Defence

Putin’s War and the Lessons of History

We who shrink from war because it’s morally wrong have to make others shrink from war because they’d likely lose. —Tony Abbott

In his prescient address to the Danube Institute in Budapest on February 21, Tony Abbott criticised Western democracies’ failure to boost their military capabilities and predicted the Russian invasion of Ukraine that took place just three days later. We print here the full text of his address, courtesy of Tony Abbott and John O’Sullivan, president of the Danube Institute and Quadrant’s international editor.

* * *

SOME years ago, at an East Asia Summit in Burma, I found myself standing with Japan’s Shinzo Abe, plus China’s Le Keqiang and the Sultan of Brunei. China’s premier was upbraiding the prime minister over Japan’s war record, so to create a distraction, I grabbed the sultan and loudly told him that he must be very angry about British colonialism.

Having thus seized the antagonists’ attention, I observed to Le Keqiang that history was a good teacher but a bad master. So with that in mind, I’ve adjusted the topic of this talk from the revenge of history to the lessons of history, because history isn’t malicious, just instructive. 

It tells us that progress isn’t inevitable; that justice isn’t always done; that good won’t always win; and that danger always lurks. Above all, it tells us that individual and collective choice matters: that our beliefs drive our actions, and that havoc can be wreaked, or stopped, because people decide to make a stand.

Few things have been more telling than the reaction of key countries to the Russian army poised on Ukraine’s borders. Britain and America have sent anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles but no troops. Germany has been reluctant even to threaten sanctions, should Russia invade. And in shades of Munich, France has championed a peace deal based on changing the Ukrainian constitution to meet Russia’s demands.

In trying to extract a pledge from his smaller neighbour that it will never join NATO, the Russian president is exploiting the universal fear of war in an attempt to dictate the policy of NATO and to smash the independence of Ukraine. He’s relying on everyone’s unwillingness to take risks for someone else. And so far, he’s succeeding; the Europeans and the Americans are divided and the West looks impotent. The only ones to emerge with much credit are the Ukrainians themselves, who have manned their defences and insisted on their right to conduct an independent foreign policy, including joining NATO and the EU.

But regardless of how this particular episode plays out, let’s be under no illusion. Vladimir Putin sees himself as the new tsar, a ruler for life, determined to restore greater Russia. To that end, he’s invaded Georgia, annexed the Crimea, occupied the Donbas, killed without compunction opponents at home and abroad, and restored Russia as a military superpower despite an economy smaller than Italy’s.

Ukraine is but his present target, because it persists in looking west, not east; and because the 1994 Anglo-American security assurance, named for this very city, in return for the surrender of Soviet-era nuclear weapons, failed to replicate the one-in, all-in provision of Article 5 of the NATO Charter.

However the current stand-off ends, we can be confident that Putin’s campaign will continue, remorseless, relentless, by all means up to and including all-out war, until Ukraine becomes a Russian colony. And then his attention will turn to the Baltic States, and then to Poland, and then to the other former Soviet satellites, until Russia is again the overlord of Eastern Europe.

I fear the only thing that will stop him is death, defeat, or the conviction that he would lose. On what do I base that?

Well, after a Russian missile battery shot down MH17 over eastern Ukraine, killing thirty-eight Australians, I promised to “shirtfront” the Russian president—it’s an Australian sporting term for a rough tackle. I had that very robust conversation with him on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Beijing in 2014. With rare intensity, he insisted that Ukraine was really Russian and that their government was fascist or worse—and that provocateurs had brought down the plane.

And then he grabbed me with both hands and said something both strange and revealing: “You are not a native Australian,” he said, “but I am a native Russian.” It’s this passion for blood and soil and sacred mission that drives my sense that he’s ready to take big risks, to restore the Russia of his dreams, especially against weakness and vulnerability.

Of course, Putin is not Hitler, and Ukraine is not Czechoslovakia, and these are not the 1930s, but there are plenty of disturbing parallels, including a new “axis” of great powers ready to disturb the peace to get what they want. A fortnight back, the Russian dictator and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, issued a declaration on “International Relations Entering a New Era”. We know the type of new era they have in mind from their preposterous claim that both Russia and China enjoy “long-standing traditions of democracy”. This would be news to the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, to the jailed Australian news anchor Cheng Lei, and to the tennis star Peng Shuai, now doomed to life in a cage. 

For Beijing, “democracy with Chinese characteristics” obviously covers the internment of more than a million Uyghurs, the strangulation of Hong Kong despite the solemn promise of one country, two systems, and the near daily intimidation of Taiwan, a genuine democracy that proves there’s no totalitarian gene in the Chinese DNA. Not for nothing has China built what’s already the world’s largest navy, plus a militarised coast guard, plus a maritime militia, and achieved what many defence planners think is military superiority over the United States in the Western Pacific.

The main purpose of this joint declaration, this Moscow–Beijing axis, is to bury, they say, the “political and military alliances of the Cold War era”—so no more NATO, no US troops in Japan and South Korea, and ultimately an end to the Pax Americana—through a dictators’ partnership that has, they say, “no limits” and no “forbidden areas of co-operation”. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, maybe it’s not; but it’s definitely a free hand from each, for the other to do its worst.

At heart, what they both reject is the American-backed world order, a liberal and humane set of understandings and arrangements, that’s enabled the very best time in human history; with the world’s people more free, more safe and more prosperous than ever before. Even though they have both benefited from it, with half a billion Chinese moving from the third world to the middle class in scarcely a generation, after President Clinton bent the rules to admit China to the WTO; and with Russia becoming a petro-power that can turn Europe’s energy on and off like a tap.

For years, American officialdom ignored the Chinese leadership’s much-stated intention to be the world’s top country by mid-century; only for the Secretary of State, just a week ago in Melbourne, belatedly to declare that China’s goal was indeed global domination.

 

SO, with these latter-day dictators clearly on the march, as Lenin once asked: What is to be done?

In his celebrated speech attacking the Munich sell-out as a “defeat without a war”, Winston Churchill declared that this was but “the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year, unless by a supreme recovery of moral health”—let’s underline that—“moral health” he said, “and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom, as in the olden time.”

A response to the dictators starts with appreciating that just because war is unthinkable to us, doesn’t make it unthinkable to them. Since the beginning of time, the strong have always been tempted to take advantage of the weak; and the tough and the hungry have always sought to usurp the indolent and the soft. Throw in what Hume recognised, that passions drive reason, and what’s unthinkable to most can become entirely reasonable to some, especially those on a quest for national glory.

Last week, the German chancellor proclaimed that “war has become unthinkable in Europe and we have to make sure it stays that way”—even though he must know that up against someone who thinks differently, and who routinely uses war to achieve his ends, the only way to avoid war is to surrender.

Is Germany so ashamed of its past, and so enervated by its wealth, that it can no longer stand up to those set on taking advantage of it, including a Russian president bent on economic and military blackmail? We must hope that events don’t give us the wrong answer.

That’s the baleful side of 1989: this notion that the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the “end of history” and the era of universal peace based on the triumph of liberal capitalism. Rather than a new beginning, 1989 was simply one brief shining moment in time, when liberal nations were clearly ascendant over illiberal ones. But that was soon squandered, through misplaced idealism: by bloody, expensive and largely futile nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, that has sapped the West’s strength and self-confidence; and by welcoming China and Russia into global markets, that has increased their wealth and strength but not their goodwill. As their current adventurism shows, both countries’ exceptionalism still includes the conviction that they should dominate their regions, if not the wider world.

All that has lingered from those heady days, three decades back, is the conviction of Western elites that their obsessions with climate change and identity politics are widely shared; coupled with their strange unwillingness to call out in other cultures what they condemn in their own.

As the five decades after 1945 show, the only way to keep aggressors at bay is collective security; otherwise, the strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must. Take Eastern Europe: if it’s Russia against Ukraine, sooner or later Russia will prevail, as Russia ultimately did against Finland in 1940. Take East Asia: if it’s China against Taiwan, China will inevitably prevail. But if it’s Russia or China versus the democracies, one for all and all for one, that’s an entirely different matter.

 

PERHAPS this military crisis might awaken the people of Western countries, so recently discombobulated by a virus, and so unaccustomed to sacrifice, to how readily a freedom that’s not cherished and defended can be lost.

This is starting to dawn on us in Australia. A wave of illegal migration by boat was successfully stopped. Chinese telcos seeking to build vital national infrastructure were banned. When China weaponised trade against us, with $20 billion lost in boycotts, we did not flinch. And by the shrewd practice of democratic multilateralism, Australia has helped to revive the Quad, created the AUKUS alliance with the US and the UK for more nuclear submarines in the Indo-Pacific, and deepened its military partnership with Japan.

Australians are accustomed to answer the call, all over the world, because we’ve always known that deterring aggression means letting the aggressors know that their targets aren’t alone. And as history shows, the best way to make potential aggressors think again is to have a contingent of allied soldiers in place, so that an attack on a relatively weaker country means engaging the forces of relatively stronger ones.

There’s no point unnecessarily provoking Moscow by accepting Ukraine into NATO right now, but why shouldn’t the British and American trainers have stayed in place to help, if needs be, their Ukrainian comrades-in-arms? There’s no point provoking Beijing by declaring that the One China policy can accommodate one Taiwan too, but why shouldn’t more allied soldiers slip into Taiwan to join the US special forces who have reportedly been there for some time?

At the very least, NATO should be ready substantially to reinforce its frontline states and to supply the Ukrainians with whatever they need to fight on. The point of this would not be to threaten Russia or China with offensive weapons; just to remind bullies of the natural solidarity that should exist between countries striving to be free.

We have to make the war that’s unthinkable to us for moral reasons, unthinkable to them for prudential reasons. We who shrink from war because it’s morally wrong have to make others shrink from war because they’d likely lose.

Of course, our instinctive initial reaction is to avoid entirely “quarrels in far away countries between people of whom we know nothing”. Yet what other countries’ freedom might be dispensable, if theirs is? And who would we fight alongside, if not them? And if others’ fights aren’t ours, who might help us when our turn comes? This is where moral health is indeed called for, as much as martial vigour, in any contest between nations.

We can’t forget Churchill’s other observation that “jaw-jaw is better than war-war”, provided we remember that the point of diplomacy with dictators is to deliver a stern message that their demands are unacceptable. It would be shameful were any pressure to be put on Ukraine to accept Putin’s demands, because concessions would just embolden a bully.

Even now, I’m not sure how widely it’s grasped what’s at stake in this confrontation between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subservience—and how the whole trajectory of history could change. If Russia seizes Ukraine, a new iron curtain will ring down in Europe. If China exploits the confusion to seize Taiwan, the whole world order would shift against the democracies, as Indo-Pacific countries made the best deal they could with the red superpower, or armed themselves to the teeth against it. It would be a poorer, harder world.

At the least, in these ominous times, countries need to end their energy dependence on Russia—as well as their dependence on China in critical supply chains—and to renew collective self-defence to the point where no aggressor could think war worthwhile.

Meanwhile, comrades Putin and Xi watch the scuttle from Kabul, because a long-term military presence was judged to be too hard; the toppling of statues, because yesterday’s heroes have to be damned by today’s standards; and our self-flagellation over race and identity, even though there’s never been less racism, and minorities have never had a fairer go—and conclude that a decadent West is unlikely to defend itself with vigour, let alone stand up for others. They see America in retreat, and no other country or collection of countries with strength and goodwill sufficient to be the guardian of peace with freedom.

For all of us as individuals and for each of our countries, the challenge is to prove them wrong. As long there are millions who would seek a better life in Western countries, we need to accept that vote of confidence in ourselves, and never weaken on what has made us great.

The Hon. Tony Abbott was Prime Minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015

 

31 comments
  • Stephen

    Why is this very wise and very good man not still our Prime Minister. Of course I know the answer. Turnbull’s incurable vanity carries much of the weight but the Liberal Party room must accept most of the indelible shame.

  • John Michelmore

    There are real difficulties in taking sides and supplying weapons to one side of this war. In this case I believe Australia should have sat on its hands and observed, except for humanitarian aid. The US is involved up to its eyeballs in the Ukraine and not for the betterment of world peace, probably the exact reverse of that if you account for the bio labs and the involvement of the Biden’s. Ukraines treatment of the Russian speakers in the east using Nazi troops also has a part to play in addition to Tony’s comments above.

  • Stephen Due

    @Stephen. Perhaps he’s not our PM because of his ‘own goals’. The knighthood for Prince Philip was a classic example. He is undoubtedly both wise and good at heart, but lapses such as this undermined public confidence in his judgement.

  • rosross

    Not the best from Tony Abbott. Too much commie-hating and fearing and not enough solid facts from the past two decades of growing US/Nato aggression along with the irresponsible actions of Ukraine.

    The problem with ignoring the political realities, or as noted political analyst, John Mearsheimer would say, Reality 101, is that there is no understanding of the war which might bring it to a speedy end and prevent future wars. Fabricating demons and enemies never gets anyone far.

    Russia can be condemned for resorting to war but the Americans, Europeans and Ukrainians must also be condemned for pushing Russia toward war.

    Oh, and the Soviet Union fell 31 years ago so neither Russia nor Putin are ‘commies.’ Bit behind in your reading Mr Abbott or perhaps mired in old prejudices.

  • Botswana O’Hooligan

    TA should still be in the box seat but he was prone to making the odd mistake OR he had some bad advice on MH-17 and that would reinforce the opinion of many who don’t think a lot of any government who would buy F-35 aeroplanes. Euro Control who most likely know nothing about the operation of a jet opined that it was OK to operate over that route provided the flight stayed above FL 320 but the effective altitude of a Buk is FL460 (46,000 feet) and in a depressurisation event the aeroplane must descend to at least FL140 where a well aimed rock could hit it. Aviation is filled with mistakes and the French Navy got a DC-9 by mistake, their army a FH-227 (Fokker Friendship built under licence by Fairchild in the USA) the US Navy got an Iranian A-300 airbus by mistake, and the Ukraine got an IL-62 (VC-10 ski) over the Black sea, supposedly by mistake. The MAS captain is the man to blame for no Captain ever endangers his crew, his passengers, or his aeroplane. TA should have taken MAS to account for they seem to be pretty good at misadventures with their aeroplanes.

  • Adam J

    Abbott for PM! His ‘mistakes’ were trivial and nothing else.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    An excellent summary which stands up well after more than a month of war. Still it shows how far the Libs have lost their way. Since Abbot’s principled stands we’ve slid down past vacuous vanity to conviction-less opportunism, while the backroom boys vacuum up renewables subsidies. It is amazing that the SA Libs were beaten from the right by the ALP and astonishing that the most articulate politician in NSW defending conservative values and resisting woke subversion is a former leader of the federal ALP. The bedwetters of September 2015 have a lot to answer for.

  • Stuart J. Burrows

    As I’ve come to expect, a sharp analysis from Tony Abbott. Putin and Xi need a good shirtfronting.

  • Sindri

    Typically clear-eyed defence of democracy over tyranny and brutality; thank you Mr Abbott. As you can see, even from some of these comments, the online site of the esteemed Quadrant attracts simple-minded crackpots who think that Putin is a jolly good chap and the west is hopelessly evil. All sorts of idiocies have been appearing in comments over the last few weeks: The US and Zelensky might be planning a false-flag chemical attack on Ukraine; Pearl Harbour could have been a false-flag operation; the war is all the fault of the US and NATO “aggression”; the whole thing is being run by a certain international conspiracy. And now the shooting down of MH17 was the pilot’s fault. Stupidity on stilts.

  • Peter Marriott

    I have respect for Mr Abbott and it was a bad day for Australia, in my view, when he was replaced with Mr Turnbull, and I’m afraid P.M. Morrison didn’t really come out of that smelling of roses. However Abbott has definitely got some fixations that were a big weakness I think, with his keeping Turnbull in his Ministry being one of them. His obsession with trying to destroy One Nation was another and his conclusions over the tragic destruction of MH-17 yet another, but I do not include his knighting of Prince Phillip as the Prince well deserved the knighthood far more than literally dozens and dozens of others have done. I still think it was the air traffic controllers who allowed MH-17 to fly over a war zone in the first place who were mainly the ones at fault. The Ukrainians had been bombing the Donbass region for years and the separatists were assuming that anything coming over them was a bomber. They did not deliberately try and shoot down a defenseless passenger plane….it just should never have been there. I have been flying over the region as a Singapore Airline passenger for years, twice a year, including that year, and while the normal route was to go straight across over Ukraine we were going a little further north over the border in Russia. and Belarus. It made me think later that possibly the Ukrainians didn’t really care that much if a passenger plane was shot down……because they knew it would get the whole world up in arms against the separatists….I hope I’m wrong but Abbott seems a bit naive not to have some doubts about the whole tragic episode himself. Also he should have immediately responded to Putin that he actually is an Australian native…….just not an aborigine, that’s all, i.e. I assume he was born in Australia ?

  • djhadley

    Like the rest of the Liberal Party, I think Tony Abbott ran out of courage and the will to keep fighting. Can’t say I blame him entirely, but maybe he was in politics too long and was too willing to go along to get along. The first thing he should have done, and this applies to any conservative hopeful, is to get rid of the ABC in its present form.

  • andrew2

    “Perhaps this military crisis might awaken the people of Western countries”.

    Really? People who awaken from the stupor of porn, tinder, netflix, sports betting etc, etc, are attacked for their toxic masculinity or extreme far right views. There is no mood in the West for an awakening.

    I am sure that there are millions of people who would send professional soldiers to their deaths for a coalition of “democracies” but not many who would put their own lives or the lives of their sons on the line for such a cause.

  • Alistair

    Abbott is a talker no a doer – at least on the political stage. (Yes, he’s hands on the things where the enemy is easy to identify and offends nobody – like fire fighting and surf lifesaving) All the blow-harding before elections evaporated into the air as soon as he had won his election and the politics got too hard. (https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2019/04/roads-and-detours-on-a-downhill-slope/)
    Now consider Cori Bernardi who actually put himself out there according to his beliefs, but Abbott still hides behind the Liberal Party – a Liberal party now run effectively from the World Economic Forum, and fronted here in Australia by one of the graduates of Klaus Schwab’s “School For Global Leaders”. Does Abbott approve? His silence suggests Yes.
    Yes. Its great to get the boots into Vladimir Putin – a easy sitting target, but while the West is busy lining up for free kicks at Putin, the World Economic Forum advances its globalist agenda.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Sindri ‘the whole thing is being run by a certain international conspiracy. And now the shooting down of MH17 was the pilot’s fault. Stupidity on stilts.’
    Agreed.
    The Buc anti aircraft array had only been deployed for a week or so and was immediately withdrawn.
    The operators had no idea of aircraft recognition or international flight paths.
    They were not freedom loving fighters wresting land back to Mother Russia from the wicked Ukrainians.
    They were likely Russian troops acting as their Brothers in Arms killing innocent non combatant civilians.
    The perpetuators are in absentia before the District court in The Hague for war crimes.
    They are innocent until proven guilty.
    B O”H could always present an expert opinion.
    In the meanwhile Russia inexorably erodes the defensive ability of their declared enemy, isolating the cities and leaving them wasteland before moving on.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7nyD-tUkt8
    Before Britain’s shining hour, the defeat of the Luftwaffe over London, Churchill and Roosevelt worked on a plan for the US to remain unaligned and still to support the UK.
    Lend Lease.
    Britain leased the destroyers and kept the sea lanes open from u boat attack.
    Judging by the above video, the Ukraine needs anti missile and antiaircraft defence, not just bushmasters.
    Its worked before.

  • Adam J

    Peter Marriott:
    Tony Abbott was born in Britain as was Julia Gillard.

  • Watchman Williams

    Tony Abbott quotes Winston Churchill in putting forth his arguments about the then situation in Ukraine that was soon to be followed by military action. A more apt Churchill quote to describe the ongoing political narrative in the media of the West would be; “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber. We are surrounded on all sides by jabbering parrots”.
    The “Pax Americana” , to which Mr. Abbott refers, will go down in history, if history is allowed to be written in the New World Order, as the death knell of Western Civilisation, brought on by the degradation of society through party politics, of which the Australian House of (Non) Representatives, is an odious example,
    The condition of politics in the West bears out the observation of Napoleon;
    “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap”.

  • Watchman Williams

    Tony Abbott quotes Winston Churchill in putting forth his arguments about the then situation in Ukraine that was soon to be followed by military action. A more apt Churchill quote to describe the ongoing political narrative in the media of the West would be; “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber. We are surrounded on all sides by jabbering parrots”.
    The “Pax Americana” , to which Mr. Abbott refers, will go down in history, if history is allowed to be written in the New World Order, as the death knell of Western Civilisation, brought on by the degradation of society through party politics, of which the Australian House of (Non) Representatives, is an odious example,
    The condition of politics in the West bears out the observation of Napoleon;
    “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap”.

  • Botswana O’Hooligan

    Yairs Lewis, am but a novice aviator for I spent just on 55 years at it only until something better came along and it nothing better did so I retired. Many of those years were as a corporate bloke and many of the “many” were spent living and working in Russia. My Buk info (NATO code “Gainful”) comes from a SIL who did his Nasho as a missile technician. That ceiling of the MAS aeroplane would be 41,000′ when light, my corporate steed 51,000′ that of a Buc about 46,000′ but no matter, for if you depressurise you have to head down to the weeds at 14,000 or below and liable to meet your 72 virgins or their equivalent if you go within Cooee of those places. The various military organisations used to track overflying aeroplanes for missile operator practice hence the mention of those supposedly shot down by mistake, and for what it’s is worth the professional middle class Russians I know, including my wife, don’t like Putin or what he has done one bit but I sometimes wonder if they view those crooked politicians on both sides through rose coloured glasses for the ordinary person has no inkling of just how crooked they are. Me, I wouldn’t give the Ukrainians even a sling shot, just humanitarian aid for the onlookers and the cannon fodder being harmed and killed don’t deserve their political masters

  • vickisanderson

    “I still think it was the air traffic controllers who allowed MH-17 to fly over a war zone in the first place who were mainly the ones at fault. The Ukrainians had been bombing the Donbass region for years and the separatists were assuming that anything coming over them was a bomber.”
    The tragic MH17 incident reminded my husband and I of our first OS trip when flying QANTAS to Europe in 1980. We were somewhere in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf at night when my husband, sitting on a window seat, noticed a series of apparent explosions out of the darkness of the land below. Next thing, he was astonished to see what he identified as a MIG fighter ( or such) flying adjacent to our airliner. He summoned a “hostie” passing by to draw her attention to it, whereupon she blithely told him it was “just a storm”, and to immediately put his blind down, please! Young innocents that we were at the time, we put it out of our minds, but on our return to Oz some 6 weeks later, our QANTAS flight flew a quite different route across the Middle East than was customary. We know this because our pilot confessed, after a brutal landing in Damascus, that this was not an accustomed port of call and the conditions were not particularly conducive to good landings at night.

    The point is – even all that time ago, QANTAS had the good sense to change their normal route to avoid potential catastrophic incidents above a war zone.

  • vickisanderson

    “Me, I wouldn’t give the Ukrainians even a sling shot, just humanitarian aid for the onlookers and the cannon fodder being harmed and killed don’t deserve their political masters”.

    Ditto, Botswana. The average guy in the street does not even seem to realise that the struggle over the sovereignty of eastern Ukraine has been going on for over a decade with huge loss of life. It is hardly a new development.

    I have always thought that this issue can only be addressed through diplomacy by ceding the Russian speaking zones east of the Dneiper River to Russia. And the implicit agreement of the Minsk II accord that no part of Ukraine would be permitted to join NATO should be enforced. Minsk I & II seem to me to have failed because these realpolitik did not prevail. Sometimes it must, Tony.

  • Peter Marriott

    Thanks Adam J, so Putin was right.
    I wonder if he was aware of the distinction ??

  • Brian Boru

    “Russia can be condemned for resorting to war but the Americans, Europeans and Ukrainians must also be condemned for pushing Russia toward war.” Says rosross.

    Ukrainians being slaughtered, their country being obliterated, their livelihoods eliminated and somehow it’s their fault? Sorry but I only see an aggressor killing innocent people and children.

  • Adam J

    It’s general good to cut rosross’ sentences in half.

  • simonbenson65

    The woke, weak West – especially Europe – is largely to blame as we wallow in useless non issues like “gender” and “inclusion”. Xi and Putin sit back and look at the West wasting away from the metastasising cancer within of cultural Marxism. Unless, as Abbott argues, we get real about the threat to world peace posed by Russian and Chinese expansionist plans, we won’t need to wait long before war is on our door step. Meanwhile, has-beens like Rudd and Keating describe calling China a threat as ‘creating an enemy where there isn’t one.’ Like all left leaning CCP apologists, including that maniac of a Victorian Premier, they have been wrong about China at every turn.

  • mike2

    Tony Abbotts “understanding” of the history of the Ukraine..is not even “lite”

    “Jacques Baud is a former colonel of the General Staff, ex-member of the Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist on Eastern countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He has served as Policy Chief for United Nations Peace Operations. As a UN expert on rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional UN intelligence unit in the Sudan. He has worked for the African Union and was for 5 years responsible for the fight, at NATO, against the proliferation of small arms.

    https://www.thepostil.com/the-military-situation-in-the-ukraine/

  • andrew2

    Thank you mike2 for that link. It is an intelligent, informed and balanced appraisal of the situation, though it confirms that we ain’t always the good guys and that false flags occur. Some readers of Quadrant might require a “trigger warning” about that, so I’m offering it to them here.

  • Claude James

    Mr Abbott has many excellent qualities.
    Now, as has been noted all through written and oral history, all great men have their flaws.
    In my view, Mr Abbott ought to get himself up-to-date in various ways, so that his contribution to Australia, as the great man that he is, would be more generally and specifically beneficial.
    Australia urgently requires knowledgeable, smart, experienced, and exceedingly tough leaders.
    For this, persons of Mr Abbott’s general calibre and experience must stop pandering to those denizens who basically want to laugh their way through life, and hope for the best, while doing squat to establish a new, viable Australia in a new Western fashion.

  • Sindri

    Thanks Mike2. Let’s spend a few moments on some critical scrutiny of that site., shall we? First, the deliberately nebulous CV: “specialist on Eastern countries”, “trained in the American and British intelligence services”, “policy chief for UNited Nations Peace Operations”. What “intelligence services”? Which “United Nations Peace operations”? A real CV is precise. This one is airy assertion. Doesn’t it raise any alarm bells?
    Then we get to the piece itself. First, the author legitimises the 2014 referendum without acknowledging that it is universally regarded, on sound evidence, as fraudulent. But it gets much worse. The statement that in 2020 40% of the Ukrainian army consisted of foreign mercenaries is utter bunkum. Notably, the hyperlinked Reuters article that is supposed to be the source for this statement says no such thing. Another thing that gives the game away is the laughable attempt to legitimise the hijacking of RyanAir flight FR4978. What does that tell you? The allegation about Roman Protasevich is said to come form a “revealing investigation by an NGO”. It sounds very important until you click on the link and discover that the “NGO” is some ragbag website and the “research” is an article written by “anonymous”. All of a piece with the puffery of the CV. And Protasevich is said to be fine because “those who would like to correspond with him, can go on his Twitter account”. I mean, really.
    A central plank of this drivel, which faithfully parrots Russian propaganda, is that the Ukrainian armed forces are substantially composed of right-wing extremists. That’s utter bilge. At the time of the disbandment of the so-called “azov batallion in 2014, it had about 900 members. That stuff alone should be enough to take this article with a complete salt grinder.
    Don’t be so credulous.

  • Sindri

    I should add that even a little googling discloses that Mr Baud says that the chemical attacks in Douma and elsewhere were not carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s forces; that Navalny was poisoned by the Mafia; and the Skripals may well have suffered from food poisoning, rather than novichok. Enough said.

  • Adam J

    Russia created, armed, and trained the militias that have taken over Eastern Ukraine. They are nothing more than bandits and their leaders are warlords. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the people really want it. Ukraine has a right to take back its territory from the hands of rebels. Russia can in no sense be the victim or the guardian.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Sometimes it is refreshing to talk to a few Russians and Ukrainians about all this.
    Its better than flying over the country or knowing the ceiling of the Buk missile.
    Putin’s narrative is that freedom loving Russians who are in a majority should now join the Mother Russia, even if they don’t know they are being discriminated against.
    Australia is a great source of Russian ex pats.
    Speaking to one such recently he, a Russian born national, moved to the Ukraine then to Australia.
    Ukraine used be the equivalent of Hong Kong to the PRC.
    Now that more than one million were internally refugees and now 4.5 million entering nearby countries Putin will no doubt have kept the narrative alive.
    Once Ukraine is part of Mother Russia then all the other peoples who misguidedly left need be freed as well.
    What else can an honest dictator do but free them by invading Moldovia Latvia, why not Poland?
    After all, the Russian army already knows the way.

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