Posts Tagged 'Geopolitics'

So what has the European election changed?

Despite a disparate, disconnected and contradictory smorgasbord of ‘sceptic’ parties having made gains in the European Parliament this week, the answer to that question is ‘nothing’.  As Nigel Farage explained yesterday after his return to Brussels:

There is a big dissident voice now in this parliament. And yet, I just sat in a meeting where you wouldn’t think that anything happened at all.

If anything underlines how meaningless the European Elections are, this is it.

For all the huff and puff, the acres of media coverage and the stream of analysis of ‘political earthquakes’ by the well paid talking heads, the 73 MEPs from the UK have arrived on the continent to find it is business as usual.  The same discussions, the same agendas, the same intrigues… for all the talk of ‘reform’ the EU continues on its journey to political union and the voices of the people still fall on deaf ears.

 

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Ukraine: What’s good for the goose…

When Vladimir Putin gave his solemn pledge to the Americans that Russia would not invade Ukraine, he sentence of reassurance should have been followed up with the words, ‘because we don’t have to’.

Instead of the traditional and blunt Russian tactic of formenting unrest in order to justify sending troops over a border into another state and securing a puppet government, it seems the Russians have taken a leaf out of the American CIA’s playbook and have ex-military civilians and hired guns fighting a proxy war. This is why Radio Free Europe is reporting today that a desperate search is on to prove that Russian forces are behind the coordinated actions.

This explains why General Philip Breedlove has seemlessly reversed his previous position – where he was rushing to every microphone to declare the Russians were building up a military force ahead of an invasion – to one where he now says he does not think Russia will invade Ukraine, that he believes the Kremlin has other ways to achieve its goals and that Moscow will keep a hold on eastern Ukraine without sending regular troops across the border.

This is exactly what the Americans have done in a number of countries over the years to give them deniability of intervention in conflicts, despite the language of the contractors and the origin of the military hardware being used. What has been good for the American goose now appears to be good for the Russian gander.  Putin is playing the American game and in so doing he has wrongfooted the Americans and is undermining their efforts to extend their influence further eastward.  It seems Ukraine has become the line in the sand where the Russians have decided that western expansion will end its march.

It demonstrates that the Russian approach has matured and is now multi dimensional, which will no doubt cause a flurry of activity in NATO about what this refined approach means for the way NATO armed forces will be organised. It certainly underlines how meaningless a gesture it was for the Americans to send troops for training and the UK to send aircraft to Poland.  The west failed to correctly read what the Russians were doing.

If any EU politicians in Brussels are paying attention, they might now realise that their expansionist aims eastwards, which have caused this crisis, will be met with a very different Russian approach to the one seen in the cold war.  Now it will be one that sees Moscow commit treasure and support, but no longer any regular manpower.

Such an approach will bog down any EU territorial and governance ambitions in unrest, slow burn conflict and ungovernability.  We have just witnessed a sea change, but will the EU notice?

Elements of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement the media wilfully ignores

The crisis in Ukraine has provided yet more evidence that the British media is variously ignorant, lazy and cannot be trusted to present news that is not infected with propaganda.

The reporting of the all-important background to the crisis in Ukraine has been nothing other than an exercise in deception. One wonders if any of the hacks have even visited and read the content on the page shown in the image.

Ask the average Briton what they understand about the Association Agreement that Ukraine was being asked to sign with the European Union, and thanks to the media they would either answer ‘a trade agreement’ or look blankly and say they have no idea.  But it is not a trade agreement, it is something much more far reaching than that.  It seeks to being about political dialogue in all areas of mutual interest that:

…shall be further developed and strengthened between the Parties. This will promote gradual convergence on foreign and security matters with the aim of Ukraine’s ever-deeper involvement in the European security area.

That has nothing to do with buying and selling goods and services.  Indeed, a far more significant and crucial element of the agreement is the military dimension outlined in the agreement’s Title II: Political Dialogue And Reform, Political Association, Cooperation And Convergence In The Field Of Foreign And Security Policy.

While that sounds harmless enough, in Article 10 of the document above we find a focus on ‘Conflict prevention, crisis management and military-technological cooperation’, where we find this – section 3 – that would certainly have Moscow seething, particularly when one thinks about how the present Ukraine military has been developed, trained and equipped:

The Parties shall explore the potential of military-technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) shall establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues.

This is one of the areas the EU plans for ‘gradual convergence’ and ‘ever-deeper involvement’, with a country aligned historically, culturally, politically and militarily with Russia and the former Soviet Union.  There is only one destination when the plan is ‘gradual convergence’ and ‘ever-deeper involvement’, and that is union.  The EU’s plans for enlargment includes assimilating the remaining Russian satellites such as Ukraine, but Euro MPs are trying to kid us that only now has this idea come to the fore.

It would always be dangerous ground in the back yard of a country that is insecure, seeking to re-establish itself as a global power and spending big money on building its military capability.  Therefore the Association Agreement was a clearly geopolitical plan with two aims:

  1. To increase the EU’s political and military control over neighbouring countries and continue gradual enlargement
  2. To weaken Russia’s political and military control over its neighbours and hem it in on its western and southern borders

What on earth could Moscow not like about all that, especially with the Russian Navy Black Sea fleet based in Crimea?

While the Russians would be content to see the EU agree a trade deal with Ukraine, of the kind the media would have us think was on the table, the political and military dimensions to the agreement, diplomatically referenced by the Russian ambassador to the EU, was a deliberate provocation in the shape of a power grab by the EU.  Responsibility for all that has followed rests squarely with the EU and its expansionist, power crazed officials in Brussels.  But does our media tell that story?

The lack of impartial news coverage resulting in the disgraceful lack public knowledge about this, despite the EU being our government, the agreement being presented in our name and it being ratified by the British government in Westminster, is the fault of our media – which is pushing the EU’s ridiculous propaganda without question or challenge.

You would need a heart of stone not to laugh…

Think back to the end of August, as the rush to bomb Syria further back into the stone age was reaching its height.

As the UK was held back from participating in a US-led – and William Hague cheer-led – attack on the Al-Assad regime thanks to a Parliamentary cock up, the Americans decided to fawn over the only nation, with insufficient democratic checks and balances but sufficient stupidity and political blood lust, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Washington.  I refer of course to France.

While that had Hague and Cameron skulking around Downing Street in a jealousy fuelled fury, the French quite enjoyed their renewed love-in with the Yanks, as this part of a puff piece on France24 made clear…

But of course, there are few beasts as fickle as the politician.  And that is brought into stark relief today as howls of protest emanate from the fragrant corridors of power of America’s oldest ally.  Guess where they are directed…

Thus it seems the American love-in-of-convenience with the French has already hit the buffers.  Bless.  But then, who would ever have believed the self centred septics and the self serving snail munchers would remain faithful?

That being the case, it couldn’t happen to two more unpleasant and repugnant administrations.  But no doubt Cast Iron Dave and Concrete Willy are today filled with fresh hope that their unrequited love for Obama and the Beltway Boys will again result in America going through the motions of being the UK’s true love and best friend forever.

Until, that is, the next time Britain doesn’t satisfy America and Washington goes roaming for a new partner to romp with.

Regime change by any other name

It would not be a surprise if John Kerry was being burned in effigy on the White House lawn, at the State Department and in some secure outdoor location controlled by the National Security Agency (NSA).

His ‘rhetorical’ comment about Syria handing over chemical weapons exposed the tiny fissure in the US position that could be exploited by the Russians, to remove the American pretext for military attacks on the al-Assad regime.  Unsurprisingly the Syrians today appear to be very receptive to the idea of giving up weapons to prevent a US/French attack.  If the Syrians comply then the threat of Tomahawk Cruise missiles raining down on Syrian military targets would appear to have been removed.

Or does it?  While Kerry’s loose lips were holding back US ships, and the Russians were handing al-Assad a way out  of being attacked, the US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, was delivering a speech to the New America Foundation, which underlined that the proposed deal on chemical weapons may not be enough to keep Washington at bay.  For while Rice was taking up US action but denying the US was seeking to effect regime change in Syria:

So, in short, this would not be an open-ended “intervention” in the Syrian civil war.  These strikes would not aim to topple Assad or, by themselves, to effect regime change.  Doing so would require a much larger and sustained military campaign, putting American forces in the center of this civil conflict.  And, as President Obama has made clear, it is neither wise nor necessary to do so.

… she went on to say, in a more round about way, that the US is indeed seeking regime change in Syria:

Our overarching goal is to end the underlying conflict through a negotiated, political transition in which Assad leaves power.   The best way to achieve this is to keep the country and its institutions intact, but all parties have to be willing to negotiate.  So ours is a multifaceted strategy that puts pressure on the regime by isolating them and denying them resources; builds up the civilian and military opposition; and secures diplomatic agreement with other key countries on the principles for transition while assisting those who need immediate relief.

This is a clear signal that while al-Assad holds the keys to the Presidential Palace in Damascus, the US will not be satisfied.  The effort to ‘deny resources’ and ‘isolate’ al-Assad’s regime is still a pretext for some form or other for further American intervention.  The threat of action, direct or indirect remains.  Rice herself was perfectly happy to explain right at the outset what her speech was all about and intended to further – the likely next excuse in the US playbook:

Today, I want to take this opportunity to explain why Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a serious threat to our national security, , and why it is in our national interest to undertake limited military action to deter future use.

We can be fairly certain there are US boots on the ground in Syria or just over the border in Turkey, working with Syrian rebel groups to help train fighters.  The US is not an impartial party.  It is on the side of the opposition to al-Assad, which means anything they do to weaken the regime will give defacto assistance to, and enhance the position of, Al Qaeda and its affiliates in the region.

Rice’s speech underlines the fact that no one should lose sight of.  Chemical weapons were just the convenient excuse available for an American intervention that would weaken one side (al-Assad) and by consequence strengthen the other (Sunni rebels and Al Qaeda).  The upshot is this isn’t going to go away.  The Americans have an agenda that necessitates the removal of al-Assad and, one way or another, they are determined that he will be removed.   Saving civilian lives is just the wrapper the American action comes in.

This is why yesterday, as various outlets described the Russian initiative as ‘checkmate’ we were only describing it as putting the US in ‘check’.  There are many moves yet in this game.  The plunger on the timer has been pressed and the clock is now ticking on the American side of the board.  What they do next, we can be certain, will not be the end of this matter.

Your move, Mr Obama

This blog holds no brief for the Russian thugocracy led by thug-in-chief Vladimir Putin. But we may have just witnessed what could rank as a top drawer geopolitical equivalent of a chess move.

In matters of international relations, when it comes to diplomatic confrontation with the United States and President Obama, the disagreement has just been shown to be one of men versus boys.

Moscow has shown itself to be home of the men and Washington the playground of the boys.


Putin’s move, if it is accepted by al-Assad, has the capacity to completely wrong-foot Obama and Kerry and undermine their efforts to push for authorisation from Congress for an attack on Syria.  If Syria responds positively Obama will struggle to secure the votes needed to let the Tomahawks fly.

Russia has coolly opened to the door to another way of dealing with the chemical weapons threat the US is using as an excuse to intervene in the country’s civil war.  It is a face saving opportunity for the US to back down and stay out of the Syrian disaster.

We could sum up Putin’s communication to the White House and where it leaves Obama in one word.  ‘Check’.


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