Putin's Free-Trade Proposal Is 'Just a Smokescreen' … Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) arrives at a conference in Berlin on Friday: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants the EU and Russia to forge a massive free trade zone. German commentators are wary of the wily politician's true intentions and urge Europe's politicians to read the small print. Russia appears to have launched a charm offensive aimed at the West. At last week's NATO summit in Lisbon, the alliance and Russia decided to cooperate on a missile shield, an agreement that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described as "historic." Then on Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin presented his vision of a massive Eurasian free-trade zone in a guest editorial for the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. "We propose the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok," Putin wrote in the piece. "In the future, we could even consider a free trade zone or even more advanced forms of economic integration. The result would be a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of euros." – Der Spiegel
Dominant Social Theme: Putin wants everybody to get along – politically and from a currency standpoint (except perhaps the US).
Free-Market Analysis: Vladimir Putin makes a currency swap deal with China and then heads to Germany to propose a vast, continent-wide European union. It is inevitable, he says. It is aimed at marginalizing the US dollar and giving the world a choice of what kind of currency to use. Putin speaks, even, of adopting the euro, while other Russian political leaders have spoken of creating a basket of currencies, akin to the IMF's suggested bancor.
What do Putin's overtures tell us about the relationships between the great powers early in the 21st century? Is it a kind of promotion that is intended to emphasize the coming centralization of governments worldwide? Is it sincere? A ruse? Understanding where the world is headed, and why, is important for people who want to plan for their own future, and for their family's and their investments.
Thus, in this article, we want to continue a theme we recently broached, that much of the problems in the world today may be in a sense coordinated by a free-floating money power that includes all the great powers of the globe. The idea, if one adopts this view, is that the powers-that-be are increasingly creating global economic uncertainty (and even desperation) to use the resultant chaos to create an ever-closer global union.
Now we have argued in the past against this theme in numerous articles, because we see money power to a great extent as an Anglo-American exercise. But increasingly we see in the news that there are initiatives between the world's great powers that seem to indicate that they have convergent interests regarding increased global centralization.
We covered this evolution just a few days ago in the article "Global Depression Just a Dodge?" We wrote, "[Our] conclusion [hypothetically] is that the only way to really account for all the contradictory trends [worldwide] is to conclude that there is a level of behind-the-scenes collusion between ALL the powers-that-be. All of them, East and West, may be cooperating to bring down the current system with an eye toward instituting something in its place that will be mutually agreed upon." You can see the story here: Global Depression Just a Dodge?
Of course there are plenty of observers in the West who will make the argument that there are distinct differences between the various powers of the world – and we have argued this, too. Some will make the case, for instance, that China is gaining a global economic advantage because its leaders practice state capitalism instead of free-market capitalism as the West does. And yet … China obviously controls the upper level of its businesses, especially the financial sector, and we don't seem much difference between the Chinese way of doing business and the West's at this point.
It used to be that you could make a firm distinction between the various sociopolitical blocks of the world. For all the problems that the US had, and its behind-the-scenes elite control, there was a residue of cultural classical liberalism – freedom – that distinguished it from 20th century Russia and China. The USSR had its politburo and its Gulags; China had mass starvation and re-education camps. The US and the West in general maintained a culture that partook of several hundred years of classical liberalism and could even be traced back to the Renaissance and the Greeks. Living in the West was evidently and obviously better.
There was no such cultural kinship in China and the USSR. Both regions had been severed somehow from accepted norms of civil society and were in a sense "new" societies that had adopted a political system rejected by the West. This perspective was reinforced by World War II, where the West had apparently definitively rejected German authoritarianism and chosen "freedom." There was in fact throughout the late 20th century a threnody of historical irritation with the way the war had ended up and how Franklin Roosevelt had given up too much of the world to Stalin and the Russians.
Now in the 21st century from our perspective, the differences between the various "blocks" of the world are far less clear. Russia and China seem to make common cause on a number fronts, and yet there are many areas in which one country or the other cooperates with the West. Even Russia's approaches to the EU recognize this dichotomy as the excerpt from Der Spiegel at the beginning of this article indicates. Putin pushes a merger between the EU and Russia with one hand while excoriating certain energy-oriented policies with the other. Here's some more from Der Spiegel, quoting Süddeutsche Zeitung:
"The Russian prime minister wants nothing less than a close relationship between East and West. Back in the summer, he was singing quite a different tune. At that time, Putin announced that Russia would raise import duties on cars, saying: 'We're not, after all, WTO members, so we can afford to do it.' Has the great chameleon Russia now decided to change its color once again?"
"The country has already been negotiating its entry into the WTO for 17 years. The signals were so mixed over the years that no one knew whether Russia really wanted to take that step or not. Now, though, the realization is taking hold in Moscow that there is no other choice. The global economic crisis may have caused great damage to many countries, but it left Russia in ruins. The country will not be able to head into the future relying on its oil, gas and metals any more. The model of a great power based on raw materials is a thing of the past, and Moscow can no longer depend on energy prices as it once did. Russia must open itself up."
"The opportunities and risks of such an opening have long since been thoroughly examined, and Russia has opted for modernization. In the long term, the country has more to gain than to lose. … Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev know that Russia cannot be strong politically if it is economically weak."
Despite differences, what is perhaps supposed to come across clearly from all this horse-trading is that Russia, under Putin, is just another powerful country pursuing its citizens' self interests. The same could be said for China, despite rising military tensions. China claims to be a communist country but it is the single biggest buyer of American Treasuries (thus keeping the American economy afloat) and throughout the 2000s has sold more products and services into the US then any other country. This is not a Cold War paradigm.
Is it, however, a dominant social theme, a conscious promotion of the Western powers-that-be? Given what we know occurred in the 20th century, the wars and economic destruction, especially, we are not apt to trust any utterances of powerful leaders. The Anglo-American axis in particular has aimed for world government for over a century and has attempted to reach its goal through a variety of divide-and-conquer strategies.
The 20th century was in fact a time of great wars and great divisions between sociopolitical philosophies. But we know that the Western elite funded the initial formation of the Soviet Union and we believe there was funding from the West as well for Mao, though some of these articles seem to have been removed from the Internet. The West, in other words, first encouraged communism and then confronted it. In the process, the militarization of Western society proceeded apace.
There is much talk of war these days, along with a variety of peaceful trade and business initiatives. The profiles of the great powers have blurred, with China and Russia becoming increasingly capitalist as the US and EU becoming increasingly authoritarian. This is the "longest view." Is it merely coincidence? Or is part of a larger fear-based manipulation of the power elite? The perception may be that Russia and (perhaps) China are trying to leverage the EU to form a power block against the US. But we believe that the EU is a creature through-and-through of the Anglo-American elite and that the EU is still controlled by the Anglosphere. In other words, the shifting strategic alliances are not what they seem. They are a shadow play.
And so … if it comes to war, even a big war, how much of it will be manufactured? The wars of the 20th century increasingly seem to have been created artificially. Will potential violence usher in a New World Order? If there is no war, but only a variety of shifting trade pacts, will this eventually result in the emergence of a one-world currency and government?
How much of what is going in is based on "real" national interest and how much is for show, designed to illustrate clearly that all the great powers are operating in a similar way with similar (quasi-authoritarian) political structures. Putin's overtures to the EU do nothing to dissuade us from continuing to explore the theory that there is a bigger operative plan and the elites are perhaps orchestrating a vast shadow show intended to end up with world government.