America's Axis of Enemies Show a United Front in Face of World Economic Meltdown
for 24-Hours of Propaganda
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's dictator, faces "re-election" in November.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to make relations with Latin America a top foreign policy priority, a pledge backed by the first Russian naval deployment to the Caribbean since the Cold War.
Putin greeted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on his second trip to Russia in just over two months, with offers to discuss further arms sales to Venezuela and possibly helping it to develop nuclear energy.
Chavez's visit takes place as a Russian naval squadron sails to Venezuela, a in a pointed response to what the Kremlin has cast as threatening U.S. encroachment near its own borders.
The Kremlin dispatched its nuclear-powered warship Peter the Great and a submarine destroyer, Admiral Chabanenko, from the Arctic base of Severomorsk to Venezuela, across the Caribbean Sea, for military exercises in what is traditionally America’s backyard.
Russia President Dmitry Medvedev said that the joint naval exercises between Russia and Venezuela would demonstrate “the strategic nature of our relations”.
The Russian naval deployment follows a week long visit to Venezuela by a pair of Russian strategic bombers. On his Sunday TV and radio program, Chavez joked that he would be making his international tour aboard the "super-bombers that Medvedev loaned me.", and described their visit as a warning to the US.
Both men suggested their countries are working to decrease U.S. global influence.
Chavez said South America was growing in importance for Moscow.
"Latin America is becoming a noticeable link in the chain of the multi-polar world that is forming," Putin said at his suburban residence at the start of his talks with Chavez. "We will pay more and more attention to this vector of our economic and foreign policy."
Putin did not mention any specifics of potential Russian-Venezuelan military cooperation in his opening remarks, but Russian news reports said that Venezuela could buy Russian air defense missiles and more Sukhoi fighter jets.
A Kremlin official who spoke on customary condition of anonymity said that Russia would grant Venezuela a $1 billion credit for the purchase of Russian weaponry in an effort to help Venezuela revamp its military forces.
Chavez has already struck deals worth $4.4 billion since 2005 to buy jet fighters, tanks and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. The two countries also edged closer in energy relations after Russia’s Gazprom and Venezuela’s state-run oil company struck a deal to create an “oil and gas consortium”.
Russia's Kommersant daily reported that Venezuela was planning to purchase anti-aircraft systems, armoured personnel carriers and more combat aircraft.
Venezuela is the ninth largest oil producer in the world and a major supplier to the US, while Russia is the second largest oil exporter and has a quarter of global gas reserves. Chavez said that the joint venture would be “the biggest oil consortium on the planet”.
Russia also openly declared its ambition to rival the US in Latin America as Putin promised to sell nuclear technology to Venezuela.
“We are ready to consider opportunities for cooperating on the use of atomic energy,” Putin told Chavez during talks in Moscow. Russia is aggressively promoting itself as a builder of nuclear power plants and supplier of fuel to nations seeking nuclear energy.
Venezuela’s fiercely anti-American leader has long coveted his own nuclear energy programme, but insists that he has no desire to build an atomic bomb.
The announcement of atomic assistance is certain to alarm Washington. Moscow has already angered the West by delivering enriched uranium to Iran for its Russian-built power station, amid fears that Tehran is secretly building a nuclear bomb.
The countries have boosted ties in recent weeks following sharp US criticism of Russia's incursion into Georgia, with Moscow dispatching long-range bombers and warships to Venezuela for exercises near US waters. During that war, Washington angered Moscow by holding naval exercises near its Black Sea coast. And when the war ended, the United States used warships to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia-- a conflict where Chavez was one of the few world leaders to support Moscow.
Putin made the nuclear offer after Russia this week delayed talks with the United States and other powers on fears Iran is developing nuclear weapons, concerns critics say have been exacerbated by civilian nuclear technology provided by Moscow.
Chavez, who addressed Putin as "my dear friend Vladimir," said that stronger ties with Russia would help build a multi-polar world—a term Russia and Venezuela use to describe their shared opposition to the perceived U.S. global domination.
He lavished praise on Putin during his second visit to Russia in as many months. "I think that today more than ever before what you have said about a multi-polar world is becoming reality," Chavez told Putin. He said he brought greetings from Cuban leader Fidel Castro, another staunch U.S. enemy.
Both men like Calamari, ironically.
Both leaders have used criticism of the U.S. to boost their popularity at home and advance foreign policy objectives.
Russia is the latest leg in a tour taking Chavez to a number of nations whose governments are eager to counter U.S. global clout. He stopped briefly in Cuba on his way to China, where he touted agreements to increase oil exports and purchase military jets.
In an interview broadcast on Russian television before the visit, Chavez said that Venezuela and Latin America as a whole need "friends like Russia" to help them shed U.S. "domination" and ensure peace.
Russia has ramped up its cooperation with Caracas further since last month's war with Georgia, which has badly damaged Moscow's already strained ties with the West and particularly the United States.
Chavez has also talked about creating "a new strategic energy alliance" with between the oil-rich nations.
After visiting Venezuela this month, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said five major Russian oil companies are looking to form a consortium to increase Latin American operations and to build a $6.5 billion refinery to process Venezuelan crude.
Putin said that Russia's Gazprom state natural gas giant will launch its first drilling rig next month to tap Venezuela's offshore gas reserves.
"Fuck you America--I hate you!"
Chavez made a his next punch at his arch foe the United States on Friday, saying Washington was unable to handle the financial crisis and wanted to use a worthless dollar to own the world.
Chavez had just met French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a visit that had most recently taken him to Russia. "The Americans harass us and attack us... (they) want to buy the world with paper that does not have any value," Chavez told reporters in the courtyard of the presidential palace. Washington expected to remedy the current crisis "by running the money printer, and I strongly doubt we'll be able to resolve the crisis that way," he said.
An official from Sarkozy's office who spoke on condition of anonymity said the French president had urged Chavez to think ahead to the next U.S. administration and not give his adversaries a pretext to "caricaturize" him. The official added that France was eager to help Venezuela diversify its economy and was ready to transfer technology in the transport and energy sectors, as well as in defense to help fight illegal trafficking in the Caribbean.
Chavez said the activities of French oil companies Total and Perenco came up in his talks with Sarkozy, as well as projects involving the auto industry and underground trains in Caracas.
Further talks would be held at a meeting on October 2-3, he added.
U.S. oil companies Exxon and ConocoPhillips quit Venezuela after Chavez launched nationalisation programmes last year, while Total and Norway's StatoilHydro reduced their holdings and received around $1 billion in compensation.
"I am going to rule the world."
Russia is to build new space and missile defence shields and put its armed forces on permanent combat alert, President Medvedev announced last week.
In a sharp escalation of military rhetoric, Medvedev ordered a wholesale renovation of Russia’s nuclear deterrence and told military chiefs to draw up plans to reorganise the armed forces by December.
He said that Russia must modernise its nuclear defenses within eight years, including the creation of a “system of air and space defense”.
When the Soviet Union fell, Putin's first dream was to become a Calvin Klein model
The announcement puts Russia in a new arms race with the United States, which has infuriated the Kremlin by seeking to establish an anti-missile shield in eastern Europe. The US argues that the shield is aimed at rogue states such as Iran, but Russia is convinced that its own security is threatened.
Putin, getting ready to invade your house.
Medvedev told military commanders that “all combat formations must be upgraded to the permanent readiness category” by 2020. He added that Russia would begin “mass production of warships, primarily nuclear cruisers carrying cruise missiles and multi-purpose submarines”.
“A guaranteed nuclear deterrent system for various military and political circumstances must be provided by 2020,” he said after attending military exercises in the southern Urals region of Orenburg.
Tensions with the West have soared to new levels since Russia’s war with Georgia last month. Mr Medvedev told army chiefs that the conflict showed that “a war can flare up suddenly and can be absolutely real”.
Putin has personally killed more people than you have ever had sex with.
The military build-up was announced as Russia wages a struggle to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from entering NATO. The military alliance is due to consider fresh applications from the two former Soviet satellites in December.
Iranians chanted "Death to Israel" on Friday as Islamist students unveiled a book mocking the Holocaust in an Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day annual parade to show solidarity with the Palestinians.
"I look forward to a world without the U.S.A and Israel."
And in Gaza City, the Islamist Hamas movement that has ruled the impoverished Palestinian territory since June 2007 marked the day by calling for more suicide attacks on Israel.
The book "Holocaust," published by members of Iran's Islamist Basij militia, features dozens of cartoons and sarcastic commentary.
Education Minister Alireza Ali-Ahmadi attended the official launch of the book in Tehran's Palestine Square.
The cover shows a Jew with a crooked nose and dressed in traditional garb drawing outlines of dead bodies on the ground.
Inside, bearded Jews are shown leaving and re-entering a gas chamber with a counter that reads the number 5,999,999.You have a better than 50% shot at guessing which one is Admadinejad.
Another illustration depicts Jewish prisoners entering a furnace in a Nazi extermination camp and leaving from the other side as gun-wielding "terrorists."
Yet another shows a patient draped in an Israeli flag and on life support breathing Zyklon-B, the poisonous gas used in the extermination chambers.
Iran does not recognise the Jewish state, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has attracted international condemnation by repeatedly predicting Israel is doomed to disappear and branding the Holocaust a "myth."
Ahmadinejad, treating an Israeli Olypian to a nice walk.
The commentary inside the book includes anti-Semitic stereotypes and revisionist arguments, casting doubt that the massacre of Jews took place and mocking Holocaust survivors who claimed reparations after World War II.
One comment, in a question-and-answer format, reads: "How did the Germans emit gas into chambers while there were no holes on the ceiling?" Answer: "Shut up, you criminal anti-Semite. How dare you ask this question?"
In 2006, the Islamic republic hosted a conference of Holocaust deniers and revisionists and a mass-circulation Iranian newspaper held a cartoon competition on the subject.
On Friday, tens of thousands of Iranians marched in Tehran, chanting "Death to Israel," declaring solidarity with the Palestinians and calling for Jerusalem and Israel to be handed to the Palestinians.
Demonstrators carried placards bearing slogans including "Israel will be destroyed, Palestine is Victorious" and "Holy war until victory," and they also torched American and Israeli flags.
In Gaza, a Hamas parliamentarian called for more suicide attacks against Israel as thousands of Palestinians marched to mark Al-Quds Day.
"We call on all the factions to undertake efforts to contain the enemy and halt its aggression by planning martyrdom operations," Ahmed Abu Helbiya told a crowd of more than 2,000 protesters.
Friday's Iran protest follows a fresh verbal attack on Israel by Ahmadinejad.
In an address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, he said "the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters."
Quds Day was started by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic, who called on the world's Muslims to show solidarity with Palestinians on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan.
The demonstration was held under an official slogan: "The Islamic world will not recognise the fake Zionist regime under any circumstances and believes that this cancerous tumour will one day be wiped off the face of the earth."
"You know, you hug harder than Castro."
Meanwhile, Russia and the United States have reached a deal to seek a new U.N. resolution on Iran.
Ambassador John Sawers spoke before heading into a high-level meeting at U.N. headquarters of nations concerned with events in Pakistan.
After the meeting, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the resolution will be introduced in the Security Council on Friday.
Western diplomats said the resolution would reaffirm three rounds of earlier U.N. sanctions to make clear that the process has not been dropped and that the council wants Iran to comply.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because details have not been made public.
The United States, Britain and France have been pressing for a new round of sanctions to step up pressure against Iran for its continuing refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as a prelude to talks on its nuclear program. But Russia and China objected to new sanctions.
The proposed new resolution appears to be a compromise—no new sanctions but a tough statement to Iran that Security Council resolutions are legally binding and must be carried out.
Russia on Tuesday had scuttled high-level talks on imposing new sanctions on Iran that had been set for Thursday between the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, the key players in seeking an agreement with Iran. Even sanctions opponent China had agreed to the meeting.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, sought to downplay the move, saying the time wasn't right for the session. But they had previously said such a gathering would be useful and necessary to get a fourth Security Council sanctions resolution on Iran.
Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful and designed to produce nuclear energy, but the U.S. and Europeans suspect Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Tehran needs the ability to produce nuclear fuel because it cannot rely on other nations to supply enriched uranium to the Islamic regime's planned reactors.
Also, it recently became clear that Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.
The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush's trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state's founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added.
The sources work for a European head of government who met the Israeli leader some time after the Bush visit. Their talks were so sensitive that no note-takers attended, but the European leader subsequently divulged to his officials the highly sensitive contents of what Olmert had told him of Bush's position.
Bush's decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran's likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.
The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran's nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.
Iran has repeatedly said it would react with force to any attack. Some western government analysts believe this could include asking Lebanon's Shia movement Hizbollah to strike at the US.
"It's over ten years since Hizbollah's last terror strike outside Israel, when it hit an Argentine-Israel association building in Buenos Aires [killing 85 people]", said one official. "There is a large Lebanese diaspora in Canada which must include some Hizbollah supporters. They could slip into the United States and take action".
Even if Israel were to launch an attack on Iran without US approval its planes could not reach their targets without the US becoming aware of their flightpath and having time to ask them to abandon their mission.
"The shortest route to Natanz lies across Iraq and the US has total control of Iraqi airspace", the official said. Natanz, about 100 miles north of Isfahan, is the site of an uranium enrichment plant.
In this context Iran would be bound to assume Bush had approved it, even if the White House denied fore-knowledge, raising the prospect of an attack against the US. Several high-level Israeli officials have hinted over the last two years that Israel might strike Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent them being developed to provide sufficient weapons-grade uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Iran has always denied having such plans.
Olmert himself raised the possibility of an attack at a press conference during a visit to London last November, when he said sanctions were not enough to block Iran's nuclear programme.
"Economic sanctions are effective. They have an important impact already, but they are not sufficient. So there should be more. Up to where? Up until Iran will stop its nuclear program," he said.
The revelation that Olmert was not merely sabre-rattling to try to frighten Iran but considered the option seriously enough to discuss it with Bush shows how concerned Israeli officials had become.
Bush's refusal to support an attack, and the strong suggestion he would not change his mind, is likely to end speculation that Washington might be preparing an "October surprise" before the US presidential election. Some analysts have argued that Bush would back an Israeli attack in an effort to help John McCain's campaign by creating an eve-of-poll security crisis.
Others have said that in the case of an Obama victory, the vice-president, Dick Cheney, the main White House hawk, would want to cripple Iran's nuclear program in the dying weeks of Bush's term.
During Saddam Hussein's rule in 1981, Israeli aircraft successfully destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak shortly before it was due to start operating.
Last September they knocked out a buildings complex in northern Syria, which US officials later said had been a partly constructed nuclear reactor based on a North Korean design. Syria said the building was a military complex but had no links to a nuclear programme.
In contrast, Iran's nuclear facilities, which are officially described as intended only for civilian purposes, are dispersed around the country and some are in fortified bunkers underground.
In public, Bush gave no hint of his view that the military option had to be excluded. In a speech to the Knesset the following day he confined himself to telling Israel's parliament: "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.''
Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, tonight reacted to the Guardian's story saying: "The need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is raised at every meeting between the prime minister and foreign leaders. Israel prefers a diplomatic solution to this issue but all options must remain on the table. Your unnamed European source attributed words to the prime minister that were not spoken in any working meeting with foreign guests".
Three weeks after Bush's red light, on June 2, Israel mounted a massive air exercise covering several hundred miles in the eastern Mediterranean. It involved dozens of warplanes, including F-15s, F-16s and aerial refueling tankers.
The size and scope of the exercise ensured that the US and other nations in the region saw it, said a US official, who estimated the distance was about the same as from Israel to Natanz.
A few days later, Israel's deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, told the paper Yediot Ahronot: "If Iran continues its programme to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear programme."
The exercise and Mofaz's comments may have been designed to boost the Israeli government and military's own morale as well, perhaps, to persuade Bush to reconsider his veto. Last week Mofaz narrowly lost a primary within the ruling Kadima party to become Israel's next prime minister. Tzipi Livni, who won the contest, takes a less hawkish position.
The US announced two weeks ago that it would sell Israel 1,000 bunker-busting bombs. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a consolation prize for Israel after Bush told Olmert of his opposition to an attack on Iran. But it could also enhance Israel's attack options in case the next US president revives the military option.
The guided bomb unit-39 (GBU-39) has a penetration capacity equivalent to a one-tonne bomb. Israel already has some bunker-busters.
God of War, Bruce Lemkin, has been frustrated by his inability to land Hugo Chavez as a customer.
The US will lose its role as a global financial “superpower” in the wake of the financial crisis, Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, said on Thursday, blaming Washington for failing to take the regulatory steps that might have averted the crisis.
“The US will lose its status as the superpower of the world financial system. This world will become multipolar” with the emergence of stronger, better capitalised centres in Asia and Europe, Steinbrück told the German parliament. “The world will never be the same again.”
Bruce Lemkin, God of War, displaying the "sales face" that has sealed over $32.4 Billion in Arms Deals this year alone.
His were the most outspoken comments by a senior European government figure since Wall Street fell into chaos two weeks ago.
He later told journalists: “When we look back 10 years from now, we will see 2008 as a fundamental rupture. I am not saying the dollar will lose its reserve currency status, but it will become relative.”
The minister, who has spearheaded German efforts to rein in financial markets in the past two years, attacked the US government for opposing stricter regulations even after the subprime crisis had broken out last summer.
The US notion that markets should remain as free as possible from regulatory shackles “was as simplistic as it was dangerous”, he said.
But Steinbrück had warm words for the US’s crisis management in the past fortnight, including the government’s planned $700bn rescue package for the financial sector. Washington, he said, had earned credit for acting not just in the US interest but also in the interest of other nations.
Yet he repeated Germany’s refusal to mount a similar rescue operation using taxpayers’ money to acquire toxic assets. “This crisis originated in the US and is mainly hitting the US,” he said. In Europe and Germany, such a package would be “neither sensible nor necessary”.
The US, Steinbrück said, had failed in its oversight of investment banks, adding that the crisis was an indictment of the US two-tier banking system and its “weak, divided financial oversight”.
He blamed Washington for refusing to consider proposals Berlin had made as it chaired the Group of Eight industrial nations last year. These proposals, he said, “elicited mockery at best or were seen as a typical example of Germans’ penchant for over-regulation”.
His comments followed calls this week by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president and current holder of the European Union presidency, for an emergency G8 meeting on the crisis.
Steinbrück’s proposals include a ban on “purely speculative short selling”; a crackdown on variable pay for bank managers, which had encouraged reckless risk-taking; a ban on banks securitising more than 80 per cent of the debt they hold; international standards making bank managers personally responsible for the consequences of their trades; and increased co-operation between European supervisors.
Following a meeting with Christine Lagarde, his French counterpart, in Berlin, he said France and Germany would set up a working group of treasury, central bank and supervisory authority officials that would consider tougher regulation of short selling.
"Now look guys, it might get ugly out there, but we are gonna have to sell every single one of these planes today." Bruce Lemkin, God of War, tells his sales people before an expected big sales day.