Friday, 7 October 2016

EU sanctions on Russia must be vetoed (Pakistan Observer)

That the battle for the Secretary-Generalship of the United Nations was between two small European countries, Bulgaria and Portugal, shows the reality. Which is that the UN is in effect a diplomatic auxiliary of the NATO powers, usually doing their bidding although occasionally blocked by a veto from Moscow or – more rarely – Beijing. The institution with the most clout in the UN system is the Security Council, and within this organisation, only the P5 or Permanent Five ( the US, the UK, France, Russia and China) matter. The other ten are without a veto, and usually ensure that their votes go in the direction of one of the P5. Three of the P 5 are members of NATO, and this has emboldened the organisation to conduct wars in countries that are known not to pose a military challenge.

NATO has steered away from offensive operations against any country that is not a failed or failing state, and which has a military that can inflict significant casualties on the alliance, whose primary military motto is the safety of its men and women in what gets described in the media as "combat operations", but which are usually duck shoots, as for example against Saddam Hussein in 2003 or Muammar Kaddafy in 2011. After the disastrous consequences of the US-UK occupation of Iraq following the 2003 war, it was expected that those capitals would be more careful in future. However, goaded by Nicholas Sarkozy, both David Cameron as well as Hillary Clinton began the dismemberment of Libya. Why Hillary Clinton rather than her nominal boss Barack Obama? Because the US President, especially in his first term, filled the administration with retreads from the Clinton era, individuals who looked for guidance to Bill and Hillary rather than to Barack.

In the final months of the Obama administration, the US President appears to have returned to the initial years by conceding primacy to the Clintons, especially in foreign policy. Secretary of State John Kerry has been auditioning for an extension of his term in office after January 20,2017 by planting reports that he had the same view as Hillary Clinton, that the air force and ground troops of Syria's Bashar Assad should be targetted by the US military. This despite the warning given to Washington nearly three years ago, that Moscow would respond to such attacks with force. Fortunately, now that Hillary Clinton was no longer heading the State Department. Barack Obama ignored the "Bomb Third Worlders to Dust" votaries still left in his team, such as UN envoy Samantha Power, and refused to permit a disastrous escalation of conflict with Russia in Syria, a stance he has maintained to the present. Those who argue that it was Obama's refusal to take "decisive" ie armed action in Syria during 2012-13 was what led to the present meltdown of the country and to the sprouting of ISIS are talking nonsense and know it.

The fact is that it was the flood of weapons, cash and training given to supposed "moderate opposition" fighters which began the descent into hellfire of that country, just as it was weaponry supplied by NATO and its allies to anti-Kaddafy fighters in Libya which ensured the birth of ISIS (Daesh) and later, its takeover of large tracts of land and urban habitations in Iraq and Syria. It needs to be added that thus far,NATO has been unable to dislodge the forces loyal to Abubakr al Baghdadi from either Raqqa or Mosul, although in the latter city, it is the very Iraqi forces starved of equipment by Washington who are on the cusp of victory thanks to public revulsion at the way in which Daesh has instituted a barbarian and wholly un-Islamic form of rule in the territories it controls.

Should Hillary Clinton become President of the United States, conflict would intensify in the Middle East, given her adherence to the Samantha Power doctrine of force as the best persuader. Despite a sluggish global economy, this may lead to a rise in oil prices, which may benefit companies headquartered in Houston and other oil metropolises. Small wonder that the entire Bush family is going to vote en bloc for Hillary Clinton in the November 8 polls, disregarding their own party's standard bearer, Donald John Trump. The Bush-Cheney-Power-Clinton doctrine of war, war and more war resulted in a huge spike in the price of oil and other commodities, creating billionaires out of several commodity traders who were mere millionaires before the bombs began to fall. Small wonder that Wall Street is showering Hillary with cash, and to sweeten the pot, her most dedicated backer on stump is Bernie Sanders, the self-declared scourge of Big Finance. An entire panoply of backers has banded together to boost Clinton's chances of victiry, including the overwhelming majority of media outlets in US, few of whom even pretend to be objective, while some (such as CNN) exult in role of cheerleaders to Democratic Party candidate.

Hardly surprising, as in the past, CNN enthusiastically backed Paul Bremer and his comic book antics in Iraq as well as the takeout of Muammar Kaddafy even as the channel has been pressing the case for direct US military intervention in Syria by enforcing a No Fly Zone that in effect would be a Rest & Recreation areas fir Daesh and other such groups involved in regional battlefields. Besides war, another way in which Houston and its allies seek to boost oil and other commodity prices is by ratcheting up tensions with Russia. Aware that a cooling down of EU=Russia tensions would result in a boost in Russian oil production and sales and a consequent decline in prices, those in Washington who are beholden to Wall Street (while declaiming against it in public) are working to ensure that the European Union extend its sanctions on Russia beyond January 31,2017 deadline. Given geopolitical situation as well as the crisis facing the international economy, it makes zero sense except to Wall Street speculators to extend sanctions against Moscow. The fact is that those calling for an amicable dialogue between Moscow and the EU are correct, unlike the interests who demand that Russia concede all the points demanded of them by NATO before such a discussion ensues.

The EU operates on the basis of consensus and every member will have to approve the extension of sanctions on Russia. Those countries with a financial interest in greater tensions (leading to a bulge in weapons sales) or which have significant speculator communities working in their midst ( the US, UK, Germany and France being examples) will want the sanctions to continue. Hopefully, one or more of the EU member-states will find the decency and the pragmatism needed to veto an extension of sanctions, so that the world avoids what at present appears to be a path towards armed conflict between Russia and NATO in the Middle East.

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