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Testing the West’s will – and values

EPA/Alexey Druginyn

For believers in the possibility of progress in human affairs these are troubling times. There are enough political, economic and environmental problems to give even the headiest of optimists pause for thought. Most troubling of all, perhaps, the prospect of inter-state war – of a sort that seemed to have virtually disappeared – no longer seems such a remote possibility.

The big question now, as it always has been, is how do we encourage people to behave well? The ‘we’ in this question is ‘the West’, or slightly more accurately, those people who are a product of, and in some sense subscribe to, the values that were forged in the Enlightenment: liberalism, toleration, pluralism, secularism and rationalism. We could also throw in an interest in equality and emancipation, too.

Students who have been brought up in an era of political correctness are often taken aback when I suggest that I have no problem in making a judgement about the superiority of some values and practices over others. The emancipation of women for example is, I would have thought, an idea that at least half the world’s population ought to have little difficulty in supporting. The point that tends to be forgotten in such debates is that it is not only the direct descendants of ‘Western civilisation’ who find such ideas attractive.

One of the most striking but generally unremarked aspects of the current stand-off between Vladimir Putin and the European Union is the role of ideas and values. True, we have all had to remind ourselves what ‘revanchism’ and ‘irredentism’ mean, but the obsession with archaic national identities only confirms how shallow and uncertain political and social progress has actually been in some of the more easterly parts of Europe.

While we may have become accustomed to the idea that Putin is devious, despotic and dangerous, what is less well recognised is that given the opportunity the oligarchs and opportunists who constitute the Russian state may not be entirely comfortable with the regime they have created either. Certainly they are the principal beneficiaries of a distinctively brutal Russian form of crony capitalism, but much of this wealth ends up in the West, not in Russia itself.

There can be no more telling indication of the confidence such people have in the system or of the attractiveness of life in Russia that an estimated $700 billion has been shifted offshore since the 1990s. But it is not just the desire to seek a safe heaven for the vast wealth they have accumulated in the Russian version of privatisation that motivates the oligarchs: the cautionary tale of Mikhail Khordorkovsky’s crime and punishment reminds us that great economic power is no guarantee of political immunity.

What is most noteworthy about Russia’s ruling class is that they frequently choose to live – and have their precious offspring educated – overseas. ‘Londongrad’ and its surrounding public schools are the venues of choice for the oligarchs that support Putin. Ironically, the freedom, security and even social values that are found in Britain have proved far more attractive than Russia’s, for those who can exercise choice, at least.

There are, therefore, unused but potentially highly effective levers and sanctions that could be applied to Putin’s cronies that might cause them to think twice about supporting a regime that threatens their privileged access to the most agreeable aspects of life in the West. Not only could the City of London stop providing the sort of ‘financial services’ that are so vital to the controllers of often ill-gotten gains, but the prospect of having their children educated in, and confined to, Russia itself might prove a novel and hitherto unutilised form of domestic pressure.

Plainly this would cause some pain in the West, too. Compared to direct confrontation, however, it is an attractive and potentially effective option. There is – rightly – little appetite for direct military involvement in the Ukraine, especially on the EU’s part. For all the recent bluster from NATO, its capacities are limited even if it had the political will to use them. If Europe generally and Germany in particular were to wean themselves off of Russian energy this would radically alter inter-regional relations in Europe’s long-term favour.

While some see the EU’s declining military strength as an unambiguous sign of weakness, the decline in European bellicosity is one of its great virtues. In any event, there are other, more sophisticated, weapons in the European arsenal that can inflict real economic damage on Russia; they will eventually remind those in Putin’s sphere of influence just why closer links with the West looked so potentially attractive.

Sceptics will say that sanctions don’t work and moral superiority counts for little in the world of realpolitik. Perhaps. But many thought that about South Africa at the height of apartheid, too. There are ways of influencing the behaviour of states that go beyond the ultimately futile reliance on superior weapons systems – lessons we may need to learn closer to home, too.

China is no doubt studying Russia’s expansionist efforts closely. Similar sorts of economic sanctions may help to discourage this sort of adventurism in East Asia. It is equally noteworthy that so many wealthy Chinese are buying luxurious bolt holes in places like Sydney in case the political and natural environments at home become unbearable. A less accommodating attitude toward Russian and perhaps even Chinese plutocrats might encourage a bit more Western-style reform at home.

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Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Amirabbas Amiri

    logged in via Facebook

    Why do the Westerners and Easterners see only the faults of each other and not the shortcomings of themselves?!

    Why the USA and the West keep sanctioning only Russia and Iran and those countries that oppose its views and not Israel?! Isn't Israeli regime an expansionist regime?!

    Have you ever talked to a Palestinian to know how they truly feel and talk about their land being stolen and occupied?!

    You said, "the values that were forged in the Enlightenment: liberalism, toleration, pluralism…

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    1. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Amirabbas Amiri

      Comparing bans on same-sex marriage and pornography with state-sponsored terrorism or military aggression is a bit disingenuous.

      Nobody is arguing that the US personifies enlightenment, it's obviously not the case in all areas of human interaction but I for one would prefer to live in the West with all its attendant problems than in Putin's Russia. As the article points out, those Russians who can, don't get educated or invest in their own country. That should tell you something.

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    2. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Mostly those with ill-gotten gains, I would suggest, who want to move the cash out of Russia. Or have their children educated abroad. Sending it all back to Russia shouldn't be too difficult for the western financial systems - surely? I am nonplussed that when democratic referendums are held - the so-called democratic US and EU threaten the participants. Not especially democratic at all - or is that vested interests related to the supply of gas/energy are under threat to EU?

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    3. Amirabbas Amiri

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I might have misunderstood you!

      Meanwhile, my main point is that it would be better if Western scholars see the faults with their own leaders and the system and try to reform the system, make it better (and I am sure, many scholars are doing so!)!

      Only I am tired of vast amount of articles claiming that Russia is evil and the USA and its allies are the angels trying to save the world!

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    4. Mark Beeson

      Professor of International Politics at Murdoch University

      In reply to Amirabbas Amiri

      This post has generated some interesting responses, not the least of which accuse me of being an apologist for American foreign policy - makes a change from being accused of being an unthinking critic of the US, I suppose. My original point was merely to suggest that the EU in particular represents a set of beliefs that - in theory, at least - offer the possibility of toleration, pluralism and democratic reform.

      The views expressed are, of course, my own and are not those of my employer. Thankfully, Murdoch - like most other Western universities - still allows, even encourages, its staff to think what they like.

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    5. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      Professor Beeson, sorry to say that Murdoch is a dictator and oppressor of free speech in the media industry. There are many well documented books and articles with detail description of how he control his media empire with fear. Check out the following two books:
      1) Man Bites Murdoch (2010) by Bruce Guthrie. https://www.mup.com.au/items/120973 . Guthrie is a former editor working for Murdoch. He has a detail description of how Murdoch control the editors using a fear factor.
      2) Robert Murdoch…

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    6. Amirabbas Amiri

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      Respected professor,

      "Democratic reform" is only possible when the system realizes its own faults! Unfortunately, throughout human history, the elites and those in power (easterner or westerner alike) never listened to the voices of reform and justice. How many empires have come and gone?!

      You said, "The big question now, as it always has been, is how do we encourage people to behave well? The ‘we’ in this question is ‘the West’, or slightly more accurately, those people who are a product of…

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    7. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Wei Ling Chua ... you seem to be running off at a tangent with the Murdoch empire response.. Indeed, getting plenty of exercise by jumping to conclusions with an assumption that somehow the Professor works within his empire

      The plain fact is Murdoch University is a stand alone public institution, with no connections to Lord Murdoch whatsoever

      Perhaps read up on the their patron saint ... Indeed, it might explain something of your travails with a membership at the International News Syndicates... ie: Accuracy may not be their high point, but the basics need to be in place

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Murdoch

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    8. Mark Beeson

      Professor of International Politics at Murdoch University

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      I think it's been pointed out to you that you've got the wrong 'Murdoch' - my employer has absolutely nothing to do with the press baron. Indeed, some of my other posts on this site have been highly critical of his papers' coverage of issues like climate change. It's rather depressing to think how even informed and interested observers can make these sorts of mistakes in their enthusiasm to push one cause or another.

      I might add while I'm at it that I didn't even mention the US in the original post. Some of my other contributions to this site and more 'academic' publications have been highly critical of aspects of American foreign policy. That doesn't make US foreign policy entirely wrong or validate alternatives simply because they oppose it, though.

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    9. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      Hi Prof. Beeson, my apology for that, I do thought that you are referring to Robert Murdoch. Anyway, as your article title is about western values, I believe that the information I provided so far are relevance to the topic. That is, there is no such thing as Western values beyond what the agenda-based media claims.

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    10. Ian Austin

      Lecturer in International Business

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      I would challenge the statement that most Western universities encourage their staff to state what they like. Australian universities most certainly will not renew the contract of any academic who criticisms the university management at any level. The hypocrisy of VCs stating their support for free speech, but utterly failing to support junior academics who highlight mismanagement within the university itself, is evident for all those who chose to look. One rule for outside critique, one rule for inside.

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    11. Malcolm Riddoch

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      Hi Mark,

      as far as I understand it your essay above caricatures Putin as the “devious, despotic and dangerous” leader of a “distinctively brutal Russian form of crony capitalism” with an “expansionist” agenda as evidenced in his “adventurism” in the current Ukraine crisis.

      Against this ‘Eastern’ despotism you champion the EU’s “moral superiority” and its Western values of “Enlightenment: liberalism, toleration, pluralism, secularism and rationalism … equality and emancipation”, you also claim…

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  2. Wei Ling Chua

    Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

    The West has no value. Killing millions in the name of promoting "freedom" and "democracy". Spying on their own citizens at a scale unprecedented in the entire human history (Edward Snowden). Virtually, almost no war on this planet not directly or indirectly related to western geopolitical and economic interest. Israel is one of the most racist and apartheid country on the planet and is supported by the West.

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    1. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Well, it may have no value if you think of the west as only a killing machine, yet it is much more than that. It has many benefits - economic, cultural, and political. It's why millions of people are trying to get here, and many dying on the way. It also allows dissenting voices such as yours, which perhaps would amount to jail or death in other countries.

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    2. Mark Beeson

      Professor of International Politics at Murdoch University

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      I think Thomas has a point. it's important to make a distinction between the principles that are embodied in different societies and the practices of different states and/or political elites. For all its undoubted failings, hubris and questionable historical record, there are things about'the West' and the political structures it embodies that at least potentially allow for toleration and greater individual liberty. Such things simply don't exist in the same way in Putin's Russia, even in principle.

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    3. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      Hi Thomas and Professor Beeson, many of the so-called "dissidents" in China are US funded. The evidence will be produced in my coming installment (3rd book) on my series of 10: 'The Art of Media Disinformation is hurting the World and Humanity': http://outcastjournalist.com/index_files/art_of_media_disinformation_is_hurting_the_world_and_humanity.htm.

      Your perception of China has being mislead by the western propaganda machine. The US government is spending up to $56b a year to promote the so-called…

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    4. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      'there are things about'the West' and the political structures it embodies that at least potentially allow for toleration and greater individual liberty.'

      Tell that to the Palestinians, the Afghans, the Iraqis, the Vietnamese,
      to anybody from any country in South America --- i have probably missed a few!

      Israel without US backing would have folded long ago. Could not be the brutal, monstrous entity it is.

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    5. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Mark Beeson

      What was that perhaps misattributed quote of Ghandi's when asked " What do you think of western civilisation ?" Gandhi: "I think it would be a good idea"

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    6. Amirabbas Amiri

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Well, the same people who migrate to the West will bring the West down! It has always been like that, people try to move to a better place and then they corrupt there after some time!

      I know many Iranians who earned illegal money and moved to UK, USA and Canada! I know many Iranians who bribed the officials and are now living in the USA and Canada!

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    7. Steven Crook

      Programmer and software designer at Currently resting

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      And I'm sure that the millions killed by Stalin and Mao would heartily agree with you, if they'd ever had a voice.

      Then there's the question of Chinese involvement in both the Vietnam and Korean wars and the continued support from China for North Korea.

      The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the way it dealt with Hungary, Poland and other countries it occupied after WW2. Support for dictatorships across eastern Europe post WW2.

      East Germany, which despite anything the US is doing probably…

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    8. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Steven Crook

      'I think you ought to offer your solution to the desire for a Jewish state post holocaust and two millennia of pogroms and general persecution around the world.'

      Pehaps you ought ask yourself how any religious group so pissed everybody off over 'two millennia' survived, and didn't have the brains to modify their beliefs/behaviour. That is of course if you believe the myth, but the evidence is against you.

      .As for their desire for a Jewish state, it has absolutely no significance. A religious, multi ethnic tribe had, and has no automatic right to a religious state -- or any state.

      To the claim that they 'deserved' a state,my answer has always been 'why?'.

      Certainly they never deserved a state that displaced others, any others, nor did those who so magnanimously proposed to give the Palestinians think so.

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    9. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Trevor S

      Hi Trevor, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistance Secretary of the US Treasury has this description of Western Civilisation ( http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/10/14/whatever-became-western-civilization-paul-craig-roberts/ ):
      Western civilization, to the extent than any civilization remains, is confronted with a total collapse of economic and government morality. Looting and exploitation rule, and the presstitute media does its best to hide the fact. Western civilization has been reduced to…

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    10. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      I don't think your way, Thomas. Look at the realities of the US - the poverty and exploitation well-chronicled of its own working poor - and its ugly border control system - yet like a magnet draws folk towards it beguiled by the "dream" - of selfishness? of TV representation? And we have the same kinds of ideologues now trying to reduce this country to a mini-version of the US too. Ugly! I think Wei Ling Chua has a better handle on things, frankly.

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    11. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Steven Crook

      Hi Steven, the so-called millions killed by Mao is a western propaganda. The 1956 "Great Forward Leap" campaign did create an unforeseen disaster. After more than a century of western looting and Japanese invasion of China, and the ongoing Western threat (Cold War mentality), Mao desperate to industrialize China overnight, such unscientific approach towards industrialization actually neglected the agricultural industry. When there is a famine, millions starved. However, if without Western looting before 1949 and economic sanction after 1949, China would have the money and mean to import food from overseas. So who is to be blamed for the millions of deaths? Human rights is not a simple thing. Never forget about the humanitarian crime of the West with their ongoing economic sanction and bullying across the world. I am not anti-Western, I hope the Western public will wake up to such western atrocity across the world, and pressure their war monger politicians to stop such activities.

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    12. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Steven Crook

      We are often blind to the circumstances within which we are raised - unless we climb out of it for periods to observe from elsewhere. Then we tend to be able to see a little more clearly. As Abbott plans to both reduce the public service and to have those left spy/report on each other (former DDR East Germany STASI springs to mind); as we ignore the ruckus we ourselves have caused (The Frontier wars across Australia from its invaders/"settlers" against the Indigenous peoples already long here/our…

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    13. Steven Crook

      Programmer and software designer at Currently resting

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      "Pehaps you ought ask yourself how any religious group so pissed everybody off over 'two millennia' survived, and didn't have the brains to modify their beliefs/behaviour. That is of course if you believe the myth, but the evidence is against you."

      Err, right. I'm impressed you managed to find the time to post here between heading out to spray anti-Semitic slogans onto the walls of synagogues. You appear to be saying that Jews killed in pogroms throughout history got what they deserved? Really? Care to elucidate?

      There were Jews living in the middle east long before anyone invented Christianity or Islam...

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    14. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Trying to paint China as some saint and the West as the devil isn't going to work. How many deaths were there under Mao? A few million? What about the invasion of Tibet? China also has a history of expansion (just as almost everyone other civilisation on the planet has or did at one point). What about China's attitude toward animals? Skinning cats and dogs alive, extracting bile from bears, and who knows what other torture methods that haven't been uncovered or given media exposure yet.

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    15. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Hi Thomas, despite the many examples and links I have provided in support of every statement I made, the mere presentation of truth itself can sometime be hard to accept by people who are so used to hear about the greatness of the West. The power and ability of the well funded western propaganda machine in dictating and brainwashing the world opinion on a variety of issues can never be under estimate. There are good reasons why the word “discovery” was used in school textbooks when Columbus set foot…

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    16. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      I am fully cognizant of the West's history. History courses and 'cultural studies' at university are obsessed with bringing out all the atrocities of the past and putting them centre-stage, just as you are. I have read it and heard it hundreds of times. You're just another voice among thousands, if not millions, following this trend. The tactic used by people such as yourself is to make these atrocities the only thing the West stands for, and ignore every other achievement; most of which we take…

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  3. robert roeder
    robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    I wonder how the US would feel if the Russians negotiated strong trade and investment partnerships with several countries in South America then offered them security pacts for defence against the boogie man. Imagine a line of ICBM right along the Mexican border it's closer than Cuba, I suppose it's common knowledge that the US has not been benevolent to many countries there.
    The age old machiavellian antics of domination go back to the stone age, writing diatribes as propaganda or belief does nothing to benefit the people who suffer the consequences as the psychopaths demonstrate their immaturity and inability to play fair. The simple answer to this question is which nation is the biggest bully in the world then how do we get them to stop their destructive behaviour.

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    1. Steven Crook

      Programmer and software designer at Currently resting

      In reply to robert roeder

      The USSR already tried that sort of thing and certainly weren't inactive across the whole of South America through the cold war.

      They certainly had a good enough try in Cuba and the Cubans have been paying for it ever since.

      "The simple answer to this question is which nation is the biggest bully in the world then how do we get them to stop their destructive behaviour."

      It's a simple question, but the answer isn't. Do you really think that knocking the US off its perch would solve anything? China and Russia would be only too happy to replace the US and I'd argue that with either of them as the big dog, we'd be a lot worse off than we are now.

      The US is a bit like democracy, it's far from ideal, but it's a lot better than the alternatives...

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    2. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to robert roeder

      "I wonder how the US would feel if the Russians negotiated strong trade and investment partnerships with several countries in South America then offered them security pacts for defence against the boogie man. Imagine a line of ICBM right along the Mexican border it's closer than Cuba"
      Are you being serious? Google "Cold War".

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    3. alfred venison

      records manager (public sector)

      In reply to Steven Crook

      the ussr is history. in today's world, the russian republic, backed by a consortium of russian banks, is writing down cuba's soviet era debt. in today's world, russia is reinvesting 10% of the debt level to aid programs. in today's world, russia is leasing cuba eight long-range jet aircraft. and in today's world, russian corporations are helping cuba develop its off-shore oil resources. right now, right under uncle sam's nose. -a.v.

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    4. Steven Crook

      Programmer and software designer at Currently resting

      In reply to alfred venison

      I'd agree that the US embargo on Cuba is a joke and has been for many years.

      The influence of first generation Cuban refugees is diminishing and their children and grandchildren appear to far less bothered by the existence of the Castro regime, so perhaps a normalisation of relations is becoming possible.

      One thing Obama could and should do is set a timetable for the rapid abandonment of all trade restrictions.

      The USSR might be history, but it's pretty apparent that there's still plenty of cold war sentiment (paranoia?) still simmering just beneath the surface, combined with a longing for Russia to have the influence exerted by the USSR.

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  4. Jay Wulf

    Digerati at nomeonastiq.com

    "While some see the EU’s declining military strength as an unambiguous sign of weakness, the decline in European bellicosity is one of its great virtues."

    The only people who see the EU choosing not to buy useless, super-expensive toys are the toy makers. As the the words of the US President Eisenhower, prophecised, the US industrial military complex usurped the reigns of the government. Its economy is based on perpetual war and perpetual state of aggression. Even when there is no war, we have…

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  5. Bill Woerlee

    logged in via Facebook

    I have been reading the large numbers of posts here which have a rather peculiar flavour, almost as if they have been pre-written by the Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (FSB) and the 国家安全部 (MSS) because really, no one in their right mind could ever believe that nonsense. Railing against everything about the west and using the internet to do so ... oh the irony.

    The reality is that not even the Russians like their own system. USD700bn in overseas deposits gives a clear indication…

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    1. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      I agree Bill - some of the posts made here are so way off track to what the Professor wrote in his essay that the authors risk getting bogged in their own propaganda - Or maybe, Agenda

      Anyway, here's something for the Professor to mull over

      clipped from the essay ... "" If Europe generally and Germany in particular were to wean themselves off of Russian energy this would radically alter inter-regional relations in Europe’s long-term favour.""

      Professor, perhaps you might benefit from knowing…

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    2. Bill Woerlee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Garry, interesting proposition but I am not sure it plays out. Merkel is one of many competing interests in a government drawn from a vast range of local German interests. Merkel on occassion may be able to make a "Captain's Call" but she has no great ability to influence the thrust of German economic and foreign policy. At best, to stay relevant, she needs to run in front of the pack. Anything else and we will see a new German PM. Should German sentiment demand energy independence from Russia, there…

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    3. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      He could just turn on the printing presses as does the US!

      Russia has oil, lots of oil. Until people are persuaded to do without this commodity, there is a market. Or are you proposing that the US and its
      go to war to stop the sales?

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    4. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Garry, stop such narrow minded Western (English) tribal mentality. Europe could achieve peace by having a mutually beneficial relationship with its direct neighbor, Russia.

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    5. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      Big money moving to your West is largely of the rip-off merchants of those other lands encouraged by no-questions-asked policies of "the West" and hoping to flee accountability within those lands they have exploited. I am not persuaded by the internet Hollywood spin that that is the system I want for my land - all to the 1%? No! Nor should they - but at the 1% level - no problems!

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    6. Bill Woerlee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter:

      "He could just turn on the printing presses as does the US!"

      Well, actually Yeltsin tried that. Tell me how it worked out for him and the Russian people.

      The big difference between the two is, Peter, everyone wants the Yankee Dollah and no one gives a fig about the rouble, and especially not the Russians themselves.

      Yes, there will always be a market for oil. Now the big problem for Russia. Their oil infrastructure is so dated and primitive that they need major injections of capital…

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    7. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      I was being ironical!

      However your faith in the yankee dollar is touching. Nobody believes it is worth the paper it is printed on.

      The deals being done around the world to exclude the dollar reinforce the point.

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    8. Bill Woerlee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Jim, thanks for your comments but I have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about. You posit that you don't want the internet. Good. Stop using it. Cut it off from your home. Don't go to internet cafes etc. Don't read this. Don't reply. I won't lose an ounce of sleep over it. But for goodness sake, don't use the very tools you think are so evil and should not be in your homeland. Just makes you sound like a donkey but in contrast, I suspect you are an intelligent person. So if you want to say something about Russian kleptocracy and their moving USD100bn to the west in the last 3 months, do so. But don't blame the west for your fellow citizen's greed or disregard for their government. This is a purely Russian problem.

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    9. Bill Woerlee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter, if you were being ironical, no one got it. My touching faith in the Yankee Dollah is supported by every central bank on this earth including the nations of Timor, Panama and Zimbabwe. Can't say the same for Russian roubles which folks all round the world use as a substitute for toilet paper because the notes are large, soft and absorbent, far better than anything produced by Bowater-Scott. Oh and Peter, I was being ironical in case you missed it.

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    10. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      Bill, you are spot on. The dead giveaway is that all these weird posts lead with the Cold War red-herring about the Palestinians!

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    11. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to alan w. shorter

      The Israeli/Palestinian issue is the longest running, most brutal, flouting of international law in history which is countenanced, were it is not actively supported by most nations in the West. therefore when the Western powers blather on about International Law and human rights, it is the logical yardstick against which to measure the West.

      Of course if one only wants to compare the US to to those it criticises there are myriad -- -- certainly more than fifty --- atrocities which one could use as a yardstick.

      As a matter of curiosity, what possible connection can you find linking the Palestinians to the Cold War?

      To the best of my knowledge, there are none whatever!

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    12. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      As I pointed out above, the world has been dispensing with the dollar for trade contracts for at least twenty years.

      The US has of course murdered those who advocated the move, and destroyed those countries it could who were leading the move ---- Iraq and Libya being notable examples. Libya of course had the added (dis) advantage that it held 140 odd tonnes of gold in reserves, which the yanks lusted after, and have a huge water reserve which France has designs on.

      It didn't help that Qaddafi was working o establishing an African, gold backed currency which would have seen the ever sinking $US sunk.

      When you cannot compete with them, bomb them into obviation. Also an Israeli tactic: see Peter Manning's 'Lebanon Burning'. A documentary on the 2006 destruction of Lebanon..

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    13. Bill Woerlee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Hi Peter, thanks for your interesting but irrelevant post.

      Or was this just you being ironical again?

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    14. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Bill Woerlee

      Behind closed doors Putin has a dream to return to the days of the Soviet ... Proofs to support this claim can be found, and the Americans certainly know it. Thus their reactions with the Ukraine .. pushing against the thin edge of the wedge, waiting for bigger things yet to come. Further chapters on Putin's agenda will inevitably follow

      However, with Germany ... 35 percent of German oil and gas imports come in from Russia and 6,000 German companies are doing business there.- ( Their big companies…

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    15. Bill Woerlee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Garry, thanks for your post. All you say might be true but the impact is not all that relevant.

      For instance, Russia might have all these petro reserves. They have no value while they are still in the ground. The infrastructure is old and almost useless making extraction of shale oil cheaper than accessing Russian oil. So the US looks like being oil sufficient in the next few years requiring the good folks in the ME to seek out other markets, of which the states being served by Russian pipelines…

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  6. alfred venison

    records manager (public sector)

    this is an astonishingly superficial and/or naive article.

    let me see if i've got this right: american imperialism is normal & good, but russian imperialism is abnormal & bad. and there are no fascists in the kiev government & no move to the east by nato.

    and, western transnational corporations moving their profits around the world to avoid paying tax where they do business, is good, but russian oligarchs moving their money to the city of london to avoid tax in russia, is bad.

    and…

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to alfred venison

      Yep, and Russia is 'expansionist' while the US is merely being neighbourly with their interference.

      If only the US would pack up and go home!

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  7. alfred venison

    records manager (public sector)

    so now today we have the ukrainian president-by-coup telling the easterners they'd better not vote "yes" in their upcoming referendum.

    or what? he'll send in the army? not likely, they haven't exerted themselves too much on his behalf lately.

    more likely, he's saying, if they vote "yes", he'll send in the paramilitary force the kiev junta has been enrolling & training since the army's divided loyalty became apparent, complete with dregs from right sector.

    it is no wonder to me that easterners are worried. -a.v.

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  8. John Farrell

    Dangerous Lunatic

    I'd be much happier with articles criticising barbarism in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, etc, if western governments weren't involved in all those places stirring the pot. What's happening in Ukraine is just a continuation of the Cold War. NATO's existence is a continuation of the Cold War. The 2009 "reset" was nothing but a lie. I'd just like to know what would happen if Russia was treated with some respect by western governments.

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    1. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to John Farrell

      John, are you suggesting that the human rights situation in Iraq, Syrian and Afghanistan are now better off than before western invasion or intervention? You should read the statement on this page: http://outcastjournalist.com/index_files/art_of_media_disinformation_is_hurting_the_world_and_humanity.htm :

      The issues of democracy, freedom, human rights and good governance are not as simple and straightforward as we are told by the mainstream media. Western democracy is by no mean a solution to…

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    2. John Farrell

      Dangerous Lunatic

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      I'm not suggesting that at all. I think the basic human right is to live a peaceful life without being attacked. Saudi (and then American) intervention in Syria has prevented that for hundreds of thousands of people. The American coup in Ukraine has started the destruction of that country as well.

      Democracy is not useful in and of itself, democracy is useful when it prevents people from being killed. Hence I am not in favour of forcibly destroying existing stable systems and replacing them with democratic facades.

      I will have a look at your Facebook page, but please let me tell you gently that your web site needs to use fewer colours and fonts so that it looks more like a political opinion site and less like a conspiracy theory site.

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    3. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Oh Wei Ling Chua, naughty, naughty! Have you not been taught that THE West, and particularly THE US are beyond criticism?

      Ask your critics to nominate one country, excepting only Australia that was not conspicuously wealthy BEFORE they were 'colonised'.

      Of course they were all left ravished, destroyed, plundered.

      Ask from whom the Brits learned to spin ad weave cotton, and again, from whom did they learn to manufacturer high grade steel.

      Great to see you posting. peter

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    4. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Hi Peter,wealthy after colonised at the expand of live of 80% indigenous in Australia and 95% in America。 Is that meaningful to the native population? How about the paper, compass and many other invention stolen from China without paying any intellectual property: Read this book: 'The Genius of China: 3000 years of science discovery & invention: http://books.google.com.au/books/about/The_genius_of_China.html?id=FqFb15p61_EC

      As for the issue of freedom of speech, if there is no massive western…

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  9. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. alfred venison

      records manager (public sector)

      In reply to Malcolm Riddoch

      i second everything you say. academics who write about ukraine without acknowledging the presence of neo-nazi's in the gov't & in the national guard lose my respect immediately.

      everything that's happening in the east is in reaction to neo-nazis in the west. acknowledge that and you're part way to a solution.

      we have a national guardsman today - speaking to an internatinal journalist & quoted in the australian - saying "well push them [easterners] back, or we will kill them". and MY…

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  10. alfred venison

    records manager (public secotr)

    oh, i must be wrong. yet again.

    here i thought a cornerstone of the west’s values was the treaty of westphalia.

    i thought one of the things the treaty of westphalia said was you don’t bugger around in other people’s countries, but let me make that abundantly clear, you don’t interfere in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation.

    so it looks like i’m wrong on that, the treaty of westphalia is apparently no longer a cornerstone of european values & interference in the internal affairs…

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    1. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at www.facebook.com/mediadisinformation

      In reply to alfred venison

      Hi Alfred, if one study the European history, peace is only temporary - almost maximum 20 to 25 years before the next war broke out. All kind of peace treaties are only temporary measures when both sides exhausted. The intention for conquest has never stop. The hostility between Eastern and western Europe ended in 1991. Putting aside the bombing of Serbia, Europe only enjoy internal peace in the last 2 decades. With the current change of world order and the shift in economic power, the survival of the EU, and Euro are now in question. Read this article: 'Spectre of Separatism Haunts Europe': http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/spectre-separatism-haunts-europe-7979?page=1
      and this: http://www.cfr.org/world/eurocrisis-uncertain-future-european-integration/p22933 . It is important for the west to acknowledge such fact to reform the culture of conquest. The world will not enjoy peace when nations seek dominate and control the others.

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    2. alfred venison

      records manager (public secotr)

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      hello Wei Ling Chua - i have an hono(u)rs degree in european history - music & nationalism. you should read about the treaty of westphalia. my understanding is, regarding international law (however imperfect) & the ideal of well regulated relations between states, it set the norm for centuries. -a.v.

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    3. Michael Ekin Smyth

      Investor

      In reply to Wei Ling Chua

      Wei Ling: you assessment of the frequency of wars in Europe reminded me of a joke about the Germans:
      Question: Why do German men form up into armies and invade neighboring countries every 50 years or so?
      Answer: Have you ever met German women?
      Best told with a bit of a stage-hall German accent.
      I told it once in a Wiener heuriger - to a German bureaucrat who struggled to understand.
      A strikingly beautiful Polish lady at the end of the table saved me by saying I had it all wrong.
      "German men, indeed all men, form up into armies so they can invade surrounding countries to get better women, not to get away from their own."
      "That is why Poland is the most invaded country in Europe."

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  11. Michael Ekin Smyth

    Investor

    Mark: the outflows from Russia are accelerating - more than 50 billion USD in the first quarter alone. There are two possible ways of playing this angle: we could block the flows - forcing the Russians to keep their money at home and, inadvertently, strengthening their economy. Or, we could be a little more Machiavellian and make it even easier for them to move their money to London, Larnaca or where-ever else they feel is safe.
    And then we could encourage their companies to list in the West…

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    1. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      . Then they won't be able to tolerate a tin-pot would-be dictator like Putin .

      Tin pot ? ... His personal fortune amounts to billions ... lots of them... Indeed, he heads the local Mafia

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    2. Malcolm Riddoch

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      Hi Michael,

      the destabilisation of Ukraine is quite publicly a US led NATO project, as Victoria "F*ck the EU" Nuland has admitted, they've poured over $5 billion USD into the Orange Revolution led by Tymoshenko's Kiev based former opposition Fatherland party who with their unabashedly neo-Nazi Svoboda and Pravy Sektor partners now form the unelected coup government and paramilitary security apparatus controlling western Ukraine. Bild even reports the presence of FBI and CIA assets on the ground…

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    3. Michael Ekin Smyth

      Investor

      In reply to Malcolm Riddoch

      Malcolm: the one destabilizing Ukraine is Vlad Putin. You have fallen for, what is admittedly, one of the most sophisticated propaganda campaigns ever launched.
      Like the apologists for Hitler in the 1930s you are going to end up on the wrong side of history. Putin's aggression is driven by the demographic, economic and ecological disasters that are unfolding in Russia.
      Germany was slow to realize the danger - which is strange considering their history. But they are toughening up now.
      The Ukrainians…

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    4. Michael Ekin Smyth

      Investor

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Garry: true but tracking them down is proving difficult. The main difficulty is that, when the Mafia takes over the state, the capo di capo is able to manipulate all data which leaks out.

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    5. Michael Ekin Smyth

      Investor

      In reply to Malcolm Riddoch

      Malcolm: You are like the apologists for Hitler in the 1930s. Putin's aggression is based on the emerging demographic, economic and ecological crisis in Russia - and it will continue.
      You have been fooled by, what is admittedly, one of the most sophisticated propaganda wars ever launched. The lies, the rumours, the outright nonsense, peddled by the Russians are difficult to comprehend. But, unfortunately, they are working.
      Later this month the EU elections will be held. Every indication is that a range of right-wing anti-immigrant parties will win far greater representation.
      They adore Putin and have already declared him their Fuhrer.
      Putin has used the gulag to suppress internal dissent. Just like Hitler.
      He oppresses homosexuals and minorities. Just like Hitler.
      He is invaded neighboring countries on the pretext of protecting his linguistic minority. Just like Hitler.
      These are indeed dark days in Europe.

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    6. alfred venison

      records manager (public secotr)

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      and here i thought putin's aggression was linked to nato engineering regime change in order to put a hostile ukraine between him and his country's strategic fleet base. -a.v.

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    7. Malcolm Riddoch

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to alfred venison

      No a.v., apparently it's the 'Russian Führer Putin' who has forced the US and EU to publicly support Kiev's use of neo-Nazi death squads in Odessa, Mariupol, Slavyansk and elsewhere in Ukraine in order to destabilise the country and jeopardise any present or future Russian / EU economic, military or political cooperation as well as deliver Ukraine to NATO and its MAD 'missile defence shield'.

      Putin = Hitler ... rinse and repeat ... irrespective of the irrationality, historical ignorance and grotesque…

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    8. alfred venison

      records manager (public secotr)

      In reply to Malcolm Riddoch

      thanks malcolm riddoch. i still hold that non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries is the fundamental enlightenment value conspicuously missing from the essay that stimulated these comments.

      in parting i’ll say i am impressed by the way russians have used to their strategic advantage leaks to the internet of wire taps. first was nuland, then eu foreign minister & the estonican president & then timascheko’s tirade about using nukes on the russians in the east.

      each time…

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    9. Michael Ekin Smyth

      Investor

      In reply to Malcolm Riddoch

      Malcolm: actually you are the one suffering from cognitive dissonance. You regurgitate the fascist nonsense coming out of the Kremlin, you applaud the foul undermining of a people struggling for some measure of freedom from the Mafia criminals who have taken over that part of the world, and you ignore reality.
      I don't know what creates such evil ... but I know that it won't win through. No matter how many wars Putin starts, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of deaths he causes, and no matter how much applause he gets from from neo-fascists like you, freedom will win through.
      Putin is on the wrong side of history and so are you.

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