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Russia’s Rooks and Bishops Threaten Blacks Smaller Pieces



by Kyle Hargraves


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An alternative title might have been: “The Ukraine adjusted 90 years from the 1930s” but the good thing about political forecasts is that they are a bit like the weather; one is either right or wrong and the most in error one can be is wrong. However one may be wrong in regard to a conclusion but not in terms of motive or effects. The curtailing of NATO expansion is one (obvious) Russian objective but listening to the rhetoric1 is also illustrative as to the fitness of either NATO or (declining) American hegemony. If I’m permitted the speculation, the events over Ukraine are a useful litmus test for the South China Sea and Taiwan. Yet perspectives can also be confused. Quoting Australian reporter Laura Tingle, “Defence Minister Peter Dutton told breakfast television on Friday [25th my edit] that there’s one leader in the world, who can exert pressure on President Putin and that is President Xi”2. The statement is, more or less, axiomatically true but the statement also assumes (naively) that China is about to do the bidding for the USA3. In point of fact China and Russia are united in the case of the BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union and so are a good percentage of the emerging economies; the so called “E” economies such as the E7. I would have thought that Putin was ok with the former TV adventurer and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy but despite Zelenskyy having grown up in a Russian-speaking environment, and hence aware of the nationalist sentiments, Zelenskyy going into exile will create new opportunities partial to Russian interests for the region. This scenario alters the picture considerably. Putin was ‘ok’ with Ukraine so long as Ukraine courted no major favour from the West. The opportunity that exists now, for Russia, is to expand Russia (as it were) into the Ukraine but not by annexing it. This is a long term initiative that just may work if the successor to Zelenskyy is able to make good on the electoral promises4 made by Zelenskyy with Russian assistance of course. Western media is presenting the Ukraine as a homogeneous monolithic state that is being invaded by Russia but the fact of Ukraine’s political and ethnic homogeneity is is anything but the case. Break-away initiatives are in existence to the north and to the east of Ukraine. Yet the electoral management of the matter is best illustrated by the Australian PM Scott Morrison and his openly antagonistic sentiments towards China and Russia (in about that order). As for Ukrainians the Australian government is to “fast track” visas. The problem that democracies have (and, by corollary, autocratic governments do not have) is that public opinion is to be manufactured at all costs5. Morrison is attempting to create a “with us or against us” mentality while, simultaneously, attempting to discredit the leader of the Opposition; Anthony Albanese. The options are (1) a threat to be confronted (Morrison) and (2) an issue to be managed in the context of declining USA hegemony6 Western media is not assisting (quite the reverse) by attempting to present the matter as uni-dimensional: i.e. the Russian’s are the bad guys. Were (e.g.) Mexico to pursue either Russian or Chinese favour to the extent of significant economic relations along with installing military bases the reaction by the USA would be severe. Cuba, which is of no threat to anyone still has USA sanctions applied to it including no direct flights to the USA. Consistency of policy anyone? Biden, unlike Trump, is not insisting that Europe pay its own way with regard to NATO but the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, is on record as describing NATO as dysfunctional because it is modelled on a postwar world that no longer exists. A creditable initiative by the West would be to move three or five divisions (say about 60,000 troops - give or take) into NATO countries with the intention to engage Russia7. Moving this number of (western) troops into any non-NATO country would amount to an act of war. As to sanctions a China- Russian arrangement will negate all such aspirations in that direction. The result for the West will be symbolic at most. Overall, there is not a lot of room, diplomatically to move about. Russia, along with China, is determined to assert its role in the world. For Marx the history of the world was the history of Class Struggle8 but, in counterpoint to Marx, this history of the world is conflict (per se) as the following video illustrates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY9P0QSxlnI The only certainty over a century or a half-century is change itself. On the one hand I’m surprised that Putin invaded the Ukraine because he already had what he required, viz., no further expansion of NATO. Yet the events of the last few days have confirmed a prediction that I made in a previous article, viz., that all the west will do is “winge and moan”; the West will not commit military divisions; an under-employed battalion from North Carolina doesn’t count. As a reminder, the Crimea was always Russia; Khrushchev annexed the Crimea for Ukraine in 1954 and it was recovered for Russia 60 years hence. What is of interest is the polarisation within the USA itself. A prominent publication9 in the USA, whose editors ought to have known better, published this headline last week : “By attacking the rule of law, the GOP is helping Putin and his fellow autocrats“. Now we know (presumably)! There is some substance to the claim of the United Nations charter, guaranteeing every nation’s right to sovereignty, not being upheld; much less enforced. The UN 1948 Charter to Israel has been traduced beyond recognition. The remnants of the Balkan wars along with the inherent conflicts between Neo-liberalism and right wing populism, to say nothing of the cultural relativism, have arrested accession in the EU; what Brennan has identified as ‘Enlargement Fatigue10. The situation in Myanmar is similar to that of Fiji11. As the link from youtube conveys: if the matter cannot be resolved on a battlefield than it is unlikely that the matter will be resolved over claret; however genteel the audience. Once again, Prof. John Mearsheimer is recommended as an independent source to this issue. We’ll see where Western state (geographically) EU members are with regard to immigration over the next month from the Ukraine given the anxieties identified by Brennan at footnote 10. A decision to attempt to leave the Ukraine by 35% of its population will result in an exodus of 15 million people. The exercise seems to be testing the water for the PRC in regard to the South China Sea and Taiwan. The likely result from the West will be huff and puff in both cases with NATO being to fragmented to establish a coherent policy (much less an assault) for the given circumstances. The West no longer possesses Churchills or Chamberlains. 1 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said (24 Feb - BBC) that “Putin should not underestimate NATO’s determination to defend all of its members” is a case in point (as to an instance of hyperbole) 2 ABC Laura Tingle 27Feb22 3 China has taken Russia’s side by blaming NATO expansion for causing the crisis and alleging that U.S. predictions of an imminent invasion are aggravating it. ‘China’s Ukraine Crisis’ Foreign Affairs 21Feb23 4 ineffective government and corruption to name one major issue 5 see Chomsky ‘Consequences of Capitalism’ (2021) with regard to manufacturing consent 6 White : ‘How to Defend Australia’ (2019) and Raby ‘China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the new Global Order’ (2020) 7 hands up for nominated contributions from western countries 8 as Marx pointed out in the opening section of ‘the Manifesto’ 9 The Atlantic 25Feb22 10 Brennan, J. 2014 “On the Slow Train to Nowhere” European Foreign Affairs Review 19 #2 pp. 221-42. The article provides a sound treatment of the Polish / Hungarian perspectives. 11 majority government only by Fijians; or as as Netanyahu put it for Israel: Israeli citizens have equal rights but the State of Israel exists only for a particular creed.


If I’m permitted the speculation, the events over Ukraine are a useful litmus test for the South China Sea and Taiwan.



This scenario alters the picture considerably. Putin was ‘ok’ with Ukraine so long as Ukraine courted no major favour from the West.



Overall, there is not a lot of room, diplomatically to move about. Russia, along with China, is determined to assert its role in the world.



As for Ukrainians the Australian government is to “fast track” visas. The problem that democracies have (and, by corollary, autocratic governments do not have) is that public opinion is to be manufactured at all costs5.


Kyle Hargraves is a Pukekohe local who has lived all over the world. He has studied extensively and has numerous degrees. His career spans many industries and he has enjoyed success as a top level executive. Kyle has always enjoyed writing and has followed the political scene with interest.


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elocal Digital Edition – April 2022 (#252)

elocal Digital Edition
April 2022 (#252)


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