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Listen to my May 6 Alternative Visions show where I explain that the policy makers & politicians of both parties in Washington have now decided the Fed needs to precipitate a recession in order to dampen inflation. Forget price controls on gas, oil, energy and food–as the US had done in previous decades before Neoliberalism. Now the ‘solution’ is to destroy household-consumer Demand to resolve what is essentially a Supply problem created by Covid 2020-21 and now US sanctions & war in Ukraine. New forces are also now coming on line that will further exacerbate inflation as well. Today’s recession shares many similarities with the 1981-82 Reagan recession in which the Fed provoked recession to quash Demand to address Supply forces which, then as well as now, can be traced to global oil and energy corporations. (Current recession will also have overlays of the 2001-02 tech corp crash and 2001 recession. And watch out for eventually financial instability (2008-10) and potential further source, as some key financial asset market implodes (tho it won’t be housing). And as US slips into recession amidst rising inflation, politicians attempt to divert attention with War and other ‘Identity’ issues. US elites are increasingly bankrupt as resolving America’s growing and converging crises.

TO LISTEN TO THE ALTERNATIVE VISIONS SHOW GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-fed-decides-recession-how-deep-how-soon/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT:

The Federal Reserve’s decision this past to raise interest rates immediately by half percent—to be followed by further half percent hikes in June & July and still more increases the rest of the year—means Capitalist economic policy is now to precipitate a recession in order to deal with rising inflation. The question now is not whether, but when, recession comes in the US. Will it be before the end of this year, or early next. And how deep will it go? Dr. Rasmus describes the current Anatomy of Recession in the US: global and domestic supply chain problems that emerged last summer 2021 + monopolistic US corporations price gouging + commodities inflation due to US war sanctions on Russia this year + business productivity collapse leading to pass through of their rising labor costs + emerging inflationary expectations. All together ensure continued inflation in 2022. Rasmus discusses whether the Fed can address these mostly Supply side causes successfully. The US experience of 1981-82 recession is compared to 2022. Can Fed destruction of household-consumer Demand again today achieve inflation control? How deep a recession precipitated by Fed interest rates be required? What’s happening in the stock markets with its wide 1000 point daily swings? Why a ‘soft landing’ of the US economy won’t occur, given the already 1st quarter contraction of the US GDP and concurrent slowdowns in China, Europe and emerging market economies as Fed rate hikes drive up the dollar and ‘export’ recessions abroad.

Listen to My latest, April 29, 2022 Alternative Visions Radio Show during which I discuss the just-released preliminary US GDP figures for January-March quarter. (And tune in to my coming Alternative Visions radio show this friday, May 6, during which I’ll discuss the Federal Reserve’s rate hike announcement this wednesday and why it will accelerate the US recession already here.

The Fed has taken its 1981-82 recession play book off the shelf and has decided a sharp further GDP decline is needed to check escalating inflation. But will it? (Not really).

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-us-recession-is-here-us-gdp-contracts-january-march/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT:

Dr. Rasmus discusses the recent announcement of US GDP for first quarter 2022 which shows a contraction of the US real economy already underway. The Federal Reserve’s plan to accelerate interest rate hikes starting this month and every Fed meeting this year thereafter, ensures the recession drift will continue and likely accelerate as well. The four components of US GDP—consumer spending, business investment, government spending and net exports (imports-exports) are reviewed as forces behind the GDP contraction. Rasmus discusses the supply side and corporate price gouging behind the current inflation, and how that is depressing consumer spending 70% of US economy + how slowing of economies in rest of world is depressing exports + how US shift to war spending at expense of social programs is further exacerbating the US economic contraction. As Covid impact has ebbed, the war in Ukraine further exacerbates supply drive inflation and in turn consumer demand. How big oil corps and other monopoly corporations in USA are gaming the inflation to generate super profits; what and why Biden administration is doing (and not doing). Rasmus further concludes the war in Ukraine will not be short but protracted, as US adopts a ‘Brezinski 2.0’ doctrine to debilitate Russia economically and militarily in Ukraine; why NATO will expand outside Europe; why the Ukraine war is an event similar to ‘Spain 1937’.

As the war in Ukraine continues to grow and all sides stumble toward a greater conflict, what represents the US ‘left’ has taken various positions with regard to the war. Some on the Left have fallen into the black hole created by the massive US media propaganda barrage. They adopt the imperialist view that Russia is solely to blame by invading and the US and NATO are the good guys responding to the bad guy’s invasion.

Other organizations on the US Left have take the position of ‘plague on both their imperialist houses’,thereby ignoring the history and role of the US in Ukraine since 2014 to use local fascist forces in there–first to drive out any pro-Russian influences in Ukraine government and install in its place clearly fascist elements, secondly to use that government to attack eastern Ukraine 2014-2021, and thereafter to expand US-NATO into Ukraine.

Other ‘Left’ formations in the US lean toward correctly identifying US imperialism as the originating culprit in the war. While both the US and Russia are capitalists, it is not a case of two ‘imperialisms’ more or less equally responsible. The US form is clearly the more dangerous to world peace and has decided to restore its former political and economic world hegemony at any cost–including use of tactical nukes if necessary. US political elites have already begun debating and convincing themselves the US can prevail if tactical nukes are used. Russia in Ukraine is clearly the proxy conflict (much like Spain was in the 1930s) as the US has decided it must neutralize Russia before it ‘takes on’ China, the even greater challenger to its global empire. It is prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary to achieve its objectives, this writer is convinced.

Therefore in a previous piece poster on this blog, this writer explained why those formations on the US left were incorrect to assume the position that both the US and Russia were ‘equal imperialists’ and a ‘plague on both their houses’ position was incorrect. US imperialism is the greater danger, willing to provoke a third world war in order to restore its hegemony now under greater threat at any time since 1945. Russia and China are the loci of that threat, while other lesser countries also show increasing resistance to continuing per the rules of the American empire (Venezuela, No. Korea, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Syria, Yemen, Iran, So. Africa, and even India).

The following comment is my follow on response to those US left formations that have assumed a position that the US imperialism is the greater threat with which I agree–but with some qualifications that their analysis still does not give sufficient attention to US imperialism’s current global strategy, of which the war in Ukraine is just the first phase:

“You are correct to reject the ‘equal’ imperialisms’ (US and Russia) position and realize the greater cause of the conflict to be US imperialism. Too many ‘left’ positions today unfortunately do not give sufficient cause and weight to US imperialism’s role in preparing, instigating, expanding, and now continuing the conflict in Ukraine which is a deeply influenced fascist regime. This is a US proxy war with Russia on the ground of Ukraine (not unlike Spain 1937), designed to debilitate and undermine Russia militarily and economically as a prelude move by the US before ‘taking on’ China. Since assuming power in 2021, Biden and the US clearly taunted and provoked Russia to invade which fell into the trap—no doubt deciding to fight on the ‘foreign ground’ of Ukraine now rather than on Russian ground later at which it would be at an even greater disadvantage. Already US imperialism has re-solidified its hegemony in Europe and US capitalists opened vast new profitable markets there as Russia is driven completely out of Europe’s economy. US energy and defense corporations will now reap hundreds of billions more profits, climate change investment has been completely sabotaged in the US, and capitalists in US have succeeded now eliminating any social program spending initiatives. In addition, Biden and Democrats see the ‘war issue’ as the only tangible position to run on in November elections after having abandoned all promises of social spending benefiting US workers and facing a coming debacle in November 2022 as inflation accelerates and the US central bank embarks on a policy of extraordinary interest rate hikes that are clearly intended to generate a recession no later than 2023 and possibly even earlier. The US empire is under rising global challenge today, and US imperialists have decided to attack both Russia and China before their strength and challenge become even greater at a later date and even more difficult for the US empire to confront. The greatest risk today and in the near future is that US imperialism is preparing to fight a tactical nuclear war if it deems it necessary. It has already begun preparation and its media has begun the process of convincing public opinion it is permissible to do so. The internal ‘debate’ among US neocons and capitalists is not whether to engage in a tactical nuclear confrontation with Russia, but how to develop the best strategy to do so. I agree with much of your analysis–with the exception that, like most of the rest of the US left you need to see Ukraine proxy war as the first move in the US strategy to restore its unchallenged global hegemony”

Jack Rasmus, April 16, 2022

Here is my analysis of what’s going on in Ukraine after one month. It may not prove acceptable to many. Certainly not liberals, the ruling elite in Washington, or even some left liberal and socialist left. But I’ve always spoken my mind on this blog and will continue to do so, with no allegiances to any political forces or organizations. So here goes:

First, this is a proxy war engineered by US neocons and political elites, that has its origins going back as far as 1999, when the neocons began to gain greater control over US foreign policy. The dress rehearsal for the current conflict originates with the Clinton administration. Once Clinton could not keep his zipper shut and the radical right used the opportunity to exact whatever concessions they wanted from him in his final two years in office, the shift in US foreign policy began and has gained momentum ever since.

In Bill’s last two years, in domestic policy a shift began to a more hyper neoliberalism in tax, spending, war, monetary, industrial and trade policy. In foreign policy, the main elements were a rejection of the prior US position not to move NATO east that was given to the remnants of the Russian elite in 1991-2 after the collapse of the USSR. The ‘old guard’ of US foreign policy, led by advisers like George F. Kennan and other US ambassadors was abandoned in the late 1990s. NATO led by the USA became an offensive organization. Its first victim was Yugoslavia-Serbia and the bombing of Servbia-Kosov0. That same year the march of NATO east also began.

In 2005 the US supported the so-called ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine that ended in a stalemate between pro-US and pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. The US next moved on Georgia encouraging it to invade south Russia, which it did but lost. NATO moved further into east europe in the wake of that conflict. In the Ukraine in 2010 the pro and anti-US elements came to an uneasy truce. The US then built up its influence by courting the ground forces of fascists as a popular uprising force, led by US under secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, who bragged the US had spent $5 billion financing the coup that occurred in 2014. The election of that year was narrowly won by the pro-Russian president. The street forces were then unleashed in mass protests in Kyiv that winter, 2014-15 and the pro-Russian president fled the country. Buttressed by publicly declared fascist elements in the street, many of whom then took seats in the new Parliament, the US deepened its economic and political involvement in Ukraine further. Victoria Nuland was appointed by the new Kyiv government as ‘economic czar’ over the Ukraine economy. (Made possible by Ukraine suspending its constitution that foreigners could not assume such a position. She was made an honorary citizen). Following her appointment the floodgates of US capital and business opened wide and US companies absorbed, purchased, and joint ventured with former Ukrainian companies. The US military advisers descended on Ukraine.

Russia responded by supporting the pro-Russia Donbass region. A local war in that area began. 14,000 pro-Russian Ukrainians died, as the fascist forces were organized in special military units and unleashed on the Ukrainian east (aka the Azov battalion). A peace armistice was arranged at Minsk in 2016 and the fighting and attacks slowed but never ceased. NATO moved east once again, a third time since 1999, absorbing the three Baltic countries after having already brought the rest of eastern Europe into the NATO fold.

Trump was elected president in 2017 and for the next four years a hiatus of sorts in the conflict followed. The Democrats believed Russian intervention in the US election of 2016 stole the presidency from Hillary Clinton and they never forgot. They waited their turn.

In 2020 Biden won and the preparation to step up the political pressure on Russia began anew: In late summer-fall 2021 the Biden administration deepened its military and political cooperation with Ukraine, as it pulled out quickly from Afghanistan. Joint US-Ukraine military exercises occurred. More US advisers poured into Ukraine to train the Ukrainian army. In November 2021 a preliminary agreement was signed by the US with Ukraine to bring it into the European Union, a necessary precursor to NATO membership. (Over the previous two decades the US withdrew from several missile treaties with Russia and set up advanced early warning radar in Poland and Romania.) All of eastern europe and baltics was now under NATO by 2021. Only Ukraine, which had repeatedly requested membership remained. The US refused to acknowledge that NATO membership would not be offered to Ukraine, and repeatedly in 2021 refused when asked to clarify. Encouraged by these US statements and actions, Ukrainian president, Zelensky, became more strident in his request for US military protection, membership into NATO, and even began publicly saying Ukraine should be given nuclear weapons. Zelensky was being played like a violin by the US. A plausible explanation is the US was taunting and provoking Russia to invade. It had much to gain by a Russian invasion on a proxy country soil. (See my prior article ’10 Reasons Why the US May Want Russia to Invade Ukraine’ posted on this blog in February)

Russia began its military build up last winter in response. The US and neocon elements running US foreign policy used the threat of a Russian invasion to re-establish its hegemony over NATO among European nations which were showing signs of distancing from NATO, especially under Trump. US business interests, especially the oil and gas companies, had much to gain from a US policy of driving Russian out of Europe–not only in energy but in all areas of business. There was much profit to be gained by US corporations entering the European economic vacuum that would be left by a Russian exit.

Russia took the US bait and invaded on February 24, 2022. The US media-propaganda corporation machine immediately went to work to freeze out any and all global alternative commentary on the origins and state of the military conflict. The American public was force fed carefully selected stories about the plight of refugees, estimates of civilians killed, heroic Ukrainian fighters, and how the US was again the leader of protecting Democracy and Freedom. Little or nothing slipped through the US media to provide an actual picture of what was going on in Ukraine on the ground. The story was Russian military forces were bogged down, poorly equipped and led, being killed by the thousands and about to be defeated. Much of the reporting taken directly from Ukrainian government press releases.

Then the US media drumbeat began to assume an ominous character: the Russians were preparing chemical or biological weapons under a ‘false flag’ (but whose?); the Russians were prepared to continue on to invade NATO countries; and, most concerning, talking heads began to appear increasingly proposing how a tactical nuclear war could be won with Russia. Biden in recent days assumed the even more disconcerting public position declaring Putin was a ‘war criminal’ and that ‘Putin had to go’. The former declaration made it difficult to negotiate a truce at some point; the latter a virtual declaration of ‘regime change’ for Russia that would make Russia assume no hope in negotiating a truce whatsoever. It almost amounts to evidence the US does not want a truce or end to the conflict. It wants to debilitate Russia economically with its sanctions for some time to come, foment popular unrest in Russia, and humiliate it into a virtual surrender instead of a negotiated compromise at some point. The US still has much to gain geopolitically and economically from an extension (and perhaps even intensification) of the Russian-Ukraine conflict. How else can one interpret the US president’s declaration of Putin as ‘war criminal’ and need for ‘regime change’?

But Putin and Russia are not Milosevic and Yugoslavia. Nor Quaddaffi or Saddam Hussein. Nor Noriega of Panama. Nor the Taliban. Russia is one tenth of the global economy and source of much of its economic resources. And it’s a country with 6500 nuclear weapons.

One may ask, how can US neocons pushing the conflict in Ukraine be so short sighted? To that one can only recall their disastrous invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan that they drove the US into. Biden appears increasingly unable to halt the US neocon insistence on further extending NATO and provoking Russia into a deeper conflict. Thoroughly neutralizing Russia is a necessary strategic precursor to taking on China in Taiwan or South China sea.

We are in an era of US imperialism running amuck. The same year, 2021, that the US ended its 20 year long disastrous war in the middle east, it is slouching toward another in Ukraine. Biden says US won’t get involved in Ukraine directly. But it already is. Ukrainian forces have many US advisors fighting side by side, directly tactics on the ground and use of US made weapons. US weapons like drones are likely US directed, being used with some effect to ambush Russian advanced forces. There’s also the very likely use of US satellites and AWACs helping Ukrainian forces identify where Russian forces are advancing on the ground so they can be ambushed. The US is sending thousands of javelin and stinger missiles, and training thousands of Ukrainian troops is the far west of Ukraine. As the conflict continues, it is almost inevitable NATO & even US forces will be drawn into the fight–under the cover as mercenary or volunteers.

My Position on the Conflict

Ukraine is a proxy war between US and Russia that has its origins in the US, going back to 1999 and continuing and growing ever since. It is US imperialism that is at play here. It’s not a Russian imperialism. Russia is desperately trying to prevent further penetration of US imperialism, not advance to the west. Russia lost whatever empire it had with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The US media-Neocon narrative that Russia in planning to restore the former Soviet empire into the baltics and eastern europe is nonsense. Russia clearly lacks the military resources to do so if it wanted. Even its 150,000 troops in Ukraine are dangerously spread thin along four fronts. Russia has plans to attack the baltics or Poland is a neocon narrative used to restore US leadership over NATO and serves as an excuse to increase US military combat forces in eastern europe.

The foregoing is not to approve of the current Russian invasion. It is just to acknowledge the Russian security reasons, fears and concerns driving it. One can only imagine if Mexico joined the former USSR ‘Warsaw Military Pact’ and began joint military exercises with the former Soviet Union, what the US response would have been. It would have been a US Mexico invasion in a New York minute, as they say. That’s how Russia views the situation in Ukraine. It knows if Ukraine joins NATO, then Finland and Sweden would quickly follow. The next US/NATO destabilization ‘targets’ would be Belarus and Kazakhstan (where popular uprisings have already occurred with no doubt some degree of US encouragement). A Ukraine in NATO would mean a Russia completely surrounded by NATO and it would either have to capitulate to US/NATO demands (including demobilizing its nuclear forces) or else in desperation fight a war next time using those nuclear weapons–an even worse scenario than the present. Russia no doubt believes it is either a fight in Ukraine now, before Ukraine joins NATO, or a much worse conflict later. Today’s Ukraine proxy war may be the last non-nuclear war in the 21st century.

To continue to see the conflict as a moral issue of unjustified invasion will not bring a resolution to the conflict any closer; in fact, it will perpetuate and risk a deeper conflict as public opinion is corralled in support of war hawks, neocons, and elites’ plans to continue it.

This is not to deny that Russia is a capitalist country and economy and its government deeply integrated with greedy capitalist Oligarchs. But the US is not any different: it’s a capitalist country with its own gaggle of even greedier oligarchs (bankers, shadow bankers, oil corps, and the more visible tech versions-Musk, Zuckerman, Bezos, et. al.)

Leftists and socialists are wrong to assume the position of “a plague on both their houses. They’re both capitalists and oligarchic and therefore we should support neither and call for a workers revolution to overthrow them all (as per Lenin’s call in 1914).” Their demand is Europe out of NATO! And Russia out of Ukraine!

But a workers revolution is not even remotely on the agenda anywhere. That therefore will not stop the conflict from escalating into an even wider, or more dangerous nuclear, confrontation.Nor is Europe about to exit NATO. Quite the opposite. So this left position sounds good but is completely naive. The demand should be to oppose US imperialism, even if it means another capitalist country (in this case Russia) is being attacked by that imperialism. The socialist left position sees Russia and US imperialism as equivalents. And in taking that view it in effect abstains. But to take an abstentionist position with regard to US imperialism, which is now running amuck in the 21st century, is tantamount to supporting it. It ignores which is the greater threat to world peace? Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or US imperialism intent on driving NATO east into Ukraine (and likely points to follow)? It should be asked which policies originated the conflict and now show indication of a desire to perpetuate and even deepen the crisis?

The demand should be an immediate truce and halt to the fighting. Ukraine and US/NATO should immediately sign a formal agreement of no extension of membership in NATO and no US military presence in Ukraine as part of the truce agreement. Ukraine should assume a model of Finland neutrality in its relation to Russia. Finally, Russian speaking areas of eastern and southern Ukraine should be allowed an independent international observed vote as to what country they want to join as independent republics. All sanctions should be rescinded within 30 days of a settlement. And no Ukrainian military units should tolerate soldiers or officers with extremist political associations or views.

There is no denying that fascist elements have been present in Ukraine since 2014 at least, and have a deep role within the Ukrainian military and influence within the Ukrainian Parliament and government itself. The US and west does not understand how deep the memory and fear of anything fascist runs in Russia. Russia may be over-estimating the fascist threat. But what the unleashing of the Azov battalion and other such forces did in 2015-16 and after is a stark reminder. And is it also a fact that the Azov and other forces were once again shelling and attacking the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lughansk in 2021.

The greatest danger to world peace is US imperialist interests now reacting irrationally to growing indications that the American empire is now under threat like never before; that the US global unipolar world order since 1991 can no longer be sustained. With neocons largely in control of US foreign policy since the late 1990s it is likely the US is about to engage in another, even more dangerous adventure in Europe than it did in the middle east in the previous two decades. That conflict ended with a tremendous loss of life, trillions of dollars of wasted US resources, a region left in shambles from Libya to Syria to Iraq to Afghanistan. A repeat of that policy on the Eurasian continent will prove many times more destructive and very likely lead to a tactical nuclear conflict that cannot be contained.

This proxy war in Ukraine is not at all about freedom or democracy. That’s just bullshit propaganda. It’s about money and power. It’s about restoring US imperial hegemony over Europe, breaking Russia as a global challenger to the US, and a dress rehearsal for then going after China.

Listen to my hour long Alternative Visions Radio Show of Friday, March March 11, 2022 for my analysis of the origins and geopolitics behind the current Ukraine War, followed by my analysis of the financial sanctions on Russia as part of the US/EU/NATO response to the war.

The war should be viewed, I argue, as a clash of empires–the US on the one hand, which has been moving toward a confrontation with Russia since 1999 and the first push of NATO east that year. A weakened president Clinton at the time, barely avoiding impeaching, effectively turned over US foreign policy to US Neocons (who then drove their policies further under George W. Bush). NATO moved into northern tier of east Europe in 1999, thereafter as well in early 2000s into the southern tier of that region under Bush. The first attempted coup in Ukraine followed in 2005 but resulted in a stalemate-both western and Russian political forces began contending for control of the Ukrainian state, a contest that lasted another decade, culminating in the US financed coup in Ukraine in 2014-15. In the interim, the US encouraged the former USSR republic of Georgia to invade south Russia. That effort failed, but the US, behind the facade of NATO, thereafter quickly pushed further by promising NATO membership to the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Ukraine. It thereafter engineered a second, now successful coup in Ukraine in 2014, after which it repeatedly promised Ukraine NATO membership as well.

Russia was economically debilitated in 1998 due to a recession throughout most of the 1990s and a financial collapse in 1998 and could not respond to the first or second waves of NATO encroachment into northern and southern east europe.  It successfully thwarted the Georgian invasion of 2008 but its political supporters in Ukraine could not prevent the coup of 2014 even though they formally won the presidential election that year. Russia did, however, successfully block the Ukraine nationalist (and fascist battalion) forces that attacked Ukraine’s eastern provinces in 2015-16.

A stalemate thereafter ensued during the Trump administration. But soon after 2020 and the departure of Trump the US renewed its efforts in summer 2021 to turn Ukraine into another NATO member, sending military advisers, arms, conducting joint military exercises with Ukraine, training Ukraine’s military, and providing economic support and accelerating US corporate integration into Ukraine’s economy.

From 1999 to 2021 Russia has been trying to re-establish the former USSR geographical spheres of interest as a response to that US/NATO expansion. It has not been very successful by and large. Except for the case of Georgian war of 2008 and the checking of the attack on the Russian speaking east Ukraine provinces of Donetsk and Lughansk, Russia has been in retreat as the US/NATO forces have steadily pushed east. The current Ukraine-Russia war is but the most recent effort by Russia to reverse the decades long penetration of the US empire into its former western ‘states’.

To sum up: One empire (US) is thus moving aggressively into former Russian spheres of interest, driven by Neocon and war hawk influences in the US now for 2 decades; the other (Russia) is in retreat and drawing a red line to the former’s advance in the current clash in the Ukraine.

It is important to note that the clash of empires is in effect a clash between capitalists as well. A clash that has elements of a repeat of August 1914; of the onset of a new cold war that may not prove so ‘cold’; and of a reordering of the global capitalist system as China and Russia attempt to end the US hegemonic unipolar world and replace it with a multipolar (US/EU & allies vs. Russia/China & allies).

History will show the Russia-Ukraine war is likely just the opening event of these changes. A settlement will be reached in the current Ukraine War, I predict, but one that neither satisfies Russia or Ukraine or its US ally. We are entering a most dangerous moment in the evolution of global capitalism.

As the American empire in the 21st century confronts these forces of evolution and change, it resorts to more aggressive responses. First in the middle east. Now in East Europe/Russia landmass. Tomorrow in China/South Seas. In the globalized, financialized world of the 21st century, dominated by the US, the American empire uses all the tools at hand–financial as well as political and military–to maintain its hegemony and debilitate its challengers. These financial weapons include the dollar as world trading and reserve currency, the international payments system, US de facto control over the global money supply and currencies, dominance over the global private banking system, and control of institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and terms of trade in general via free trade treaties.

The recent financial sanctions against Russia reveal the full scope and magnitude of the US empire’s financial weapons. The current first complete deployment of these financial weapons in the Russian sanctions are not, however, without their contradictions and feedback negative consequences for the US and EU economies. Time will tell how severe the contradictions and the ‘blowback’ become. One thing is certain: the global capitalist economy, and its financial system, will be significantly impacted in ways not yet foreseen.

TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-financial-imperialism-the-case-of-russia/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Dr. Rasmus reviews the many recent financial sanctions and actions taken against Russia and discusses the impacts of each on Russia, as well as on the US and the global economy. The possible ‘blowbacks’ of sanctions to the global financial system are discussed. Various narratives explaining the origins and course of the war are also reviewed and Dr. Rasmus offers an alternative to the mainstream views, arguing all three parties to the conflict are responsible in part and each presents their own preferred view, none of which is totally accurate. Extrapolating from the current experience of financial sanctions on Russia, the show concludes with commentary on how 21st century US imperialism is heavily dependent on financial actions to enforce empire.

Recent Days’ radio interviews (20min. ea) on latest developments in Ukraine and growing economic impacts (inflation, growth slowdown, financial markets, etc.) as well as long term consequences (supply chains, global economic institutions, role of US $, etc.)

March 2, 2020

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HSENfQOGXimbG5dlwCPpnIypoUAgxkov/view

Feb. 25, 2020:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GR9momBZaSzpSF-BHUUkK_IqDqhXxYn7/view

Feb. 24, 2020:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1srtHlEDgbZkgGuTH8yBoUVAh40tJFFwC/view

As a companion post to my recent article (Some Economic Consequences of Ukraine War), listen to my February 25, Alternative Visions Radio Show

TO Listen GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-ukraine-war%e2%80%94some-economic-consequences/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

What might be the economic impact of the war in Ukraine—On Russia, Europe, and the US as well? Dr. Rasmus discusses the immediate short term economic effects of the past two days of the War. Further consideration and discussion follows on the more intermediate and long term likely impacts in inflation, output, stagflation, financial asset markets, currency exchange rates, and global goods and money flows (exports-imports). An analysis and prediction of the possible minimal effects of US and EU sanctions on Russia, including the suspension of the Russian-German Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline. Why Biden’s sanctions are full of holes. Why the US has exempted the SWIFT international payments system from the sanctions and why the economic fallout of the war and sanctions will hit Europe harder. What are the implications for global real economic recovery from Covid now underway: will the War thwart and dampen that recovery? The show concludes with comments on some of the fundamental changes in the global economy that the Ukraine war may generate.

It may be premature somewhat to consider economic consequences of the Ukraine war with the Russian invasion still less than a week old. However, certain outlines of where things are going are nonetheless possible. With that caveat, the following represent some early considerations of the likely—in some cases already occurring—economic consequences of the war for Russia, European Union, and the USA.

Economic Consequences for Russia:

The immediate effect on the Russian economy in the initial days was a sharp fall in its stock and financial asset markets. Investors began cashing out and running for the sidelines to wait out subsequent developments. But not too much should be made of that. Financial asset price deflation is just paper value and doesn’t impact the Russian consumer or its general economy all that much.

A large collapse of financial markets is typically accompanied by a fall in the value of a country’s currency and Russia’s Ruble was no exception. It too fell. A currency collapse means a country must pay more for imports of goods. However, existing import contracts don’t change in price. Thus there’s a delay for new contracts to reflect a price hike only when the prior contracts have ended. So there’s a delay in the inflation effect caused by a fall in the country’s currency. That may not stop retailers from raising prices, however, in the interim in anticipation of the rise in import costs due to Russia’s currency fall. In short, some inflation is an immediate effect with more coming later.

To offset the inflation effect, Russia could impose some price controls to limit the impact on consumers in essential consumer goods. Similarly, the central bank can take steps to put a floor under the collapse of the currency. A government can even step in and purchase certain strategic stocks to mitigate a stock market contraction if it wants. Japan has been buying stocks for years to prop up its financial markets. It appears Russia’s central bank has taken steps to stabilize the Ruble. No actions as yet have occurred to control prices or prop up the stock markets, however.

More medium and longer term is what are the effects of increased sanctions by the USA and NATO EU countries on Russia’s economy?

Sanctions on Russian Goods Flows (Exports & Imports)

There are sanctions on goods and services flows, sanctions on individuals, and sanctions targeting banking and money capital investment flows, and on international payments
Traditionally US sanctions have focused on cutting off goods (products) flows into and from Russia. That is, imports from the rest of the world economy into Russia (inflow) as well as exports from Russia (outflows) from Russia to the rest of the world economy.

A reduction of imports into Russia would result in a reduced supply of the particular product in Russia and therefore a rise in its price—i.e. more inflation. A reduction of exports from Russia can mean a fall in production in Russia and therefore layoffs in those industries affected. The negative impact on production and employment, however, occurs only with a significant time lag. The impact on imports depends on how much of an inventory the country, Russia, has accumulated prior to the sanction. So sanctions impact on goods flows typically take weeks and months, as does in turn any consequent effect on either inflation and unemployment. In the meantime there are numerous ‘work arounds’ Russia could implement in order to ensure the flow of key goods via alternative channels of trade. Russia could continue to purchase or sell through a third country, most notably China perhaps.

In the longer run a reduction of Russian exports due to sanctions over time results in Russia earning less in foreign currencies (especially dollars). Cutting off Russian oil and gas sales would deny Russia its major source of earning foreign currency which is needed for trade for other goods and services. Cutting Russia off from obtaining dollars from oil-gas sales would be especially significant, since 85% of all global oil transactions are done in the global trading and reserve currency—i.e. the US dollar!

That cut off would seriously disrupt global oil supplies as well as crude oil prices. Russia is the second largest producer of oil in the world, generating more than 10 million barrels per day. (The USA is the first due to its fracking technology, producing 11m per day normally). Cutting off Russian oil sales reduces the global supply of crude by around 15%. A 15% reduction of supply results in massive roiling of oil markets and likely historic increases in the price of oil. Gasoline prices at the pump in the US could rise a $1 a gallon or more.

While the US is the largest producer of oil, it also purchases oil from other countries—notably Canada, Mexico, and even some from Russia. Why is that, if it’s the largest producer? Because US oil companies export a lot of refined US oil products to the rest of the world while it also imports crude. It is unknown what the impact of a 15% reduction in global oil supplies would have on US oil prices or oil prices globally. Major market restructuring and shifts would have to occur. It may not go smoothly. Disruptions could be chaotic. That is why the US and EU have been reluctant to target Russian oil and gas deliveries to Europe.

This brings up two areas also potentially affected by sanctions on Russia: the effect of the suspension of the Russia-German Nordstream 2 gas pipeline and the possible consequences of the US/NATO/EU decision to deny Russia access to the SWIFT international payments system. Let’s examine the possible effects of both, on Russia as well as rest of the world.

Nordstream 2 Natural Gas Pipeline

Much is made in the media about the Russia-Germany Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline. To listen to US media, Biden has permanently shut off its gas flow. But how can one shut down what has not even been opened up yet? There is no gas flow via Nord2 yet. Moreover, Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Sholtz, has merely indicated Nord2 won’t be opened soon. It has been suspended. Not shut down. Meanwhile, Germany depends on more than 50% of its natural gas from Russia. That is not going to change soon, since it gets that 50% from 7 pipelines that flow through Ukraine to southeast Europe and from there to Germany.

Additional gas pipelines flow from Russia through Turkey into Europe. There is no talk by the USA or Europe about shutting down those pipelines. So Russia will continue to earn significant foreign currency from gas sales to Europe. In fact, it may earn even more gas revenue since gas prices are spiking and the volume sold will be at a higher price.

Sanctions are thus irrelevant so far as Nord2 is concerned, since they don’t exist. There’s only the ‘shutdown’ of the gas pipeline, Nord2, that doesn’t yet even provide gas.

A lot is said about the USA and other countries (Qatar, Azerbaijan, etc.) providing Germany and Europe natural gas in lieu of Nord2. But that’s irrelevant in the short run. Germany lacks port facilities to accept US liquid natural gas (LNGs). And it will take five years to build those facilities. In addition, it will take Qatar and other sources two years just to expand its production facilities in order to generate the extra gas to sell to Germany.

It should be noted as well that all of the current inflow of Russian natural gas to Europe comes from the existing seven gas pipelines flowing through Ukraine into East Europe and from there to Germany and the west. Several more pipelines flow through Turkey to Europe. It’s unclear if US sanctions are intended to cut this gas flow as well. Reportedly all of Europe gets 40% of its gas from these pipelines currently. To cut that off means a likely collapse of EU industries.

The US has been trying for years to get Europe to buy US natural gas in lieu of Russian. US gas is multiple times more expensive due to transport costs and the need to convert it into liquid form (LNG) and then back again to gas form when offloaded again at European ports. When the US introduced widespread fracking under Obama it raised the production of US natural gas (and oil) significantly. Exporting that oil and gas serves to prevent a supply glut in the USA that would reduce prices in the US. So getting Europe to buy US gas raises US energy corporations’ profits: it achieves more sales revenue from Europe and it gets to keep prices high in the US as well. It’s been difficult to convince the Germans up to now to buy much more expensive US gas. The war in Ukraine is the answer to this US dilemma. It may now get Europe to shift to US gas even though the cost is so much higher. (Some estimate five times as high).

SWIFT International Payments System

The international payments system refers to how countries and their businesses selling of goods and services are paid for. The payments for purchases and sales—i.e. the money flow—occurs through the network of connected global banks, of which the US banks are the biggest players since most of the payments are in the global trading currency, the US dollar.

SWIFT is the means by which the US banks and government can ‘look into’ global inter-bank transactions to identify which country or business might be violating US official sanctions. US big banks are at the center of SWIFT and can determine the violators on behalf of the US government. But SWIFT is headquartered in Belgium and the US would have to get the EU on board to deny Russian banks access to SWIFT to sell its oil or any export. Initially the EU—and especially Germany and Italy, was not at all amenable to doing that. So SWIFT has been initially exempted from Biden’s US announcement of recent sanctions. On the other hand, political forces in the US and especially in Ukraine and East Europe NATO began immediately to push hard to implement SWIFT sanctions on Russia. Biden and the US have been pushing hard to get the rest of the EU/NATO countries (especially Italy and Germany) on board.

The US has apparently succeeded in doing so. As this writer predicted at the outset of the Russian invasion, US/NATO would include denial of SWIFT to Russia as one of its sanctions. This is a qualitative new step—and a risky one— in the history of sanctions on Russia. It can backfire causing serious economic impact on US, EU and global oil markets and thus consequent sharp rise in oil related inflation globally and via oil prices into the economies in general price inflation. Already rising everywhere due to the structural impacts on supply chains by Covid and the recent recessions, inflation could accelerate even higher in Europe and US and ret of the global economy. That price acceleration might bring the tentative, weak recovery of the US, EU and global economy to a halt. Nonetheless, it appears that including denial of SWIFT to Russia with the goal of shutting down its oil and gas revenues is on the agenda and likely within days. The political war hawks pushing more confrontation with Russia in Ukraine have thus won the day so far as SWIFT is concerned. Russia’s responses to this move can be expected.

There are ways Russia could do an ‘end run’ around SWIFT. It could simply use the China Yuan currency in its transactions. Or it could join with China and others to establish a parallel international payments system bypassing SWIFT. That possibility was raised and piloted as far back as 2012 when the USA imposed sanctions on Iran’s sale of its oil.

There’s yet another ‘work around’ SWIFT possible: Russia could join China using digital currency. China is already well on its way to a digital currency, having already introduced it in China.
Whether SWIFT sanctions are introduced soon (likely) or not, it is clear that US control of the SWIFT system—through the US dollar and dominance of US banks globally—is a key instrument of US financial imperialism. It is as important as US control of other global economic institutions, like the IMF, World Bank, and the US dollar as global trading and reserve currency.

Many US Corporations Exempted from Russian Sanctions

Thus far Biden has not imposed sanctions directly on Russian oil and gas because its impact on global oil supplies and prices would be significant. (Denial of SWIFT would of course mean indirectly a major sanction). But at the behest of US and EU oil companies Biden specifically exempted oil and gas from sanctions. Initially SWIFT was excluded as well. But that’s not the entire list of exemptions. Biden in day 2 of the invasion announced Aluminum exports from Russia are exempt, after he met with US auto, Boeing, and canning industry CEOs who it seems are dependent on Russian raw aluminum imports to the US. At least 10% of raw aluminum comes to the US from Russia. Europe is even more dependent on Russian aluminum imports. So the corporate lobbyists have gotten themselves exempted from Russian sanctions as well. It can be expected other critical metal based commodities imports from Russia will lobby and quietly get exemptions from sanctions as well.

Russian Banking Sanctions

Biden initially announced sanctions on Russian banks, but left big holes in those initial sanctions exempting Russia’s two biggest banks, Sber bank and VTB bank. These two were central to the processing of SWIFT on the Russian side. Clearly, big US oil corporations did not want to roil the global markets. Pressure on Biden, however, rose to expand the sanctions. VTB was added to the list. Sberbank apparently still is not although that may have, or soon will, changed.

Banking sanctions not only mean interrupting the flow of payments revenue from sale of exports from Russia, whether oil and other resource commodities and productions. Banking sanctions are designed to prevent Russian banks and investors’ access to financial markets in the west.

Russian corporate and government bonds are often initiated for sale in the west, mostly it appears in London financial markets. Banking sanctions are designed to cut this off. Banking sanctions mean Russian companies’ ability to sell debt (bonds, etc.) in western markets may also be cut off. So may raising of investment capital in the west for Russian start up companies. Russian government debt (i.e. sovereign bonds) sales through foreign banks would be cut off as well, according to the new sanctions.

But Russia’s central bank could step in here and absorb (buy) both the corporate and government debt as a ‘buyer of last resort’ in the crisis—just as the US central bank, the Fed, and other central banks in the west due in emergency situations.

It’s reported that Russia in recent years accumulated up to $680 billion in an emergency cash hoard in anticipation of getting out from under US and western dependence on the US dollar and banking system. That cash hoard, in liquid currencies and gold, is available to offset western sanctions on its banking & financial system. It could also be used to subsidize Russian investor-Oligarchs’ interim losses from the US sanctions levied on individual wealthy businessmen. It should also be noted in turn, however, that US sanctions tactic cut both ways: Russia can in turn freeze foreign investors’ assets in Russian banks. And there’s a lot of western investors’ deposits held in Russia’s big five banks that serve Russia’s giant oil and gas producing industries.

Summing up Russian Sanctions

To sum up the recently announced Biden sanctions: they won’t likely prove very effective—except perhaps if the access to the SWIFT payments system is quickly implemented. Sanctions on Russian exports and imports do not have an immediate effect and there are third source ‘work arounds’ that western companies (and even governments) would be willing to ‘look the other way’ in order to ensure the supply of critical Russian commodities sales. The same applies to sanctions on the Russian banks and global money capital flows. There will be some disruptions longer term, but no major short term impact on Russia’s economy. Goods and money capital flows sanctions all have potential ‘work arounds’.

Financial experts and investors know this. That’s why, when US and EU financial markets initially fell by 800 points when Russia invaded the first day, the financial markets quickly bounced back quickly when Biden announced initial sanctions that same day. Global investors know the Biden sanctions are full of perforations. And if slipping out one or more of the holes is not possible, Russia has a big back door through which it can exchange money and goods with the rest of the world. It’s called China.

Russia will therefore experience in the short run significant volatility in its financial markets and its currency. It will experience inflation—as will all economies worldwide as supply disruptions of commodities (oil, gas, metals, even grains and other food) results in higher prices worldwide. It may even experience some initial production slow down, and thus unemployment, as goods markets and therefore demand are disrupted globally. But it won’t suffer a major economic crisis due to the war in Ukraine. And should that worst scenario occur, it has its cash hoard of reportedly more than $680 billion.

The major wild card in the US sanctions is the SWIFT system. If it is denied to Russia, it will have to create work arounds that will be somewhat more difficult—either using the China Yuan and other currencies or even joining China in significantly expanding the use of digitial currencies in foreign trade transactions.

European Economic Impact

Like Russia, the EU will experience significant financial market and currency volatility in the short run. Both declined sharply first day of the invasion and then recovered.

Europe is far more energy insufficient compared to the USA which is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. The EU will therefore experience more significant price inflation driven by the chronic and steady rise in the global price of oil and gas. Global oil prices are projected to rise from around current $100/barrel levels for benchmark Brent (northsea) crude at the time of the invasion, rising to at least $120-25/barrel. As noted previously, natural gas prices will rise as well in the shorter run. And should in the longer run the EU have to purchase natural gas from the Mideast or USA in the form of LNG, prices will be much higher.

Europe’s economic recovery from Covid is also more tentative compared to the US economy’s. As its central bank plans to raise interest rates as inflation rises, it’s more likely those rate increases will dampen the recovery of the real economy more quickly than would a similar rate hike by the US central bank on the US economy. Wage increases have also been slower to recover in the EU compared to the US recently. Rising energy and commodity prices will discourage household consumption more and sooner in the case of the EU as well. Food prices may also rise as the EU obtains some agricultural goods from the Ukraine. In short, the inflation and greater EU real economy’s sensitivity to central bank interest rates will slow its economic recovery further. Added to the slowdown may be the new Covid Omicron2 variant that appears even more infectious than the earlier Omicron and currently is spreading rapidly in parts of the EU and will exacerbate the trends toward economic slowdown and recovery due to the war effect via inflation and interest rate policy.

Europe will also feel the effects relatively more of Russian reciprocal response to Russian banks’ asset freezes, Russian debt access, and export-import sanctions on Russia. Europe’s economy is integrated with Russia’s not just in energy, but in a long list of industrial and consumer products.

Yet another negative effect in the longer run is that the US will likely demand that the EU shoulder a still greater share of its total defense burden and expenditures. Diversion of tax revenues from social spending programs to defense will result in a net real disposable income decline for many European households. Like inflation, that too will impact consumer spending and slow economic recovery and growth.EU government debt and corporate debt will likely rise in the longer run due to slower growth and inflation.

In short, the EU stands to experience significant negative real affects to its economy as a result of the Ukraine war. In the shorter run more asset and currency volatility, but in the longer term higher chronic inflation, declines in real wage incomes, loss of markets in Russia, and consequent slower economic recovery and growth. Central bank monetary policy response stability are also not promising. Will the European Central Bank raise interest rates to try to slow inflation? When it’s economy is simultaneously experiencing war related developments that are already slowing its recovery and economy?

The USA Economic Impact

Like the EU the USA was already experiencing significant consumer price inflation before the war’s occurrence. In fact, higher chronic inflation than Europe. While the USA is more energy independent than the EU, it will nevertheless have to deal with still higher inflation due to the global energy shock in oil markets. Oil companies raise prices not because of legitimate supply or demand causes, but because as monopolies in their respective home economies they simply can. That has already been going on in the US economy before the Ukraine war. Recent US consumer inflation has been driven by oil prices. Nearly half of its latest 7.5% annual inflation rate has been oil price related.

US financial markets in the short run have also fallen sharply but recovered just as quickly—as in Europe and to a lesser extent in Russia. The US currency, the dollar, has been less volatile than the Euro and even less so than the Ruble. US financial markets may soon, however, experience a second major negative impact from its central bank, the Fed, rise in interest rates in March. That rate hike will likely be larger than any Europe may take. So the higher inflation, combined with higher rate hike, plus the Ukraine war may constitute a combination of negative economic events that cause a second more volatile fluctuation in US financial asset markets.

The combined rate hikes, inflation, and war perception—should the latter continue and deteriorate—will also slow the US economy recovery, as it will Europe’s.

A relatively greater effect on the US economy, compared to the EU’s, will be a further surge in US defense/war spending in the wake of the Ukraine war. With Pentagon spending this year already at $778 billion (and more than $1 trillion for all sources of US defense spending), tens of billions more in military spending can be expected as a result of the Ukraine war. That spending will surge in what remains of the current fiscal year, but continue thereafter as well in subsequent annual defense budgets for next and following years. That will exacerbate still further US deficits and national debt and, with higher interest rates, cause a higher cost of debt servicing that impacts later budget deficits as well. Rising deficits and debt—in the wake of already record deficits and debt due to Covid related policies, 2020-21, may lead to political pressures to cut social spending programs once again—i.e. austerity fiscal policies.

Chronic rising inflation, social program spending cuts, and rising central bank interest rates will together slow an already tentative economic recovery. If all these are severe in scope and magnitude, it may very well result in a double dip recession sometime late 2022 or early 2023.

In short, the US economy will feel the contributing negative effects of the Ukraine war in terms of inflation, disposable household incomes, and unstable central bank monetary policies. In some ways the effects of the war will be less than the effects felt in Europe; in other ways perhaps more severe.

Long Run Consequences for Global Capitalism

The global capitalist economy today is highly integrated: In the flow of real goods and services; in money capital flows between financial markets; in currency relative exchange rates; and in banking systems and interest rates—to name but the most obvious. The Ukraine war’s economic consequences will impact all the three economies—Russia’s, Europe’s and America’s. The impacts may be relatively different qualitatively and quantitatively. But actions taken against one have their inevitable economic reverberations on all.

Inflation due to escalating oil and commodity price inflation will negatively impact all. Central bank policy responses will be weaker across the board. Slower economic growth will result as goods and services flows are interrupted and global supply chain problems continue and perhaps even worsen. The war and US-EU economic and political policy responses will likely accelerate fundamental structural changes in relations between countries and global economic institutions.

It remains to be seen whether these economies, and the global capitalist economy itself, can absorb the stresses of the war and its fallout—so soon after the devastating impact of the Covid global crisis. Meanwhile, the other two systemic challenges will likely not disappear either: the worsening global health crisis of constantly mutating viruses and the deteriorating climate.

While nations continue to fight each other in wars hot and cold the War of Nature against Man—in the form of chronic diseases and global warming—will also continue. As nations fight the former, the latter will likely not be attended to. And if so, the scenario for mid-century will not be pleasant.

Dr. Jack Rasmus
February 26, 2022

Following events of this past week, just prior to and following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, my various commentaries on events on Twitter are as follows. Comments on in reverse chronology with most recent (2/24) first. (A more comprehensive analysis article will be posted on this blog this weekend)

Watch closely if US/NATO war hawks’ claim that “Putin’s endgame is not Ukraine but to restore all of E. Europe under Russia again” becomes official line of Biden/NATO. If so, then NATO war faction will escalate with massive men and material moved to NATO eastern border

A key question: at what point might US and NATO consider a cyberattack an ‘act of war’ and activate NATO article 5? Cyberattacks easiest of all ‘false flags’ to pull off and virtually impossible to locate its origins. War hawks in E. Europe or even US could do it

Here’s an important question: should US move to deny SWIFT int’l payments system access to Russia (against current wishes of EU), will Russia be able to bypass SWIFT by moving to sell its resources via digital currencies? (China already trialing its DC)

US Gen. Joulwan, former commander of NATO, on CNN calls for US air force enter Ukraine & protect Kyiv. Then says Putin’s real plan to reconquer all of former Warsaw Pact nations, now part of NATO (incl. Baltics, Poland, etc.) This view represents war wing US pol. forces

US media ideology machine shifting into high gear. 3 themes building in mainstream media: 1. Putin’s Covid isolation means he’s become unstable 2. Putin’s comments show his intention to go after E. Europe next 3. Biden says Putin has “sinister vision FOR THE WORLD”

As I predicted, Russian forces driving NE and NW up from Crimea + South from Kharkhiv + west from Donetsk/Lughansk in great encirclement. Also south from Belarus to encircle Kyiv. Still believe no ‘battle for Kyiv’ to occur; just to depose current Govt

The importance of SWIFT Int’l payments to the economic sanctions list is evident by Ukraine president Zelensky now begging Biden to implement SWIFT sanctions asap.

Biden’s latest sanctions announcements today still excludes SWIFT int’l payments system denial to Russia. Why? Will interfere with energy imports EU needs. Also, may accelerate Russia+China creating alternative payments system outside US dollar regime=weakens $

Fed mortgage rates falling today. Means investors betting Fed doesn’t raise rates as aggressively starting March due to Ukraine war which will mean much higher oil & commodities inflation that will slow US economic recovery now. Fed behind ‘eight ball’ as they say.

If Russia’s goal is depose Ukraine’s govt, it will likely have to chase them to Lviv after they leave Kyiv and set up shop near NATO border (for quick exit to NATO country to reorg as govt in exile in west). Meanwhile, Ukraine fascist elements will dig in Kyiv & fight

West political forces that want more direct conflict between NATO & Russia now saying Russia will attack land corridor from Belarus to Russian Kaliningrad region to cut off Baltics-i.e. Belarus is just Russia & thus need more NATO forces build up in Lithuania and Poland.

Following initial invasion, western markets not all that impressed with sanctions levied thus far. Will US/NATO impose harsher? Will it include sanctions via SWIFT int’l payments system located in Belgium? Last time SWIFT included in sanctions was Iran 2012. My bet: yes

One quick outcome of the conflict in Ukraine is that the US will now move to cut a deal fast with Iran. The biggest worry about Ukraine war: political forces in US & EU panic and may now propose fast track NATO membership to Ukraine. Not likely, but watch that one closely

Will massive US & west sanctions destabilize Russia’s economy? Not yet certain. What is certain: accelerating oil and commodity prices will now stifle US & EU econ recovery. Double dip recessions guaranteed if war lasts more than 2-4 weeks. Forget central bank rate hikes

Russia’s military strategy: encircle Ukraine’s main military forces concentrated in the east, in a pincer movement, from north (Kharkhiv), south (Crimea) and east (provinces). Force Ukraine military back to Kyiv. Encircle Kyiv and capture govt heads. How did we get here, you say? One word: NATO

The attack on Kyiv will be a military diversion; maybe Odessa too. Real objective: take and hold Donetsk, Lughansk, Kharkiv, Zaporiszhia and maybe Kherson provinces in east and south. Freeze Ukrainian forces in central & w. Ukraine in place with threat from Belarus.

It’s extremely unlikely Putin to try to ‘conquer’ and occupy all of Ukraine. That requires forces he doesn’t have. And costs too high. What he wants in hard commitment not to join NATO + maybe new Ukraine govt. US-NATO response: flood west Ukraine with arms and money.

The most likely scenario not a ‘battle for Kyiv’ city, but a Russian targeting Kharkhiv in northeast, Mariupol in southeast, and push further into E. provinces to encircle Ukraine forces & force them to retreat. Putin then halts further advances & waits on new negotiations

Will US/NATO send forces into Ukraine to confront Russians? No. US generals know their ‘Clausewitz’ whose Principles of warfare put US/NATO at disadvantage in direct confrontation. Besides, what US wants most is restore its control over NATO & end Nord2 gas. It gets that

If Americans think inflation is now bad, just wait if Russia invades and global oil, gas, and virtually all commodities prices spike to new levels. Inflation this summer will ravage the US economy, halt its recovery, and make the Fed think twice about 7 more rate hikes

If Russia invades will it drive quickly to Kyiv? I predict will move first along a front from Kharkiv to Mariupol & halt to see what US-Ukraine do. All this could have been avoided if US hadn’t signed agreement with Zelensky last Nov. ’21 to bring Ukraine into EU & NATO

The mainstream US media makes it sound like Germany’s chancellor, Sholtz, has cancelled Nord2 gas pipeline. No. He’s just not signing its final certification for now, needed to get the gas flowing. That’s not a very great ‘concession’ to US demands

Biden speech today warns Americans more inflation coming due to Ukraine crisis & accelerating oil and commodity prices. But he ignores the exempting global oil & commodity corps from sanctions responsible for the inflation & says nothing re. Europe exempting big Russian banks

Commodity prices of all kinds surging, not just oil. Aluminum, iron, food, etc. It will bleed into the US economy next several weeks. Watch April inflation to rise sharply, perhaps even March.

Putin makes clear the only real issue is Ukraine joining NATO. Says if Ukraine just says it won’t join NATO, then all confrontation is over. (But no chance of that since that’s the intent of Ukraine and US, to bring in NATO and surround Russia on several fronts)

It now appears banks will be exempt from Russian sanctions as well as oil & gas. EU announces Russia’s two biggest banks are exempt. Meanwhile, prices for all kinds of commodities (not just oil) are rising fast as global speculators step in and hoard supply contracts

Oil & Energy prices were 40% of last inflation report’s 7.5% CPI. That was when crude oil price was well below $100/bbl. Now it will be well above by next report and even more a contributor to inflation. (Oil corps have made sure there’ll be no US/NATO sanctions on oil

Watch for 500+ point drop in Dow and Nasdaq tuesday. More coming. Then Fed raises rates & more. Then March inflation numbers come in higher & still more. If Fed raises 7 times + Ukraine & inflation continue, classic inverted yield curve (predicts recession)

Putin today declared eastern provinces independent of Ukraine. Biden slaps sanctions on Oligarchs & limits on money & goods flows into/from 2 provinces. Outline of Biden plans. Watch demands now for more pre-emptive sanctions from US politicians. Escalations continuing.

Ukraine war bottom line: 1. Russia won’t allow NATO into Ukraine under any circumstances. 2. Ukraine’s Constitution declares it must join NATO. 3. East Europe NATO countries demand US, France, Germany extend NATO. All sides locked in. Situation appears increasingly like August 1914

NATO war hawks (including US Demo. party politicians) at Munich meeting project unanimous agreement NATO is destined for Ukraine no matter what Putin does. Yet, reports say German new Chancellor, Schultz, not on board & France’s Macron likely not also. What’s the truth?

Why is US now saying new sanctions against Russia won’t include blocking Russia from SWIFT intl payments system? Because too many countries depend on Russian oil. (SWIFT blocking needed for sanctions on Russian oil sales)-i.e.global oil corps to be exempt from sanctions

Dem politicians also now hyping “don’t forget Taiwan”. USA always at war somewhere. 16 wars since 1950. (8 wins, 5 losses, 3 draws). So let’s start #17, with largest country (Russia) & most populace (China)–after failing to win against 11th century peasant (Afghanistan)

Should Russia invade, global oil prices will soar well above $100/bbl, sending inflation to double digit levels (already 2/3 of US 7.5% due to oil prices). When oil surges > $100 almost always provokes a recession. (ex. 2008, 1990, 1980)

At NATO Munich meeting yesterday, NATO Secretary, Stoltenberg, and US VP Harris declare Russia’s actions now ensure NATO will allow Ukraine to join soon. Russia now backed into corner: attempt to prevent Ukraine in NATO now assured. US-NATO now daring Russia to invade

Biden today says Russia invades next week as provocations begin in east Ukraine. Will soon rise in number & weight. (But who’s doing the provocations is the question?) Should we believe Biden? Remember US false flags: ‘yellow cake’, WMDs, incubator babies, Tonkin Gulf…

Make no mistake, there are 3 sets negotiations going on re. Ukraine right now: US with Russia, Russia with W. Europe (esp. Germany, France) & W. Europe with US. Putin’s more interested in latter two than Russia-US. Europe has most to lose from invasion; USA much to gain

Dr. Jack Rasmus
2-25-22

Listen to my February 17, 2022 Alternative Visions Radio Show and my discussion of the US form of Imperialism, how it functions similarly as well as differently from other prior forms. How does current events in Ukraine fit in relation to USA’s prior 16 wars of the last 70 years?

To listen GO TO: https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-america-s-wars-of-imperialism/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT:

As events intensify in the Ukraine and possible conflict looms between the US and Russia—using the proxy of Ukraine—the question rises which is exercising imperialist policies: Russia in Ukraine or US via NATO in Ukraine? Or both? What’s an empire and what’s an imperialist war? Dr. Rasmus defines Imperialism and its key historical examples in the last few centuries. Is capitalist Imperialism different from other pre-capitalist examples? How have different countries managed their empires, especially contrasting British in past compared to USA’s today? Why wars and colonies are only part of the practice of Empire and imperialism. Wars are about obtaining and maintaining empire. But the management of empire in between is different. How imperial countries—especially the USA today—maintain its empire and how is that different from prior empires (British, French, etc.). Rasmus explains how the emerging conflict in Ukraine species of Imperialism fits in the broader historical Genealogy of Imperialism.