Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Putin To Tlllerson, Via Trump, "You're Fired!"

When US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, last year was reported to have called Donald Trump a "fucking moron", and failed to deny having done so, it was not enough to get him sacked.  When Tillerson came out a couple of days ago with a strong denunciation of the Kremlin for the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury, it was only a matter of hours before Trump took to Twitter, to announce the Tillerson was sacked.

Anyone who thinks that the murky world of international relations and the global strategic power game can be understood in simple terms has no way of navigating around current world events.  The relations between different global states are themselves based upon hyperbolic levels of hypocrisy, lying and deceit, even before the questions of the competing interests and and global interconnections between different factions, and components of each nation state apparatus are considered.  Tillerson himself, for example, was thought to be a questionable character, given his past associations with Putin, and the Kremlin.

In the 1980's, Iran was one of the main targets of US hostility, but it did not prevent the US doing a deal with the Iranian mullahs, so as to be able to channel arms to the Nicaraguan Contras, who the US were supporting in an attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government.  Today we see a similar thing with the US and other western governments giving support to regimes such as that in Saudi Arabia, whilst the Saudis are the main source of funding, arms, and recruits for the jihadists of Al Qaeda and ISIS, fighting in Syria, and Iraq, who, those same western governments are opposing.

As a consequence of what is almost certainly a chemical weapons attack undertaken by the Kremlin in Salisbury, Theresa May's Tory government has now announced a series of measures against Russian diplomats and so on, based in London.  But, in large part these measures are just window-dressing.  Over the last few years, there have been more than a dozen Russians who have died in Britain, in suspicious circumstances, but which have been accounted for as just natural causes or suicides.  The Tories have very good reason not to take measures that serious damage the interests of the Russian oligarchs, including those associated with Putin.

Russian oligarchs, with residences in Britain, are known to have given around £850,000 to the Tory Party directly.  But, investigations by journalists have also uncovered the fact that money was channelled via donations to the DUP, into the coffers of Tory Brextremists, during the EU Referendum campaign, and was done in that way, because special rules for Northern Ireland parties meant that the source of the money did not have to be disclosed.  Similar investigations has shown more extensive financial connections between rich Russians, and various right-wing think tanks that channel directly into the Tory establishment.  The same kinds of connections can be seen in relation to right-wing populism in the US, in support of Trump, as well as in France in support of Le Pen, and other right-wing populists across Europe, and the connections between Farage and these other right-wing populists is also well known.

For the Tories, there is also a further incentive not to piss off these Russian oligarchs too much, which is that they bring millions if not billions of Pounds into London, propping up the fictitious monetary merry-go-round that is the basis of the Tory debt fuelled economy.  A House of Commons Select Committee has reported that there are around 85,000 houses across Britain that are owned by Russian shell companies, and these are not cheap houses.  Given that Britain, as it cuts itself off from mainland Europe, will be ever more desperate for money to stay afloat, its no wonder that a while ago, David Davies talked about turning the UK into an equivalent of Batista's Cuba, with few regulations, and an economy built around gambling, gangsters, and prostitution.  Its no wonder that the Tories were keen to avoid a vote on Labour's proposed amendments to the Money Laundering Bill, which would have inserted Magnitsky Act clauses, so as to be able to act against those Russian oligarchs.

Jeremy Corbyn was also absolutely correct in arguing in Parliament today that these headline grabbing actions by May should not be the extent of the response to the attack in Salisbury.  What is required is an internationally coordinated response to the use of chemical weapons, and the potential for those weapons to be used, and spread.  The Protocols of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) do require that where a country, here Britain, is accusing another country of using chemical weapons, they should proceed by providing a sample of the chemicals that have been used.  Britain has already said that it has such samples.  If this was a criminal case in a court of law, the prosecuting authorities would be required to provide the defence attorneys, and the court with such evidence.  Britain, as a state that claims to abide by the Rule of Law, especially where it is accusing the Russian state of failing to do so, should have no problem, and no reason not to provide that evidence, by handing over a sample of the nerve agent to the OPCW, and to the Russians.

British Tory politicians are saying that the Kremlin is simply playing for time in requesting that they be given such samples.  They are probably right, but what is to be lost by handing over such samples to the Russians and to the OPCW, so that the Kremlin then no longer has anywhere to hide?  But, its also clear why the Tories are reluctant to go down that road, because Corbyn is also correct that what this attack does is to open up the whole question of the existing stocks of chemical and biological weapons, and their on going production at facilities such as Porton Down, ironically only a few miles from Salisbury, and similar facilities in the US, China, Israel and most other countries.  What this attack opens up, if pursued by the proper channels through the OPCW, as Corbyn suggested is the whole question of the extent to which the development, spread and control over those chemical weapons is actually being properly undertaken, and the need for an international campaign to get rid of them, a campaign that the Tories, as with their continued support for nuclear weapons, would not welcome.

No comments: