Tuesday, September 04, 2007

APEC : Welcome To Australia, President Putin

Thank Russia For 'Winning' World War 2 , Says Former Australian Prime Minister

Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating believes it's time for Australia to make an historic shift away from the America-first focus of our international relations and foreign policies.

Keating recognises Russia under Vladimir Putin as a rising star on Australia's trade horizon, and also thinks its time for Australia, the US and the rest of the former Allies, to finally recognise the enormous sacrifices the Russian people made to "win" World War 2.

If APEC really is about expanding Australia's trade frontiers, as prime minister John Howard claims, then clearly Russia should be of particular focus, as there is enormous new wealth there to soak up our coal, uranium and mineral exports. Along with a good, solid push to ramp up Australia as tourist destination number one for all those cashed-up Russians.

That Australia under John Howard is even thinking about spending billions to help the United States establish its Russia-and-China-baiting global 'missile shield' in our part of the world shows we're still doing the bidding of the US, even when no nation in the world poses a credible threat to Australia.

That Australia is still willing to help the US 'contain' and surround Russia and China in such relatively peaceful and prosperous times shows just how big the American thumb pressing our foreheads still is.

Instead of baring our teeth, t's time to pay homage to the Russian people, then and now, says Keating.

No doubt, Vladimir will be very, very pleased with the former prime minister's editorial :

Russia was offered a place at the APEC table not because it was a natural constituent, but as a consolation prize by the Americans, for their having taken strategic advantage of it in the years immediately following the Cold War.

No one should ever forget that the Russians carried the primary burden of winning World War II, losing 26 million of their people in the process. More than the present population of Australia. A level of death, destruction and misery on a scale unprecedented in human history.

When Hitler failed to smash Britain with his blitz, he unleashed on Russia the full might of his army and air force, then the largest in history. What followed was carnage and human suffering on an unimaginable scale as the Russian people absorbed his ferocious power. A battering they took for four solid years before a second front was opened in the west at Normandy.

The 20th century was nothing but a century of suffering for the Russian people; first the revolution, then the famine and the purges of the 1930s, then the war through the '40s, followed by the belt-tightening and deprivation of the Cold War.

Now the United States and NATO wish to build a series of anti-missile facilities around Russia's front lawn and side driveway, purportedly against rogue states, while none of the so-called rogue states have missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

The Russians know that despite the Soviet Union having been fragmented into 15 nations, with Russia becoming a democracy, the extension of NATO and the ring-fencing of Russia with an anti-missile shield is aimed at Russia itself, the state under permanent suspicion.

Four US presidential terms - the two Clinton ones and the two Bush ones - have witnessed a continual deterioration in relations with Russia. Russia is the state which still has the capacity to threaten Europe, yet its pleas for inclusion and to be taken seriously, have gone unheeded.

The problem is that when the Cold War finished the Americans cried victory and walked off the field. In strategic terms, the world is still set up on the template of 1947, with countries like Germany and Japan not even permanent members of the UN Security Council, while states like Italy and Canada remain part of the G8 at the expense of countries like China and India.

Seventeen years on, the Russians are still on the outside looking in, while the Chinese seek to garner their legitimacy by subjecting themselves to external bodies like the World Trade Organisation. The fact is, the world is run unrepresentatively. This is the problem.

For were it to be run otherwise, Russia, China and India would be part of the world growth amalgam, naturally aligning their security interests with their economic interests.

At least Russia is in APEC with us. Australia won't be circumscribing its interests knowing that inclusion and understanding are the only pathways to peace and progress.

We should welcome Putin on his first visit to Australia and tell him we have not forgotten the 26 million of his countrymen who died for our liberty as well as for their own.

Russians died for our liberty? That can't be right. All those American war movies piped through Australian television sets continually throughout the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s taught us that it was the Americans, not the Russians, that won World War 2 and saved Australia from numerous nasty -isms.

A few recent Russian news stories, of interest :

Russia Flexes Its Muscles Across Asia-Pacific In Bid To Restablish Itself As 'Great World Power'

NATO Hostile Towards Russians, Or So The Russians Believe

Russian Foreign Minister Says There Will Be No Bargaining Over Kosovo Or Missiles

It's Time For Russia To Become One Of Us

Russia Looks To Play Balancing Role In The World

Russia Engages Central Asia In War On Terror

Russia To Deploy More InterContinental Ballistic Missiles In December