This blog looks past partisan politics to find solutions and provide insights into public policy. It is the companion blog to the author's on-line training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au
It covers a wide spectrum of issues from local to international concerns.
It was previously the support blog for the author's biography "Finding Home, An Autobiographical Account of a Child Migrant Growing on the Edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness” available from Amazon.
Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au
…explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military.
Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.
Britain used to have
an empire. At its height, having surrendered North America, Britain still owned
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Australia, Malaysia, Egypt, a fair slice of
Africa, and various other bits and pieces like Malta. In number and extent it
was the greatest empire the world has ever seen, making the Roman empire look
rather trivial. It is now a distant memory.
from empire reached a tipping point when Egypt’s new socialist President Abdel
Nassar nationalised the Suez Canal. Would Britain, still a military power,
invade? As a British military commander at the time put it “of course we can
take the Suez, but what are we going to do with it once we have it?” Britain
didn’t invade and tacitly accepted that the empire was now merely the
‘Commonwealth’ and Britain itself was an island of the coast of Europe
(although there are some who think of Britain as an island of the coast of
Ireland!) The Suez became known as Britain’s ‘empire moment’.
If the Suez Canal
was Britain’s ‘empire moment’ then Novorussia is North America’s. ‘Novorussia’
is the term used by the rebel forces in East Ukraine for their new republic. It
is an emotive term laden with historical meaning, and likely also an appeal to
their Russian brethren further east. It is
also where America’s imperial ambitions have been forcibly halted.
East Ukraine proving a headache for the American empire
perspective of empire things have been going rather well in Ukraine. The USA
orchestrated the violent overthrow of a democratically elected pro-Russian
President and dictated, at least in part, who should be in the new government.
That President is now screaming for foreign military aid providing a pretext
for expanding NATO directly to Russia’s border and threatening her Black Sea
fleet which is based in Crimea. Ukraine is now in debt to the International
Monetary Fund having turned down a more favourable financial offer from Russia.
On the IMF’s role in subjugating the finances of sovereign nations see here. Financially Ukraine is in deep trouble and liable to be tied into an
unsustainable cycle of debt, and thus forced to surrender much of its economic and domestic its sovereignty.
For example, as a condition of
this aid, Ukraine is now obliged to allow genetically modified crops and big biotech into the
heart of what was the best grain producing area in Russia (what is now called
Ukraine used belong to Russia and was formerly an administrative district
within the USSR).
Monsanto has opened its first office in Kiev. Political
dissent in Ukraine is being ruthlessly suppressed. The
whole fracas has enabled the US to drive a wedge between Russia and the EU, and
enabled punitive economic sanctions to be levied on Russia in an attempt to
impoverish and destabilise that country. But, like Egypt, and like Nancy
Reagan, sometimes people ‘just say no’. That’s what happened in Crimea and East
In Crimea people
voted to stay with Russia. Contrary to the hyperbole being peddled by respected
news organisations in the West, Russia did not invade Crimea. Russia was
already there having a long standing agreement with Ukraine for the stationing
of up to 25,000 troops and the basing of their Black Sea Fleet. Crimea voted to
stay with Russia so Russia, citing the Kosovo precedent, simply stayed. Where
Crimea changed to Russian hands without a shot, rebel uprisings in Donbass /
Donetsk / Lugansk immediately sparked a civil war between Russian aligned
separatists and the central government in Ukraine.
Let’s be clear
that this was an indigenous uprising. If this uprising was a Russian invasion
then Russian tanks would have rolled into Kiev weeks ago. While the rebels seem
to have acquired some kit and probably some expertise from the Russian side,
their rebellion would have been short lived without a large measure of popular support. The Western media portrayal of the conflict as Russian aggression is
thus essentially a fairy tale.
It is worthy of
note that since the hostilities began perhaps a million people have fled to
Russia, but not to Ukraine. Meanwhile US Senator John McCain has complained the
Ukraine has not gone far enough and cited their dropping cluster munitions on houses in
dissenting areas as a reason for expanding military aid. All this war talk naturally serves
the interests of the US industrial complex which badly needs to re-start the
cold war if it is to persuadeCongress
to hand over further billions while their country faces third world levels of
poverty and starvation – more people than live in Australia currently face
‘food insecurity’ and at least as many are homeless.
has played a careful hand; providing enough assistance to the rebels to stave
off an ethnic cleansing campaign from Kiev on the one hand, while on the other,
avoiding being drawn into a bleeding war with Ukraine or direct confrontation
So let’s pan back
for a minute and take a larger view. The United States spends as much on its
military as all of the rest of the world combined spend on theirs. It outspends
Russia seven to one. Russia has one aircraft carrier. The US has ten aircraft
carrier naval battle groups. Russia did not orchestrate a coup in Mexico. The
US did orchestrate a coup in Ukraine. Russia does not have early warning
missile radars in Cuba. The US does have early warning missile radars in
Poland. Russia has not down sold its significant financial assets purchased
from the US. The US has waged economic war on Russia. Faced with these odds
Russia was supposed to crumble, abandon East Ukraine to the ravages of
undisciplined nationalist Ukrainian forces, apologise for defending its
interests, give up its historic ownership of Crimea, and shift its Black Sea
navy somewhere else. Um, like, in what universe?
The US still
appears invincible. The former Soviet East European states now lie largely
within the Western sphere. In Ukraine the high tide of American empire laps at Russia’s shore. But in the nineteenth
century Britain also appeared invincible. The US has learned very little from
the British colonial experience. To paraphrase a quote from Winston Churchill –
“there are three axioms of war -do not
fight a war on two fronts, do not mess with the Arabs, and do not invade Russia
in winter.” Currently the US, directly or by proxy, is doing all three. Two
events should give us pause.
First it was
widely reported that the USS Donald Cook was buzzed by a Russian SU-24
strategic bomber/interceptor. The USS Donald Cook is the most advanced air
warfare destroyer in the US navy. Not widely reported was that fact that the
Russian aircraft was unarmed, save for an electronic warfare device that shut
down the Aegis radar and missile guidance system on the Cook leaving them
defenseless. The Russian pilots then did twelve simulated attack runs. The Cook
returned to the nearest port. Aegis is the most advanced radar/missile system
in the Western World, and is the one which is being purchased at great cost by
The other event is
the retreat of up to 5000 Ukrainian troops from Debaltseve. The strategic
significance of this is hard to overstate. The capture of this transport hub
joins up the territories captured by the various rebel commanders and enables
the creation of an economically viable territory. Put bluntly, the
US/NATO/Ukrainian side was decisively beaten. Novorussia is now a fact.
Where to from
here? Will the US finance an ongoing proxy war in Ukraine? Will Ukraine be
offered NATO membership? Will US mercenaries operate under Ukrainian command?
What pretext will be found to continue to impose further economic warfare (sanctions) on Russia? Will the
penny finally drop that US weapon systems are about bleeding the public purse whereas Russian ones are about winning wars? How far is the EU willing to go
as America’s proxy when it comes to provoking Russia? What future for the
people of Ukraine, Crimea, and Novorussia?
questions I cannot answer but I will make one prediction. The retreat from
Debaltseve will one day be seen by historians as America’s ‘empire moment’. It
is not a perfect comparison. When Nasser nationalised the Suez the British Empire
was already largely defunct and Britain simply recognised that fact. Today the
American empire is at the height of its global reach. I predict however that
Debaltseve is the turning point, the high tide mark, at which the expansion of the
American empire stops and from which it recedes.
There is however
one last and important difference. When the British Empire receded it left
behind functioning states with capable administrations and an educated ruling
class. There is a joke in Asia that the lucky countries (Malaysia and
Singapore) got colonized by the Brits, the unlucky ones (Vietnam, Indonesia) got
colonised by the Dutch or French. As the American empire recedes it will leave
behind failed states (Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq), civil wars (Syria, Ukraine),
and broken dreams.