US Sanctions — a Looney Tunes Bad Remake
By F. William Engdahl
5 Aug 2017
The ever-so-wise members of the Congress of the United States have just passed one of the most bizarre pieces of legislation in US history. Unilaterally, it makes illegal and severely punishable investments by European companies in international energy projects where Russia is involved. But it does far more. Unlike earlier US sanctions acts, the EU countries were not even consulted on the new act. It may well be that the bill, HR-3364: Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (sic) and its Senate counterpart will mark the irreversible decline of the United States as a global power and forge new ties between Russia, China, Iran and, yes, the major states of the EU including Germany .
What the Act says
First let’s see what the act, HR-3364, actually states.
In Title I, the part of the act dealing with Iran, the legislation states that the US President “shall impose the sanctions described…with respect to any person that the President determines (1) knowingly engages in any activity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer directly or indirectly to or from Iran, or for the use in or benefit of Iran, of any battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, or related materiel, including spare parts; or (2) knowingly provides to Iran any technical training, financial resources or services, advice, other services or assistance related to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, maintenance, or use of arms and related materiel described…”
While this may seem aimed at Iran which is in no cited violation of international law and the fact that recently both US intelligence as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency declared Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal, a main target is also Russia.
With the lifting of US and EU sanctions by the Obama Administration in January 2016, Russia began talks with Teheran to supply up to $10 billion of Russian weapons systems including advanced tanks, artillery systems, planes and helicopters. As well, sanctions removal allowed Russia to legally renegotiate delivery of its advanced anti-missile S-300 missile defense system which was done in August 2016.
The Iran section directly aims to block closer relations, including military, between Russia and Iran, a vital part of the emerging Eurasian economic space that Washington and the US Deep State feel so threatening to its power.
Let’s now look explicitly at the Russian section of the new act.
Title II: The Russian Section
The section on Russia was inserted into the original bill on Iran sanctions. It is called, TITLE II—SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION AND COMBATING TERRORISM AND ILLICIT FINANCING.
Title II justifies its unprecedented new sanctions against Russia by citing a litany of the already sanctioned Crimea annexation and Russian alleged support of Ukraine separatists following the CIA-instigated February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev, as well as unproven allegations of Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee data files during the 2016 US election campaign. To sweeten the brew, Congress added Russia’s involvement in Syria, legal under international law, aiding the legitimate Assad government fighting ISIS and other terrorists.
Another justification for the unprecedented new Russia sanctions is cited as unnamed “human rights violators in the Russian Federation.” Of course, the “human rights violators” are to be determined as anyone Washington backs in CIA attempts at trying to foment a new NGO Color Revolution to block re-election of President Vladimir Putin in March 2018 elections.
Moreover, in a constitutionally dubious arrogation of power of the Executive, Congress mandates that the President no longer has executive authority to remove any Russian sanctions without first the approval of Congress.
“Oppose Nord Stream II Pipeline”
This Russian section of the Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, among other remarkable provisions, declares in Section 257: Ukranian (sic) Energy Security that, “It is the policy of the United States…to continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline given its detrimental impacts on the European Union’s energy security, gas market development in Central and Eastern Europe, and energy reforms in Ukraine; “As the governments of Germany and Austria bluntly pointed out, with whom the EU countries decide to buy their natural gas is their business, not to be decided by Washington.
As reason for this extraordinary trampling on international law, Title II goes on, “…the United States Government should prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy.” The new sanctions act as part of this effort gives the US Treasury the right to sanction or penalize European companies doing business with Gazprom on the proposed Nord Stream II pipeline into Germany.
Oops. Did I read the wrong act? The US President shall impose sanctions in order that the US can stop the EU-Gazprom Nord Stream II second pipeline construction that is soon to be completed, linking Vyborg in Russia with Griefswald in Germany and bypassing existing Soviet-era gas pipelines through the now-hostile US-run Ukraine? He shall do this as part of a US jobs-creation policy? Is this actually part of the current USA strategy, expressed repeatedly by the Trump Administration to “dominate the global energy market” including export of oil, shale gas as LNG, coal exports and nuclear power?
Russian Mining and Railways
Section 233 of the Act specifies the US Treasury may also determine sanctions against “a state-owned entity operating in the railway or metals and mining sector of the economy of the Russian Federation.” US sanctions against domestic Russian railways, mining companies, metals industry? Why not be honest and just proclaim the US Congress hereby declares itself to be absolute dictators over the entire world with power to decide everything everywhere? No questions permitted…
Further the Act, “prohibits the provision, exportation, or re-exportation… by persons within the United States, of goods, services… or technology in support of exploration or production for new deep-water, Arctic offshore, or shale projects…that have the potential to produce oil…” Sanctions include power to “block…all transactions in all property…of a person determined by the President to be subject to subsection (a)(1).”
Section 232 goes after development of pipelines in the Russian Federation against anyone who “…knowingly makes an investment…or sells, leases, or provides to the Russian Federation, for the construction of Russian energy export pipelines, goods, services, technology, information…which has a fair market value of $1,000,000 or more; or…an aggregate fair market value of $5,000,000 or more.” It goes after any foreign investment that “directly and significantly contributes to the enhancement of the ability of the Russian Federation to construct energy export pipelines.” Those could be to China or Germany or Turkey or anywhere.
Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia
Subtitle B is titled Countering Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia. This section asserts “findings” of Congress, unspecified, that “The Government of the Russian Federation has sought to exert influence throughout Europe and Eurasia, including in the former states of the Soviet Union, by providing resources to political parties, think tanks, and civil society groups that sow distrust in democratic institutions and actors, promote xenophobic and illiberal views, and otherwise undermine European unity.”
Conveniently ignored are the hundreds of millions of dollars that the US State Department, USAID, the CIA’s civilian NGO front National Endowment for Democracy and other Washington agencies have spent over the past twenty five years to exert US “influence throughout Europe and Eurasia, including in the former states of the Soviet Union, by providing resources to political parties, think tanks, and civil society groups.”
And what is this about “undermine European unity”? Since when is European unity or its undermining the business of Washington? Oh, excuse me sir. I forgot that Washington is now self-proclaimed dictator, Absolute Supreme Ruler, Top Dog, barking its orders to the entire planet…
To counter the alleged Russian exertion of influence in Europe and Eurasia, Section 254 of the bill authorizes $250,000,000 for 2018 and 2019 for its Countering Russian Influence Fund (sic). The countries for US “countering” targets include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (including Republika Srpska), Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Kosovo, Serbia, and Ukraine. The countering actions are described as, “To build the capacity of civil society, media, and other nongovernmental organizations countering the influence and propaganda of the Russian Federation.”
The new Russian sanctions act explicitly names who shall use this pot of US taxpayer money to interfere in the internal affairs of countries in Europe and Eurasia: “non-governmental or international organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Black Sea Trust, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the Prague Civil Society Centre, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, the European Endowment for Democracy, and related organizations…”
In brief, the new extraordinary Russian sanctions act openly calls for Color Revolutions, the CIA’s form of “fake democracy” using the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and allied CIA or US State Department front NGOs to massively intervene in the internal affairs of the entire land space from the European Union to Eurasia. This all should not surprise as the key figure in the US Senate credited with forging support for the Russian part of the new sanctions act is the patron saint of the NED and of virtually all US Color Revolutions, John McCain.
Section 257—Ukranian (sic) Energy Security explicitly targets “Russian Federation’s oil and natural gas resources, but also on its state-owned nuclear power and electricity companies.”
In effect, the new US sanctions bill is like a nuclear barrel bomb with sanctions flying in all directions—Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, EU energy companies, even US oil and other companies.
HR-3364: Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act is truly a 2017 bad remake of the classic Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoon series. This time Senator John McCain is in the role of Daffy Duck and the entire gaggle of Senators and Congressmen who bravely marched lockstep behind Daffy rushing to be seen as good American patriots are like so many fevered lemmings marching off the cliff of sanity. Fortunately the Act is so extreme that it will blow up in the faces of its backers. It may be the catalyst to shift the entire world geopolitical balance away from the Washington Superpower run amok.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”