Cold War 2.0 [Times of Israel]

American tanks in Kuwait

Photo of the American armoured division in Kuwait, during the Gulf War and first major “Post-Cold War” deployment

Members of my generation could be forgiven lately for questioning whether or not we were born after the Cold War ended; or – even more troublingly – wondering if we’re currently experiencing a twisted ‘hotter’ Cold War 2.0. House Resolution 758, now sitting on the desks of the senate after passing quietly (to this moment a google search reveals reports in only two high-profile news outlets, the IBT and RT) on December 4th, would certainly spur such a line of enquiry.

The planetwide geopolitical game between the empires of the “first world” (the “old powers” embodied by the United States, and its key allies such as the UK and Israel) and “second world” (the “new powers” Russia and China) never ceased, the stakes are simply higher as the previous time an ageing superpower was replaced violently by its successor was in the case of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and its related conflicts. And of course, in the late 1700s, truly global hegemony and nuclear arms races weren’t a reality.

Three days ago the US president was authorised to pursue, without further congressional approval, aggressive military procedures against Russia. The parameters of the legislation allows specifically, for example: the immediate, massive, and long-term deployment of NATO forces throughout Eastern Europe (including technically, undoubtedly, active theatres such as Donbas). Perhaps the recent escalation and ongoing events in Ukraine are, as some feared at the time of Crimea’s annexation, just a preview of what’s to come. The 1990s and fall of the Berlin Wall now look like a shift that imperial forces didn’t predict, leading only to a temporary cooling of the hostility that prevailed between major powers in the post-war years.

Russia’s mafia regime, for its part, now owns a military-industrial complex that has been given the power to assume total control should open war officially reach inside Russian borders. Meaning, in the wake of a spill-over from Eastern Ukraine (to take one “World War Three Scenario”, as the Pentagon calls them), the Duma could be disbanded and replaced with an entirely overt military dictatorship.

Putin’s sky-high popularity and rhetoric suggests the Russians would be amenable to such measures, after all he claimed in his annual address (amid, quite significantly, an atmosphere of continually ascending paranoid authoritarianism) that the west had been trying to “subvert” Russia for centuries. Evidently Putin has half a point, but the Great Game, and invasion of Afghanistan the following century, were far from being one-sided affairs.

The brinkmanship in Syria, and that between Iran and Israel (manifested by the nuclear negotiations), could be broken down along similar lines to the Ukrainian Civil War.

To boot, all this occurs on the centennial anniversary of World War One’s beginning.

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” – William Tecumseh Sherman


55 Years in Tibet [Times of Israel]

Tibetan Jampa Yeshi self-immolation

Reuters photo of 27-year-old Tibetan exile, Jampa Yeshi, setting himself alight near New Delhi protestors

After a half-century of occupation, self-immolations, the exile of an ancient spiritual community and its leader from their ancestral land, the cold-blooded assassination of pilgrims and monastics by Chinese soldiers, a million-strong genocide, and rampant political corruption, the Dalai Lama told AFP this week that he is in informal talks with the PRC that would allow him to return to Tibet.

This follows conciliatory gestures on both sides, Gyatso described President Xi Jinping as “more open-minded” than his predecessors, a statement that might have been inspired by the latter’s open congratulation of Buddhism’s prominent and positive role in Chinese society.

Our “leaders'” quietening silence however, as the PRC’s wealth grows, will be a source of eternal shame as pundits laud what they see as the success of one of the planet’s greatest human rights violators. The Chinese “communists” execute more people than the rest of the world’s governments combined, fill colossal prisons with men and women of conscience whose nobility won’t stop their organs being harvested by the state, the litany of crimes is almost as great as that of the imperial powers who enabled/enable them. But, if anybody can express solidarity with the political dissidents in China, as Gyatso has with the Uighur activists whose plight received none of the attention now showered on Hong Kong’s democrats, it is the Tibetans.

When people say “what about Tibetan feudalism”, as if a society that falls short enough of perfection deserves a brutal and prolonged military subjugation, should take a long hard look in the mirror. What about Palestine, you think Palestinian society was perfect before Zionist extremists arrived? You think the peoples of Africa had achieved utopia before Europeans raped their nations? Arbitrary solidarity is an ultimate betrayal of the international working class to which true leftists are always loyal, as it demonstrates an acquiescence to the anti-humanistic, imperialistic geopolitical agendas of their greatest enemies. Those without such an acquiescence, and who possess a sincere concern for the plight of Tibetan serfs under feudal theocracy, would never advocate its replacement with centralism or autocracy. As is perhaps always the case, the Tibetans stand a better chance of forging their own path to freedom than having it forced upon them, if that were even possible.

May the 14th Dalai Lama’s pilgrimage end happier than that of the forgotten dead in the Himalayan snows. In Rasley’s words… chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.

“Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet. I often think I can still hear the cries of wild geese and cranes and the beating of their wings as they fly over Lhasa in the clear, cold moonlight. My heartfelt wish is that my story may create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world.” – Heinrich Harrer