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How Russians See the West and Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking the presidential oath at his third inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2012. (Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking the presidential oath at his third inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2012. (Russian government photo)

 

After a year and a half of conducting research on Russia, the world’s largest country, mostly for a book I co-authored on the history of post-Soviet U.S.-Russia relations and its context for the Ukraine conflict, it was time for me to finally go see this beautiful, fascinating and complex nation in person and to meet its people on their own terms and territory.

On this maiden voyage to Russia, I visited six cities in two weeks:  Moscow, Simferopol, Yalta, Sevastopol, Krasnodar and St. Petersburg. In each city, I talked to a cross-section of people, from cab drivers and bus riders to civil society workers, professionals, and entrepreneurs of small- to medium-sized businesses.

I even had an opportunity to hear what teenagers had to say in two of those cities as my travel mate and I participated in a Q&A session with students of a private high school in St. Petersburg and teens who were part of various youth clubs in Krasnodar. Their questions reflected a thoughtful engagement with the world as they led to discussions on environmental sustainability, socially responsible economics and how to promote initiative, goodwill and peaceful conflict resolution.

Many of the adults were no less thoughtful during the formal interviews and informal conversations I had with them. Admittedly, I wondered how I would be received as an American during one of the most acrimonious periods of U.S.-Russia relations since the end of the Cold War.

It helped that my travel mate has been going in and out of Russia since the 1980s, lives part-time in St. Petersburg, and has developed good relations with many Russians across the country. Once most Russians realized that I came in goodwill and did not approach them or their country with a superiority complex, they usually responded with some combination of curiosity, honesty and hospitality.

Below is a summary of what Russians that I spoke to thought about a range of issues, from their leader to their economy to the Ukraine war, Western media’s portrayal of them and what they wanted to say to Americans.

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Russia Photos

 

 

 

Entrance to Red Square Moscow

Entrance to Red Square, Moscow

GUM Shopping Complex Red Square Moscow

GUM Shopping Complex, Red Square, Moscow

Kremlin Wall Red Square Moscow

Kremlin Wall, Red Square, Moscow

Red Square Moscow 2

Red Square, Moscow

St Basil's Cathedral Red Square Moscow.Edited

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow

Church Rebuilt in 1990s Outside Red Square Moscow

Church destroyed under Stalin’s orders, rebuilt with original blueprints in early 1990’s, outside Red Square, Moscow

Child Breaching Barricades on Red Square Moscow

Child breaches the barricades at Red Square, Moscow

Red Square Squat Building is Lenin's Tomb

Squat building in center is Lenin’s Tomb, Red Square, Moscow

Outside Red Square Moscow

Outside Red Square, Moscow

Bolshoi Theater Moscow.Edited

Bolshoi Theater, Moscow

Moscow Street Life

Moscow Street Life

Lake Park Moscow

Park in Moscow

Mural in downtown Moscow

One of many murals in Moscow

Monument to Soviet Workers Moscow.Edited

Monument to Soviet Worker, Moscow

Gagarin Monument Moscow

Gagarin Monument, Moscow

Monument to DeGaulle Cosmos Moscow

Monument to Charles DeGaulle in front of Cosmos Hotel in Moscow

American Embassy Moscow

The American Embassy in Moscow

Meeting of Public Council in Krasnodar

Meeting of Public Council in Krasnodar, Russia

Thoroughfare for pedestrians in downtown Krasnodar

Thoroughfare for pedestrians in downtown Krasnodar

NGO Ladies in Krasnodar II

Civil society workers in Krasnodar

Bus Station in Simferopol Olga

Bus station in Simferopol, Crimea

Father and son bus station simferopol

Father and son wait at bus station in Simferopol, Crimea

Botanical Park in Simferopol Crimea

Botanical park in Simferopol, Crimea

Me at Botanical Park in Simferopol Crimea

Me at botanical park in Simferopol, Crimea

Commemoration of 70th Anniversary of Victory Day Libadia Palace Yalta

Commemoration of 70th Anniversary of Victory Day, WWII, at Livadia Palace, Yalta, Crimea

Courtyard where famous photo of FDR Stalin Churchill was shot Libadia Palace

Courtyard where famous photo of FDR, Churchill and Stalin was shot at Yalta Conference in 1945, Livadia Palace

Room where final documents signed at Yalta Conference Libadia Palace

Room where final documents of the Yalta Conference were signed, Livadia Palace

Room with Paintings of Czar & Czarina at Libadia Palace

Room at Livadia Palace with full portraits of Czar and Czarina

View of Yalta Coastline from Balcony of Libadia Palace

View of Yalta Coastline from balcony at Livadia Palace

Wax Figures of Yalta Conference Libadia Palace

Wax figures of Yalta Conference at Livadia Palace

Bust of Nicholas II at Libadia Palace

Bust of Nicholas II at Livadia Palace

Dock at Naval Base Sevastopol 2

Dock at naval base, Sevastopol, Crimea

Tower Naval Base Sevastopol

Naval base, Sevastopol, Crimea

Walking Bridge at Naval Base Sevastopol

Walking bridge at naval base, Sevastopol, Crimea

Starducks Coffe Naval Base Sevastopol

Starducks Coffee at naval base, Sevastopol, Crimea

Leader of Black Sea Cossacks Sevastopol

Leader of the Black Sea Cossacks, Sevastopol, Crimea

Retired Naval Officer Sevastopol

Retired naval officer, election monitor during Crimean referendum, Sevastopol

Nicolai with flag in Sevastopol

Nicolai, who was a driver during the “Crimean Spring” aka “Third Defense of Sevastopol” in Sevastopol, Crimea

Billboard of Putin.Russia.Crimea.Forever.Edited

Popular billboard seen throughout Crimea with Putin’s image, it reads “Crimea. Russia. Forever.” 

Church on Spilt Blood St Petersburg NB

Church on Spilt Blood, built on site of Alexander II’s assassination in 1881, St. Petersburg

Astoria Hotel St Petersburg.Edited

Astoria Hotel where Hitler planned to celebrate the taking of Leningrad, St. Petersburg

Peter the Great Monument 2

Peter the Great Monument, St. Petersburg

Palace Square St Petersburg.Edited

Palace Square, where desperate peasants and workers pleaded for justice and were massacred by Nicholas II’s forces in 1905, St. Petersburg

Alexander's Monument in St Petersburg

Alexander’s Column, Palace Square, St. Petersburg

Palace in St Petersburg

Palace in St. Petersburg

Building where Rasputin was Murdered St Petersburg

Building where Rasputin was murdered, St. Petersburg

Russian Art Museum in St Petersburg

Russian Art Museum, Palace Square, St. Petersburg

The Hermitage in St Petersburg

The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

St Petersburg at Night.Edited

One of the palaces in St. Petersburg at night

St Isaac's Cathedral St Petersburg.Edited

St. Isaac’s Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in the world, St. Petersburg

Singer Sewing Building in St Petersburg

The Singer Sewing Machine Building in St. Petersburg

All photos by Natylie S. Baldwin, 2015

 

 

 

Postcard from Krasnodar

Thoroughfare for pedestrians in downtown Krasnodar

Thoroughfare for pedestrians in downtown Krasnodar

I have to say that Krasnodar really blew me away since there was such a gap between my expectations and what I actually encountered there. I expected a sleepy agricultural town in the Black Sea region; however, what I saw was a vibrant city with some very civic-minded people taking the initiative to resolve problems in their communities and get local government to be responsive to the needs and desires of the residents.

 

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Yalta, Then and Now

From commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Churchill_and_Roosevelt_Yalta.jpg: File:Churchill and Roosevelt Yalta.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File:Churchill and Roosevelt Yalta.jpg – Wikimedia Commons
(image by commons.wikimedia.org) License DMCA

The small airport at Simferopol had already been renovated as everything was clean and freshly painted. We made our way out into the night, which wasn’t the plan. Our original flight had been cancelled so we had to wait for another flight and got in five hours later than expected.

The overpowering stench of old cigarette smoke nearly suffocated me when we got into the taxi — a major contrast to Moscow where, as a result of the government’s anti-smoking campaign of the last few years, there weren’t that many smokers and those who were around had to do the deed outside.

As I rolled down the window for some relief, Sharon exchanged pleasantries with our driver — where we were from, etc. I asked her to ask him in Russian what he thought of Crimea’s reunification with Russia. He summed up, in broken English, what many people I talked to over the next couple of days would say: “Historically and ethnically, we are Russian, so it’s better to be with Russia than Ukraine.” But he also acknowledged that there were still plenty of problems that needed to be addressed and that it would take time; but under the leadership of Russia, they now had hope.

Continue reading here

Postcard from Moscow

St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow; photo by Natylie S. Baldwin
My travel mate, who has been going in and out of Russia since the Soviet days in 1983 and lives part-time in St. Petersburg, commented how the taxi lane outside of the main airport in Moscow had in previous years been madness, with a glut of unofficial taxi drivers mixed in with the official ones.  Competition over potential customers would sometimes result in fistfights.
However, there was no sign of such anarchy when we rolled our luggage out into a surprisingly bright sunny day after spending approximately 15 hours crammed onto three airplanes.  Only official taxi drivers were seen dotting the lane as regulation of the business has now kicked in.  Our driver deftly wheeled us around the city to our hotel — and I say deftly because it looked like driving in Moscow would be pretty stressful.
A good stretch of highway near the airport had road signs in English beneath the Russian.  We made our way past a combination of new, colorful high-rise apartment buildings, dreary square apartments from the late Soviet era, and modern Russian commercial outlets.  One couldn’t go far without seeing a good number of western and Japanese companies as well:  BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, McDonald’s, Levi’s, Michelin, and TGIFridays.
Parks and greenbelts could be seen throughout the city.  At one point, we passed a lovely blue pedestrian bridge.  I began to notice the mix of old blue and white buses that ran with cables attached and those that looked very much like modern buses one would see in the San Francisco Bay Area; only the image of the distinctive onion dome cathedrals painted on the side would remind you that you are in Russia.  Most of the vehicles on the road were German or Japanese with a smattering of Lada’s here and there.  As a first-time visitor, I was struck by the fact that, in many ways, this large bustling city looked like any major American metropolis.
One amusing distinction was the street-sweeping trucks that mingled with the regular traffic, spraying blasts of water onto the roads as they went.  Other motorists could get a free partial car wash during their commute.
The streets are clean but the smell of gasoline was pungent in the air.  Evidence of ongoing road and building improvements was visible everywhere in the form of workers, their affiliated machinery and scaffolds.
On our second day, we toured Red Square and saw the onion-domed cathedrals in their glory of gold and pastel colors.  The enchanting hues of St. Basil’s Cathedral evoked the surreal feeling that I had been deposited into the middle of a children’s story book.
We also passed by the squat building below the Kremlin Wall that contains Lenin’s Tomb where people can view the Bolshevik leader’s embalmed remains — a preservation process that was so sophisticated it is said that he appears to simply be sleeping.  It wasn’t open on the day we were there, however.
On the other side of the square is the world-famous GUM shopping complex.  We stopped at an outdoor restaurant and had coffee before meeting up with a Russian executive who works for a major American corporation in Moscow.  (I’ll be writing more about that later).
GUM Shopping Complex, Red Square, Moscow; photo by Natylie S. Baldwin
GUM Shopping Complex, Red Square, Moscow; photo by Natylie S. Baldwin
Getting to Red Square and back from our hotel prompted us to take the Metro, which puts the BART system in the San Francisco Bay Area to shame in terms of interior design.  I was inside three stations and all were designed somewhat differently, but all of them had features of classical beauty, such as Roman arches, chandelier lighting, and lovely tiling on the walls.
Across the street from our hotel is the Soviet Exhibition of Economic Achievements, a major Stalin-era project that consists of elements of beauty, kitsch and creepiness all at once.  There are large ponderous buildings in what some describe as a Neo-Babylonian style, replicas of rockets and airplanes, and a carnival ferris wheel that is brilliantly lit up and turns at night.  Next to that is the Gagarin Monument, honoring the first Russian cosmonaut in space, Yuri Gagarin.  Further down in the opposite direction is the monument honoring the Soviet workers — a man and woman side by side, reaching up and out in triumph.  And in front of the hotel is a statue of Charles DeGaul, the independent French leader who eschewed NATO membership and called for a Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivistok (in Eastern Russia).
Monument to the Soviet Worker, Moscow, Russia;  photo by Natylie S. Baldwin
Monument to the Soviet Worker, Moscow, Russia; photo by Natylie S. Baldwin
I was sad to leave Moscow but looked forward to the next stops on our itinerary:  Simferopol and Yalta in Crimea.

 

Citizen to Citizen Diplomacy in Russia: Americans Interview Andrei Kortunov

Moscow July, 2011 - Wikipedia
Moscow July, 2011 – Wikipedia
Note: As part of the citizen-to-citizen diplomacy group, consisting of 20 Americans and led by CCI’s Sharon Tennison, that traveled to Russia in June of this year, a discussion was conducted with Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and President of the New Eurasia Foundation (FNE). Below, Sharon provides an introduction to the interview, which can be viewed at the link that follows.
-Natylie

On June 2, 2015 we 20 American travelers split into groups of four and traveled by metros or taxis with student guides to different parts of Moscow. Our videographer Mel Van Dusen, Merlin Miller, organizer of a new political party from Tennessee, Charles Heberle, retired military who worked at the Pentagon and NATO and I went to see an old acquaintance with whom I’d kept up for over 30 years.

Back in 1984 a group of us got an appointment to Moscow’s U.S.-Canada Institute, a quite prestigious ‘think tank’ that was considered the most liberal in the Soviet Union. To our surprise a quite young, blonde-haired young man introduced himself as Andrei Kortunov. He was decades younger than others in this prestigious institute. Obviously bright and comfortable in his position, he seemed warmly predisposed to all things American unlike others we had met. Andrei was interested in getting to discuss issues off and on with citizen diplomats from the U.S. During the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years I watched his career take him to positions of responsibility wherein he remained the same logical, open, helpful personality he exhibited from the beginning.

Today Andrei is the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the President of the New Eurasia Foundation (FNE). He is still as down to earth, modest and as hesitant-to-be-sharp as was the fair-haired young man we met at around age 20. One thing noted this time, he seems weary now from dealing with the heavy issues of his position—-yet is as always the consummate gentleman. Mel pushed him with questions that finally brought out his feelings on a number of issues related to the US-Russia relationship.

Come along with us and meet Andrei. Opening scenes include the recently built pedestrian walkway over structures in downtown Moscow. We finally arrived at the new building that houses RIAC. Upon entering we passed through a gallery of magnificent paintings of 19th century Russian leaders. The environment was quite classical. Further into the building we navigated rooms of books, publications, researchers and on into Andrei’s office. This video segment was over an hour and was edited down to 13 minutes.

We hope this brief clip gives you insight into the thinking of most Russians in Andrei’s age group today. He is now somewhere around 50 years old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAItu-Lpf3Qa

 

Citizen to Citizen Diplomacy Trip to Russia: Video of Red Square

 

Red Square, Moscow By Stavanen, Flickr
Note: In June of this year, Sharon Tennison, founder of The Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI), took a group of approximately 20 Americans on a citizen-to-citizen diplomacy tour of Russia. Sharon provides an introduction to the 13-minute video of the high points of the group’s tour from Moscow airport to Red Square.
-Natylie

 

This first Youtube shows Moscow where we landed. It spans our first nine actual hours on ground, during which over two hours of video was shot––and the footage has been reduced to this 13-minute impression of Russia’s largest city.  Mel Van Dusen, our pro bono videographer, was seeing Russia for the first time.  He is the editor and voiceover for the series (with a little assistance from me). In addition he spent two months (pro bono) sifting through 60 hours of footage to provide a glimpse into today’s Russia.

In the video Mel’s refers to our “bus” and our “guides,” but they aren’t official buses with guides.  A Moscow friend of many years, Olga Gorbik, hired a private bus to get us and our luggage from the airport into the city. Olga is not a guide but did share knowledge of her home city on the way to the hotel. Upon arrival, another Russian friend of 30 years, Galina Nicolopolis (married a Greek years ago), met us and assisted me to get the group to simultaneous meetings across Moscow thereafter.  She too has never been a guide but was a terrific helper. Then I knew of students who also assisted us while in Moscow. Our group traveled “off the grid” so to speak, with Russian friends and CCI alums helping us experience their cities and meet local people.

There is no voice-over for Red Square so I will give you a few pointers.

After landing and going through Moscow on metro, we are seen walking up toward Red Square where a “look alike” for President Putin tried to entice us to take a photo, then into the massive Square. In past decades, there were ominous parades of gigantic missiles, tanks, military forces and armaments of all types which we saw on American TV. When I first visited Red Square in 1983 it was formidable. There were narrow designated areas where we could walk, we needed permission to take a photo––the area seemed immense and somber. Times have changed! Paul McCartney and numerous rock groups have since held concerts in this very spot.  Today it’s Moscow’s central square, clowns show up, elderly protesters wave signs and banners, bicyclists carefully maneuver the cobblestones. There were no policemen or security to be seen.  I noted that there were very few foreigners compared to previous years––this footage shows ordinary Russian youth and parents milling around with their children.

Entering the Square note on the left, the lovely Russian Orthodox Church, the Kazan Cathedral.  Stalin ordered this church destroyed in 1936––a communist building was put in its place.  In the 1990s shortly after the fall of communism, the Cathedral was precisely rebuilt using its original architectural plans and the same hues of a pale pinkish/orange and green.

On the left still and next to Kazan Cathedral, is the huge GUM shopping center. In 1983 it was a massive run-down structure which sold women’s corsets, galoshes, sink stoppers, etc.  Today GUM has captured high-end trade from over the  world and sells costly fur coats, designer clothing, jewels and watches. Oligarchs and business magnates who come and go through the capital city stop here for their luxuries.

Mel’s camera swings to the right to capture the thousand-year-old Kremlin Wall––the first walls and guard towers were built in 1156. With time, it has become this perfectly kept huge circular wall with numerous entrances, clocks and bell towers.  Behind the red brick, one sees the yellow official buildings of the Russian government, the seat of power.  There are two major churches within the walls, the Assumption and the Annunciation Cathedrals. Fabulous art work can be seen therein.

Next Mel catches St Basil’s Cathedral in the far end of Red Square, then moves to the right to Lenin’s Tomb ( some construction going on in front of it).  This low, squat building was erected by Stalin and is quite different from the architecture of other buildings––and yes, Lenin’s body is still in residence. They keep debating what to do with it, but so far it remains.

Then we see the majestic St. Basils up close showing the remarkable design and craftsmanship of this world famous church which holds services only once a year––but it stands daily as a reminder of the elegance of Russian artistry and the role of orthodoxy across Russia.

Lastly, outside Red Square, a spacious white pavilion area has been recently built with eateries tucked away in various corners — we enjoyed a great dinner before catching the metro and getting back at our hotel to crash. Three decades ago, I could have never imagined that Moscow and Red Square would have transformed into this casual and fun environment.

9/11/06: Russia Dedicates Memorial to 9/11 Victims

To the Struggle Against World Terrorism: A Monument Created by Zurab Tsereteli

Teardrop Memorial
(Sculptor, Zurab Tsereteli)   DMCA

I wonder how many Americans know about the monument that was created by a renowned Russian sculptor, Zurab Tsereteli, and dedicated as a gift in 2006 by the Russian government in honor of the victims of 9/11. The mainstream western media does not seem to have provided much coverage of the event, if any at all.

Tsereteli’s inspiration for creating the memorial is described as follows:

The artist, Zurab Tsereteli, was in his home in Moscow on the morning of September 11th. The television was on as he was getting ready for work and Zurab, like the rest of the world, was glued to coverage of the attacks on the Twin Towers. He watched the towers collapse on TV and was moved to tears.

That day, he went to work at the Academy of Art driving on a route that takes him past the American Embassy. People were gathered outside the embassy gates to pay sympathies, to be together, and to mourn. He saw a mass of crying people and decided to use the image of a tear in a memorial.

He set to work that day on a proper and appropriate form through which to express his feelings over the attack. He went through many various sketches and ‘forms’ (all of which are chronicled in the yellow book) until finally deciding on the current monument’s form.

Continue article here

 

“Deal or War”: Is Doomed Dollar Really Behind Obama’s Iran Warning?

By Finian Cunningham

What could really be behind Obama’s dire warning of “deal or war” is another scenario — the collapse of the US dollar, and with that the implosion of the US economy. Speaking in New York on August 11, US Secretary of State John Kerry made the candid admission that failure to seal the nuclear deal could result in the US dollar losing its status as the top international reserve currency.

::::::::

Reprinted from RT

From youtube.com/watch?v=QCEops-pybI: Austria: Iran nuclear talks in Vienna
US President Barack Obama has given an extraordinary ultimatum to the Republican-controlled Congress, arguing that they must not block the nuclear accord with Iran. It’s either “deal or war,” he says.

In a televised nationwide address on August 5, Obama said: “Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any US administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option: another war in the Middle East. I say this not to be provocative. I am stating a fact.”

The American Congress is due to vote on whether to accept the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed July 14 between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers — the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Republicans are openly vowing to reject the JCPOA, along with hawkish Democrats such as Senator Chuck Schumer. Opposition within the Congress may even be enough to override a presidential veto to push through the nuclear accord.

In his drastic prediction of war, one might assume that Obama is referring to Israel launching a preemptive military strike on Iran with the backing of US Republicans. Or that he is insinuating that Iran will walk from self-imposed restraints on its nuclear program to build a bomb, thus triggering a war.

But what could really be behind Obama’s dire warning of “deal or war” is another scenario — the collapse of the US dollar, and with that the implosion of the US economy.

That scenario was hinted at this week by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Speaking in New York on August 11, Kerry made the candid admission that failure to seal the nuclear deal could result in the US dollar losing its status as the top international reserve currency.

“If we turn around and nix the deal and then tell [US allies], ‘You’re going to have to obey our rules and sanctions anyway,’ that is a recipe, very quickly for the American dollar to cease to be the reserve currency of the world.”

In other words, what really concerns the Obama administration is that the sanctions regime it has crafted on Iran — and has compelled other nations to abide by over the past decade — will be finished. And Iran will be open for business with the European Union, as well as China and Russia.

It is significant that within days of signing the Geneva accord, Germany, France, Italy and other EU governments hastened to Tehran to begin lining up lucrative investment opportunities in Iran’s prodigious oil and gas industries. China and Russia are equally well-placed and more than willing to resume trading partnerships with Iran. Russia has signed major deals to expand Iran’s nuclear energy industry.

American writer Paul Craig Roberts said that the US-led sanctions on Iran and also against Russia have generated a lot of frustration and resentment among Washington’s European allies.

“US sanctions against Iran and Russia have cost businesses in other countries a lot of money,” Roberts told this author.

“Propaganda about the Iranian nuke threat and Russian threat is what caused other countries to cooperate with the sanctions. If a deal worked out over much time by the US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany is blocked, other countries are likely to cease cooperating with US sanctions.”

Roberts added that if Washington were to scuttle the nuclear accord with Iran, and then demand a return to the erstwhile sanctions regime, the other international players will repudiate the American diktat.

“At that point, I think much of the world would have had enough of the US use of the international payments system to dictate to others, and they would cease transacting in dollars.”

The US dollar would henceforth lose its status as the key global reserve currency for the conduct of international trade and financial transactions.

Former World Bank analyst Peter Koenig says that if the nuclear accord unravels, Iran will be free to trade its oil and gas — worth trillions of dollars — in bilateral currency deals with the EU, Japan, India, South Korea, China and Russia, in much the same way that China and Russia and other members of the BRICS nations have already begun to do so.

That outcome will further undermine the US dollar. It will gradually become redundant as a mechanism of international payment.

From flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6355318323/: US Dollars

Koenig argues that this implicit threat to the dollar is the real, unspoken cause for anxiety in Washington. The long-running dispute with Iran, he contends, was never about alleged weapons of mass destruction. Rather, the real motive was for Washington to preserve the dollar’s unique global standing.

“The US-led standoff with Iran has nothing to do with nuclear weapons,” says Koenig. The issue is: will Iran eventually sell its huge reserves of hydrocarbons in other currencies than the dollar, as they intended to do in 2007 with an Iranian Oil Bourse? That is what instigated the American-contrived fake nuclear issue in the first place.”

This is not just about Iran. It is about other major world economies moving away from holding the US dollar as a means of doing business. If the US unilaterally scuppers the international nuclear accord, Washington will no longer be able to enforce its financial hegemony, which the sanctions regime on Iran has underpinned.

Many analysts have long wondered at how the US dollar has managed to defy economic laws, given that its preeminence as the world’s reserve currency is no longer merited by the fundamentals of the US economy. Massive indebtedness, chronic unemployment, loss of manufacturing base, trade and budget deficits are just some of the key markers, despite official claims of “recovery.”

As Paul Craig Roberts commented, the dollar’s value has only been maintained because up to now the rest of the world needs the greenback to do business with. That dependency has allowed the US Federal Reserve to keep printing banknotes in quantities that are in no way commensurate with the American economy’s decrepit condition.

“If the dollar lost the reserve currency status, US power would decline,” says Roberts. “Washington’s financial hegemony, such as the ability to impose sanctions, would vanish, and Washington would no longer be able to pay its bills by printing money. Moreover, the loss of reserve currency status would mean a drop in the demand for dollars and a drop in willingness to hold them. Therefore, the dollar’s exchange value would fall, and rising prices of imports would import inflation into the US economy.”

Doug Casey, a top American investment analyst, last week warned that the woeful state of the US economy means that the dollar is teetering on the brink of a long-overdue crash. “You’re going to see very high levels of inflation. It’s going to be quite catastrophic,” says Casey.

He added that the crash will also presage a collapse in the American banking system which is carrying trillions of dollars of toxic debt derivatives, at levels much greater than when the system crashed in 2007-08.

The picture he painted isn’t pretty: “Now, when interest rates inevitably go up from these artificially suppressed levels where they are now, the bond market is going to collapse, the stock market is going to collapse, and with it, the real estate market is going to collapse. Pension funds are going to be wiped out” This is a very bad situation. The US is digging itself in deeper and deeper,” said Casey, who added the telling question:“Then what’s going to happen?”

President Obama’s grim warning of “deal or war” seems to provide an answer. Faced with economic implosion on an epic scale, the US may be counting on war as its other option.

Submitters Bio:

Author and journalist. Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.

 

From OpEd News