Article 2(4) of the UN charter is a seemingly robust bulwark that was erected to prevent another deluge of destruction and mayhem that mid 20th century weaponry had become capable of. This accompanied with the institutionalised ‘collective security’ provisions was prophesied to engender and maintain international peace. In the security was the hitherto elusive peace.
These high ideals, however, were benumbed by politics, mutual distrust and suspicion among the great powers during the Cold War. As a result, the Cold War in Europe spilled over as a seething cauldron of violence in other distant parts of the world like Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan et al.
Fast forward 70 years and the failures of the UN to ensure peace in various volatile regions – most notably West Asia, where sovereigns (government) have been significantly debilitated by a continuous struggle for power by various warring factions – is conspicuous.
One such case in point is Syria.
A four-year-old civil war has materially and psychologically left an indelible mark on the Syrian people. The unending war has claimed the lives of over 200,000 and has rendered millions homeless, compelling them to live borrowed lives in neighbouring countries under utter destitution. Today, they make dangerous voyages on rickety, infirm and squalid wooden boats across the choppy Mediterranean to reach safer zones of Europe.
As this wave of humanity seeks refuge in Europe from constant persecution in their homelands, their desperation is popularly labelled as a ‘European crises’, conveniently overlooking the intended and unforeseen security crisis of the non-Kalashnikov wielding masses engendered, partly, by the collective effort of the US and its European allies.
The UN continues to be guided by the Cold War era definition of security, where the security of countries’ territorial boundaries from foreign aggression attains pre-eminence. The UN ought to significantly alter its definition of security and provide eminence to human security over that of state security as conventional wars to expand territorial boundaries has significantly receded.
Today, the world is accosted by an ideological battle one that has culminated into severe civil wars in many pockets around the world. The UN’s foundational doctrine of bringing about ‘by peaceful means’ a settlement of international conflicts has been severely dented as a result of continuous failure to inhibit violence.
Security in its true essence can only be attained if the international community starts to recognise the primacy of smaller units like individuals, minorities within states (religious and gendered), national markets and others. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm originating as a result of the 1990’s Rwandan genocide crisis is a welcome step but for the existent mechanisms to be applied fairly, without the brazen and undue invocation of the norm for military action, a stringent system of verification and protocol ought to be established.
International Security can only be measured with the barometer of individual safety without which the post-war objective of avoiding mass murders will continue to remain beyond the grasp of the international community and its representative body – the United Nations.
With its new vision document on China, the US has formally announced the onset of its Cold War with the Asian giant, accusing it of exploiting rule-based world order and re-shaping international system in favour of Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology and interests.
Just short of calling it Cold War, the US in its latest report titled, ‘United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China’, released by the White House, has announced that it is “responding to the CCP’s direct challenge by acknowledginga that the two major powers are in a “strategic competition and protecting” their “interests appropriately”.
Until now, the US policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the report said, was “largely premised on a hope that deepening engagement would spur fundamental economic and political opening” in China and make it a “responsible global stakeholder, with a more open society”.
However, after over 40 years, “it has become evident that this approach underestimated the will of the CCP to constrain the scope of economic and political reform”.
Over the past two decades, reforms have slowed, stalled, or reversed, the report said.
“The PRC’s rapid economic development and increased engagement with the world did not lead to convergence with the citizen-centric, free and open order as the US had hoped. The CCP has chosen instead to exploit the free and open rules- based order and attempt to reshape the international system in its favour.”
Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology, the US said. “The CCP’s expanding use of economic, political, and military power to compel acquiescence from nation states harms vital American interests and undermines the sovereignty and dignity of countries and individuals around the world.”
The White House pointed out that Beijing in its neighborhood, engages “in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas”.
Just a day ago, US diplomat and acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Alice Wells had called out the CCP regime for ratcheting up tensions with India along its borders. Chinese soldiers in the last few months has engaged in several violent faceoffs with Indian soldiers in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh over boundary issues.
Announcing its approach, the US report said that it is “working in concert with mutually aligned partnersa”Southeast Asian nations, Japan, India, Australia, Republic of Korea and Taiwan on their outlook on the free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region”.
Guided by a return to principled realism, the report said thatA given the strategic choices China’s leadership is making, “the United States now acknowledges and accepts the relationship with the PRC as the CCP has always framed it internally: one of great power competition”.
The White House made it clear that it is not interested in effecting any change in China’s domestic governance model but at the same time said that it won’t make “concessions to the CCP’s narratives of exceptionalism and victimhood” .
The US policies, the report said, are designed to protect its interests and empower its institutions to withstand the CCP’s malign behaviour and collateral damage from the PRC’s internal governance problems.
Accusing the CCP of running propaganda and false narratives, the White House declared that it will continue to challenge Beijing’s attempts at false equivalency between rule-of-law and rule- by-law; counterterrorism and oppression; representative governance and autocracy; and market-based competition and state-directed mercantilism.
The US will not accommodate Beijing’s actions that weaken a free, open, and rules-based international order, the report said, adding that it will continue to refute the CCP’s narrative that the the US is in strategic retreat.
Using the Cold War terminology, the White House announced that it will work with its robust network of allies and like- minded partners to resist attacks on shared norms and values, within their own governance institutions, around the world, and in international organizations.
The US government said it does not cater to CCP’s demands to create a proper “atmosphere” or “conditions” for dialogue because it sees no value in engaging with Beijing for symbolism and pageantry.
“We instead demand tangible results and constructive outcomes. We acknowledge and respond in kind to Beijing’s transactional approach with timely incentives and costs, or credible threats thereof. When quiet diplomacy proves futile, the United States will increase public pressure on the PRC government and take action to protect United States interests by leveraging proportional costs when necessary,” the report said. (IANS)
The Soviet Union’s meddling may have been as annoying as the US’, however, the Russians tried to offset their deleterious manoeuvrings by making constructive contributions to the nations they were targeting
Throughout the Cold War, the two opposing power blocs of the Soviet Union and the United States, had sought to expand their spheres of influence through direct and proxy methods with a view to bringing as much of humanity as possible, under their respective wings. The Soviet Union’s meddling may have been as annoying as the US’, however, the Russians tried to offset their deleterious manoeuvrings by making constructive contributions to the nations they were targeting. Had it not been for Soviet and Cuban influence and military aid, many colonized countries in sub-Saharan Africa may have never lived a day under national sovereignty. Well-documented accounts exist of Cuban-Soviet contributions in the decolonizing of Angola, Congo, and Namibia. Fighting against the prevailing odds, in circumstances where American-backed apartheid regimes in South Africa and Zaire were attempting to restrain self-determination in subjugated African colonies, Congo, Angola, and Namibia, had rid themselves of their west European colonial masters.
The resurgence of a saffron wave in India may have bolstered the underlying anti-Left sentiments of the Indian populace; but it remains a historical fact, that the man responsible for moving the motion for India’s independence from Great Britain, Prime Minister Clement Attlee, was someone who was a leading figure of the British Labour Party, an organization with a Leftist outlook on political and social affairs.
Most of us can associate the US administration with Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, and Iraq, where the country fought conventional wars with the locals. Few though can do so pertaining to Syria, Indonesia, and Guatemala.
In 1967, in a BBC interview, CIA agent Miles Copeland admitted, that the organization had been attempting regime change in Syria, for a long time. The balkanization of the country and indeed the entire Middle East, was a policy goal of the United States, whose beneficiaries would be the US and its West Asian ally, Israel. By creating social unrest and civil war in West Asian societies, which were peaceful, if not content, under self-rule; America could then prop up its own puppet premiers to rule the disparate entities that would have emerged from the disintegration of the mother state. With this aim in mind, regressive Islamist political outfits like the Muslim Brotherhood, were patronized and funded by the CIA.
Copeland tells us, that Husni al Zaim, a Syrian army commander, had sought US help in dismantling the stable Syrian regime of Shukri Quwaiti, who had been the Syrian head-of-state, following the liberation of that country from French rule. King Abdullah of Jordan, has been a long-time, trusted ally of the CIA. Whenever the latter has wanted to ship arms to the forces it shores up, Jordan volunteers for the onus of routing those arms. Once Muammar Gaddafi – the West’s bete noir – had been removed from power in 2011, the US Secret Service transferred the arms found in the late dictator’s arsenal, to Syria. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported on the US administration’s dealings with Islamist forces in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar; which were instrumental in funnelling weapons to the Islamist anti-Assad forces inside Syria.
Recruits have poured in from far-flung places like Afghanistan, and even Europe, not to mention Turkey, which despite being a NATO ally, has an Islamist President – Erdogan – at the helm. American neo-Conservative Senator John McCain, had successfully attempted the feat of entering Syria without a passport to meet the CIA aided rebels who were furthering the American cause. Aleppo’s FSA – Free Syrian Army – under the garb of ‘democratizing’ their motherland, had been recruiting foreign Jihadists to fight for the cause of toppling Assad. It is now known, that by 2012, the CIA had firmly established a base of operations in Turkey, from where they could access Syrian rebels, by using Turkey’s border with Syria.
The CIA has set up an intelligence service for the FSA and has been providing them with satellite imagery of the movement of Syrian troops. US interest in the balkanization of Syria, began way back in the late 1940s, after the democratically elected Syrian parliament, refused American suggestions of opening oil pipelines in their country. According to an official US government document released in 2012, Islamist forces like the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, are at the forefront of deposing Assad, with the intention of effecting a Salafist regime in Syria, which will, undoubtedly, be helped to power, by the ‘benevolence’ of the United States.
One of the Cold War’s greatest strategies, was to defame, and decimate, the Communist Party of Indonesia. Indonesia’s President Sukarno, its first Premier after the country was decolonized from French rule, had sworn in Suharto as a cabinet member with no inkling of what was to follow. But why was Indonesia important enough for the United States? John Rossa, who is an Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has written a seminal tome on the significance of Indonesia in the US scheme of things, and why bringing the country into the American orbit, was sought on a war-footing. Indonesia has the world’s fourth largest population. Back in the day, it’s Communist Party or KPI, was the world’s third largest Communist Party, right behind its counterparts in China, and the Soviet Union.
When US pilot Allen Pope had been apprehended by Indonesian security, while he was bombing Indonesian civilians under orders from his government, with the agenda of destabilizing the rule of democratically-elected President Sukarno, the CIA had been forced to cease its operations in the country. But it would resume its untoward activities, there, soon after.
A 1966 New York Times article monikered ‘A Gleam Of Light’ and penned by American journalist James Reston, opined “The savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-communist policy under General Suharto is the most important of these [hopeful] developments. Washington is being careful not to claim any credit … but this does not mean Washington had nothing to do with it.”
He had been referring to the 1965 purge of the KSI by President Suharto. It is estimated that more than one million Indonesians, including civilians, government officials, and members of the armed forces, had been interned, brutally tortured, and executed, on charges of treason. They were indicted – sometimes falsely – for collusion with the KSI, and imprisoned. Indonesia’s KSI was, unlike the Marxists of Vietnam, a legitimate and peaceful entity, that had developed a following among the people through a hands-on approach to social and economic issues.
It was only following the KSI mass murders, that President Suharto would assume power in Indonesia, as a US-installed ruler. The Americans must have patted themselves on the back. After all, it was going to be their one and only successful regime change, in East Asia.
Long before the Iran-Contra scandal, and the rise of the Sandinista to power, the South American nation of Guatemala, had deposed its cruel dictator in 1944. The new government was a nationalist one, much like the current Indian administration. Its policy was aimed at self-sufficiency in the economic sector, much as India’s Modi has been advocating his ‘Make In India’ over the past half decade. Guatemala’s self-contained economic success, and rapid advocacy of social reforms, had been found unsettling by the hawks in Washington. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Director of Central Intelligence Agency, Allen Dulles were near-hysterical at the progress Guatemala was making. A memorandum produced by the CIA in 1952, stated that what was happening in Guatemala, was “adverse to US interests” because of the “Communist influence…based on militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies.”
Meanwhile, the US Capitalist venture, the United Fruit Company – which continues to carry on under the name of Chiquita Brands International – had virtual monopoly over the banana trade in the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s impact on the politics of the region, gave rise to the axiom of ‘banana republic’. With an eye to protecting US interests in South America, especially the well-performing United Fruit Company – which incidentally had been mistreating its workers – America supported dictatorships in Guatemala, for four decades. These dictators have been responsible for genocide of the indigenous Mayan Native Americans of that country. It is believed that more than two hundred thousand innocent civilians have been murdered, not only in cases where they opposed their US installed leaders, but also when they had little to do with activism. US interference and regime change in the country, has led to Guatemala being called ‘America’s backyard’.
ISRAEL IN GUATEMALA
US interest in Guatemala has been documented under the previous section, but what is less discussed, is, its ally and friend, Israel’s, presence in the South American state. Since the 1980s, Israel has provided intelligence and military aid to the ruling dictatorships of Guatemala. This was formally acknowledged by former ruler Efrain Rios Montt. He spoke fondly of the forces that had helped him come to power in 1982. The said military coup had received surreptitious aid from Israeli intelligence. In the book Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story Of The US-Israeli Covert Relationship, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, have quoted Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Amatzai Shuali as saying “I don’t care what the Gentiles do with the arms. The main thing is that the Jews profit.” Shuali was an advisor to the Guatemalan dictatorship.
Under the Carter administration, aid to Guatemala’s ruler was restricted. This was done after several allegations of grave Human Rights violations had surfaced. In the scenario, Israel had found a ripe opportunity to make its presence felt in the South American country, with an eye to fill its own coffers. This was unabashedly stated by Yaakov Meridor, who was the Israeli Economic Minister, in the early 1980s. Wherever the Americans were hesitant to exert their influence through political geography, and weapons technology, Israel was willing to step in. Meridor’s exact words were “We will say to the Americans: Don’t compete with us in Taiwan; don’t compete with us in South Africa; don’t compete with us in the Caribbean or in other places where you cannot sell arms directly. Let us do it … Israel will be your intermediary.”
Indeed, Israeli war technology was not being used for the first time, when it helped the Guatemalan dictator retain power. Israel had already displayed what it was capable of doing in terms of proxy damage, during the internecine
Lebanese Civil War, that had lasted from 1975 till 1990. Among the factions that were party to the internal disintegration of Lebanon, was the Christian Phalangists, lead by the Maronite militia commander Bashir Gemayel. Soon after his assassination, the Israeli military had occupied southern Lebanon, in a bid to avenge the murder, a time during which, it actively aided and abetted the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacres of helpless Muslim Palestinians, in downtown Beirut.
It seems the Guatemalan top brass had been impressed with Israel’s ‘performance’ in war-torn Lebanon. Israel’s liaison with Guatemala dates back to the 1960s. Since then, it has contributed military intelligence, weaponry and political advice to the junta that remained in power in the Latin American nation, treating the beneficiary nation’s Mayan natives, as it treats its Palestinian citizens back home; as vermin, worthy of exploitation, and ultimate creaming. Ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt, otherwise a genocidal war criminal, was one of the beneficiaries. Guatemalan citizens, rightfully harbour a deep resentment for Israel, because they relate it with their own decades old misfortune.
What lesson does the expansionist hubris of the world’s only superpower, and its strategic buddy, Israel, have for India? Of late, India has swerved Right to an extent, where India’s foreign relations with both these powerful nations have made us blind to the pitfalls of courting them, incessantly. The US with its changing global interests, had once been an ally of our north-western neighbour, Pakistan. After 9/11, Pakistan was left in the lurch, and the latter had to find out the hard way, that it was never a wife, but a mere, one-time mistress of the mighty US. India would be advised to avoid such a loss of face. Forging a comradeship between fellow nations with similar interests, like Russia, Iran, and Brazil, would be an intelligent move. As proved time and again, History does not forgive those who ignore its lessons.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has expressed concern about the potential consequences of Turkey’s plans to purchase Russian air-defense missile systems.
Stoltenberg was speaking on May 6 during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, amid a widening rift between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s deal to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.
The United States has demanded that NATO ally Turkey call off its deal with Russia, saying that the S-400 missiles are incompatible with NATO systems and are seen as a threat to U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets.
Washington has said it could also withdraw an offer to sell Ankara the U.S. equivalent — the Patriot anti-missile system – and warned that Turkey risks being ejected from the F-35 fighter-jet program.
Turkey is a member of the consortium involved in the production of the jet and a buyer.
In Ankara, Stoltenberg said that every NATO ally makes its own decisions on the kind of military equipment it buys.
“But at same time I am concerned about the potential consequences as the United States has made it clear that they will impose sanctions” if Turkey goes through with the deal, the NATO chief added.
“What is important for NATO is interoperability — that systems can work together,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that his country won’t withdraw from the S-400 deal, which according to Russian media involved four S-400 units for a price of $2.5 billion.
Speaking alongside Stoltenberg on May 6, Erdogan said that he disapproved of attempts to provoke debate on issues like the S-400 that “are within the sovereign rights of our country.”
Turkey’s developing ties “with other countries and regions are not an alternative to each other,” he said, adding that instead they complemented each other.
Turkey’s relations with Russia have historically been tense, but Moscow and Ankara have established strong economic ties since the end of the Cold War.
Under Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the countries have moved closer in recent years amid severe tension between Russia and the West and strains in Turkey’s ties with the United States and European Union. (RFERL)