Paul Craig Roberts interviewed by Kristoferis Voishka (video) Lithuania
Published February 9, 2015
Firstly we would be very interested to ask, how have you come from the position of having been Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan to being an outspoken critic of the ruling US establishment and its foreign policy.
￼Well, the United States government today is very different from Reagan. Reagan focused on American domestic economic issues and he focused on ending the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Today, or during the entirely of the new twenty first century, the American government has focused on war and on American financial imperialism over the rest of the world. This is a dramatic change. And this change, of course, is very dangerous, not only for Americans, but for the entirety of the world. Americans have been at war for over 15 years, it has invaded or bombed or attacked seven countries, there are millions of people dead, injured, displaced, the United States is now bringing sanctions against Russia, the United States has overthrown an elected government in Ukraine, this is a dangerous act. The United States is pushing conflict in the Ukraine in order to embarrass Russia, in order to hopefully destabilize Russia and American financial hegemony has been exercised – sanctions placed on Russia, credit down gradings. These are political acts that have no basis in any economic reality. And so, this is not a situation such as the one that existed in the 1980’s.
Then we would like to ask, specifically, what are your thoughts on the present conflict in Ukraine in the context of the world geopolitical situation and the increasing tensions between Russia and the US, as well as the American and Zionist influence in making the Putsch – the so-called “Euro-Maidan”?
The American neoconservatives who came to influence after the collapse of the Soviet Union and also the American liberal interventionists- these two groups dominate the making of American foreign policy and both groups believe that the US should be the uni-power, that there should be no other power that would be able to block American purposes in the world. And so the rise of Russia and the rise of China are seen as a serious challenge to the American ideology of world hegemony. You may have heard this phrase that Americans are the “exceptional people”, that the US is the “indispensable country”. This sounds a lot like Adolf Hitler – if you are the exceptional people, what does that mean about the other people? It means they are the Unternmenschen. And it is this arrogant ideology that says “oh my goodness, look, Russia has recovered under Putin’s leadership – its economically capable, its militarily capable, we can’t permit this. So what can we do to cause Russia trouble? Oh, we will attack them through Ukraine!” And that is exactly what has happened – the US has spent five billion dollars over a decade on creating non-governmental organizations inside Ukraine that called people to the streets, they cultivated political types so they’d have a puppet government to take office and so this now has brought serious problems to Russia and has been used by the US to break off Russian economic and political relationships with Europe. The main function of the sanctions is not really to hit Russia; it’s to break up the economic relationships between Europe and Russia, because Europe was having growing economic relations with Russia and the US said these may pull Europeans out of our orbit – they may cease following our foreign policy, they may cease following our economic policy, they may develop this new relationship with Russia and Washington will lose control. So, as the main function the sanctions is to destroy the growing political and economic relations between Europe and Russia, clearly, the US has a strategy, it is working for them; any time some European vassal state, such as France, expresses a point of view, different to the American one, something happens – “Charlie Hebdo”… Whether this was a real terrorist attack, or a black op false flag operation, it doesn’t matter, because the result has been to pull France back into the American orbit – we no longer hear the French president saying that the sanctions against Russia must end, we no longer hear the French president saying that France votes for the Palestinians against Israel and America. All of that’s over. So, this strategy that the US has developed against Russia is working and it creates problems for Russia. And the Russians are, in response, very unprovocative. They don’t actually strike back and so the consequences of this American policy remain to be revealed.
What about the rise of China as a superior economic power and the whole “BRICS” as an opposition to the American hegemony?
Yes, these countries have formed, or are trying to form an economic and political organization that is independent from the American-dominated Western one. For so long the world simply accepted the American-dominated payment system, the dollar, as the world reserve currency and the American rules of participating in the international economy and the rest of the world found that America uses this position – this preeminent economic position – to bully other countries, and to support its financial and economic interests over others, that is not exactly a fair system where everyone is treated the same. And so, we see that Russia, China, India are trying to create a different system that they could operate in, that makes them safe from American domination. So, China, Russia – these economies are complimentary. There is no reason for either country to turn to the Western capital markets for financing, there’s no reason for these countries to use the dollar, because the use of the dollar supports American power, it supports the value of the American currency, which should be in trouble as a result of the massive amount of new money creation in the US in the last 6 years, the massive amount of debt – the American debt as share of GDP is 10 times higher than the Russian. So why is the Russian credit downgraded, but not Washington’s credit? It’s too much politics and so, the BRICS are trying to remove themselves from a system dominated by Washington’s politics.
Another question – what is your opinion on the dramatic fall in the oil price and the claim of Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, that this is an attempt on behalf of the Western establishment to undermine oil-dependent countries that are opposed to US hegemony, such as Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc.?
I have no inside information and that could actually be the case, it could be actually directed at Venezuela and Russia. On the other hand, it appears to be damaging also the American fracking industry. It’s a high cost way of recovering oil and gas and the drop in the price of oil has made the debt of these fracking companies unpayable and therefore it is a potential large financial problem as derivatives are now associated with the loans that the fracking companies in the US took out, so it is not just Venezuela and Russia that are affected by this, so, if it is Washington’s doing, does it mean Washington has decided to sacrifice the American fracking industry in order to harm Russia and Venezuela? Perhaps. There are other explanations. One is simply that the world economy has turned down and that the demand for energy has turned down and therefore the price has gone down with demand. It’s entirely possible that the high price of oil previous to the downturn was due to Wall Street. The speculative power of Wall Street to drive prices high or low, and to make money in both directions. So I don’t know the answer, but I certainly don’t discount the statement of the President of Venezuela, it’s entirely possible.
When speaking, you have already mentioned the “Charlie Hebdo” shooting, which, according to one article you wrote, is a possible false flag operation by the CIA. Maybe you could share more insight into the act of terror in France?
Well, the episode has many characteristics of being pre-planned, orchestrated. For example, the story that it was the two brothers who attacked the office of the French cartoonists, this has all the appearances of being pre-packaged, it was already there ready to release. That’s suspicious – if they knew nothing about the attack in advance, how did they have the story ready? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are other differences. Many people have noticed these differences and I still receive from European readers more and more differences, what they say the facts are compared to the official story. Two professional killers who attacked the cartoonist’s office, show every indication of being highly trained, highly organized, they show absolutely no confusion and they come in an destroy an office, a number of people and have no difficulty leaving; nobody can get in their way and stop them. And yet two days later allegedly the same people come across as bungling, confused, incompetent. Another curious aspect of it was that the so-called terrorists were all shot down, killed, when it was easy to capture them. So why kill them, if you can capture them? One reason is – they’re not the same people and you don’t want to question them, you don’t want them to speak. So these are many of the aspects, plus – who does it serve? Well, it served, as I said earlier, to shut up the French President – he’s no longer talking about “we have to stop the sanctions against Russia”, he’s no longer prepared to vote for the Palestinians against the Israelis. So the question is always – who “benefits”? The Muslims didn’t benefit.
Another question related to this, and a comment. In our country if you even allude to the possibility that there would be such a false flag or something, then the mainstream will immediately start a hysteria that you are a “Russian agent” or a “fifth columnist”, or “not patriotic” and stuff like this. What do you think of the position of such a small country like Lithuania or others in the Eastern and Central European region whose governments are hysterically joining this war mongering against Russia? What is your opinion?
Well, Lithuania is a vassal state of the US, the Lithuanian government represents Washington, it does not represent Lithuanians. What interest do Lithuanians have in conflict with Russia? None. It’s a stupid thing, it’s a risky thing. If the United States starts a war between NATO and Russia, what do the Lithuanians think is going to happen to them?
They’re on the front line. There’s not going to be any American army to stop the Russians from overrunning Lithuania if Washington starts a war. Lithuania has nothing to gain from this and yet the Lithuanian government serves Washington. And your point that you’re not allowed to question official explanations such as “Charlie Hebdo”, this is more evidence that something is wrong with the official explanation. If the official explanation was correct and safe, they wouldn’t care who questioned it. They would say, those are good questions, let’s look at them and hear the answers. Instead they say, “Oh no, you mustn’t, if you question it, it means you’re a conspiracy kook, you’re a Russian agent.” This is to stop people from noticing, from thinking. And so, it’s another reason to suspect the official case. Anytime they try to shut down dissent, skepticism, you know something’s wrong.
We would like to shortly return to American issues… When there is this isolation of Russia, will attempts to isolate Russia would be more correct, and the rising of the BRICS and Russia, China making exchanges in their own national currencies – what do you think will be, in the long-term perspective, the future for the dollar currency and how will this impact on the social-economic development of America?
If the BRICS are successful, if they develop a payments mechanism that they can use for their trade among themselves and other parts of the world, and this payment mechanism does not use dollars, this in particular being the case with energy, then the demand for dollars in the world market falls and therefore it becomes harder for the US to maintain the current value of its currency. If the currency becomes less and less and less used as a world reserve currency, this means the ability of the US to continue to pay its bills by printing money becomes impaired. One of the greatest sources of American power is the fact that the dollar is the world reserve currency, because this permits Washington to command resources simply by printing paper money. This is an unusual power; no one else has this power. So, as long as your currency is the reserve currency and everyone is willing to hold it as the main source of national savings, reserves for the central banks, then Washington can command resources simply by printing money – they don’t have to produce something to sell, to earn foreign currencies with which to command resources, they simply print money. So if that advantage is lost to Washington, Washington’s power is also gone. Now I think this is what’s going to happen – I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I think it’s going to happen, because Washington has created so much debt, so many new paper dollars, that the output of real goods and services cannot support it. The money has been growing much faster than the economy; the debt has been growing much faster than the economy – so how does the economy in the end support the massive increase in money from debt? It can’t. Now, as the world realizes that, as the world draws away from that system, our US dollar will decline in value. I don’t know how long this will take. I thought it will be more rapid, but the US is a very clever overlord – it has the Bank of Japan printing yen, it now has the European Central Bank printing euros – so those are the other two large currencies. So, if those currencies are made printed in profusion, it supports the value of the dollar. The dollar can’t fall relative to the yen or euro, if the other Central banks are creating money also. So as long as all the large currencies are printed, it supports the dollar. And because the EU and Japan are American vassal states, they follow orders from Washington. So Washington can hold this together for a long time. As the world leaves that system, if the BRICS are successful, then that starts to impair the power of Washington.
Concerning the euro, there is a very interesting fact – the euro was recently introduced, actually, this month, though more than 50% of people in Lithuania were and still are against it. Many commentators from around the world say that this is absolute stupidity, because, besides the fact that it undermines the remnants of formal national sovereignty that we have, it is suicide potentially, because the euro zone may collapse. So how do you evaluate such an action of the government – to put us into the euro zone?
Well, by accepting the euro, your government accepted a loss of sovereignty. You cannot be a sovereign state if you don’t have your own money. If you don’t have your own money, you can’t finance your own government. So this is all the trouble that we see in Greece, in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy. These are governments that are not sovereign, because they don’t have their own money and therefore they cannot finance themselves, they have to rely on foreign private banks to finance them and their creditors are more powerful than the governments and so when the countries have difficulty paying, the creditors may impose austerity on them and loot the countries; Greece is being looted. How do you loot a country? You tell them their pensions have to be cut, their employment has to be cut, social services have to be cut, so that there’s money to pay the banks. Also you have to sell off your valuable public enterprises, your valuable public lands – the state lottery in Greece, the municipal water companies, the ports; you have to sell your national islands to real estate developers. And so, this is how countries are looted. So any time a country gives up its currency, it has to give up its sovereignty, and that is what Lithuania did by accepting the euro – it said “okay, we are not any longer sovereign”.
When a Lithuanian says he is against the euro, he is accused of being a Russian agent – and this makes me think that, most probably, its very connected with the fact that the euro is very important for the preservation of the dollar. So maybe our government did this to please its American masters?
Well, if you take the Euro, why doesn’t that make you an EU agent? If you take the rouble, they could say – oh, you’re a Russian agent. But if that’s the case, when you take the euro, why aren’t you an EU agent and, thereby, an American agent? Because the EU is not independent from Washington. So it works both ways.
Sadly, most don’t notice that… Another question returning to America – being an American yourself who opposes the mainstream foreign and other policies of the government, how do you feel about the fact that the popularity of America is going lower and lower and lower, and people are getting angry at it all over the world, because of what is going on? And how to ordinary American people view all this rhetoric that “the Russians are attacking”?
I don’t think that an ordinary American knows that the popularity of the US has fallen abroad. Americans are told they are the exceptional people, indispensable, and that they have to rule. And so, that’s as far as it goes. You know, I’ve often said that the US had a high standing in the world because of the long-term opposition to the Soviet Union. It was easy to demonize the Soviet Union and therefore it was easy for the US to appear as the white hat, the good person in this conflict, that it stood up to the evil, oppressive Soviets. And so, the whole world had that picture for decades for the entirety of the Cold War – so the US inherited this great moral leadership. And it’s taken the world a long time to see that the US can be just as self-serving as the Soviets, can be just as brutal to other people, in fact, more so. Can be just as exploitative. And it’s taken the world a long time to learn that – and they’re now starting to see that. They’ve seen war after war based on lies. Most of the people in the world now understand Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, they understand the lies against Libya and Gaddafi, they understand the lies against Syria and so, they began to question the great moral standing of the US, which is invading, bombing, using drones, more and more people killed – and the US is conducting war against the populations of Pakistan and Libya, even though the US is not officially at war with these countries. The governments of these countries have permitted the US to kill their citizens. They haven’t said “hey, you’re committing war against us – stop!” Pakistan hasn’t said “We’ve got a nuclear weapon – stop or we’re going to use it!” So, when the governments of countries permitting Americans to kill their own people with practically no protest, people start wondering about the goodness of the US and, therefore, the reputation of the US is declining. In my view, this is important, because the arrogance of the American neoconservatives is driving the world to a World War and that war will be nuclear and there will be nobody left standing. And this threat is the main threat, it overrides all other threats, all other considerations, it overrides patriotism, my country – its life.
And how to avoid such a war?
People have to continue to wake up. The governments that sell out their own populations and align with Washington – those governments have to be exposed, they have to be criticized, people have to stand up to those governments. So Washington is hoping that Europe wouldn’t realize that the interests of Europe are different than the interests of the US and that the pressure the US is putting on Europe to put sanctions on Russia will wake the Europeans up and make them realize they are being used to their own disadvantage in order to support American hegemony over Russia. But the Europeans have been very slow to wake up. A lot of the people have, for example, the German industrialists, the French industrialists, but the governments – no. The governments don’t wake up, or, if they start to wake up, something happens – like “Charlie Hebdo”.
Partially in relation to “Charlie Hebdo”, there is this whole real or supposed Islamic threat. What do you think about the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIL) and the probably true allegations that America is sponsoring the Islamism, Wahabbism and the war in Syria?
My opinion is that the fighters that comprise the military power of what is now called the Islamic state, these were people initially recruited by Washington and used against Gaddafi in Libya. These are people that Washington put together, recruited and used in Libya and then Washington sent them to Syria to overthrow Assad, but along the way these people became independent, perhaps, of Washington, and the strength of this movement, which is nearly surprising, is that Muslims are supporting it because Muslims are tired of being ruled by the West. The Muslims are tired of American, British, French domination of the Muslim world that has been happening since World War 1. So we have here now a hundred years of Western exploitation, Western oppression of the Muslim Middle East and North Africa. And so Muslims are useing this opportunity, this military force to try to remake the Middle East in a way that is independent of Western control and that’s what the Islamic State, it seems to me, is becoming. Initially groups organized by Washington to overthrow Washington’s enemies – Gaddafi, Assad – and they realize in their own power, that this is an opportunity to create a new state, to overcome all the artificial boundaries created by the French and British in the Middle East, the artificial boundaries between the different Muslim sects, and so, what we may be witnessing here is the rise of a new kind of Islamic leadership. This was not expected by Washington when they organized these people for Washington’s purposes – so that, I think, is a surprise. It may be that this Islamic State will attract more and more support from Muslims, it remains to be seen. It’s a very brutal operation, but that is often the case when new governments, new entities, new state entities are created, because the old puppet entities are in the way, and so they have to be got rid of. That’s just my speculation, I couldn’t prove that, I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I do think that what we’re witnessing here, is the rise of a new kind of Islamic entity that is fed up with Western domination.
Let’s say, if the conflicts in the Middle East escalate and if the BRICS bloc will succeed to create an alternative power base to the USA, then, in your opinion, in how much time would the so-called multi-polar world develop and America would be reduced to being just one regional power out of many? Would this happen in a quick implosion, or would it be a gradual process?
It’s hard to know. There are many reasons for American economic and strategic weakness, its overreach. The US cannot possibly conduct wars against the Middle East, Iran, Russia and China simultaneously, there’s no such power. The US is busy with all kinds of manipulation and rigging of financial markets, trying to hold it together. Anytime the stock market starts to correct, the plunge protection team can step in and buy Standard & Poor’s futures and drive the prices back up; anytime gold starts to take off, making the dollar look bad, the bullion banks and the Central Bank can go in and sell uncovered shorts. All these manipulations at my time in the Treasury would have been unthinkable – and yet they’re all used today and they help hold the system together. How long can this system hold together – I don’t know. Could it gradually fall apart or it could go all at once? For example, if there were to be a run on the dollar as may be developing on the euro; if people say “we just want to get out of this currency, we don’t trust it any longer, it’s going to drop in value”, then as people leave it, it will make it drop in value. So, that can happen. It could be a slow or a sudden thing, but you would have to know what would make that happen. Maybe, if the American economy, which has not recovered, turns down further – that might shake confidence in the currency, it could cause a flight, if people left the dollar in droves. What if the Chinese were to convert all of their dollar-denominated assets in dollars and then sell the dollars? That would destroy the dollar. There’s too many of them to come on the market. So these things are called “Black swans”, they could happen, they’re not predictable, the consequences could be catastrophic. On the other hand, Washington seems very capable of rigging, manipulating, using power very effectively and so it could keep the system alive for a long time, or simply you could see the rise of another system, the BRICS, operating outside of the Washington system, so you would have two types of economic operations underway without any real relationship between them. I can’t yet say, I don’t know, but what we should all be concerned about is Washington’s drive for hegemony, because that implies war. I don’t think the Russians or the Chinese will submit to Washington’s will and they’re not going to say “okay, we’ll be a puppet state like France, and Germany, and Lithuania, England” – they’re not going to do that, the Chinese are not going to say “oh, let’s give in to the Americans”. And I don’t think the Russians are going to give in. So if Washington keeps pressing these countries, the outcome will be war. And these are well-armed nuclear countries, and that means essentially the end of life. And therefore this is the reason for the world to unite against American hegemony. This doesn’t mean they should try to attack the US and kill Americans, it just means they’ve got to understand that the purpose and the ideology that’s driving Washington is dangerous to the rest of the world and the rest of the world should stand against it and stop enabling it. For example, if NATO were to break up, that would greatly reduce the American threat of war, because Washington would not have the cover, it couldn’t hide behind NATO, it couldn’t say “look, this is a common thing, we have all this coalition of the willing. We have all these other people who agree with us and look, it’s the important part of the world, Europe, this is Europe and the Americans, we’re the important part of the world and we’ve been dominant for so long by nature.” So, if NATO broke up, the prospects for the world, for peace, would be much better. We see no expressions in Russia that they are the exceptional people with the right to rule the world. They never say that. There’s no sign of it, the neoconservatives are American, they’re not Russian. The Chinese are not saying “oh, we are the Chinese, we have the right to rule the world”, they’re not saying that. They’re not saying “we are the indispensable country who can impose our hegemony”, that’s not what they’re saying. Only Washington says that. So this is the difference and it’s the reason that American power is dangerous, looks more so than Russian power or Chinese power, because even though the Americans claim that Putin is trying to reconstitute the Soviet empire, there’s no evidence of that. There are no statements of it, there are no position papers. But in the US we have an enormous amount of evidence, position papers saying “the New American Century”, “the right of Americans to rule”, “history has chosen us”, “the collapse of the Soviet Union proves history has chosen American democratic capitalism to rule the world”. All this is in print here, its known. And the world needs to pay attention – if they can’t pay attention, they run the risk of being run over. And that’s the case.
What do you think are the chances that Americans themselves would somehow rise up and demand an end to all this?
I don’t think most Americans know what’s going on, or very many of them, but it could happen if the economy declines further, because employment opportunities here are dismal, people’s incomes are not rising, the prices are, there’s a lot of economic hurt in the country and if the economy were to suddenly worsen, then people could be very disturbed about Washington’s priorities and there could be change simply from deteriorating internal American economic circumstances. That certainly could bring a halt to Washington’s overseas ambitions.