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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 BlogviewPepe Escobar Archive

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The US targeted assassination, via drone strike, of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, apart from a torrent of crucial geopolitical ramifications, once again propels to center stage a quite inconvenient truth: the congenital incapacity of so-called US elites to even attempt to understand Shi’ism - thus 24/7 demonization, demeaning not only Shi’as by also Shi’a-led governments.... Read More
Coming decade could see the US take on Russia, China and Iran over the New Silk Road connection
The Raging Twenties started with a bang with the targeted assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani. Yet a bigger bang awaits us throughout the decade: the myriad declinations of the New Great Game in Eurasia, which pits the US against Russia, China and Iran, the three major nodes of Eurasia integration. Every game-changing act in... Read More
President Donald Trump will de-escalate the crisis with Iran when he speaks to the nation at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, a U.S. intelligence source has told me. Last night Iran retaliated for the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani with missile strikes on two U.S. military bases in Iraq. So far there have... Read More
The bombshell facts were delivered by caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, during an extraordinary, historic parliamentary session in Baghdad on Sunday. Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani had flown into Baghdad on a normal carrier flight, carrying a diplomatic passport. He had been sent by Tehran to deliver, in person, a reply to a message from... Read More
Andrei Martyanov’s latest book provides unceasing evidence about the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a...
Once in a blue moon an indispensable book comes out making a clear case for sanity in what is now a post-MAD world. That’s the responsibility carried by “The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs,” by Andrei Martyanov (Clarity Press), arguably the most important book of 2019. Martyanov is the total package — and he comes... Read More
Chinese cargo truck coming from the Kyrgiz-China border. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar
This journey into the past also reaches the heart of 21st century China’s New Silk Roads strategy
At the start of the Tang dynasty, in the early 7th century, a young wandering monk embarked on a 16-year long voyage from the imperial capital Chang’an (today’s Xian) to India to collect Buddhist manuscripts. At the time Chang’an was six times bigger than Rome at its height, with a population of over one million... Read More
Chinese container cargo trucks after crossing the Kulma pass at the Tajik-China border. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times
This is arguably the ultimate road trip on earth. Marco Polo did it. All the legendary Silk Road explorers did it. Traveling the Pamir Highway back to back, as a harsh winter approaches, able to appreciate it in full, in silence and solitude, offers not only a historical plunge into the intricacies of the ancient... Read More
A fuel tax hike set the country ablaze and triggered a social backlash
On November 15, a wave of protests engulfed over 100 Iranian cities as the government resorted to an extremely unpopular measure: a fuel tax hike of as much as 300%, without a semblance of a PR campaign to explain the reasons. Iranians, after all, have reflexively condemned subsidy removals for years now – especially related... Read More
Central Asia, betweem China and Europe, is bustling
We are cruising on a pristine, 380 km-long four-lane superhighway from Almaty to Khorgos – finished in 2016 for $1.25 billion, 85% of the cost covered by a World Bank loan. And then, suddenly, riding parallel to us, there’s the real superstar of New Silk Road connectivity. Meet Yuxinou, the container cargo train plying back... Read More
The pros and cons of being the Heartland in the 21st century
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Crossing Tajikistan from west to northeast – Dushanbe to the Tajik-Kyrgyz border – and then Kyrgyzstan from south to north all the way to Bishkek via Osh, is one of the most extraordinary road trips on earth. Not only this is prime Ancient Silk Road territory but now is being propelled as a... Read More
Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts
Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts. Zarif was the main... Read More
Kazakhstan’s first president has road map for 21st century: global alliance of leaders for nuclear-free world
The Astana Club is one of the most crucial annual meetings in Eurasia, alongside the Boao forum in China and the Valdai discussions in Russia. China, Russia and Kazakhstan are all at the forefront of Eurasia integration. No wonder, then, that the 5th meeting of the Astana Club had to focus on Greater Eurasia –... Read More
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva greets his followers after his release from prison. Photo: Roberto Stuckert
Better not mess with the former Brazilian president; Putin and Xi are his real top allies in the Global Left
He’s back. With a bang. Only two days after his release from a federal prison in Curitiba, southern Brazil, following a narrow 6×5 decision by the Supreme Court, former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva delivered a fiery, 45-minute long speech in front of the Metal Workers Union in Sao Bernardo, outside of Sao Paulo,... Read More
US-Australia-Japan alternative to Belt and Road helps explain why the US sent a junior delegation to Thailand and why...
Chinese President Xi Jinping six years ago launched New Silk Roads, now better known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the largest, most ambitious, pan-Eurasian infrastructure project of the 21st century. Under the Trump administration, Belt and Road has been utterly demonized 24/7: a toxic cocktail of fear and doubt, with Beijing blamed for everything... Read More
Biggest story at ASEAN was convergence of moves toward Asia integration, leaving Delhi out for now
A pan-Asia high-speed train has left the station – and India – behind. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would have been the largest free trade deal in the world, was not signed in Bangkok. It will probably be signed next year in Vietnam, assuming New Delhi goes beyond what ASEAN, with diplomatic finesse... Read More
Compare US pillaging with Russia-Iran-Turkey’s active involvement in a political solution to normalize Syria
What happened in Geneva this Wednesday, in terms of finally bringing peace to Syria, could not be more significant: the first session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. The Syrian Constitutional Committee sprang out of a resolution passed in January 2018 in Sochi, Russia, by a body called the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. The 150-strong committee... Read More
He died like a dog.” President Trump could not have scripted a better one-liner as he got ready for his Obama bin Laden close-up in front of the whole world. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, fake caliph, ISIS/Daesh leader, the most wanted man on the planet, was “brought to justice” under Trump’s watch. The dead dog caliph... Read More
The presidential election in Argentina pitted the people against neoliberalism and the people won. What happens next will have a tremendous impact all over Latin America and serve as a blueprint for assorted Global South struggles. The presidential election in Argentina was no less than a game-changer and a graphic lesson for the whole Global... Read More
Russia-Turkey deal establishes ‘safe zone’ along Turkish border and there will be joint Russia-Turkey military patrols
The negotiations in Sochi were long – over six hours – tense and tough. Two leaders in a room with their interpreters and several senior Turkish ministers close by if advice was needed. The stakes were immense: a road map to pacify northeast Syria, finally. The press conference afterwards was somewhat awkward – riffing on... Read More
Neoliberalism is – literally – burning. And from Ecuador to Chile, South America, once again, is showing the way. Against the vicious, one-size-fits-all IMF austerity prescription, which deploys weapons of mass economic destruction to smash national sovereignty and foster social inequality, South America finally seems poised to reclaim the power to forge its own history.... Read More
Following the Damascus-Kurdish alliance, Syria may become the biggest defeat for the Central Intelligence Agency since...
What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way: Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam. Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story. Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes... Read More
Forget an independent Kurdistan: They may have to do a deal with Damascus on sharing their area with Sunni Arab refugees
In the annals of bombastic Trump tweets, this one is simply astonishing: here we have a President of the United States, on the record, unmasking the whole $8-trillion intervention in the Middle East as an endless war based on a “false premise.” No wonder the Pentagon is not amused. Trump’s tweet bisects the surreal geopolitical... Read More
Deciphering who’s behind the violence leads to a long list of possibilities
“If we burn, you burn with us.” “Self-destruct together.” (Lam chao.) The new slogans of Hong Kong’s black bloc – a mob on a rampage connected to the black shirt protestors – made their first appearance on a rainy Sunday afternoon, scrawled on walls in Kowloon. Decoding the slogans is essential to understand the mindless... Read More
Lawyer Lawrence Ma claims the US has been supporting the protests via groups such as the NED
Lawrence YK Ma is the executive council chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation and director of the China Law Society, the Chinese Judicial Studies Association and the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation. He also finds time to teach law at Nankai University in Tianjin. Ma is the go-to expert in what is arguably... Read More
More attacks on Saudi Arabia appear inevitable unless it agrees to stop war against Houthi rebels
Never underestimate the power of blowback. Right now, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler of the House of Saud, is staring at it, an ominous abyss opened by the Houthis in Yemen. This past weekend, Yemeni Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier Yahya al-Sari clinically described how Ansarallah, also known as the Houthi... Read More
“It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.” The statement above was not written by Franz Kafka. In fact, it was written by a Kafka derivative: Brussels-based European bureaucracy. The Merkel-Macron-Johnson trio, representing Germany, France and the... Read More
Fringe practicing wanton destruction for destruction’s sake surely have learned tactics from European black blocs
What’s going on deep down in Hong Kong? For a former resident with deep cultural and emotional ties to the Fragrant Harbor, it’s quite hard to take it all in just within the framework of cold geopolitical logic. Master filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai once said that when he came up with the idea for Happy Together,... Read More
After years of reporting on the Great War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved
Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel). Back in Peshawar, I learned that something... Read More
Lula on fights with Hillary, talks with Ahmadinejad, Obama ‘good but nervous and too young’
As we advanced past the first hour of a historic interview – see here and here – at a Federal Police building in Curitiba, southern Brazil, where Lula has been incarcerated for over 500 days as part of the lawfare endgame in a complex coup, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was on a... Read More
Modi and Putin discuss business and joint ventures at an economic conference in the Far East
There’s no way to follow the complex inner workings of the Eurasia integration process without considering what takes place annually at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. BRICS for the moment may be dead – considering the nasty cocktail of economic brutalism and social intolerance delivered by the incendiary “Captain” Bolsonaro in Brazil. Yet RIC... Read More
Former Brazilian leader wishes emerging economies were closer, recalls Obama ‘crashing’ Copenhagen climate meet
In a wide-ranging, two-hour-plus, exclusive interview from a prison room in Curitiba in southern Brazil, former Brazilian president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva re-emerged for the first time, after more than 500 days in jail, and sent a clear message to the world. Amid the 24/7 media frenzy of scripted sound bites and “fake news”,... Read More
Meanwhile, fires rage in the Amazon and Brazilian President Bolsonaro has become a target of global indignation
Brazil has always been a land of superlatives. Yet nothing beats the current, perverse configuration: a world statesman lingers in jail while a clownish thug is in power, his antics now considered a threat to the whole planet. In a wide-ranging, two-hour, world exclusive interview out of a prison room at the Federal Police building... Read More
The ultimate American imperial dream is to engineer a Chinese vassal state
There must be some kind of way outta here Said the joker to the thief There’s too much confusion I can’t get no relief Business men, they drink my wine Plowmen dig my earth None were level on the mind Nobody up at his word -Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower (immortalized by Jimi Hendrix)... Read More
Iran continues to sell oil, mostly to China
Complex doesn’t even begin to describe the positioning of Iran-Russia in the geopolitical chessboard. What’s clear in our current, volatile moment is that they’re partners, as I previously reported. Although not strategic partners, as in the Russia-China tie-up, Russia-China-Iran remain the crucial triad in the ongoing, multi-layered, long-term Eurasia integration process. A few days after... Read More
Readers from myriad latitudes have been asking me about Hong Kong. They know it’s one of my previous homes. I developed a complex, multi-faceted relationship with Hong Kong ever since the 1997 handover, which I covered extensively. Right now, if you allow me, I’d rather cut to the chase. Much to the distress of neocons... Read More
Moscow is proposing a diametrically opposed vision to Western sanctions, threats and economic war, one that is drawing...
Russia is meticulously advancing Eurasian chessboard moves that should be observed in conjunction, as Moscow proposes to the Global South an approach diametrically opposed to Western sanctions, threats and economic war. Here are three recent examples. Ten days ago, via a document officially approved by the United Nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry advanced a new... Read More
China’s ‘National Defense in the New Era’ white paper shows where the country aims to be by 2049
The key merit of China’s National Defense in the New Era, a white paper released by the State Council in Beijing, is to clear any remaining doubts about where the Middle Kingdom is coming from, and where it’s going to by 2049, the mythical date to, theoretically, be restored as the foremost global power. Although... Read More
Donald Trump says he’s ‘okay either way’, whether there’s war with Iran and Tehran seems to be okay with that too
All bets are off in the geopolitical insanity stakes when we have the President of the United States (POTUS) glibly announcing he could launch a nuclear first strike to end the war in Afghanistan and wipe it “off the face of the earth” in one week. But he’d rather not, so he doesn’t have to... Read More
“We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. But I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth. I don’t want to go that route.” Even... Read More
Beijing could be forever tarnished if it does ‘dirty business’ with the Bolsonaro government in Brazil
China is South America’s top trading partner. Together, China’s policy banks – the China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China – are the top source of development finance for the whole of Latin America. Over the past few decades, the Brazilian government, leading national companies and multinational corporations have configured what Fernando Mires, already... Read More
… while academics in Beijing plot decoupling business with the US and teaming up with EU and ASEAN
Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance. The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.” So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school... Read More
Erdogan looks set to buy Russian missile defense system in defiance of US and NATO, tying his cart to China and Russia
Turkey is a key hub in the emerging New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative. Erdogan is a master at selling Turkey as the ultimate East-West crossroads. He has also expressed much interest in joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by Russia-China, whose annual summit took place in Bishkek a few days before... Read More
The Trump administration is obsessively spinning the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. Apart from a small coterie of scholars, very few people around the world, especially across the Global South, know what that means since the then incipient strategy was first unveiled at the 2017 APEC forum in Vietnam. Now everything one needs... Read More
Lost in the submarine uproar, the deadline set by Tehran for the EU-3 to support Iranian crude sales expires Sunday
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the submersible was conducting bathymetric measurements, as in examining and mapping deep sea conditions. The crew on board was composed of “unique naval specialists, high-class professionals, who conducted important research of the Earth’s hydrosphere.” Now the – so far unnamed – nuclear-powered vessel is at the Arctic port of... Read More
No leaks from their trilateral at the G20, but the trend toward togetherness is clear
Japan excels in perfect planning and execution. So it’s hard to take this setup as an unfortunate “accident.” At least the – unofficial – Russia-India-China summit at the sidelines of the G20 transcended the fate of an interior decorator deserving to commit seppuku. Leaders of these three countries met in virtual secrecy. The very few... Read More
India under Modi, an essential cog in US strategy, gets cozy with China and Russia
It all started with the Vladimir Putin–Xi Jinping summit in Moscow on June 5. Far from a mere bilateral, this meeting upgraded the Eurasian integration process to another level. The Russian and Chinese presidents discussed everything from the progressive interconnection of the New Silk Roads with the Eurasia Economic Union, especially in and around Central... Read More
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr./Released
Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”. Sparks are ominously bound to fly. For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds... Read More
President Rouhani blasts US leader Donald Trump as ‘a serious threat to regional and world stability’, offers...
With the dogs of war on full alert, something extraordinary happened at the 19th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) late last week in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Virtually unknown across the West, the SCO is the foremost Eurasian political, economic and security alliance. It’s not a Eurasian NATO. It’s not planning any humanitarian imperialist adventures.... Read More
The US ban on Huawei is pushing it to develop alternative systems that may rival Google and Android
Google cuts Huawei off Android; so Huawei may migrate to Aurora. Call it mobile Eurasia integration; the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership may be on the verge of spawning its own operating system – and that is not a metaphor. Aurora is a mobile operating system currently developed by Russian Open Mobile Platform, based in Moscow.... Read More
The Russia-China strategic partnership, consolidated last week in Russia, has thrown U.S. elites into Supreme Paranoia...
Something extraordinary began with a short walk in St. Petersburg last Friday. After a stroll, they took a boat on the Neva River, visited the legendary Aurora cruiser, and dropped in to examine the Renaissance masterpieces at the Hermitage. Cool, calm, collected, all the while it felt like they were mapping the ins and outs... Read More
PastClassics
How America was neoconned into World War IV
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Our Reigning Political Puppets, Dancing to Invisible Strings