History has its ironies. At precisely the moment the people of Scotland were being allowed peacefully to decide their future within the United Kingdom, a joint session of the U.S. Congress was giving standing ovations to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who, if taken seriously, was calling for brutal suppression of a minority in his country seeking similar freedom.
The Western opposition to Russian- speakers in Ukraine seeking the right to some form of autonomy has been extraordinary. Few of our politicians and commentators would even think of condemning the moves in Scotland, Catalonia or Quebec seeking independence, or the many moves to autonomy based on cultural, language or historical differences within the EU nations.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the years the “black information” people in the U.S. and U.K. governments have had some spectacular successes — the myth that the Vietnam War was due to Beijing using Hanoi as a puppet to head its advance into Asia, that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction, that Kosovar ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo was in fact Serbian ethnic cleansing of Kosovars, and now the claims that Moscow was responsible for the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine. But the greatest achievement of them all still has to be the myth of a June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre, with talk of hundreds if not thousands of protesting students mowed down by military machine guns.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s hard to understand the rationale for the Western, and Japanese, sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Moscow says it wants a federal system of government giving more power to semi-autonomous regional units. And many in the West say they would support something similar. Even Kiev sees it as one acceptable outcome of the constitutional referendum it plans for May 25. So why the sanctions and all the heavy breathing?
The best answer we can get from Washington is that while it supports decentralization, it opposes too much power being given to the regions since this will favor Moscow in the traditionally pro-Russia east of the nation.… Seguir leyendo »
Western criticisms of Russia’s move into Ukraine’s Crimea region reek of double standards. In the first place, Moscow was simply moving to regain control of a pro-Russian territory it had rather generously handed over to Ukraine back in 1954 when conditions were very different.
Its move is criticized as a breach of international law and a violation of Ukraine sovereignty. So the arbitrary 1954 Soviet move was in accord with international law and sovereignty? Besides, Western powers have often moved much less politely and with much less justification to take over territories belonging to others.
The contradictions over Ukraine are even greater.… Seguir leyendo »
Edward Snowden, the discloser of U.S. National Security Agency secrets, now has the New York Times and some other U.S. voices urging he be allowed to return to his home country. But will he be welcome? I once found myself in the same situation as he, and know something about the dilemma he faces.
I too was brought up in the post-Nurenberg belief that loyalty to one’s principles outranked loyalty to one’s nation-tribe. Wrongs and evils should be exposed, regardless. But somewhere along the line things changed. Our democratic nation-tribes were incapable of doing wrong; it was “the others” who were evil.… Seguir leyendo »
Canberra’s foreign policies are a puzzle. Australia depends on China to take 35 percent of its exports. It may have to depend even more as its manufacturing base implodes — past mistakes mean it is about to lose almost all its car manufacturing industry. Yet Australia’s new conservative government has chosen this moment to tell the world that it wants to cooperate with Japan and the United States in their anti-China policies.
Consistency is not the first word that springs to mind when Canberra’s policies are considered. Australia’s new foreign minister, Julie Bishop, passed through Tokyo recently, praising Japan as Australia’s best friend in Asia and criticizing China’s pressures in the Senkaku Islands dispute.… Seguir leyendo »
Australians used to call themselves “the lucky country,” after the title of a 1960s’ best-seller saying how farming wealth had allowed Australia to create a stable, prosperous and fairly egalitarian society.
But today’s minerals wealth seems to have worked in reverse, to create a nation prone to quick fixes, whimsical political changes, flip-flop foreign policies and crazy economic strategies. From the sober lucky country we move to the feckless happy-go-lucky country.
For example, Australia’s economy has long depended heavily on minerals exports to China. But Canberra is still so caught up in its long-festering anti-China fears that it is now offering Washington the bases and other cooperation needed for U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
Ten years after the U.S. attack on Iraq the question remains: Were U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair cunning liars with their claims of weapons of mass destruction? Or were they just stupid?
A Moscow experience I endured many years earlier over a very different war — Vietnam — suggests that belligerence more than makes up for any lack of intelligence suffered by our leaders. I relate that experience belatedly since it is very relevant to what is happening today over North Korea. It could also throw some light on a hitherto secret corner of big power confrontation history.… Seguir leyendo »