Ukraine crisis drift toward war must be stopped

Contributed by Jim Hayes

The crisis over Ukraine is still at boiling point. The world has not been in such a dangerous place since the Cuba missile crisis of 1962. The threat of world war is real, and we all have a duty to do whatever we can to pull together and out a stop to it.

The present furore of the United States, part of Europe and some other nations, revolves around some Russian military exercises and the argument about whether Ukraine should be part of NATO. There is the added problem of the situation within Ukraine itself.

Russia has been conducting military exercises on its side of the border. War planes have been engaged in practicing live firing at Kaliningrad and bombing runs on the Black and Baltic seas. Fighter jets and paratroopers went to Belarus for joint war games with that country. To those unaware of the context, this might seem like provocative and aggressive. This is a view that comes out of ignorance of the chain of events that have led to the present situation. And this is exactly the way that many of our governments want to keep it.

Consider the real threat of a string of military bases and missile installations along and near Russia’s border, active interference in the country’s internal political affairs, economic sanctions, and a heating up diplomatic war. Consider Last year’s provocative naval exercises by the United States and its allies in the Black and Baltic seas. Both within sight of Russia and repeated it just weeks ago. Can we really blame Russia for not liking it and demanding a stop?

The Western powers have a long colonial and imperialist history, riddled through with notions of superiority, that they are exempt from the rules of the Geneva Conventions, which outlaw this sort of behaviour. Imagine the response if Russia had sent naval fleets into the Caribbean or on the European side of the Atlantic and stationed a million troops on the other side of the Mexican and Canadian borders. Would this be acceptable? It wouldn’t and would bring about a quick military response.

Russia is being threatened. The United States is not. Neither is Western Europe. This is the difference.  To deny this, is an exercise in double standards, and to go off claiming to defend freedom is the height of hypocrisy.

Ukraine has come into the picture over pressure by the West to bring it and the Black Sea into the geopolitical strategy of the military encirclement of Russia, by bringing it into NATO, the military alliance led by the United States.

Another factor is that the Russian population in Ukraine is around 48 percent of the total and wants closer ties to Russia. Others do not share this aspiration, and the situation has long been unstable. The block of the United States supported a violent coup against the elected government, a subsequent rigged election, and supported by several governments regard by most Ukrainians as thoroughly corrupt. Polls suggest that the coming election will see a government more willing to cooperate with Russia, and the Western powers want to stop this by any means.

The United States has now decided to send 10,000 troops to the scene and promises to send more. NATO has dispatched a naval flotilla to the Black Sea. The extensive list of military bases on and near the Russian border are on high alert. The war of words is getting more vicious.

Any sensible person aware of what is really going on, would see Russia’s demand to pull away form military threat, diplomatic, and economic war as reasonable. Dense is not yet prevailing because the Western public is being manipulated and being told a lie. This lie is that this is about an evil country wanting to grab someone else’s home and stopping this is to defend freedom. Media, and even the Internet are being increasingly censored to make sure people hear nothing but the lie.

This has held the emergence of an anti-war movement. But there are now signs that this is changing.

Few really want a war. But the intension to preserve United Sates and Western dominance in global geopolitics is taking us to the brink. The danger of a world war is real. If it does come, it will be much worse than the two previous worlds wars. The weapons are far more deadly and there is the risk of nuclear confrontation.

If the present trajectory continues, the world will be divided into two hostile camps. On one side will be the United Sates and its allies. On the other will be Russia, China, and their allies. This will ensure a level of death and destruction world has never seen. There will be no victory. Short of nuclear annihilation, there will be economic and social devastation, and it is not the West that is most likely to come out on top.

Short of going all the way to a shooting war, brutal sanctions have been promised. This will backfire. Russia will be pushed into even closer cooperation with China as an alternative to trade with the West. China is the primary engine of the global economy, which has incentive enough to welcome more intensive cooperation with Russia, and has the Belt and Road Initiative, which provides incentive for 130 other nations to be part of this block, including most of those near Australia.

Being locked out by their own actions will bring the western powers and their allies adverse economic consequences. The sensible thing to do would be to avoid this.

In any case, aggression through outright war or economic war is against the concept of fair play., which demands respect between nations and non-interference in their internal affairs.

A world in which we treat each other as equals and deal with differences through dialogue, is one where the risk of war and economic aggression are averted.

The colonial mentality and its notion of superiority over others must be buried once and for all. No power should have dominion over global politics. The rules must apply equally to all.

As Australians and part of the human family, we have our choice to make. Will we be led by our nose to the slaughter, or will we stand up against war and a world founded on respect and the principles of the Geneva Conventions?

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