The United States urged its NATO allies to vote against the UN General Assembly’s draft resolution calling for the initiation of negotiations on nuclear weapons prohibition and to ignore the talks in case they started in 2017, local media reported Wednesday.
“The United States calls on all allies and partners to vote against negotiations on a nuclear weapons treaty ban, not to merely abstain. In addition, if negotiations do commence, we ask allies and partners to refrain from joining them,” a letter obtained by the Kyodo news agency on Tuesday said.
The letter is said to be dated October 17.
According to the news agency, in case of enforcement of the nuclear weapons ban treaty, it could have a “direct impact” on the US capability to implement its commitments on the NATO and Pacific deterrence, as well as on the US partners’ and allies’ possibilities to participate in joint operations with nuclear-weapon states.
Earlier in October, a draft UN resolution on launching negotiations on nuclear weapons ban was introduced by delegations from Australia and other non-nuclear-weapon states.
According to Kyodo, over 50 states expressed support for the initiative by the end of the previous week.
The draft resolution is expected to be submitted for confirmation this week in order to be considered by the General Assembly at the plenary meeting in December.
On October 21, on the initiative of the UK, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) met to discuss the recent situation in Aleppo. The discussions demonstrated a huge divergence of opinions and views on the realities in Aleppo and the Syrian crisis as a whole.
HRC has been reviewing the Syrian file for more than four years now, but regrettably its assessments are becoming a far cry from reality due to the efforts of certain states, including those who call themselves the “Friends of Syria”, to politicize the matter. The current session has been a case study in this.
Instead of supporting the fight against international terrorism, the initiators of the HRC special session, as a matter of fact, tried to let the terrorists off the hook, save them from defeat and allow them to regroup and continue to commit atrocities in Syria. There is no other explanation for the fact that a HRC draft resolution didn’t demand the terrorists and militants cease hostilities, obstructing humanitarian access, using civilians as human shields, and stop preventing residents and medical workers from leaving the city via established humanitarian corridors.
Moreover, these countries tried to blame Russia for most of the developments in East Aleppo, while failing to pressure the rebels to abide by the ceasefire and respect humanitarian efforts. In fact, the whole situation in East Aleppo is held hostage to the terrorists designs.
Against this backdrop, the crimes committed by the US-led coalition are being silenced, despite their devastating strikes on civilians and Syrian army units. They are also systematically destroying the economic infrastructure in the Syrian Government-controlled areas (perhaps to make Syria depend on financial assistance for post-conflict reconstruction?). Now, it seems that ISIL fighters are being deliberately squeezed from Iraq’s Mosul into Syria.
Even more perplexing was the voting on Russia’s amendments to the HRC draft resolution. UK, France, Belgium and several other Western and Gulf countries flatly refused to admit the existence of foreign assistance to terrorists in Syria, to recognize the need to separate the jihadists from the moderate opposition (which is the subject matter being discussed by experts in Geneva as a follow-up to the recent multilateral talks in Lausanne) and to support the efforts of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to remove the jihadists from eastern Aleppo. Such a stance suggests that the public rhetoric of those governments on the need to fight international terrorism in Syria does not reflect their true intentions and goals.
Our Western partners should understand that using HRC for attaining their own political goals is counterproductive and discredits this vital human rights agency and the doctrine of human rights as a whole. We hope that they will eventually see reason, stop supporting the jihadists and start fighting against them, facilitate the separation of terrorists from the moderate opposition, help oust Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies from Aleppo, stop supplying terrorists with arms and recruits, and promote the continuation of inter-Syrian talks to eventually settle the conflict in Syria. It has to be understood that if al-Nusra leads the opposition on the battlefield, it will call the tune at the talks on the side of the opposition. We must not allow them dictate to Syria and the world.
On its part, Russia will continue working towards a political settlement in Syria through talks between Damascus and the opposition based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Gambia has followed in the footsteps of Burundi and South Africa by declaring its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The West African country’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang announced the decision on television Tuesday night, accusing the ICC of being biased against Africa.
Bojang said that the court — set up to pursue some of the world’s worst crimes — had been used “for the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders” while ignoring crimes committed by the West.
He singled out the case of Tony Blair, a former British prime minister, whom the ICC failed to indict over the 2003 Iraq war.
“There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted,” the Gambian minister said.
He said the tribunal was an “international Caucasian court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.”
The minister said Gambia has begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC, which involves notifying the United Nations secretary general and takes effect a year after the notification is received.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is ironically a former Gambian justice minister.
Only Africans have been charged in the six ICC cases that are ongoing or about to begin, though preliminary investigations have opened elsewhere, too.
The ICC has opened probes involving Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Uganda and Mali.
The International Criminal Court was set up in 2002 to try war criminals and the perpetrators of genocide.
Last Friday, the South African government gave a formal notice of its intention to pull out of the ICC. Earlier that week, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza had signed a decree to quit the court’s jurisdiction.
In the past week, Burundi and South Africa have joined Namibia in declaring their intention to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They are likely to be followed by a parade of other African countries, jeopardizing the future of an international court that has prosecuted 39 officials from eight African countries but has failed to indict a single person who is not African.
Ironically, African countries were among the first to embrace the ICC, so it is a striking turnaround that they are now the first to give up on it.
But it is the United States that has played the leading role in preventing the ICC from fulfilling the universal mandate for which it was formed, to hold officials of all countries accountable for the worst crimes in the world: genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes – not least the crime of international aggression, which the judges at Nuremberg defined as “the supreme international crime” from which all other war crimes follow.
As the ICC’s founding father, former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, lamented in 2011, “You don’t have to be a criminologist to realize that if you want to deter a crime, you must persuade potential criminals that, if they commit crimes, they will be hauled into court and be held accountable. It is the policy of the United States to do just the opposite as far as the crime of aggression is concerned. Our government has gone to great pains to be sure that no American will be tried by any international criminal court for the supreme crime of illegal war-making.”
The U.S. has not only refused to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC over its own citizens. It has gone further, pressuring other countries to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA), in which they renounce the right to refer U.S. citizens to the ICC for war crimes committed on their territory.
The U.S. has also threatened to cut off U.S. aid to countries that refuse to sign them. The BIAs violate those countries’ own commitments under the ICC statute, and the U.S. pressure to sign them has been rightly condemned as an outrageous effort to ensure impunity for U.S. war crimes.
Resistance to U.S. Impunity
To the credit of our international neighbors, this U.S. strategy has met with substantial resistance. The European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that BIAs are incompatible with E.U. membership, and urged E.U.- member states and countries seeking E.U. membership not to sign them.
Fifty-four countries have publicly refused to sign BIAs, and 24 have accepted cut-offs of U.S. aid as a consequence of their refusal. Of 102 countries that have signed a BIA, only 48 are members of the ICC in any case, and only 15 of those countries are on record as having ratified the BIAs in their own parliaments.
Thirty-two other ICC members have apparently allowed BIAs to take effect without parliamentary ratification, but this has been challenged by their own country’s legal experts in many cases.
The U.S. campaign to undermine the ICC is part of a much broader effort by the U.S. government to evade all forms of accountability under the laws that are supposed to govern international behavior in the modern world, even as it continues to masquerade as a global champion of the rule of law.
The treaties that U.S. policy systematically violates today were crafted by American statesmen and diplomats, working with their foreign colleagues, to build a world where all people would enjoy some basic protections from the worst atrocities, instead of being subject only to the law of the jungle or “might makes right.”
So current U.S. policy is a cynical betrayal of the work and wisdom of past generations of Americans, as well as of countless victims all over the world to whom we are effectively denying the protections of the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and other multilateral treaties that our country ignores, violates or refuses to ratify.
Avoiding the jurisdiction of international courts is only one of the ways that the U.S. evades international accountability for its criminal behavior. Another involves an elaborate and well-disguised public relations campaign that exploit the powerful position of U.S. corporations in the world of commercial media.
Major Propaganda Funding
The U.S. government spends a billion dollars per year on public relations or, more bluntly, propaganda, including $600 million from the Pentagon budget. The work of its P.R. teams and contractors is laundered by U.S. newspapers and repeated and analyzed ad nauseam by monolithic, flag-waving TV networks.
These profitable corporate operations monopolize the public airwaves in the U.S., and also use their financial clout, slick marketing and the support of the U.S. State Department to maintain a powerful presence in foreign and international media markets.
Foreign media in allied countries provide further legitimacy and credibility to U.S. talking-points and narratives as they echo around the world. Meanwhile, Hollywood fills cinema and TV screens across the world with an idealized, glamorized, inspirational version of America that still mesmerizes many people.
This whole elaborate “information warfare” machine presents the United States as a global leader for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, even as it systematically and catastrophically undermines those same principles. It enables our leaders to loudly and persuasively demonize other countries and their leaders as dangerous violators of international law, even as the U.S. and its allies commit far worse crimes.
Double Standards in Syria/Iraq
Today, for instance, the U.S. and its allies are accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes in east Aleppo, even as America’s own and allied forces launch a similar assault on Mosul. Both attacks are killing civilians and reducing much of a city to rubble; the rationale is the same, counterterrorism; and there are many more people in the line of fire in Mosul than in east Aleppo.
But the U.S. propaganda machine ensures that most Americans see one, in Mosul, as a legitimate counterterrorism operation (with Islamic State accused of using the civilians as “human shields”) and the other, in east Aleppo, as a massacre (with the presence of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the former Nusra Front, virtually whited out of the West’s coverage, which focuses almost entirely on the children and makes no mention of “human shields”).
The phrase “aggressive war” is also a no-no in the Western media when the U.S. government launches attacks across international borders. In the past 20 years, the U.S. has violated the U.N. Charter to attack at least eight countries (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria), and the resulting wars have killed about two million people.
A complex whirlwind of conflict and chaos rages on in all the countries where the U.S. and its allies have lit the flames of war since 2001, but U.S. leaders still debate new interventions and escalations as if we are the fire brigade not the arsonists. (By contrast, the U.S. government and the Western media are quick to accuse Russia or other countries of “aggression” even in legally murky situations, such as after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014 that ousted the elected president of Ukraine.)
Systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions are an integral part of U.S. war-making. Most are shrouded in secrecy, and the propaganda machine spins the atrocities that slip through into the public record as a disconnected series of aberrations, accidents and “bad apples,” instead of as the result of illegal rules of engagement and unlawful orders from higher-ups.
The senior officers and civilian officials who are criminally responsible for these crimes under U.S. and international law systematically abuse their powerful positions to subvert investigations, cover up their crimes and avoid any accountability whatsoever.
When British playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he bravely and brilliantly used his Nobel lecture to speak about the real role that the U.S. plays in the world and how it whitewashes its crimes. Pinter recounted a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in London in the 1980s in which a senior embassy official, Raymond Seitz, flatly denied U.S. war crimes against Nicaragua for which the U.S. was in fact convicted of aggression by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Seitz went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., and then Vice-Chairman of Lehman Brothers.
As Pinter explained: “this ‘policy’ was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.
“The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.
“Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.
“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”
If in 2016 the world seems to be more violent and chaotic than ever, it is not because the United States lacks the will to use force or project power, as both major party candidates for President and their military advisers appear to believe, but because our leaders have placed too much stock in the illegal threat and use of force and have lost faith in the rule of law, international cooperation and diplomacy.
After a century of commercial dominance, and 75 years of investing disproportionately in weapons, military forces and geopolitical schemes, perhaps it is understandable that U.S. leaders have forgotten how to deal fairly and respectfully with our international neighbors. But it is no longer an option to muddle along, leaving a trail of death, ruin and chaos in our wake, counting on an elaborate propaganda machine to minimize the blowback on our country and our lives.
Sooner rather than later, Americans and our leaders must knuckle down and master the very different attitudes and skills we will need to become law-abiding global citizens in a peaceful, sustainable, multipolar world.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
Imagine if the Islamic Republic of Iran, complaining that its regional rival Saudi Arabia was meddling in a neighbor’s politics for sectarian reasons, led a coalition to invade that country. As a result, after 18 months, at least 10,000 civilians had been killed or wounded, more than half the country’s people needed food aid and three million people had been displaced.
Sanctions would be leveled. Pundits would write agonized essays comparing the country to Nazi Germany. Sabers would be rattled. War would likely follow. However, when these roles are reversed and the Saudis and their Gulf allies are the aggressors, it’s a different story.
Why the double standard? Because the US is allied to the Saudi royals and the US was evicted from Iran. When a friend commits a war crime, excuses are made.
The numbers above are estimates made by the UN for the ongoing conflict in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia with significant help from the United States and Great Britain. The stated purpose of the intervention in the country is to fight Houthi forces from the north who are allied with former President Saleh.
The Houthis, most of whom are followers of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, took the country’s capital Sanaa on September 21st, 2014, forcing then-President Mansur Al-Hadi to flee, first to Aden and then on to Saudi Arabia. The argument made by the Saudis and their coalition partners, that the Houthis are Iranian proxies, is dubious at best but it’s being spread in western media as flat-out fact, allowing governments to turn a blind eye to the tragedy unfolding in the country.
Besides intelligence and targeting assistance provided to the Saudis in Yemen, since 2010 the US has sold $60 billion in arms to the country, an absolute monarchy with one of the worst human rights records in the world. Human rights groups have concluded that these weapons, including cluster munitions banned in most countries, have been used indiscriminately against civilian targets including markets, schools and hospitals.
Finally, after a year and a half of this, some in the US Congress found the political will to take a stand on this carnage. A bipartisan resolution in the US Senate co-sponsored by Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was crafted to block a new deal supplying the Kingdom with a further $1.15 billion in arms. Although having the vote at all showed some progress on this issue, it was defeated by a vote of 71-27 on September 21st.
The American people have a moral responsibility to contact their representatives and demand they vote to end their government’s support of the illegal intervention in the poorest country in the Middle East. Those who don’t care about the country’s suffering need to remember it’s also an issue of national security as both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Yemen’s newly established ISIS affiliate are growing in the chaos, something that should worry the whole world.
There can be no denial that over the last couple of years, anti-American sentiment across the globe has been on the rise. And even though Western corporate media sources are trying to push the blame on Russian journalists, they alone could hardly ever achieve such an effect.
Today a typical list of accusations against the US includes its invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and also includes claims that Washington has been sponsoring terrorists as well as exporting weapons to the countries sponsoring terrorists.
The US presidential campaign, riddled with scandals and delusional statements, has clearly demonstrated that something fundamental has gone wrong with “American style-democracy.”
As it’s been noted by The American Spectator, voters these days see no equality before the law in America. What we’ve witnessed in recent years is incompatible with the values of the Founding Fathers who promoted the idea of inalienable rights. The backlash among voters has been illustrated during this presidential election There is growing resentment of the “political class,” and an increased distrust -. and even fear – of government. Unfortunately, there appears to be ample justification for this feeling. Fear of corruption in government far outpaced fears of terrorism, financial insecurity, and even illness or death of a loved one. Many Americans now see government not as the keepers of justice and peace, not as servants of the people, but as a corrupt entity and menace.
Such frustration is further aggravated by the dissatisfaction of 41% of the US population with the way the Obama administration is addressing the most pressing problems of the population, as it has been shown by the latest Gallup poll. In addition, growing anti-American sentiments in the regions affected by Washington’s aggressive policies (in particular, in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America), resulted in nearly universal hatred of the United States even where people originally had sympathy towards Washington.
A vivid example of this development is Ukraine, which the White House has been governing over since 2014 as if it were an additional state, appointing the government while making all the important decisions regarding this nation’s fate.
According to the self-exiled Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash who has found refuge in Austria, “the Ukrainians will soon realize that all of their troubles – bitter taxes, unemployment, and all the reforms that failed have been brought upon them by the United States. And when they do, there will be no nation that will hate America more than Ukraine in the whole world. It’s only a matter of time. “
The international human rights organization known as Human Rights Action (HRA) has recently published a report that displayed migration numbers that shocked Kiev. Since the beginning of this year, more than three million Ukrainian citizens have moved to Russia. The vast majority of those fleeing their homeland are migrant workers wishing to obtain a work permission in Russia. Experts predict that by the middle of 2017 the number of people leaving Ukraine will increase by at least 50%.
However, those leaving Ukraine are not just migrant workers. The protracted armed crackdown on the ethnic Russian population in the east of the country has become a breeding ground for all sorts of militants, that are now trying to escape the ever-deepening economic, social and financial crisis in Ukraine. These people have been disillusioned by the West and are willing to do all kinds of “work” for various extremist and terrorist organizations for even moderate pay. These militants are now capable of launching all sorts of terrorist attacks both in the US and in Europe.
They won’t find it difficult to get their hands on all sorts of weapons either, since Kiev forces have been illegally shipping everything they can sell to terrorists to the most distant parts of the world, as has been reported by various Western media sources, including Reuters.
Over the past year, the Internet has been filled with reports that ISIS has been infiltrating the territory of Ukraine, where terrorist groups have been establishing training camps and storage facilities while actively recruiting new members. This fact, in particular, was stressed by the representatives of the Crimean administration at a meeting with 11 French parliamentarians, led by a deputy of the National Assembly, Thierry Mariani, last July. In a situation with Ukraine, a special role in supporting terrorists played by local militant organizations, mainly consisting of the Crimean Tatars, who, under the leadership of Mustafa Dzhemilev and Lenur Islyamova, are using the connivance of lawlessness that reigns in Ukraine today to establish a new wing of ISIS.
Israel is reportedly refusing to sign a US document on the use and export guidelines of armed drones, fearing it would hurt its defense industries. The State Department paper aims to establish international standards in the production and selling of UAVs.
The one-page document, titled “Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),” covers a number of topics regarding the selling and usage of drone systems, according to Defense News.
Those topics include applying international law and human rights when using UAVs; following existing arms control laws in selling armed drone systems; considering the buyer country’s history on “adherence to international obligations and commitments”; following “appropriate transparency measures”; and ensuring the sold unmanned system’s capabilities are “transferred and used responsibly by all states.”
The document has been provided to countries which are considered to be US allies and has already been signed by over 40 nations, including Austria, Germany and Italy.
Israel, however, has so far refused to sign the document, with sources in the country’s defense industry telling Haaretz that the sector is concerned it could limit the nation’s export business.
Israel is potentially already facing a loss of business when it comes to drone exports, following the admission of India to the multilateral Missile Technology Control Regime by the US – a move which removes barriers to the sale of American UAVs to the country.
Following India’s admission into the regime, Delhi has shown an interest in acquiring the US-made Predator drone rather than Israeli UAVs.
Another threat to Israel’s share of the drone market includes a lawsuit by the American firm General Atomics, which is aiming to block the lease of the Israeli Heron TP drone to Germany.
However, a senior air force official told Haaretz that Israel still has one advantage when it comes to drones – the promise for the country’s drone squadron to train buyers of Israeli UAVs, as Israel’s air force is considered a world leader in the field.
In addition to its efforts to maintain its stronghold in the market, Israel is also seeking to have limitations placed on information regarding its deployment of drones. When German MPs demanded answers regarding Berlin’s lease of Heron TP drones earlier this year, they were denied information and told the matter was considered confidential by Israel, and that any information was subject to limitations imposed by Tel Aviv.
Yes, there will be election fraud, and on a grand scale
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | October 23, 2016
It is a virtual certainty that the American establishment will resort to election fraud to help Hillary Clinton. They simply do not know what to do about Donald Trump. America’s election system was not designed to handle a phenomenon like him, a non-politician, a man with some genuinely fresh anti-establishment views, who quickly rides a wave of popularity to do a hostile take-over, as it were, of a major old-line party.
America’s election system is designed to give the theater of democracy with virtually none of the substance, but even in the face of that reality, election fraud in America still has a long history. Even though we are usually talking about two establishment candidates representing two establishment parties, the competitive instincts of the two rival gangs, each eagerly seeking power and privileges and appointed offices for themselves and their adherents, have often resulted in vote fraud. How much greater is the impulse now in that direction to defend against a candidate who actually wants to change something?
Despite an unprecedented spectacle of the press acting as a national public disinformation system united in one goal, to discredit Trump, including even polls deliberately engineered with sampling errors to give a false view of what is happening, and a massive effort to build Hillary up into something she is not, a decent human being, the momentum for Trump continues.
Even if you don’t have reliable numbers, you can just feel it from the very desperation of the establishment. The President spends much of his time flying around making insipid speeches for his party, the newspapers leap to publish every unconfirmed negative report about Trump or such absolute trivia as this or that movie star or pop star saying what an awful man Trump is. And you have to ask where all these voices were during decades of business deals in the great cities of America and other places which saw successful projects springing up all over with fanfare and publicity.
No, it is only now that the establishment actually feels the hot breath of popular revolt against much of what it has done over the last two decades – its uniquely poisonous policy brew of constant war and completely ignoring most Americans – that we get this explosion of rumors, unproved accusations, and Joseph McCarthy-style innuendo. Before that, Trump was a highly productive member of society welcome at public events of every kind. After all, wealth and celebrity are always welcome in America. It is only change that is not.
Critics are right about a lot of unpleasant things in America, and their voices are simply not heard in its tight little press oligopoly. Is America’s establishment right about Syria? About Libya? About Yemen? About Israel? About NATO? About Russia? China? Being right in America today can be quite lonely.
America invented marketing. It is one of its few truly original contributions to culture. And the arts of marketing are intensely at work in politics there, to the extent there is often almost no substance despite all the carefully-packaged words. The immediate period after an American election resembles the experience of a person who has purchased a new product which quickly proves to work nothing like the advertising promises said it would.
American elections closely resemble a marketing battle between two oligopolistic corporations, as between Coke and Pepsi or McDonald’s and Burger King. There are only two parties and that situation is controlled through countless institutional and regulatory gimmicks put into place by the two parties themselves.
America’s campaign financing system is a deliberate and effective method to discourage the birth or growth of any new parties. It is what economists call a barrier to entry into a market, the kind of thing which keeps non-political oligopolistic markets from becoming more competitive. The little ones are allowed to just struggle along on the margins for appearances and owing to the disproportionately high cost of eliminating them too.
Most of the noise and intensity of American elections is just hollow, but it is the kind of stuff to which Americans are exposed in their economic life, day-in or day-out, so for ordinary people without the time to be well-informed, nothing could sound more normal.
That is what is so different about Trump. Despite his flaws and distasteful tendency to be a bigmouth, on some really important matters, matters of life and death, he is speaking truth and speaking it plainly. There is a kind of revolutionary quality in parts of his message. Of course, this in part reflects the fact that he has never before been a politician, only a successful, hard-nosed actor in the economic sphere.
That is something new in American elections, and the establishment is rather shaken by it. Therefore, the American press has created and sustained an unparalleled campaign of highly biased and even vicious reporting and commentary.
People abroad do not realize that about 90% of what Americans hear comes from just six big companies, none of whom, you may be sure, is interested in change and especially anything even slightly revolutionary. National broadcasting and national press have been so consolidated through years of massive mergers that there is no real alternative voice reaching most Americans.
And those huge news corporations – intimate members of the establishment, always supporting the government of the day in its imperial wars and projects – have made a concerted effort to diminish and demean Trump. Equally, they have universally praised and supported Clinton, despite her dark record of unethical personal behavior and violent public acts, despite having been responsible for the deaths of thousands of women and their families.
Never mind Trump’s private off-color remarks, here is a woman married for decades to a genuine sexual predator, a man who was having sex with a young intern right in the Oval Office. And she wants to bring him back into affairs in Washington, having promised to give him responsibility for economy?
Why did she tolerate decades of his disgraceful and even criminal behavior? Because it gave her serious leverage over him in office, whether as Governor of Arkansas or President of the United States. We have a hundred voices telling us of her violent temper and demands and the central role she would assume even though elected to no office.
She has always been about one thing only, and that is to enjoy power over others which she has exercised with brutal intensity, all while maintaining a bug-eyed, laughing face in public. She is without question a genuine sociopath.
Even when we see fascinating revelations about her inside political maneuvering and dishonesty from leaks on the Internet, the national press manages largely to ignore them or to diminish them. They do not catch fire. The techniques of public relations and damage control – outgrowths of marketing principles and psychological manipulation techniques – are employed to suffocate any fires.
We do see signs that the Internet is starting to have some real impact with the general population, and to the extent that is true, we also see the establishment working towards suppressing alternate and independent voices on the Internet by a variety of means.
America uses an awkward expression, “controlling the narrative,” to describe what the establishment is quietly undertaking, always trying not to assume the open appearance of old Soviet-style suppression of information or the promotion of heavy-handed disinformation while in fact assuming the substance of their purpose.
In the longer term, I am not convinced they can succeed. The Internet is an almost uncontrollable force, that is unless you actually suppress and control aspects of the Internet itself, something recent remarks by Obama – a man who is a strict disciple of secrecy and inner-sanctum privilege – suggest in vague and politically-correct language, there may well be efforts underway towards that goal.
This fact only adds to the importance of this election. If Trump loses, there can be no doubt, the secretive, manipulative, and ruthless Hillary Clinton will commission whatever efforts are required for information suppression. After all, a person ruthlessly pursuing war and secretive manipulation of world affairs can never be a friend to openness and truth, which are literally enemies of such goals.
The entire business of terror and fighting terror offers a great deal of latitude this way, suppression in the name of fighting terror, the great irony, of course, for America being that it does not consistently fight terror, it frequently employs it as a tool of statecraft. We’ve seen that in my lifetime in everything from the long covert battle against Castro and the hideous, pointless war in Vietnam to the employment of jihadists in Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria.
For some genuine history of American vote fraud, readers should see my lengthy comment on Obama’s recent speech, in which he told Trump to “stop whining.”
Since the collapse of the USSR, and the inception of the unipolar world order with the United States at its center, the term ‘benevolent hegemony’ has entered the lexicon of international relations and geopolitics. The full fleshing out of this idea was revealed in the 1996 essay by American neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, ‘Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy’. Its essence is an excuse for the United States to pursue whichever diplomatic and military means are believed to forward the goals of an American Empire, on the basis that unlike past empires, this one is not based on the prestige of the American people, or indeed any given leader, but instead on a set of ‘universal values and principles’ which are supposedly positive for all who live under them. One need only look at the neoconservatives themselves and come to the conclusion that they certainly do not represent the interests of the American people, as their international operations rarely have any positive impact for working men and women, and in fact very often engender negative consequences for them. Nor could it be said that neoconservatives aid the prestige of a given leader, as their legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed the presidential legacy of George W. Bush, and notably his British ally Tony Blair.
This is excusable of course, because it has never been claimed by the neoconservative establishment that their policies are crafted with these people in mind. They are in aid of an ideology, and because most Westerners suffer under the delusion that this ideology is itself benevolent, then the means that America uses to propagate and expand its influence must also be benevolent. Slowly however, this facade is beginning to peel away.
Tom Rogan, a foreign policy analyst for the neoconservative publication National Review recently penned an article describing ‘Three Ways the US Can Save Syria‘. Obviously this is in response to the fact that America is being defeated in the country, the Syrian Army’s gradual recapture of Aleppo being just the latest blow to the terrorist rebel groups agitating against the legitimate government. If President Assad ends the insurgency of terrorists, then the American Empire loses not only in terms of its original geopolitical goals which spurred its meddling, but in terms of international prestige, especially among the nations of the Middle East. In light of this, Rogan’s urgent recommendations make sense, but in his zeal he gives the world a very clear picture of what ‘benevolent hegemony’ looks like.
The first recommendation concerns the oil market. Russia, the key counter-force to the United States in Syria, has been economically harmed by a dramatic dip in global oil prices, Russia is presently in talks with OPEC members about capping oil production, which would raise the price back up to reasonable levels. Rogan proposes diplomatic interference with this effort (mainly involving Saudi Arabia) in order to do as much economic damage to Russia as possible. The carrot he wishes to lead the Saudis with is the proposal for surface-to-air missiles given to allied rebel groups in Syria, but could just as easily be more rockets for Saudi aircraft to target funerals in Yemen.
Consider how benevolent this is; the stated aim being to wound a sovereign nation’s economy and by extension its people, the means being to arm dangerous groups within a sovereign nation in order that they can kill more civilian and government targets.
The second recommendation is perhaps the most alarming, as it can be perceived to be a direct terror threat against the nation of Turkey and its president, Tayyip Erdogan. Rogan acknowledges that after the failed July coup orchestrated against America’s own supposed NATO ally, the country does not trust the US, and is seeking to mend relations with Russia. For a long time, the relationship between Syria and Turkey was decidedly negative, but as the war has dragged on and millions of the displaced have flooded across borders with no checks on their movement, Ankara knows that stability in Syria is in fact vital to its own national security interests, and has thus moved away from its previous position on the conflict. In response to this setback, Rogan has the following proposition:
“Here America’s golden ticket is the Kurds — specifically, U.S. armament support to Kurdish militias such as the Syrian-based YPG. At present, the U.S. carefully qualifies its support to the YPG to mollify the Turks. Erdogan fears U.S. support will enable the YPG and other Kurdish forces to destabilize Turkey’s southern frontier. And to some degree he is right. But if Erdogan wants to play us, we should play him.”
In case the severity of this is not clear, the insinuation is that if Turkey does not end rapprochement with Russia and pursue an aggressively anti-Assad agenda, the American military should arm groups it knows may conduct violent attacks against the Turkish state. Is there any way this cannot be taken as blackmail via terror, and if so how benevolent is such a proposal?
The third recommendation is to supply “humanitarian airlifts” to rebel-held areas of Syria. Rogan recollects the Bush-era airlifts to Georgia during the 2008 crisis, but there is a key difference between the two scenarios. In 2008, Georgia was a sovereign nation undergoing an incredibly complex regional dispute with breakaway provinces, but nevertheless the government there invited American assistance. This is not the case in Syria, where the government has expressed no permission for America to even enter its airspace, an international norm which the American Air Force has been violating for over a year now. In fact, in the wake of the brutal air assault on Deir el-Zour which killed 62 Syrian soldiers, President Assad has been even more strident in making its long-held case that Western powers are working hand-in-glove with ISIS. This proposal more than the other two brings the world dangerously close to a conflict that nobody wants to even entertain, as Rogan recommends escorting these “humanitarian airlifts” with “fighter patrols” who would challenge Russian air superiority. Is laying the groundwork for WWIII benevolent?
Rogan finishes his essay by explaining that the goal of these dangerous pieces of foreign policy advice is to express “that America is unwilling to cede Syria to Russia”, apparently indulging in a fantasy that America ever possessed Syria, and indeed with a staggering sense of authority that the entire nation of Syria is something which can and should be possessed by America.
This is the not the first example of this kind of rhetoric coming from mainstream Western think-tanks and foreign policy journals which are intricately tied into the workings of the US State Department, however it is one of the less varnished ones. There is not even the mask of benevolence present in these proposals; they are dangerous, lawless, and cynical. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she has made clear that this is the course she will take.
In a secret speech to Goldman Sachs which was revealed by Wikileaks, Clinton admitted the following regarding a no-fly zone in Syria:
“They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians”
And yet, even with this understanding, Hillary Clinton maintains support for the institution of a no-fly zone. Donald Trump of course represents the antithesis of such a hazardous foreign policy, abandoning the commitments of neoconservatives and their ideology, in order to focus on the various internal problems that his country faces. Even so we cannot rely on a Trump victory, for by now we are all aware of the Clinton campaign’s ability to martial all of her friends and colleagues in the Orwellian media, as well as stoop to even more subversive means to steal an election result. We must assume the worst, and thus we must assume and anticipate President Clinton and her craven approach to geopolitics. De-constructing the myth of ‘benevolent hegemony’ is an important part of this anticipation, and writers like Rogan help with this effort in their bungling inability to bejewel the ugly reality of the Atlanticist designs upon the Middle East and indeed the wider world.
Dropping the pretense of benevolence, this is just hegemony, and when we look at its consequences not just for the suffering people of Syria, but also Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc. then perhaps these outlets ought to be more accurate and deem such projects ‘malevolent hegemony’ instead.
Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations has held the Israel regime responsible for the desperate plight of the Palestinian nation and exacerbation of tensions in the Middle East.
“The illegal and brutal Israeli occupation continues and causes so much anguish to the Palestinian people, and dangerously inflames tensions on the volatile situation in the region. The Israeli regime continues to breach international law, including humanitarian and human rights. By doing so, it inflicts widespread suffering to civilians and deliberately destabilizes the situation, with far–reaching and serious consequences for peace and security in the Middle East and beyond,” Gholam Ali Khoshroo stated at a Security Council Open Debate on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” on Wednesday.
He further lambasted the Tel Aviv regime’s systematic violations of Palestinians’ rights and international law, including house demolitions, forced displacement of civilians, detentions of minors, and incessant provocations by illegal settlers and extremists at revered sites, particularly al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Khoshroo said the Israeli regime has continually intensified its illegal and oppressive measures against the defenseless Palestinian population over the past years, killed and injured many civilians, and deprived Palestinians of their right to protection.
The Iranian diplomat then pointed to Israel’s settlement expansion activities in the occupied West Bank, stating that they are in clear breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constitute war crimes under Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and demonstrate that Israel has never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians and its participation in the so-called peace process has only been aimed at covering up its policy of aggression.
Turning to Israel’s blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip, the Iranian UN ambassador said the siege “is causing massive deprivation, hopelessness and a grave humanitarian crisis. The destructive impact of such Israeli violations is immense as reflected in rising tensions, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and deepening among the Palestinian civilian population.”
Khoshroo also blamed illegal foreign intervention, extremism and violence for the ongoing conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“These problems have persisted and deepened because the international community has failed to do its part in dealing with the root causes, and naive trans-regional players have done erroneous actions,” he pointed out.
Saudi Arabia’s military aggression on Yemen
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khoshroo referred to Riyadh’s aerial bombardment campaign against its crisis-hit southern neighbor, stressing that the airstrikes have killed or permanently maimed thousands of civilians, including women and children, displaced millions of people, and turned Yemen from a disadvantaged country into a devastated one.
“All these horrendous and heinous attacks, which display total disregard for human life and international law are happening under the watch of Security Council, which has failed to take any action to stop them,” the Iranian diplomat said.
Saudi Arabia has been engaged in an atrocious campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The United Nations puts the death toll from the onslaught at about 10,000.
Russia insists two Belgium warplanes flying from an Air Force base in Jordan attacked a village in Syria, citing radar data. Belgium denies conducting any airstrikes.
Brussels’ continued denial of the jets movements in the area is Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput “deliberately deceiving people in Belgium and elsewhere in the world, or his subordinates and the Americans are lying to the leadership of Belgium,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said.
An airstrike on the village of Hassadjek in Aleppo province reportedly killed six civilians on Tuesday. Russia has now reiterated its accusations against Belgium, saying data from Russian and Syrian radar stations confirm it.
The two Belgian F-16 jets accused of the attack flew from the Muwaffaq Salti Airbase in Jordan, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said, adding that they were immediately identified.
“Every aircraft type has a unique identifiable signature,” he said.
The Belgian warplanes delivered their strike at the village at 12:35 GMT, about two hours after the take-off, the general said. The attack left six civilians killed and four others injured. The jets were later refueled by a US KC-135 tanker, continued patrolling around the city of Azaz in northwestern Syria and then flew towards Iraq, Konashenkov added.
Belgium earlier denied Russia’s accusations, saying none of its six warplanes contributing to the US-led coalition had flown over the region. The Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Brussels to voice its protest.
For a country relatively remote from the world’s trouble spots, Australia throughout its short history since European settlement in the late Eighteenth Century has shown a remarkable capacity to involve itself in other people’s wars. With the possible exception of Japan in World War II none of these wars have posed a threat to Australia’s national security.
In the 1850s, Australia provided troops on behalf of the British in the Crimean War at a time when few Australians would have been able to locate Crimea on a map. Ironically, Tony Abbott as Prime Minister this decade was willing to commit troops to Ukraine, again over Crimea.
But Australian knowledge of historical and geopolitical realities in Crimea appeared no greater in 2014 than in the 1850s. The major difference was the infinitely greater threat to Australia’s national security if such a foolhardy plan had occurred in 2014 and Australian troops had found themselves confronting Russian forces.
Australian troops were also committed to the Boer War in South Africa, World Wars I and II, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, to name just the major conflicts. All of these involvements had two major characteristics in common: at no point (with the possible exception of Japan 1942-45) were Australia’s borders or national security threatened; and each involvement was at the behest of a foreign imperial power, often on entirely spurious grounds. The last four named conflicts above – Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – had the added dimension of being contrary to international law.
A common justification advanced in support of these foreign adventures is that they constitute a form of insurance policy, with the deaths of tens of thousands of Australian servicemen and women being the premium that has to be paid. If we do not pay these premiums, the argument runs, the “policy” expires and our “great and powerful friends” – the United Kingdom and more recently the United States – will not come to our aid if and when we are, in turn, attacked.
It has never been clear just who these aggressors might be, despite endless manufactured potential foes, nor why Australia feels the need to base its foreign policy thus when scores of countries do not feel similarly threatened nor feel the need to pay such a price for their “security.”
The capacity to have an intelligent debate about whether or not there are other, and better, options, is severely hampered by a number of factors. One of the major factors is the concentration of ownership of the mainstream print media. The Murdoch empire controls 70 percent of the nation’s newspapers and is run by someone who is now an American citizen and no longer resides in Australia. The bulk of the balance is controlled by the Fairfax family who at least reside in Australia.
This concentration of ownership results in a degree of uniformity of opinion that Stalin would have recognized and appreciated. There is a greater diversity of media ownership and opinion in modern Russia than there is in Australia, yet the relentless message in the Australian media is that Russia is an authoritarian state where dissent from an all powerful Vladimir Putin is discouraged or worse. Such a view would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.
The Pervasive ‘Group Think’
Academia is little better. The universities and the so-called “think tanks” rely heavily on subsidies from their American equivalents, or from Australian government departments committed to the government’s policies. There is an obvious reluctance to criticize, for example, American foreign policy when such criticism endangers funding sources, promotions, and comfortable sabbaticals in the U.S.
A recent example of the intellectual drivel that this can lead to was found in the recent publication of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute entitled “Why Russia is a Threat to the International Order,” authored by Paul Dibb, a former spymaster. It was an ill-informed discussion all too typical of what passes for foreign policy analysis. Not only did it demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of Russian strategic policy, it wholly accepted and American-centered view of the world.
In Dibb’s world, the Americans only act from the best of intentions and for the benefit of the people unfortunate enough to to be the object of their attentions. Any analysis of the way U.S. foreign policy is actually practiced is air brushed from the reader’s attention. The treatment of Ukraine is instructive in this regard.
Dibb completely ignores the February 2014 American-organized and financed coup that removed the legitimate Yanukovich government from power. Dibb ignores the military agreement that provided for the stationing of Russian troops in Crimea; that Crimea had for centuries been part of Russia until Khrushchev “gifted” Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 (without consulting the Crimeans); the overwhelming support in two referenda to secede from Ukraine and apply to rejoin the Russian Federation; the discriminatory treatment of the largely Russian-speaking population of the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine; and the Kiev regime’s systematic violation of the Minsk Accords designed to find a peaceable solution to the Ukrainian conflict.
Instead, he writes that Russia’s “invasion” and “annexation” of Crimea and its attempt through military means to detach the Donbass region in the eastern part of Ukraine have to be seen as a fundamental challenge to the post-war sanctity of Europe’s borders. Such historical revisionism and detachment from reality is unfortunately not confined to Dibb. It is all too common in the Australian media in all its forms.
A selective view of the world, of which Dibb is but one example, extends to a sanitizing of the U.S.’s role in post-war history. The U.S. has bombed, invaded, undermined, overthrown the governments of, and destroyed more countries and killed more people in the process over the past 70 years than all other countries in the world combined. Its disregard for international law, all the while proclaiming the importance of a “rules based system,” is well documented.
A particularly egregious but far from unique example is the war in Syria in which Australia is also involved, even to the comical extent of admitting culpability in the “mistaken” bombing of Syrian government troops at Door Ez Zair.
That the bombing was not a mistake but rather, as several commentators have pointed out (although never in the Australian media), was much more likely to have been a deliberate sabotaging by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s Pentagon element of the American war machine of the Kerry-Lavrov negotiated partial ceasefire.
Syrian intelligence has reported intercepts of communications between the U.S. military and the jihadist terrorists immediately before the bombing in which their respective actions were coordinated. The bombing was followed by immediate terrorist attacks on Syrian army positions in the area and is highly unlikely to have been a coincidence.
Cozy with Terrorists
This is, of course, consistent with American policy in Syria from the outset. The U.S. government has sought to maintain a ludicrous distinction between “moderate” terrorists and the rest.
Before the Russian intervention at the end of September 2015, the U.S. managed to avoid actually stopping the Islamic State advance through large swathes of Syrian territory, and together with Washington’s Saudi and Qatari allies have trained, financed and armed the terrorists from the outset. All of which is part of a pattern of U.S. support for terrorists, as long as they support U.S. strategic goals.
No such analysis appears in the Australian mainstream media which maintains an unswerving allegiance to only one form of analysis. This dangerous group think and intolerance of dissent is exemplified in a recent article by Peter Hartcher, the senior political correspondent of the Fairfax media.
Hartcher described what he called “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows” by which he meant opponents in Australia of a war with China. The “rats” were politicians “compromised by China’s embrace”; the “flies” are the “unwitting mouthpieces for the interests of the Chinese regime”; the mosquitoes were Australian business people “so captivated by their financial interests that they demand Australia assume a kowtow position”; the “sparrows” were Chinese students and Australia-Chinese associations that exist “specifically to spread China’s influence.”
In Hartcher’s view all four groups were “pests” that needed to be eradicated. To call this reversion to the worst elements of 1950s McCarthyism is probably to do the late junior Senator from Wisconsin a disservice.
Were it simply a case of ignorance it might be simply consigned to the scrap heap where it richly belongs. But it is representative of the same mindset that has led Australia into so many disastrous foreign policy misadventures that it cannot be ignored. Another reason it cannot be ignored is that it represents and affects a widely held view among Australian politicians.
The demonization of Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular is clearly evident in the reporting of the situation in Ukraine and Syria. The ignoring of history and the inversion of reality is the default position. Everything that Russia does is a manifestation of its “aggression.” Putin is commonly described as a “dictator” and the appalling Hillary Clinton even compared him with Hitler.
That there is not a shred of evidence to support the many wild allegations against President Putin does not prevent their regular repetition in the Western media.
Ignoring International Law
Similar blindness is evident with regard to the reporting on Syria. Australia is manifestly in breach of the United Nations Charter in its participation in the attacks upon the Syrian government and its forces. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s laughable defense of the presence of the Australian military in Syria, the central plank of which was specifically denied by the Iraqi government, was nonetheless accepted without question by the Australian mainstream media.
There is more preposterous posturing over the South China Sea. The much vaunted “freedom of navigation” demanded for shipping in the South China Sea (although no one can point to a single instance of civilian maritime traffic being hindered in any way) is a concept selectively applied. Just ask a Cuban, Palestinian or Yemeni if freedom of navigation is their recent or current experience of American policy.
Australia partakes annually in a U.S.-led naval exercise, Operation Talisman Sabre that rehearses the blockading of the Malacca Straits, a vital seaway for China that along with dozens of military bases (including in Australia), missile systems surrounding China, free trade agreements that pointedly exclude the world’s largest trading nation, and many other aspects designed to “contain” China, are not the activities of a peacefully oriented nation.
Australia not only participates in clearly provocative actions, but the 2015 Defense White Paper is clearly predicated on planning a war with China. Public statements by senior defense personnel, both civilian and military, reflect a militaristic mindset vis-a-vis China that can only be described as magical thinking given the military capacity of the Peoples Republic of China to obliterate Australia within 30 minutes of hostilities actually breaking out is only part of the problem.
That such thinking takes place in a context where China, the perceived enemy, is also the country’s largest trading partner by a significant margin and the source of much of Australia’s prosperity over the past 40 years reveals a strategic conundrum that the politicians have singularly failed to come to grips with. Worse, it is not even considered a matter worthy of sustained serious discussion.
By its conduct both in Syria and the South China Sea, Australia runs the risk of becoming involved in a full-scale shooting war with both Russia and China. Viewed objectively, there is little doubt that in any such conflagration Russia and China enjoy significant military advantages. Even that superiority is not to be entertained. Instead, Australia pursues the purchase of hugely expensive submarines and F-35 fighter planes the strategic and military value of which is at best dubious and more probably, useless.
What then is the benefit to Australia of constantly putting itself in a position where the best it could hope for would be collateral damage? No rational human being would advance on a course of action where the detriments so significantly outweigh the benefits, so why should a nation be any different?
With its crumbling infrastructure, endless wars that it regularly loses, a corrupt money-dominated political culture, technologically inferior weaponry and enormous burgeoning debt, the U.S. is hardly a model protector. To believe otherwise is simply delusional.
As the U.S.-based Russian blogger Dimitry Orlov has recently pointed out, Russia’s international conduct is governed by three basic principles: using military force as a reactive security measure; scrupulous adherence to international law; and seeing military action as being in the service of diplomacy. That clearly does not accord with the relentless misinformation Australians are constantly fed but to confuse propaganda with reality is a dangerous basis upon which to formulate foreign policy.
China is also choosing a radically different path in its international relations. The One Belt, One Road, or New Silk Road initiatives, associated as they are with a range of other developments, the significance of which most Australians barely grasp, has the capacity to transform the world’s financial, economic and geopolitical structures in a remarkably short time.
The choice for Australia is stark. Does it persist in aligning itself with what the late Malcolm Fraser accurately called a “dangerous ally”? Or does it recognize that the world upon which its comfortable and dangerous illusions are based is rapidly changing and adjust its alliances accordingly.
At the moment Australia has the luxury of choice, but it is an opportunity that will vanish very quickly. Unfortunately, the lesson of history is that Australia will again make the wrong choice.
James O’Neill is a former academic and has practiced as a barrister since 1984. He writes on geopolitical issues, with a special emphasis on international law and human rights. He may be contacted at email@example.com.