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World trade is now America versus China (and Russia)

  • 23 August 2017


The anti-Russian frenzy in the United States amounts to little more than a great deal of evidence that the intelligence community suspects there might be a great deal of evidence that the Russians have been meddling. It has to rank as one of the biggest, and most orchestrated, blind alleys of modern media coverage. When a journalist says an anonymous ‘respected source’ thinks the Russians are up to something, this writer is always left wondering: respected by whom? His dog?

In truth, it is just journalistic code for ‘I know this person is selling me a line, but, hey, it sells papers.’ Little wonder that no-one is terribly interested in looking at information that might actually help, such as the Democratic National Congress (DNC) servers or talking to the former British ambassador who said he passed the file on to Julian Assange and that it definitely did not come from a state source. Never let the facts get in the way of a good nationalistic furore.

Just how much the anti-Russian phobia has gripped America was graphically demonstrated when the Congress, in an almost unanimous vote, imposed even more extreme sanctions on Russia. This was highly significant, because, in effect, it sounded the death knell for the ethic of open, world trade that has been an article of faith in the globalization push of the last quarter of a century.

We are now facing what is likely to look much more like a bi-polar world, with America on one side and much of Eurasia, especially China, on the other. Where Europe will head is yet to be decided.

To get an insight into what America has done, it is worth watching this exchange between a BBC journalist and Vladimir Putin. The Russian president points out that it took Russia 19 years to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The sanctions, he protests, are against both the rules of the WTO and international law.

And that is the point. The WTO is supposed to supervene national interests in matters of trade, and this has been thrown away by America’s politicians—with sanctimonious gusto.

It has put Europe, especially Germany, into an invidious position. Any EU company doing business with Russia may find itself being attacked by America and hit by lawsuits or fines. In the short term it will affect companies involved in financing Nord Stream 2, a pipeline intended to provide Germany with much needed natural