That Pivots is Gold
By Pepe Escobar
February 02, 2013 "Information
- To quote the immortal line in Dashiell Hammett's
The Maltese Falcon, as filmed by John Huston, "Let's
talk about the black bird" - let's talk about a mysterious
bird made out of gold. Oh yes, because this is a film noir
worthy of Dashiell Hammett - involving the Pentagon,
Beijing, shadow wars, pivoting and a lot of gold.
Let's start with Beijing's official position; "We don't have
enough gold". That leads to China's current, frenetic buying
spree - which particularly in Hong Kong anyone can follow
live, in real time. China is already the top gold producing
and the top gold importing nation in the world.
Gold accounts for roughly 70% of reserves held by the US and
Germany - and more or less the same for France and Italy.
Russia - also on a buying spree - is slightly over 10%. But
China's percentage of gold among its whopping US$3.2
trillion reserves is only 2%.
Beijing is carefully following the current shenanigans of
the New York Federal Reserve, which, asked by the German
Bundesbank to return the German gold it is holding, replied
it would take at least seven years.
German financial journalist Lars Schall has been following
since the beginning, and virtually alone has made the
crucial connection between gold, paper money, energy
resources and the abyss facing the petrodollar.
Whenever Beijing says it needs more gold, this is justified
as a hedge "against risks in foreign reserves" - aka US
dollar fluctuation - but especially to "promote yuan
globalization". As in, suavely, having the yuan compete with
the US dollar and the euro "fairly"
in the "international market".
And here's the (elusive) heart of the matter. What Beijing
actually wants is to get rid of the US dollar peg. For that
to happen, it needs vast gold reserves. So here's Beijing
pivoting from the US dollar to the yuan - and trying to sway
vast swathes of the global economy to follow the path. This
golden rule is Beijing's Maltese Falcon: "The stuff dreams
are made of".
Have drone, will travel
Qatar also does pivoting - but of the MENA (Middle
East-Northern Africa) kind. Doha has been financing Wahhabis
and Salafis - and even Salafi-jihadis - as in North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) rebels in Libya, Free Syrian Army
gangs in Syria, and the pan-Islamic gang that took over
The State Department - and later the Pentagon - may have
woken up to it, as in the arrangement brokered by Doha and
Washington together to spawn a new, more palatable Syria
"coalition". But still very potent are those dangerous
liaisons between the francophile Emir of Qatar and the Quai
d'Orsay in Paris - which gathered plenty of steam already
during the reign of King Sarko, aka former French president
Every informed geopolitical observer has tracked leak after
leak by former French intelligence operatives to the
deliciously wicked satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine,
detailing Qatar's modus operandi. It's a no-brainer. Qatar's
foreign policy reads as Muslim Brotherhood Here, There and
Everywhere (but not inside the neo-feudal emirate); this is
Qatar's Maltese Falcon. At the same time Doha - to the
delight of French elites - is an avid practitioner of
hardcore neoliberalism, and a top investor in France's
So their interests may coalesce in promoting disaster
capitalism - successfully - in Libya and then - still
unsuccessfully - in Syria. Yet Mali is something else;
classic blowback - and that's where the interests of Doha
and Paris diverge (not to mention Doha and Washington; at
least if one does not assume that Mali has been the perfect
pretext for a renewed AFRICOM drive.)
Algerian media is awash in outrage,
questioning Qatar's agenda (in French). Yet the pretext
- as predicted - worked perfectly.
AFRICOM - surprise! - is on a roll, as the Pentagon gets
ready to set up a
drone base in Niger. That's the practical result of a
visit by AFRICOM's commander, General Carter Ham, to Niger's
capital Niamey only a few days ago.
Forget about those outdated PC-12 turbo props that have been
spying on Mali and Western Africa for years. Now it's
Predator time. Translation: chief-in-waiting John Brennan
plans a Central Intelligence Agency shadow war all across
the Sahara-Sahel. With permission from Mick Jagger/Keith
Richards, it's time to start humming a remixed hit: "I see a
grey drone/ and I want it painted black".
AFRICOM does Niger is indeed sweeter than cherry pie.
Northwest Niger is the site of all those uranium mines
supplying the French nuclear industry. And it's very close
to Mali's gold reserves. Imagine all that gold in an
"unstable" area falling into the hands of ... Chinese
companies. Beijing's Maltese Falcon moment of finally having
enough gold to dump the US dollar peg would be at hand.
The Pentagon even got permission for all its surveillance
gear to refuel in - of all places - crucial Agadez. The
French legion may have been doing the hard work on the
ground in Mali, but it's AFRICOM which will ultimately reap
the profits all across the Sahara-Sahel.
Don't you know about the (Asian) bird?
And that brings us to that famous pivoting to Asia - which
was supposed to be the number one geopolitical theme of the
Obama 2.0 administration. It may well be. But certainly
alongside AFRICOM pivoting all over the Sahara/Sahel in
drone mode, to Beijing's growing irritation; and
Doha-Washington pivoting in their support of the former
"terrorist" turned "freedom fighter", and vice-versa.
And we did not even mention the non-pivoting involved in
this noir plot; the Obama 2.0 administration keeping its
appalling embrace of the medieval House of Saud and
"stability in the Arabian peninsula", as recommended by an
usual suspect, a mediocre - yet influential - "veteran
Play it again, Sam. In that outstanding Maltese Falcon
scene at the start of our plot between Humphrey Bogart
(let's say he plays the Pentagon) and Sydney Greenstreet
(let's say he plays Beijing), the official is the goon, the
third guy in the picture. The pivoting to Asia is
essentially a product of
Andrew Marshall, an allegedly Yoda-like totem of US
Marshall has been behind the Revolution in Military Affairs
(RMA) - all of you Donald Rumsfeld freaks know about it -
failed Shock and Awe (which only served to destroy Iraq
almost beyond repair, even with disaster capitalism
involved); and now the concept called
Air Sea Battle.
Air Sea Battle's premise is that Beijing will attack US
forces in the Pacific, which is, frankly, ridiculous (even
with help from a monster false-flag operation). The US would
then retaliate via a "blinding campaign" - the naval
equivalent of Shock and Awe. Both the US Air Force and the
US Navy loved the concept because it implies a lot of
hardware spending to be stationed in plenty of sophisticated
Pacific bases, and in the high seas.
So even as David Petraeus-style counterinsurgency has
pivoted to John Brennan's CIA shadow wars, the real deal is
the pivoting to Asia; a pseudo-strategy, concocted to keep
the Pentagon budget at exorbitant levels, promoting a new
cold war with China. "They will never amass enough gold to
impose their evil plans", one could hear Marshall say about
China (without Bogart or Greenstreet's aplomb, of course).
Hammett would be appalled; Marshall's Maltese Falcon is the
stuff (war) dreams are made of.
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into
Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2008). He may be reached at
This article was originally posted at
Copyright 2013 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd.
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