Thirty years ago, then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and United States president Ronald Reagan agreed that the then Soviet controlled territory of East Germany could be reunited with the western sector of the country, then known as West Germany. In exchange for this Soviet gesture, Reagan promised that NATO “would not advance one inch to the East.” History convincingly reveals that the Reagan promise was totally worthless, broken by each of his successors.
When confronted with their duplicity, the Americans did not disagree the promise had been made, but that they did not consider it binding because “it was only an oral agreement” and had not been written down. The Americans have apparently never learned of, or certainly did not believe, the old adage that an Englishman’s word is his bond.
It was not the first promise that the Americans had broken and it may be safely assumed that it will not be the last. Even the claim that things would be different if it had been reduced to writing is completely hollow. The Americans have no compunction about breaking written agreements when they decide that it is in their interests to do so. They seem completely unable to grasp the damage that this does to their reputation for reliability. They proceed in their own way regardless.
The issue of the reliability of what the Americans say has come into sharp relief in respect of their behaviour in two countries or territories, that of Ukraine in Europe and Taiwan in the Far East. The case of Ukraine is a classic illustration of the American tendency to disregard actual history and seek to impose their own version of events. Eight years ago, the American political operative Victoria Nuland was the principal organiser of the coup that overthrew the legitimately elected government in Kiev and replaced it with what can only be described as a horror regime.
The government in Kiev is frankly fascist in its outlook and practices which included the total disregard for the obligations implicit in any agreement that it is a party to. Eight years ago, the Ukrainian government was party to an agreement aimed at resolving the problem created by the declared independence of two of its eastern regions, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
The other parties to the agreement were Germany and France. Ukrainians have never abided by the terms of that agreement and have waged war against the breakaway eastern regions. What is perhaps the worst feature of this horror story is that the Ukrainian government’s disregard for its promises has been tolerated by both France and Germany. Those two governments adopt a “holier than thou” approach to this overt disregard of international obligations. Not the least worst of the features of this betrayal is that it has allowed the Ukrainians to wage war against a section of its own population. This has so far resulted in the death of more than 10,000 people, among them many innocent women and children.
The chances of those two breakaway regions, overwhelmingly Russian speaking, ever reuniting with Ukraine is vanishingly small. They have in fact been becoming progressively closer to Russia where they enjoy the right to live and work. None of this of course is designed to improve the Ukrainian government’s state of mind toward Russia.
One of the more outstanding hypocritical features of this impasse has been the conduct of the Americans. They have spent billions of dollars on the Ukrainian army and done virtually nothing to foster a practical resolution of the conflict. For far too many Americans, what is happening in Ukraine is the extension of their undeclared war against Russia.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown remarkable tolerance for the United States’ constant waging of war in the region. He has finally declared a limit to NATO’s expansion, declaring that Ukraine must never become a member of NATO, an aspiration the country clearly subscribes to. NATO, through its outgoing Secretary General Stoltenberg has declared that it is none of Russia’s business whether or not Ukraine joins NATO. The comment is very revealing. It not only personifies NATO’s total disregard for the sensitivity of Russia towards the prospect of having a manifestly hostile organisation right on its borders. It also is a clear statement that NATO goes ahead without regard for the consequences of its actions. In a sense it is but a continuation of the original expansion of NATO following the reunification of Germany. They see their own wishes as paramount and to hell with the consequences upon other nations caught in the process.
Similar United States disregard for its promises may be seen in its attitude toward the Chinese territory of Taiwan. Officially, the United States recognises that Taiwan is an integral part of China. In practice however, it treats Taiwan as an independent state. The invitation to Taiwan to attend their recent massive public relations exercise with another hundred plus nations perfectly illustrates the point, as does the continuing sale of United States military equipment to Taiwan, and the recently publicly disclosed fact that United States military personnel are in Taiwan “training” the local military forces for a confrontation with China.
The United States has also recently permitted the opening of a Taiwan information agency in the United States. That none of this conduct is consistent with the official “one China” policy they profess to support seems not to bother them one little bit. As with Ukraine, United States policy seems to be, we will do as we wish and if that upsets the neighbours, China and Russia, then too bad.
It is in fact a classic manifestation of the attitude that they can do what they like in other countries who may be affected by this policy will just have to grin and bear it. The policy is of course disastrous, whether applied to Russian tolerance for its activities in Ukraine or for Chinese tolerance of its behaviour toward Taiwan. In both cases the policy seems designed to result in a physical clash, which in the worst-case scenario could be a nuclear war.
Such an outcome would be disastrous for all mankind, although the Americans, as represented by the recent comments of one United States Senator, seems to think that such a war could be fought and won by the United States. It is such disastrously ill-consideration of the reality that has seen the United States continuously misjudge the political realities in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to name but three of their more recent geopolitical disasters.
The United States seems singularly incapable of learning from these disasters. They seem determined to add both Ukraine and Taiwan to the list of failures. The real question may be whether or not the world can afford to allow this repeated geopolitical bungling to go on.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.