The war launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine yesterday is a tragedy. All war is not only ultimately futile in achieving the aggressor’s stated objectives but is a tragedy for all those impacted by that war.
Russia’s actions should be condemned and an immediate halt to that aggression called for.
Russia believes, like all aggressors, that its cause is just; the elimination of those who have been attacking Donbass inhabitants for the past 8 years with approximately 13,000 dead, and the termination of any possibility of Ukraine joining NATO and acquiring nuclear weapons, as Zelensky has recently threatened to do, and thus becoming a long term threat to Russia.
More war does not justice make; it creates new grievances and more wars.; soldiers and civilians killed, loved ones bereaved, homes and livelihoods destroyed, and enormous environmental destruction with animals and other living things forever lost…
There were many options Russia could have pursued to reduce those threats, but they chose the path of war.
That is not to say that this war of aggression is any way unique in the world since World War Two, as many foolish Western people ( included celebrated local professors of international policy) have attempted to claim. Just 23 years ago, Belgrade in Serbia was ruthlessly and bombed by the ‘liberating’ forces of NATO for almost 3 months. Nor must we forget the wars of aggression that have been conducted by so many Western countries against those of other ethnicities: in Korea, Vietnam, Libya, Syria, to name just a few , let alone the support for genocide in Yemen and Palestine that continues today or the brutal sanctions of starvation on North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and many other populations.. Those wars are of course not tragedies, because they are ‘our’ wars, and therefore ‘good’ wars.
I for one, foolishly did not expect the Russians to pursue the path of war in Ukraine. I hope that the fighting can stop right now and mediation between Ukraine and Russia begin to resolve the points of conflict that have been steadily rising between these two Slav brotherly nations since the breakup of the Soviet Union, but have deep roots in their histories..
We will all be soon confronting the very real global impacts of climate change and species loss in all our lives. Us humans need to work together to solve our petty issues and create a better and safer world for all living things.
Great analysis of the lead up to the Ukraine war by Professor Mearsheimer at Kings College.
I live in New Zealand . Every day now, on our government funded Television New Zealand news channel TVNZ 1, I watch reports about how Russia is about to invade Ukraine. It is somehow never mentioned that western media and governments have been predicting imminent Russian invasions of Ukraine since 2015, when the Eastern Ukraine Donbass broke away from Western Ukraine after the U.S. supported coup against the marginally Russian supporting Ukrainian president of the time.
We have had videos of desperate Ukrainian military at the front lines vowing to re-take ‘occupied Ukraine’ – we are not told that those ‘occupiers’ of Eastern Ukraine are in fact Russian speaking Ukrainians who have lived in the Donbass for hundred of years, but who have been threatened and systematically militarily attacked by ultra-nationalists (i.e neo nazis) from West Ukraine since the Maidan coup in 2014.
We are not told that the Kiev government has refused to implement the Minsk agreements they signed up to , and were approved by the U.N. , that would have granted some level of autonomy and safety to Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and ended the ongoing war in the Donbass and any need for Russia to continue to provide support against what it calls genocide in Eastern Ukraine.
We are not told that the 79 year old woman being trained to fire a rifle against the Russian invaders in the Television New Zealand news clip, is in fact being trained by a neonazi of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, who wears his Nazi insignia. That Nazi insignia – called the Wolfsangel-is the same insignia worn by the Nazi SS Reich Division Das Reich. When that is pointed out to TVNZ, there is no apology or retraction of the nazi propaganda.
We are shown videos of a serious Anthony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, ‘imploring’ the Russian to say they will not invade Ukraine. When the TVNZ anchorperson directly asked their reporter on the ground in Ukraine what Russia was saying about Ukraine, the reporter neglected to somehow mention that Russia has repeatedly said it would not invade.
Bizarrely in a recent Youtube interview, the former head of Britain’s MI6, Sir John Sawers, has admitted that their ‘imminent Russian invasion’ information comes out of their own delusional Russophobic heads, rather than from any facts on the ground.
‘What has been released, the idea that Putin might want to dislodge [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky and replace him with a puppet government, or that he’s going to contrive a pretext for Russian intervention in the east of Ukraine, these are based on a growing understanding, an analysis of Putin, rather than deep, secret intelligence reports‘.(my emphasis)
As Scott Ritter has recently stated on Twitter, ‘On Feb 4 the Russians and Chinese signed a strategic agreement predicated on the mutual embrace of the rule of law predicated on the UN Charter. It’s hard to see how Putin would undermine this foundational doctrine by invading Ukraine in a manner that violates international law.’
We all know that Western governments and their compliant media have lied repeatedly about their rationale for starting yet another war. We know that the stated reasons for their wars in Libya, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, let alone Korea or Vietnam, were all based on lies, and lies that were easily disputed and verified as falsehoods, if we had had true fearless investigative journalism.
One can therefore only conclude sadly, that the New Zealand government and its government funded media outlet, Television New Zealand , are fully in lock step with the Americans and the British in stoking a war with Russia, and that New Zealand still remains merely a colony of the British Empire that we all thought had sunk at Singapore when the Japanese invaded in 1941.
As of 18th February the Donbass authorities in Eastern Ukraine have asked all civilians , particularly women and children, to evacuate to Russia across the border. Western media is portraying this as some kind of strange false flag incident, although it is hard to rationalise that one. Certainly both the Donbass separatists and the Ukrainian military have upped their shelling across the line of contact considerably in the past 2 days . It would appear that the Donbass separatists are calculating that should the Ukrainian forces invade across the contact line, Donbass military will be able to once again eliminate the Ukrainian ground troops in ‘caldrons’ , as they did in 2014 and 2015, knowing that they effectively now have a free-fire zone with no Donbass civilians at risk.
Or it could be seen as victory for the extremists in Kiev. As President Zelensky himself has said:
“I think that if you live today in the territory of Donbass, temporarily occupied, and you think that: “Our cause is right, we are Russians, we are going to Russia, it’s a big mistake to stay in Donbass…” For the future of their children and grandchildren… it is already necessary to go and look for a place in Russia. It is right. Because there will be no civilization on this territory without Ukraine. Ukraine will grow upwards, Donbass in the occupied form will not grow anywhere. There will be no happiness for these people.”. In another words, Zelensky (although himself Jewish) is supporting the neo-nazi drive to eliminate all Russian speaking Ukrainians from Ukraine- a process that is internationally defined as genocide
The Donbass civilian evacuation is a calculated risk, given that Ukrainian forces have considerably upgraded their weaponry with American and British offensive weapons since 2015, but a sound one. It is unlikely that the Ukrainian military will risk such another debacle, much to the chagrin of their U.S. and U.K military advisors who have now safely left the country!
Kiev officials continue to describe the Donbass separatists as “terrorists’ even while the Kiev administration has signed up to negotiating with separatists as part of the Normandy and Minsk agreements – but has never actioned that agreement . Defining the separatists as ‘terrorists’ makes it virtually impossible for Kiev to negotiate anything with them. Kiev is supported in this position (at least officially) by Poland, the U.K and U.S.)
The new government in Berlin however appears to be currently more reticent in supporting Kiev in its aggressive stance and has declined Kiev’s request for more weapons. There are real risks to Ukraine’s neighbours of neo-nazi military brigades like the Azov battalion and other extremist groups supported by the Right Sector, that those groups would not only continue to fight against the Donbass separatists , kill Russian speaking Ukrainians in other parts of Ukraine, and, as in the past, Poles and Jews as well as Russian speakers elsewhere, but also foment trouble in disaffected youth in their own countries…
Despite the 9/11 blowback that occurred with the U.S. and U.K support of Saudi and Turkish backed wahhabist extremists in Afghanistan against the Soviets, the strategy of using local extremists continues to be a key item in the U.S. destabilisation playbook. Extensive Ukraine government and Right Sector media has portrayed Western Ukrainian as ‘true slavs’, unlike the Russians in the north and east who are deemed to be lesser beings with eastern mongol genes; a strategy that gives permission for extremist groups like the Azov battalions to exterminate Russian speaking eastern Ukrainians with impunity.
Berlin’s current reticence to fully support the NATO and U.K./U.S. agenda in Ukraine appears to come from a sudden realization that they are hugely reliant on Russian gas. The Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russian to Germany was initiated at the insistence of Germany with the understanding that Russian gas would not only be much cheaper than U.S. gas shipped across the Atlantic to Germany, but was also both more reliable and able to be delivered in greater volumes than the Americans could ever provide. Germany’s economy therefore relies on cheap Russian gas, particularly now that its coal fired electricity producers have been largely shut down in response to climate change concerns . The German government therefore walks a tightrope between supporting its NATO allies, and getting the energy it needs for its economy .
The Russians have insisted that the expansion of NATO up to its borders be reversed ( an outcome of the negotiations that led to East Germany and the other Easter European countries becoming independent from Russia in the 1990s, on the verbal understanding that NATO would not expand beyond its 1990s borders). U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and NATO’s Stoltenberg have insisted that that agreement never existed ( despite multiple citings of evidence of its existence) and that NATO will continue to expand its membership and site weapons wherever it wishes to, regardless of the resultant explicit threat to Russia’s existence..
Exactly what NATOs current purpose is now that communist Soviet Russia has gone, is never explicitly stated, but it is clear that its purpose is to stop Russian ‘aggression’ and intimidate Russia through ongoing military threats. U.S. think tanks have also intimated their wish that Russia be balkanised, so that the carve-up of Russia’s economy can continue from the Yeltsin years, and so that Russia does not have the capacity to militarily oppose any Western military plans (as it has done in Syria).
While Western media and the U.S. continue to hype up the threat of a Russian land invasion of the Ukraine ( with extensive videos of Russian tanks conducting military exercises in Russia), the reality is that it would simply not be worth-while for Russia to invade Ukraine with tanks and troops.
It is possible however, that if the Kiev government or its extremist wings were to launch a large scale attack on the Russian speaking Donbass ( emboldened by Western weapons supplies and bombacity) that Russia would feel obliged to protect its Russian speaking neighbours and respond militarily. Sending columns of Russian tanks into Eastern Ukraine, let alone across the Dnieper River into Western Ukraine, where Ukrainian nationalism is most fierce, would however be a suicidal endeavour; not least because the Ukrainian economy is devastated after years of corruption and mismanagement, and Russia would have to take responsibility for economically supporting 37 million Ukrainians, whilst countering an Eastern Ukrainian insurgency (supported and trained by the U.S. and U.K)
Russian not only wants a NATO pullback, but also the Kiev government to officially adhere to and implement the Minsk agreements they signed up to-i.e. negotiate with the Donbass separatists and agree to their self-government within a Ukrainian federal structure. However the level of Kiev propaganda against the ‘terrorists’ in the East and against Russian speaking people generally, seems to indicate that such a compromise is currently not possible; particularly while the extremist right wing groups hold such sway in Kiev. Those groups would also be fearful that a re-integration of the Donbass population into a federal Ukrainian democratic framework, would tip the balance towards a national government that once again would be more favorable to Russia, and likely result in many of the underhand deals that have occurred since 2014 between the Kiev government and Ukrainian oligarchs, being re-aligned once more towards Russian interests.
Ukraine is in crisis; its young people drifting in the multitudes to more favourable economic conditions in Western Europe, and an accelerating drift towards a centralized autocracy in Kiev driven largely by extremist groups like the Right Sector, with corruption widespread throughout the economy. The loss of revenues from Russia from the Russian gas pipeline which passes through Ukraine to Europe (and the siphoning of some of that gas for Ukraine’s use) with the inevitable advent of the opening of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline to Germany and beyond, via the Baltic Sea , will only exacerbate this crisis. The Ukrainian ex-comedian President Zelensky’s position is extremely fragile- torn between the demands of the ever-increasing power of the right wing extremists in Kiev and Western Ukraine, and the demands of the U.S and U.K., while his popularity with the majority of Ukrainians plummets. Zelensky has tried to eliminate some of his key political rivals like Petro Poroshenko and Viktor Medvedchuk, with legal challenges of ‘treason’, but the opposition forces are gathering against him.
What options does someone like Zelensky now have in the face of such challenges ? War can so often improve a leader’s political chances..
An insurrection , according to the (American) Merriam Webster dictionary, is a ‘usually violent attempt to take control of a government’.
The January 6th 2021 invasion of the U.S. Capitol definitely had elements of violence: property damaged, people assaulted, and as Wikipedia notes ‘Five people died either shortly before, during, or following the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, another died of a drug overdose, and three died of natural causes’.
The intent of the 2000 invaders of the Capitol was to disrupt the counting of the votes for the new President of the United States, because they believed that ‘their’ candidate, Donald Trump, had been wrongfully deprived of the Presidency through voter fraud. Few of the protesters had weapons and most of those were not guns.
In its attempt to portray the violence of the protesters, Wikipedia notes that ‘the large majority of people charged with crimes relating to the attack had no known affiliation with far-right or extremist groups’ and that Pipe bombs were found at each of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters, and Molotov cocktails were discovered in a vehicle near the Capitol’. Those statements from Wikipedia clearly demonstrate that neither pipe bombs or molotov cocktails or other weapons were held by the protesters on the Capitol site, nor was there a coordinated plot of ‘insurrection’.
To ‘take control’ of a government of 329 million people would clearly require considerably more weaponry than a few molotov cocktails in parked cars. The protesters therefore had no capacity to take control of the United States government, but were able to express their displeasure at what they considered to be a ‘stolen election’.
It is curious therefore that the vast majority of mainstream media- not just in the United States, but also in other Western countries, continues to portray those 2000 protesters as violent insurrectionists and a threat to democracy in the United States.
Leaving aside the fact that United States ‘democracy’ is a two part farce between largely identical factions ; the Republican and Democratic parties; both entirely corrupted by corporate money, it is more curious that the U.S. Democratic party and its mainstream media supporters continue to play up the threat of the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. The only agency able to actually violently overthrow the U.S. government is the U.S military, or possibly a foreign power.
Indeed President Biden’s recent speech on the anniversary of the January 6th protests continues to exaggerate the threat of a Trump supported insurrection with extraordinary hyperbole calling it the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” .
Given that almost 50% of the American voting population supported Trump at the last election, this seems a very foolish strategy for a President to take. A stateperson-like approach would surely acknowledge the differences between the parties and the need for peace and reconciliation. However the skills of reconciliation and diplomacy do not appear to be something that American politicians have much mastery of.
Attacking the political beliefs of 50% of your population as violent and unacceptable is not a sensible approach for any politician wishing to achieve great things – and be re-elected. (not too dissimilar to Hilary Clinton’s foolish disparagement of Trump supporters as ‘deplorables’, in the previous Presidential election). To deliberately undermine the opposing party’s supporters ( however foolish and misguided their views are) in such a caustic manner, is to fracture a nation .
While many Americans legitimately fear what a new Trump-like presidency would mean for them, the risk of some other organisation (and they would need to be highly organised) attempting to truly subvert the government, becomes ever more real as both political parties insist that democracy has already been subverted by the other.
The use of ‘terrorism’ terminology to describe those American citizens who oppose the U.S. government’ position on various issues, is again, a dangerous one. The United States has consistently used its foreign terrorism legislation and military mechanisms to murder, torture and ‘disappear’ people who thwart its ‘interests’ outside of its borders, at will, and without any regard for international norms or rights.
All of this hyperbole in an already violence fueled nation, is a recipe for disaster and disintegration. The United States desperately needs statesmen, not representatives of vested corporate interests in positions of power. Statesmen (and other genders) who understand that the United States is not , and never has been, that shining city on the hill that President Reagan once spoke about (“America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere’), that the United States is not the ‘exceptional nation’ and can only marginally be called a democracy, and that its history is stained with more than 200 years of savagery, bloodshed, treachery and infamy.
Statesmen who understand there needs to be radical real change in the United States before it begins to respect and support its own citizens, let alone the citizens of other countries – statesmen and women who understand that mealy-mouthed slogans and threats are not enough!
Julian Assange will one day be universally feted as a hero for the right of men to know the truth about the brutality and lies of their own governments- who talk of freedom and democracy while engaging in never-ending acts of extreme violence against those they wish to exploit, for power and money.
There is not much that can be added to the articles linked below which describe the pathetic show trial that is the U.K. Assange criminal proceedings and their likely approval of his extradition to the United States for a further show trial and imprisonment in the United State’s appallingly brutal criminal ‘justice’ system.
Julian Assange will one day be universally feted as a hero for the right of men to know the truth about the brutality and lies of their own governments- who talk of freedom and democracy while engaging in never-ending acts of extreme violence against those they wish to exploit, for power and money.
Sadly that day has not yet come.
As Chris Hedges notes in his article below:
Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. BorisJohnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.
Those people will be now forever known as the scourge of freedom, justice, human rights, compassion and humanity….. and unlike Julian Assange, they will eventually be given a fair trial for their criminality.
In Europe, the ongoing hype that the Russians are about to invade the Ukraine and massing troops on the border, is mounting, while the Russians report their concerns that the Ukraine Army is poised to attack the semi- autonomous Russian-speaking Ukrainian regions of the Donbass and Lugansk.
The Minsk agreement that was brokered by the Normandy Four Powers (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France,) in 2015 which established Donbass as a Ukrainian semi-autonomous region, is in practice no longer supported by Ukraine, Germany and France. With the Ukrainian economy deteriorating ever more sharply, Ukrainian President Zelensky is desperate for some salvation. Provoking a ‘little war’ with Russia he supposedly anticipates, will be enough to keep him holding onto power and acquire that much needed support from NATO and the European Union.
What the truth on the ground really is- we may never know, but there is a high probability that the Russians would not want to invade Ukraine and acquire a completely dysfunctional and hostile entity, but would be prepared to militarily support their Ukrainian Russian-speaking cousins if the Ukrainian national army attacked the Donbass.
As has been noted elsewhere, a Russian attack across the Ukrainian border would be the gift to the United States that just keeps on giving- confirmation that Russia truly is that evil rapacious empire they have always been described as in mainstream Western media, and an opportunity to further isolate and sanction Russia and shut down Russian gas supplies to Europe.
The high risk of a wider war does not seem to be factored into Western media and politician’s view of the issues-naturally so for the Americans who can watch the destruction from a distance. However, given that the Russians have put their military on high alert and dispersed their Pacific submarine nuclear fleet from their bases in Siberia- that alone must be causing some concern in Washington.
And to the east, the Americans are continually hyping up the Chinese Communist threat. The ‘Chinese mainlanders are about to invade Taiwan’, they have trampled on human rights in Hong Kong and conducted genocide against Uighurs, let alone the sexual abuse of star tennis players!
China, having eradicated the threat to China/Hong Kong integration without loss of life , Western governments are now desperate to portray the Chinese government’s response to the terrorism by Uighur separatists as a ‘genocide’. Unfortunately for anti-communist religious cranks like Adrian Zenz, the latest ‘leaked reports’ indicate that far from there being ‘genocide’, some of the Chinese government’s concerns relate to Uighurs having a much more favourable policy to permit them to have more children that Han Chinese. The Uighur population has in fact increased at a far higher rate than the Han population over the past few years. The ‘genocide’ argument is a fiction. The need to non-violently suppress the Uighur terrorist violence in Xinjiang, is not.
Former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, has an excellent summary of the United States’ duplicitous responses towards Taiwan over the years: for the first 20 odd years after the end of the Chinese Communist/Kuomintang war, unequivocally supporting Taiwan as the real Chinese mainland government, despite being a brutal dictatorship run by the Kuomintang, then pivoting to Communist mainland China to try and split China away from its informal alliance with the Soviet Union, and now recently, once again supporting Taiwan as an independent democratic country that must be defended against the communists. The fact that the Chinese government has repeatedly called for a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the mainland has been completely ignored by most Western media.
It is however undoubtedly true that China; its economic and military power having expanded hugely over the past 30 years, has become more assertive and wishes to reassert its historical territorial claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere, but there is no reason to believe that Mainland China intends to invade any country, let alone Taiwan, despite all the hype coming out of the United States and Australia.
And finally, the bizarre response to the posts from Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai about her apparent sexual abuse by a senior Chinese Communist Official. The English translation to her original post below indicates that her lover Zhang Gaoli (former Chinese government vice-president), is an unscrupulous and unpleasant man who exploits women, but that her love for him was the driving force of her distress, not a rape allegation. Given that Peng Shuai has been on Zoom video twice with the International Olympic Committee since her post, along with multiple pictures of her at social events , one wonders what it would really take for the Women’s Tennis Association to really really believe she was safe and ok. The impossibility of proving the absence of an allegation, has always been a key ploy of Western propaganda.
And now we have Washington saying they will diplomatically boycott the Chinese winter Olympics because of Uighur genocide etc. Given that the United States (along with the U.K.) is in fact guilty of the most horrendous genocide and human rights abuses of foreign populations over its 200 years of existence; including its more recent barbarities in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, with millions killed , tortured and displaced, along with its support for some of the most brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia and Israel, it is surprising that a permanent ban and sanctions on all United States’ global activities, and extradition of those multiple U.S. war criminals to the Hague , has not been launched before now.
In addition the United States seeks to demonise the Russians sufficiently so that they can be viewed as a constant threat to democracy. The recent demolition of Russia-gate is just one example where, while the truth of the matter is finally out and no Russians did in fact attempt to undermine any U.S. elections, the smear continues to do its work with the public.
But the world is changing; Western powers no longer have that supreme authority to dictate ‘the truth’ to other countries- much of the world sees the economic benefits of China’s Belt and Road initiative (despite the enormous environmental destruction it causes), and the Russians are a trusted intermediary in many parts of Middle East and beyond.
Nevertheless the colonial ‘white powers”; the U.K. the U.S., Canada, Australia and to a smaller extent New Zealand, will continue to cling to a past where (even if historical reality tells a different story) they are the epitome of truth, democracy, justice and human rights.
Holding on to a past that never was, is a dangerous fiction…
The COP26 conference in Glasgow has highlighted the mendacity of politicians and their hangers-on, let alone the big industries that fund those politicians. Endless pledges of CO2 reduction with minimal evidence of action undertaken thus far are not good signs for our future on this planet. But is it surprising a reduction in CO2 and other industrial emissions is so hard to do?
Oil and Coal are the foundation of first world ‘prosperity’- (i.e. predominantly the production of inanimate things)- from its beginnings in the British coal fired industrial revolution . With the accessibility of a cheap energy source all things became possible, but specifically the capacity to more rapidly destroy our natural environment to produce inanimate things from which money could be made. They included the rapid development of more intensive agriculture using oil based fertilisers, the development of plastics, more concrete production for building construction, tar for roads, and coal and oil fired boilers to run our factories and produce electricity. Without oil and gas our modern economy would never have happened, and might possibly cease to exist without it in the future.
As Zehner (2012) points out, renewable energy sources like wind and solar have considerable value and often do reduce overall emissions (but not eliminate them or reduce biodiversity loss) but they cannot completely replace our current first world energy needs, nor are they reliable when the wind stops or the sun doesn’t shine.
We can, as Zehner notes, reduce our energy footprint significantly with more efficient use of the electricity we produce with smart meters, more efficient machinery, collaborative and non coercive ways to reduce or eliminate population growth in all countries , combined with alternative energy sources like wind solar and hydro, but ultimately we need to reduce our consumption of ‘stuff’ in the first world.
But reducing our consumption when it is driven by massive advertising from big and small industries and strong societal needs to feel somehow better about ourselves, will be an uphill task. As with most human endeavours, we believe we constantly need more of everything; a bigger car, a bigger house, more things to put around ourselves so that we feel safe and important. As the human population explodes, that ‘more of everything for each of us’ threatens the stability of the world’s biosphere at an ever increasing pace.
As just one example of the impact of surging populations, ‘foraging’ has become the in-thing for environmentalists- (taking our food from natural and not farmed places). However it is abundantly clear that if we all foraged, our natural world would be very quickly decimated. What were once ‘natural human responses’ to the natural world around us, are no longer viable because of intense human population numbers.
As has so often been said, we have pursued infinitely expanding needs on a finite planet- something has to give- and it is rapidly fraying at the seams right now…
This first world response to living- of mechanised over-indulgence of our world’s resources -has to change. We no longer have the options our forebears had; of moving on to other pastures to exploit it- we have nowhere else to go.
The numbers of humans on the planet mirror the the ‘hockey-stick graph of CO2 in our atmosphere. However we also need to acknowledge that most of that CO2 has been produced by a relatively small percentage of the global population- the ‘developed’ Western world, and also that most of China’s CO2 production (highest per country but not by capita) is the result of Western ‘needs’ for cheap ‘stuff’.
Reducing our consumption of ‘stuff’ might seem a terrible place to go; particularly those of us more susceptible to the propaganda of advertising -no more latest smartphone, car , shoes or electronics …but it will inevitably lead to us returning to our human/primate roots: a real connection to our living world not based on products and selling inanimate objects, but through our senses- our touch, taste, hearing and smell. And with that return; an acknowledgement that we can no longer ‘naturally’ exploit the living world around us- there are simply too many of us.
We must build a new world based on respect for the other living beings we co-habitate this planet with.
We can either willingly and cooperatively start this journey home, or Gaia will make the decision for us.
‘Green Illusions’ Ozzie Zehner, University of Nebraska Press (2021)
when our New Zealand government announces its fully supportive of measures to reduce climate change impact and reduce biodiversity loss (except not quite right now), and then announces a one billion dollar free trade deal with the United Kingdom, we sense there is a little mismatch!-or perhaps, dare we say it? -even a little smattering of psychosis?
The ‘environment’ is everything on this planet; its not some separate piece of work or concept that we can occasionally pull out and look at and say, ‘well we achieved this climate or biodiversity goal, now we can get back to the real work of human progress’..
That billion dollar deal will result in more dairy production in New Zealand (more polluted and depleted water sources, more natural environment destroyed for more dairy farmland, and more processing infrastructure like roads and factories), more vineyards using prodigious amounts of poisons to keep nature at bay from their precious grapes, and more sheep and cows being brutally killed in our slaughterhouses. And that’s just the start!
When are we going to see governments across the world really accept that every bit of ‘progress’ they encourage in connivance with their business allies, is destroying the planet?
A steady state economy in every country around the world is literally not going to be the end of the world – (but more ‘progress’ will be). The desperate, futile and farcical arguments that we can somehow escape global climate change and loss of diversity with more technology, is simply fiction. Every new piece of ‘alternate’ industrial production, whether it be lithium batteries, hydrogen production or carbon capture is simply sleight of hand- robbing the environment to pay for more ‘progress’.
We need to start consuming less- a lot less: Eat more local food, grow our own where we can, repair broken items, buy second hand when we need something different, stop the fiction of a housing crisis in the Western world and ensure housing bought by speculators (because of low bank rates) is occupied affordably stopping the unnecessary building of houses over land and nature, get rid of the expectation that we need that overseas holiday, or that we need to kill other species for fun and relaxation…lower our expectations that we ‘need’ this or that, and more of it- we don’t.
As the climate rapidly evolves globally into some new unknowable and unpredictable chaotic pattern, we will see more drought, more floods, more storms, more climate extremes of every kind- becoming more and more intense as we rapidly, and seemingly inevitably, head towards a 3C warmer world.
In consequence, large scale human activity; industrial farming, mining and goods production is becoming more at risk- supply chain problems are escalating, production costs are rising, transport costs are ballooning, and insurance premiums will go through the roof to cover that increasing wild unpredictability. We will have to move towards smaller and more localised production; we will not have a choice.
Curiously, the equally important U.N Conference on biodiversity this October 2021 in China, received almost no media attention. Yet retaining as much as we can of the remaining species now left on this planet, is vital to humans and every other species’ survival- just as much, if not more so, than climate change. The difference of course is that species loss doesn’t, apparently for now at least, impact on human economies, so its not worthy of the same attention. However, almost every aspect of human ‘progress’ requires the depletion of natural environments for other species and species’ death. The level of destruction of sentient organisms in the world via human ‘progress’ is phenomenal, and has already potentially reached a tipping point of no return for the remaining species- including humans.
Australia has just signed an agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States for the the U.K. and U.S. to provide resources and know-how for Australia to build 8 nuclear powered attack submarines. Named AUKUS, the deal means 8 nuclear powered submarines ( but currently without the nuclear weaponry), are to be built in Adelaide over the next few years using British and American technology.
This is indeed a nuclear triad based on racism., arrogance and stupidity.
While there is no mention of China in the three ‘white’ anglo-saxon allies’ press releases on the agreement; the message is clear, these very expensive submarines are not designed for coastal defence, as the now defunct diesel submarine contracted with France were going to be; these are submarines designed to stay unseen far away from Australia coastlines – and also be completely reliant on nuclear fuel from either the U.K. or the U.S.
While Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is not, as we say in New Zealand, the sharpest knife in the box , the move is a calculated one by the Australians.
Some commentators on the new AUKUS agreement have argued that Australia has been blackmailed by the U.S. into signing up for these incredibly costly, wasteful and provocative armaments; ( the U.S. ‘you are either with us or against us’ argument), and there is no doubt some truth in that.
For the short-term, the Australian’s calculations that the U.S. will remain the most powerful domineering and ruthless military on the planet is likely to hold; but for how much longer?
However in the short to medium term, Australia is also likely to lose even more of its China trade than before as a result of this deal and other China provocations ‘astutely’ managed by Scott Morrison and his team!.
Combine that with the extensive economic COVID 19 impacts in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, and the strong likelihood that devastating forest fires and heat are going to increasingly grip much of Australia in a vice; the future for Australia does not look good.
Reliance on the United States for one’s salvation is certainly not the best and smartest option, as the French have now found, having been pushed out of the Australian submarine contract by the U.S., despite being America’s strongest ‘European ally’.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s repeated rationale for U.S hostile policies to China about China’s ‘aggression’ and ‘economic coercion’, pail in comparison to the United States’ 200 years of wars for economic gain and its brutal use of its control over the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to ensure third world countries requiring loans were subject to extreme conditions that often destroyed their economies and the lives of their poorest populations.
But predominantly this is the work of ‘cunning persuasion” by the U.K. and U.S.. By using Australians well known and documented racism to non-white countries and refugees, Scott Morrison has been conned into thinking that he is protecting Australia from the ‘Yellow Peril’ hordes supposedly about to sweep down on Australia from the Asian steppes any day now.
By being in the front line in the South China Sea when the U.S. Japan and the U.K launch more provocations to ‘protect Asian maritime routes’ (noting that 22% of all marine traffic in the South China seas actually originates from Chinese ports)
Australia is being set up as the fall guy by its ‘allies”. This is most certainly therefore, not an exercise in protecting shipping lanes or ‘free democratic institutions from the scourge of communism, this is an exercise in threat. Understand China that America is the ‘exceptional nation’ who rules the world, or face blockades of your trade routes by our ‘allies’.
In turn, as the Guardian notes, BoJo in the U.K. has been set up by the Americans to finally exhaust its colonial resources in a last-gasp farcical “Global Britain” approach, by running sitting-duck aircraft carriers through the South China Sea, in a re-run of British gun-boat diplomacy of the 19th Century when Britain really did rule the waves and could forcibly coerce the Chinese into accepting opium, and ceding ports like Hong Kong for the drug trade into China
While New Zealand (4000 kms to the east of Australia) is not (and could not afford to be ) a member of the select AUKUS group ( the new acronym would be appalling) because of its longstanding anti-nuclear policy, its prime minister Jacinda Adern has in a public statement, welcomed the agreement and commented on the importance of maintaining the ‘international ruled based order’. It is important to note that the ‘rule based order’ she mentions is not the International agreement processes of the United Nations, it is code for ‘whatever the U.S. decides, is what everyone must obey, regardless of international law’. And there was not one word from New Zealand about the AUKUS decision severely impacting New Zealand’s vision of a nuclear-free Pacific. Hence, while New Zealand is not a party to the AUKUS agreement, it is actively supporting these new threats to China.
It would be advisable for New Zealand to distance itself from these extraordinarily inept and unnecessary provocations, and to show it truly can provide leadership in a post-colonial world as a small nation.
Indonesia, which borders Australian territory south of Papua New Guinea, is now sending warning signals about the implications of the Australian nuclear submarine sales to its security and there are clear indications of a potenital arms race in the region
France too has now called in its ambassadors to the the U.S. and Australia following the breaking of its contract for diesel submarines by Australia at the behest of the United States. Potentially this could lead to a much stronger impetus for the development of the often called for ‘European Army’.
Subsequent to this discussion, it is becoming apparent that the real reason for the AUKUS agreement is to induct Australia into the U.S. nuclear sphere as a major forward military nuclear base for the Americans in any attack on China.
On 3rd September 2021, a Sri Lankan refugee, Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen, 32, living in Auckland New Zealand , stabbed 6 people with a knife he had just picked up from a supermarket shelf.
According to later reports the man had been once again seeking asylum in New Zealand for some years, but had been denied because of previous violent actions and an interest in ISIS literature, and had been released from a New Zealand prison 3 years before the attacks.
During the subsequent years from Ahamed’s release, he had been constantly followed by Police when out and about in Auckland, to monitor his actions and keep others safe.
Auckland was in lockdown 4 at the time of the supermarket attack- masks required and no less than 2 metres between people in places like supermarkets. Within hours the New Zealand prime minister was announcing that this was a ‘terrorist attack’, and that the man was known to her. However Ahamed Aathill Mohamed made no known statements about allegiance to ISIS immediately before his death, and no terrorist organization attributed the stabbings to themselves.
The terror, trauma and physical danger to those he attacked is beyond question, and this blog does not in any way endorse his or any other person’s violent behaviour to others.
With 60 seconds of his knifing of 6 people in the supermarket, he was fatally shot 7 times by Police with semi automatic weapons, who had been following him.
Or again the horrendous Mosque shootings in Christchurch in March 2019 where 51 people were killed and 40 injured, by a white supremacist using automatic rifles, the white male was subdued, unharmed, heroically by a police officer.
While we acknowledge that every violent incident is different and must necessarily be handled differently by Police, it does seem strange that a man in an enclosed supermarket aisle with a kitchen knife, could not be subdued without fatal consequences, by a number of police officers who were presumably wearing protective clothing.
Police subsequently noted that their policy is to shoot for the largest body surface area (i.e. the torso) so that they don’t miss the target, but clearly other options than shooting the attacker were possible, or alternatively those seven shots could have immobilised him in that enclosed space, without causing his death.
We know that Ahamed’s life history before his arrival in New Zealand as a young man was incredibly traumatic- witnessing his father being kidnapped and almost killed, and himself being tortured by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
The Spinoff notes that Ahamed ‘had been in New Zealand since 2011 when he arrived on a student visa. He made a claim for refugee status soon after, but was declined. He appealed, and was granted the status the following year. The prime minister said on Friday that his claim was based on a fraudulent document’
We also know that Ahamed had been on remand (i.e. charged with an offence but not convicted in court) in New Zealand for threatening activities for some years before his conviction – during which time he was held in prison, but was not able to access any supports that might have reduced his risk to himself or others because he had at that stage not been convicted and the government was attempting to deport him. Additionally once released from gaol after his conviction, he was constantly tailed by armed Police; actions which would not have helped his fear and paranoia.
It is clear that Ahamed was acutely distressed because of his trauma, but did not receive the necessary supports by New Zealand authorities to reduce the impacts of that trauma and distress. Instead, he was immediately labelled a ‘terrorist’ by the New Zealand prime minister and the New Zealand media after his death, and there was no call for an independent review into his death.
Is it coincidental that 3 violent attacks were handled so very differently by Police; that a dark skinned man could so easily be deemed a terrorist and shot dead, but two white males, despite the acute violence of their attacks, be subdued without fatality?
We are informed that the New Zealand government, in a knee-jerk reaction to this attack, now wants to ‘tighten’ the responses around ‘terrorist activities’. Andrew Geddis has noted that the draft legislation’s proposal, allowing for people to be prosecuted for planning an activity, but not actually executing that plan , is currently an unheard of judicial procedure in New Zealand.
Listen to the University of Otago Peace and Conflict studies debate about the ‘terrorist attack’ below.
We need to acknowledge too, that no act of violence is acceptable; whether it be in a persons’ home, a random attack in public, a terrorist attack, or violence by the state.
The terror of those 2997 killed, and the trauma experienced by those many bereaved and the first responders to the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001, are very real and still raw. However the barbaric responses to those attacks by the United States and their ‘Coalition of the Willing’, defies both logic and humanity. Millions of people in Arab nations killed, economies and environments ravaged, and thousands tortured or drone murdered, with the rationale being suppression of terrorism, rather than the reality of more arms sales and theft of foreign resources, and the resultant creation of more angry terrorists.
As Chris Hedges notes,those responses are the work of evil killers. The fact that ex President George W Bush can stand up on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and be applauded in Western media for his demonic destruction of Iraq, and Afghanistan, defies belief.
In any sane and just society, such a man ( along with the deranged Tony Blair and their other neoliberal cronies)
would have long ago been locked away for their lifetimes – for the common good.
What we desperately need now is for ex-colonial states like New Zealand, to show global leadership in addressing terror threats, in the absence of leadership from the larger powers.
We need to undertake more research to explore opportunities to better respond to threats of violence, to implement strategies that reduce group and individual threats of terror; through acknowledging the genuine basis of the anger, trauma and fear that created those threats, acknowledging that often our state responses to ‘terror’ threats by ‘others with dark skins’ is a relic of our racist and colonial history, (as witnessed by New Zealand Police’s infamous ‘anti-terrorist’ raids into the Ureweras in 2007); and beginning to treat responses to terror threats as a normal and just and equitable part of our range of enforcement and judicial responses to violence, which respects everyone’s human rights, rather than something that needs to be responded to beyond the normal rule of law.