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Tag Archives: John Kerry

Julie Bishop’s Epiphany on the Road to Damascus

It comes as welcome news that Australia is set to abandon its opposition to Bashar al-Assad as part of a durable peace settlement in Syria.

The recent military escalation by Russia and reported sightings of Chinese war ships in the Mediterranean in the last week must come as something of an embarrassment to the war hawks in Washington, and the knives may well be out for whichever rookie secretary forgot to register the war on terror as a trademark. Still this has done little to change the tri-partisan rhetoric coming out of Canberra. “I don’t for a moment shy away from the comments that we have made in the past about the illegitimacy of the regime.” “President Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his own people, and the death and destruction in Syria is appalling and at unprecedented levels”, Ms Bishop recently said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In hearing these remarks I can’t help be reminded of the outrageous claims and bald faced lies which led us into war in Iraq in 2003. Whatever happened to all those weapons of mass destruction which Saddam was stockpiling? Was he able to secretly shield them from UN weapons inspectors with an invisibility cloak? Perhaps the same cloak that Dr Assad is using to hide his chemical weapons arsenal? Or the one that Iran is evidently using to conceal its uranium enrichment program? Not to put too fine a point on it, but when the executive director of Human Rights Watch is leading the cheer for the removal of the legitimate government of a sovereign nation state which currently enjoys the support of 80% of its people, one might wonder if we are being told the whole truth.

Having taken part what now seems like an age ago in the rallies against the 2003 invasion of Iraq – the biggest protests Australia has seen since the Vietnam War, I’m more than a little miffed at the lack of public outrage at Australia’s compliance in 2015. Perhaps the media is doing a better job of selling its lies and deception this time around, but so far I remain unconvinced. I am tired of the blatant propaganda surrounding this illegal war. I’m tired of the persistent references to “civil war” in a country which is clearly being attacked by outside forces. I’m tired of hearing the government of Syria constantly referred to as “the Assad regime”, and carnal knowledge of dead animals aside, I’m well tired of David Cameron referring to Bashar al-Assad as a butcher.

So far as Washington’s support for terrorists is concerned, there’s no putting the cat back in the bag. I have argued this extensively in other essays, but it doesn’t take a political analyst to see that Obama, Netanyahu, Ergdogan, Salman and Abdullah before him have been working hand in glove with various terror groups to destabilize and ultimately remove the Syrian government for their own nefarious ends. Washington’s war hawks have bypassed congressional appropriations by directing their client state Saudi Arabia to deploy radical anti-Syrian (and often anti-US) militants against Assad, unleashing a wave of terror on the region. Playing both sides against the middle may have some merit in games of strategy, but willingly supporting terrorists who commit atrocities against civilians by any other name is still a war crime.

Of course there are many players in this proxy war, each with their own interests: Obviously there’s the US and its allies, who in their relentless quest for world domination just can’t seem to keep their grubby hands out of other people’s business. In their latest adventure, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in collusion with Wall Street insiders had contrived to control the entire region’s oil and gas reserves and to weaken Russia and Iran by selling cheap oil to China.

There’s Russia, whose soft underbelly comprises almost every country ending in ‘stan’ from which Islamist extremists might enter its borders. Already feeling the squeeze of tough trade sanctions since the shooting down of MH17, this manipulation of the oil market, despite weakening its economy, will likely strengthen its resolve.

There’s Israel, a newly created, US backed, militarised rogue state whose original British colonial design includes not just the annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza but of all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates including parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (The plan for Greater Israel involves the Balkanization of surrounding Arab states, beginning with Iraq, which is to be divided into Shia and Sunni territories and a separate Kurdish state.)

There’s China, an emerging superpower now lumbered with a stalling economy and forced to choose between a ready supply of cheap oil and the prospect of the war in Syria spilling into Iran, Southern Russia and eventually breaching its own western borders.

There’s Germany, which seems to have embraced the prospect of close to a million new low paid workers with the same enthusiasm with which it welcomed the surge of cheap skilled labour at the close of the Soviet era (an attitude perfectly consistent with EU ambitions to enforce human misery through austerity.)

And then there are the endless hordes now beating a path to Europe in what’s been called the biggest mass movement of refugees since WWII. It’s not just the Alawites, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities once protected under Syria’s Ba’athist government who now face a grim future, but the entire Syrian population, of whom more than half are now internally displaced or have fled in fear for their lives. Pray tell what conceivable form of ‘regime change’ would ever allow these people to return to their homes?

Syria was and is the last secular nation state in the Middle East, and as has been argued by many, not least President Putin himself, it is for the people of Syria and nobody else to decide who will govern them. Russia is now working in concert with Iran, Hezbollah and other regional partners to end the horror brought to bear by Washington’s incessant meddling, and while Obama still condemns Russia’s strategy as “doomed to failure” and continues to demand Assad’s ultimate resignation, this outcome is looking increasingly less likely.

While China’s last minute arrival is obviously a game changer, it’s not like the US were never invited to the party. Putin’s attempts to forge an alliance of nations to deal with the growing threat of global terror have never specifically excluded US participation, but with the US demonstrably the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism, it does make things a little awkward. As well as Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army, the new coalition looks likely to include all members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO); Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, and Tajikistan. This poses an obvious question right off the bat. Is Washington really afraid that Russia’s intervention will make matters worse in Syria? Or rather that putting an end to ISIS once and for all might render the US irrelevant?

What emerges from this picture is a strong sense that Washington’s war hawks are losing, or have lost, their grip over Middle East politics. The Iranian moderates who are inclined to cooperate with the West for economic reasons are naturally allied to Russia where the Syrian ISIS threat is concerned; the Gulf monarchies seem only too happy for Russia to broker a peace between warring Shi’ite and Sunni factions, and with Russia now flexing its military muscle, Netanyahu is hardly likely to be spoiling for a fight either.

Whether or not any of this could lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East it’s too early to say, and with the likes of Carly Fiorina now set to trump Trump for the GOP candidacy, and Hilary Clinton still a likely choice for the Democrats, Washington’s campaign for global hegemony is unlikely to end any time soon. It does however seem that we may have reached a turning point. Could the battle for Syria prove a victory for peace and diplomacy in an increasingly multi-polar world? Or is this how WWIII begins?

Merchants of Hypocrisy: Open for the Business of War

As the situation between Russia and Ukraine deteriorates to the brink of war, is our government entertaining the thought of joining in on this war, asks Loz Lawrey.

“Nothing is free. Someone always pays”, says Joe Hockey, “we must live within our means”.

Much has been made of the two simultaneous messages appearing on one newspaper’s front page: severe cuts to pensioner entitlements and the extravagant outlay of some $12.4 billion on weapons of war.

Accusations of hubris and hypocrisy are mere water off a duck’s back to this Coalition government, who are convinced they can do whatever they wish whenever they wish, regardless of public opinion.

Tony Abbott still claims an irrefutable mandate to make choices and decisions with little consideration, consultation or advice. As with John Howard, ‘instinct’ and ‘belief’ are enough. In other words, unfettered open slather prevails: “You elected us, so we’ve won and we’ll do as we please. About anything. And everything. Because we can”.

The joint strike fighter jets will, according to Abbott, “ensure our edge as a regional power . . . you just don’t know what’s around the corner . . . the world remains a difficult . . . and often a dangerous place”. Confrontational, assertive language. Some might call it the language of a warmonger.

Weasel-speak, flung about like a certain proverbial substance, is used to distract us and disrupt our analytical thinking before we reach any conclusions, a sort of bait-and-switch operation which leaves us ignoring important issues and giggling at trivia.

A slogan is uttered, a camera flashes, a ‘gotcha’ moment happens, and in the confusion important questions go unasked and unanswered. The media pack moves on.

Meanwhile the warm fireside tone of the delivery belies the harsh message aimed at preparing us psychologically for the kicking and beating this brutal government intends to consciously, deliberately, inflict upon Australian society.

Hockey’s psychobabble continues: “It is about the we, not the me” (sounds a bit like socialism) . . . “more use of co-payments must be made” (definitely conservatism).

But is it babble? Or well-crafted spin to prepare us for war? Australia’s apparently irreversible engagement with the U.S. and subservience to its foreign policy seems really stupid and ill-advised whenever the sabre-rattling between the U.S. and China or Russia begins.

Isn’t this how it works? Step one: encourage recession by talking down the economy and defunding everything. Step two: follow through with austerity measures to ensure across-the board misery. Step three: encourage minority-blaming, thuggery, social dislocation. Step four: mission accomplished: the people are crushed and ready for war.

I was born several years after the conclusion of World War Two. During my whole life war and conflict have been constants on the world stage, and Australian soldiers have died overseas in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

One thing you can count on with the human race; we’ve always got a war going on. And Australia has always been prepared to send its young men out as cannon-fodder at the whim of the U.K. or the U.S. on the flimsiest pretext.

Remember the Weapons of Mass Destruction which never were? There are many who wonder why John Howard hasn’t been tried as a war criminal for committing our country to the U.S.’s unjustified invasion of Iraq in which so many Iraqis, Americans and Australians died.

What is war other than schoolyard bullying writ large? A line is crossed, battle is engaged, and the reason for it all is forgotten in the heat of the action. Bait and switch, again. And again.

The invasion of Iraq was not sanctioned by the United Nations. At the time, Howard justified the action by saying it had “a sound legal basis” in previous decisions of the security council. As usual, clever language was used to deflect questions and criticism about the lack of U.N. support.

Today both Howard and George W. Bush are happily retired while a country lies in ruins, her people struggling to subsist within a legacy of destruction and conflict.

Is this what we can expect from Abbott? Another neoconservative bequest of misery, poverty and unrest? Blind unthinking subservience to the megalomania of a foreign power which believes it owns the world? Young Australians scattered about the globe to die for nothing? Young lives to be chewed up and spat out by a global military-industrial complex that prevails to this day, the same one Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world about in 1961?

How does the lie prevail, the lie that tells us something good is accomplished by slaughter and destruction?

As far as the Iraq war went, here’s how Howard justified it: “The government strongly believes that the decision it has taken is right, it is legal, it is directed towards the protection of the Australian national interest and I ask the Australian community to support it”. And support it we did.

Well, perhaps not all of us, but if we didn’t speak out then we too supported the invasion. I’ll declare myself here: I felt the outrage, but I didn’t express it. To my shame, I didn’t speak out.

Divided and conquered, we bury our misgivings and swallow the bitter pill of nationalism. We allow ourselves to accept the necessity for a conflict we don’t even comprehend. Then we participate in that conflict, convinced of the righteousness of our purpose. And history repeats.

That’s how they get away with it. By our silence we give consent. John Howard will never be brought to trial, because we would also be judging ourselves.

The huge government spend on fighter jets can only be seen as a “toys for the boys” indulgence by Abbott and Co. It’s hard to imagine our little airforce taking on Russia, the U.S. or China. And if we’re to ride on the coat-tails of the Yanks, don’t they have enough jets already? And what’s the real context of this? Defence? We’re hardly a match for a superpower, with or without jets.

Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning to Russia over the situation in Ukraine, saying “Whatever path Russia chooses, the United States and our allies will stand together in our defense of Ukraine”. More sabre-rattling. And what did Abbott say again? ” . . . you just don’t know what’s around the corner . . . the world remains a difficult . . . and often a dangerous place”.

Is it simply that there’s a mood in the world for war?

 

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