Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear Politics – theme for March 2022

Homo Sapiens (and I do mean Homo, not Femina) has always solved his relational problems by fighting, by war and the threat of war.

And it sorta worked, in a sorta way. (The meek, the ”weak” men had some success, setting up co-operative arrangements, like the United Nations). It’s turning out that the ”weak” ”sissy” men might just have a broader, more considered, intelligence that just might be essential for the survival of the species. Heck they might even welcome Femina in – likely to be a lot more sapiens.

In the current crisis – one thing is for sure – if it develops into a third world war – it will be a nuclear war. Probably now, only Russia accepts that it’s just fine to send thousands of men to their deaths, and even Russians might be getting sick of this old idea.

The new way is – press a button, from far away, and incinerate millions. Trouble is that might cause millions on your side also to be incinerated – heck – even the ones pressing the buttons.

A new politics must be found. Otherwise, at best, the species might be lucky enough to survive, and evolve into a bee or ant-like species, with males as just a tiny minority.

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Thought for the day -Australia joins in the joyous rebranding of nuclear power

Yay – today the Sydney Morning Herald goes for it, as author Lizette Chapman rejoices in the world’s richest people leading the way. The whole article looks like a beaut handout from the nuclear lobby.

In science fiction, it’d be hard to believe! But in the real world today – in the midst of a war crists, with nuclear sites threatened, they are rebranding nuclear power as a good idea!!! Come in – suckers !!!

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Charles Freeman -USA fighting Russia ‘to the last Ukrainian’. Interview with full transcript

UNMISSABLE – and in my opinion, the very best commentary on the Ukraine situation

23 Mar. Transcribed by Noel Wauchope, This is  Aaron Mate. joining me is Charles Freeman.  He is a retired veteran U.S diplomat who has served in a number of senior positions including as the Assistant Secretary of Defense and U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. 

Question, What is your assessment of the russian invasion so far and how the biden administration has responded to it?

FREEMAN A huge question. I thought in the run-up to this that Mr Putin was following a classic form of coercive diplomacy massing troops on Ukraine’s border issuing very clear offers to negotiate threatening indirectly to escalate beyond the border not in Ukraine which the Russians repeatedly said they did not intend to invade but perhaps through putting pressure on the United States similar to the one the pressure that the Russians feel from us namely missiles within no warning distance at all of the capital.

Of course Washington doesn’t have quite the significance in our case that Moscow does for the Russians but still I thought that was what was in store.  I don’t think his troops were prepared for it. There’s no evidence that they had the logistics in place or that the troops were briefed about where they were going and why and so it looks like an impetuous decision and if so it ranks with the decision of Tsar Nicholas ii the last tsar to go to war with japan in 1904. That had disastrous consequences for political order in Russia and I think this is a comparable blunder.

There are lots of things being said about the course of the war which is now about a months old and many of them are I think frankly tendentious nonsense for example it’s alleged that the Russians are deliberately targeting civilians but I think in most wars the ratio of military to civilian deaths is roughly one to one and in this case the recorded civilian deaths are about one-tenth of that which strongly suggests that the Russians have been holding back. We may now see the end of that with the ultimatum that has been issued in connection with Mario Paul where if I understood correctly what the Russians are saying, they were saying surrender or face the consequences and the consequences would be a terrible leveling of the city

We don’t know where this war is going to end . whether there will be a Ukraine or how much of a Ukraine there will be , what the effects inside Russia will be. There’s clearly a lot of dissent in Russia although i’m sure it’s being exaggerated by our media .

The war is a fog of lies on all sides. It is virtually impossible to tell what is actually happening because every side is staging the show the champion of that is mrZielensky who is brilliant as a communicator. It turns out he’s a an actor who has found his role and probably helps Ukraine a great deal to have a president who is an accomplished actor who came equipped with his own studio staff, who is um using that brilliantly and I would say Mr Zielinski was elected to head a state called Ukraine and he has created a nation called Ukraine he is he is somebody who’s perceived heroism has rallied Ukrainians to a degree that no one ever expected .

But we don’t know where this is going and more to the point the United states is not part of any effort to negotiate an end to the fighting. To the extent that there is mediation going on it seems to be by Turkey possibly Israel, maybe China that’s about it and the United States is not in the room.

Everything we are doing rather than accelerating an end to the fighting and some compromise seems to be aimed at prolonging the fighting assisting the Ukrainian resistance, which is a noble cause I suppose but that will result in a lot of dead Ukrainians as well as dead Russians.

And also, the sanctions have no goals attached to them there’s no conditions which we’ve stated which would result in their end. And finally we have people now calling, including the President of the United states and the Prime Minister of Great Britain calling Putin a war criminal and professing that they will intend to bring it to trial somehow.

Now this gives Mr Putin absolutely no incentive to compromise or reach an accommodation with the Ukrainians and it probably guarantees a long war and there seemed to be a lot of people in the United States who think that’s just dandy. It’s good for the military-industrial complex. It reaffirms our negative views of Russia it reinvigorates NATO. it puts China on the spot.

You know what’s so terrible about a long war – you know if you’re not Ukrainian you probably see some merit in a long war so this has not gone as anybody predicted, not Mr Putin not the intelligence community of the United States which extrapolated war plans from the disposition of forces on the ukrainian border. Not the way the Germans who are now rearming anticipated

It’s got a lot of shock value to it and it’s changing the world in ways we still don’t understand. I wonder if U.S intelligence extrapolated that Russia would invade based on the certainty that the U.S would reject Russia’s core security demands – namely neutrality for Ukraine and Ukraine not joining NATO and I’m wondering if their assurance that Biden would reject those demands – if that’s what made them all the more confident that Russia would then invade.

Question, And on that point about NATO, I wanted to get your response to some comments that Zeilinski recently made. He was speaking to Farid Zakaria of CNN and he made what that was a really telling admission about what he was told to say publicly about NATO before the war.

I requested them personally to take to say directly that we are going to accept or not NATO in a year or two, or just say it five and clearly or just say no. And the response was very clear you are not going to be a member but publicly the doors will remain open but if you are not ready if you just want to see us straddle two worlds if you want to see us in this dubious position where we do not understand whether you can accept us or not you cannot place us in this situation you cannot force us to be in this limbo.

So that’s Zielinski saying that he was told by NATO original members presumably the U.S. that we’re not going to let you in but publicly we’re going to leave the door open. I’m wondering Ambassador Freeman your response to that?

FREEMAN. Well those are two questions. First in my experience the intelligence community does not start from estimates of U.S. policy and I think what we saw was an order of battle analysis with the judgment as expressed at one point by Secretary of State Lincoln – that you know if we masked 150 000 troops on somebody’s border that would mean we were about to invade in other words mirror imaging. You know that’s what we would do therefore that’s what the Russians will do.

I think Mr Putin was surprised by being stiff-armed on the after all 28 year old demands that NATO stop enlarging in the direction of Russia that at root this is a contest over whether Ukraine will be in the U.S sphere of influence, the Russian sphere of influence or neither’s, and neutrality, which is what mr putin had started out saying he wanted .

What’s compatible with neither side having ukraine within its sphere? Whether that’s now possible or not I don’t know. I think one of the mistakes Mr Putin made in upping the ante was to make it very difficult for Ukraine to become neutral but on the question of what mr Zielinski was told Ithink this is remarkably cynical or perhaps it was not even unrealistic on the part of leaders in the West.

Zielensky is obviously a very intelligent man and he saw what the consequences of being put in what he called limbo would be – namely Ukraine would be hung out to dry and the west was basically saying we will fight to the last Ukrainian for Ukrainian independence, which essentially remains our stand . It’s pretty cynical despite all the patriotic fervor and I’d add .

I have heard , I know people who have been attempting to hold an inquiry in the West. It’s very depressing. really we should rise to this occasion we should be concerned about achieving a balance in Europe that sustains peace. That requires incorporating Russia into a governing Council for Europe of some sort. Europe historically has been at peace only when all the great powers who could overthrow the peace have been co-opted into it. A perfect example is the Congress of Vienna which followed the Napoleonic wars where Kissinger’s great hero met in it and others had the good sense to to reincorporate France into the governing Councils of Europe.

That gave Europe a hundred years of peace. Of course there were a few minor conflicts but nothing major. After World War One when the victors, the United States and Britain and France insisted on excluding Germany from a role in the affairs of Europe as well as this newly formed Soviet Union, the result was World War Two, and the cold war.

It’s really depressing that instead of trying to figure out how to give Russia reasons not to invade countries and to violate international laws, instead of trying to give Russia reasons for being well behaved, – with the use of force you take us back.

Question. In the 1990s you served in the Clinton administration at a time when there was a big discussion, big debate in washington over the future of European security architecture. This is after the soviet union had collapsed. Russia was never weaker. There were people, including inside the George H.W. Bush administration, who talked about pledging support for neutrality not trying to bring the former Soviet states into one camp or the other.

Ultimately President Clinton went with NATO expansion, went with violating the pledges that accompanied the end of the Soviet Union to expand NATO to Russia’s borders. can you take us back to that time and the debates that were taking place and how that’s fueled the crisis we’re in today?

FREEMAN. Well I actually had a good deal to do with the formulation of what became known as the Partnership for Peace and this was two things. It was a pathway to responsible application for NATO membership but it was and it was also a cooperative security system. Rather than a collective security system for Europe it left the members to decide whether they defined themselves as European or not so Tajikistan joined the partnership, but it made no effort to civilianize ts defense establishment or subject its military to parliamentary oversight. And it didn’t learn the 3 000 standardization agreements that are the operating doctrine of NATO that allow Portuguese soldier to die for Poland or vice versa so that process was the the question of what countries would have what relationship with NATO was left to those countries,which is what happened in 1994 and which was a midterm election year.

In 1996, which was a presidential election year was interesting. In 1994 Mr Clinton was talking out of both sides of his mouth he was telling the Russians that we were in no rush to add members to NATO and then our preferred path was the Partnership for Peace. At the same time he was hinting to the ethnic diasporas of Russophobic countries in Eastern Europe , (and by the way it’s easy to understand their russophobia given their history), that no no we were going to get these countries into NATO as fast as possible and in 1996 he made that pledge explicit.

1994 he got an outburst from Yeltsin who was then the President of the Russian Federation. In 1996 he got another one and as time went on when Mr Putin came in he regularly protested the enlargement of NATO in ways that disregarded Russia’s self-defense interests. So there should have been no surprise about this in 2018, For 28 years Russia has been warning that at some point it would snap and it has. And it has done it in a very destructive way both in terms of its own interests and in terms of the broader prospects for peace in Europe.

There really is no excuse for what Mr Putin has done to understand it is not to condone it

It’s hard for people to be objective about this and and they’re immediately accused of being Russian agents or let us just say the price of speaking on this subject is to join the pom-pom girls in a frenzy of support for our position and if you’re not part of the chorus you’re not allowed to say anything. SoI think that this has very injurious effects on Western liberties and it has enforced and almost Iwon’t say it’s totalitarian but it’s certainly a similar kind of control on freedom of expression.

So I think that what happened here was a combination of forces. There were those people in the United States w ho were triumphalist about the end of the cold war. There were those who felt that what they perceived as victory – think it was a default by the Russians but anyway the game was over. This allowed the United States to incorporate all the countries right up to Russia’s borders and beyond them. Beyond those borders in the Baltics – into an american sphere of influence and essentially they posited a global sphere of influence for the United States modeled on the Monroe Doctrine and that’s pretty much what we have. Ukraine entered that sphere of influence it was not neutral after 2014.

That was the purpose of the coup – to prevent neutrality or a pro-Russian government in Cuba and to replace it with a pro-American government that would bring Ukraine into our sphere since about 2015 after this is of course Russia reacted by annexing Crimea

Since 2015 we have – let me say about Crimea – of course Russia reacted because it’s major naval base on the Black Sea is in Crimea . And the prospect that Ukraine was going to be incorporating into NATO and an American sphere of influence would have negated the value of that base . So i don’t think it had anything to do with the wishes of the people of Crimea who however were quite happy to be part of Russia rather than Ukraine. So since about 2015 the United States has been arming training Ukrainians against Russia.

A major step up in in 2017 in that ironically because of Mr Trump , who was actually impeached for trying to leverage arms sales to Ukraine for political dirt on dividends. But at any rate it isn’t as though Ukraine was not treated as an extension of NATO. It was, and this had a good deal to do with the Russian decision to invade.

I understand that the Ukrainian forces, although they’ve lost their command and control , there are major units that are surrounded and in danger of being annihilated by he Russians. There are cities that are in danger of being pulverized. None of this has happened yet but the ukrainians do not lack weaponry. They have more than enough to deal with the Russian forces on a dispersed basis in there and they have shown themselves to be very courageous in defending their country with those weapons. A lot of them are dying for their country one can admire that and but one must also lament it

Question, I quote you. Elliott Cohen served as a counselor to Condoleezza Rice when she was the Secretary of State , and he writes this in the Atlantic magazine: he says the United States and ts NATO allies are engaged in a proxy war with Russia they are supplying thousands of munitions and hopefully doing much else. sharing intelligence. For example with the intent of killing Russian soldiers and because fighting is as the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz said –

a trial of moral and physical forces through the medium of the latter we must face a fact to break the will of Russia and free Ukraine from conquest and subjugation many Russian soldiers have to flee surrender or die, and the more and faster the better.”

That’s Elliot Cohen, former state department advisor in the Atlantic. I’m wondering what your response is to that, especially him calling just openly declaring that the U.S. is using Ukraine for what he calls a proxy war against Russia?

FREEMAN. Well Professor Cohen is a very honest man, which is to his credit, and therefore his adherence to neoconservative objectives is entirely transparent, and what he just said what you quoted him as saying, is consistent with the neoconservative objective of regime change in Russia and it’s also consistent with fighting to the last ukrainian to achieve it

I find it deplorable but I have to say it’s probably representative of a very large body of opinion in Washington. Why why does this view of Ukraine as essentially a cannon fighter against Russia why is it so prevalent in Washington. This is essentially cost free from the united states as long as we don’t cross some Russian red line that leads to escalation against us we are engaged as Professor Cohen said, in a proxy war, and we’re selling a lot of weapons that makes arms manufacturers happy . We’re supporting a valiant resistance which makes gives politicians something to crow about. We’re going against an officially designated enemy Russia which makes us feel vindicated.

Question, So from the point of view of those with these self-interested views of the issue this is a freebie and as someone with extensive experience in China you serve as President Nixon’s translator interpreter when he did his historic visit to China, I’m wondering what you make of China’s response to Russia’s invasion so far? And these warnings that they’ve been receiving in recent days from the Biden administration trying to basically tell them not to help out Russia or else there will be consequences?

FREEMAN, Well this has been fascinating to watch. The Chinese clearly agree with Mr Putin and Russian nationalists in objecting to NATO enlargement um having been subjected to foreign spheres of influence in the 19th and 20th century they don’t like them. They don’t believe Ukraine should be part of either the Russian or the U.S. sphere of influence they are the last citadel of Westphalianism in the world. They really do believe strongly in sovereignty and territorial integrity. Mr Putin went to Beijing for the winter olympics and had a long discussion with Xi Jinping the Chinese President and they agreed that NATO should not enlarge . There should not be spheres of influence and that the security architecture in Europe needed to be adjusted to relieve Russia of the sense of menace that it experiences. I don’t believe for a minute that mr mr putin told mr c that he planned to invade Ukraine. In fact he may have said he had no intention of doing it. I don’t know.

He may indeed have had no intention of doing it at that point, assuming that his coercive diplomacy was going to get a response. ut of course it got no response. It got an evasive set of counter proposals about arms control which didn’t address the main question he was raising which was how Russia could feel secure when a hostile alliance was advancing to its very borders. Anyway poor Mr Xi Jinping – he now has to straddle something he probably almost certainly had no idea was in prospect. On the one hand he can oppose spheres of influence and demand consideration for the security concerns of great powers as he does with regard to Russia and with regard to his own country. But on the other hand Ukraine is being violated .

So the Chinese have had an awkward straddle. The irony is Idon’t think this was intended, but inadvertently this has put them in a position where they’re one of the few countries that might conceivably mediate an end to the fighting. I noticed that recently the Chinese have played , emphasized heavily, the need for there to be negotiations to bring that fighting to an end at the earliest possible moment. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to end up mediating. Mediation is a very difficult thing, and often the mediation with two friends can end up with two enemies.

So this is not something you take on lightly. At this point however, I would just say nobody knows what’s going on. At least if anybody does know they’re not saying what’s going on between Russians and Ukrainians in the meetings that they are having. The Turks claim that the two sides are close to an agreement on various points. Lavrov and Cabela. the Ukrainian foreign minister. have both said something similar. But there is no agreement and it’s not clear at this point whether there can be an agreement by taking the land corridor from Donetsk to Crimea

Mr Putin has taken something that he probably will be very unwilling to give up and as I said you ask Ukrainians to accept neutrality when they’ve been battered around the way they have been and lost all the people lives and property that they have. It’s not at all easy for them so even though from the very beginning the solution has been obvious, which is some variant of the Austrian State tree of 1955 meaning a guaranteed independence in return for two things.

One – decent treatment of minorities inside the guaranteed state and

Second – neutralityfor the guaranteed state.

Question. This should have there from the beginning. This is still the objective as far as we can tell but it’s been made more difficult rather than less by the outbreak of war what’s your sense of the agency and the free reign that zelinski actually has to make decisions and the extent of u.s influence over him?

FREEMAN. One of the things that the late Professor Stephen F Cohen warned about it to me in 2019, was that unless the U.S steps up and supports Zielinski in his mandate of making peace with the rebels in the East then he has no chance because otherwise he’ll have to submit to the far right inside Ukraine who are very influential. Since then i’ve seen no indication there has been any sort of support from Washington for making peace with Russia. Trump of course was impeached when he paused those weapons sales. There’s that famous incident where Lindsey Graham and John m\McCain and Amy Klobuchar go to the front lines in late 2016 of the uUrainian military’s fight against the rebels in the donbas and Lindsey Graham says:

‘this is 2017 it is going to be the year of offense and Russia has to pay a heavier price. Your fight is our fight”All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia. Enough of Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price. I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win.”

Question. fast forward to when Biden came in. Time magazine reported that when Zielinski shut down the three leading opposition TV networks in Ukraine that was conceived as a welcome gift to the Biden administration to fit withtheir agenda so what do you think is the extent of U.S’s influence over Zielensky’s decisions?

FREEMAN. Zielenski was selected by a landslide not because of anything except – he wasn’t all the other candidates so his political capital very quickly evaporated and he really had no power to make decisions Whether there were other people behind him making decisions or that he mouthed or whether he was taking instructions from the Biden administration or the Trump administration or whoever is unclear.

But what it what is clear to me is that Mr Zielensky’s performance as the leader of wartime Ukraine has gained him enormous political capital. He has the ability now to make a compromise. It will not be easy as you indicated. There are elements in the coalition that supports him who are very right-wing and anti-Russian perhaps even neo-Nazi. And by the way anti-semitism is a disastrous aspect of Nazism but it’s not the definition of Nazism, and apparently you can be a Nazi and have and have a Jewish President and not feel uncomfortable about it. So I think this is a simplistic argument – well because Ukraine has a secular Jewish president who apparently doesn’t really identify as Jewish but is identified as Jewish this means somehow that there can’t be any Nazis backing him. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway it’s clear that Ukraine has been very divided in multiple directions ever since its independence and I’m sure those fissures continue to exist. Mr Zielinski however -has he really has empowered himself? I think if he gets backing from the United States and others here we have a problem

Not only do we have the statements that Putin is a war criminal and must be brought to trial -statements coming out of leaders in the West including President Biden but we also have people like Boris Johnson saying the sanctions have to stay on, whatever Russia does, because Russia has to be punished. Well this means russia has absolutely no incentive to accommodate, and it also means that Mr Zielinski has no freedom to accommodate

So this is the opposite of an effort to resolve the issue. It’s an effort in effect, whatever its intent, to perpetuate the fighting. And and that is going to be disastrous for the Ukrainians, for the Russians and and for Europe and ultimately from the United States

Question. You mentioned the neo-Nazi issue in Ukraine let me quote you from a new article in the washington post by Rita Katz. She’s the executive director of the site Intelligence Group. Her article is called ”Neo-Nazis are exploiting Russia’s war in Ukraine for their own purposes” . Not since Isis have we seen such a flurry of recruitment activity, and she writes this – in many ways the Ukraine situation reminds me of Syria in the early and middle years of the last decade. Just as the Syrian conflict served as the perfect breeding ground for for groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, similar conditions may be brewing in Ukraine for the far right. I’m wondering your response is to that as well?

FREEMAN. I think she’s got logic on her side. I frankly don’t know Ukraine personally well enough to know exactly what the definition of a member of the Azov brigade or other neo-Nazi groups is.

I think right-wing populism is ugly enough in our own country, to imagine that it’s even uglier in a country as divide as Ukraine and you know –

I don’t dismiss the whole thing at all because Ukraine has a horrible history of running pogroms uh first against Jews and then frankly against Russians , and so to dismiss the argument that there are people with violent tendencies and great prejudice, ethnic prejudices involved in this fight, seems to me to be wrong. So I hadn’t read the article you cited. I don’t know the the author but she makes sense to me.

Question. I’m curious what you make now of the allegations we’re getting from both the U.S and Russia against the other that the other side is plotting false flag chemical attacks. This has only surfaced in recent days

In the case of the U.S, it strikes me that they’re recycling a playbook that they employed under the Obama administration, which was there were people inside the Obama white house who wanted to put out the option of military intervention, and the red line was a good way to pursue that. I’m wondering if you think the Biden administration, especially the remnants of the Obama administration, Blinken, Sullivan and Biden himself , are recycling that playbook. I certainly hope not but it does have a resemblance to the probably false flag use of chemical weapons in Syria and it it almost worked in Syria?

FREEMAN. This isn’t the slam dunk there are real questions. There are the questions about whether this was the Turkish or Turkish and Saudi or whoever, was afalse flag intended to force an American escalation over Syria. It was only when that happened that it almost worked in Syria and this could well be a replay. From a military point of view, I can’t see any reason that the Russians would want to use chemical weapons. Usually they are a defensive device against a mass attack, but there’s no such thing going on in Ukraine. They don’t need chemical weapons. They have enough rightful weapons of other types without having to do that, so this does strike me as on its surface it’s suspicious.

Question. As the former U.S Ambassador to Saudi Arabia what do you make of their positioning so far ?There’s a lot of talk of them essentially moving closer with Russia. A lot was made that MBS (Mohammed bin Salman) refused to take Joe Biden’s call when he phoned him recently, and Saudi Arabia considering accepting payments for oil in the Chinese currency and the implications of that. yYur thoughts there when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s apparent shifting stance here?

FREEMAN. Saudi Arabia has been very ill at ease with its U.S. relationship for a long time. The affection that the Saudis once enjoyed in the United States from a limited number of people to be sure, has been replaced by mass Islamophobia. Saudi Arabia has been successfully vilified in U.S politics. Saudi Arabia’s assumption that the United States would back the monarchy against the tax on it from at home or abroad, was thrown into doubt when the United States rather gleefully saw Mubarak overthrown in Egypt. The United States is now the competitor for oil production and exports, no longer a consumer. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its attribution to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, obviously does not endear him to us or us to him and so mr biden has refused to speak with him.

So at this point the Saudis have gone full bore, looking for alternative partners to rely upon and there is no single partner that they can rely upon. But they have every interest in exploring alternative relationships not just with Russia or China but with India and others and they are doing the same thing with the United Arab Emirates. Even if bound to the United States in the so-called Abraham Accords it has a reputation well deserved for real politique.

It too is crafting its own future and it is not prepared to mortgage that future to American policy especially when the common view in the Gulf is that the United States is retreating. So this brings us all to back to the Chinese the Indians the Brazilians, others who have not got onto the bandwagon hurling invective at Russia. I think the Chinese ambassador the other day it was – onto someone of the Sunday talk shows and to the extent they let him get a word in, he he said very clearly and I agree with him, that you know condemnation does not accomplish anything very much at all, and what is required is serious diplomacy, and what has been missing has been serious diplomacy.

There have been condemnations, there have been sanctions, there have been armed shipments to the Ukrainians from a remarkable range of sources by the way.

I mean it illustrates the extent of Mr Putin’s mistake that even Austria and Switzerland, two neutral countries have provided aid to the Ukrainian resistance, as has Finland.

So Mr Putin has paid a huge price in terms of arousing animosity against this country. India and Brazil are in the same situation as as China. They’re in the same straddle. They see no benefit in alienating a partner, namely Russia, and while they both may care about the independence of Ukraine. I think taking sides with the United States against Russia, which is what they’re being asked to do, is a step too far. You know, let’s face it, this is in large measure as I said at the outset. a struggle between the United states and Russia for a sphere of influence that will include Ukraine. It’s U.S. Russia.

It’s not Russia versus Europe so in this context, why would a great power that values its cooperation with Russia want to alienate Russia?

Question. We’re going to wrap any final words for us. At the beginning of this interview you said that the you know that long-term geopolitical implications of this crisis are unknown. The world is changing in ways we don’t know, but I wonder if there’s any speculation that you are comfortable engaging in about what the geopolitical implications are. A lot of people are are speculating that this could mean the weakening of us dollar supremacy, as a result of China and Russia drawing closer together. Any thoughts on that and anything else you want to leave us with?

FREEMAN. No, I think the reliance on our sovereignty over the dollar, to our abuse of that sovereignty if you will, to impose sanctions that are illegal under the U.N Charter, which are unilateral, ultimately risks the status of the dollar, and we may in fact be in a moment when the dollar is taken down a notch or two

Well, I should just say that the dollar serves two purposes. One is as a store of value. If you have dollars you’re fairly confident that they’re going to have a significant value 10 years from now as well as today so that is why countries keep reserves in dollars and it’s why people stash dollars in mattresses all over the world.

The other use of the dollar is to settle trade transactions. It’s the most convenient currency in which to do that and in many cases when other currencies are used they are used with reference to the dollar and the dollar exchange rates.

Both these things are now in jeopardy. The oil trade commodities being priced in dollars is the basis for the dollar’s international value.

Iif you look at the united states trade and development’s balance of payments patent you will see that we are in chronic deficit that says the dollar is overvalued [ and that means it’s vulnerable to devaluation

The communications system in Belgium, that handles most of the world’s transactions was established to ensure that the trade could be conducted unencumbered by politics. And now it’s being encumbered by U.S. imposed unilateral sanctions on a huge array of countries – Iran Russia China , even threatened against India . So if the use of the dollar is now encumbered. It’s less desirable and people will want to make workarounds around it .

Will the dollar hold its value now we have a Congress that repeatedly goes to the brink of defaulting on our national debt?

This is not something that inspires confidence, and I’ll add a final factor which I think is very injurious potentially and that is bankers get deposits because they are fiduciaries they are meant to hold the deposits for the benefit of those who deposit the money and not to rip it off themselves.

But we’ve just confiscated the entire national treasury of Afghanistan. We’ve confiscated the Venezuelan reserves. We hav eour allies – the British have confiscated Venezuela’s gold reserves. And we’ve confiscated half of Russian reserves. The Anglo-American reputation as bankers. as fiduciaries, is in trouble, and so the question is, if you’re a country that thinks well maybe you might have some serious policy difference with the United States someday why would you put your money in dollars

The answer has been – there’s no alternative. But there are now major efforts being made to create alternatives so we we we’re not there yet. I don’t want to make a prediction, but I think this is a major question that we need to monitor carefully. because if the dollar loses its value, the American influence on the global level decreases enormously.

Aaron. Yes Freeman. Thank you as always for your time and insight. I say this on behalf of many people in my audience who have come to rely on your expertise. It’s really really appreciated.

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Evidence That The US Is Trying To Prolong This War- Caitlin Johnstone lays it bare

Tucked all the way down in the eighteenth paragraph of the article, we find a much more interesting revelation: that Washington’s top diplomat has made no attempt to contact his counterpart in Moscow since the war began on the 24th of February.

Caitlin Johnstone,

26 Mar 22, The Washington Post has a new article out bemoaning the fact that Russian military commanders are declining calls from the Pentagon to discuss their operations in Ukraine (I dunno guys, might have something to do with the fact that the US is sharing extensive military intelligence on exactly those operations directly with the Ukrainian government). Tucked all the way down in the eighteenth paragraph of the article, we find a much more interesting revelation: that Washington’s top diplomat has made no attempt to contact his counterpart in Moscow since the war began on the 24th of February.

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken has not attempted any conversations with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, since the start of the conflict, according to U.S. officials,” The Washington Post reports.

So the US government is continuing its policy of refusing to attempt any high-level diplomatic resolutions to this war despite its public hand-wringing about the horrific violence that’s being inflicted upon the people of Ukraine. This revelation fits nicely with a recent report by Bloomberg’s Niall Ferguson that sources in the US and UK governments have told him the real goal of western powers in this conflict is not to negotiate peace or end the war quickly, but to prolong it in order “bleed Putin” and achieve regime change in Moscow.

Building on an earlier report from The New York Times that the Biden administration “seeks to help Ukraine lock Russia in a quagmire,” Ferguson writes that he has reached the conclusion that “the U.S. intends to keep this war going,” and says he has other sources to corroborate this:

“The only end game now,” a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, “is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it. Seeing Russia get cut off will not look like a good vector and they’ll have to re-evaluate the Sino-Russia axis. All this is to say that democracy and the West may well look back on this as a pivotal strengthening moment.”

I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that “the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.” Again and again, I hear such language. It helps explain, among other things, the lack of any diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire.  It also explains the readiness of President Joe Biden to call Putin a war criminal.
Earlier this month when The Intercept’s Ryan Grim was able to get a word in edgewise at a White House press briefing amid the throngs of mass media reporters demanding to know why Biden still hasn’t started World War 3, Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave a very revealing answer. 

“So, aside from the request for weapons, President Zelensky has also requested that the US be more involved in negotiations toward a peaceful resolution to the war. What is the U.S. doing to push those negotiations forward?” asked Grim.

“Well, one of the steps we’ve taken — a significant one — is to be the largest provider of military and humanitarian and economic assistance in the world, to put them in a greater position of strength as they go into these negotiations,” Psaki answered, completely dodging the question of whether the US was actually doing anything to help negotiate peace.

As we’ve discussed previously, the US government has a well-documented history of working to draw Moscow into costly military quagmires with the goal of preoccupying its military forces and draining its coffers. Former US officials are on record publicly boasting about having done so in both Afghanistan and Syria. This is an agenda geared toward sapping the Russian government, manufacturing international consent for unprecedented acts of economic warfare designed (though perhaps ineptly) to crush the Russian economy, to foment discord and rebellion, and ultimately to effect regime change in Moscow.

The US empire doesn’t care about Ukrainian lives, and it’s insulting that its operatives continually pretend to. The empire will happily feed every man, woman and child in the entire nation into the mouth of this war if it means unseating a disobedient leader from a nuclear-armed seat of power which has become unacceptably cozy with Beijing and intolerably comfortable with intervening against US imperial agendas. And all the Ukrainian-flag-waving propagandized westerners with their #StandWithUkraine Instagram activism and blue and yellow profile pics will cheer for it every step of the way.

I hope this brutal proxy war ends and peace comes to Ukraine very quickly. But from what we’re seeing today there appears to be an immense globe-spanning power structure holding its foot against the door of the only exit from this horror. 

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison has no plan for the economic growth that would needed to pay for all his touted ”Defence – Security” stuff

 What is Australia building? If the Morrison government were serious about the threat, you’d expect it to have a plan to increase the county’s economic vigour. To generate much greater economic growth, to generate much greater revenue, so that the country can manage the national debt and invest in the transformation of Australian security. In every dimension – in cutting-edge research and development, in military capability, in diplomacy and economic assistance. As well as the next generation of submarines.

Security money must match our political posturing, SMH, Peter HartcherPolitical and international editor 25 Mar 22,

The Morrison government’s favoured election policy themes will be the showpieces of next week’s federal budget. They are twofold. The Coalition claims to be the better party to build a stronger economy. And to strengthen national security.

But the two are not separate. A nation’s economic strength is the essential feedstock for its military power. It’s not the only element. It is an indispensable one, however: “States survive by waging wars, and wars are expensive,” point out the American scholars Emily Goldman and Leo Blanken.

One especially topical example. Before the US agreed to last year’s AUKUS arrangement to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, the Biden administration took a hard look at whether Australia could afford them in the years to come. The US didn’t want to entangle itself in any future Australian budgetary disaster. So judging whether to trust Australia with the so-called crown jewels of US military advantage demanded a judgment on whether to trust Australia to be able to pay for them. Crown jewels are expensive.

Recollecting the internal debate, an administration official told me: “This will be very expensive for Australia, perhaps more expensive than the French subs it will be replacing and there will be maintenance costs for decades.”

It was likely a correct assumption. The lifetime cost of the French conventional subs was estimated to be $90 billion while a preliminary guess at the price of merely acquiring the nuclear subs ranges from $116 billion to $171 billion, including anticipated inflation, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The question we asked,” said the US official, “was, ‘Can Australia sustain the cost, which will be a not inconsiderable percentage of national GDP?’ And Australia’s force structure may need to be changed.”

Ultimately, Washington decided that Australia could manage the cost, but it was an act of faith in Australia’s future economic strength……………………………

So what’s the Morrison government’s plan? So far, we have nothing. There is no economic reform plan. Australian productivity growth has been falling for the entire nine-year term of three Liberal prime ministers and is now stagnant.

……………..   the Morrison-Frydenberg reform effort is desultory. And we can safely assume that next Tuesday’s budget will not change this sorry picture. How so? Because the Treasurer tells us he’s commissioned a report from the Productivity Commission to guide the reform agenda for the future.

But isn’t that exactly what the government should do? Well, yes, but it already did it. Five years ago. The Productivity Commission delivered its Shifting the Dial report to the then treasurer, Scott Morrison. Who did absolutely nothing. The commission’s website forlornly notes: “There has not been a government response to this inquiry yet.”

And Frydenberg’s request last month for a new report next year puts it safely on the post-budget, post-election never-never. The request for a new report is merely a fig leaf to cover the government’s studied inaction.

The measures that the government likes to declare as “reforms” are nothing more than housekeeping. Shuffling tax brackets is helpful but hardly transformative. This week’s fanfare about a change in cash flow arrangements for small business paying PAYG taxes is helpful but doesn’t actually cut their taxes. It’s all marginal.

Morrison and his ministers like to emphasise that Australia’s security is facing its most severe test since World War II. And fair enough.

The problems press in on Australia on many sides. The chief scientist, Cathy Foley, last month warned that Australia is at risk of losing its research edge on the serious tech frontier of quantum computing and quantum communication, an area which China has named a national priority with $US25 billion committed for research.

While Australia dithers over a national quantum strategy, China already can send unhackable communications. The signal can’t be intercepted because, in the eerie world of quantum communication, there is no signal. Imagine how that will transform future war. The US is scrambling to catch up.

The inaugural head of the Australian Defence Department’s Space Force, Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts, this week warned that Australia has no way to protect its essential communications satellites from Russian or Chinese attack. If China decided to “take out the NBN”, all Australia could do would be to ask the US for help, she said. “We need to be able to protect our assets in space, otherwise it will change Australians’ way of life.”

…………………………………………   What is Australia building? If the Morrison government were serious about the threat, you’d expect it to have a plan to increase the county’s economic vigour. To generate much greater economic growth, to generate much greater revenue, so that the country can manage the national debt and invest in the transformation of Australian security. In every dimension – in cutting-edge research and development, in military capability, in diplomacy and economic assistance. As well as the next generation of submarines.

To put its security money where its political mouth is, in short. If the government is serious about the security threat, it must be serious about the economic response.The post-pandemic recovery should be a springboard into an economic rejuvenation. Instead, it’s going to be designed as a springboard into an election campaign. The two needn’t be mutually exclusive. But Morrison and Frydenberg are only interested in drawing from the well of national prosperity, not replenishing it…………

. What do Morrison and Frydenberg propose as Australia’s national motto? “Stagnant country, feeble army” perhaps?

Until and unless an Australian government supercharges its economic prosperity to power its security, no Australian government can be taken seriously on either.

March 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Dozens Of Men Got Sick During A Secret Training Exercise At A Nuclear Site In 1991. They’re Still Fighting For Answers.

Was the soil or water contaminated with any radiation or toxic pollutants? The government’s own documents give conflicting answers.

the captain on duty at the guard post told him that “the water and streams at [the Savannah River Site] were ‘hot,’ which I interpreted to mean contaminated or radioactive

Perhaps more important than detailing what TSD had done so far, Anglen’s evaluation showed what officials had not done before and after the exercise: They had not checked the water or soil for radiation, heavy metals, or other pollutants.

No blood or urine samples were taken, nor were tests for radiation or chemical exposure ordered for the people who reported symptoms in the hours, days, or weeks after the incident.

“I had mucus running from my nose to the ground and was coughing uncontrollably to the point that I nearly threw up.”

Zahra Hirji, BuzzFeed News Reporter March 25, 2022  The secret government training exercise started off as planned: Dozens of special agents transporting dangerous nuclear cargo by truck responded to a simulated attack.

Then the coughing began.

After wading neck-deep through a creek in pursuit of the mock attackers, Tim Lamey suddenly got dizzy and started coughing so hard he could barely breathe.

Another agent, Farmer Roberts, ran through the creek in a different location. “I had to stop. I started coughing, really I mean uncontrollably. You know, it was very obvious to me that something wasn’t right,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Nearby, Anthony Gunter crossed a dried-up creek bed and fell into the dust. “It took my breath,” he said. “My lungs got full. My eyes were full.”

The Southern Cross Exercise, held at a South Carolina nuclear facility owned by the Department of Energy, would see at least 28 people report symptoms that included coughing, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, sneezing, nosebleeds, rashes, and vomiting. They fell ill in April 1991, mostly along the Meyers Branch creek stretch of the heavily polluted Savannah River Site. Larger than the five boroughs of New York City, this vast federal facility contains production and processing plants for tritium and plutonium 239, highly radioactive components for nuclear weapons. It was then, and still is, a Superfund site.

The sudden and mysterious illnesses that arose during those fateful training exercises have never before been reported. Neither has the decadeslong search for the truth of what caused the wave of sickness, led by the individuals who fell ill, not the government that was supposed to protect them. As the US launches into a new Cold War complete with Russia brandishing nuclear weapons, this case is a stark reminder of the risks faced by the multitudes of people needed to maintain such a dangerous arsenal.

Continue reading

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear power plant: Worker reveals risk of accident as Russians force staff to do 24-hour shifts

Chernobyl nuclear power plant: Worker reveals risk of accident as Russians force staff to do 24-hour shifts i New, By Isabella Bengoechea, March 25, 2022

A Chernobyl worker has given the first inside account after the power plant was seized by Russian forces i News

By Isabella Bengoechea

March 25, 2022  A Chernobyl worker has given the first inside account of life at the nuclear plant since the Russian invasion and warned that exhausted staff are being forced to work 24-hour shifts, increasing the risk of an accident.

Mykola Pobiedin, foreman of the radioactive waste processing workshop at Chernobyl, who worked as a liquidator there after the 1986 disaster, described a dire safety situation where the plant was encircled by military trucks and tanks and troops patrolled with machine guns.

He compared allowing Chernobyl to be operated by exhausted staff to a bus driver who “has not slept for days” transporting passengers.

Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, was captured by Russia on the first day of invasion on 24 February.

More than 200 workers were forced to stay on site. On 20 March, about 100 were allowed to return to their homes, after nearly four weeks working under armed guard.

Personnel at Chernobyl usually work in 12-hour shifts before being replaced by the next shift.

However, because no rotation was permitted, they were forced to work for 24 hours straight with one half hour break.

Mr Pobiedin, who gave permission to be identified, spoke to i by phone from the city of Slavutych, which was built in 1986 to house workers evacuated from the plant after the disaster.

In a separate debrief, he spoke to Valeriy Korshunov, founder of the European Institute of Chernobyl, a Ukraine-based NGO which works to educate the public about the Chernobyl disaster through scientific and cultural projects, in order to prevent new nuclear disasters in future.

Mr Korshunov and his organisation hope to publicise the plight of the Chernobyl workers to draw attention to the dangerous situation Russia has inflicted on Ukraine’s nuclear sites.

He passed on his comments to i, with the permission of Mr Pobiedin and his family.

Mr Pobiedin suggested there was an increased risk of accidents as a result of the extreme fatigue of staff working at such a sensitive site.

“There may be some errors, some actions are not undertaken,” he said. “A tired person would do a mistake and it will cause issues.”

Though reluctant to cause alarm about a possible nuclear accident at Chernobyl, he added: “If you are riding a bus in which the driver has not slept for days. What could it lead to? If Europe agrees to drive with such a bus driver, then let it be…”

“There is a break for half an hour, for example to eat or for private needs, and the rest of the time people are concentrated on watching monitors. This is intellectual work; you cannot be distracted.”

Despite having managed to leave the power plant, his memories of Russia’s attack on the first day of the invasion are still stark.

“Everything started with the ‘Everyone to the bomb shelter’ alarm, which we followed,” he said.

“Then this whole situation got clear – it was a seizure.

“Then came the command ‘Everyone to the workplace!’ Well, then we started organising our life there somehow, adapting to the situation.

“The Russian military did not enter the territory of the power unit. They drove around the industrial site in their armored personnel carriers. In this way they controlled the whole situation.

“In other words, everything around us was encircled…………………………

the staff managed to keep up their spirits by attempting to carry on as normal and listening to the Ukrainian national anthem on the radio…………………………….

Since the release of the staff, only about 50 have opted to replace them – a perhaps understandable reluctance considering they would be going as hostages with no idea of when they could leave.

“I saw they arrived with backpacks,” said Mr Pobiedin. “They probably took something, but how long will it last?”

He called for the regular rotation of sufficient personnel to ensure the safety of the nuclear facilities: “The rotation is very important. We can’t let people just be there indefinitely.

“Some personnel change should be done. The Russians are not opposing to such shift changes. It should be scheduled: once a week, once every 10 days … So that people know and get prepared.

And not so that people come and do not know how long they must stay. One does not know if it is one day, 20 days or for ever.”

While the freed workers may have breathed a sigh of relief at finally leaving, they may not have escaped the worst of their ordeals.

Many live in Slavuytsch, about 40km from Chernobyl. However the city is under intense shelling by the Russians.

Others who live in other nearby settlements are currently trapped in the city and cannot return home. When i was speaking to Mr Pobiedin, our interview was cut off halfway through after sirens went off and he had to go down into a bomb shelter…………..


March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taylor’s office spent $1 billion on ‘sham’ carbon projects 

Taylor’s office spent $1 billion on ‘sham’ carbon projects 

Mike Seccombe

Analysis by a former chair of the government’s carbon pricing integrity committee shows almost all the money spent on emissions reduction has gone to projects that did not contribute to reductions.

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘We’d never touch it if we knew’: Farmer locked in carbon credit scheme backs inquiry into ‘rort’

‘We’d never touch it if we knew’: Farmer locked in carbon credit scheme backs inquiry into ‘rort’

A grazier locked in a 25-year carbon farming project says allegations Australia’s carbon credit scheme is a rort are a “wake-up call the industry desperately needs”.

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fridays for Future school climate strikes resume across the world

Fridays for Future school climate strikes resume across the world

Hundreds of protests across seven continents in first action since Cop26 climate summit

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In 20 years of studying how ecosystems absorb carbon, here’s why we’re worried about a tipping point of collapse

In 20 years of studying how ecosystems absorb carbon, here’s why we’re worried about a tipping point of collapse

Caitlin Moore et al

From rainforests to savannas, ecosystems on land absorb almost 30% of the carbon dioxide human activities release into the atmosphere. These ecosystems are critical to stop the planet warming beyond 1.5℃ this century – but climate change may be weakening their capacity to offset global emissions.

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s first renewable energy training tower officially opened at federation university — RenewEconomy

Australia’s first renewable energy training tower has been officially opened today at Federation University Australia in Ballarat. The post Australia’s first renewable energy training tower officially opened at federation university appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australia’s first renewable energy training tower officially opened at federation university — RenewEconomy

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Santos admits Australia’s gas expansion has always been about offshore customers — RenewEconomy

Santos concedes Australia’s domestic market too small to justify the Morrison government’s gas industry expansion. It’s all about exports. The post Santos admits Australia’s gas expansion has always been about offshore customers appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Santos admits Australia’s gas expansion has always been about offshore customers — RenewEconomy

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Pace is extraordinary:” Advanced inverters take centre stage in roadmap to 100pct renewables — RenewEconomy

Roadmap put together by CSIRO and AEMO focuses on advanced inverters and new control rooms amongst the many technical needs of a zero emissions grid. The post “Pace is extraordinary:” Advanced inverters take centre stage in roadmap to 100pct renewables appeared first on RenewEconomy.

“Pace is extraordinary:” Advanced inverters take centre stage in roadmap to 100pct renewables — RenewEconomy

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How a cash Cannon aimed at coal proves the economics of renewables — RenewEconomy

Mike Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield crunched the numbers on shuttering AGL’s coal plants – the move was designed to make money as much as to make a difference. The post How a cash Cannon aimed at coal proves the economics of renewables appeared first on RenewEconomy.

How a cash Cannon aimed at coal proves the economics of renewables — RenewEconomy

March 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment