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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

With the debasement of truth, and the rise of hate...where are we going?

  Newsweek today is reporting that Russian state television is advising the Kremlin to deploy nuclear weapons against Sweden and Finland, prompted by their avowed announcement and determination to apply for and pursue NATO membership.

Is this another irrelevant and irresponsible instance of sabre rattling, as a way to fend off these applications? Or, perhaps, is this a sign that the Kremlin is growing impatient with its own failures, with the failures of its military leadership, and of its frustration with the Ukrainian people and military for so courageously and persistently pushing back Russian forces?

Is the deployment of nuclear weapons actually on the table in this conflict? And if so, is it a serious indication that the “power of the nuke” is now the bargaining chip in all significant international negotiations? India is certainly using their nuclear ‘chip’ to bargain for not opposing the Russian invasion and for negotiating a lowered price for Russian fossil fuels. Has India signalled the next chapters in geo-politics, given the spike in growth of her economy, making her now the second largest economy in the world, after China’s economic slowdown?

Some are arguing that the world will split, geopolitically, into a block that includes China and Russia and India and Venezuela and Possibly Brazil, with Europe and the U.S. and Canada, Australia and New Zealand forming another block. Kissinger warns that the United States has to be careful not to alienate both China and Russia simultaneously. He also reports that Putin will have to end this war in Ukraine when he ‘sees’ that Russia’s power and status on the world stage is dissipating.

Reports of Putin’s ‘blood cancer’ along with reports of his having undergone back surgery related to his blood cancer, continue to be denied by Russian reports. However, there are also reports today that a bonafide coup movement is underway inside Russia to remove Putin from power. Whether these reports, like those of the potential deployment of nuclear weapons against Sweden and Finland, have any merit, and warrant serious consideration is so uncertain as to render them ‘speculative’ at best, and worrisome at worst. The Associated Press reports May 13, 2022, in a piece entitled, “Russian soldier on trial in first Ukraine war-crimes case” by Oleksandr Stashevski and Richar Lardner:

“A 21-year-old Russian soldier went on trial Friday in Kyiv for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, marking the first war crime prosecution of a member of the Russian military from 11 weeks of bloodshed in Ukraine. The Soldier, a captured member of a tank unit is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka during the first days of the war.

This trial is being conducted on the basis of Ukrainian criminal law, by Ukrainian prosecutors. So, the Ukrainians are fighting on the battlefield, in the air, in the bunkers and streets and now in the courts.

The rest of the world is watching and trying, without the benefit of intelligence initiatives, except those making their way into the public media, to sort out what is going on, what is about to go on, the implications of what has already taken place and any glimmer of hope that this serious slaughter might be brought to an end, without having to face the spectre of opening the Pandora’s Box of the nuclear threat.

The matter of the loss of trust seems to pervade the background of this conflict. Established as a ‘defensive alliance’ to protect members from any military incursion or invasion by Russia. NATO has itself now been morphed into an ‘offensive monster’ by the Russian wannabe czar as justification of his own war against Ukraine. It was Ukraine that was promised security by Russia, the UK and the US when it destroyed its nuclear weapons in 1994 and joined the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).

Here is a glimpse of the wording of that treaty:

Confirm the following:

1.     The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance  with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

2.     The Russian Federation, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with theCharter of the United Nations.

4.     (not a typo) The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance t Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

Why would anyone of us not be confused, frustrated, and utterly in contempt of the hypocrisy, at least, and the undermining and sabotaging of their own words in initiating this act of war against Ukraine?

And, who would not also be in contempt of much of the language of public discourse that has devolved into little more than a papier mache verbosity that seeks to provide the quickest and most facile escape from the truth on the part of too many political actors. At the heart of that fabrication, that ‘front’ of cosmetics in which too many aspiring political leaders have been schooled, lies a foundational cornerstone of hate….whether it be of ‘fascists’ (as Putin falsely alleges in Ukraine) or blacks as white supremacists falsely allege in the U.S. or Jews also the target of white supremacists, or Asians, also a target of white supremacists….

Racial hatred, and the fear of ‘replacement’ by people whose skin is not white, is a phenomenon unrestricted by national boundaries, a fire fueled by social media also without jurisdictional constraints, in a world in which the people of good faith and good will seem to have faded in both numbers and volume. In another life, a political cliché that bounced around a northern Ontario town in a counter-offensive to what was perceived by many as the likelihood of a less-than-honourable candidate would win electoral victory ran something like this: ‘If the good people leave the field, then the less savoury will be free to take it over.’

Millions of ordinary people struggle not only with spiking inflation at the gas pump, in the grocery store, and the vagaries of an invisible virus but also with a conviction that those in charge will tell us what they think and believe we want to hear, that is what they believe will succeed in securing and maintaining public confidence and trust. And all the while, that confidence and trust has been so eroded, not by all political actors, but by enough of the really heinous and shameless ones who seem to have a way of seeking and grabbing the largest microphones. Loud noises, trumpeting lies that even the prevaricators know to be false, have thundered through the television and computer screens for decades, leaving in their wake a tidal wave of unresolved existential threats and a citizenry many of whom have lost hope that any real progress will or even can be made in this kind of ethos.

If the ethos and the actors responsible for that ethos are committed to their own self-denial, their own self-sabotage and the self-sabotage of the public interest, and all of this continues without a hint of remorse, and certainly no sign of a change, and the capacity to generate more ‘coverage’ from the media that is co-dependent on the ratings that come from violent rhetoric and lies, it is not only toxic gases, and nuclear missiles that we have to worry about.

We have to worry about the abject failure of many of those in positions of public influence, (think many Republicans and Tucker Carlson and Fox News, an  oxymoron itself, Lepine, and Renaud Camus)

France24.com 08/11/2021, (reports): It was in his (Renaud Camus’) book ‘Le Grand Remplacement’ that he first coined the term ‘the great replacement’ which became a rallying cry for the far right worldwide….Rooted in racist nationalist views, the great replacement theory purports that an elitist group is colluding against  white French and European people to eventually  replace them with non-Europeans from Africa and the Middle East, the majority of whom are Muslim. Renaud Camus often refers to this as ‘genocide by substitution’.

Support for the healthy exchange of ideas, as well as the healthy address of serious social and political issues like food shortage, environmental degradation, a global pandemic, become highly problematic, if not inexorably complex and perhaps even meaningless where there is no basis for a common set of facts, and where the rot of human decay in hatred and contempt for the other, regardless of whom that ‘other’ might be dominates.

Descending to our most base instincts, like rabid animals starved in a drought-stricken desert, where our mere survival becomes our only goal and thereby our own feasible option, renders us all at the mercy of that survival motive. It may well not be a case of the survival of a civilization over another, but rather the survival of the whole of humanity that might be at risk, in spite of the plethora of platinum innovations in so many fields of public health, restorative justice, instant and accurate and accessible communications and the ingenuity of millions of brilliant scientists and thinkers dedicated to the ‘public good’ and the well-being of each of us.

We read and write about daily occurrences like the war crime trial, the Putin health reports, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the latest COVID numbers…and yet, we all know that much of that is only drivel if we are unable and unwilling to tackle the existential crises that exceed all national boundaries and cultures, all religions and atheism, all political ideologies and caste systems.

The Romans had a phrase that might be appropriate in these times:

Quo Vadis? Where are you marching or whither goest thou?

And we might ponder, “Wherever it is, will it be a road girded with truth, courage and collaborative hope or NOT?”

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