So for the Brussels bureaucracy, the Health Silk Road is not about saving lives; it’s about “destabilizing” the EU and improving Xi Jinping’s domestic image after China lied, lied and lied again about the extent and severity of coronavirus. That happens to be the exact same narrative of the Trump administration, US corporate media and US intelligence.
Does it matter? Not for those 89 nations that are receiving much-needed help and equipment. The dogs of demonization bark while the Health Silk Road caravan passes.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trump was aware of the whistleblower complaint when he lifted the suspension of nearly $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine. The funds had been approved by Congress but were stalled by the administration without explanation.
In his original and argumentative history of the Anglo-American domination of the past three or more centuries, Walter Russell Mead writes that both the UK and the United States believed their imposition of a world order served the highest interests of humanity. From Oliver Cromwell’s denunciation of Spanish cruelty in the 1650s to Ronald Reagan’s characterisation of the Soviet Union as an evil empire in the 1980s, the two main Anglophone states have seen their global expansionism as a blessing for the world: what’s good for us is good for everyone.
But where has that got us? In the doghouse of world opinion.
I passed some time in Egypt recently, and it’s remarkable how much the intellectual class says it dislikes America. That’s in a country where the United States gives its army and government – which are the same thing these days – $1.5 billion in aid annually. The only place educated Egyptians spit on with more venom is Israel, which they see as an American appendage.
In fact, the same is true throughout the Middle East, whether the country’s leadership enjoys amicable relations with America (Jordan) or sees it as an unrelenting enemy (Gaza). In Israel — the one place where the United States was held in generally high esteem — support is shrinking because many Israelis think Obama is lukewarm about U.S. support. One could call that even ranker ingratitude than in Egypt, given the $3.1 billion of aid the United States pumps into Israel every year, mainly for defence.
And it’s double-plus-unremarkable for a European to disapprove of America, since the default position of many highly educated Europeans throughout Europe is at least that the Americans may be well intentioned, but blunder; more often, the well-intentioned bit gets left out. That critique is easily turned against their own governments when they collude with the United States on some world-dominating project: Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, is held in low esteem by the thinking classes for his enthusiastic cooperation with the United States in the invasion of Iraq. There’s a simple formula for European governments: bash America and win over your intellectual elite.
So suppose the United States, and The West in general (the concept is italicized because it includes easterners like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) said: we’d like to stop being unpopular, so let’s give up on this world domination thing we’re accused of. Let’s not intervene: at all. We’ll continue to pay our dues to the United Nations, which everyone loves – the United States pays over $5 billion annually – but that’s the limit. The UN is in charge now.
There wouldn’t be much aid to the poor of the world: in any case, many economists believe that aid doesn’t really work, because it’s poured down holes labelled No Property Rights, Endless Conflict and Vast Corruption. There wouldn’t be any more money for the stricken countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to assist with their fight against the ravages of Ebola – like the six Ebola centers the British have just funded. That’s what the UN’s World Health Organization is for.
Least of all would there be any more of these interventions condemned round the world. The Western states have taken or are taking their troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and nobody will put boots on the ground in Syria or Libya – so Western leaders, including the notoriously warlike Americans and British, seem to have already gotten the message, here. But the air strikes in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State, and the assistance to anti-Assad forces in Syria, would also cease.
Last week, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said he was going to take “a hard look” at the preparedness of the Afghan forces to take over, bit by bit, until all American forces leave at the end of 2016 – and suggested he might recommend a slower drawdown. Insurgent attacks are ever more frequent, the Afghan army has taken large losses and the new president, Ashraf Ghani, has asked the Americans to stay on for longer. In the new, hard-edged dispensation, that would be “Sorry, Mr. Ghani,” and Campbell would be reassigned.
In the Middle East, not only is Islamic State still besieging Kobani in Syria, but Iraq is descending into open civil war. Gangs of Shi’ite militia, put together to take on the Sunni-led Islamic State, now roam the country looking for battles to win – often against Sunni civilians. Tirana Hassan of Human Rights Watch reported that an area near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk had been cleared of residents by a Shi’ite group called the Khorasani Brigade: “Former (Sunni) residents told us that those who tried to return are accused of being Islamic State members or sympathisers; some were held by the militia for days, blindfolded, questioned and beaten – or simply disappeared.”
Well, so be it. The Arab world has been a place of chaos for decades, some will argue, just look at Libya. French, British and US war planes and military supplies removed the dictator, Muammar Gadhafi – and now the recognised government which replaced him has had to flee the capital, Tripoli, and is holed up in a hotel in Tobruk near the Egyptian border. A rival government holds court in Tripoli and government forces fight Islamists in Benghazi. You see where supporting those who want to dispose of their tyrants gets you? An Islamist government followed by another military autocrat, as in Egypt – that’s where.
If the West stopped humanitarian, or military, interventions, it’s likely that Ebola would sweep West Africa more quickly, the Taliban would return to rule Afghanistan, Islamic State would take Iraq, Assad of Syria would win more quickly and Libya would continue its civil wars, then get a new dictator. But the West wouldn’t have intervened: it wouldn’t be our fault.
Many, if not all, of these things might happen anyway. Because the West has no more stomach for facing down terrorism; or dictators, and is gently sliding towards the position of absolute non-intervention. What, after all, has it got to do with us? Let it be, hope for the best…. and be popular.
He was a funded recruiter ?????
Where was our alternative recruitment drive Mr Abbott ?
ASIO is just a suppository for your intelligence!!
Policing with a heavy club is Neanderthall $650 Mill will take rights from all of us.
HAS ABBOTT A MANDATE TO CREATE AN ORWELLIAN WORLD?
16 and 17 year old Feiz & Abdullah secretly ran away from home last June to join the fight in Syria and Iraq. Feiz has returned home. Their parents did not know where they were. When they left they told them they were off to go fishing. It’s anybody’s guess where Abdullah is, Iraq most likely. A spokes-person for the Department of the Attorney General said all 60 should come home
“there are safer and more legal ways of helping the people affected by these conflicts than travelling overseas to fight”
Wow this is a significantly different sound bite coming from a government department than we have heard recently. Are these really the words of the Attorney Generals Department?Is this really policy? Expanded and driven by a community of Muslim parents you just might have a competing and alternative recruitment agency that supports these young idealists. Yes idealists not radicals they want to accomplish some good. They needed a good reason to stay here and help not just join your ‘death cult’. However you and ASIO had nothing to offer.
What could they do here to help? The war in Syria has been going 2-3 years in Iraq longer. ASIO has been fully aware of this. They know that revolution against repression always attracts young idealists wanting to help and not old people. Where were our intelligence advisers? What have they been doing trying to stop these young people seaching for meaning? If there was genuine help as the spokes -person was alluding to. Those boys and others like them would still be here and not over there. Is Abbott recruiting young Muslim boys to work in is Humanitarian Aid Drops.Probably not.
Instead the PM and all the voices behind him merely talk of increased surveillance and policing and stopping them. It’s a wonder he hasn’t put them all in detention camps as is his want with asylum seekers.
Please tell us who the above spokes-person is!! Put them in charge with a far smaller budget than the $650mill and most of the 60 Australians over there now would probably still be here helping in other ways instead of on their unwise boys own adventure. What is Abbott doing to help on the ground here? What is he doing in recruiting help from the community most affected? Nothing!!!!!!.