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The Changing Hegemony of Eastern Europe

by Kyle Hargraves

DISCLAIMER: Any opinions expressed or statements made in this article are those of the contributors and/or advertisers, and do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher, staff or management of elocal Limited. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, the publishers assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions, or for any consequences thereof.

One could say that the events in the Ukraine and the reaction of Russia has removed the topic of Covid-19 from the front page or, in some instances, perhaps from page three as well. As with any matter of significance, the issue is considerably more complicated than a case of freedom and the big bad Ruskies. By way of comparison the situation is not altogether unlike that of China (the PRC) and Tibet and Taiwan. Hong Kong doesn’t feature because the place was only let (i.e. rented) to the Brits in 1898 for 99 years. Thus HK has always been the property of China and becoming sentimental over an imagined sense of the value of democracy doesn’t help or contribute anything but it does sell advertising space.

Returning to the matter of Russia and the vexed issue, strictly, the Crimea has always been Russian. Khrushchev, who succeeded Stalin in 1953, transferred the Crimea from Russia to Ukraine a year later mainly because Khrushchev himself was from the Ukraine. No one jumped up and down then so its kinda odd that some were doing so earlier on! We could debate the vote of the locals (of Crimea) which was distinctly to leave the Ukraine but it is largely ‘hot air’. Before too long, Uncle Joe will realise (or someone will tell him of) Europe’s economic dependence on Russia’s energy supplies. Sanctions? I don’t think so unless there are about 480 million hot water bottles to go around Europe. Europe is kinda dependent upon Russia for energy (an issue in itself).

Not to be underestimated is the Nationalism which is difficult to appreciate if one has not resided in the region. Until about the early 1970s there was remnant of the British Empire (actually died during the 50s were Suez was the last nail in the coffin) but the Queen’s vacillation over Fiji in the 80s (i.e the coup where a democratically elected government, mostly Indian, which the Chiefs could would not tolerate was deposed) was the final straw even for the Commonwealth.

On balance, the Russian people approve of Putin in this regard towards Crimea and Ukraine. There are the nationalist extremists on both side which has always been the case for any topic over numerous decades. In brief (all too brief) Russia is ok with the current size of NATO but Russia has no intention of observing NATO expanding by even ONE more country. Therefore Russia WILL attack any country in the Slav region that presumes to join NATO or any country that gets “uppity”. The yanks will winge and moan but nothing will happen. Similarly if the PRC were to remove the internal governance of Taiwan (Tibet is a non-issue; done and dusted as far as the PRC is concerned). As an aside the PRC is quite ok with globalisation (it was Trump and to a lesser extent Biden who are the protectionists) and hence the PRC has no desire to mess up Taiwan. There will be one country (i.e. one boss) and two systems; a bit like HK and Macau.

The EU has its own internal problems and the stuff that is happening in Poland and Hungary is not fancy dress. That region, as a whole, has little tolerance of the anti-religious dispositions and gender-identity woke of the western side of the EU. The one-size-fits-all sentiments of the European Commission are resented, by and large, by the eastern side of the EU. This aspect is relevant to the Ukraine because there is a section in the Ukraine and the Crimea who are more ‘pro-west’ but such attachments are not going to play any part in the overall result.

If push comes to shove the US is too wokey now (after a 20 year campaign to replace the Taliban with the Taliban to say nothing of the cost) and the EU too divided to develop any coherent military strategy against Russia which includes NATO as a whole. The French President, while admitting that NATO is more or less defunct, does not want the USA anywhere near its back yard with regard to negotiations of any sort. This aspect could well come to be a source of conflict (at least diplomatically) in itself. By no means least are the developments of the BRI (Belt Road Initiative of the PRC) and the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia. The two will undoubtedly come to inter-relate with one another as a major economic force but NZ media can be expected to dumb the matter down to a single issue. The interrelationships will not be mentioned. As for some history, it is ironic that given the reason for Chamberlain declaring war on Germany (Sept. 1939) the conferences of Yalta (Feb. 1945) and Postdam (Aug. 1945) ceded numerous countries to Russia in order for Russia to build a Soviet Bloc. In other words the Russians got the very material that Hitler was pursuing that effected the war! It was open, at the time, for the Yanks to blow the Russians back to Moscow during April of 1945. The hypocrisy of the situation, by now, ought to be apparent.

Readers may be interested in a synopsis of American foreign policy by Prof. John Mearsheimer who is a frequent publisher on international matters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NZSok_l_Hk (one of his shorter videos)

By way of comparison there is the American version of events from the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-60095459

When deputy (UK) PM, Mr Rabb declared : “that Russia needs to live up to the basic tenets of international law and invading another country is not one of those” one might wonder if Mr Blair (as PM) ever received such august advice. As to invading other countries the prize does go to the USA over the 20th century alone. We could examine the 19th century but the result will be similar (despite the Monroe Doctrine). Sovereign states are sovereign only if uncle Sam is in agreement with them. The history of Central and South America refers and Cuba is a good example and hardly a threat to the USA (which Obama recognised). Ultimately, the matter is about the ability (or, rather, the inability) of the USA to continue as god. China has the Indo-Pacific under control (India is out of the picture hence the nonsense of exchanges between the USA, India and Oz) and this aspect is admitted by the US Navy (references upon request). I suppose it is, for the West, a bit like having one’s favourite TV show disappearing. From now on one may anticipate flowery and hypocritical statements (which ignore even recent history) to emanate from all and sundry; particularly the Murdoch Press.

The journal ‘Foreign Affairs’ made these remarks on the 18th January (in summary) “The United States is an overstretched hegemon, with a defense strategy that has come out of balance with the foreign policy it supports.” https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-01-18/overstretched-superpower

As to the posturing there is little (if any) prospect of the:

  1. current members of NATO ratifying Ukraine membership in the short term (e.g. 2022)

  2. USA attempting to place troops into a non-NATO country despite the sabre-rattling

  3. current president of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, removing (as promised) corruption and lifting impoverished Ukrainians out of poverty?

The event has already effected the declaration of allegiances (the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for one) but it is the long term that needs to be taken into account. To some extent this display of zeal is unfortunate because there is no immediate need for any Western power to do anything.

Concluding, Putin has made his position clear: NATO is not to be expanded. To this end discussions as to an invasion of Ukraine are both premature and beside the point. The ball is on the American side of the court. If Biden (and his advisors) intend to force the issue than we’ll see what the next stage reveals. The same could be said in regard to the South China Sea and indeed Taiwan for that matter. The days of American hegemony may well be numbered and this aspect, rather than any specific events at geographical locations about the globe.

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 – February 2022 (#250)

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February 2022 (#250)

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