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Once and awhile Counterpunch surprises me with a bit of unvarnished factual reporting.  I didn’t know that Functionalism was a think in International Relations – but what a great concept to make the world a more peaceable place.

“Peace through pieces” was an important contribution to understanding mediating differences by the political theorist David Mittrany in the mid-20th century. Mittrany argued for an issue-specific strategy for solving larger problems. “The historical task of our time is not to keep the nations peacefully apart but to bring them actively together,” Mittrany wrote, “through the continuous development of common activities and interests across them.” Closer interaction because of global interdependence, Mittrany postulated, would lead to closer cooperation and peaceful co-existence, a concept known in international relations as Functionalism.

Many of Mittrany’s proposals were used in the establishment of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. A recent example of his theory that peace would come from common rules and technical cooperation would be the admission of Russia to the World Trade Organization in 2011. By including Russia in a rules-based institution, it was assumed, larger cooperation, based on the institution’s rules, would follow, a sort of socialization of the Russian Federation, at least in trade.”

Going to war over spheres of influence.  The 21st century is going to be just as rough as the 20th century.

“Russia says, for instance, that it is threatened by Nato expanding eastwards and potentially including Ukraine as a member. The response of the Nato powers is to say that its door should remain open to all and, more privately, that Ukraine is unlikely to join the organisation in the foreseeable future, so why is Moscow objecting so strongly?

But there is a perfectly rational Russian response to this, which is to point to the furious American response to Soviet missiles being based in Cuba that almost led to a nuclear war in 1962. The Russians can also reasonably ask why, if Ukraine’s Nato membership is such a distant prospect, Nato powers are so insistent on keeping open the option, even though, by doing so, they increase the chances of a shooting war.”

The Russian national interest must be preserved I suppose, and that is reason enough to initiate an armed conflict.  We watch the US do it all the time as well, just that somehow we’re the good guys.

With resources scarce, this model of armed intervention will occur more often.  We’ll have to get used to it or be prepared to radically reorganize our societies around the idea that we as co-inhabitants on this earth all have the right to live in peace.

 

The lives of the common people seem to always come last when it comes to geopolitical considerations.

Why is Russia so involved in the conflict in Syria?  Robert Fisk looks into some possibilities.

“There are, however, other small Chechen ghosts floating over Syria. A large number of Chechen Islamists, fleeing the forests of Chechnya after Russia’s victory, arrived in Syria to attack the regime.

One of the Syrian army’s most devastating setbacks occurred on a mountain top south of the Turkish border, when a Chechen jihadi suicide-bombed a military base by driving a captured armoured car into the compound. He killed every one of the Syrian defenders. The explosion was so vast that an eyewitness on a neighbouring hilltop told me he saw fire reaching into the clouds – and then continuing above the clouds into the empty sky.

The Russians know exactly who they are fighting in Syria, which is why Russian pilot Roman Filipov blew himself up with his own grenade rather than be captured by Islamists. For Putin, those Chechens who resisted his firepower inside Russia are merely continuing their struggle inside a Russian ally further to the south.

Eliminate them, Putin believes, and then make peace with your erstwhile enemies later. It’s been a policy maintained, up to a point, by Damascus. The earlier siege of Deraya on the edge of Damascus was ended in a series of “reconciliation” committees and mutual ceasefire promises.

The distance between Grozny and Damascus is less than 900 miles. From the Kremlin walls, the minarets of Damascus are not in the “Middle East”; they are due south. Russian power doesn’t end at its own frontiers – nor did it in Stalin’s day. His Red Army did not halt at the Soviet frontier in 1945. It pursued the “fascist beast” to its lair in Berlin. And Chechnya remains very much in Putin’s mind today.”

Fascinating points, and of course never once mentioned in the mainstream news…

Cartoon Russia China Dissents   The concluding paragraphs from Michael Klare’s Essay on the Coming Cold War 2.0.

“For those of us residing outside Washington, this choice may appear to have few immediate consequences. The defense budget will rise in either case; troops will, as now, be shuttled desperately around the hot spots of the planet, and so on. Over the long run, however, don’t think for a second that the choice won’t matter.

A stepped-up drive to counter Russia will inevitably produce a grim, unpredictable Cold War-like atmosphere of suspicion, muscle-flexing, and periodic crises. More U.S. troops will be deployed to Europe; American nuclear weapons may return there; and saber rattling, nuclear or otherwise, will increase. (Note that Moscow recently announced a decision to add another 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its already impressive nuclear arsenal and recall Senator Cruz’s proposal for deploying U.S. anti-missile batteries in Eastern Europe.) For those of us who can remember the actual Cold War, this is hardly an appealing prospect.

A renewed focus on China would undoubtedly prove no less unnerving. It would involve the deployment of additional U.S. naval and air forces to the Pacific and an attendant risk of armed confrontation over China’s expanded military presence in the East and South China Seas. Cooperation on trade and the climate would be imperiled, along with the health of the global economy, while the flow of ideas and people between East and West would be further constricted. (In a sign of the times, China recently announced new curbs on the operations of foreign nongovernmental organizations.) Although that country possesses far fewer nuclear weapons than Russia, it is modernizing its arsenal and the risk of nuclear confrontation would undoubtedly increase as well.

In short, the options for American global policy, post-2016, might be characterized as either grim and chaotic or even grimmer, if more focused. Most of us will fare equally badly under either of those outcomes, though defense contractors and others in what President Dwight Eisenhower first dubbed the “military-industrial complex” will have a field day. Domestic needs like health, education, infrastructure, and the environment will suffer either way, while prospects for peace and climate stability will recede.

A country without a coherent plan for advancing its national interests is a sorry thing. Worse yet, however, as we may find out in the years to come, would be a country forever on the brink of crisis and conflict with a beleaguered, nuclear-armed rival.”

The geopolitics of the future continue to darken as the interests of the state and corporate elites once again trump the interests of the people of the world.  The elephant in the room, of course, is climate change and no one in power seems to care.  I imagine, when New York is underwater – action might be considered.

Ms.Betty Bowers thoughts on the 2014 Olympics.

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