In his latest column, DAN CASS says Australians are realising that APEC will not stop climate change.
They understand the Kyoto Protocol is the real deal, even if they are hazy on the details. Gentlemen’s agreements for nations to reduce emissions are as useless as voluntary ‘rules’ to stop big polluters dumping poison in a river, or the global atmosphere.
But what is not yet clear is how the September leaders’ meeting in Sydney is a smokescreen for other, non-ecological threats to pax suburbia.
The nineteenth century struggle between Britain and Russia over control of Afghanistan and its neighbourhood was referred to as The Great Game, in polite company. Peter Hartcher describes the current regional game in The Diplomat this month, ‘the world has never seen the rise of new great power without war. Yet today we see the rise of two great powers in China and India.’ While John Howard is promoting his impending world leadership gala, China and India are mixing it up with fellow nuclear gang member Russia, and its aspiring homies, Iran and the ‘Stans, in the woefully under-reported Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
The SCO arose in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, to demilitarize the border between its successor states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan) and China. Western experts said it was not important.
In 2001, the organization added Uzbekistan and renamed itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Mongolia won observer status in 2004 and Iran, Pakistan, and India became observers in 2005. The SCO proclaimed its intention to fight terrorism and Western experts said it was now a bit important, but not in a military sense.
Then earlier this month, SCO heads of state met in Kyrgyzstan at a joint-military exercise involving fighter jets, helicopters and about 6000 troops, called ‘Peace Mission 2007’. Russian President Putin proclaimed regular flights by ‘strategic’ bombers, deep outside Russian airspace in the Pacific and Europe. In this context, ‘strategic’ is policy-wonk for ‘carrying, or able to carry, nuclear weapons over vast distances for the purpose of killing tens of millions of innocent civilians’. But ‘strategic’ is more relaxed and comfortable.
None of the experts are saying that Russia actually intends to bomb anyone, or even load nukes on the bombers, but you do not build strategic weapons out of a DIY urge. As APEC’s architect, former PM Paul Keating pointed out last week, war is a looming cloud over our region and, ‘The nuclear genie which was set free in 1945 can now be possessed by any number of half-competent states.’
Nuclear weapons are the biggest bling that can be bought, in the gang war known as the international system of states. Uranium is the only absolute constraint on bomb building and selling it to the SCO proper, or fellow-travelers like India, is an invitation to proliferate nukes.
While APEC is run on the eBay model – if you got it, sell it – the real ‘strategic’ game is being played out elsewhere. Lets hope none of the Aussie uranium that home-boy Downer pimps at APEC ever rains down in a mushroom cloud over New Delhi, Taipei, Tokyo or Sydney. Until then, be alert not alarmed old chums, your government is here to protect you. Trade is peace.
Dan Cass works for Greenpeace. These are his own personal views.
image : https://www.2gb.com/