News & Views , No 6, 26 Feb – 4 March, P 1. ‘Echoes of WWII’.
This is the headline of the week’s events. The Russians have chosen to invade the Ukraine, after lying about this and other matters. Russia’s leaders must be worrying about two things. The first is the hard opposition that the Ukranian people are providing and the second is the widespread opposition of the Russian people.
‘Vladimir Putin’s invasion forces were closing in on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv amid missile strikes on the city’s outskirts, as President Volodymyr Zelensky worried he was ‘target number 1’ in a Russian plan to decapitate to his government’.
The AFR headline was ‘Putin goes for broke’. Yes he has, although his hordes seem to have taken time to get set. Is it possible that his generals don’t like his plans? It is also reported that Russians in many cities are opposed to their Master’s (in my view demented) plans.
Australia’s Scott Morrison seems to be trying to provide extra war machines and good on him. I was greatly impressed with Penny Wong’s interview in the 9 am Sunday entertainment. She gets my vote and her disciplined performance will help Labor’s election chances, perhaps substantially.
The Australian, Monday, 28 Feb, P 11,‘Ukraine offers us a lesson in courage and resistance’.
Rory Medcalf’s fine article is well worth a read. ‘The world offers Ukraine a staggering debt’.
‘In an age when we disparage democratic societies for their cynicism, fracturing and trivial self-absorption, the people of Ukraine are redefining freedom and what it means to fight for it.
‘This should resonate as much in Australia as in any other country that respects human dignity and the sovereignty of nations’. …
And in conclusion: ‘Much has been achieved to modernise our military, but in recent years to harden infrastructure but Australia remains at an embarrassing fraction of its potential in being able to mobilise for survival in a world where war cannot be wished away’.
The AFR features Alexander Downer. ‘Australia and the West need to toughen up if they want to preserve the liberal democratic system’. Full article, P 39.
The Australian, March 1, P1, ‘Nuke alert: Putin raises stakes’.
‘Vladimir Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert, stoking tensions with the West, as Ukranian officials vowed they would not give up ‘one inch of our territory’ in the first diplomatic talks with Russia since Moscow launched its invasion last Thursday’.
Presumably qualified soldiers must know how to unwrap the Nuclear weapons, but Putin must know USA and various other western nuclear bombs can be unwrapped and thrown into the fray. This of course would destroy civilisation as we know it.
The chatter said Putin started his invasion with green soldiers, as an excuse for the Ukranian ability to hold the line at Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Presumably, if this is honest (and I would think it is just bullshit), the Russians should start winning soon. Western nations, including Australia, have strengthened the ‘financial and strategic’ shutdowns for Russia, and several countries are buying weapons and bullets.
Also on P1, Greg Sheridan says ‘Ogre goes rogue by raising spectre of nuclear weapons.’
Another serious concern is the record rain and flooding from half way down the Queensland coast, and inland, and likely to continue into NSW. Rains and flooding so far are the most severe in modern times. One thing we can do is to wish people’s insurance is in place (and paid) and/or government funds get to where it is needed. Experts say it will take months and probably years to restore houses and other features of large and small infrastructure.
I must salute Rory Medcalf, with his P11 commentary: ‘Ukraine offers us a lesson in courage and resistance’.
Two key paras. ‘… a lesson of Ukraine is that no nation knows its mettle until it faces a foreign state determined to subjugate it entirely’.
‘Much has been achieved in recent years to harden our infrastructure and minimise our military, but Australia remains at an embarrassing fraction of its potential in being able to mobilise for survival in a world where a war cannot be wished away.’
The AFR presents its excellent summary of various financial and economic issues. Just now I heard that the last quarter of 2021 had economic growth of 3.4 % - almost a Chinese number.
It reports the collapse of the rouble, a doubling of cash interest rates to 20 % (from a ‘mere’ 9.5%) and takes 250 billion off market assets. Before long, Russia will have a wrecked economy.
I remain totally against the RBA’s 0.1 cash interest rates. This will be a major mistake in due course.
The Oz, March 2, P 11, Paul Kelly. ‘A pact to exploit the weakness of the West’.
He starts with China: ‘Australia’s management of an assertive China has just got more difficult – the consequences of Russia's push against Ukraine and the alignment of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping is a compact that threatens liberal democracies and increases the risk of military interventions’.
And in conclusion: ‘Ukraine may yet become a rallying point for a sea change in Europe and the US, a recognition that will require that a new struggle is underway that will require vigilance, resolution, Western unity and a change of cultural sentiment in public life’.
‘We shall see.’
AFR, Also March 2, Headline, ‘Russia closes in on Kyiv’.
‘Russian forces have intensified attacks on Ukraine as they battle to overcome strong local resistance, with a column of armoured vehicles outside Kyiv now more than 50 kilometres, and allegations of the use of illegal bombs designed to inflict causalities against civilians, a potential war crime’.
The Oz, March 3, P1, ‘Freedom will win’, Mr Biden’s first State of the Union address.
‘Russian airborne troops launched an assault on Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, waging fierce gun battles with defenders, as Joe bidon praised the ‘iron will’ of the Ukranian people in the face of Russia’s ‘premeditated and unprovoked’ attack.
Another P1 story says ‘Global scramble for Australian coal’.
But the big story is what happens if China decides that now is the time to annex Taiwan. We would be far more involved with a far stronger opponent than is the case in Europe.
Greg Sheridan’s P 11 piece starts with; ‘Joe Bidan’s speech was no match for Zelensky’s but the US has managed to rally allies for Kyiv’.
I watched snippets of President Biden’s speech and thought the snippets were better than the opinion of critical watchers, though I did see examples of both Democrats and Republican men and women clapping Mr Biden with vigor.
Peta Credlin asked a key question: ‘Would we stand and fight like Ukraine?’
Possibly not, is the answer, unless we get military men and women trained and properly, spend far more GDP to prepare for a big fight.
AFR, P 47, by John Kehoe, ‘Russia’s war is a wake-up call on Australia’s China risk’.
‘Indeed, just as Europe grapples with its economic dependence on Russia, Australia would be far more exposed to dire economic and other consequences if China were to try to take Taiwan’.
And the editorial of the AFR says, P 44, ‘RBA must not deviate from interest rate rise.’
Hear, hear is my unsurprising comment.
A snippet near the end: ‘Cheap money pumps up asset prices, distorts capital flows and increases financial risk. Like fiscal policy maxed out by debt funded pandemic stimulus, monetary stimulus has been pushed beyond useful limits. Sustained prosperity creating high-paying jobs in thriving enterprises now requires the full-blooded structural tax and workplace reforms that neither Labor nor the Coalition will back in an election year’.
The Oz, Friday 4 March, P 11, ‘Resilience in times of war and flood’.
This is the editorial of today’s issue. Discussing the macro event – Russia vs Ukraine and Australia’s massive floods. Both developments greatly discombobulate relevant people involved. Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine’s people is absolutely disgraceful, and I strongly believe NATO, or the USA or the EC (or a group of such groups) should enter the fray to send Russia’s hordes back to their nation in disgrace.
The Australian dilemma reflects years of lack of water control. New dams, fresh help for people washed out of their houses and general work on making excess water less damaging is needed. Just as bushfires needs fresh preparation.
AFR, Friday 4 March, P 39, Philip Coorey. ‘Labor’s done the right thing in backing the government on Ukraine. But this also underscores how mindful the party is that it can still lose it from now’.
Gentle readers, do let me know if this way of doing things is useful.
Fiona Prior sees 'The Batman' , but can't stop thinking about the plight of Ukraine. More here.