Category Archives: International Affairs

‘The three amigos’ finally bite the dust


Donald Trump

Donald Trump came into politics as an active player in 2016. He transformed every aspect of American life, and if that nation was headed toward disaster before, it is now there.

Trump’s chaotic and dishonest take on governance has infected the body politic, and the country is virtually ungovernable. Trump has not only allowed the rise of the next generation of nihilistic Republican leaders, he has legitimised stupidity, misogyny and religious extremism.

The country is now a legitimate candidate for third world status. It has a legislature which makes it nearly impossible to actually pass legislation. It has a Supreme Court, dutifully stacked by Trump with religious far-right conservatives, which is working towards throwing the country back toward becoming a theocracy. Gilead beckons.

They are now taking a literalist approach to its constitution, an outdated document which enshrines the views of an all-white, patriarchal cabal of slave owners and men of their time, with all their entrenched prejudices and unintended consequences being re-invigorated.

If this document continues to be read as if it was “sacred writ” then it can never be amended. Critics and those who question it are in peril of being named, and punished, as heretics; such is its power over the imaginations of the current Republicans.

The Supreme Court has recently reversed Roe v Wade, effectively criminalising abortion in many states. It has also further undermined American efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, which, owing to their status as a huge emitter, puts the planet’s health at risk of irremediable damage.

The court has plans to roll back many other measures meant to protect rights as diverse as same sex marriage, voting rights, equal opportunity. The list goes on, and may well prove to be the unravelling of American democracy.

So Trump, although out of power, and possibly facing criminal charges for his role in the January 6 uprising, continues to wreck his country’s future viability. He has divided the country with his deranged lies.

Scott Morrison

An unknown man who rose to power, almost unnoticed. A man who took the party of Menzies and made it his own. He almost captured Australia, and if he had not lost the 2022 election, the country was on track to rush down the American path.

He relished the company of Trump, and embodied many of the worst aspects of American populism. His entire political playbook was apparently lifted from the Republicans.

Although adjusted for Australian conditions, he believed in small government, low taxes for the rich, removal of regulations, punishment for those on welfare, disdain for the working poor, cronyism and jobs for ‘mates’. His stacking of the AAT must rival Trump’s work on the Supreme Court. He ignored women, and subsequently lost their votes

Morrison had no policies. He was a shallow religious zealot, with no creativity, no vision, and no care for Australia. He embodied the world-view of his religion, with all the vacuousness of its ‘prosperity gospel’. His disregard for the environment, and especially the climate crisis convinced many that he believed in the end of the world, so why bother? The apocalypse was nigh.

The overwhelming feeling in Australia has been one of relief. We had no antidote for his smirking insolence, his lazy contempt for accountability, and he is now known as a serial liar, and a man who used the government’s budget for his own political purposes.

Many Christians struggled with his government’s cruel policies, towards whistleblowers, refugees, women, indigenous people, the aged and the disabled, even welfare recipients.

He trashed our international reputation wherever he went. An enduring image remains of Morrison standing alone at Glasgow for the COP26 meeting, studying his phone as the other world leaders stood in companionable groups.

His cabinet was filled with nonentities and toadies. Not one minister ever fought the good fight, over policy or principle. Many perfected the same teflon-coated approach to truth that Morrison practised so well.

It has been illuminating to see their shallow responses to a real government, with a real leader, with real policies. Not one has shown the capacity to provide a credible opposition, because lazy Morrison did all their ‘work’ for them.

The Albanese Government will spend years undoing the damage caused by the Morrison reign. Hopefully the Australian voter now knows how to spot a charlatan, and will take evasive action should another one pop up for election.

Boris Johnson

It is always amazing to read the press in countries which have reasonable defamation laws. Just this week we have seen Boris described as the “greased piglet”, the “Convict” and the “liar”.

He has shown himself as being as utterly shameless as his confederates in the ‘three amigos’. A self-interested liar, a chancer, a person who shamelessly hawked his government to wealthy donors.

His private life should have been a warning as to how he would perform in the ‘big chair’, but as the British have been heard to say, “I like Boris, he makes me laugh”. He doesn’t even know how many children he has fathered.

He had a set of rules for the plebs, and one for himself and his Conservative confreres. He took Britain back to the inequality of the 1960s, but not the glamour. Sadly this might be one reason why he failed so miserably during the Covid-19 pandemic. He ignored medical advice.

He made Great Britain into ‘little Britain’, by taking the country out of Europe. He fed the fantasy that Britain could return to past glories, while failing to realise that history has passed on, leaving plucky little countries like the U.K. alone, and searching for relevance.

His desperate use of the tactics of the discarded Morrison government’s refugee policy is the last gasp in a desperate search for a political solution to a moral question. Sending refugees to Rwanda sounds like an idea from a toddler, and a confused one at that.

Study the moral position of these three men. Populists, cynics, snobs, liars, opportunists, misogynists. In these most difficult of times, perhaps there is hope in the fact that the people are throwing out such obvious phonies, and voting for a bit of moral rectitude and honesty.

Imposing journalistic standards of truth-telling onto media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and his ilk, who seem to wallow in the strife they unleash on the societies which they pretend to uphold, would be a good start in improving the outlook for all of us. 

The three amigos have finally bitten the dust, and we can only hope that Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Poland and all the other nations still led by moral pygmies follow suit. We need good leaders to negotiate the next few difficult years in this planet’s existence.

As if we needed another crazed dictator to emerge


The most disturbing feature of the war in Ukraine is the currency of the action, the actual real-time evidence of the destruction, and the sheer number of civilian deaths.

If you have read history, especially the history of the Second World War, you will have seen pictures of dead bodies on streets, and concrete buildings reduced to rubble. Mostly in black and white, they are frozen in time. They are real, and the people are really dead.

The images speak of the unenlightened ‘then’, before mankind’s embrace of globalism, the European Union, the United Nations, trading blocs and global co-operation. Even Russia is a member of the United Nations, and until the February 2022 invasion Russia was seen as a global citizen, paying some of its share, and enjoying a limited post-Soviet rehabilitation.

It was a false dawn. Putin has been building his own version of the Gulag, and his experience as a member of the KGB has informed the structuring of an efficient police state. He has also continued in the bloody tradition of the czars, and the later communist leaders of the Soviet Union.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 Chechnya was ready for post-Soviet life. So was Ukraine. But the new Russia was not. It would attempt to hold on to its past geopolitical primacy, and the battle for Ukraine is yet another episode in Russia’s attempt to recapture lost territory.

If we want to see the dress rehearsal for the war against Ukraine, we need only go back to Boris Yeltsin’s First Chechen War, where for the period 1994 – 1996 Russia ignored the will of the Chechens, and in the process destroyed Grozny and the surrounding countryside.

The reason the West was taken by surprise when Putin invaded Ukraine was that the international media treated the Chechen Wars as internal affairs, rather than attacks on a sovereign state, by another sovereign state, looking to retain territory they had lost, due to a treaty.

Chechen public opinion in 1991 was strongly for independence from Russia. With a turnout of 72%, 90.1% voted for the Chechen leader, Dudayev. Russia began a campaign of harassment and supplied Russian separatists with money, weapons and troops.

It was never anything but the pursuit of territory by force, although the Chechens had voted overwhelmingly for separation. By 1994 President Yeltsin issued an ultimatum to all warring factions in Chechnya, ordering them to disarm and surrender. When the government in Grozny refused, Yeltsin ordered the Russian army to “restore constitutional order” by force.

When the Russians besieged the Chechen capital, thousands of civilians died from a week-long series of air raids and artillery bombardments in the heaviest bombing campaign in Europe since the destruction of Dresden. Williams, Bryan Glyn (2001)

Fast forward to Ukraine. Similar tactics, similar disregard of humanitarian principles, similar spurious reasons given for the invasion.

There is one crucial difference, however. Putin’s rigid control of state media in Russia, and his rock solid use of a punitive police presence has kept the Russian public’s support for the war high.

The barrage of misinformation has seen a weakening in the West’s resolve. Hungary has made a virtue of not criticising Russia’s war, and the Republicans, led by Trump, have questioned the general moral outrage.

It is lucky that summer is coming to Europe, otherwise Russia’s gas supplies would have been a necessity for many European countries. The reality appears to be that Russia and Putin will not be shamed into a withdrawal, and we might be stuck with a highly dangerous situation for years to come.

It can safely be said that whenever a dictator is supplied with the means for war, and the requisite power, that the fate of the rest of us depends on our being prepared for the worst, because it can sometimes be as simple as a madman’s whim which causes the boat to capsize.

The Russians will not thank him for destroying their economy, the Russian troops’ parents and families will not thank him for killing their sons, and the Ukrainian people will never accept the reason for the invasion, or its apparent objective: The subjugation of its identity and status as a sovereign nation. The death and destruction means there will never be reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine.

Putin’s war is a grave mistake, and hundreds of thousands will pay the price. The greatest threat comes from Putin, and his absolute hold on power. He, if cornered, might pull out all the stops, and attempt to bluff the Unites States and Europe with the threat of nuclear war.

The possibility is there, and it looks to be Putin’s last card.