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Appeasement: The West and Russia

What possible connection could there be between Georgia and Austria, the Donbass Region and the Ruhr, the Crimea and Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine and Poland?

When that harried British politician waved that piece of paper aloft and declared Peace In Our Time he contributed to the biggest propaganda fail of the last century, Appeasement, and what followed gifted the world the death of millions upon millions of innocent people.

Here in The West we cherish and enjoy our freedom. We, however, never had to fight in a World War for that freedom. People of our grandparents’ generation fought and died for a collection of values that they believed in, and as a result most of us, and our children and grandchildren, have largely enjoyed relative peace in our time and the enjoyment of a notable level of freedom.

In the next short period we will learn of the possible fate of Ukraine, and we hope for the best. The response of The West to this Russian provocation, which the Russians say is their response to the provocative expansion of NATO, is quite informative.

On the quiet level we have been shipping ammunition and missiles to not only the NATO countries that border Ukraine, but also to Ukraine itself. We are also stationing a couple of thousand US soldiers in the near region as an underwhelming show of supportive strength … underwhelming from the Ukrainian point of view that is. All of that implies that Ukraine will be left standing alone, and should the unthinkable happen, Ukraine will be left to defend itself.

On the overt level, the level where we truly show our determination and intent to defend the freedoms that we so cherish, The West has threatened to target Russia with sanctions. Well, North Korea, Iran, and Russia itself, still happily exist despite the soft weapon of sanctions that The West has rather hopefully lobbed their way.

It is irrelevant whether this moment in time is a piece of grand geo-political theatre on Putin’s part. If he can gain what he wants through diplomacy or threat or ominous theatre then we would be silly to think that he would then quieten down and not want more.

If he ultimately decides to invade Ukraine then the precedents of Georgia, the Crimea, the Donbass Region, the ever tightening control of Belarus, and the growing fear in Latvia and Estonia of over-spill consequences should Ukraine be invaded, would simply inform Putin that Russia might well get away with it if he unleashes the tanks.

Have we in The West lost the ability to think the unthinkable? Have we fallen into the trap of thinking that our freedoms, our values, our lifestyles, our societal processes and institutions, and our various forms of Democracy, will forever go on seriously unchallenged?

Last century two powers, one European and one Asian, plunged our planet into World War. Initially we appeased them. It did not work.

It was only a few days ago, in our century and in our time, that a power on the European landmass and a power from Asia stood together and stared down The West. Over the last decade we have chosen to appease them both.

War is our last resort, it always has been for most of us the last resort, we do not want it. Appeasement, however, almost guarantees that we will ultimately get what we definitely do not want.

The West is right to want to avoid all out war, that is our peaceful aim, but we are wrong to think that we will manage to retain our values and freedoms with only words and soft diplomacy and economic sanctions.

The West needs to quickly find a firmer form of solidarity, we need to plan for the unthinkable and therefore hopefully, eventually avoid it. Standing back and simply hoping for the best will not ensure that the freedoms we enjoy will be passed on to our children and grandchildren.

 

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22 comments

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  1. John Hanna

    As I understand the history of the time in 1990 when the USSR ceased to exist, there was agreement that there would be no encroachment by Nato on the border countries that had previously been part of the USSR. The west has chosen it seems to ignore that agreement between Gorbachev and Reagan and have moved ballistic weapons right up the the Russian border. I have to ask myself how the USA would react in such circumstances bearing in mind they were prepared to nuke Russia over the Cuban missile crisis. We can with some certainty assume the CIA has been highly active in the region with it’s well established govenment destabilisation efforts and has sought to introduce US style ‘democracy’.
    Before we go slagging the Russians we should look carefully at the politics that have unfolded that have now produced this situation, yes the Russians are being aggressive but I don’t entirley hold to the belief that it is all their doing, the west has made a substantial contribution to this situation and for little value it would seem, other than perhaps expanding the doctrine of ‘full spectrum dominance’ espoused by the flagging power of the USA.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Standing back and simply hoping for the best will not ensure that the freedoms we enjoy will be passed on to our children and grandchildren.

    Sometimes I fear about the world we will leave to the younger generations of today, and the generations of the future.

    I feel lucky. I was born at the right time in the right place. The generation before me endured and fought in WW2. My older brothers were less fortunate than me as they had to grow up in post war Australia. The war was over but the hardship wasn’t.

    I was a wee lad at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis but old enough to recognise that the world was gripped in a fear, the likes of which I’ve never seen since. We dodged a bullet there.

    The came the Beatles. Wow, what a time. The world was gripped in Beatlemania, and again, I’ve never seen anything like it since. The Beatles gave my generation some of the most memorable years.

    I am also lucky to be born when I was, for if I were born a year earlier I might have been conscripted and sent off to fight in the Vietnam war. We’d talk about it in school – fearing the fate that awaited us once we turned 21. The election of Gough Whitlam was our saviour.

    In 1968 one of our school teachers told us that the world was warming. Yes, we knew about it way back then but even now we have world leaders and industries ignoring the threat. For most of my life I’ve lived without the noticeable ravages of climate change, but I now see it. Future generations will not be so lucky.

    And now we have Covid. The biggest losers are not my generation but the younger ones who have been robbed of what could have been the best years of their lives, and the generation before me who have been the most vulnerable, dying in great numbers in age care facilities.

    Sure, death is not an exclusive tragedy for the aged, as many younger people have also been taken by the disease.

    Anyway, my generation – as a collective – have still been lucky. Personal tragedies aside, many of us have led full lives and achieved what we set out to achieve.

    That world has gone. Future custodians of this planet will have a far different world to live in than we have. If there was one thing I could do – just one thing – to make the world a better place for them then I’m onto it. That’s my next goal.

  3. Ai Khan Singh

    Putin knows that if he doesn’t commit a provocative act, the USA will do it for him. It does it all the time.
    Excepting only that Uncle Sam doesn’t have the balls to pick on someone who he thinks can fight back.

  4. Regional Elder

    In the international brinkmanship proceeding in Ukraine, it is important to remember that historically, Russia has the experience of repelling attempted invasions from Napoleon to Hitler. Their western flank in Eastern Europe is now riddled with American bases and missiles.

    Russians have long memories. In WW2, their death toll from all causes, was 26 million, with many civilian deaths. The U.S.A. experienced half a million casualties, none on their home soil. Putin remembers the devastation this loss of life had on his country. And despite being an autocratic, hardline nationalist, he understands what war does to a nation, in ways the Americans do not.

    The agreement in the late 1980s between Gorbachev and Reagan, reduced the risk of nuclear war from medium nuclear range missiles, and included NATO respecting Russia’s geographical boundaries. In an exchange of mutual finger pointing, the U.S. withdrew from this agreement in 2019, while Putin’s view is that in recent years, NATO has violated this agreement. The complexities of Ukraine historically, and now, are part of this.

    These facts, not discussed in the western media, are influencing the present circumstances. The Pentagon hawks no doubt see this as an opportunity to cripple ‘ the evil of communism’. For Putin, the West is backing Russia into a corner.

    Let’s hope diplomacy prevails.

  5. Jack Cade

    Regional Elder All true, excepting that Russia is no longer communist, it is a capitalist, Christian country. The Communist Party is Putins largest opposition party. He is a nasty piece of work who rules with an iron fist, but only with the compliance of the captains of industry and the military – much the same as the USA. As you point out, US bases – over 800 of them – are sprinkled throughout the world like mouse droppings around a wheat silo. And plucky little Ukraine? Some of its coalition government members openly revere Hitler, and wear swastikas on their clothes…

  6. Doug Buchanan

    The drumbeat of Cold War inanities pervades this article. “We” in the West have no common values, just an inability to be independent of the United States of America as the bullying narrative manager of geopolitics, who cannot bear the thought of a multipolar world. The freedom you believe we have in the West was fought for in the Second World War with Russian blood. However, every “freedom” we cherish is one that is constantly under attack by the very corporatocracy enabled by the bastardization of “democracy” we live under. Free speech administered by Big Tech oligarchs and corporate media; a bought political process where money buys politicians and lobbyists control the agenda; the mouthing of “human rights” and “equality” at the same time as the former are trodden underfoot and the latter is an illusion with an ever-widening wealth gap and the cementing of oligarchy. Foreign policy directed by the American Empire insists that any independence be crushed by intervention or what the author calls the “soft weapon of sanctions”. In Venezuela alone, one study found that US sanctions killed 40,000 people between 2017-18. Before the Iraq War sanctions killed 500,000 children according to UNICEF, a number the vile war criminal Madeleine Albright thought was a price worth paying. The article doesn’t address the complexities of the Ukraine issue, certainly not the 2014 Maidan Coup engineered by the US, and the constant NATO aggressions towards Russia despite the promises made by US Administrations since 1990 that they would not advance eastward. The author seems to think “our” values, “our” lifestyles and even “our” institutions are under threat unless the American war machine (which is arming Ukrainian fascist battalions despite a Bill passed by the US Congress in 2017) confronts Russia. The only appeasement happening is the capitulation to the military industrial complex looking for new ways to profit from death after the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq. That appeasement I oppose.

  7. Peter Naughton

    This fight has nothing to do with us. The countries involved are a half a world away and the reasons for antagonism are varied and complicated. The Ukraine has neo- Nazis in its government, I believe initially with the encouragement of the US. It has made its intentions to join NATO clear and this threatens to be a step to far for Putin. It is feeding his paranoia and the Russians all to well remember such hostilities from the past. I fear that the rabble leading our country would welcome a war as an opportunity to shift our focus away from their ineptitude and corruption.

  8. John OCallaghan

    May i suggest with all respect to Mr Davis that he continue the good fight in combating the social ills which plague Australia, especially in relation to our Indigenous brothers and sisters
    …………………….
    In relation to the situation in Ukraine i believe he is misinformed at best, or totally out of his depth at worst.

    May i suggest he do a remedial course on the subject.... which means finding out the real truth of course, and not sit back on the hammock receiving cut and paste fantasy stories handed to him by totally corrupt Westetn presstitutes and yankee war mongering boot lickers! ....

  9. Stephengb

    Doug Buchanan – spot on the money !

    Peter Naughton – sorry but it has everything to do with us, Australia plays the tune of the Good olde USA, we have many many citizens who see themselves as special friends of the USA, especially those in the LNP.

  10. Jack Cade

    ‘The white man made us many promises: he only kept but one. He said he’d take our land and he took it’.
    -Red Cloud
    The only certainty about a treaty or contract with the United States is that they will breach it.

  11. Williambtm

    The most murderous country in our World is the country hosting a CIA. One of the notable points of concern is to learn about the USA attempts to install a stooge president in Venezuela. Fortunately, the solidarity under President Maduro had halted the attempted coup and the covert insertion of a group of USA mercenaries. The next turn of events by the USA was to clamp the severest of sanctions on the country of Venezuela. Britain had stolen the Gold of Venezuela, believing some reputable Bank in England safely held it. We learn that the USA’s covert black ops entry into Venezuela had failed. The USA trade sanctions have upended the life of people in Venezuela is now busily destroying the Venezuelan people’s lives. Oil exports were once the economic lifeblood of Venezuela. The USA had since halted Venezuela’s only source of financial income. Then the USA had halted the import of life-saving medicines and drugs, contraceptive pills and devices.
    Yes, that is the reality of what our two significant allies have imposed on Venezuela & its innocent people.
    Well done, Australia’s Lib/Nat government, Australia is now burdened with a force of the more imposing USA Arms & Weapons manufacturing corporations by approving the USA merchants of death to manufacture their deadly destructive products here. At no point in time was the introduction of such as this anti-the-people-of-the world-life destroying-industry ever put to the people of Australia. Notwithstanding the reprehensibles afore-mentioned are urging this government to completely upgrade our nation’s military capacity by purchasing the USA’s ‘pre-loved’ military and defence equipment offerings at top dollar.
    The day will arrive when the USA will assume control over our abundant natural resources and all else within our once sovereign nation of Australia.
    Please read here, each of Australia’s think tanks during the Liberal/National coalition party reign had failed our nation and our people.

  12. Keith Davis

    I always appreciate comments on anything I have written, and I thank those who have made the effort to respond. I often learn new things from the commentary, whether that commentary be disparaging or supportive.

    Nearly everybody has an opinion on the unfolding mess in eastern Europe. Many opinions are swirling about as they do. Your opinions are swirling on this issue, and so are mine.

    I do know that I prefer a cold war to a hot one.

    I do know that the freedoms I currently enjoy, and that I hope my children and grandchildren will get to enjoy, are as much at risk from America’s notion of Manifest Destiny as they are from countries like Russia and China throwing their weight around.

    I do know that I live in a country that cannot currently defend itself.

    In 1989 I met my father for one day. He used that day to talk about many things … past family matters, the terrible quality of the reisling we were quaffing, and the war.

    In 1942 he was a merchant sailor on the M.V. Macdhui when it was bombed and then subsequently re-bombed and sent to the bottom of Port Moresby harbour. The trauma of that day affected the rest of his life (amazingly, if you Google the M.V. Macdhui you can find a British Pathe Film of the actual bombing of the Macdhui in the harbour .. behind all the smoke and flame my father and others were all unwillingly flying through the air).

    I did ask my father what he generally thought about the war and he summed it up with “we had plenty of time to prepare for it but from the top down we stuck our heads in the sand and later paid a terrible price for our ignorance.” He was a man of few words and that was how he viewed that war.

    Regarding Russia, you have probably read extensively about the history of that land, and so have I, not only from the early Rus times but through to the times of the Czars and the Bolshevik Revolution and the upheavals of the Great Patriotic War and the subsequent Cold War. Quite a journey of upheaval for any country to take it must be said.

    Like me you have perhaps also read extensively the history of the USA, China, Germany, Britain, the Roman and other ancient empires, and any other historical treatise you could lay your hands on. I do not know what all that reading of history taught you, but I do know that my reading of history did not make me an expert in anything or a great predictor of anything before it happened.

    Such reading of history however did at least teach me one immutable fact … the one constant in human history is that the strong will predate on the weak if they think they can get away with it.

  13. Andrew J. Smith

    The last sentence says it all, working age and youth of not just Russia and Ukraine, but elsewhere due to ageing demographics and increasing urbanisation creating differences between urban and regional voters; the latter have become the target for authoritarian, nativist and religious political leaders while citizens are thrown under the bus and e.g. Joe Biden and the Democrats are blamed by US media…… running up to mid terms.

    Much discussion of Putin, Russia and Ukraine is informed more by history, old empire and the cold war than the present reality on the ground in the towns and the cities, as most people are quite ignorant of the whole region, people and their outlook.

    It’s presented in media as a battle of wills focused upon leaders or ‘top people’ i.e. Putin as Russia, but he has cornered himself over the past decade, like other regional leaders e.g. Erdogan, Orban, Lukashenko, Kaczinsky et al., due to liberal urban vs. conservative regional divide. These types are promoting religion, nationalism and the military, backed by degrees of authoritarianism over civil society, but the economy, public services and infrastructure decline with much high level corruption apparent.

    Further, in recent years there are some very odd relationships, interference, dynamics and even shared issues that have gone on within or between Putin or Russia, with CEE, western Europe, UK and the US i.e. emergence of alt right, Fox etc. promoting ‘great replacement’ (Murdoch allegedly has investments in Russia e.g. billboard network), platforming religion, antipathy towards EU trade, environmental etc. constraints, GOP/Tory linkd political grifter networks, emergence of Koch think tanks, fossil fuels/climate science denial, Londongrad (e.g. Russian money in Tory Party & London), manipulating and threatening other CEE nations.

    By coincidence Hungary is hosting a US CPAC event in March where many western/US/UK, Fox etc. Putin hero worshippers will be in attendance and one assumes some discrete Australians too e.g. in the past Abbott, Downer, Andrews and Sheridan attended similar events several years ago, according to SMH re. ‘families, demography etc.’)

    Putin has chosen the path of, let’s hope, of being controlled but mischievous and uncooperative hood with a form of asymmetric warfare towards Ukraine, EU etc. while shutting down civil or open society for his own citizens. This has come with more frustration, hence, calling out of corrupt officials and e.g. mayors by whistleblowers, journalists, NGOs etc. which can end in arrest, charges, detention and in too many cases, death (not for the perps), electoral integrity issues and ageing demography.

    While elections have become corrupted by the Putin’s regime to ensure incumbency and a facade of (‘illiberal’) democracy, the only formal institution and way Putin can lose power is the military, but one assumes Putin’s got absolute loyalty from internal military intelligence keeping an eye on senior officers….

    Otherwise, as suggested over past decade by Edward Lucas, Russophile, expert on CEE/Russia and especially energy: UK govt. needs to put the screws on their population of Russian oligarchs and senior officials or apparatchiks, to bring pressure on Putin i.e. cancelling visas inc. tourist/study of family, more scrutiny of properties and residency of these types.

  14. Michael Taylor

    I might be a bit of a cynic, but if our immediate future is in the hands of the American, Russian, and Chinese governments then we have a huge problem. I trust neither of those countries when it comes to resolving issues by peaceful means. For the record, I don’t trust our government either.

    We were all allies in WW2. Ironically, these days I’d trust the governments of Germany and Japan ahead of the big three mentioned above, even though our fathers fought against them in the last world war.

    How times change.

    How quickly friends become enemies, and vice versa.

    Shortly before he died my father confessed it was not the soldiers he was fighting that he hated the most, but the government who sent them into the jungles of New Guinea to fight on its behalf. But isn’t that always the case? I doubt that any human wants war. Governments are a different matter: they don’t have to fight in them… they just want to start them.

  15. paul walter

    Oh, I am so sick of sock puppetry both off shore and locally

    God please come down and remove from us the charlatans and psychotic fantasists wherever they maybe because your planet and itspeople and other species are being so messed up by authoritatrian nut jobs and whole brigades of spindoctors and propagandists pointlessly serving monumental ego and greed, psychotic fantasies for control and evil seem sacred.

    Enough of grubby cretins.

  16. wam

    I don’t think your dad was typical, michael. Although my dad was scathing in his words on the warmongers churchill and menzies.
    If the curtin labor government had not overruled churchill and demanded our soldiers return to australia from europe the japanese would have overrun PNG as quickly as they had overrun every other white dominated countries of asia. The theory was, we were next but the japanese reality was to free asia from europeans, not to invade Australia.
    But the hatred damage was done and hate was instilled and when the burma railway men returned the hate was paramount in all of the returned soldiers I listened to. remember bruce ruxton???
    It is still around: “Many Australian diggers would disagree with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s praise for Japan’s World War II military prowess, according to the head of the RSL”
    This is interesting? https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-japanese-australian-veterans-and-the-legacy-of-anti-asian-racism-136257

  17. Andrew J. Smith

    The Anglosphere of US, UK and Australia; Tony Abbott has just turned up in Budapest (other day was Bolsanaro)…….. explained in comments.

    Tapping Fortress Australia: Priti Patel’s Border Force Review

    There is a curious coalescence of transnational but shared ideology, i.e. white Christian nationalist authoritarians, supported by radical right libertarians via Koch Network think tanks, with Fox etc. grifters to maintain ‘conservative’ voter majority on sociocultural issues.

    Like the GOP in the US, although declining in numbers, they seem to be looking for permanence in power and fossil fuels/big business central; whatever it takes inc. Voter ID and suppression (also mooted same time in the UK and Australia).

  18. Denis Hay

    The US is controlled by their Military Industrial Complex. There are literally hundreds of US military based all around the world with their weapons mostly pointing at Russia and China. The US and their coalition of the willing have a history of lying to start wars. The USA would have to be to most aggressive war mongers in the history of the world. Everywhere they go, they create havoc and misery.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States

  19. Keith Davis

    Interesting – ABC News has just reported on the Ukrainian President’s address overnight at the Munich Security Conference (only Michael and Carol would know if good old Volodymyr is a closet AIMN reader .. I’d stick a smiley emoticon here if I could find one).

    The Ukrainian President. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has chided the international community for what he said was the “appeasing of Russia.”

    The 44 year old Ukrainian Leader received a standing ovation before starting remarks in which he called on the world to learn the “terrible lessons from history” and chided the international community for what he said was the appeasement of Russia.

    He called the global security architecture “almost broken.”

    “What do attempts at appeasement lead to?” Mr Zelenskyy said, going on to refer to a speech by Putin at the same conference in 2007 “fifteen years ago, it was here that Russia announced its intention to challenge global security. What did the world say? Reconciliation. Result? At least – the annexation of Crimea and aggression against my state.”

    Ah … how the echoes of history come back to bite … and here’s that word Munich again

    The Munich Agreement was an agreement concluded at Munich on 30 September 1938, by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. It provided “cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory” of Czechoslovakia,

    Today, the Munich Agreement is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement, and the term has become “a byword for the futility of appeasing expansionist totalitarian states”. (Wikipedia)

  20. Sammy

    There is appeasement and then there is agreement. After WW2, USA and Russia pretended to ‘naively agree’ to take in some of the top scientists of a defeated Nazi Germany rather than have their talents go to waste in prisons. In the US this was called Operation Paperclip. Some of the 1600 scientists who went to America were war criminals on board with Nazism. Some this group soon secured top positions in various agencies in the US. Nazism never died, it was imported into both the US and Russia by military elites who shared a kindred spirit with these purveyors of death. It didn’t end there and by 1946 both the UN & WHO were created, both organizations riddled with communist sympathizers armed with a plan. 76 years later here we are. Corrupted newscasters treat audiences worldwide to yesteryear weaponry such as tanks driving around snowy fields while soldiers run around with guns photo-bombing the video. This is all meant to make the people of the world anxious. Turn tv off.

  21. king1394

    The real crisis of our time is climate change, and war at any level is guaranteed to exacerbate this, and bring it forward. We are children squabbling on the beach as a tsunami flows in

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