by James ONeill, New Eastern Outlook:
The recent talks held in Geneva and Brussels between the Russian delegates and their American and European equivalents have been completed without any agreement being reached. The Russians have given a one-week deadline for the United States and NATO’s response to their demands. The chances of the Americans agreeing to the Russian demand that not only should NATO cease its Eastward ambitions, but that the Americans should withdraw their weapons and their troops from Russia’s borders are virtually nil.
There is also a very real question that has to be asked of any American meant: what are the chances of them actually keeping to any agreement that they make. The American record in this respect gives no ground for any confidence that what they may agree to will actually be kept. There is a long and sorry history of broken American pledges that can be pointed to in support of a pessimistic view as to the reliability of any United States promises actually being kept.
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A very real clue as to the sincerity of United States promises can be seen in the recent coup attempt in Kazakhstan. There, a well organised foreign group took advantage of some local unrest at a major increase in fuel prices to attempt to stage a coup d’état against the Kazakhstan government.
The speed with which the Russian led intervention at the request of the Kazakhstan government strongly suggests that the attempted coup came as no surprise to the Russians and their colleagues in the group that responded. The American response to the Russian led movement on behalf of the Kazakhstan government also left little ground for doubting that the Americans were heavily involved in the coup attempt.
Secretary of state Antony Blinken demanded an explanation for the Russian led rescue mission. He was clearly unaware of the 1994 agreement between Kazakhstan, Russia and the others that was designed to meet precisely the sort of situation the Kazakhstan government was met with. Without a hint of irony, Blinken suggested that the Russian presence would be long lasting and difficult to remove.
In fact, a week after arriving, the Russians announced that their troops would be withdrawing within a further week, mission accomplished. If Blinken has responded to this development I haven’t seen it. This is not to suggest that the successful Russian led operation has solved all the problems of the Kazakhstan government. Its president, who is fluent in both Russian and Chinese, still has some domestic issues to resolve, including in particular what to do with his predecessor who has kept a low profile during the recent troubles. There is little doubt that his faction did not approve of Tokayev’s rapid response. More particularly, he would have been alarmed at the way Tokayev has used the unrest to do some much needed house cleaning of his predecessor’s faction from his government. There have been several arrests of former prominent members of the former regime and their trials will be watched with interest.
The Russians and the Chinese government clearly saw the unrest for what it was; a thinly disguised attempt to overthrow a Russian – Chinese friendly government and replace it with one whose commitment to the old regime’s path could not by any means be assured.
Kazakhstan is in fact a crucial member of several of the organisations that Russia and China have developed in recent years, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union. It occupies a crucial space in the Eurovision heartland, and is the world’s eighth largest country in land area and thus has a significant physical presence as well.
The timing of the attempted coup also gives a major clue as to the perpetrator’s real motives. The Russian government’s talk with the United States and European counterparts were taking place at exactly the same time as the coup was being organised. It was clearly designed to distract the Russian government from the talks by providing them with a major security issue on their south-eastern border.
At this point it is not known what was the actual extent and knowledge of the attempted coup by the United States foreign affairs leaders Antony Blinken and Victoria Nuland. Both of these individuals are known for their visceral dislike of everything Russian and it would be absolutely no surprise to learn that they both knew and approved of the attempted coup. Had it succeeded it would have caused significant problems for the Russians and the Chinese and undermined the steadily increasing moves to Eurasian unity under the guidance of both the Chinese and Russian economic developments underway in the region.
The BRI poses the most significant challenge to United States hegemony which for much of the post-World War II period has managed to dictate the nature and course of economic and social developments in large parts of the world. The BRI is changing all that and for the first time in recent history the United States has no idea how to appropriately respond. We have seen the gestures such as the attempt to invoke the “rules based international order” as a viable alternative to the system of international law that Russia and China, among many others, insist is the proper basis for the conduct of international affairs.
The Americans see the Chinese as the greatest threat to their vision of the world and the constant propaganda against China is one of their main weapons to combat China’s inexorable rise. In recent years the Americans have progressively made life more difficult for Chinese exports to their country. The campaign waged against the Chinese vice president of Huawei, only recently released from detention in Canada, is but one example of this relentless American pressure.
The Americans can still rely on their faithful Australian lapdog, whose most recent show of obedience to the United States view of the world, and the attempt to exercise control over it, was to agree to buy United States and/or United Kingdom built nuclear powered submarines., which has absolutely no other purpose than as a vehicle for further intimidation of China. That the Morrison government is progressively destroying the economically vital relationship of Australia with China seems to cause remarkably little reaction in Australia. Its role as a white outpost in an Asian sea reflects a throwback to an earlier era when white supremacy of Asia was taken for granted.