Tom Arms’ World Review

Shinzo Abe – Japan’s longest-serving prime minister who was assassinated on Friday – was best known for three things: His tough anti-Chinese stance; his efforts to beef up Japan’s military and Abenomics.

The first secured him the ire of Beijing which he wore as a badge of honour. Of course, as soon as the news of the shooting crossed the East China Sea, the official Chinese line was shock, horror and dismay. But on social media Chinese nationalists were busy expressing their glee. One of the reasons for the Chinese dislike of Abe was his skewed view of history and pro-defense policies. On the former, Abe – in common with many other Japanese politicians – denied, ignored or underplayed his country’s atrocities during World War II. The Chinese retain bitter memories of the Japanese occupation of most of their country in the 1930s and during World War Two. They welcomed the constitutional post-war curbs on the Japanese defense forces which banned the Japanese from using war “as a means of settling disputes.”

Abe, a staunch nationalist, wanted to re-write the constitution and increase defense spending from one to two percent of the GDP.  This policy has the support of Western governments who regard the restrictions on the world’s third largest economy as a post-war anomaly. Defense spending is a major issue in the current election.

Shinzo Abe was one of the many world leaders who lent their name to an economic theory. Abenomics combined monetary easing by the central bank with increased government spending and structural reform. Its purpose was to end decades of economic stagnation. Abenomics had some success but not as much as Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party hoped. Like all politicians, Shinzo Abe enjoyed successes and suffered failures. But his greatest achievement was to be the tough man of Japanese politics at a time when the Japanese required a stiff political backbone.

Vladimir Putin was blunt: We have just begun to fight, he told Russian parliamentary leaders this week. He then went on to blame the “collaborative West” for starting the war in Ukraine. It was the result, he claimed of a 2014 Western-supported military coup which ousted a pro-Russian government and launched a “genocide” in the Donbas Region.

In the meantime, reports are emerging of tens of thousands of Donbas-based Ukrainians “disappearing.” Many of them are pro-Ukrainian journalists, academics, lawyers, politicians and government officials who have either vanished altogether or whose bodies have been discovered in vacant lots or outside their homes. Others are ordinary citizens who have been evacuated from the Ukrainian cities demolished by Russian artillery. Many of them are bussed to the Russian border where their documents are confiscated and they are dispatched for settlement in different parts of Russia. The saddest cases are the children who are placed in foster care or sent off for adoption without any attempt at contact with their Ukrainian families.

Of course, these tactics are a common thread in Russian history. In 1828, The Russian Empire forced the resettlement of Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and sowed the seeds of conflict with Azerbaijan. During the Soviet years, the Siberian gulags were used as much as resettlement camps as prisons. In the war years, 400,000 Poles were sent East along with hundreds of thousands of dissident Lithuanians, Tatars, Finns, Estonians, Latvians and many more. According to files unearthed by researchers, by 1950, 2,572,829 people had been “resettled” by Soviet authorities. In modern times, the disappearance of Chechens, was condemned by Human Rights Watch as a crime against humanity. So, nothing new here.

Meanwhile, in the Indonesian resort of Bali, the Russians have come under a nearly-united attack by G20 foreign ministers meeting there. The four hold-outs are China, host country Indonesia, South Africa and India. They don’t side completely with Russia, but they argue the West should accept some of the responsibility for failing to treat post- Cold War Moscow as a serious global player and by expanding NATO.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Bali to discount those arguments and ensure that sanctions are adhered to and to try and find a work-around to the current world food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His key meeting will be with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. So far the Chinese have pointedly failed to match their words of support for Russia with action. There are no signs of Beijing evading sanctions or supplying Putin with military hardware. Blinken will seek reassurances that China’s hands-off approach will continue.

To encourage the Chinese, Blinken is expected to offer a summit between President Biden and Xi Jinping and the possibility of the lifting of some US tariffs on Chinese products. The latter move would have the added benefit of easing inflation in America. Blinken, by the way, has pointedly refused to meet with Russian summit attendee Sergei Lavrov who has dismissed the US Secretary of State’s attacks as “frenzied criticism.”

While Blinken and Wang Yi prepared to meet in Bali, the heads of America’s FBI and Britain’s FBI, held an unprecedented joint press conference in London to warn Western businesses against Chinese perfidy. FBI director Chris Wray cautioned: “When you deal with a Chinese company know that you are also dealing with their silent partner the Chinese government and its Ministry of State Security (MSS).” The Chinese government, he added, “poses a more serious threat to Western businesses than many realise.”

MI5’s David McCallum, said: “the Chinese Communist Party is interested in our democratic, media and legal systems. Not, sadly, to emulate them, but to use them for its own gain.” The two men also said that the MSS was trying to interfere in congressional elections in New York’s tenth congressional district where a Yang Xiong, a Tiananmen Square protester, is standing as a Democratic Party candidate.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain” that has sold out in the US after six weeks but is still available in the UK.

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9 Comments

  • …America’s FBI and Britain’s FBI,…

    Britain’s MI5.

    MI5’s David McCallum…

    Ken McCallum (Director General).

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Jul '22 - 12:37pm

    Might the U. S. Government be a “silent partner” in our politics and in our dealings with American companies?

  • Brad Barrows 10th Jul '22 - 1:16pm

    We may never know the extent of Western involvement of the overthrow of the democratically elected, pro-Russian president of Ukraine, in 2014. We may never know how much of the outrage and refusal to recognise the new Ukrainian government that took over power in 2014 was naturally occurring or inspired by Russia. What we do know is that those events led to 8 years of conflict, thousands of deaths, a negotiated settlement (Minsk) that was never implemented and, ultimately, a full scale war with the potential to escalate into a full was between Russia and NATO as NATO countries increasingly involve themselves in the conflict by providing Ukraine advanced weapons to kill Russians. The outlook is dire since Russia will not allow itself to be defeated and NATO will not allow Ukraine to be defeated or settle for any peace deal that Russia could view as a victory. I fear we will witness a long war of attrition with Russia gradually destroying and occupying more and more of Ukraine. Unimaginable human misery for millions.

  • nigel hunter 10th Jul '22 - 2:51pm

    Is not Putin also ‘doing’ a China. We are in the 2nd Cold War due to past over confidence.Democracy should always guard its back before negotiating anything

  • In case anyone is interested, I have just started work on a rewrite/update of my “Encyclopedia of the Cold War.” This one won’t, however, be available in print format. The publisher wants to bring out as an e-book.

  • Brad Barrows: Are the Ukrainians to be like the Kurds, a nation not allowed to have its own independent state because others, normally a more powerful neighbour, will do everything possible, including a merciless war, to prevent it ? Other nations may have behaved in a similar way but two wrongs do not make a right.

  • Before someone else points it out the British created the Northern Ireland problem which has adversely affected our national politics as well as our relations with Ireland, by “planting” the usually more extreme Scottish and some English Protestant settlers in Ireland and allowed them to take the lands of the native population, partly no doubt to remove them from Britain as they were a nuisance as they generally supported the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War. At least the Irish had their revenge when they humiliated the mighty British Empire by booting us out of most of Ireland in 1922, but the actions of 17th century English/British politicians are still affecting British politics in the form of the Northern Ireland Protocol which has contributed to bringing down the present Prime Minister. Maybe Ukraine will be Russia’s Ireland .

  • Russia has launched a colonial war of aggression and along with China in Xinjiang is quite possibly guilty of committing acts of Genocide in its treatment of Ukrainian citizens. Aricle 2 of the convention on Genocide defines that crime as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    The Russian government, its president and state broadcasters have made clear their intent and their opinion that Ukraine is not a valid state or a real nationality independent of Russia.
    The conflict in the Donbass was a violent internecine struggle inflamed by Russian intervention in 2014/15. In the last few years the fighting had largely ceased with occasional flares-up along the contact line. There were 6 or 7 civilian casualties in 2021 ans 2020 before the Russian invasion.
    The current aggression appears to heading to some form of frozen conflict with Ukraine partitioned along the lines of the Korea peninsula and a territorial dispute akin to that of Russia’s 1945 annexation of the Japanese Kuril Islands. Russia may well find itself in a similar position to that of North Korea. Ostracised by the democratic world and dependent upon and subservient to the Chinese state.

  • Peter Hirst 12th Jul '22 - 2:02pm

    What to do about Russia is something that will exercise minds for some time. I think the solution is economic pressure that will cause domestic pressure. Russia’s economy is fragile and the sooner it declines further the sooner we will have some leverage at least on his foreign adventurism.

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