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Tag Archives: Russia

Prometheus’ Adventures on the New Silk Road.

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. – Thomas Jefferson

It is telling that the same idea of free trade which has become an article of faith for neoconservatives was once synonymous with Anglo-Dutch imperialism, the very system of oligarchy which the War of Independence and Civil War were fought to liberate America from. How ironic that this same ideal of freedom would become the wellspring of American exceptionalism. How strange that for a century and a half America has loyally served its masters as the jackboot of imperialism in the face of the global south, committing satanic acts of genocide in the name democracy across five continents. To understand how it all went so terribly wrong we must turn back the pages of history to an earlier time.

In the late 18th century Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton imagined an independent nation state free from the tyranny of oligarchy. Alas the confederate states remained indentured to the old world system of slavery and primary production, so emancipation was a while coming. A century later, abolishing slavery was for Lincoln less about embracing the humanist ideas of continental philosophy than casting off the chains of colonialism. Building an industrial economy was the order of the day, and high tariff protections and a massive inland rail project soon saw the US transformed into the fastest growing most prosperous economy the world had ever seen.

Having established itself as a power in its own right, the US imagined itself moving westward across the Pacific, just as the Europeans had previously sailed across the Atlantic to the New World. These new colonialists envisioned a more modern system of trade with Germany, Russia, and Japan, and set out to create a network of independent republics in its own image. During this time the United States and Canada helped to build the first Eurasian trans-continental railway, with Russia for its part committing to build a bridge across the Bering Strait.

Like America, the newly created nation state of Germany was also thriving at this time. Under Otto von Bismarck it had fought back Denmark and France and united the 39 states previously under Austrian rule to form the greatest power in Central Europe. Inspired by what the Americans had achieved, Bismarck next turned his attention to creating a vast system of railways and canals across continental Europe, which was to include a railway between Berlin and Baghdad. As chancellor, Bismarck had kept a cool head and maintained peaceful relations with his neighbours, particularly Russia. Sadly for history, the inbred Kaiser Wilhelm II disagreed with his politics and had him sacked more or less immediately upon coming to power.

The British Empire, a private-public partnership between the English monarchy and the British East India Trading Company, had ruled the waves for 200 years, trading gold and silver from Africa for cotton, silk and tea from Asia and the Americas. Control of sea ports and shipping lanes also gave Britain a monopoly in the trade of guns, opium, and most importantly slave labour. New overland trade routes presented a threat to this business model, and so Prince Albert Edward (Edward VII) plotted an end to the project by drawing Germany, Russia and France into a war to end all wars. This is the crucial background to WWI, or at least an abbreviated version to suit our purposes.

Edward had plotted and schemed for 20 years to create the circumstances in which the European powers would turn on each other and Britain could emerge victorious. Fomenting ethnic tensions in south-eastern Europe was not difficult given its population of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and other ethno-religious groupings; the varied detritus of the collapsing Ottoman Empire. By the early 20th century tensions were such that any small event could have easily triggered the descent into chaos, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo fit the bill nicely. With Tsar Nicholas having abnegated his treaty with Bismarck and sworn to defend Belgium, it was soon on for young and old (tho to be fair, mostly young.)

WWI was a battle in which millions of men shed their blood over inches of land. 17 million deaths later, Europe had been laid waste, all according to plan. The cost of reparations would be borne solely by Germany, which would surrender its fleet, its rail carriages, its steel production, its livestock, and ultimately the dignity of its people. Such was the price of the British Empire maintaining its prestige then, and from the age of steam to the petroleum era little has changed.


With the invitation to nuclear war beckoning from an artificial island somewhere in the enchanted South China Sea, and the office of the presidency of the United States soon up for grabs, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the principles and founding documents on which the world’s now dominant superpower was originally built. Jefferson’s inalienable right to life liberty and happiness was a deliberate misquotation of John Locke’s pursuit of life, liberty and property, a credo central to the work to Adam Smith, the Scottish moral philosopher and political economist credited as the father of modern capitalism. Herein lays an important distinction.

During the 1930s and 40s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt designed and implemented an economic policy which rebuilt the US economy from the ground up after the damage wrought by the great depression. After a failed assassination attempt, his first act as president was to create the Emergency Banking Act and Glass Steagall Act to underwrite savings deposits. Next was to create two million new paid jobs in parks and recreation, and begin an infrastructure program on a scale previously unimagined, putting dams and power stations near farms and bringing modernized agriculture and living conditions to rural America. Like Lincoln and Franklin before him, Roosevelt understood that the liberty implicit in the founding documents was first and foremost liberty from oligarchy. From 1933 to his death in 1945 he presided over an epic stimulus program which transformed a failed experiment in colonialism into a high tariff, high taxing, productive and prosperous economy.

 “We don’t approve of independent sovereign states.”- HG Wells, Things to Come, 1936.

While the rapid industrialisation of the United States may have given it the appearance of a superpower, to what extent it can be seen as an independent actor is a matter of opinion, since its money supply and to a large extent its foreign policy have remained for the most part under the control of the Rothschilds, Warburgs, Lehmans, Goldman-Sachs’, Rockefellers and other banking elites, a relationship set in stone by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Where Roosevelt had wanted not a bar of Churchill’s planned cold war, Harry Truman proved a much more pliable president. In a recent press conference Vladimir Putin invited us to consider whether Stalin would have used the atomic bomb against Germany in 1945 with Hitler almost defeated. Years after the dual atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Dwight D. Eisenhower would observe: “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” Eisenhower further warned in his famous valedictory speech of the growing threat posed by the military industrial complex. Was anyone listening? In 1963 JFK planned to issue government bonds as currency, effectively shutting down the Federal Reserve. This did not end well for Kennedy, and to this day Washington and Wall Street remain loyal servants of the Empire.

The post war period saw America’s physical economy hollowed out and the process of looting commenced in earnest. Roosevelt’s industrial economy was systematically dismantled. Real capital was siphoned off through privatisation and replaced with mountains of debt. Financial markets were deregulated, leading to a series of booms and busts of ever increasing magnitude. Public freehold over projects built with taxpayer dollars was handed over to private interests only to be rented back at a profit. Everything from roads to rail to water and the electricity grid was up for grabs, up to and including crucial parts of the military.

The business of war is lucrative, and the Bush family have been players for 3 generations. George Herbert Walker’s father Prescott Bush, as a director of the Union Banking Corporation, had helped fund Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party in its rise to power. During the second Bush administration Dick Cheney’s stocks in Halliburton netted him a cool $40bn out of a war which cost the US taxpayer $1.7 trillion and left Iraqi schools, hospitals, roads, railways, and electricity and water infrastructure utterly devastated. Are we seeing a pattern yet?


Today we are witnessing the birth pains of a new superpower. This is as inevitable as it is unstoppable. The difference between the economies of the old and new world was principally that the Anglo-Dutch system was based on looting, whereas American capitalism was based on productivity. From the moment the US outsourced is manufacturing base to China and Brazil, the game was over. With almost total control of global manufacturing and new multibillion dollar funds for infrastructure and development, the BRICS force has finally reached critical mass.

In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, when asked if Russia would survive sanctions, Putin replied: “Naturally, beyond any doubts, it is even out of discussion. Sanctions even have a certain advantage. Do you know what is it? The advantage is that previously we used to buy many goods, especially in the area of high technology, with petrodollars.” “Now, with the sanctions imposed and our partners having left our market voluntarily, we have an opportunity to develop.”

Compare Senator John McCain’s sabre rattling rhetoric in his recent article for CNN: “There is an opportunity here… to impose significant costs on an adversary that wants to undercut the United States everywhere.” “We must back up our policy in ways that check Putin’s ambitions and shape his behaviour.” “We must impose greater costs on Russia’s interests.”

In yet another case of history repeating, German Chancellor Angela Merkel now appears as the crucial pivot in this changing power dynamic. In statements made during the last fortnight she has not only acknowledged Russia’s historical claim to the Crimea, but also called for increased economic cooperation with Russia including the normalization of trade relations and the immediate lifting of all sanctions. This is in part to strengthen the important economic ties between the two countries, but crucially to help stem the flow of refugees into Europe caused by ongoing crises in the Middle East.

The balance of global power has shifted not just economically but it would also seem militarily. While no single country is capable on its own of taking on the US war machine, Russian ordnance currently deployed in Syria appears to be 10 years ahead of anything yet seen on the battlefield, including smart missiles which never miss their targets. Still in development is the Shenyang J31 fifth generation multipurpose medium range fighter, powered by Russian RD-93 engines and besting Lockheed-Martin’s F35 by orders of magnitude, rumour has it thanks largely to Chinese ‘cyber-terrorism.’

In every chapter of human history we see the entwinement of decadence and decline. While the empire has been busy plotting its own downfall through globalisation, free trade and the crippling economics of austerity, the war racketeers have reaped obscene profits. While greed and short-sightedness have led to the depletion of labour markets in first world countries, China, Russia and their partners have been getting on with business. With the $242 Billion High-Speed Beijing-Moscow Rail Link approved, China now plans to build a similar link to Damascus via Tehran. Obviously this cannot go ahead until Syria is stabilized and returned to its former status as a functional independent nation state.

Lest we be deceived into believing this latest clash of civilizations has anything to do with Islamist fundamentalism or the threat of global terrorism, we’d do well to consider the events and circumstances which have led us to war in times past. The game of empire has not changed; nor for the last century and a half have the players.

We are now living in the last days of empire. Only when the old institutions of finance and trade are finally swept away can there be any hope for a social order based on human dignity, which respects first and foremost the value of human life. The Malthusian economics of scarcity belongs to the past; our greatest resource has always been the creative potential of the human mind. Only through cooperation can we ever hope to solve the problems facing humanity – if we can’t manage to live together peacefully, how can we seriously hope to address the vitally important problems we face as a species; depletion of natural resources, destruction of habitat and climate change?

Human social evolution has already developed the mechanism required for humanity in all its complex diversity to coexist peacefully, not though aggressive interference by a single, strong and exceptional centre of world domination, but through respect for the sovereignty of independent nation states under the charter of international law. Sergei Lavrov made Russia’s position crystal clear in his article ‘History Lessons and New Frontiers’ in which he states that China and Russia are “stalwart opponents of imposing one’s will over sovereign states, including by force, introducing unilateral sanctions and practicing (a) policy of double standards.”

The current unilateral system of global politics now threatens the very survival of the species. Peace and democracy will only be possible when the old system of empire is replaced by a system of equality, guided by common values and common interests. Whether the current shift in power will move us closer toward this goal remains to be seen, but it certainly seems like a step in the right direction.

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?

My enemy’s enemy is my friend

By Mike Mizzi

On April 29th 2012 Muaz Nukkari’s car exploded five minutes after he had parked it. He was on his way to work. Muaz is a lawyer and poet. The bombers were suspected to be operatives of who many believe are Western backed rebels who had been sent to Damascus to cause maximum fear and chaos amongst Basher Al Assads Alawite heartland.

This is the story about Syria that Western mainstream media will not tell. Despite a plethora of stories on the social media websites, alternative news sites and YouTube, the official narrative about Syria is that Assad and his people are being besieged by “terrorists” of the Islamic State and so called “local rebel forces.” What that narrative leaves out is that the rebels were armed and financed by Qatar at the behest of its staunch ally the USA, which has its largest Middle East base on its soil.

The Qatari royal family is a tribe called the Al Thani clan, a super oil rich group who run their nation like a medieval fiefdom wherein the locals are some of the wealthiest people per capita on the planet and the work is done by imported, indentured slaves whose lives are hard and miserable for the most part. Recent revelations of multiple deaths of labourers working on the World Cup soccer stadium in Doha has focussed the world’s attention on Qatar momentarily, but for all intents and purposes very little has changed for the guest workers who flock there from poorer Muslim nations seeking a chance to make some money. Qatar, has it’s finger in many pies and is now reportedly the major sponsor of Wahhabi terrorism in the Middle East, having taken that honour from Saudi Arabia.

Muaz has been a Facebook friend of mine for two years now. We have exchanges on a range of subjects and we differ greatly concerning Israel and its right to exist. He considers himself an enemy of what he terms “the Zionist regime,” citing Israel’s seeming aggression and expansionist policies in the Golan Heights, an area gas rich and once Syrian territory. Syria lost the Golan in a short war in 1967. Now a consortium comprised of Rupert Murdoch and the Rothschild banking cartel are investing heavily in exploiting that gas. In the Middle East, ancient rivalries never die and most of those rivalries are underpinned by territorial and resource desires. Oil and gas are jinns which never seem to sleep.

Muaz is a poet. He writes of fragrant plants, the joys of love and martyred Syrians fighting against what he terms the ”cannibals” of IS. One of his friends, Ahmed Ammar Hassoun, was martyred on the 14th of September this year. On Nuaz’s Facebook page you can see a photo of Ahmed, a young soldier in the Syrian Arab Army, nonchalantly smoking a tailor made cigarette in a canteen with a Coca Cola sign in the background. It made me wonder how much of this war is being fought as much for multinational corporations to get more Syrian market share as much as the oil and gas fields embedded in Syria’s geology. Muaz seems to think Israel is behind the IS terrorists and cites occasions when IS operatives were treated in Israeli hospitals. Yet IS regularly posts anti Israeli propaganda and has even declared it will eventually march on Jerusalem. Nothing is ever as it seems in the Middle East.

The fundamentals of this story are that Assad was targeted by rebels allegedly backed by the USA and armed by Qatar. Assad is armed and supported by Russia, which is now reportedly moving heavy artillery and tank equipment and ”advisers” into Syria. Vladimir Putin has this week declared that this will continue despite recent protestations by American Secretary of State John Kerry.

The ingenuous duplicity of US foreign policy has turned the entire Middle East into a foreign policy quagmire, and there is no end in sight. America and Russia continue to play their “great game” and the people who suffer are ordinary Muslims, Kurds, Yezidis and Christians who once lived in relative peace and harmony in Syria and whose lives are now destroyed by men in expensive tailored suits in far off lands speaking languages most of them cannot begin to comprehend making decisions none of them will ever hear or understand.

Obama seems intent on blundering from one foreign policy mistake to another and in the meantime in Syria alone over 250,000 human beings have met their deaths and over 6 million are now wondering around homeless and stateless, with many knocking loudly on Europe’s and the rest of the Western world’s doors looking for succour and shelter from the bombs and bullets and vicious depredations of Islamic State operatives and Assad’s deadly barrel bombs.

Meanwhile Muaz and his mates make the most of their lives. Living it up in bars and nightclubs in Damascus, enjoying what is left of Assad’s once secular and multi religious state. Every time I log onto Facebook and send Muaz a message, I wonder if he will answer or if his dream of a beautiful and peaceful Syria will be shattered for all time.

Muaz’s Facebook page.


The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 – Part 3

We continue with Dr George Venturini’s* outstanding and eye-opening analysis on the events (and aftermath) of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 tragedy. In Part 3 Dr Venturini looks back at the recent political history of Ukraine.

Who was behind the MH17 downing?

When the Soviet Union was disbanded on 8 December 1991 the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus formed the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Most of the other republics soon signed up for the new union.

But in Ukraine there had already been signs of ‘independence’. On 16 July 1990 the Parliament of Ukraine – Verkhovna Rada adopted a historic document titled the Declaration of Nation Sovereignty of Ukraine. It was the beginning of the new period in Ukraine’s history.

On 24 August 1991 the Act of Independence of Ukraine was proclaimed. An all-Ukrainian referendum took place on 1 December 1991. It confirmed this historical choice with more than 90 per cent of the votes; Leonid Kravchuk was elected President.

In 1994 Ukraine became a member of the Council of Europe.

In 1994 Kravchuk lost his presidency to his former Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma. President Kuchma began to implement some ‘market reforms’, but the economy remained dominated by huge, inefficient state-run companies and corruption.

On 28 July 1996 the Verkhovna Rada enacted the new Constitution. The 2004 presidential election appeared to mark a significant turning point for Ukraine, and led to the events known as the ‘Orange Revolution.’ In late December, after a few election tours, Victor Yushchenko became the new President of Ukraine.

In January 2010 Victor Yanukovych won the second round of the election with 48.95 per cent of the vote against Yulia Tymoshenko’s 45.47 per cent. He was thus the first directly elected president in Ukraine’s history to win with less than 50 per cent of the vote.

Two major candidates presented at the 2004 presidential election. One was Viktor Yanukovych, the incumbent Prime Minister, who was supported both by Kuchma and by the Russian Federation. He wanted closer ties with Russia. The other was the main opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who called for Ukraine to turn its attention westward and eventually join the European Union. In the runoff election, Yanukovych officially won by a narrow margin, but Yushchenko and his supporters alleged that vote rigging and intimidation cost him many votes, especially in eastern Ukraine. A political crisis erupted after the opposition started massive street protests in Kiev and other cities, and the Supreme Court of Ukraine ordered the election results null and void. A second runoff found Viktor Yushchenko the winner. Five days later, Viktor Yanukovych resigned from office and his cabinet was dismissed on 5 January 2005.

During the Yushchenko term, relations between Russia and Ukraine often appeared strained as Yushchenko looked towards improved relations with the European Union and less towards Russia. In 2005 a highly publicised dispute over natural gas prices with Russia indirectly involved many European countries. A compromise was reached in January 2006, and in early 2010 a further agreement locked the price of Russian gas.

By the time of the presidential election of 2010, Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko – allies during the ‘Orange Revolution’ – had become bitter enemies. Tymoshenko ran for president against both Yushchenko and Yanukovych, causing a three-way race. Yushchenko, whose popularity had plummeted, persisted in running, and many pro-Orange voters stayed home. Yanukovych received 48 per cent of the vote and Yushchenko less than 6 per cent, an amount which, if thrown to Tymoshenko, who received 45 per cent, would have prevented Yanukovych from gaining the presidency. Yanukovych won the run-off ballot.

In November 2013 President Yanukovych refused to sign the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement and instead continued to pursue closer ties with Russia. This move sparked protests on the streets of Kiev. Protesters set up camps in Maidan Nezalezhnosti – Independence Square, and in December 2013 and January 2014 protesters started taking over various government buildings, first in Kiev and, later, in Western Ukraine. Battles between protesters and police resulted in about 80 deaths in February 2014.

Following the violence, the Parliament turned against Yanukovych and on 22 February voted to remove him from power, and to free Yulia Tymoshenko from prison. The same day Yanukovych supporter Volodymyr Rybak resigned as speaker of the Parliament, and was replaced by Tymoshenko loyalist Oleksandr Turchynov, who was subsequently installed as interim President. Yanukovych fled Kiev and took refuge in Russia.

In March 2014 a referendum resulted in Crimea being annexed by Russia. The referendum, which was organised under Russian military occupation, was denounced by the European Union and the United States as illegal.

Enter Victoria Jane Nuland.

On 7 February 2014 an apparently ‘bugged’ phone conversation in which a senior United States diplomat disparages the European Union over the Ukraine crisis was posted online. The conversation between Victoria Jane Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State and the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, appeared on YouTube on Tuesday 4 February 2014. What follows is a verbatim transcript. This is a fragment of what may well be a larger phone conversation. But the American administration has not denied its veracity and has been quick to point a finger at the Russian authorities for being behind its interception and leak.

Victoria Nuland: “What do you think.”?

Geoffrey Pyatt: “I think we’re in play. The Klitschko [Vitaly Klitschko, one of three main opposition leaders] piece is obviously the complicated election here. Especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister and you’ve seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now so we’re trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff. But I think your argument to him, which you’ll need to make, I think that’s the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader]. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I’m very glad that he said what he said in response.”

Nuland: “Good. I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Pyatt: “Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, an other opposition leader] and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what [President Viktor] Yanukovych is calculating on all this.”

Nuland: [Breaks in] “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in … he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.”

Pyatt: “Yeah, no, I think that’s right. O.K. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step.”?

Nuland: “My understanding from that call – but you tell me – was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context a . . . three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it.”?

Pyatt: “No. I think . . . I mean that’s what he proposed but I think, just knowing the dynamic that’s been with them where Klitschko has been the top dog, he’s going to take a while to show up for whatever meeting they’ve got and he’s probably talking to his guys at this point, so I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it before they all sit down and he explains why he doesn’t like it.”

Nuland: “O.K, good. I’m happy. Why don’t you reach out to him and see if he wants to talk before or after.”

Pyatt: “O.K, will do. Thanks.”

Nuland: “O.K… one more wrinkle for you Geoff. [A click can be heard] I can’t remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning.”?

This was an intriguing insight into the foreign policy process with work going on at a number of levels: various officials attempting to marshal the Ukrainian opposition; efforts to get the United Nations to play an active role in bolstering a deal; and – as one could see further on – the big guns waiting in the wings: the United States Vice-President Joe Biden clearly being lined up to give private words of encouragement at the appropriate moment.

Pyatt: “Yeah I saw that.”

Up to this time the United States and the European Union had not been completely in step during the Ukraine crisis. The E.U. was understandably divided and to some extent hesitant about picking a fight with Russia. It certainly cannot win a short-term battle for Ukraine’s affections with Russia – it just does not have the cash inducements available. The E.U. had sought to play a longer game; banking on its attraction over time. But the U.S. clearly was determined to take a much more activist role.

Here is a taste of diplomat Nuland at work.

Nuland: “O.K. He’s now gotten both Serry and [U.N. Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, F*ck the E.U.” [Emphasis added].

Pyatt: “No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. And again the fact that this is out there right now, I’m still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych [unclear] that. In the meantime there’s a Party of Regions faction meeting going on right now and I’m sure there’s a lively argument going on in that group at this point. But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast. So let me work on Klitschko and if you can just keep . . . we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.”

Nuland: “So on that piece Geoff, when I wrote the note [US vice-president’s national security adviser Jake] Sullivan’s come back to me VFR [direct to me], saying you need [US Vice-President Joe] Biden and I said probably tomorrow for an atta-boy and to get the deets [details] to stick. So Biden’s willing.”

Pyatt: “O.K. Great. Thanks.”

In order to make a ‘regime change’ in Ukraine, from a Russia-ally, to a U.S.-ally, the American administration needed to neutralise the residents in southeastern Ukraine, the people who had voted Yanukovych into office. With the votes of those people another pro-Russian would be able to be elected President of Ukraine, and the United States effort – political as well as financial (up to US$5B had been spent) – could easily and soon become undone by an election. Furthermore, those people there live on a huge shale-gas field and they resist ‘fracking’ – the do not want their water to become poisoned. ‘Fracking’ is a colloquial term for hydraulic fracturing. It refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore, from where it can be extracted.

Western oil companies wanted access there to frack for its gas. As will be seen, Vice-President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was placed onto the board of directors of the largest privately owned shale-gas operation in Ukraine, Burisma Holdings – controlled by the mastermind of the 2 May 2014 massacre against the American instigated coup’s local opponents in Odessa. The billionaire behind Burisma, Ihor Kolomoysky, was appointed to be his region’s Governor, by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk who was appointed by Victoria Nuland who was appointed by the Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry who were appointed by President Obama. Most of them are connected with oil companies and Wall Street.

So it became necessary to eliminate, one way or the other, the power of the people from southeastern Ukraine. That could be done through a veritable ethnic-cleansing operation.

On 4 July 2014 the Ukrainian government carried out the destruction of the city of Slovyansk, which had voted for the Ukrainian President whom Obama’s emissaries had just ousted.   After that city was destroyed, the Ukrainian government turned its forces against the much larger city of Donetsk, in an attempt to destroy it.

Early in August, the other large southeastern city, Lugansk, was utterly destroyed.

The Ukrainian Minister of ‘Defence’ had designed the ethnic-cleansing programme. For this he needed ‘professionals’ – as will be seen.

The ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February 2014 brought about a new Ukrainian administration which would be promptly recognised as the legitimate government by many countries in ‘western’ Europe, by the United States and, of course, by Australia. The United States and, later some European Union countries, played a key role in the overthrow of the government headed by Victor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. Listening to the politicians in ‘western’ capitals, reading or watching the corporate media, it would be easy to believe that the coup in the Ukraine ushered in a new era of democracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The new, self-appointed Kiev government is a coalition between Right-wing and outright Nazi forces, and the line between the two is often difficult to discern. Moreover, it is the Nazi forces, particularly the Svoboda Party and the Right Sector, which are in the ascendancy, as evidenced by the fact that they have been given key government positions in charge of the military and other core elements of the state apparatus.

The coup brought to power a government representing financial oligarchs and extremist groups. Its members comprise several Nazi leaders. This is the first time since the second world war that politicians referring directly to the Third Reich have come to power in Europe.

Two of the new governments claim to have links with the Islamic Emirate of the North Caucasus, an organisation affiliated with al-Qaeda, according to the United Nations. One of them has left to fight against Russia within this context.

Three other members were involved in propaganda operations, posturing as victims of the democratic regime of Viktor Yanukovych.

Prominent among them are two leaders who have distinguished themselves by fabricating false images of violence and torture aimed to convince ‘western’ public opinion of the cruelty of the democratically elected President Yanucovyh. Further, the Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine openly acknowledged his ties with al-Qaeda.

George 6The new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is a powerful Right-wing banker, and Leader of the Fatherland Party, seeing here [left] while meeting with American Neo-con Senator John McCain. Pictured at the centre is neo-Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, now one of the most powerful figures in the country.

One of the three Deputy Prime Ministers –   at the time of Yatsenyuk ‘instalment’ – is Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council – the body which presides over the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. He co-founded, together with Oleh Tyahnybok, the Social National Party of Ukraine, which in 2004 changed its name to Svoboda – Freedom. The S.N.P. has tried somewhat to moderate its image while retaining its neo-Nazi core. Parubiy, is also listed as being from the Fatherland Party. But here the murky divide between the right-wing and fascist parties comes into view. Parubiy was co-founder of the Social National Party in 1991, an openly fascist party the symbol of which is the Wolfsangel, which closely resembles a swastika. It was only in 2012 that Parubiy ran on the Fatherland ticket. During the opposition demonstrations in the Maidan he was known as ‘the commandant.’

The Wolksangel (wolf’s anchor or wolf’s hook) symbol of Hitler’s SS on a Ukrainian banner

The Wolksangel (wolf’s anchor or wolf’s hook) symbol of Hitler’s SS on a Ukrainian banner

Another of Yatsenyuk’s deputy is Dmytro Yarosh, Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, the body which presides over the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, Police, Courts and Intelligence. He is the Leader of Stepan Bandera Treezoob and the Right Sector coalition. Yarosh fought alongside Chechen Islamists. On 1 March 2014 he turned for help to the emir of the North Caucasus, Dokka Umarov, considered by the United Nations to be a member of al-Qaeda. He was the leader of the fascist Right Sector’s para-military forces in Maidan. In a recent British Broadcasting Corporation video, a Right Sector leader said: “National Socialist [Nazi] ideas are popular here . . . We want a clean nation, not like under Hitler, but a little bit like that.”

Oleksandr Sych is another of the three Deputy Prime Ministers. He is a member of the Svoboda Party and a fanatic anti-abortion activist.

The Minister of Defence is Ihor Tenyukh. His membership in the Svoboda Party is not certain, although he is reputed to have attended their meetings. Trained in the United States, he directed joint Ukraine/N.A.T.O. manoeuvres. In 2008, during the war in Georgia, he organised the siege of Sevastopol and was promoted vice admiral of the fleet. His appointment as defence minister prompted the Ukrainian Navy not to recognise the new government and to fly the Russian flag.

Though not named as a government minister – clearly by choice – Tyahnybok is the leader of Svoboda, of which he was also a co-founder when it was known as the Social National Party. Now he is one of the most powerful figures in the country. While Tyahnybok sought to moderate Svoboda’s public image beginning with the name change in 2004, a speech he gave the same year showed just how paper-thin that cover was. Speaking at a memorial to a commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army – U.I.A. which collaborated with the Nazis and massacred tens of thousands of Poles, Jews and communists, he called for Ukrainians to fight the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” which he claimed was running the country. Tyahnybok praised the U.I.A. and the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists led by Stepan Bandera, who “fought against the Russians, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”  In 2005 Tyahnybok signed an open letter to Ukraine leaders denouncing the “criminal activities” of “organised Jewry” who, he claimed, wanted to commit “genocide” against Ukrainian people.

Serhiy Kvit, a member of the Svoboda Party, has taken up the duties of Education Minister.

Andriy Mokhnyk, a member of the Svoboda Party. He is Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

Ihor Shvaika, a member of the Svoboda Party, is the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food.

Dmytro Boulatov, a member of the Ukrainian National Self-Defence (UNA-UNSO), is
Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Oleh Makhnitsky, a member of the Svoboda Party, is the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Upon appointment he immediately set out to indict the leaders of Crimea who did not want to live under the new order in Kiev.   That millions of Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Jews and others would abhor living under such a government should come as a surprise to no one. Seven decades ago, Nazi Germany and its allies invaded the Soviet Union, of which the Ukraine was a part.

Svoboda also holds the ministries of ecology and, especially critical in the Ukraine, agriculture in the new government.

Tetiana Tchornovol, a member of the Ukrainian National Self-Defence (UNA-UNSO), is the Chair, National Anti-Corruption Committee and the sole woman in the cabinet.

Support for the Nazi-fascists is surging in the Ukraine. In 2006, Svoboda received 0.36 of 1 per cent of votes in the elections; in 2012 it became the fourth largest party in the Rada, with 10.45 per cent of the votes and 37 seats out of 450. In a public opinion poll taken at the beginning of February 2014, 54 per cent said they would vote for Tyahnybok for president if he ran against Yanukovych. The poll was held three weeks before the overthrow of Yanukovych.

Next installment: Cui prodest? Huh . . . It is the oil, men!

More Reading:

The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 (as observed from Australia) – Part 1

The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 – Part 2: An avalanche of inconvenient questions

* Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini has devoted sixty years to the study, practice, teaching, writing and administering of law in four continents. He is the author of eight books and about 100 articles and essays for learned periodicals and conferences. Since his ‘retirement’ Dr. Venturini has been Senior Associate in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash; he is also an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University, Melbourne. He may be reached at

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

It wasn’t that long ago that Australia was being praised around the world.  Remember when we had an intelligent, articulate, diplomatic leader with a vision for the future?

We survived the GFC with Wayne Swan being awarded the world’s best Treasurer by the magazine Euromoney “for his careful stewardship of Australia’s finances and economic performance, both during and since the global financial crisis”.

Julia Gillard led the way in action on climate change by introducing a price on carbon prompting praise from around the world.

“Australia will create tens of thousands of clean jobs in the coming years. You will save billions by eliminating wasteful energy usage, money that can be directed to other pressing social and infrastructure demands.

Australia will be helping lead the world out of this crisis, sending a powerful message that, yes, it can be done. Despite all the barriers, despite all the bitter, misleading opposition, Australia is leading the world toward a brighter, more sustainable future.”

In April last year, Julia Gillard also displayed her diplomatic skills in China.

“TEN foreign leaders visited China this week but only Julia Gillard scored what could turn out to be the deal of the decade.  The Prime Minister’s coup in striking a “strategic partnership” and securing annual talks with China’s leaders will be her foreign policy legacy. It guarantees Australia access to the growing superpower at the highest levels and is being hailed by some as one of the most significant breakthroughs since Gough Whitlam’s courageous step 40 years ago to establish diplomatic links with China.

The China deal locks in formal annual talks between Australia’s PM and the Chinese Premier, as well as meetings for Australia’s foreign affairs minister, treasurer and trade minister with their counterparts.”

I could go on listing the previous government’s achievements – introducing our first paid parental leave scheme, environmental protections with water trigger and Murray-Darling buyback and marine parks, the NDIS, the NBN, education funding – the list is long and visionary.

But for some unfathomable reason, the majority of Australians were convinced that Abbott could do a better job.  We could blame the media (and I do) but in reality, it is us who are to blame for our unquestioning acceptance of the lies we were being told.  It is our own fault that we have moved from a position of world admiration for a responsible egalitarian society to one where we are being lampooned internationally and well and truly screwed domestically.

The Coalition began by stating we didn’t need Indonesia’s permission for our asylum seeker policy, a statement which infuriated them.  We then had the odious Mark Textor suggesting that Indonesia’s foreign minister looked like a 70’s porn star, and the revelation that we spied on the President’s wife – something for which Abbott was incapable of saying sorry.  We also violated their sovereign waters because apparently our Navy can’t tell where they are.  We have been vilified for setting people adrift in life rafts, and censured for presumptuous plans to collect intelligence in Indonesian villages and to buy their fishing fleet.

We insulted the Prime Minister of PNG by suggesting he had lied, and then confiscated documents from the lawyer representing Timor l’Este in the International Court where we stand accused of bugging their Parliament to gain trade advantages for private firms.  Abbott also had to “offer an act of contrition” to Malaysia for his previous comments about their human rights record.

Abbott offended war veterans and their families by praising the “honour” of the Japanese who attacked us, while Julie Bishop infuriated China by calling in their ambassador to berate him for the dispute over islands in the East China Sea prompting this response in the Chinese version of the Global Times:

“China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs doesn’t even have the tools to deal with this kind of ‘complete fool’ of a foreign minister.”

When Tony Abbott rushed to condemn the Russians in the hours after the downing of the plane in the Ukraine, he incurred the wrath of both China and Russia.

The official Xinhua news agency said in an English-language commentary that officials from the United States, Australia and other Western countries had jumped to conclusions in pointing their fingers at the rebels in eastern Ukraine and for blaming Russia for the escalating violence.

“The accusation was apparently rash when the officials acknowledged they did not know for the time being who is responsible for the attack, while condemning Russia’s military intervention,” Xinhua said.

“Without bothering himself about evidence and operating only on speculation, Mr T. Abbott assigned guilt,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “Abbott’s statements are unacceptable”  going on to say “Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has gone farther than others in making irresponsible innuendoes against our country even though one would think that her position presupposes building bridges between countries, not destroying them.”

In another inexplicable brain fart that even the US was quick to distance itself from, our Attorney General decided to inflame tensions by deciding that East Jerusalem would no longer be referred to as Occupied Territory.  In the process, Australia was hailed by Israel’s government, scolded by a group of 57 Muslim-majority countries, and had multibillion-dollar export trades put under threat.

Along with defending the rights of bigots and then linking the backtrack in the repeal of the Racial Discrimination laws to ramped up anti-terrorist laws, Brandis and Abbott have alienated the Australian Muslim community.

And one can only wonder as to why Abbott has chosen to instruct the Scottish people on how they should vote in their upcoming referendum on independence.  Their response:

“Mr Abbott’s comments are hypocritical because independence does not seem to have done Australia any harm.  They are foolish, actually, because of the way he said it. To say the people of Scotland who supported independence weren’t friends of freedom or justice, I mean, the independence process is about freedom and justice.”

The first minister said Scotland’s referendum on independence was a “model of democratic conduct” and Mr Abbott’s comments were “offensive to the Scottish people”.

Whilst alienating Russia, China, Indonesia, Palestine, Scotland, Malaysia, East Timor, PNG, the Muslim community, and veterans, we have also earned ourselves the title of Colossal Fossil for our refusal to take part in global action on climate change.

Domestically the picture is even more ridiculous.  We reinstate knights and dames, we defend the rights of bigots, poor people don’t drive cars, breast cancer is linked to abortion, we are “unprepared for global cooling”,  and can someone please explain to Brandis and Abbott what metadata is?

The Australia Institute, in a scathing review  of the Commission of Audit, asked the following questions:

As one of the richest countries in the world Australian people have the potential, when working together, to do anything they want. But, we cannot do everything we want. Australia will need to make choices and it is our choice whether we want to:

  • have the world’s best education and health systems or the world’s lowest taxes
  • continue to outspend our neighbours on defence or underspend on tackling climate change
  • increase the incomes of the elderly and the sick or to cut the taxes of our wealthiest residents.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Now it looks as though they’re here to stay

Oh, I believe in yesterday

Tony Abbott Changes Liberal Foreign Policy

Image source:

Image source:

“Let’s wait until we’ve got all the facts in before we come to hard and fast conclusions. But obviously it is the clear and settled position of the Australian Government that larger countries should not bully smaller ones, that countries should not aid people who are in rebellion against their own government and that international disputes should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law.”

Tony Abbott, 18th July, 2014


Waiting for the facts, now there’s a change for a start. Ok, it didn’t stop him directly blaming Russia for this tragedy before the investigations even begin, but that’s a vast improvement from when he interrupted Question Time earlier this year to announce that the missing plane was on the verge of being found.

Still, it’s an excellent move that the Liberals are now adopting the policy that “larger countries should not bully smaller ones”! This will, of course, prevent our future involvement in such events as:

  • The Vietnam War
  • Both Iraq wars
  • Our attempts to screw East Timor on oil
  • The G20
  • Trade agreements with the USA
  • Support for the Japanese effort in World War Two

As for “aiding people who are in rebellion against the their own government” – apart from annoyance at the foreign countries who may have contributed to Clive Palmer’s wealth – this probably stems from the fact that Abbott – being English – is still upset over the American War of Independence where tea was tipped into Boston Harbour, while colonials dressed as Native Americans chanted, “No taxation without representation”. The current Tea Party have drawn their name from this event, but left out the word “Boston” from their name. Similarly, in order to achieve consistency, they’ve also left out the words “without representation” from their slogan.

Now, I know some of you will object to me calling Mr Abbott “English” given that he’s lived here since childhood and that he took out Australian citizenship in his twenties. (And, as Parliamentarians aren’t allowed to be dual citizens, he’s clearly revoked his British citizenship – even though there appears no evidence of that.) However, when I complain about referring to Mr Murdoch as an Australian, I’m told that he’s born here so that makes him Australian, even if he has given up his citizenship. As Terry McCrann put it yesterday:

“In the 1960s Murdoch went to Britain, in the 1970s to the US, in the 1980s to the very different universe of Hollywood; that, and a lot more would, as they say, be and is continuing to be history.

But all through this dizzying roller-coasting cacophony of activity he never left Australia.

That’s obvious in business terms. NewsCorp is now the country’s unequalled private sector media player — bizarrely, challenged and increasingly confronted only by the nominally publicly owned but “their” ABC.

BUT he never “left” Australia in even more core personal terms. He always will be quintessentially Australian.”

So, I guess that Rupert is “Australian”; one might almost say that he’s “the Australian” – well, the only one whose opinion counts. (Who needs scientists when Rupert can tell us that the best way to deal with climate change is to build away from the sea?)  Of course, we just had the celebration of fifty years of “The Australian” – that newspaper which advocates free enterprise and not relying on handouts, while itself not actually making a profit in the fifty years of its existence.

Ah well, yesterday’s front page of another Murdoch Media Misinformation unit, assured me that Bill Shorten just doesn’t get that we have to find billions of dollars worth of savings while simultaneously celebrating the fact that the Carbon Tax is gone and we’ve removed a $9 billion impost on the economy. And we also want to get rid of that Mining Tax. Because if we get rid of taxes then that’s money that the government doesn’t have and Bill Shorten doesn’t seem to get that when you get rid of taxes like that you need to find spending cuts.

(Typical Labor. When it was announced last year that they’d require people to keep log books on their business-related leased cars, they didn’t understand that this would lead to the death of the car industry because apparently most people weren’t using them for business purposes and if you stop a business rort, that’s bad for the economy – stopping rorts by pensioners, parents, the disabled, the unemployed and anyone else who may not have voted Liberal, on the other hand, is a good and just thing. And let’s face it – any money you take from the government is a rort unless you’re someone whose leasing a car.)

Nevertheless, I can’t understand why – even if they still try and remove the spending associated with it – the Liberals are so concerned with removing the Mining Tax, because, after all, it’s raising so little money, it could hardly be a disincentive to investment. And given some of the things that have been cut because of the “dire emergency”, you’d think every bit would count.

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?


Greater respect needed for Ukraine

Ukraine is as entitled to its independence as any other nation but over the course of its history, writes Andreas Bimba in this guest article, it has been the greatest victim of Russian brutality (apart from the Russian people themselves).

The despotic regimes of Russia from Imperial to Bolshevik to Putin have an appalling record of brutality and subjugation of neighbouring nations and internal ethnic and independent minded groups.

The Putin regime has engaged in persecution and war against Russia’s southern, predominately Muslim minorities that has claimed over 250,000 lives during his period as leader. This behaviour is just a continuation of a very regular pattern throughout Russia’s history.

The Russian invasion of Crimea is totally unacceptable even if Russia happens to have a strong historical claim to this territory and that a slight majority of residents have Russian ethnicity. Russia has used its military superiority and the threat of invasion to intimidate Ukraine into submission analogous to a rapist using the threat of greater violence or death to have his way with his victim. A price must be applied by the rest of the world against Russia because of this.

The hostility Russians see being directed towards them by the rest of the world is a natural and reasonable response by the rest of the world to Russia’s inability to form strong democratic systems of government, its inability to have a moral and independent system of justice, its inability to respect the rights of all people, its military expansionism and the ongoing brutality and lack of respect toward its neighbours, ethnic minorities and even for its ethnic majority, the ethnic Russian people.

Mikhail Gorbachev probably understood this and chose to liberalise the Soviet Union but the present Putin regime has chosen to follow a political strategy closer to past despotic Russian leaders.

It does not need to be this way. Russia could have become a non-threatening, truly democratic country where the rule of just law applied, that respected the rights of all of its citizens and that respected other nations. Russia has a sizable economy with many competitive advantages and through commerce could have become a large, valuable and respected member of the world community of nations. Even nations that have legitimate historical grievances towards Russia would have been brought closer to Russia through economic self interest, trade and closer contact between their peoples. Perhaps the current Russian leadership genuinely do not want this and prefer the old ways that have been such a disaster for the people of Russia and Russia’s neighbours.

The Russian people need to stop blaming foreigners for their problems and for threatening and persecuting them but instead need to look at themselves more critically and ensure that they take control of their own destiny and have truly representative governments and institutions.

No nation wants to invade Russia nor could any nation or military alliance succeed in any form with such a foolish concept. NATO only acts to defend the borders of its member states and provides an essential military balance with Russia that enables much smaller nations such as the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Russia’s periphery as well as the other member states to have an independent and more secure future. NATO is a mechanism for stability and not for military conquest and it also acts in the interests of Russia by denying any reckless Russian Governments the opportunity for opportunistic but very dangerous territorial expansion.

The world is nothing like it was prior to World War II and no totalitarian states apart from North Korea exist, not in Europe or in Asia. Russia and China have however shown in recent times a willingness to expand their territorial boundaries in a calculated way and the world must negotiate a return to former borders and/or apply a price for this illegal and reckless expansion.

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