Just like the US, Japan faces backlash for interventionist policy

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The term ‘backlash’ couldn’t be more accurate to describe Japan’s recent anti-pacifist agenda – a foreign policy course set by pro-American Prime Minister Shinzo Abe which has taken its toll with the recent Islamic State (IS) beheading of two Japanese citizens.

The beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and defense contractor Haruna Yukawa has been described in the accompanying IS video as a form of personal retaliation against Shinzo Abe’s pledge to combat IS through the announcement of a $200 million non-military aid to countries fighting IS.

For his part, Abe condemned the killings, but also pledged that Japan would “resolutely fulfill its responsibility to the international community in the fight against terrorism.” Such statement sounds very much like what is spewing out of Washington’s propaganda machine (international community – US, John Kerry).

And very much like how the West takes advantage of such ‘despicable acts’, Mr. Abe also declared a need for a legislation “aimed at protecting the lives and well-being of the people…if Japanese abroad come under harm’s way, as in the recent case (IS beheading), the (Japanese military) Self-Defense Forces (SDF) aren’t able to fully utilize their abilities.”

As regrettable as it is for the families of those murdered by IS as a result of Abe’s militaristic policies, the backfiring of his new strategy to ‘engage’ the world and tackle ‘terrorism’ has been swift and brutal.  Following his pronouncements, his critics charged “no doubt the government will argue that this is all the more reason why Japan needs to rid of its constitutional ban on military and take on a fuller role in the ‘war on terror’” and that the beheading is a result of the Tokyo’s antagonistic foreign policy, which has its roots in Japan’s most uneasy neighbor: China.

Roots in China

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described Japan’s new foreign policy as ‘proactive pacifism’ which under no guise is aimed at China. But many see it as Tokyo’s renewed interests in expanding the nation’s military which, as historians would point out, should be a worrying direction the country must not take.

Since being in office, Mr. Abe has caused discomfort to his neighbors, particularly China and South Korea. So far, he has had close-call skirmishes with Beijing concerning disputed islands, Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine (a tribute to Japanese leaders convicted of war crimes), as well as his attempts to normalize relations with the breakaway island of Taiwan – an issue that is particularly sensitive for Beijing.

As his foreign policy have expanded not just beyond East and South East Asia, Abe’s policies elsewhere (especially in the Middle East) have made new enemies, all in the name of rearmament and global engagement to please Washington. And this policy did not come out of nowhere: the US is keen on rearming a country that has attacked it during World War II all in the name of containing China. Clearly the toxic relationship with Washington has taken its toll on its allies and lessons will always be learned the hard way as long as you are in Uncle Sam’s camp.

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Hollande, Merkel visits Putin to discuss Ukraine

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Who would’ve thought that the Ukraine semi civil war will still be a major topic after months of seemingly stalemated power struggle between the West and Russia? Indeed it is a major issue: in fact not only it has become the major theater of the new Cold War, but also a central issue that has prompted a joint visit from France’s and Germany’s leaders to talk directly to Putin so they can engage in a constructive dialogue, minus the Americans of course.

French President Francois Hollande and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Moscow comes at a time when the hawks in Washington are preparing to send lethal weapons to Ukraine, a plan that has met criticism in European capitals, including from the UK, France, and Germany.

Perhaps an important aspect of this visit is its secrecy and that fact that it excluded any delegation from the United States, which, as mounting evidences shows, has had a hand in the unraveling of Ukraine. The joint visit to Moscow highlights the progress stated in the restarting the Minsk agreements, which is described as key to stopping the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “On the basis of proposals made by the French President and German Chancellor, there is currently ongoing joint work to prepare the text of a possible joint document on the implementation of the Minsk agreements – a document that would include proposals made by Ukrainian President Poroshenko and proposals put forward today by Russian President Putin.”

Fearing an independent course might take hold in Europe, for his part, American Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Obama administration had “no illusions that there is a military solution” to Ukraine. The headlines in the Western press also stress Kerry’s ‘humanitarian aid’, which may include, as he stated, lethal weaponry that Ukraine leaders “desperately need to defend themselves.”

There is of course criticism on the United States’ double-faced policy on Ukraine. In statement to Russia’s RT, Post-Examiner columnist Martin Sieff said “Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande [have] belatedly recognized the seriousness of what is happening in Ukraine, they do want to move back from the brink, they do want to restrain the Kiev government, and they are strongly in favor on a negotiated settlement. The problems will be in Washington and Kiev, not in Paris and Berlin.”

As far as the American press goes, the European move to tackle the Ukraine issue presents not an opportunity to end the war, but rather a ‘diplomatic trap set by Putin.’ The diplomatic trap crap was quoted directly from Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the American-pampered prime minister who was famous for presenting a wrong flag to the Swiss president and who got Word War II history by saying the USSR invaded Germany.

In a post-Moscow visit, Angela Merkel was quoted as saying “I understand the debate (on weapons supplies) but I believe that more weapons will not lead to the progress Ukraine needs. I really doubt that.”

The Language of Western Double Standards

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By now Obama has addressed Europe’s elites in Brussels for the G7 summit, which excluded Russia because of disagreements with Moscow’s stance on the Ukraine crisis. The Crimean referendum is perhaps the pinnacle of this almost half-a-year old Ukrainian fiasco–an essentially chessboard game between European powers and America. Depending on your news sources though, it can be hard to know who is telling the truth or spreading propaganda.

Of course, for those of you who manages to extricate yourselves from the claws of the mainstream Western media, reading ‘between the lines’ is more like an exercise on deciphering and disgust than simple curious observation and impartiality–what used to be news has now been transformed into outright and shameless propaganda.

Whether you are sitting pretty on your couch watching the evening news, or attending a press conference of US officials, here is a fun exercise on learning “the language of Western double standards.”

When Obama calls for “de-escalating the Ukraine crisis

  •          Dig on the facts, the ‘cause and effects’ of the crisis: the Ukraine protests late last year was ‘escalated’ by the West by its support for the Ukrainian anarchists, perhaps starting with John McCain’s visit to Kiev. Russia went to protect Crimea after the fact; triggered by the takeover of the Ukrainian self-proclaimed government

When the president of the United States calls for tougher sanctions if Russia engaged in “deeper incursions” into Ukraine

When Obama mentions the existence of “the principles that have meant so much to Europe and the world must be upheld”

When the West declares the Crimean referendum to secede from Ukraine is “illegal and against international law”

When the West says Russia is expanding its influence in the region

There is no denying that the inclusion of Ukraine as part of the European Union is only a pretext to its NATO membership in the future, and this Russia will fight at all cost. Here again, the principle of ‘cause and effect’ plays a role: Being in its region of influence, naturally Russia has the right to increase its military readiness amid NATO preparations near Russia’s borders.

 

 

NATO’s Expansion to Ukraine

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While the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the intervention in Libya and the supply of illegal weapons to Syrian rebels are relatively fresh in our memory, here we are again being bombarded by words of deceit about the crisis in Ukraine.

By now we should be familiar that Washington, like the fallen angel from heaven, is at its best when it deceives.

By now we should’ve learned how Lucifer tricked the earliest people, by how he careful used words to poison his victims.

By now we know that when America uses the words ‘humanitarian intervention’, ‘democracy’, ‘peaceful protests’, ‘isolation’,  ‘rebel moderates’, ‘international community’, ‘all-inclusive minority-protecting’, it is exercising its right of spreading lies, double standards, and hypocrisy.

NATO’S Expansions to the East

Perhaps the earliest incursion and betrayal of Russian trust regarding Eastern Europe can be traced back to the reunification of East and West Germany in 1989. At the time, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to a united Germany, as long as Western powers maintain non-incorporation of the united German state into NATO. Nevertheless, Germany joined NATO in 1990, despite previous assurances from George Bush Sr. together with then US Secretary of State James Baker, and then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

At issue then was the Soviet withdrawal from East Germany, which they had the right to protect under a treaty negotiated between the allies after World War II. The Soviet leader agreed to pullout 380,000 Soviet troops in the East, under the condition the US and NATO will not expand to a united Germany.

Conn Hallinan best summarizes the exchanges at the time:

The Russians were willing to exit their troops, but only if US and NATO forces did not fill the vacuum. On Feb. 9, Gorbachev told Baker “any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.” Baker assured him that “NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward.”

The Baker-Gorbachev meeting was followed the next day by a meeting between Gorbachev and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who assured the Soviet leader that “naturally NATO could not expand its territory” into East Germany. And, in a parallel meeting between West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Genscher told Shevardnadze “for us, it stands firm: NATO will not expand to the East.”

But no one anticipated that the USSR will disintegrate a mere two years later. Having faced an existential challenge after the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO needed to take a decision on how to become a relevant organization after. And by now, it is clear its interests lie in expanding to the East, to Russia’s very borders.

In 1999 NATO membership was given to former Soviet bloc countries, including to Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. The Atlantic alliance further ate into former Soviet republics with the incorporation of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 2004, together with other former Russian allies Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary. Another decade would pass until Albania and Croatia joined the NATO. Not to mention big American bases in Turkey, the West now has a united front against Russia, from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Of course treaties and bases are a different matter from actually conducting wars. The Cold War triumphalism of the Reagan years extended well into the Clinton era, which was marked by Western incursions exploiting Russian weakness in the 1990s, namely the Bosnian War and Kosovo War. Perhaps a reality check is useful for determining which block of countries pose a threat to international peace and order.

In the case of the ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Kosovo, Adam Roberts asked the right questions:

Was NATO right to launch Operation Allied Force without at least making an attempt to get authorization from the Security Council? The argument for having at least tried is that the effort would have shown respect for the UN and would have enabled people around the world to see exactly which states were refusing to authorize action to stop atrocities.

Finally the US will be in Russia’s borders

Indeed it may not be a surprise now that the West’s exploitation of the events in Ukraine is part of a larger pattern of expansion and aggression towards Russia. Except for Belarus, Ukraine is perhaps the last straw Russia will be tackling in the relentless military expansion of the West.

Stephen Kinzer of Brown University sums it up accurately:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in Central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.

Although the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania hosts active forward NATO air bases, seeing the fall of another former Soviet republic presents perhaps the completion of Russia’s suspicion of the West’s intentions.

As if it’s true the West is ‘just all rhetoric’ and ‘all bark but no bite’, in the recent weeks we are witness to NATO advances towards Russia by deploying forces in the Baltics and Poland as well as sending a guided missile destroyer into the Black Sea, an area where Russia sees as the central issue of the Ukraine crisis.

As for Russia’s strategy in the region, with almost all of the former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe now a part of NATO, it is clear it has no intentions to expand. Russian forces are in Ukraine under a treaty, which the Western media often portrays as an ‘invasion force’ except that such a force has been there for the past 15 years.

RT News summarizes the facts well:

  • A Russian naval presence in Crimea dates to 1783 when the port city of Sevastopol was founded by Russian Prince Grigory Potemkin. Crimea was part of Russia until Nikita Khruschev gave it to Ukraine in 1954.
  • In 1997, amid the wreckage of the USSR, Russia & Ukraine signed a Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea. The deal sparked widespread officer ‘defections’ to Russia and was ratified by the Russian & Ukrainian parliaments in 1999. Russia received 81.7 percent of the fleet’s ships after paying the Ukrainian government US$526.5 million.
  • The deal allowed the Russian Black Sea Fleet to stay in Crimea until 2017. This was extended by another 25 years to 2042 with a 5-year extension option in 2010.
  • Moscow annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet’s environmental impact.
  • Russia has two airbases in Crimea, in Kacha and Gvardeysky.
  • Russian naval units are permitted to implement security measures at their permanent post as well as during re-deployments in cooperation with Ukrainian forces, in accordance with Russia’s armed forces procedures.

Unfortunately, we can only look back at the concern of Khrushchev in the 1960s and Gorbachev in the 1980s being played out today by the West and Russia, not to mention, perhaps, during the thug war that defeated Russia during the Crimean War in the mid-19th century. We only hope Crimean history does not repeat itself.

The Curious Case of Ukraine’s Destruction

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At last, Russia is experiencing its share of the austerity madness like in the EU, but in a different form: Ukraine’s possible civil war, an austerity in the form of curtailing people’s ‘freedom to choose their own future’–or is it?

There is even no sign of decency from foreign elements, as signs of the ties with war-hungry American statesmen, such as Vietnam War veteran and former US presidential candidate John McCane toured the carnage in Kiev, proclaimed “I am proud of what the people of Ukraine are doing, so they can restore democracy to their country.” It is not hard to imagine this disrespect: just imagine a Russian statesman visiting an Occupy Wall Street movement in New York and proclaiming the same blasphemy of democracy and you get the picture.

You could be forgiven into thinking these violent protesters are a target of support by renegade former American soldiers; but behold, when a certain American Secretary of State John Kerry meets with a certain opposition leader Vitaly Klitchko and declares “we are with the opposition, we give them our full support”, then you are certain a country like Ukraine will go asunder.

In the present trajectory of bad news coming out of this Ukraine fiasco, it seems America itself is more impatient with how the EU supports the Ukrainian opposition. American interventionism clearly defies not just enemy borders but also its allies as well. In a recent phone-tapped remark, German chancellor Angela Merkel described a remark by a senior US official who said “fuck the EU” as “totally unacceptable.” On the one hand, US mainstream media were quick to dismiss this comment, focusing instead on accusing Russia of the leaked comment, described as “a new low in Russian trade-craft.”

Ukraine’s Historical ties to Russia

What they fail to see is the historical ties of Ukraine to Russia; that a significant portion of Ukraine, especially from the East and South of the country, supports and is comfortable with their Russian neighbor. Even some well-informed commentators from the West are aware of this quandary.

The problem with this new chapter in Ukrainian history is deeply rooted in the expansionist policies Western powers embarked on since the retreat and dissolution of the Soviet Union. During the late 1980s, then-president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev gave assurances about his country’s deep cuts in arms (and with it influence) in the East, as long as the West guarantees non-intervention and expansion to former Soviet sphere of influence.

History has shown the West is nowhere near at honoring its commitments to the Nobel Peace prize-winning Soviet president: NATO bombing during the Kosovo war, the annexation of former Soviet states to the EU, and now more recently their support for violent elements in the Ukrainian opposition.

And what joining the EU is for the Ukrainian people? Certainly they are aware of the social spending cuts in the entire EU are they? Surely they are aware of the unprecedented inequality in the West? Are they aware that this bloody self-destruction will haunt them again the future once they experience the EU’s austerity medicine?

Perhaps other factors are at play here, the aim of which is to destabilize the government and replace it with a pro-EU government hostile to Moscow and wreck the economy by ‘opening up the market.’ Or is it perhaps to complete NATO’s militaristic expansion in Eastern Europe, but now along Russia’s very border?