other catastrophes, which affected most severely people from the European part of the USSR too, i.e. again predominantly the Russians. The Russian nationality never really recovered demographically — had the USSR not collapsed, it would have been at less than 50% by now. It’s possible that such considerations figured in the decision to allow the union to fall apart without a fight. The other reason is that the peripheral republics were always subsidized by the core, i.e. the ethnic Russians were paying for the comfort of the periphery (life was always a lot better in the Baltics, and the southern republics than it was in the Russian North and Center).

              And Russian nationalism has indeed been pushed by Putin, it is not incorrect to say it [this had been my contention, v. “Eurasianism”]. They had to find some kind of ideology to consolidate the country around after the disaster of the 1990s, and unfortunately they went back to the old “Бог, царь, отечество” (“God, Tsar, Fatherland”). Even though what actually made the USSR great was atheistic communism and its investment in math and physics education, not the Orthodox church (differential equations and material science make cruise missiles hit their targets, not prayers).

              Dugin is a weird case — my understanding is that how influential he actually ever was over the Kremlin has been greatly exaggerated in the West (which has a weird fascination with mystical figures with long beards from the depths of the vast Russian landmass), and especially in the last decade he fell out of favor in terms of direct influence, though the general ideas have had some traction.

              A lot less known is something called the Izborsk club, which I am not sure if it still exists (the people who organized it were quite old already 15 years ago) but the ideas that came out of the people associated with it did have traction in the 2010s:



              (notice how Ukraine is mentioned in the above link)



              It gets painted in the West as “right-wing” but really was far from that — it was a weird mixture of the two trends I described above, i.e. the monarcho-imperialists and outright Stalinists, e.g. look at someone like Andrei Fursov:


              Note that Fursov has an unfortunate tendency to veer into weird conspiracy theories (unfortunately not uncommon in intellectuals in Eastern Europe, likely a consequence of growing up with the KGB listening to everything around you and thus developing an overwhelming paranoia about everything), but if you ignore that and want a deep conceptual social and ecological analysis of the broad history of the Russian lands, I have seen nobody who tells it better in the most clear terms.

              You will find Dugin there too, as well as more mainstream names such as Sergey Glazyev (who does actually hold some direct influence right now).

              It’s not as if these people are telling Putin what to do or that “Eurasianism” is a coherent ideology that Putin is following (these aren’t like the US think-tanks that produce explicit policy prescriptions that are handed to the politicians, who are simple automatons that merely rubber stamp them), but it is not true that that type of thinking is completely on the fringe.

              And Dugin’s “Eurasianism” indeed really largely recycles Mackinder’s Heartland theory, but this is hardly a fringe view — Brzezinski was recycling the same ideas too, only from the perspective of the outlying islands, while the “Eurasianists” flip it around from the perspective of the heartland.

      2. Alec

        It would be wonderful if the pointless and substance-less MSM parrot comments just disappeared. Coherent well-reasoned comments which disagree have a place of course but empty namecalling (“garbage” in this case) just brings a comment section down.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I agree but with the hysterical environment we can only do so much in the way of moderation.

          And sometimes those comments elicit well-informed pushback or qualifications or additional information from specialist sources.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I read an interesting article (which I unfortunately can’t find anymore, could have been on Valdai-club website) last year by two Chinese writers, where they kinda argued that BRI, The New Silk Road, is anti-Mahan more than anything else.

      There are 44 completely landlocked countries in the world and 26 of them are in Eurasia. That means oceans have no significance for countries like Kazahkstan or Belarus. The theories (Mahan) that have prevailed for the last century just do not work for most of the Eurasian countries. So something new, or in this case old, has to done to allow them to prosper.

      The original silk road worked as the most significant global trade route for 1600 years, and according to the article that was the “natural state” of commerce. The age of sail and maritime commerce (and the new strong actors it created) merely took the focus and people forgot how the world actually works.

      We don’t need any Mackinder-Dugin “geopolitical garbage” to discuss the economical sense of trade trough Central Asia connecting the world of commerce from Europe to China, from India to Russia. I don’t think the pre-Jesus Romans considered any deeper philosophies when trading silk (and some blows) with the Han – it was just good business.

  12. lance ringquist

    ein Kampf part II ain’t doing so well i see.

    Globalization led Hitler to the American dream: hitler clearly was enamored by globalization and free trade, he based Mein Kampf on it, he also based the E.U. free trade zone on on it


    Hitler’s American Dream
    The dictator modeled his racial campaign after another conquest of land and people—America’s Manifest Destiny.
    By Timothy Snyder
    March 08, 20174:18 PM

    Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photo byLVCE and painting by John Gast/Wikipedia Commons.

    Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photo by LVCE and painting by John Gast/Wikipedia Commons.

    This article supplements Fascism, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit Slate.com/Fascism.

    Adapted from Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder. Published by Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

    Adolf Hitler believed that the racial struggle for survival was a German campaign for dignity, and the restraints were not only biological but British. The world political economy of the 1920s and 1930s was, as Hitler understood, structured by British naval power.

    British advocacy of free trade, he believed, was political cover for British domination of the world. A prosperous Germany required exchange with the British world, but this trade pattern could be supplemented, thought Hitler, by the conquest of a land empire that would even the scales between London and Berlin.

  13. andy

    I wish the interviewers would have asked Hudson more about where the Ukraine situation leaves China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Aren’t there rail links to Western and Central Europe that go through Russian and Ukrainian territory?

      1. Paula

        Yes, and good show by China. Would that our country would lead in this fashion, but they’ve de-evolved to war. Love this site and all the excellent comments which I read through as energetically as I do the original post. What an education!

  14. Eureka Springs

    I can’t help but wonder what Trump and his ilk ultimately wanted? If they really did want to shred the neo con State department and CIA… to what end? I would be dancing in the streets with all the MAGA garb my body could wear if that were truly so. But Trump and Co. are no less greedy, so sans neo liberal cons, what was their design?

    It s good to see more people put the 20 to 30 years of war possibility into words. This empire certainly likes it that way. Grenada’s greatest strength was an inability to give U.S. a protracted tussle.

    1. Acacia

      My impression was that instead of overthrowing govts and starting proxy wars, Trump wanted to cut a bunch of new trade deals, and upon completion he would claim bragging rights for how “beautiful” and “winning” the terms were for the US.

      While vile in many ways, it seems like he mainly wanted to prevail on economic terms, not through skulduggery, covert ops, ‘moderate’ headchoppers/Nazis, death squads, cruise missile strikes, war, etc.

    2. Susan the other

      One inconsistency I noticed early on about Trump was his reaction to our failure (under Shrub) to take all of Iraqi oil. Oil was Trump’s biggest concern. His anti-war stance was genuine I think; he was the proverbial draft-dodger – saying he didn’t feel bad for John McCain because he was stupid to go to Vietnam in the first place. I liked that about Trump. Vietnam was a terrible debacle. That’s what war is – it’s stupid, wasteful, disastrous and devastating and it takes decades to recover from. But more importantly for Trump and his backers, war interferes with trade. I do believe Trump was an aggressive free-trader and he and his cronies just didn’t really understand that free-trade sets the stage for war much like imperialism. Going back to Quinn Slobodian’s thesis that “neoliberalism” is just “neocolonialism” with a different hat. Free trade isn’t free at all.

      1. Adam Eran

        Greg Palast says the point of the Iraq war was to keep the (cheap to extract) Iraqi oil in the ground, so the (more expensive to extract) fracking and offshore leases could be exploited. Makes sense to me.

  15. Tokyognome

    Mr. Hudson makes some observations about the depreciation of the Japanese yen, asserting that “This is part of the plan.” With all due respect, this analysis strikes me as off the mark. As a long-term resident in Japan, I consider myself somewhat familiar with the subject matter and would like to offer a different view, namely, that this is not the result of a sinister US-ploy but mostly self-inflicted damage. My primary concern here is this: If Mr. Hudson is completely off on Japan, what am I to think about the rest?

    – The yen received its first major downward impetus at the hands of Japan’s second Abe administration (2012 – 2020) and its attempt to refloat the Japanese economy with a policy package (infamously known as “Abenomics”) that relied in large part on the purposeful trashing of the yen. This required almost certainly US approval.
    – A second factor is said to be the offshoring of much of Japan’s manufacturing base, which has reduced the need to switch USD denominated overseas earnings into JPY for repatriation.
    – Energy prices have been going up already before the war in Ukraine and oil imports have been rising ever since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which saw most nuclear power plants in the country being shut down. Food imports, on the other hand, have been steady. Higher prices, like oil, have been lifting inflation but compared with the other factors have little or no bearing on the external value of the yen.
    – The third, more recent factor, is the interest US-Japan interest gap, which has caused domestic invested fund to switch out of JPY into USD. Interest is not being kept low “to save the financial sector” but in order to protect the public treasury from higher interest payments, especially in the light of more net issuance of “deficit bonds” to come. As a matter of fact, banks have been lobbying (without success) for higher interest rates.
    – Successive administrations’ addiction to “deficit bond” issuance has left Japan with mountains of public debt which, however, is funded with domestic savings. To the best of my knowledge, externally Japan remains a creditor to the world despite its enormous internal debt load. Japan’s foreign currency reserves as of December 31, 2020, stood at USD 1,394,680 million. I can see no need for SDRs or American aid. Incidentally, Japan holds huge amounts of US treasury bonds.
    – Although there seem to be some voices among MPs in favor of nuclear weapons on Japanese soil (no government without crackpots), the mood in the population wouldn’t support such a move. Having said that, given the significant number and size of US military installations in Japan, nuclear warheads may already be in the country or could be brought in unnoticed. Japan is already a US client. No further coercion is needed.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I was concerned the Japan part was overstated, but I did not read him as referring to the long-standing weakness of the yen, but its marked decline since the sanctions war started from 115 to 131 to the dollar. That in connection with the increase in the price of oil and other commodities is a double whammy.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      I posted this some days ago.

      Yen weakness is an opportunity, not a threat, for Japan. https://www.ft.com/content/9acaf2e1-bfa3-4e44-9499-8a2bf0ce2cd5. The end of the article has the following: “If the autumn within the yen now makes Japanese exports cheaper, then it is going to be exporting deflation: which is strictly what an inflation-hit US desires proper now.”

      District 7 has been called upon to make itself poor in order to make life in the Capitol bearable.

        1. SocalJimObjects

          Absolutely. But as I posted above, the Yen’s decline is the US’s gain. I just did a quick Google search and U.S. imports from Japan account for 5.1 percent of overall U.S. imports in 2020.

          5% is not a whole lot, but every bit helps?

          1. Jacob Hatch

            It would depend on how much of the inputs for Japanese products are done in Yen or other weak currencies like the Euro or Thai Baht, but recently the only significant currency gaining on the dollar is the Ruble. I doubt Japan has much inputs from Russia, one of the reasons for off-shoring of Japanese manufacturing is poor access to low cost inputs.

    3. tindrum

      He referred to the plazza accords so he must mean the years since 1985.
      The Japanese economy has in fact never recovered from the effects of the revaluation of the Yen but there is debate about the true reasons for this state of affairs.
      IMF Paper: https://askinglot.com/did-the-plaza-accord-caused-japans-lost-decades
      What Happened?
      The events began in September 1985, when delegates from the G5 countries met at the Plaza
      Hotel in New York, declared the U.S. dollar overvalued, and announced a plan to correct the situation.1
      Th e essence of the plan was that the main current account surplus countries (Japan and Germany)
      would boost domestic demand and appreciate their currencies. In eff ect, this agreement marked a
      major change in policy regime: the Federal Reserve was signaling that after a long and successful fight
      against inflation, it was now prepared to ease policies, allow the dollar to decline, and focus more
      on growth. This signal was backed by coordinated currency market intervention and a steady reduction
      in U.S. short-term rates. Accordingly, it triggered an exceptionally large appreciation of the yen, amounting to 46 percent against the dollar and 30 percent in real effective terms by the end of 1986. (The deutsche mark appreciated similarly.) As a result, Japan’s export and GDP growth essentially halted in the first half of 1986…..with the economy in recession and the exchange rate appreciating rapidly, the authorities were under considerable pressure to respond. They did so by introducinga sizable macroeconomic stimulus. Policy interest rates were reduced by about 3 percentage points, a stance that was sustained until 1989. A large fiscal package was introduced in 1987, even though a vigorous recovery had already started in the second half of 1986. By 1987, Japan’s output was booming, but so were credit growth and asset prices, with stock and urban land prices tripling from 1985 to 1989.
      Then, in January 1990, the stock price bubble burst. Share prices lost a third of their value within a year,
      and two decades of dismal economic performance followed (Figure 1.4.1). Today, nominal stock and
      land prices are back at their early 1980s levels, one quarter to one-third of their previous peaks.
      Given the state of the Japanese economy now it would seem that Hudson is not completely off the mark.
      A weaker Yen is going to give Japan the longed for inflation, the cost of energy and food impoprts are going to go through the roof.

    4. Michael Hudson

      Yes of course it’s self-inflicted damage by Japan itself. I certainly did not mean that the depreciation of the yen was a US plan — just that it is being exacerbated by the fallout in the form of rising prices for Japan’s imported oil and food.
      The problem, of course, is on capital account; Japan’s low interest rate is leading once again to the kind of capital outflow that financed the carry trade in the 1990s.
      My remarks were aimed at showing the fallout of U.S./NATO sanctions and new militarization. Japan is collateral damage, but it has been damaging itself by its policies for quite a while now.

  16. VietnamVet

    At the turn of this century, the US/UK regional empire decided to enforce its hegemony on other nation states for protection money and to have access to energy. For dissenter nations, regime change campaigns were instigated. Proxy wars fought. As the Pope indicates the Kremlin reacted to NATO’s “barking at Russia’s gate”. The invasion forced the EU to openly ally with the flailing Western Empire.

    Democracy and the rule of law are just propaganda speak. The actual rulers are the West’s new global aristocracy – the corporate/state – the imperial blob. The coronavirus pandemic documents the termination of public health in the West. Off-patent treatments and non-pharmaceutical interventions were deep-sixed. For-profit mRNA gene therapy was the sole response to the pandemic. Everyone is on their own. The latest variants are spreading through the boosted. If 50% end up with long COVID, this will approach the disaster of the Black Plague. “DOOMS DAY BOOK” describes how the English villages’ bells quietly stopped ringing.

    Nothing documents the purposeful dividing of Americans from each other than the release of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn abortion rights. War and abortion are to keep the donations coming to the Democrats; not doing what is best for the people.

    By the midterms in November, it will be clear if Russia has taken Odessa and if Ukraine is a destroyed rump state or if Ukrainians fighting for their homes and families can stalemate the Russian Empire. India’s and the North American Plains’ high temperatures and the Ukraine War are almost sure to cause wheat shortages that will cause food riots across the world. The current US government is simply incapable of rationing food or energy. If diesel fuel shortages and missing truckers end deliveries, an economic depression and waves of deaths are inevitable. A cutoff of Russian natural gas will freeze Europeans next winter.

    Only the resurrection of a people’s party can save the USA.

    1. rob

      I agree,
      But we are left with figuring out “which” “people” get to say it’s “their” party.

      1. orlbucfan

        You know, mebbe it DOES matter to learn how to read, get informed, get off your lazy rear end, and VOTE! Look what happens when people don’t, and that’s calculated by the cabals, too.

        1. Jacob Hatch

          vote, just voting, even with lots of homework, is lazy if one considers the physical formula for defining work. You can expend all your energy, apply as much force as you want, but if the object does not move you’ve done no work.

          1. Adam Eran

            From Boss Tweed (a notoriously corrupt Democrat who ran Tammany Hall): “I don’t care who people vote for as long as I can pick the candidates.”

            His spirit lives on…

            You can see Tweed portrayed in Martin Scorcese’s “The Gangs of New York” … Politics as it really is.

  17. Deltron

    At some point, I think it would be interesting for Hudson to expound on this part, maybe in a standalone article:
    “If you read what Klaus Schwab says at the World Economic Forum, he said there are 20 percent too many people in the world, especially in the Global South. This is what all the big foundations are for. The billionaires, they all say, ‘We’ve got to thin out the population, there’s too many consumers that don’t produce enough wealth for us.’ If they produce wealth for themselves, that doesn’t count because that’s not for us and we don’t get it. So, yes, that’s not going to be an accident. Obviously, anyone who looks at the basic economic trends can see that this is inevitable—and you have to assume that this was discussed as part of the whole big neoliberal plan of the Biden administration and the Deep State behind it.”

    If I interpret this right, Hudson is saying Schwab (representing the wealthy elite) believes there are 20% too many people in the world, especially the Global South, because these ‘additional’ people are an economic drag who are consuming more resources than the contribution they’re making to enrich the wealthy elite…and in the event that they produce wealth for themselves, it’s not enriching the wealthy elite and thus has the potential to become a problem. Is that right?

    If so, would that mean that the wealthy elite believe they already have a surplus of cheap labor to mine, farm, distribute, enforce security, etc. in those parts of the world? I think a deeper dive on this topic would be a worthwhile exercise.

  18. Peter Beattie

    The second half was also great, a friend who subscribes sent me the unlisted link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPcsz0q8vlw). Sure it’s a personal chat, going over Hudson’s professional history that NC readers are already familiar with, but he has some interesting musings about the psychology of the US ruling class. As a political psychologist I found this the most interesting part of the interview, though I’m still agnostic on the psychopaths-rule-us thesis. Certainly, psychopaths are more likely to rise to the top of powerful institutions, but if they are only 1-3% of the general population, there would need to be a significant psychopath advantage in ladder-climbing for them to comprise a majority of top office holders. That could certainly be the case. But one doesn’t need to have the empathy deficit typical of psychopaths, if one has imbibed and believes a worldview that produces behavior typical of psychopathy. International relations 101 advises states to act like power-maximizing rat bastards – for the greater good of course – so it’s tough to distinguish a psychopath in high office from a psychologically healthy believer in US exceptionalism, mainstream economics, and standard liberal-realist IR theory.

  19. Flywheel

    Leaving aside all the conspiracy theories that Michael Hudson and others are presenting and I am not here to dispute, there is a theme that seems to repeat again and again in many opinion (so-called news) outlets. This theme essentially repeats the Russian propaganda that NATO is intent on placing nuclear weapons in Ukraine, near the border with Russia and by doing so present a major threat to Russia’s existence.

    Unfortunately, the grand public has very little idea about nuclear weapons in general and in particular the state of such weapons in the 21st Century. I have been looking at the nuclear arms scenery for the last 45 years and it is very clear that it is not the placement of nuclear weapons that makes the difference, but the policy of using such weapons to achieve standard geo-political goals through military actions. In spite of the general notion of nuclear weapons being “doomsday machines”, in reality, their effect in the battlefield is rather limited in terms of destructive power and a lot more significant in term of psychology. From a perspective of military planners, nuclear war is to be avoided as much as possible, mostly because once the threshold is crossed and nuclear weapons are being deployed, the “genie is out of the bottle”–namely, most diplomatic and military options get wiped out and potential “exit strategies” (which are always part of sound military strategy) become very limited and high risk, due to human factors affecting “rational” behavior of all actors involved in the confrontation.

    In the 21st Century, there is no need to place nuclear weapons near the border of your targeted opponent. In fact, the closer these weapons are to the border, the easier it is to destroy them, using conventional weapons and military maneuvers. With the advent of modern propulsion and electronic control and navigation systems, nuclear warheads can be placed at any location on the face of the earth, in the depth of the oceans or in space, to represent that same threat. Fighting yesterday’s wars with 20th Century doctrines and geo-political thinking is exactly what Putin exercised in Ukraine. Just because the previous imperialistic wars in Georgia, Chechnya and Syria, worked to serve Putin’s geo-political goals, does not mean that we are in the same situation today. Buying the line of “he might resort to use nuclear weapons”, for those who are looking for ways to appease Putin, is a major fallacy. Russia has a lot to lose and nothing to gain from even the most limited use of non-conventional weapons. Russian territory, which spreads over 11 time zones, is not under threat. Only the Putin’s own well-being and regime are under threat.

    Just to remind you, in Korea, the main power of the North Korean army over South Korea, is based upon hundreds of conventional artillery barrels, within range and pointing at Seoul. North Korea uses nukes to secure the regime against attacks form the outside world, utilizing the psychological effects of the “doomsday scenario”, that remains etched in the minds of people, who do not understand that actual limited capacity of the NK nukes.

    Extrapolating from situation that were perhaps relevant 30 years ago and speculating into the future is a fools paradise. The Russian population of today is NOT the generation that lived under Stalin and its successors. The younger generation in particular became used to the lure of Western goods, credit card purchases and same day delivery. Going back to fermented cabbage and potatoes, after tasting hamburgers, will not make them more loyal to the Kremlin. The glorious days of the “great patriotic war” mean very little to the young, compared to their interest in the latest trend in smart phones cats on YouTube… Unemployment may drive young people to join the Russian armed forces as a source of income; however, how many of them would still be motivated to fight an imperialistic war in general and a nuclear war, in particular?

    1. skippy

      lmmaso you just ascribed everything the west did for ages on Russia, FYI the U.S. had Nukes first and it was only due to that that others sought them …. wowzers

  20. Steven

    Hudson’s Marxist roots show through in his analysis of the Ukraine war. It may be true that the poor and Global South will be the collateral damage in NATO’s – i.e. U.S. and Western governments’ – attempts to preserve its global hegemony. But the goal is most likely preservation of the West’s “exorbitant privilege” of creating money as debt and exchanging it for the world’s wealth, not class war against the poor. Overt, explicit coercion, whether at the national or personal level, doesn’t go over well these days. There are just too many ways to fight back. But give that coercion a veneer of money and almost no one can resist. (All the talk of ‘freedom’ in the West is a sick joke. How free are you if you have to choose between starvation for yourself or your family and reporting to work in a pandemic-infested workplace?)

    For both the wealthy, AKA oligarchies, and politicians the possession of money or the power to create it is the ultimate source of power. The real ‘class war’ in the West will be between politicians who continue to carry water for the West’s oligarchies, its FIRE sector and petro-military-industrial complex and those who, like Russia’s Putin or China’s Xi, realize the only lasting source of power for themselves and their nations is the ability of their people to create wealth the world needs and can afford, not debt, weapons, and death.

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