Setting aside for now the dismal failure to check neoliberalism’s ongoing and profit-driven war on the natural environment, 2023 will surely be remembered for three things. First, as the year Russia shone a terawatt beam on the limits to US and NATO power. Second, as the year Israel and its backers lost all moral legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Third, as the year BRICS – and dollar decline – reached, if not tipping point, certainly the point of no return.
These realities form the loose basis for my selection of three videos, not two hours in total, for those who eschew unseemly revelry in favour of fireside contemplation, as another year draws to a sobering close.
First is calm and cogent Dimitry Orlov. I’ve referred to him in other posts but this is the first time I’ve featured him at source. Since there are quite a few Dimitry Orlovs out there – one of them an ice hockey defender for the Carolina Hurricanes – here’s a little bio on this instantiation.
Born in Leningrad to a family of academics, he emigrated in the 70s to the USA to study and work as an engineer, while making frequent trips back to the USSR. Having witnessed at close quarters the Soviet implosion, this highly intelligent man now writes extensively on America’s impending collapse. Hear him now as he speaks in tones of impeccable sobriety on the broader ramifications of his adoptive country’s defeat, and that of the collective West, in Ukraine.
For my second choice I’ll give Gaza a swerve. (If you haven’t already seen it, do watch the Ben Norton video featured in the last post but one: The Houthis and Israel’s Achilles Heel.)
Instead, and bearing in mind that overall context of a China led BRICS, with its Belt and Road promise of prosperity for a global south whose colonial and neocolonial legacy has been one of poverty and debt, 1 I’ve chosen a pundit familiar to steel city readers; the Bangkok based former US Marine who vlogs at his New Atlas site. Yes, the one and only Brian Berletic.
I came upon Brian two years ago in the context of the propaganda war on China; specifically, an allegation of racism in the promotion – I kid you not – of the Dune movie! His calm takedown of a flat out but, for all its intrinsic absurdity, widely circulating lie impressed me. Since then I’ve featured him often, on both the Ukraine war and Gaza. Here though he turns his attention on his adoptive country, where the US seeks to do what it does best: sow chaos and disruption. In this case that means undermining Belt & Road in SE Asia.
In his sights here are a high speed rail link, China having wowed the world – and yours truly, as I sped silently from Shanghai to Ningbo on a cushion of air at a shade under 300mph – with its prowess in this sphere. Two other examples involve cutting, by canal and land bridge, through the long narrow neck between Southern Thailand and Malaysia to shave days, Panama style, off current shipping routes via the Malacca Strait.
In such particulars he makes, as is his wont, the wider point of a world changing too swiftly and inexorably for the US to halt or reverse the shift. All it and the collective West can do is mount, with diminishing effectiveness, spoiling operations.
My last offering may seem an odd choice. Like most of the West I was too confused by the Hell into which post-Tito Yugoslavia was pitched in the 90s to see what was happening, or do other than follow the lead of media I still more or less trusted. The Guardian and BBC said Slobodan Milosevich was a New Hitler (epithet of choice, I now know, for those imperialism seeks to Take Out) so who was I to disagree?
Now I have a different take. With hindsight it is clear that – leveraging our craving, likely hard-wired, for soothingly simplistic tales of Good Guys and Bad – we were fed one moral inversion after another. History also tells those paying attention that Yugoslavia was a dress rehearsal, in military and more importantly in narrative terms, for the empire’s wars, most but not all in the Middle East, of the century about to be born.
I was a good ten minutes into this brilliant exposition before it dawned on me that I know its Danish presenter. Well, “know” is a bit of a stretch. I first encountered Jan Oberg seven years ago in the context of the dirty war on Syria. A keen snapper myself, and mightily impressed by his street photography and eye-witness reporting of an Aleppo newly liberated from Western backed terrorists, I sought and gained his permission to use a sample.
Since then I’ve had occasional email exchanges, featured him in posts on Washington’s act of economic terrorism and environmental vandalism in the Baltic, and cited him in others. I don’t share Jan’s pacifism, on which he speaks eloquently in the video, but he commands my utmost respect. Enjoy – and learn.
And that’s it from me as far as 2023 is concerned. Catch you in ’24, inshallah.
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- In a post nine months ago, The whataboutery of Simon Tisdall, I wrote:
A renascent Russia, and China’s Belt & Road, open up the possibility (for now I’ll put it no more forcefully) of a prosperity denied the global south for centuries under colonial rule, and for decades under the debt-trap controls of modern [i.e. financial] imperialism. IMF conditionality makes development loans (to bring recipient states into the global value chain as semi-colonies) subject to ‘market reforms’ which open up nationalised sectors to the investors of Frankfurt, London and New York. But the rise of a multipolar world, led for now by a China whose approach to prosperity rests on a very different model to that of Wall Street – see Why read Michael Hudson? – offers a ray of hope to the global south even as it threatens to call time on the West’s larceny.