China doubles down on vision with Russia

By M. K. Bhadrakumar, June 16, 2022
https://www.indianpunchline.com/china-doubles-down-on-vision-with-russia/

(Xi & Putin Still Best Friends Facing Common Enemy: This key story ‘missing in action’ from Establishment media)

(TEXT)

The most animating template of the West’s “information war” lately against Russia is, perhaps, its distorted projection of the China-Russia relationship in the context of the Ukraine crisis. This dubious enterprise has practical implications for the “endgame” in Ukraine, the West’s efforts to “erase” Russia and the US’ struggle with China — above all, it is fraught with consequences for the emerging world order. 

Henry Kissinger, who is responsible for the hypothesis of the US-Russia-China triangle in Cold War history, recently made a pitch to invoke the spectre of a “permanent alliance” between Russia and China to give a shock therapy to the Western audience over their craving to isolate Russia from Europe. Kissinger advised Kiev to make territorial concessions to Moscow. The relevance of Kissinger’s hypothesis is debatable today, and, perhaps, a much bigger rationale needs to be found to explain the epochal nature of the China-Russia relationship, which is at an all-time high level historically. 

Clearly, neither China nor Russia is seeking an alliance and their relationship is certainly not in the nature of a classic alliance but, paradoxically, it also goes far beyond the definable scope of an alliance. This comes out vividly from the document issued during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing in February titled Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development

Against such a backdrop, the conversation between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 15 should conclusively scatter the West’s information war. Xi Jinping chose his birthday to make this call, attesting to the deep friendship between the two leaders over a decade, which provides not only a solid foundation to the relationship but great stability, considering the nature of the two political systems and the “alchemy” of their statecraft. The centrality of this singular factor is either deliberately obfuscated or not properly grasped in the West’s discourses.  

From the readouts of the June 15 phone conversation (here and here), the following salients are to be noted: 

  • At its most obvious level, the two leaderships have underscored beyond doubt that the China-Russia strategic partnership characterised by a high degree of trust is not buffeted by the current events or the turbulence and uncertainty in the international situation. 
  • China and Russia remain committed to extending mutual support on matters regarding each other’s core interests and matters of paramount concern, such as sovereignty and security. The Chinese readout emphasised Putin’s support for China on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. 
  • The West’s efforts to create daylight in the China-Russia partnership remain futile. 
  • Notwithstanding the West’s sanctions against Russia, the trade and economic cooperation between China has good momentum and is poised to make steady progress. China is willing to push for the steady and long-term development of practical bilateral cooperation despite the western sanctions against Russia. 
  • On the “Ukraine issue”, China assesses the situation in both its historical context and the merits of the issue and seeks a proper settlement in a responsible manner. In a significant rhetorical departure, there was no reference to sovereignty and territorial integrity questions or to “war” or ceasefire, etc. 
  • Broadly speaking, more than 100 days into the war in Ukraine, Xi has focused squarely on his support for Russia. The big message is that the events in Ukraine have not dented Xi’s basic commitment to the Sino-Russian partnership. 

The bottom line is that China doubles down on its vision with Russia as spelt out in the joint statement of February 4. It is to be noted that Xi’s call was timed shortly before a European summit is slated to put on a show of solidarity with Ukraine and, equally, as countdown begins for a NATO summit at the end of this month, which is expected to approve a new “strategic concept” that will upgrade vigilance against Russia and also mention potential challenges to the alliance from China for the first time. The leaders of Japan and South Korea will be attending the NATO summit for the first time. 

The key message here is that China and Russia have no choice but to jointly resist NATO’s all-round suppression through close strategic coordination, and further maintain the balance of the global strategic situation. Indeed, the 13-hour joint air patrol in late May by a task force of Russian and Chinese strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea bang in the middle of the Ukraine conflict speaks for itself. 

The fact that Tokyo has overnight breathed life into the dispute over Russian “occupation” of the Kuril Islands just when Moscow is involved in a conflict on the western front, would bring Russia and China on the same page with regard to the ascendency of Japanese militarism, with US support and encouragement, as a new factor in the Asia-Pacific.

All in all, Xi Jinping call and the vehement expression and display of Chinese support and understanding has come at a time when Putin needs it most. The Kremlin readout explicitly stated: “It was agreed to expand cooperation in energy, finance, the manufacturing industry, transport and other areas, taking into account the global economic situation that has become more complicated due to the illegitimate sanctions policy pursued by the West. The further development of military and defence ties was touched upon as well.” 

To borrow the undiplomatic words of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Xi may have inflicted “a major reputational damage for China” in the West. Quite obviously, Xi has ignored the repeated warnings by US officials that the “sanctions from hell” to weaken Russia would visit China too if Beijing gave support to Moscow. Curiously, Xi rebooted the China-Russia partnership although Biden Administration officials are spreading a notion lately that a “thaw” is on the cards in US-China relations. 

Following the meeting on Monday between Yang Jiechi, CCP Politburo member and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor at Luxembourg, the White House characterised the discussion as “candid, substantive, and productive,” while the Chinese press release was noticeably circumspect: “The United States should put China in the right strategic perspective, make the right choice, and translate President Biden’s remarks into concrete actions that the United States does not seek a new Cold War with China; it does not aim to change China’s system; the revitalisation of its alliances is not targeted at China; the United States does not support “Taiwan Independence”; and it has no intention to seek a conflict with China. The United States needs to work with China in the same direction to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state.” 

Yang warned that “The Taiwan question concerns the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and if it is not handled properly, it will have a subversive impact. This risk not only exists, but will continue to rise.” The Chinese readout described the discussion as “candid, in-depth and constructive communication and exchanges.” 

Xi’s call with Putin came two days later.

Ukraine: Some Lemmings Wear Wooden Shoes; & Factoring in China

By Ray McGovern, June 16, 2022

Does it make sense for NATO members to believe that they can make “Russia lose the war” in Ukraine by providing enough “lethal” aid, as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has argued? ( See: https://libertarianinstitute.org/news-roundup/dutch-pm-says-nato-using-ukraine-as-proxy-against-russia/ )

Snap out of it, Prime Minister Rutte! Statements like that — however commonplace — are naive, ill-informed, and downright dangerous. And your outspoken intent “to maximize pain inflicted on Moscow” appears equally quixotic — and provocative. If you are trying to prove you are no less a loyal lemming than your Nordic neighbors lusting to join NATO, you super-achieved with your remarks Wednesday next to Lemming-in-Chief-NATO-Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Be not deceived. For good or ill, Russia is slowly achieving the objectives of its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Despite what Western Establishment media have been saying, Ukraine has zero chance of winning on the ground — no matter how much lethality NATO pours in.

Arms or Alms?

So the question remains: does the continued provision of arms to Ukraine make sense. The answer: No, unless you are among those who profiteer from war — those whom Pope Francis labeled, in a speech to Congress seven years ago, “the blood-drenched arms traders”.

Next question: Are they the ones prompting the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania to visit Zelensky today in Kyiv? Or is there a chance that, taking into account Russia’s recent advances on the ground, their visit on Wednesday was seen as an appropriate time for Zelensky’s visitors to take a different tack. Is there a chance they counseled him to end the quixotic campaign to make Russia lose. Did they, instead, counsel an early ceasefire, resumption of negotiations, and getting rid of lingering Nazis by giving them severance pay and flowers at a departure ceremony for them?

The Russians

What about the Russians? President Vladimir Putin has said more than once that he is aware that Washington’s foreign policy is “hostage” to U.S. domestic political vicissitudes. A year ago he pointed out:

“I am sure that it [US policy towards Russia] is primarily impacted by the domestic political processes. Russia-US relations have to a certain extent become hostage to the internal political processes that are taking place in the United States.”

( See: https://tass.com/politics/1298867 )

Putin no doubt expects President Joe Biden’s policy on Ukraine over the next several months to be influenced by the enduring political imperative to be seen as boldly facing down the Russians. With the U.S. mid-term elections coming in November, Putin’s prudence (and his past experience with U.S. presidents) will prompt him to expect the worst (beyond name-calling) from Biden — at least until November, and then probably worse-than-the-worst, so to speak, in the months thereafter. (True, there are growing signs of Biden-Zelensky friction but, for the nonce, they seem to realize they are stuck with each other.) 

A key question is whether Russian troops will continue their advance farther west to Odessa, and perhaps beyond, in the next couple of months. My guess is that Putin is more likely to do that, if the U.S. and NATO continue to send in more and more lethal weaponry in their illusory pursuit of the stated goal of “making Russia lose the war”.

The (Often) Forgotten China Factor

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva. A striking feature of that summit was Biden showing Putin that he (Biden) was woefully misinformed about the Russia-China relationship, which has now played a major role in Putin’s confidence and assertiveness. (Chinese President Xi Jin-Ping surprised most experts on China by giving Putin a waiver on Beijing’s bedrock posture on the principles of Westphalia.) The June 16, 2021 face-to-face summit gave Putin confirmation that Biden and his advisers are decades behind the times in assessing the current relationship between Russia and China. We know this from Biden’s own words.

After the summit, President Biden’s co-travelers were having trouble dragging him away from the press and onto his departing plane. Biden’s post-summit remarks apparently reflect what he had just told Putin, commiserating with him about the “squeeze” China was putting on Russia. Pasted in below (in bold italics) is a short excerpt from “Biden-Putin Talk Tuesday With Xi in the Wings”See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2021/12/05/biden-putin-talk-tuesday-with-xi-in-the-wings/ ).

Here’s President Biden:

“Without quoting him [Putin] – which I don’t think is appropriate – let me ask a rhetorical question: You got a multi-thousand-mile border with China. China is seeking to be the most powerful economy in the world and the largest and the most powerful military in the world.”

“Let me choose my words. Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now. They are being squeezed by China.”

One can only hope that President Biden, a year later, is better informed; that he is now aware that Russia and China have never been closer; that, indeed, they have a virtual military alliance. This is a tectonic shift in what the Soviets used to call “the world correlation of forces”. The war in Ukraine has provided the orchestration for a Requiem for the dearly departed unipolar world of recent memory.

MICIMATT Inner Sanctum…

Citoyen Max Blumenthal dares enter inner sanctum of the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex as MICIMATT meets in Washington

Citoyen/nes should do this: Allons enfants de la patrie!
Le jour de gloire est arrivé.

Eureka! Now I Know; the US is Truly ‘EXCEPTIONAL’

By Ray McGovern, June 11, 2022

After a half-century of active involvement in U.S. foreign policy (whether trying to inform it, or critiquing it), I had been gravitating slowly to some understanding of this key question: In what way is the USA is ‘exceptional’.

Duh! It should not have to take a Harvard professor to ‘splain it to me.  But Dani Rodrik’s article (full text below) says it all. Short answer: The U.S. is exceptional because it is the only country that (a) considers itself exceptional and (b) continues to throw its weight around on that misbegotten premise. If exceptionalists like 

Antony Blinken continue to run U.S. foreign policy, ‘This will come to a no-good end’, as the Chinese used to put it back in the day.

Rodrik’s article is below. (N.B.: It will be on the final exam.)

In the eyes of others, the US is not the benign power it thinks it is

By Dani Rodrik

  • America’s foreign policy goals are often self-serving, while its designs for a rules-based international order primarily reflect the interests of its business and policy elites
  • What’s good for the US may not be good for the world. The sooner Washington recognises that, the better

When I started teaching at Harvard’s Kennedy School in the mid-1980s, competition with Japan was the dominant preoccupation of US economic policy. The book Japan as Number One by Harvard’s premier Japan expert at the time, Ezra Vogel, set the tone of the debate.

I remember being struck back then by the degree to which the discussion, even among academics, was tinged by a certain sense of American entitlement to international pre-eminence. The United States could not let Japan dominate key industries and had to respond with its own industrial and trade policies – not just because these might help the US economy, but also because the US simply could not be No 2.

Until then, I had thought that aggressive nationalism was a feature of the Old World – insecure societies ill at ease with their international standing and reeling from real or perceived historical injustices. American elites, rich and secure, may have valued patriotism, but their global outlook tended towards cosmopolitanism.

But zero-sum nationalism was not far from the surface, which became clear once America’s place atop the global economic totem pole was threatened.

After three decades of US triumphalism following the fall of the Berlin Wall, a similar process is now playing out on a vastly greater scale. It is driven both by China’s rise – which represents a more significant economic challenge to America than Japan did in the 1980s and is also a geopolitical risk – and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The US has responded to these developments by seeking to reassert its global primacy – a goal American policymakers readily conflate with that of establishing a more secure and prosperous world. They regard US leadership as central to the promotion of democracy, open markets and a rules-based international order.

What could be more conducive to peace and prosperity than that? The view that US foreign policy goals are fundamentally benign underpins the myth of American exceptionalism: what is good for the US is good for the world.

While this is undoubtedly true at times, the myth too often blinds American policymakers to the reality of how they exercise power. The US undermines other democracies when it suits its interests and has a long record of meddling in sovereign countries’ domestic politics. Its 2003 invasion of Iraq was as clear a violation of the United Nations Charter as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.

US designs for “open markets” and a “rules-based international order” often primarily reflect the interests of US business and policy elites rather than smaller countries’ aspirations. And when international rules diverge from those interests, the US simply stays away (as with the International Criminal Court, or most of the core International Labour Organization conventions).

Many of these tensions were evident in a recent speech by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on America’s approach to China. Blinken described China as “the most serious long-term challenge to the international order”, arguing that “Beijing’s vision would move us away from the universal values that have sustained so much of the world’s progress”.

Blinken is correct that many of the elements of the post-World-War-II order, such as the UN Charter, are not purely American or Western. But it is far from certain that China poses a greater threat to those truly universal constructs than the US does. For example, much of the trouble that US policymakers have with Chinese economic practices relates to domains – especially trade, investment and technology – where universal rules hardly prevail.

According to Blinken, the US “will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open, inclusive international system”. Again, who could possibly oppose such a vision?

But China and many others worry that US intentions are much less benign. To them, Blinken’s statement sounds like a threat to contain China and limit its options, while bullying other countries into siding with America.

None of this is to claim an equivalence between current US actions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or China’s gross human rights violations in Xinjiang and land grabs in the Himalayas and South China Sea.

For all its faults, the US is a democracy where critics can openly criticise and oppose the government’s foreign policy. But that makes little difference to countries treated as pawns in America’s geopolitical competition with China, which often struggle to distinguish between the global actions of major powers.

Blinken drew a clear link between China’s authoritarian practices and the country’s presumed threat to global order. This is a mirror-image projection of America’s belief in its own benign exceptionalism. But just as democracy at home does not imply goodwill abroad, domestic repression need not inevitably lead to external aggression. China also claims to be interested in a stable, prosperous global order – just not one arranged exclusively on US terms.

The irony is that the more the US treats China as a threat and attempts to isolate it, the more China’s responses will seem to validate America’s fears.

With the US seeking to convene a club of democracies openly opposing China, it is not surprising that President Xi Jinping cosied up to Putin just as Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine. As the journalist Robert Wright notes, countries excluded from such groupings will band together.

To those who wonder why we should care about the decline of America’s relative power, US foreign policy elites respond with a rhetorical question: would you rather live in a world dominated by the US or by China?

In truth, other countries would rather live in a world without domination, where smaller states retain a fair degree of autonomy, have good relations with all others, are not forced to choose sides, and do not become collateral damage when major powers fight it out.

The sooner US leaders recognise that others do not view America’s global ambitions through the same rose-tinted glasses, the better it will be for everyone.

Dani Rodrik is professor of international political economy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Copyright: Project Syndicate

https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3180953/eyes-others-us-not-benign-power-it-thinks-it

Evidence Implicates British State in Northern Ireland Murders

by Jenny Farrell in Winter 2022 Edition of “Peace and Planet News”
https://peaceandplanetnews.org/northern-ireland-murders/
Originally published at People World

A newly released report revealed that throughout the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland the British military and police, waged a “dirty war.” They used tactics developed in anti-colonial wars in Kenya, Malaysia, Aden and Oman.

In a report released Jan. 13, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Marie Anderson said there was evidence of “collusive behavior” by some British officers in the murder of 19 people and the attempted murder of two others over a four-year period by unionist terror groups. “Operation Greenwich,” led by Ms. Anderson, dealt with the activities of the unionist death squads in two counties between 1989 and 1993.

As to the precise nature of the covert collaboration, the report cites the following facts, among others:

  • The British state helped import South African weapons that were used in at least ten of the killings.
  • British state agents and informers working within the pro-British terror group were directly involved in a number of murders.
  • Despite knowledge of the direct involvement in murders by members of Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), a British state-run militia, no action was taken against them.
  • Police officials as well as the UDR, who were known to be passing information to unionist gangs, were nonetheless allowed into high-level meetings.
  • Police failed to warn some victims that their lives were in danger.
  • Police files on the activities of informers and agents involved in the murders were destroyed.
  • Such collusion is part of the counter-insurgency handbook employed by imperialist forces worldwide.

Last December, a Belfast court paid substantial compensation to the victims and relatives of a deadly 1975 attack on Ireland’s best-known pop group, the Miami Showband. Three musicians were killed and two injured in the attack.  They were on their way to Dublin from a gig in Northern Ireland when they were stopped at a fake British Army roadblock manned by members of the UDR and Unionist death squad plus a British military officer who, according to one survivor, had “a posh English accent.”

The British government is seeking an amnesty for its armed forces.

These developments come at a time when the British government is seeking an amnesty for its armed forces, halting investigations and denying victims access to the courts and to a legitimate trial. This amnesty scheme has been rightly condemned by all Northern Ireland political parties, by the Irish government, and by international human rights organizations.

The purpose of the amnesty is to sweep under-the-carpet British atrocities such as Derry’s Bloody Sunday and Belfast’s Ballymurphy massacres of 50 years ago. In Derry on Jan. 30, 1972, 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators were slain. In the Catholic estate Ballymurphy between Aug. 9 and 11, 1971, 10 defenseless people, including a priest, were killed in cold blood. A plan drawn up in London by the highest government circles aimed at crushing resistance through committing acts of “collective punishment” of the Catholic community in the North of Ireland.

Various investigations made varying efforts to illuminate or obscure the masterminds and circumstances of these attacks on the Catholic population. Despite overwhelming evidence against the actions of the military, only one paratrooper, “Soldier F,” was initially charged 49 years later with murder of two of the 14 dead on Bloody Sunday. The charges were dropped last fall. It is worth noting the same “Soldier F” received a commendation for gallantry for his role in the Ballymurphy massacre.

This amnesty is intended to ensure that both the actual killers, but also those in senior political and military circles who pulled the strings never come before a court of law for their crimes. “Soldier F” was part of the punitive shock troops deliberately deployed in both Derry and Ballymurphy. This British force, 1 Para of the Parachute Regiment, was under the command of Brigadier Kitson, the British Army’s guru in counter-insurgency. He had honed his “skills” fighting anti-colonial resistance movements in Malaya, Kenya, Aden, and Oman and penned several books on the topic. His 1960s book Gangs and Counter-gangs dealt with setting up pseudo-gangs in Kenya. And under his watch in September 1970 in Northern Ireland, similar proxy forces were formed.

Systematic collusion between British security forces and unionist terror gangs that resulted in hundreds of murders.

The use of such pseudo-gangs continued throughout the conflict and they were used against the Catholic community. In 1970, senior political figures including British Prime Minister Edward Heath approved of these illegal state-controlled gangs, which would have been discussed at the “GEN 42” military meetings at 10 Downing St., which were chaired by the PM and attended by cabinet ministers and senior military representatives. In other words, the amnesty is covering more than just ordinary squaddies.

The newly released report is just one of many investigations that revealed that throughout the 30-year conflict the British military, police, and military intelligence waged a “dirty war.” Various sources point to systematic collusion between British security forces and unionist terror gangs that resulted in hundreds of murders. The killing in February 1989 of lawyer Pat Finucane, who was murdered in front of his wife and children by a unionist killer squad, got international headlines. The masterminds behind this murder included police officers, British military personnel, and leading British politicians. The Finucane family have been battling for 30+ years for a public inquiry, but the British continue to block their efforts because it would show his execution goes to the very top of the Westminster establishment.

In early 2020, a British government-commissioned inquiry established that 85% of the pro-British terror gangs’ intelligence information came from a number of British security agencies. It also discovered that these killers “relied heavily on [British] security forces’ tips to identify Republican [Catholic] targets” and that “many attacks could be traced to support originally provided by one of their [British] security contacts.”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said after the release of the latest report, “The families of the victims of these killings investigated by the Ombudsman, like all bereaved in the conflict, are entitled to know the truth about the deaths of their loved ones and should not have to wait any longer for truth and justice.” This comment applies to the entire Northern Ireland tragedy and the British policy of collusion and obfuscation.

————————

Ray comment: The British have long since razored out the word ‘accountability’ from the English Lexicon. My Irish grandmother told me many years ago about the cruelty of “the landlords” and the impunity they enjoyed.