Archive for December, 2013

Ukraine: Do Not Meddle!

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

There is a very real problem for Ukrainians; they are in disagreement over the best way forward for their country. Should they move closer to Europe or stay close to Russia, on whom their economy is presently dependent? Ideally it should not be an either or, since much more effort should have been put into recognising Russia as a European Power and much more energy applied to recognising the opportunities for mutual prosperity offered by closer ties between the EU and the post Soviet Russian Federation.

As things stand Ukraine is more or less evenly split between the two camps, with the pro-Russians having a majority in Parliament and probably in the country, whilst the pro -Europeans have the most organised and dynamic campaign. This is the classic post empire upheaval which occurs in former constituent parts of a dissolved combination of a union, especially when nationalities have intermingled. Ukraine played a very big part in the Soviet Union. Khrushchev was himself a Ukrainian.

It is important that the Ukraine be allowed to resolved these issues through its democratic institutions and among themselves. It ought to be a condition of any association with them, that they must first achieve a consensus or at least demonstrate a significant majority in favour of further EU ties. In this context, the arrival into the protests of various EU Right Wingers and the divisive figure of the Viet Nam apologist and failed Presidential candidate, US Senator John McCain, is unhelpful.

Mandela’s Legacy.

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Now that the  ceremonies following the death of Nelson Mandela have been completed, showing the world a refreshing combination of mourning and celebration, many will be the thoughts about his legacy and what his life will mean to future generations.

There is one lesson to draw which stands above all others; reconciliation with former enemies advances the common good, brings unity and prevents suffering. In the capitals of the West, where the last death throes of the utterly failed and discredited War on Terror and all its attendant doctrines of armed intervention and stoking insurrection, are now evident, this lesson needs to be compulsory learning for the most incompetent generation of diplomats since the Crimea.

On their record of achievement sits the complete failures and consequent human suffering of their policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and worst of all Syria, where their encouragement of the rebels at the outset stoked the civil war and has led to one of the worst humanitarian disasters since the WWII. Yet among them stands out one figure steadfastly seeking conciliation and consensus, respected by all sides everywhere; Catherine Ashton the grandly titled High Representative for Foreign and Security Affairs for the EU. She tries to follow what may come to be known as the Mandela Doctrine, which stands in sharp contrast to the American enthusiasm for making enemies and picking fights.

Meanwhile Russia has emerged as the world’s most successful diplomatic power, with an ever increasing following among the majority of uncommitted nations fed up with war and conflict. Moreover, and this is the interesting bit, the vast majority of the people of both the US and Europe are in sympathy with the message which Russia promotes. They too are fed up with endless quarrels and fights.

The Western public has turned its back on intervention. That is Mandela’s legacy.