Sunday, August 24, 2008
[Antoun] Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has criticised the West for failing to take the opportunity to build a peaceful global environment following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Most left-wing commentators (myself included) have maintained the line that the West mistakenly and aggressively pursued a policy of Russian containment following 1991, when they should have offered an olive branch to Moscow and found a place for a new Russia in the "New World Order".
Washington's insistence of kicking the bully when he's down has resulted in an explosive and dangerous fever of Russian nationalism. The Cold War should have most certainly ended in 1991, and Russia should have been embraced into the fold, but as Keating contends, the West - much to their own misfortune - continue to treat the world in a post-World War II environment.
The US continued to treat the Russia as a Cold War enemy post-1991, which has now resulted in a Russia that is economically strong, nuclear-powered, independent of Western values and incredibly hostile.
Keating offers a similar point of view:
" ... the US failed to learn one of the lessons of history - that the victor should be magnanimous with the vanquished,"
Tom Hyland, The Age
PAUL Keating has accused Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and George Bush of squandering the chance for peace and co-operation created by the Soviet Union's collapse.
Instead, he said the West had "ring-fenced" Russia, treating it as a virtual enemy at a time when the risk of Moscow launching nuclear war by mistake was greater than during the Cold War.
In a speech at the Melbourne Writers Festival yesterday, the former Labor prime minister criticised Western leaders for seeking to impose democracy on other countries at a time when American power was in decline.
World leaders needed a strategy based on "the progress of human existence and not simply the propagation of democracy", he said.
Western leaders had failed to grasp a potential "new era of peace and co-operation" created by the end of the Soviet Union in 1990, and failed to find a place for Russia in the global "strategic fabric".
"(Former US president) George H. Bush talked about a New World Order, then lost to Bill Clinton. And what happened then? Well, nothing happened then! The Americans cried victory and walked off the field."
The Clinton administration "rashly decided to ring-fence Russia" by inviting former Soviet-dominated states to join NATO. "By doing so, the US failed to learn one of the lessons of history - that the victor should be magnanimous with the vanquished," he said.
As a result, NATO states now were on the borders of Russia, which kept its nuclear arsenal on full alert. "This posture automatically carries with it the possibility of a Russian nuclear attack by mistake," Mr Keating said.
Russia had allowed its nuclear surveillance and early warning systems to "ossify". To compensate, it kept its nuclear arsenal on full alert.
"This means that while the Cold War is over, the risk of a mistaken pre-emptory (nuclear) response has increased," he said.
Mr Keating said the alienation of Russia played into the hands of Russian nationalists while weakening the hand of liberal democrats.
"The old West then complains about Vladimir Putin being a poorly disguised Russian autocrat and nationalist when the West has played a large role in creating him," he said.
If nuclear weapons were the world's most pressing problem, its greatest challenge was building "a truly representative structure of world governance which reflects global realities but which is also equitable and fair", he said.
"For two Clinton presidential terms and two George W. Bush terms, the world has been left without such a structure - certainly one able to accommodate Russia and the great states like China and India."
Instead, they had left the world with a template forged at the end of World War II, "where Germany and Japan were left on the outside, and still are 60 years later, and in which China and India are tolerated and palely humoured".
He said the world was witnessing the eclipse of American power but recent US presidents had done nothing "to better shape the institutions of world governance". Nor did "old powers" like Britain or France offer any help. Former British Labour prime minister Tony Blair had offered nothing new or free-thinking - "he thought being an American acolyte was all that was required".
Posted by Antoun at 10:22 AM