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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Russia surprised the United States at the G-8 Summit

By Peter Schwarz

 The G-8 Summit in Germany last week was considered by many as nothing but a hollow show—something that had nothing to do with the plight of the vast majority of the world population. From the environment to poverty in Africa, nothing of substantial importance came out of the summit. Conflicts like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Dafur were purposely ignored, allowing G-8 leaders to enjoy their promenades along the sandy beach of northern Germany and to display their idyllic photos: Bush, Merkel and Putin sitting relaxed and chatting in beach chairs; Sarkozy and Blair talking over a glass of beer etc… Below is an excerpt of an important article written by Peter Schwartz, journalist of WS. Russian President Vladimir Putin used the summit for a diplomatic maneuver. Prior to the summit, he had vehemently protested against the planned stationing of a US missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, even threatening to aim Russian missiles at Europe and risk a new cold war. But he surprised the summit with a proposal to station a joint US-Russian missile defense system in Azerbaijan.The proposal has little chance of realization and has already been rejected by American defense experts. In the US, Putin’s proposal has been interpreted in some quarters as a retreat, because up to now the Russian president has categorically rejected any sort of missile defense system.From Putin’s standpoint, however, the initiative is aimed at gaining time and winning support in Europe, where he has been rather isolated in recent months. He stressed that if his proposal were carried out, it would protect all of Europe, and that hostile missiles intercepted by the system would crash into the sea, rather than in the middle of the European continent.Moreover, by embracing the idea of a missile defense system in principle, and proposing that it be based in Central Asia and be developed as a joint US-Russian project, he was, in effect, calling Washington’s bluff. The US has insisted that its plan, which calls for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, is not aimed at Russia, but rather at “rogue states” such as Iran. This, as is well known by all, is a subterfuge. The essential purpose of the US plan is to contain Russia and tip the military balance of nuclear forces against it.With his counter-plan, which, at least on the surface, appears to have logic on its side—assuming that Iran is really the threat to be contained—Putin wants to put Bush on the defensive and expose the real aims of the American plan. His proposal evidently caught the US delegation off-guard. Indeed, Bush skipped the next morning’s session of the summit, claiming a sudden illness.Behind the harmonious front at Heiligendamm—some critics are already referring to the “Scheinheiligendamm” summit, (i.e., the summit of hypocrisy)—the conflicts and tensions that dominated the run-up to the meeting are deepening. The more controversial and divisive issues—the Iraq war, the attitude to Iran, the Middle East conflict—were completely excluded from the main discussion and merely mentioned in passing.On the most pressing economic question on the agenda—state supervision of hedge funds—the world leaders failed to come to an agreement. The US and Britain blocked any agreement, refusing even to consider a voluntary code of conduct for hedge funds. These highly speculative funds, which have the potential of unleashing financial chaos across the globe, will continue to manipulate billions, free of any sort of regulatory control.The summit in Heiligendamm has done nothing to assuage the fundamental conflicts between the great powers. The growing tensions between the US, Europe and Russia that formed the background to the summit will inevitably intensify. They have their origin in the fundamental incompatibility of the national state system with modern global production. The rapid rise of new economic giants in the form of China and India only serves to increase the competition for raw materials, cheap labor and markets.Russia is no longer prepared to accept the aggressive intervention of the US and NATO in Eastern Europe and the former republics of the Soviet Union. This is what lies behind the bitter exchanges over the US anti-missile system. For their part, European countries are not prepared to concede to American domination of the Middle and Far East. This is the driving force behind the attempts to develop a common European foreign policy and military strike force.In the long run, these conflicts cannot be resolved through peaceful means. Only the reorganization of the global economy on a socialist basis can prevent the eruption of a new epoch of world war.Also see The world’s disenfranchised population has shunned the G-8 summit in Germany this weekend

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