Australian news, and some related international items

PETER HITCHENS: The arrogance and folly in Ukraine that could yet send us hurtling towards nuclear catastrophe

Daily Mail, By PETER HITCHENS FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY, 12 December 2022

“………………………………………………………………….. let me quote the opening words of a frightening new book by Ben Abelow, How The West Brought War To Ukraine.

He says: ‘For almost 200 years, starting with the framing of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States has asserted security claims over virtually the whole Western hemisphere. Any foreign power that places military forces near US territory knows it is crossing a red line. US policy thus embodies a conviction that where a potential opponent places its forces is crucially important.

‘In fact, this conviction is the cornerstone of American foreign and military policy, and its violation is considered reason for war.’

Because, you see, what I have described in my thriller is pretty much the mirror image of what the USA and Nato have been doing in Europe for some years. For Canada and the USA, read Russia. For Quebec, read Ukraine and the Baltic states. There are, in fact, Nato troops stationed now in Estonia.

They have been known to hold tank parades just yards from the border with Russia. That puts them 81 miles (about the distance from London to Coventry) from St Petersburg, Russia’s second city. Ben Abelow notes that ‘in 2020, Nato conducted a live-fire training exercise inside Estonia, 70 miles from Russia’s border, using tactical missiles with ranges up to 185 miles. These weapons can strike Russian territory with minimal warning. In 2021, again in Estonia, Nato fired 24 rockets to simulate an attack on air defence targets inside Russia’.

Again, can you begin to imagine the USA’s response to such action close to its borders, or Britain’s if (say) Ireland decided to join and host a foreign military alliance, hostile to us?

All kinds of slime will now be hurled at me, saying I am trying to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I’m not. I continue to think it stupid, barbaric and wrong.

I think the best response to provocation is not to react in such ways. But not everyone is like me. And if nobody in the White House, the Pentagon or Nato thought that their policy towards Russia might be risking such an outcome, then I’d be amazed. As I’ve noted before, even the American anti-Russian superhawk Robert Kagan has said publicly that Russia was provoked. The worst bit of this is the nuclear element. In December 1987, I travelled to Washington to witness one of the most momentous and happy events of the age. This was the summit between Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan, which culminated in the signing of a treaty banning medium-range nuclear missiles.

The danger from such weapons was that they were far more likely to be launched than long-range rockets. Experts calculated that using them might possibly not result in a total nuclear wipeout. Hence the need to get rid of them.

Well, Donald Trump repudiated that treaty in 2018, blaming Russia, not very convincingly, for his decision. This was the second major nuclear arms treaty the USA has torn up. Gorbachev snapped that this was ‘not the work of a great mind’. More frighteningly, he warned that ‘a new arms race has been announced’.

And now we have actual war in Ukraine, which no powerful person seems to want to end. In fact, anyone who urges serious peace talks is denounced as a traitor and appeaser. That filthy, cruel war is now slowly spreading into Russia itself, with consequences I daren’t guess at.

During the whole Cold War I never really believed we were in danger. The Cuban crisis, which slightly overshadowed preparations for my 11th birthday, persuaded me that everyone would have more sense. I thought and think that TV dramas about a nuclear Armageddon, such as the BBC’s The War Game and the American The Day After, were unconvincing. They couldn’t come up with a believable reason for a war to start.

But now it seems entirely plausible. And I’ve been watching the American TV series Jericho with grim fascination – not because its explanation of nuclear disaster is likely, but because its portrayal of a small, friendly town in a post-nuclear world slowly descending into savagery is convincing. Thanks to arrogance and folly, this could happen, and this is what it would be like if it did.

So I shall carry on saying that we need peace in Ukraine, and soon.


December 12, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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