TIME OF EXILE: Introductions and Appreciations

ToEcover“Time of Exile” – the final part of Gaither Stewart’s “Europe Trilogy” – has just been published. Here we excerpt some of the writing around the book … the author’s own Foreword, an extract from the book jacket, and some of the appreciations which this fine novel has already attracted. We begin with the author’s Introduction, followed by his Foreword:

TIME OF EXILE is the concluding volume of my Europe Trilogy. The long and complex story begins with The Trojan Spy and continues with the second volume, Lily Pad Roll. Together these first two parts present a live canvas depicting major political events on the continent of Europe reaching back to the Cold War and extending to current events and tensions affecting Europe today.

In The Trojan Spy, the Russian double agent, Anatoly Nikitin, run by spymasters of both East and West, organizes his own spy ring with the goal of uncovering the deadliest of the spy rings, the organizers of terrorism. As both participant and observer of the events, an aspiring young journalist, Karl Heinz, comes to understand the world of ideology and espionage and becomes a major link between all three novels.

Lily Pad Roll shows the development of America’s network of military bases throughout the world, especially those encircling its arch enemy Russia. In military jargon, a lily pad means a kind of outpost or staging area, in fact a new kind of military base, scaled down from the major bases one finds in Germany and Italy; lily pads are more mobile bases which however also tend to grow in size and become major armed camps. Karl Heinz and other survivors from The Trojan Spy zero in on these bases and attempt to inform public opinion about their existence. As they move across Europe from Munich to Belgrade, Istanbul, Odessa and Moscow, a new character emerges, Elmer Redway, demonstrating once again how fiction can sometimes precede real events. Redway, hacker genius and whistleblower, deserts from the US military in East Europe and provides top secret information to the world media.

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TIME IS NOT just the swing of the pendulum or the beat of the heart. Nor is it only the apparent motion of the sun across our sky or the phases of our moon. The clock and the calendar measure formal time: the clock measures the second, the minute, the hour; the calendar measures the passage of days and months and years. In modern times, this linear concept of time has come to be considered necessary for useful thought. And for life, too.

Ancient civilizations had widely differing ideas about the phenomenon of time. Precise time was not money, nor did it necessarily have exchange value. Until recently time was not a pragmatic consideration at all. Mayans conceptualized a wheel of time and they thought of time as a cyclical phenomenon, consisting of repeating ages during which everything that happens to one person in one age happens to every person in successive ages. The universe of the ancient Greeks had an infinite past with no beginning, while medieval theologians conceived of the universe as having a finite past with a precise beginning. Somewhere in the labyrinth of time, there appeared the concept of time like a ray; time has a beginning but goes on forever. In the Judeo-Christian concept time is above all linear, beginning with the creation, and abruptly concluding with the end of the world. Eschatology is thus a Judeo-Christian concept of the end of all things.

In exile, time comes to seem non-linear, unregulated, disorganized and out of control, one of the exceptions to linearity. Time may seem to come to a stop and the exiled person may even feel dehumanized; or time may accelerate to a dizzying pace so that the exile seems to live in a state of permanent vertigo. For by definition exile means isolation, feeling oneself alone, a victim of one’s thoughts, ruminations, imagination, lonesome and apart from the whole, in a world in which time as such has little role.

On the positive side, however, exile is also a search for one’s own existence within unstoppable time and for one’s own place in life. Thus exile becomes a search for new roots, surrogate roots, which, though they will never replace one’s original roots, are necessary for a fruitful life in which time can maintain or, in some cases, resume a normal clock- calendar pace. In any case, in modern terms, time cannot stop, though at times it seems to do so. For contemporary man an abrupt stop is only illusion. Motion can stop—and does—but not time. Time in our conception moves forward but, perhaps, it will come to an end.


Many writers have examined the topos of exile, either because they had to leave their countries for political reasons, or because they were disaffected from their original land and society and consciously chose to live elsewhere. In fiction, as in life, there are many kinds of exile, as different and personal as are those authors who write about it. Literary historians recall that sometimes a number of a nation’s leading intellectuals and writers leave their original land in search of wider personal and artistic freedom. Anti-Nazi writers left Germany last century and in exile created a concurrent body of German literature. Similarly, many writers and artists abandoned Soviet Russia and likewise created abroad a different body of literature and graphic art.

Edward Said, a Palestinian-American intellectual who died in the USA, wrote in his essay, “Reflections on Exile”, that “exile is a state of homelessness, estrangement and displacement.” Yet despite that sad state, literary history teems with famous exiles: from Ovid to Dante, from Voltaire to Byron, from Heinrich Heine to Oscar Wilde and Henry James, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Mann, Henry Miller, Czeslaw Milosz, Milan Kundera, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. One wonders how it happens that exile, the state of “terminal loss”—as Said called it, an environment of deprivation, suffering, solitude and anguish—produces so many writers. Or is some form of exile, even internal exile, a pre-condition for good writ- ing? In one sense exile is about everyone’s condition in the world, whether they are geographically at home or abroad. In a religious sense we are all exiles, ripped and torn from our spiritual home as a consequence of our “fall” into self- awareness and the birth of free will, the precondition of the gradual evolution of genuine freedom.

For Albert Camus this condition of exile is not to be confused with alienation in the sense that Sartre uses this word. One who feels himself alienated from others, a particu- lar society or institution, for instance, has the hope of coming out of this loneliness or longing for union with the source of his alienation. Camus went a step further: his was more than just a diffused feeling of withdrawal or “nausea” from things commonly shared. Exile for Camus signifies the existence of a permanent wall that separates man from any true penetration into the mystery of life and death.


I feel an affinity with the introduction to a chapter about the narrative voice in the non-fictional literary essay in the beautiful book about Nathaniel Hawthorne of 1941, A Thick and Darksome Veil, by Thomas R. Moore who quoted Thoreau thusly: “We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person speaking.” Thoreau’s observation about nonfiction overlaps to a great extent with my fiction. In this novel, Time of Exile, the fictional narrator is often present, though I also attempt to allow the actual ‘historical author’ (Hawthorne’s term), that is myself, to sneak into the text and have his say. In fact, I see more than two voices in fiction. Moreover, the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction often become blurry, so that critics are tempted to modify the classification, fiction, with an altering adjective.

So, first of all, I want to assure the reader that this book is a novel of fiction. Yet, yet … there is a strong presence here of personal observation by one or another of the author’s personae at work. However, I leave it to the readers to assign any classification to the work they might desire.

This novel takes place largely in the present and at times offers a look forward into the future; flashbacks to the past are infrequent and targeted in those moments when the char- acters recall their own past and its effect on their present and future. The real action remains, however, in the dynamic pres- ent. The characters seldom yearn for the past as if it were an escape. In this novel action points toward the future without looking back, although the past does resonate in the present.

Since all the characters are invented by the author, and since each and every one of their actions is set in motion by him, the author comes to feel like a puppeteer, both victim and beneficiary of their evil and good actions. Sometimes he participates in their acts; sometimes they run off on their own and perform actions the creator might deprecate.

In that sense this novel raises a number of moral questions, moral dilemmas, moral choices in which men can choose on which side they stand in the continuing story of the good-and- evil of mankind in all ages and times. Perhaps the major moral theme of this novel is the question of guilt and innocence and the possibility of eventual repentance. In one way or another, each of us must in the end choose. For in our age, in most ages in fact, indifference or neutrality—the refusal to commit or choose—is also a choice and blameworthy in many contexts: for example, one can not be morally ‘neutral’ about war. The awful judgment is that evil triumphs when ‘good’ people do nothing. Moreover, the choices we make decide the verdict we ourselves, in the end, pronounce on our lives.



Winter, 2015

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From the back cover:

Once, so it’s said, there was the Fall. Into separation, into doubt, confusion and alienation – from Nature, from others. Into the divided self. Into the painful awareness of good and evil. Into the curse and the blessing of conscience. Into the intimation of the possibility of real freedom, and the difficult realisation that real freedom means responsibility: no man is an island. As if it were not difficult enough to cope with our inner world – the tangled web of contradictory urges – outside us is a world in turmoil, on the rack of powerful forces sowing discord, death and destruction whilst professing the highest ideals. Words and meanings twisted by propaganda into their opposites: war is peace; freedom is slavery (enslavement to fear, to having rather than being). The creation of mythical enemies. Many asleep to all this. Wakefulness is uncomfortable. For the wakeful writer responsibility beckons – to counter falsehood and deception, to recall us to our humanity, to the unfashionable ideals of truth, beauty and goodness. In times like these, when so much is at stake, serious writing cannot escape being political. This is no time for mere distraction. In his “Europe Trilogy”, of which this volume is the third and final part, Gaither Stewart’s talent for weaving wonderfully engaging stories is allied to a keen sense of his responsibility to the times. This may be fiction, but it is fiction solidly rooted in his intimate knowledge both of Europe and its recent history and of the often tortured wrestling of the human soul for clarity, for honesty – and sometimes for forgiveness, even redemption. Responsibility – towards others and towards the truth – leads his characters into dark and dangerous territory, where they must confront the modern manifestations of evil: political assassination, state-sponsored terrorism, the resurgence of fascism, the megalomaniac urge of some to control the world in the interests of the few. Courage and self-sacrifice are required. The rewards uncertain: do the (good) ends justify the means (killing the ‘bad guys’)? Stewart offers no easy answers, no lectures on morality. There is no comfortable denouement. The individual and collective struggles continue – in the trilogy as in real life.

Paul Carline

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TIME OF EXILE, the third volume of Gaither Stewart’s Europe Trilogy, is a political novel. I see no reasons to conceal it or to feel shame. On the contrary.

Are the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Miguel Angel Asturias not political? And worthy of the Nobel Prize.

Of course one may say that those are not Anglo-American literature, but Latin American. Still, as if the novels of Graham Greene were not political. As if Hemingway’s best novels were not political. As if The Grapes of Wrath, All the Kings Men, and Catch-22 were not political novels.

Only fools and cowards can turn up their noses at the political novel in today’s world in which neo-liberals have created a huge economic crisis, in a world in which NATO blatantly organizes one aggression after another—against Yugoslavia, against Iraq, against Afghanistan, against Libya, against Cote d’Ivoire—overthrows disagreeable governments and installs in their place marionettes. That is, in a world governed by rotten politics.

It is stupid to turn up one’s nose at political novels today when works like Fifty Shades of Grey are foisted on you as the only alternative political prose.

You will not read intellectual-political prose but you read Shades of Grey. Then you unlearn how to read. Then how to think. You unlearn how to speak. You begin to bellow. You become part of the herd. And the same persons who organized the world economic crisis and aggression against Yugoslavia and Libya with a crack of the whip will drive you to the slaughter-house. They will make of you a cheap sausage of Fifty Shades of Grey.


Writer, Sociologist, Historian, Literary Critic

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This superbly intelligent book is the third and final one in the trilogy created by the American expatriate Gaither Stewart. It is a politically based tale of exile and the struggle against today’s unrealities. The pervasive melancholy imbued within a stream of consciousness gives it a feel of what betrayal and the revelation of secrets really means. The wide international knowledge of cities and their inhabitants by this very remarkable author fascinates by the rich description of the surroundings and the effect these have on the sensitive trav- eler. The novel is full of what the French call “a la page” information, i.e. a direct knowledge of contemporary politics in Europe and the writer bores deeply into his protagonists’ minds. Magnificent descriptions make this intricate book not an easy read because it deals with a deep concern for ethics and social responsibility. It is a thoughtful, though at times passionate story for those who profoundly care about the present day human condition.


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Time of Exile is a very moral book. The book’s main characters seem under the influence of the words of the poets, Shelley and Keats, who lie buried in the Rome Poets’ Cemetery where much of the action in this the third book of Gaither Stewart’s Europe Trilogy takes place. They all want “to do the world some good.” The characters in Stewart’s story express their morality in their constant attempt to do the right thing. “Doing the right thing” in fact becomes a major theme as the story progresses. Action, violence, travel and romance fill the book but emotions are always infected with a desire to do the right thing. At the same time, this desire to do good is accompanied by penance for wrongdoings. Even one of the story’s most evil characters shows signs of a desire for redemption in his inevitable defeat. The Dostoevskian-like conversation between two trained killers at the funeral of an assassinated political leader in the Belgrade landmark cemetery exemplifies this generalized passion for good. Even though they were trained for this hit job, the two men did not commit the crime and do not believe they would have pulled the trigger in any case. Yet they feel guilty because they could have. Reading Time of Exile I came to realize that the first two volumes of this trilogy, The Trojan Spy and Lily Pad Roll, are likewise moral books.



An Appreciation for the Poet

An Appreciation for the Poet

by Gaither Stewart

My most beloved poet, the American novelist with the Slavic name, E.L. Doctorow, a third generation Russian Jew, is gone. Edgar Lawrence (named after Edgar Allen Poe), was born in the Bronx in New York City just as he was supposed to. That inveterate heavy smoker Doctorow died of lung cancer at the age of 84 in Manhattan as I imagine he was destined to. In my estimation he was much too young, considering what he might have yet created in his remarkable style which if I could choose I would wholeheartedly emulate.

Although Doctorow was best known for his novels Ragtime and Billy Bathgate, of the twelve he published, and as much as I loved those two stories, I was struck by his use of real history mixed with creations of his imagination—as he was wont to in much of his work— in his 1971 novel The Book of Daniel, which was a fictionalized version of the arrest, conviction and execution of the Rosenbergs for allegedly passing vital atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Like many of his novels, Daniel became a film directed by Sidney Lumet.

In my mind Doctorow was a born Communist. Based on his books, I believe he considered himself a Communist. Despite his legitimate (considered as such by US liberals) activities as editor and professor, he hardly disguised his real identity in his literary production. Especially in this novel he expressed explicitly his undying hate for liberals.

This paragraph on the second page of The Book of Daniel, one of his first major works, shows his hate for the liberal establishment with which he mingled and lived his life while apparently maintaining his dignity, that quality today denigrated and its meaning distorted. He pronounced his hate in their faces and they facetiously (as is their nature) praised him for it.

He [his father] didn’t like my marrying Phyllis, neither did my mother, but of course they wouldn’t say anything. Enlightened liberals are like that. Phyllis, a freshman drop-out, has nothing for them. Liberals are like that too. They confuse character with education. They don’t believe we’ll live to be beautiful old people with strength in one another. Perhaps they sniff the strong erotic content of my marriage and find it distasteful. Phyllis is the kind of awkward girl with heavy thighs and heavy tits and slim lovely face whose ancestral mothers must have been born in harems. The kind of unathletic helpless breeder to appeal to caliphs. The kind of sand dune that was made to be kicked around. Perhaps they are afraid I kick her around.

Although he was not Stephen King or Robert Ludlum, Doctorow was obviously widely read by the same liberal establishment he hated but on whose self-flagellation he thrived as a successful mainstream writer. Why? I suppose chiefly because he told good stories.

But on another level, a more psychological level, it is conceivable that liberals somehow are themselves both fascinated and satisfied by their inculcated or inherent minimum demands on society … and fuck the rest. Liberal masochism. Liberals’ see-how-we are-better-than-them phobias.

My second why? is directed at liberal-hating leftists. Why are we wary of the best of them? Of liberals? Of those who campaign and carry placards and organize sit-ins for social changes and sing inspirational songs? Of the ones who paint the rosiest of pictures of “change is possible”. Why?

E.L. Doctorow seemed to comprehend the answer. Do we?

Based in Rome, GAITHER STEWART serves as European correspondent for The Greanville Post and Cyrano’s Journal Today. As a senior editor for TGP he is also frequently involved in setting topical directions for the publication. His latest novel, Time of Exile, third volume of his Europe Trilogy, has just been published by Punto Press.

pale blue horiz





WALLS by Gaither Stewart
The Great Chinese Wall: still standing after 24 centuries, its original purpose now obsolete.
The Great Chinese Wall: still standing after 24 centuries, its original purpose now obsolete.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he international media reported recently that the conservative government of Hungary has projected a wall along the country’s southern border with Serbia to keep out clandestine Serbs who cross into Hungary in search of work. Some readers will recall that in 1999 the U.S. used Hungary as a base for the Serbian opposition organization, OTPOR (resistance), hailed in the West as the representative of democratic Serbia against the evil Communist dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic, which however was financed and to some extent run by the West in an early color revolution, similar to the support for the Nazi anti-Russian group on the Maidan in Ukraine this year.

Roger Cohen of the NY TIMES revealed that between 1998 and 2000 OTPOR received funds from three U.S. organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which met with OTPOR  leaders also in Budapest, Hungary. The planned Hungarian wall today prompted me to revive and refresh my previous article and a translation of a story by Jorge Borges, both about walls.

Afew years ago an amusing satirical article in the Buenos Aires leftwing daily, Pagina 12,made me want to cry. In some five thousand words the Argentinean journalist José Pablo Feinmann ridiculed, among other things, the whole concept of the great wall the U.S. Bush government projected along the border with Mexico.

“What? Raise a wall. The gringos must be very afraid,” the journalist writes. “Just suppose the Wall then becomes a Goal, a Goal that attracts people from all parts, just to see if they can reach the Goal. What would be the Goal? The Goal would be to jump over the wall. Let’s just suppose that a crazy German comes with an enormous hook and says, ‘I can jump over the Wall of the Gringos.’ And suppose the Wall then retains this name: The Wall of the Gringos.”

(The journalist goes on to recall that the word Gringo calls to mind the rancor of Latin Americans, things like the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro and “Gringos de mierda, imperialist pigs go home,” and the Wall then becomes the symbol of burgeoning North American Fascism. There are many legends about the origin of the word Gringo—perhaps from the Green Coats of American soldiers in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, “green coats go home” becomes “greens-go.” Argentineans called all immigrants, especially Italians, gringos. But as a rule today Gringo means Yankee, and is generally pejorative, even if North Americans in Mexico and southwards call themselves Gringos … but maybe that’s like whistling in the dark graveyard.)


Israel’s “Apartheid Wall”. segregating Palestinians. 

Walls usually express fear and have never enjoyed much success. Like the walled cities of Jericho or of Old Europe, walls have usually been defensive. They aim at keeping out the enemy. But many centuries ago barbarians easily overran the 19-kilometer Aurelian walls around Rome, today crumbling, and that I once walked in one day. These however were small walls, insignificant walls, and even though the walls of Troy resisted for ten years, most walls fell quite easily to hooks and rams and ladders. Instead the 155-kilometer Berlin Wall was intended to keep people in (or was it only that?)—and who can say what could happen in Bush’s Republic?—but anyway the Berlin Wall fell too. Even the 6,700 mile Wall of China has gradually crumbled and become a tourist attraction. And what about the Israeli Wall? For the whole Arab world, for Berliners, for many Europeans, it is forty kilometers of evil. The reality is, walls just don’t work. 

The mere idea of a 700-mile wall between the USA and its neighbor Mexico is mind-boggling. The image of a globalized world in which contradictorily walls are built and bridges crumble recalls the feudal system when the lords only left their walled castles escorted by armed guards. The drama of illegal immigration was predicted to become the major issue of the XXI century. Now it is here. And political leaders have decided to look to the distant past for solutions: the Israeli wall and now the Wall of the Gringos are what they come up with.

A declaration of several years ago signed by 28 of 34 nations of the Organization of American States—of course NOT by the United States—expressed “deep concern” for such a “unilateral measure” contrary to the spirit of international understanding. Walls, it said, do not solve the problem of illegal immigration, and it urged the United States to recognize this position. Latin American leaders gathered in a summit in Uruguay condemned the idea of the Wall. Former Mexican President, Vicente Fox, a conservative, defined the idea of a wall on the Mexican border “stupid.” For Chilean President Michelle Bachelet a wall facing Mexico “damages the links of friendship in the hemisphere.”

The Berlin Wall was a godsend for the battalions of self-righteous Western propagandists. No one cared to mention that the GDR probably had good reasons for it, including sabotage.

At this point, as a change of pace: I am adding an exercise I have permitted myself, the translation of a story about walls by Jorge Luis Borges, which however had absolutely nothing to do with the Wall of the Gringos, to whose story I have added a few of my own comments.

The Wall and the Books (La Muralla y los Libros)

By Jorge Luis Borges (translation from Spanish and comments by Gaither Stewart)

He, whose long wall the wand’ring Tartar bounds … Dunciad, II, 76. (1)

I read, in past days, that the man who ordered the construction of the nearly infinite Wall of China was that First Emperor, Shih Huang Ti, who likewise ordered the burning of all the books before him. That the two gigantic operations—the five or six hundred leagues of stone to oppose the barbarians, the rigorous abolition of history, that is of the past—issued from one person and were in a certain sense his attributes, inexplicably satisfied me and, at the same time, disturbed me. The object of this note is to investigate the reasons for that emotion.


Historically there is no mystery in the two measures. A contemporary of the wars of Hannibal, Shih Huang Ti, King of Ch’in, conquered the Six Kingdoms and eliminated the feudal system; he built the wall because walls were defenses; he burned the books because the opposition invoked them in order to extol former emperors. Burning books and building fortifications is common task to emperors; the only thing singular about Shih Huang Ti was the scale on which he operated. So some Sinologists would have us understand, but I feel that the facts to which I referred are something more than an exaggeration or a hyperbole of trivial inclinations. To enclose an orchard or a garden is common; not to enclose an empire. That the most traditional of races renounced the memory of its past, mythical or true, is no small matter. The Chinese had three thousand years of chronology (in those years, the Yellow Emperor and Chuang Tzu and Confucius and Lao Tzu) when Shih Huang Ti ordered that history began with him. … Shih Huang Ti had banished his mother as a libertine; the orthodox saw only impiety in his severe justice; Shih Huang Ti, perhaps, wanted to erase canonic books because they accused him; Shih Huang Ti, perhaps, wanted to abolish the entire past in order to abolish one memory: the infamy of his mother. (Not unlike another king, in Judea, had all the children killed in order to kill one.) This conjecture is worth considering, but it tells us nothing about the wall, about the second facet of the myth. Shih Huang Ti, according to historians, forbade all mention of the word death and searched for the elixir of immortality and secluded himself in a figurative palace, which had as many rooms as the year has days; the data suggest that the wall in space and the fire in time were magic barriers intended to halt the advance of death.

borges-Jorge_Luis_Borges_1963-myopicEverything persists in his being, wrote Baruch Spinoza; perhaps the Emperor and his sages believed that immortality was intrinsic and that corruption could not penetrate a closed sphere. Perhaps the Emperor hoped to recreate the beginning of time and called himself The First, in order to be truly the first, and he named himself Huang Ti in order to be in some way Huang Ti, the legendary emperor who invented writing and the compass. The latter, according to the Book of Rites, gave things their true names; equally Shih Huang Ti boasted, in enduring inscriptions, that all things in his empire had the name they merited. He dreamed of founding an immortal dynasty; he ordered that his heirs should be named Second Emperor, Third Emperor, Fourth Emperor, and so on to infinity … I spoke of a magic design; it would also be possible to suppose that constructing a wall and burning the books were not simultaneous acts. This (according to the order we choose) would give us the image of a king who began by destroying and afterwards resigned himself to conserving, or that of a disabused king who destroyed what he defended earlier. Both conjectures are dramatic but lack, as far as I know, in historical basis. Herbert Allen Giles (2) relates that those who concealed books were branded by a red-hot iron and condemned to build the outrageous wall until the day of their death. This information favors or tolerates another interpretation. Perhaps the wall was a metaphor, maybe Shih Huang Ti condemned those who worshipped the past to a work just as vast as the past, as stupid and useless. Perhaps the wall was a challenge and Shih Huang Ti thought: “Men love the past and I can do nothing against this love, nor can my executioners, but sometime there will be a man who feels as I do, and he will destroy my wall, as I destroyed the books, and will erase my memory and will be my shadow and my mirror and will not be aware of it. Perhaps Shih Huang Ti walled in the empire because he knew it was fragile and he destroyed the books because he understood they were sacred books, or rather books that taught that which the entire universe teaches or the consciousness of every man. Maybe the burning of the libraries and the construction of the wall are operations that in a secret way cancel each other. 

The tenacious wall that in this moment, and in all moments, projects its system of shadows across lands I will not see, is the shadow of a Caesar who ordered that the most reverent of nations burn its past; it is likely that the idea itself touches us by, over and above, the conjectures it allows. (Its virtue can be in the opposition to building and destroying, on an enormous scale.) Generalizing the earlier matter, we could infer that all practices have their virtue in themselves and not in some conjectural “content.” This would be in agreement with the thesis of Benedetto Croce (3); as already Pater (4), in 1877, contended that all the arts aspire to the condition of music, which is nothing but form. Music, state of happiness, mythology, faces shaped by time, certain twilights and certain places, try to tell us something, or they told us something that we should not have lost, or want to tell us something; this imminence of a revelation, which does not happen, is, perhaps, the esthetic act.

• Dunciad by Alexander Pope in which the poet referred to his many enemies as dunces. This satirical poem of 920 lines, in three books, describes the king of dunces and a nightmare world of universal darkness in Pope’s gigantic lampoon of writers, books and booksellers, attacking those who write for pay. At one point there is a sacrifice bonfire of the books. This sort of literary reference and source is used by Anglophile Borges throughout his work.

• Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935), renowned British diplomat and Sinologist.

• Benedetto Croce (1866-1952), Italian literary historian, critic, philosopher, wrote: “Art is not the addition of form to content, but expression, which does not mean communication but is a spiritual fact, and ethics is conceived as the expression of the universal will, of the spirit.”

• Walter Pater (1839-94), English writer, essayist, aesthete and art historian, famous precisely because his life is so shrouded in mystery, whom Henry James called “the mask without the face” and the kind of literary source Borges plants in his strange tales. Here Borges quotes Pater that “all art constantly aspires toward the condition of music.” I found on line this anecdote which is revealing of the nature of Pater, and thus of one side of Borges:  In 1894, the last year of his life, Pater was invited to meet Mallarmé, who was then lecturing at Oxford. Mallarmé taught English in a lycée; Pater’s French was excellent; but the two connoisseurs of intimation apparently thought it too vulgar actually to speak. According to one account, they “regarded each other in silence, and were satisfied.”

Translator’s note: This typical Borges interpretative chronicle/ historical reflection (neither short story nor essay!) is included in Antología Personal (Personal Anthology), the version I have translated here, the first edition of which was published by Editorial Sur in 1961 and for which Borges wrote in the Prologue that his “preferences dictated this book.” It appeared again in English in Everything and Nothing, New Directions, 1999. I chose to translate this tale/account because it is shorter and, perhaps, less well-known than others; secondly because it is typical of Borges’ works in which he playfully drops unfamiliar names and references in his veiled recounting of people and place and times, which only at first appear obscure or meaningless; and thirdly because of the writer’s prologue to the volume.

As fate would have it and in Borges style, I saw in a May issue of the best of the “NY Times in Italian,” the article “Walls Raised Against the Enemy, A Long History,” which cites the first such wall as Shih Huang Ti’s Wall of China, an article intended to demonstrate that they never work, not in Berlin nor in Israel nor in Baghdad. Nor will it work on the US-Mexican border, I would add.

Tracing the references and my close reading of the Prologue is to elucidate to a limited degree the Borgesian world. If you try to pursue diligently all Borges’ literary pointers you have to be prepared to enter an infinite labyrinth in which one thing leads to another and then another, inexorably and without end, so that you do need the proverbial ball of string to find your way out. Though with contemporary web search engines this labyrinth is only a few clicks away, while I was clicking and longing to exit I imagined Borges instead in one of his libraries, finding, tracing and investigating such sources of inspiration by following his own instincts, pulling down tome after tome from the labyrinthine spaces filled with semi-illuminated shelves that he must have loved and hated.

Toward the end of this exercise, once the translation was finished and the names pinpointed, I returned to his Prologue to the book in which he refers to Benedetto Croce as he does in “The Wall and the Books.” Borges: “Croce opined that art is expression; from this exigency, or from the deformation of this exigency, derives the worst literature of our times…. I at times have also searched for expression; now I know that my gods no longer concede me anything but allusion or account.”

Creative writers can well understand him. On a similar tack Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose) says that, “every work of art is a game played out at the worktable. Nothing is more harmful to creativity than the passion of inspiration. It’s the fable of bad romantics that fascinates bad poets and bad narrators. Art is a serious matter. Manzoni and Flaubert, Balzac and Stendhal wrote at the worktable. That means to construct, like an architect plans a building. Yet we prefer to believe that a novelist invents because he has a genius whispering into his ear.”

(Well, so much for walls, even if I have digressed from the subject, I think it is clear that to me walls do not sound like a good idea at all).


TTIP london

TPP, TTIP, CETA, TISA – Acronyms of Empire

TTIP london

TPP, TTIP, CETA, TISA – acronyms of empire

by Paul Carline

(This is an updated, extended and modified version of my earlier post on TTIP)

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he lightweight, harmless-sounding acronyms roll easily off the tongue. Even their full names – Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, Trade in Services Agreement – give no real hint of their sinister intent. ‘Agreements’ and ‘partnerships’ – isn’t that what we all want in this fractured world? But what is the reality?

As Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz noted in a March 2014 New York Times article: “Trade agreements are a subject that can cause the eyes to glaze over, but we should all be paying attention”, and he concludes the article with this warning: “Corporations everywhere may well agree that getting rid of regulations would be good for corporate profits. Trade negotiators might be persuaded that these trade agreements would be good for trade and corporate profits. But there would be some big losers — namely, the rest of us.”

Fellow economist Robert Reich puts it more simply and pointedly. Their aim, he says, is to “boost the top 1% and bust the rest”. An American campaign group has called TPP “the dirtiest trade deal you’ve never heard of”. Fortunately it’s no longer the case that the public doesn’t know about how these various deals are being stitched up behind their backs. They weren’t supposed to find out, of course. The clear intention of those behind the deals was to have them agreed and implemented without public involvement or oversight. The only reason we have some idea of what is involved is because elements of them were leaked by people with a conscience and a commitment to democracy and transparency. Even then, the full extent of what has been discussed behind closed doors remains a secret and the negotiators are rushing to conclude the two main deals – TPP and TTIP – as quickly as possible, probably this year.

Let’s be clear, the way these negotiations have been handled means that they have to be labeled unequivocally as conspiracies – by the representatives of the rich and powerful against the rest of us. Stiglitz again:.. it is easy to infer the shape of the whole TPP, and it doesn’t look good. There is a real risk that it will benefit the wealthiest sliver of the American and global elite at the expense of everyone else. The fact that such a plan is under consideration at all is testament to how deeply inequality reverberates through our economic policies.

(emphasis added) (“On the wrong side of globalization”, 15 March, 2014; http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/on-the-wrong-side-of-globalization/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 1/7)

And it’s that deep inequality (of power) running through our so-called democracies that means that despite the exposure of these conspiracies we, the supposed owners of the political process (‘democracy’ = “people power”), are virtually powerless to stop them. Many millions around the world oppose them, marching, demonstrating, signing petitions, writing to their representatives – but the talks have not been abandoned. It remains to be seen whether the mounting public pressure can really stifle them – or whether we will have to resort, like Greenpeace and other activists, to spoiler tactics at the local level, as is already happening in various places (e.g. using local laws to declare nuclear- and frack-free zones and block GMO crops and factory farming).

In the case of the US-EU TTIP deal facilitated by the least democratically legitimate body in the EU, the European Commission, and seconded by the European Council (composed of ministers from the governments of the 28 member states), although the final acceptance or rejection of the deal is up to the elected members of the European Parliament (EP), the EP may only be allowed to say “yea” or “nay” to the whole deal. If a trade agreement comes under EU exclusive competence, the Council and the European Parliament can either adopt or reject it: it cannot be amended. Meanwhile it is reported that in the USA the TPP talks are stalling while the White House assures its trading partners that this secret trade agreement won’t be amended when it comes back to Congress for ratification after the President signs the deal. That’s why the Executive is scrambling to get its allies in Congress to pass the “Fast Track” procedure. If they succeed, the U.S. Trade Representative can block remaining opportunities for the examination of the TPP’s provisions by lawmakers.

A tiny handful of negotiators, subject to considerable political and commercial lobbying influence, are deciding deals which will directly impact the roughly 1.3 billion people in the 40 countries covered by TPP and TTIP, and indirectly many more. Those 40 countries account for some 80% of global trade. These are the biggest trade deals in history. Joseph Stiglitz spells out some of what they could mean:

“Agreements like the TPP are only one aspect of a larger problem: our gross mismanagement of globalization. […] Today, the purpose of trade agreements is different [from before]. Tariffs around the world are already low. The focus has shifted to “non-tariff barriers,” and the most important of these — for the corporate interests pushing agreements — are regulations. Huge multinational corporations complain that inconsistent regulations make business costly. But most of the regulations, even if they are imperfect, are there for a reason: to protect workers, consumers, the economy and the environment. What’s more, those regulations were often put in place by governments responding to the democratic demands of their citizens. Trade agreements’ new boosters euphemistically claim that they are simply after regulatory harmonization, a clean­sounding phrase that implies an innocent plan to promote efficiency … But when corporations call for harmonization, what they really mean is a race to the bottom.”

One of the most insidious elements of these deals is ISDS – the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism, which as Stiglitz explains, “allows corporations to seek restitution in an international tribunal, not only for unjust expropriation, but also for alleged diminution of their potential profits as a result of regulation. This is not a theoretical problem. Philip Morris has already tried this tactic against Uruguay, claiming that its antismoking regulations, which have won accolades from the World Health Organization, unfairly hurt profits, violating a bilateral trade treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay. In this sense, recent trade agreements are reminiscent of the Opium Wars, in which Western powers successfully demanded that China keep itself open to opium because they saw it as vital in correcting what otherwise would be a large trade imbalance”.

The leaked draft negotiating mandate for TTIP stated that negotiations “should aim to include … fair and equitable treatment, including a prohibition of unreasonable, arbitrary or discriminatory measures” and “full protection and security of investors and investments”. This would be ensured by the provision of “an effective and state-of-the-art investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism”. Companies and/or investors who felt that their claimed right to make a handsome profit on their investment or trading deal had been frustrated or denied – for example, by a change in government policy – would be able to sue the government in a special court before a panel of three private lawyers, whose decisions cannot be appealed.

Pared down to its essentials, the rhetoric means that investors must be freed from the fear of losing money on their speculations, and the expected profits of companies entering into contracts anywhere within the countries covered by the deals must be guaranteed. And we thought “free market” capitalism was about taking risks!

ISDS is already a part of some existing trade deals. Examples of how it works are listed in a study by the Seattle to Brussels Network entitled “A Transatlantic Corporate Bill of Rights”, which notes that “US and European companies have driven the investor-state litigation boom of the past two decades. By far the largest number of the 514 known disputes initiated by the end of 2012 were launched by US investors, who filed 24% of all cases. Next in line are investors from the Netherlands (50 cases), the UK (30) and Germany (27). Together, investors from EU member states have filed 40% of all cases. EU and US companies have used these lawsuits to challenge green energy and medicine policies, anti-smoking legislation, environmental restrictions on mining, health insurance policies, measures to improve the economic situation of minorities and many more.”

Other specific fears are that American companies, including Monsanto, will use ISDS to force EU governments to accept GM products and agriculture, chlorinated chickens and growth hormone-treated beef. Public procurement is another target: “The Agreement will aim at enhanced mutual access to public procurement markets at all administrative levels (national, regional and local), and in the field of public utilities … ensuring treatment no less favourable than that accorded to locally established suppliers”. This would enforce the opening up of many public services to private takeover.

One key public service is the provision of drinking water and sanitation. In Europe, the concerns led to the first ‘successful’ European Citizens’ Initiative i.e. the first to collect the minimum 1 million signatures from at least seven member states (the European Citizens’ Initiative right was included in the “Lisbon Treaty” of the EU. It is the first transnational initiative right in the world, but it is little more than a weak petition, as it does not compel the European Commission to initiate legislation). The “Right2Water” ECI stated: “Water and sanitation are a human right. Water is a public good, not a commodity!” It managed to collect 1,884,790 signatures. To date, only 3 initiatives have broken through the 1 million barrier, including “Right2Water” and a “Stop TTIP” initiative (cf. below).

Backed by more than 240 European organisations, a European Citizens’ Initiative to demand the repeal of the TTIP negotiating mandate was launched in September 2014, but the Commission rejected it out of hand on what appear to be flawed legal grounds. The ECI coordinating committee intends to appeal the decision at the European Court. After the first disappointment of rejection, the organisers decided to launch an unofficial ECI, with the aim of collecting twice as many signatures (2 million) as are required for the official one. As of today (6 March), 1,542,252 signatures have been collected in support of the campaign’s challenge to the EU negotiators: “We call on the institutions of the European Union and its member states to stop the negotiations with the USA on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.” The campaign alliance now includes some 360 civil society organisations. There is also growing opposition in the US, mainly from trade unions, which fear more “offshoring” of jobs to low-wage economies. But collecting signatures is an expensive and time-consuming task. Mass petitions organised by professional organisations (such as Change.org, SumofUs, War on Want and 38 Degrees etc) – which simply require supporters to hit a button on their keyboard or make a mouse click – could have a greater impact on political decision-making.

In the Asia-Pacific region opposition to TPP(A) is also growing. In Australia, there has been dissent since at least the end of 2012, despite the efforts of Trade Minister Andrew Robb to dismiss criticism. Australian Green Party senator Scott Ludlam said: “This is a trade agreement being signed under cover of total darknessit is not even being negotiated between large corporate entities … this is an agreement being hammered out by global corporations in their benefit. It is an investor’s rights agreement, not a free trade agreement.” In New Zealand there have been protest marches and the website: www.itsourfuture.org.nz reports that “New Zealand First is bringing forward the Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill to ban our government from signing any treaty, which gives foreign corporates the right to seek compensation if they believe our laws affect their business”.

It is now widely recognised that economic dominance (by predominantly American corporations) is one of the main aims of such trade deals as TPP, TTIP, CETA and TISA: i.e. they are about expanding and consolidating what Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner referred to as early as 1917 as the coming “Anglo-American economic imperialism”. The other aim – lucidly spelled out in Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya’s article “Marching Towards Disaster: What’s Really Behind the US Push in the Asia-Pacific?” in the January-February edition of the Australian magazine “New Dawn” – is geostrategic and military consolidation, in particular aimed at increasing the encirclement of the West’s great rivals, China and Russia. Sometime around 2011 there was a significant shift in US foreign policy. At the November 2011 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) conference in Honolulu, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the CEO Summit on Women and the Economy, said: I’m delighted to be with you because I think that we really are making what I call a pivot. As the war in Iraq ends and we transition in Afghanistan, U.S. foreign policy is moving toward the Asia Pacific. We need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy to put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. And one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will be to lock in a substantially increased investment – diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise – in the Asia Pacific region”. (No hint of regret or shame here at two illegal wars and millions of dead – just more ‘collateral damage’ and on to the next war).

In another meeting on the same occasion, Clinton referred specifically to TPP, whose purpose, she declared, was to: “strengthen our bilateral alliances in the field of security; strengthening participation in regional multilateral institutions; expansion of trade and investment; strengthening the broad base of military presence; [and last, and least!] the promotion of democracy and human rights”. In the same week, Barack Obama used almost identical words in speaking to the Australian Parliament, referring to “strengthening the US military presence in the region of East Asia”. He also named TPP as “a potential model for the whole region”.

To understand these latest moves on what leading US strategist (and arch Russia-hater) Zbigniew Brzezinski called “The Grand Chessboard” (the title of his 1997 book, subtitled “American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives”), we need to widen the historical perspective. As Steiner noted nearly 100 years ago: “Since the 17th century what has been “the will of the people” in the public life of the Anglo-American peoples …is no more than empty rhetoric. Between what is said and reality there is not even the relation which existed between the symbol and reality. Thus the psychological path is this: from realities to symbols and then to empty rhetoric – to language that is squeezed out, hollow. And the true realities are what goes on behind this”.

The reality behind the empty words was colonialism. Steiner mentioned the “Imperial Federation League”, which, he says, “is the form, the particular way the colonial system, the extension of the British Empire across the colonies, is summed up”. About the League Wikipedia notes:

“Creating an Imperial Federation thus became a popular alternative proposal to colonial imperialism … the general proposal was to create a single federal state among all colonies of the British Empire. The federation would have a common and would be governed as a superstate. Thus, Imperial unity could be maintained while still allowing for democratic government [rather: while still paying lip service to pseudo-democracy]. Supporters of Imperial Federation regarded the United Kingdom as having two possible futures; imperial union and continued long-term importance – or imperial dissolution and the reduction of the status of the UK to a second-class nation”. Is the threat of “imperial dissolution” what is driving these last-gasp efforts at maintaining and increasing control by the new Anglo-American empire?

The idea of the Federation did not survive WWI and by 1937 had been formally dropped by the British political elite. At its height, the British Empire was the largest empire in history, controlling one quarter of the landmass of the planet and around one-fifth of its population. A major factor in its early growth was the global trading empire created by the East India Company (which took over global economic dominance from the earlier Dutch East India Company). And although it took a long time, during which Britain fought to hold onto its empire, (Hong Kong was not returned to the Chinese until 1997), the sun did finally set on this remarkable empire.

By the end of WWII Britain was financially bankrupt, forced to borrow $2 billion from the US and $1.19 billion from Canada (at a 2% annual rate of interest). In terms of world power and influence, the baton had clearly passed to the USA, but although Britain did lose its colonial empire, it never became the ‘second-class nation‘ (at least in economic terms) feared by the supporters of the Imperial Federation. As one of the ‘victors‘ in WWII, it had a seat on the Security Council and after briefly flirting with socialism it quickly re-aligned itself with American foreign policy, a stance it has retained to this day. After losing much of its manufacturing industry, Britain was able to rely on its older banking and finance interests and, as with the US and other countries, its armaments industry (in 2013, Britain moved back into fourth place in the global league table of arms exporters, with £2.3 billion of sales) profited from the Cold War and, more recently, from the rise of a new form of US-led colonialism and imperialism which has used armed intervention, overt and covert subversion, regime change and globalisation to secure the resources this new hidden empire requires (and to which it appears to believe it has a god-given right). Empires and arms industries need enemies, real or invented, so the gap left by the ending of the Cold War had to be rapidly filled by the supposed threat from a resurgent fundamentalist Islam, helped by a string of state-sponsored false flag “terrorist” incidents that were used to justify the ‘never-ending war against terrorism’.

Though the lesson of history is clearly that empires come and go, there are still those who dream of endless empire. As a recent ad for a new Jaguar model states: “Once you have power it’s hard to let go”.

jaguar ad2

Hitler dreamed of a thousand-year Reich. More modestly, perhaps, but just as insanely, the signatories to the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) argued for “full-spectrum dominance” (effective control over land, sea, air and space) for at least the next hundred years. One might imagine that such plans would be kept secret, but it would appear that there is such hubris among the upper echelons of certain Western administrations (and the puppet-masters behind them) that they are quite open about their intentions. In the first of the ‘imperialism’ lectures, Rudolf Steiner had warned that “under the surface, especially in the western countries, the secret societies are most active, trying to insert the second phase of imperialism into the third. For in the Anglo-American people you have two imperialisms pushed together, the economic imperialism of a Chamberlain and the symbolic imperialism of the secret societies, which play a very effective role, but which are kept secret from the people”. So effective have they been, it would seem (in deluding the general population about their aims), that they no longer feel the need for complete secrecy.

In 2002, then President George Bush declared: “America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves – safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life.” British historian Niall Ferguson, however, was in no doubt about the matter: “The United States is an empire in every sense but one – and that one sense is that it doesn’t recognise itself as such. It is an empire in denial”. An American commentator refers to his country as the “DGE” – the “disguised global empire”. In fact, Bush friend and co-conspirator Karl Rove let the cat out of the bag – with no sign of embarrassment – in a conversation with journalist Ron Suskind in 2004. According to Rove, guys like Suskind were “in what we [i.e. the US administration and its agencies] call the reality-based community”, which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

In 1999, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg and now President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said something similar: “We decide something, put it out there, and then wait for a while to see what happens. If there’s no uproar about it and no rebellion – because most people don’t understand what was decided – then we continue, step by step, until there’s no way back”. That’s the clear plan of attack of these trade deals – and much else that certain powers have a habit of “putting out there”. (In December 2014, Juncker was accused, during his time as Prime Minister, of making illegal tax deals with many large companies like Amazon which allowed them to avoid paying tax in the countries in which they were operating, instead paying only minimal taxes to Luxembourg).

If we look more closely, we can see precisely why Ukraine has been the focus of so much attention this last year. Cutting through the mainstream political and media lies, the CEO of the American strategic analysis company Stratfor referred to the ouster of the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich as “the most blatant coup in history” (apart from all the other US-instigated regime changes, of course) which led to internal conflicts that have left an estimated 50-60,000 people dead, parts of eastern Ukraine devastated, and up to 1 million Ukrainians now living as refugees in Russia. There’s an obvious connection of these events with both of the aims of the trade deals – economic and geo-strategic. The ‘Maidan’ demonstrations (funded to the tune of $5 billion by the US), the forced removal of Yanukovich after his volte face on the “Association Agreement” with the EU, his replacement by a US puppet, chocolate and arms oligarch Petro Poroshenko (whom Obama said was “a wise choice”) as President and Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister, together with a government that included blatant neo-Nazis, the imposition of repressive measures on the predominantly Russian-speaking population of East Ukraine and their courageous resistance are intimately connected with the “Grand Chessboard” designs of what it is entirely fair to call “the evil empire”.

Key elements of the terms of the EU-Ukraine “Association Agreement” were to: “Further develop and strengthen political dialogue in all areas of mutual interest between the Parties. This will promote gradual convergence on foreign and security matters with the aim of Ukraine’s ever-deeper involvement in the European security area.” (emphasis added); and “Strengthen cooperation and dialogue between the Parties on international security and crisis management, particularly in order to address global and regional challenges and key threats”.

It’s fairly obvious what was meant by “regional challenges and key threats”! The key strategic and resource role of Ukraine within the Eurasian land mass has been recognised for at least a century. More and more commentators are nowadays referencing the geo-political theory that seems to have provided the script for the actions of the Anglo-American imperialists for the last 110 years. As Guido Preparata explained in his remarkable 2005 book “Conjuring Hitler”: “A revelatory and much influential testimony was drafted during these times of anti-German conspiracies by Sir Halford Mackinder (1861–1947), a professor at the London School of Economics and one of Britain’s founding fathers of geopolitics, in a piece entitled ‘The Geographical Pivot of History,’ which was published in the Geographical Journal of the Royal Society in 1904.”

Mackinder wrote: “…In the world at large [Russia] occupies the central strategical position held by Germany in Europe. …The oversetting of the balance of power in favor of the pivot state [Russia, which in 1904 included Ukraine], resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia, would permit of the use of vast continental resources for fleet-building, and the empire of the world would then be in sight. This might happen if Germany were to ally herself with Russia.”

Thus a Russo-German alliance had to be prevented at all costs – possibly the major aim of both world wars. Recently, Stratfor boss George Friedman stated that the main goal of the West for the past 100 years had been to prevent an alliance between Germany and Russia – and that this remained the goal of the US.  

Preparata continues:

After World War I  … Mackinder, in a successive version of the original 1904 article, updated his theory in keeping with British imperial designs by shifting the pivot along a southwestern trajectory, from the steppes of Siberia down to a nondescript midpoint along the great fault line that divides the West from the East, and which later came to coincide with the Churchillian ‘iron curtain’ separating Eastern from Western Europe. […] Conceptually, the ‘fault line’ is the great divide that roughly sets Muslim Arabs in the south and Orthodox Slavs in the North apart from the Modern Europeans in the West. The fault line ideally bisects the heartland, which is located within Eurasia. The heartland is the islands’ island; Mackinder’s motto thus intimated that ‘whoever rules the heart-land, rules the world island; whoever rules the world island, rules the world.’ In the northwest this came to mean that if Germany would find ways of bridging the fault line by cementing the technological strength of the European West with the geographical immensity of the East via Russia, she would become the unconquerable head of the dreaded fortress looking over the Eurasian heartland” […]  “…Mackinder suggested…a systematic and unrelenting policy of harassment against Eurasia, which was to be carried out by grafting land bridges onto the vital nodes of the heartland [i.e. Central Asia]….These “platforms” were to be viewed as launching pads – land-bridges, for more or less durable incursions against the natives [of Eurasia] – Such is still the policy of the US, with the full and committed patronage of Britain”.

Zbigniew Brzezinski seems to be echoing Mackinder in his “Grand Chessboard”: “Europe is America’s essential geopolitical bridgehead on the Eurasian continent (p.59)…America’s central geostrategic goal in Europe …is to consolidate through a more genuine transatlantic partnership the US bridgehead on the continent so that an enlarging Europe can become a more viable springboard for projecting into Eurasia the international democratic and cooperative order.” Mackinder’s ‘land bridges’ have become Brzezinski’s ‘bridgeheads’.

Brzezinski writes here of “consolidation”. The book was published in 1997. NATO had already been in existence for almost 50 years. There were US bases in at least 9 European countries. The structure of the EU was firmly established; it had 15 members and 11 were about to adopt the euro as their common currency. EURCOM, in its earlier designation as USEUCOM, had been in existence since 1952. What other form of “consolidation” could Bzrezinski have been thinking of? Tying the whole of the EU into US-led global capitalism? Although the concept of ‘globalized markets’ seems to date from 1983, globalization as we now know it really took off after the collapse of communism opened up vast new markets, especially in Eastern Europe.

The change in the nature of imperialism means that the controlling power no longer needs to be physically present in significant numbers in those external territories out of which this new kind of empire is formed. America “projects force” globally through its more than 1000 military bases around the world. Through its strategic allies – increasingly brought into the ever-widening net of NATO (now changed beyond recognition) – it exercises both military and commercial control of vast areas of the globe. The US Department of Defense lists nine “Combatant Commands”: AFRICOM is responsible for military relations with 54 African countries; U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM): responsible for military relations with 20 countries, from Egypt and the Levant to the Arabian Peninsula and Central and South Asia; European Command (EURCOM), responsible for military relations with all 51 European countries, including Russia, Turkey and the Caucasus nations; U.S. Northern Command: provides command and control of homeland defense efforts; U.S. Pacific Command: area of responsibility encompasses about half the earth’s surface, from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India and from Antarctica to the North Pole; U.S. Southern Command: responsible for all military activities in South America and Central America; U.S. Special Operations Command: the unified command for the worldwide use of Special Operations elements of the Army, Navy and Air Force; U.S. Strategic Command: responsible for strategic deterrence and preeminent global warfighters in space and cyberspace; U.S. Transportation Command: provides air, land and sea transportation for DoD.

All this just for the benevolent protection of the liberty and welfare of the rest of the world? America’s track record of aggressive and subversive acts (essentially in defence of capitalism; much of the 20th century was spent in an obsessive attempt to stifle socialism) belies this. In Rogue State, author William Blum profiles US interventions since the end of the Vietnam war. American governments launched military or subversive actions in the Dominican Republic, Zaire, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, Grenada, Honduras, Chad, Bolivia, Iraq, Panama, Colombia, Peru, the Philippines, Liberia, Turkey, Kuwait, Somalia, Yugoslavia, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Afghanistan, East Timor, Serbia, Yemen, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Pakistan, South Ossetia, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Uruguay, Ghana, Chile, El Salvador, South Africa, Portugal, Angola, Jamaica, Seychelles, Diego Garcia, Marshall Islands, Albania, Costa Rica, Georgia and other countries. In a new book, authors Andre Vltchek and Noam Chomsky estimate the number of victims of these ‘interventions’ since the end of WWII at 55-60 million dead.

Professor Claes Ryn, professor of politics at the Catholic University of America and chair of the National Humanities Institute, wrote in 2004: “Only great conceit could inspire a dream of armed world hegemony. The ideology of benevolent American empire and global democracy dresses up a voracious appetite for power”.

But is ‘conceit’, or ‘hubris’, or ‘a voracious appetite for power’ – power for power’s sake as Orwell suggested – a sufficient explanation? There seems to be something inhuman about the callous disregard, even contempt, for human life and the natural world. What is really driving these people? It’s become common now to look for deeper levels of conspiracy behind events. We speculate on the ‘puppet-masters’ who are pulling the strings attached to those who appear to be wielding the reins of power – the presidents and prime ministers and grossly overpaid CEOs and others. Are there others behind the Bilderbergers and bankers? Steiner spoke often of “secret brotherhoods”. Certainly, people such as the members of the very secretive Milner Group, or the CFR, can be seen as puppet-masters. But aren’t these again just humans serving comprehensible vested interests? Is that a sufficient explanation for the undoubted evil deeds they carry out and inspire others to do?

Orwell’s 1984 is widely seen as being uncannily prophetic of the kind of total surveillance society that continues to be implemented against our wishes. Despite all the Snowden and WikiLeaks revelations, the general public largely continues to allow itself to be hoodwinked into believing in a genuine threat to their security – thanks in large part to the continued cover-up by the mainstream  media of the official lies about the alleged Islamic terrorist incidents in New York, London, Bali and most recently Paris and Copenhagen. In 1984, Winston’s ‘awakening’ begins with his girl friend’s suggestion that the bombs falling on London were actually being dropped by their own government i.e. in a classic false flag. His final capitulation to ‘the system’ comes in his enforced acceptance of something completely counterfactual – that 2+2=5 – and in his final confession: “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother”. Orwell has BB say: “It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world …”, and “when you finally surrender to us, it must be of your own free will”. Aldous Huxley, author of that other great dystopian novel “Brave New World”, with its vision of a “Matrix”-like world in which the voluntary surrender is to a life of comfort and pleasure, later wrote that people would come to love their servitude.

I’m a big fan of St. Paul. I believe there is good reason to believe that his three days of physical blindness after his “road to Damascus” experience was accompanied by the opening of a spiritual faculty of sight which allowed him to see the world and its forces as they really are. I find his statement that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” utterly convincing – and extraordinarily relevant to our time. My assumption is that St. Paul was given an insight into the workings in the world of “the rulers of the darkness of this world”. There is a strong sense of the demonic about many of those who have wrought death and destruction on a massive scale, frequently under the guise of benevolence. (In the early 1920s, Rudolf Steiner referred to “certain people [who] are over and over again proclaiming to the world that democracy must spread to the whole civilized world. Salvation lies in making the whole of humanity democratic; everything will have to be smashed to pieces so that democracy may spread in the world.”)

One of the most important elements of Rudolf Steiner’s legacy is the understanding of the reality of evil – of an active force of evil in the world. And since, as he stated, “in the final analysis there is nothing in the world except beings in various states of consciousness”, evil is ‘incorporated’ (even if there are normally no visible bodies) in real evil beings, whose purpose is to thwart genuine human evolution i.e. spiritual evolution. Traditional Christianity, and also other religious streams, was familiar with the being named Lucifer – the archetypal “fallen angel”, cast out of heaven with his followers for their rebellion. But Steiner emphasized the importance of the understanding that the attack on the human being comes from two different, but complementary, directions – as it were, from above and from below: one force seeking to draw humans away from the earth into a realm of pure spirit (thus effectively aborting their crucial mission here on earth); the other seeking to bind humans so strongly to the earth and to ‘matter’ that they entirely forget their spiritual destiny. As Big Brother says: “We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves”.

Rudolf Steiner also pointed to another important way in which the work of these two beings affects human consciousness and behaviour – and thus history. Lucifer invites us to forget the present task and lose ourselves in dreams of a perfect future, while Ahriman seeks to bind humans to the past, to prevent them from moving on in consciousness and thus in their social, political and economic forms. Under Lucifer’s influence we dream of the “new Jerusalem”, the city on a hill; we allow ourselves to be fooled by the promises of politicians for more and more prosperous, happier lives (the Obama “hope” campaign, the illusion that all the problems will be solved by a new government etc.). Even more radically, there are those who look forward to “the Rapture”, or to transhumanism’s ‘post-human’ world in which artificial intelligence will have made humans redundant.

Steiner stated that these two manifestations of evil, and their respective hosts of ‘fallen angels’, work hand-in-glove. In our time, the two aspects of materialism – the unscientific view that there is nothing in the universe except matter and energy (or even just energy, understood as something purely ‘physical’) and materialism in the sense of consumerism and the pleasure principle – complement and reinforce each other within an atmosphere of spiritual emptiness. If we believe the tenets of a materialistic science – including ‘Big Bang’, the supposed emergence of life from inorganic matter and a meaningless, directionless and purposeless evolutionary process – we are left in a moral vacuum: there is no solid basis for morality. Anything goes … “might is right”, competition is a natural law, and power is its own justification. If that’s what we believe, perhaps we are simply getting what we deserve.

The question is: do we surrender and accept that War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength? Or do we find the courage to resist and fight back? It might well require some self-imposed austerity. It will certainly require a rediscovery of meaning and a turning away from materialism.

Paul Carline

The Long Arm of the EU


The Long Arm of the EU:

the Association Agreement and Expansionist Policies

by Jürgen Wagner

(translation: Paul Carline)

It is often alleged that the EU’s foreign policy is cobbled together in an ad hoc fashion – more often badly than well – and, so the common critique goes, that there is a lack of any coherent strategy. In this paper I maintain, to the contrary, that the European Union is in fact pursuing a targeted geostrategic goal aimed at extending its sphere of influence. The motive for this is the deeply rooted belief that in order to achieve its goal of becoming a “world power”, it is essential for it to gain control of an imperial ‘grand area’ – as will be shown by reference to publications of the [European] Group on Grand Strategy (GoGS). The first priority is to control its immediate “neighbourhood”, the most important means for which is the conclusion of an association agreement between a neighbouring state and the EU. It was thus no accident – for precisely this reason – that the escalation of tension and violence in Ukraine came immediately after the former president, Victor Yanukovich, decided to postpone signature of the association agreement with the EU which was then on the table.

Pretension to world power status and strategy of expansion

Influential exponents of European politics are more and more openly articulating the pretension to join the front line of the battle for global power and influence. Thus Social-Democrat Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said in 2013:

“Whether it wants to be or nor, Europe is a ‘global player’. The EU is the biggest and richest single market in the world, our economic strength accounts for a quarter of the world’s GDP. The EU is the biggest trading bloc in the world, the biggest donor of development aid in the world – the EU is an economic giant. Global economic power goes hand in hand with global political responsibility; Europe cannot back out of that responsibility. Europe’s partners are justified in expecting that Europe will face up to its responsibility and that the economic superpower will also become a global political superpower”. [http://iep-berlin.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Volltext-von-Schulz.pdf]

From the point of view of the political elites, a “European Superpower” that wants to be taken seriously inescapably has to exert control over its European neighbourhood. Former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorkski formulated it perfectly when he said: “If the EU wants to become a superpower, and Poland supports this, then we must have the capability to exert influence in our neighbourhood”. [cf. Five EU countries call for new military “structure”, in EU Observer 16.11.2012; http://euobserver.com/defence/118226]

Thomas Renard, Senior Research Fellow at Egmont and consultant to GoGS, underscores this:

“Of course, if the EU wants to become a global power, it first needs to assert itself as a power in its own region”. [Thomas Renard: Libya and the Post-American World – Implications for the EU, Egmont Security Policy Brief no. 20, April 2011, p. 5]

Members of GoGS – an increasingly influential group of EU geo-politicians – have been demanding for years that the EU finally commit itself openly to a geostrategy aimed at expanding its sphere of influence and establishing an imperial ‘grand area’. [cf. Jürgen Wagner: Grand Area. Ein imperiales Raumkonzept für die Weltmacht Europa, in: Wissenschaft und Frieden, 1-2013].

Writing in 2011, GoGS co-director James Rogers explained:

“The ultimate aim of geostrategy, then, is to link geography and politics to maximize the power and reach of the domestic territory. [….] Such an approach must be backed up by a subtle but formidable military posture, which aims to prevent potential rivals from emerging, encourages a high degree of security dependency on the part of foreign governments, and prevents dangerous non-state and state actors from working with one another.” [this quote and all others in this section, unless otherwise marked, from: James Rogers: A New Geography of European Power? Egmont Paper No. 42, January 2011].

Based on this, Rogers developed criteria for delineating the borders of such a territory – defined by him as a “Grand Area” – thus, in a sense, laying out a kind of cartography of an EU empire. He includes large parts of Africa, the oil-rich Caspian and central-Asian region, and the Middle East, but also extends the ‘area’ far towards East Asia, where the shipping lanes have to be controlled (see map). Specifically, those countries and regions are to be integrated into the “Grand Area” which satisfy the following requirements:

“Given that certain powers have sought to take advantage of key regions and entrench themselves – often to the disadvantage of others – the European Union should do more to ascertain the minimal geographic area required to sustain the continued expansion of its own economy. From a geopolitical perspective this zone would have to meet five criteria:

– It would have to hold all the basic resources necessary to fuel European manufacturing needs and future industrial requirements;

– It must contain all the key trade routes, especially energy transmission pipelines and maritime shipping routes, from other regions to the European homeland;

– Have the fewest possible geopolitical afflictions that could lead to the area’s disintegration and thereby harm future European economic development;

– Show the least likelihood of significant encroachment by powerful foreign actors, relative to its importance to the European economy and geopolitical interests;

– Represent an area the European Union can work towards defending most cost-effectively through the expansion of the Common Security and Defence Policy – in other words, without mandating an excessive and draining defence effort.

In addition, in order to exert control over the “Grand Area”, it should be covered with a dense network of European military bases: “The ‘Grand Area’ approach would attempt to integrate those countries into a permanent Europe-led system, underpinned by military stations, better communication lines and tighter partnerships – a European ‘forward presence’ – to reduce the need for sporadic intervention.”

Source: James Rogers: A New Geography of European Power? Egmont Paper no. 42, January 2011

The network of military bases is primarily designed to emphasize two aims: “Firstly, to deter foreign powers from meddling in countries in the wider European Neighbourhood and secondly, to dissuade obstinacy and misbehaviour on the part of local rulers”. Specifically, the proposal is to install a whole series of new bases: “New European military stations may be required in the Caucasus and Central Asia, the Arctic region, and along the coastlines of the Indian Ocean. The intention behind these installations would be to (…) exercise a latent but permanent power within the ‘Grand Area’”.

Now one might dismiss Rogers’ ideas as the product of someone who has gone decidedly off the rails, but there is no question of us dealing here with some “geopolitical backbencher” – as is shown by the fact that he was commissioned by the EU’s own think-tank, the European Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), to write one of the core papers on the future of EU military policy, in which large elements of his “Grand Area Idea” were incorporated [cf. Andrea Gilli, James Rogers: Enabling the future – European military capabilities 2013-2025 – challenges and avenues, EUISS, Report no. 16, May 2013]. It is striking that, in the way it has been carried out, EU enlargement corresponds significantly with Rogers’ idea. Within the political elites, discussions have been held for some time on extending the EU’s military presence as far as East Asia [cf. Nicola Casarini: The European “pivot”, EUISS Alert, no. 3, March 2013] – and the adoption in June 2014 of the “European Maritime Security Strategy” represented an important intermediate step [cf. European Union Maritime Security Strategy; Council of the European Union, Brussels, 24.6.2014: “Member States’ Armed Forces should play a strategic role at sea and from the sea and provide global reach, flexibility and access that enable the EU and its Member States to contribute to the full spectrum of maritime responsibilities. Their sustained presence needs to support freedom of navigation and contributes to good governance by deterring, preventing and countering unlawful and illicit activities within the global maritime domain” (p. 10)]. But it is clear that greater importance attaches to control of the immediate “neighbourhood” within the foreseeable future – and the EU has already been working on this for many years.

Eastern enlargement as a strategy of expansion

For a long time, limits to the expansion of EU influence into the neighbouring area were imposed especially by the existence of the Soviet Union. But with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. at the beginning of the 1990s, the EU was presented with an enormous area for expansion which had to be ‘conquered’. This happened very quickly in the form of the so-called “eastern enlargement”, which had basically already been decided with the adoption of the “Copenhagen Criteria” in 1993. In order to be formally accepted into the EU, accession candidates had to submit themselves to a neoliberal shock therapy which essentially involved renouncing any and all measures of protection for their own economies and entering into “free and fair competition” with their far more powerful competitors in Western Europe. “Eastern enlargement primarily serves to open up new markets for the Western powers – the so-called “global players” – and to secure the “acquis communautaire” by means of the regulatory framework” [cf. Hannes Hofbauer: EU-Osterweiterung. Historische Basis – ökonomische Triebkräfte – soziale Folgen, Vienna 2007, p. 254].

In general, the strategy was successful: after the candidate countries had been forced to accept far-reaching concessions in negotiations lasting several years, in 2004 and 2007 twelve new countries – almost all from Eastern Europe – were integrated into the European sphere of influence as junior members. Since that time, only one other country – Croatia – has joined the EU, the reason being that the distribution of votes in the most important EU organ – the Council of Ministers – has been more closely aligned to the population size of a member state than before. Admitting new countries – especially those with large populations – would change the balance of power to the detriment of the major EU powers, and is thus not seriously on the agenda at this time (however, accession of all the remaining Balkan states is imaginable as they were explicitly offered the prospect of accession).

In view of this, “expansion by enlargement” – which had in fact been quite successful – was no longer usable: “Even before the completion of the 2004 enlargement, the European Commission was already considering how to continue. (…) The EU had reached the limits of its existing developmental dynamics – a two-way reinforcement through integration and enlargement. (…) But it was also clear that an abrupt end to the dynamic of expansion could not be in the interests of the EU, as it would involve the risk of creating a stark conflict of interest between the EU and its periphery. Thus a plan had to be hatched that would allow further expansion of the EU – but an expansion that did not force the EU to accept further enlargement. How is expansion without enlargement possible?” [cf. Georg Voruba: Expansion ohne Erweiterung. Die EU-Nachbarschaftspolitik in der Dynamik Europas, In: Osteuropa 2-3/2007].

Imperial neighbourhood policy

The new strategy of expansion had actually been initiated as early as 2003 with the Commission’s “Wider Europe Communication”  [full title: “Wider Europe – Neighbourhood: A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours”. COM(2003) 104, 11 March 2003], which paved the way for the introduction the following year of the “European Neighbourhood Policy” (ENP). In relation to the ENP, which currently involves 15 countries around the EU (specifically, the ENP includes the Palestinian National Authority and 15 states: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia to the south; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine to the east), its official raison d’être is the promotion of democracy and prosperity, but in reality the same objectives are being pursued as previously through enlargement. There is only one – but very significant – difference: for the reasons outlined above, the EU was not prepared to offer the ENP countries the prospect of accession. The Commission’s “Wider Europe” communication states drily: “A response to the practical issues posed by proximity and neighbourhood should be seen as separate from the question of EU accession.” [cf. Communication from the Commission: Wider Europe— Neighbourhood: A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours, 11.3.2003. COM(2003) 104, 11 [the same text also includes the significant sentence: “In reality, however, any decision on further EU expansion awaits a debate on the ultimate geographic limits of the Union”; added by translator].

Apart from that, the clear priority in the Neighbourhood Policy is to enforce the neoliberal economic agenda and the integration of further countries into the European sphere of influence [Cf. Raymon Hinnebusch: Europe and the Middle East – from Imperialism to Liberal Peace? In, Review of European Studies Vol. 4, No. 3, July 2012, pp. 18-31; Andrea Teti:The EU’s First Response to the ‘Arab Spring’ – A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Partership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity, In: Mediterranean Politics, No. 3/2012, p. 266-284; Vicky Reynaert, Preoccupied with the Market: The EU as a Promoter of ‘Shallow’ Democracy in the Mediterranean, In: European Foreign Affairs Review, No. 16/2011, pp 623-637; Martin Brand: Die Europäische Nachbarschaftspolitik – ein neoliberales Projekt? In, Utopie kreativ, H. 217 (November 2008), pp. 988-1006]:

“What is not said is that the main reasons for economic integration are to bolster the competitiveness of the EU, integrate new economies into the expanding economy of the Empire (the EU) and to gain access to natural resources in the energy-rich neighbouring countries. The enormous accumulation of prosperity and economic power has given the EU a lever with which to impose market-friendly reforms – including privatisation, the liberalisation of trade and the adoption of the EU’s regulatory mechanisms – at the same time as avoiding being drawn into the ongoing debates in the surrounding countries. By doing so, however, rather than contributing to stability it runs the risk of creating political instability and of exacerbating the economic inequalities in its neighbourhood” [cf. Bohdana Dimitrovova: Imperial re-bordering of Europe – the case of the European Neighbourhood, In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, No. 2/2012, pp. 249-267].

Denied the lure of EU membership, the political classes and the public in the neighbouring countries are to be “persuaded” of the necessity of neoliberal reforms primarily through the promise of large sums of money – almost 15.5 billion Euro have been allocated to the “European Neighbourhood Instrument” (ENI) for the EU budget between 2014 and 2020 (for the period 2007-2013 the original sum was 12 billion Euro, but this was later increased by a further 1.24 billion).

The basic stipulations and regulations for countries to promote themselves as peripherally integrated sales outlets and investment opportunities for the core EU will then be set in stone as binding elements of an Association Agreement which the countries will have to sign. These agreements are central to the EU’s current strategy of expansion and are thus of enormous importance: “The association agreements which the EU is pushing for in the post-Soviet arena are a key element of the expansion of the EU’s sphere of influence to the east”, according to Professor Joachim Becker of the Institute for International Economics and Development at the Vienna University of Economics and Business [cf. Joachim Becker: Assoziierung Teil des Problems, nicht der Lösung: Die EU-Strategie im Ukrainekonflikt, In: Weltwirtschaft und Entwicklung 03-04/2014, pp. 1-4].

Neoliberal Association Agreement

By 2012, the lengthy negotiations with Ukraine over an association agreement had finally resulted in a document that was ready to be signed – as it subsequently was, in full and unamended, on 27 June 2014, by the new rulers of Ukraine. For a long time only parts of the text of the “Association Agreement between the European Union and its Member States of the one part and Ukraine of the other” were to be found on the Internet, but it was finally published in full in the Official Journal of the EU on 29 May 2014 [cf. Association Agreement between the European Union on the one part and Ukraine on the other, In: Official Journal of the European Union, Vol. 57, 29.05.2014]. It comprises a 180-page core text plus a further 2000 or so pages of annexes and protocols devoted primarily to defining in detail the free trade zone being pursued.

If one examines the specific provisions of the agreement, it becomes clear that these are extremely problematic for Ukraine from an economic point of view. Three elements stand out: firstly, that a free trade zone is to be set up within 10 years; secondly, that for this purpose all tariffs and other measures designed to protect the domestic economy must be almost entirely abolished; and thirdly, that the introduction of common – N.B. European – production and certification standards will form a binding part of the agreement.

If one takes each of these points in turn, one quickly discovers the core concern: “The Parties shall progressively establish a free trade area over a transitional period of a maximum of 10 years starting from the entry into force of this Agreement”. (Title IV, Article 25) In order to implement this goal, any tariffs [customs duties] with which a country protects its own economy but which could make the products of another country more expensive must be almost completely removed: “Each Party shall reduce or eliminate customs duties on originating goods of the other Party in accordance with the Schedules set out in Annex I-A to this Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Schedules’).” (Title IV, Article 29, para. 1) Anyone making the extremely frustrating attempt to understand what is hidden in Annex I-A is confronted by a list of around 500 pages which details the future tariffs for almost every imaginable product. We must be grateful to the European Commission for explaining – in a background paper – that the Association Agreement will result in 99.1% of Ukraine’s tariffs being lowered, and 98.1% of the EU’s [cf. EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, Reading Guide: www.trade.ec.europa.ec/doclib/docs/2013/april/tradoc_150981.pdf].

In order to make this process irreversible, the association agreement prescribes that the tariffs may not be raised again at a later date: “Neither Party may increase any existing customs duty, or adopt any new customs duty, on a good originating in the territory of the other Party.” (Title IV, Article 30) In addition, so-called ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’ – such as restrictions on quantities – are likewise banned: “No Party shall adopt or maintain any prohibition or restriction or any measure having an equivalent effect on the import of any good of the other Party or on the export or sale for export of any good destined for the territory of the other Party, except as otherwise provided in this Agreement or in accordance with Article XI of GATT 1994 and its interpretative notes.” (Title IV, Article 35)

A further passage with considerable implications appears under the seemingly inoffensive heading of “Approximation of technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment”. This binds Ukraine to accept European production and certification standards: “Ukraine shall take the necessary measures in order to gradually achieve conformity with EU technical regulations and EU standardisation, metrology, accreditation, conformity assessment procedures and the market surveillance system, and undertakes to follow the principles and practices laid down in relevant EU Decisions and Regulations (1)”. (Title IV, Article 56, §1)

While the European Union claims that the increased competition the Association Agreement brings with it – and of which the EU is fully aware – will result in undreamt-of improvements in efficiency and unleash a veritable economic boom in the country, the Russians maintain that the exact opposite will be the case. For example, Sergei Glasyev, adviser to President Putin on questions of Eurasian integration, wrote: “If Ukraine signs the Association Agreement with the EU and enters this unequal free trade zone, it will suffer negative growth and a negative trading balance up to 2020. We estimate the losses at around 1.5% of domestic GDP per annum. Up to 2020, Ukrainian products will be ousted from its own market, accompanied by economic recession and a reduction in opportunities for development” [cf. Free trade with the EU will bankrupt Ukraine, In: Stimme Russlands 7.11.2013].

Of course, in the context of this dispute it is necessary to treat Russian statements with some care. But one hears similar arguments from different quarters – to the effect that Ukrainian companies which are already under great pressure from the introduction of expensive European product standards and certification procedures will be virtually defenceless in the face of the mighty competition from the EU due to the abolition of protective tariffs and non-tariff restrictions. Even Germany’s own “Germany Trade and Invest” foreign trade agency concedes this: “The adoption of EU standards and survival in the EU free trade zone will in many cases require immense modernisation efforts on the part of Ukrainian companies. The foodstuffs industry in particular has to adapt itself to the new standards. Financing [such changes] often presents an almost insurmountable hurdle to Ukrainian companies” [cf. In der Ukraine stehen Modernisierungen an, In: Germany Trade & Invest 24.4.2014: www.gtai.de/GTAI/Navigation/DE/Trade/maerkte,did=999998.html].

Prof. Joachim Becker, whom we have already cited above, comes to a similar conclusion: “The geo-economic and geo-political line of attack is particularly obvious in the case of Ukraine. Going far beyond the liberalisation of trade, it is intended that Ukraine should be partially integrated into the internal market of the EU. This would mean that Ukraine would have to adopt substantial parts of EU economic law. Ukraine would lose not only possibilities for external protection of the national economy, but also core options for its domestic industrial policies (e.g. in relation to public tenders). (…)  A “deep and comprehensive free trade area” is a core element of the Association Agreement. For Ukraine, ‘deepened’ free trade and the adoption of core elements of EU economic law might well result in a ‘deepening’ of de-industrialisation and ‘deeper’ structures of dependence” [cf. Becker 2014, p.1].

Concerns such as these appear to have played an important role with the Yanukovich government, which is why the attempt was made during the negotiations to have various protective measures for domestic companies included in the Agreement. But this was categorically rejected by the EU. When Russia then offered Ukraine the prospect of considerable economic concessions (a discount on gas supplies worth around $3 billion a year and the purchase of 15 billion dollars’ worth of government bonds), it made perfect sense for the Yanukovich government to reject the Agreement in November 2013. This then initiated a process of escalation – massively supported by the US and EU – which led finally to the overthrow of Yanukovich and the establishment of a “transitional government” that lacked any legitimacy.

Military Association Agreement

The significance of the Association Agreement with Ukraine is, however, not merely economic, but to an even greater extent geo-political. This is so because it represents in practice a decision to join just one of two alliances which stand in an increasingly hostile relationship to each other. An Association Agreement with the EU categorically and permanently rules out accession to the Eurasian Economic Union to which Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan belong (and vice versa).

Given this, a more or less openly waged war has broken out over control of those countries which have not yet formally joined one or the other block. Thus GoGS co-director James Rogers writes:

Eastern Europe is the gateway between the vast resources of Asia and the dense and technologically advanced populations of Europe. This means that it will either be controlled by imperial despotism in the form of Russia, or by democratic civilisation in the form of Europe. Due to its geostrategic location, who gains access over this crucial zone will also gain influence over the entire Eurasian supercontinent. When Eastern Europe is controlled from Moscow, Europeans – and by extension, North Americans – will be held captive, as they were for much of the Cold War. When Eastern Europe is shaped by Brussels (as well as London, Paris and Berlin) – and by extension, Washington – Russia will be weakened and rendered relatively harmless, as it was for much of the 1990s and 2000s.” [cf. James Rogers: A Letter from Prof. Sir Halford Mackinder to European Leaders on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, In: European Geostrategy 9.3.2014. www.europeangeostrategy.org/2014/03/letter-prof-sir-halford-mackinder-european-leaders-russias-invasion-ukraine].

Bearing such statements in mind, we can understand the otherwise rather strange (because they are unusual in such an association agreement) passages in the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement on the development of military cooperation and integration into the military policy of the EU:

The Parties shall intensify their dialogue and cooperation and promote gradual convergence in the area of foreign and security policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and shall address in particular issues of conflict prevention and crisis management, regional stability, disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and arms export control as well as enhanced mutually-beneficial dialogue in the field of space. Cooperation will be based on common values and mutual interests, and shall aim at increasing policy convergence and effectiveness, and promoting joint policy planning. To this end, the Parties shall make use of bilateral, international and regional fora.”

The Parties shall enhance practical cooperation in conflict prevention and crisis management, in particular with a view to increasing the participation of Ukraine in EU-led civilian and military crisis management operations as well as relevant exercises and training activities, including those carried out in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).” (Title II, Articles 7 and 10).

It is surely such passages as these which have contributed to Moscow’s decision to challenge the West. Probably also because it cannot have escaped Moscow’s notice that in a core strategy paper published on 15 October 2013, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s “High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”, stated that the whole of the European periphery was an area of special interest and even intervention for the EU:

“The renewed emphasis by the US on the Asia-Pacific region is a logical consequence of geostrategic developments [e.g. the rise of China]. It also means that Europe must assume greater responsibility for its own security and that of its neighbourhood. (…) The Union must be able to act decisively through CSDP as a security provider, in partnership when possible but autonomously when necessary, in its neighbourhood, including through direct intervention. Strategic autonomy must materialize first in the EU’s neighbourhood.” [cf. Ashton: Preparing the December 2013 European Council on Security and Defence, Final Report by the High Representative/Head of the EDA on the Common Security and Defence Policy, Brussels, 15 October, 2013. p. 2].

= = = = = = = = =

Original German version by Jürgen Wagner, b. 1974, political scientist, member of the editorial team of the magazine “Wissenschaft und Frieden” and also executive director of the Tübingen Information Centre on Militarisation (www.imi-online.de).

This is a slightly updated translation of Wagner’s article in the important book:

“Ukraine im Visier: Russlands Nachbar als Zielscheibe geostrategischer Interessen”, Selbrund Verlag, 2014 (ISBN: 978-3-9816963-0-1).