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Stop the world and let me off

by Ramesh Thakur

It must be getting time for me to ask that the world be stopped so I can step off. Consider Ukraine and Gaza. There is a common thread uniting the two. We the West have the right to control, change and determine the destiny of the peoples, dispose of their land and territory, and install or reject and topple their governments whether elected or not. You have no right to resist.

Europeans and Westerners rightly and gratefully remember the United States as liberator and defender of freedom and liberty. Across vast swaths of the Third World, however, for most of the Cold War, in the name of fighting communism, Washington bankrolled and armed dictators, toppled independent-minded democrats, and fueled civil wars.

In a Chatham House study of elite perceptions, Europeans emphasized America’s historical “moral leadership” and praised U.S. ideals and values as inspirational. But many Asian elites view it as hypocritical, overbearing, arrogant and disinterested in others’ interests, aggressively pushing its own policy priorities instead with a disparity between words and actions.

The reliability of promises is as important a diplomatic tool as the credibility of threats. The relentless eastward expansion of NATO into parts of the former Soviet empire broke U.S. promises on the basis of which Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had peacefully withdrawn Soviet troops from Eastern Europe, permitted Germany’s reunification, and even accepted united Germany as a member of NATO. Millions of ethnic Russians were abandoned and relegated to second-class status in former Soviet republics, and Russian voices, votes and interests were brushed aside in detaching Kosovo from Serbia.

Ukraine had a succession of presidents duly elected by the people but lacking in leadership skills to provide competent, effective and honest government for all groups. President Viktor Yanukovych was no more or less incompetent, corrupt and partisan than his predecessor, but he was pro-Russian. That mattered more to the European Union and the United States than the facts that he was elected and had only a year left in his presidency. So the regime change template was put into play.

A forced choice between trade and security interests with China and the U.S. would be extremely painful for Australia. For reasons of geography, history, language, ethnicity and family links, Ukraine cannot choose between its European and Russian identity. In November 2013, Europe forced Yanukovych to choose between joining the Eurasian Economic Union — a Moscow-led customs union opposed by Washington as a ploy to re-Sovietize the region — or a free trade and association pact with the EU. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was prepared to accept Ukraine choosing both. Under the EU ultimatum, Yanukovych accepted the more generous $15 billion Russian aid package.

Having played hardball and lost, the West threw a tantrum and quickly moved in to destabilize his regime with the help of far right, neo-Nazi and nationalist groups in western Ukraine and Kiev, with the direct participation of Western leaders and U.S. officials like Sen. John McCain.

Victoria Nuland is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She achieved notoriety for saying “F—k the EU” in a covertly taped conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that was leaked in February. Nuland was a key foreign policy adviser to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and is married to a card-carrying founder-member of the neocons. She also traveled to Independence Square in Kiev in December 2013 in a publicized show of support for the anti-Yanukovych demonstrators.

The intensified instability quickly spun out of control. Yanukovych was overthrown and fled; his successors imposed second-class status on the Russian-speaking minority in the east and Russia’s major naval base in the Crimea came under threat. Russia responded with an iron fist, organized a hasty referendum in Crimea of dubious validity but almost certainly reflecting majority preference, and re-absorbed Crimea. Pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine have taken a leaf out of their western compatriots’ playbook to defy the writ of the government in Kiev.

Russia is ordered to stop destabilizing Ukraine. But it is perfectly legitimate and permissible for the West to have been engaged in an active destabilization campaign in Syria to try and bring down President Bashar Assad. Western powers destabilize or overthrow the three most secular if brutal regimes in the entire Arab world — Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi, and Assad — and then are surprised that the monster of Islamic extremism has been let loose.

After the no-longer deniable disasters of regime change policies and interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, Western powers might show some humility and circumspection. But no, they pursue the same destabilizing policy of regime change to bring down even an elected president in Kiev.

Similarly, Israel and its Western backers routinely blame the Palestinian victims for fighting back against Israel’s ruthless military occupation and electing governments not to Israel’s liking. In a notable act of Christian charity, Western reparations to Jews for centuries of persecution climaxing in the Holocaust were paid mainly in Palestinian coinage.

Israel is a state imposed on the region by the Western powers in the dying days of colonial dominance and is now backed without qualification by the U.S. Israel is surrounded by many enemies sworn to its destruction, and is as grimly determined to defend, protect and preserve its existence as its enemies are to destroy it. But it is decades since Israel spoke and behaved as the weaker party in fear of imminent liquidation.

Under its national security responsibility, the government of Israel has a duty to defend its population from external attack and daily harassment.

Hamas employs the tactic of hiding its fighters and weapons amidst civilians, knowing that doing so will risk the death of innocents as Israelis return fire. Hamas blows up busloads of school children, hides behind human shields and fires rockets indiscriminately targeted at civilians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not wrong in saying “here’s the difference between us: We are using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

That said, there is still no moral equivalence between 1,600 deaths on one side against 60 on the other. And the chief obstacle to negotiations in recent times has not been Palestinian rejectionism but Israeli intransigence and settlements policy.

If Hamas resistance is defined by terror, Israeli occupation is rule by fear and overwhelming brute force. Its policy of confiscating or razing Palestinian property, colonizing Palestinian land and ruthlessly putting down protests is done with the help of Western weapons.

At the same time as Putin was demonized for arming Ukraine’s rebels (while the West continues to supply arms to Syria’s rebels) and held responsible — before an independent international investigation is conducted and concluded — for the deaths of almost 300 civilians when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile, the U.S. restocks Israel’s dwindling supply of munitions used to kill 1,600 Palestinians in Gaza.

Australia’s merchandise and service exports to Russia last year were worth more than $900 million. When Russia retaliated against Western sanctions on some of its banks and individuals by banning foodstuffs from 32 Western countries joining the sanctions against it, including Australia, Canberra’s politicians criticized Moscow for being unfair.

Go figure. But first let me off this crazy world.

Ramesh Thakur is a professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

  • AlenLemone

    Mr Ramesh Thakur, Sir I salute you with the deepest bow.
    If only all commentators and journalists were interested in speaking the Truth in the same way that you are.

    You are a breath of fresh air in a stale atmosphere of media disinformation and propaganda.

    Thanks

    • Roppi

      well – I would beg to differ – my reading of his account of all the world’s issues is as one eyed and philosophically bent as the media disinformation and propaganda that you believe evident..

      Convenient factoids twisted and interpreted that allow you to have ‘your pint of view’ reinforced..
      Haven’t you considered that ALL parties involved in these global issues are all to blame – all are culpable to greater and lesser degrees??
      People with these black or white viewpoints – make me sick!

      • AlenLemone

        I’m sure there isn’t a man living on this planet that couldn’t be considered a hypocrite in some way.
        As there are many thieves and so on…

        But all those differ to murderers. And ‘The West’ has killed more civilians than I care to count.

        No one claims that Russia is blameless. Or Brazil. Or Uganda. Or Zambia. The difference is that they don’t occupy countries half-across the world, killing millions of civilians in the process. And to rub it in – have the audacity to preach human rights to everyone because they have the biggest gun and can bully whomever they want. America fits the bill perfectly though, as did the British Empire before it.

      • Roppi

        must be satisfying to know that ‘point of view’ is absolutely right..

        So Obi obi one kenobi – given that you’ve personally lost count of how many people the west has killed – what do you suggest the the world do with the arab situation – or the belligerence of China against here neighbours, North Korea, Africa, or the thousands of people sitting on top of Mt Sinja waiting to be slaughtered by those bastions of freedom and anti west heroes ISIS..??

        Any cool one liners you can suggest that we can all follow your special knowledge and insight..?? (apart from “there are many thieves and so on”…????

        I thought not – just a one eyed dude who can’t see past his/her biased narrative..

      • AlenLemone

        Love it when ignorants pretend that they’re after a serious discussion…but…you did fool me, so here’s your cookie…

        Oh and indeed, I have the answer (THE MAGICAL ANSWER) to all of the above:

        Don’t pit countries against each other while trying to rule over both of them – it works only for a period of time (this ‘divide et impera’ Roman tactic) but even the Roman Empire fell (as will the American one, no doubt).
        Doesn’t take a genius to figure it out really – just don’t get involved into countries’ internal affairs AND try to generally follow international law. Stop propping dictatorial regimes, while claiming that you’re on the side of ‘Peace and Human Rights’. Stop colonizing poor countries and pillaging their resources.
        Then you’ll see none of these problems like ‘thousands of people sitting on top of a mountain in Iraq’ because you hadn’t occupied Iraq under false pretenses in the first place..!
        Etc, etc…

        Oh, and please stop asking questions and answering them yourself, it really doesn’t add to the smartness of the conversation – actually, quite the opposite is true. And it doesn’t make you look too intelligent…

      • AlenLemone

        Oh and @Roppi
        It’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. OK?

      • Roppi

        ohhh – well that’s you best response so far – so I’ll take that one on the chin…
        Back to Xbox and your deluded world..bye bye..:)

      • Roppi

        Dude – have a read of what you wrote – seriously – it’s illiterate schlock…if you can’t engage in logical debate – suggest you stick to Xbox..:)

      • AlenLemone

        Yes, the reply of the ‘American Patriot’ who is as per the normal ‘truth challenged’.
        But, hey – whenever ‘the Truth’ doesn’t suit you, you can always fall back on ad-hominem attacks.

        Face it man:
        The US is the new USSR!
        The MSM are the new Pravda!
        The NSA is the new KGB!

        And all the name-calling ain’t gonna change that.

        Now, there was something about X-Box you’ve said?
        I suggest you either stick to that device, or to MSM if you’re such a fan of the ‘alternative’ truth.

      • Roppi

        Sure AlenLemone – now that you’ve laid the truth so succinctly – with such irrefutable facts – what can I say?
        I humbly submit to superior knowledge of these subjects…:)))

        Dude you’re cliche – go away

      • AlenLemone

        Truth hurts don’t it?

        I truly feel sorry for you.
        Honestly, I do.

      • Roppi

        I’m flattered – ‘paid shill’.:))

        But you still can’t quite make the knock out punch – can you Al…?

        Can’t quite string the right words together and your ‘attempt at humour or sarcasm’ hehe – don’t give up your day job..

        There is no debate between us at this point – you’re like recalcitrant child who has to have the last word in an argument they’ll never win..

        Life must be so frustrating..

        So – I’ll make this easier for a non native english speaker – which obviously you are – go away Al – vous êtes un alésage..:))

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Yes, because the one country the West has not intervened in, Syria, has done so well over the past couple of years…!!!

    • AlenLemone

      Hasn’t intervened?!

      Just who do you think is arming all those Jihadis there?
      And who started the whole thing there too? I seem to remember the US Ambassador protesting with the opposition, and (strangely enough) SNIPERS were shooting both at the police and the demonstrators during the said protest. Strange, but the protest soon escalated in full blown civil war. Kinda like Ukraine, come to think of it…
      You don’t think that fits some kind of a pattern, do you?

  • Sister Jane

    All the actors seem to be bad actors, or at the least selfish ones, this is true. One things for sure, aid and relief is going to the Rebels in the Ukraine, aid is going to the Ukraine from Western powers, aid has been going to Africa for decades, now aid is even going to civilians stranded on a mountain in Iraq, but one place nobody can show where aid is going is to the trapped people in Gaza, watching and listening for their aid,…….but all I hear is crickets.

    • AlenLemone

      Venezuela just announced that it’s sending aid to Gaza.
      We’ll see how that goes. Not too optimistic given Israel’s blockade, but hope is the only thing left these days…

      • Sister Jane

        Yeah, will just have to see if the aid is not blocked from entry, which it’s been done many times before.

      • Roppi

        you mean the aid that’s snatched immediately by Hamas to build more tunnels..give me a break..you honestly believe that the aid both in money and goods and services is not sequestered by hamas for mostly military purposes??

      • Sister Jane

        Food, Water, medicine, delivered and handed over by UN representatives, is that the aid you are saying Hamas gets. You do realize UN representatives are within Gaza. In no way am I speaking of guns and shovels. Also, It’s a lot better than giving the Israelis military equipment, the same equipment they use to bomb and target Hospitals and UN Schools (I believe twice now they’ve done that later one.) and slaughter civilians with, kind of tired of our tax dollars going for that, and to of course prop up our military Industrial complex and money interest, both Hamas and Israel are totally disgusting. However, if you have another idea on getting medical supplies, food, and much needed water into Gaza, (Heard that 90% of the water in Gaza, is not fit for human consumption, the problem seems to be, the Israel side does not consider these people as human, because that’s the only way you can justify a slaughter.) you give me a clue, or they better stop showing this on the nightly news, these people are pretty sick on just eradicating innocent civilians, perhaps if I just close my eyes the killing will stop. I am no liberal do gooder, but enough is enough, and I’m getting kind of tired of my country financing Israel, when we cannot even take care of our own.

      • Roppi

        That’s EXACTLY what I am saying…

        As for your suggestion that Israel deliberately targets civilians (UN schools, hospitals, in fact I suspect you would buy into the argument that any and all causalities in Gaza are the direct responsibility of the Zionists – Jews- Israelis ..yes??-
        My response is – WHY?? (and let’s not get into the fact that Hamas uses these same place for military purposes)…What has Israel got to gain in the media or world opinion? What’s their strategic purpose?

        Do you really believe they don’t consider their options..?
        This a protracted propaganda war as much as it is a military war..and people like you with no doubt good intentions – and who care about needless causalities (presumably on both sides) are manipulated into taking a side.. I believe it’s not a simple choice between US/Israel/christianity – amoral bad guys..Vs .Arabs in Gaza (Hamas/Fatah – Sunnis/Shites/Islam good guys – exemplary moral…

      • Sister Jane

        Who I say has direct responsibilty is of little, or more like no consequence what so ever, because nobody will ever be held accountable in anycase, that’s just the way the modern world works. Even when they created the Vietnam War, LBJ and McNamara never went to prison for creating a War on a Black Flag event, and getting close to 60,000 of our own people killed.) The rest of your talk is totally out of point, Aid, Aid, that’s the point, do you have suggestions?? BTW, I didn’t suggest anything, they bombed UN targets twice, that’s a fact. Another thing, your sentence, “This is a protracted propaganda war as much as it is a military war..and
        people like you with no doubt good intentions – and who care about
        needless causalities.” Tell me, is that supposed to be something like Vietnam where they started using the term “Collateral damage.” When they just could have said, slaughtering civilians?

      • Roppi

        ooh – touchy – must have hit a nerve – gomen ne..:)
        then if you feel so anti american – change your nationality – burn the flag!
        Also don’t put words in my mouth – did I mention collateral damage? Did I defend the right of one side to kill others on the opposing side?
        Vietnam??? – are you even old enough to have been around at the time? What reference did I make to that country and it’s tragic past? And it’s me ‘who is’ totally out (off) of point”??:))

        Ignoring my questions – ignoring my counter argument doesn’t make you right..not by a long shot.

        America is not prefect – not by many measures – but you tell me what country would you suggest is superior in basic freedoms, opportunities, etc and who could lead the world to a better place??

        BTW – I’m not an American..

      • Sister Jane

        Aid? Aid? counter arguments to aid? Just has 3 letters, your rambling. My comments was in reference to your comments, which led to me helping you along with getting out of point. You got anything on getting aid to the civilians in the Gaza area, or not? Or should we just all sit by and let Israel keep out all aid until such time as Hamas completely capitulates?

      • Roppi

        I don’t have counter arguments to aid – where did I mention that – point the inference???
        Our point of difference is over where the aid goes after it arrives in Gaza and how much actually goes into improving the plight of the regular people..
        Do you think Gaza is a democracy? Do you believe that Hamas is a benign entity that is trying their very best to negotiate a lasting peace with Israel (opp’s their mantra includes the absolute annihilation of the jews and the jewish state)
        Your naivety is breathtaking when you state that the aid is handed over the the UN officials in Gaza…full stop!
        I think it’s time to move on – we’re not any where near being on the same page..and you’re not going to change my opinion and I’m not going to change yours…but in our societies – this is fine – consider if we were to have the exact same conversation in Gaza – I’d be in jail or worse and you’d be a hostage – go figure..:)
        Also – I’m not Jewish
        Peace to you

      • Sister Jane

        Glad you think I’m naive, touchy, and that somehow you hit a nerve as you say. So do you believe that some form of aid needs to get to Gaza fairly quick? Or do you think that’s impossible, right, because of Hamas? Or do you have any idea at all about this? Or are you just trying to show how naive, touchy, and nervous I am?
        We don’t have a point of difference yet, I want the aid to go to the civilian population. As for your Naive, touchy, or too young to know about the Vietnam comments, or really anything else, I don’t care, Peace.
        Also – I’m not this or that, can you hold that back please, I don’t care, gomen ne. Aid, what about aid to Gaza civilians??

      • Roppi

        thanks – you just made my point…female emotional/ angry/ ramblings
        If you can’t handle the exchanges then – jump out of them and don’t engage..:))

      • Sister Jane

        Your not engaging at all your just rambling on and on. We’re not having a conversation in Gaza, or even about Gaza, no hostage, no jail, nothing worse, because your just rambling with almost every sentence you make. In fact Roppi we really are not even having a conversation at all, that’s all in your head. What is your opinion is it, “aid should not go into gaza because Hamas will take it and use it, and the UN cannot stop it from happening”, therefore nothing at all should be done? There really is no anger here Roppi, your just not saying things straight, can you do that for me just one time with no insults please. Just say “absolutely no aid should go to the people in the Gaza, because Hamas will take it and use it for themselves, so “no aid,”" correct? Perhaps you should read all the insulting comments you make Roppi, your all over this comments section in this article I see, I’m really starting to wonder if your not about 15 years old, or 12 is that close Roppi? You’re putting others peoples opinions down, even this article for the writers opinions, and in so doing boosting your own opinion that nobody in the comments section even gives a shit about, but please do go on, knock yourself out Roppi, just so every reader can see your stuff clearly for what it really is, come on now, I know you won’t disappoint an old girl now. Awww…come on now Roppi, tell me the truth now. ; )

      • Roppi

        well – that’s your best shot?? You call my comments insults – some might call your comment puerile and ignorant.
        You don’t seem to handle it very well if someone disagrees with you – and your anger vents particularly if you can’t articulate a counter point – and i see you speak on behalf all other bloggers – interesting..:))
        Take care Sis..:))

      • Sister Jane

        Not making any shots as you call it. You’re still doing the insult thing. Next snide remark, so far there isn’t anything to handle, because you haven’t said anything on point yet. Never been angry to begin with and I cannot make a counter point when you’re constantly out of point. Last but not least, I speak for myself Roppi, you are an insult, but that doesn’t make me angry, naive, ignorant or anything else that you’ve tried to throw at me. I see your concerns about the Gaza and Hamas, it’s the most recent excuse given, since Israel ignored Hamas for years and concentrated on the PLO, they’ve got themselves to blame for that. However, even that’s out of point were the aid is concerned, because that’s an excuse to deny aid and that’s all that is, if they were concerned they could check the trucks delivering aid to Gaza under UN supervision of course, but obviously that’s not in the cards as the fact is, they just don’t want the aid to go in period. So far it kind of seems like the cleansing of the Gaza by murder, as has been said, it’s the largest outdoor prison on the planet, and Israel intends to keep it that way obviously, unless of course they can clear all the people out of it one way or the other.

      • Roppi

        ye ye ye – save it for someone who cares and can actually understand what you’re trying to so hard to say – but – but- but – just can’t get it out – frustrating I would imagine.
        We don’t agree on the subject – so let’s let it go..
        There’s no winner or looser in this debate…you go your way – and I’ll go mine..

      • Sister Jane

        Oh my Roppi, you just broke my heart.

      • Roppi

        yep crocodile tears always seem to work…
        But I’m sure you’ll get over me – gambatte ne..

      • Roppi

        Well – my initial comment was blocked by the JT sensors..so Sister Jane – instead I’ll just say – let’s agree to disagree..but have a re-read of what you wrote last…:))

  • Manuel Gonzalez

    “…Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was prepared to accept Ukraine choosing both.”
    “…the West threw a tantrum and quickly moved in to destabilize his regime with the help of far right, neo-Nazi and nationalist groups in western Ukraine and Kiev…”

    Sounds like fictional, very Russophilic BULLCRAP to me.

    • AlenLemone

      Sounds painfully truthful to me though.
      And has been the ‘Modus Operandi’ of the dear ol’ US of A in South America for quite some time.

      • Manuel Gonzalez

        Just because it sounds truthful to a conspiracy theorist doesn’t make it true. What you have are conspiracies. Conspiracies are always the most unlikely scenario.

      • AlenLemone

        Define a ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ please.
        I know that particular label was used on people who claimed that the US Govt is massively spying on its own population, as well as on foreign politicians and companies. Not anymore.

        Besides, I gave an example of what HAS BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED by the US Govt vis-a-vis its actions in Latin America, so throwing around that ‘conspiracy theory’ label at me doesn’t make you look smart at all.

        Nice try though. (well…no, not really)