Chapter 82 – Life Story, Conclusion
BETWEEN FIVE WORLDS: CHINA, RUSSIA, JAPAN, PERU AND AUSTRALIA.
BETWEEN FOUR CAREERS and FIVE LANGUAGES
1. Sino-Indian Dispute
5. Korea (and Vietnam)
6. Yugoslavia and Serbia
7. NATO Pretexts
8. The Vicious Circle
9. Anglo-Saxon ‘Values’
10.Khrushchev-anti Cold War
More than sixty years, spent in five continents, gaining fluency in three difficult languages, and dealings with a multitude of people – from power brokers in the Kremlin and Zhou Enlai with ping-pong players to house cleaners in Hong Kong and neoNazis in Ukraine.
Here in Japan in semi-retirement (and in semi-exile), on a very green hill looking out over a very blue Pacific, it all seems rather distant. Even so I feel we are headed in a dangerous direction, where democracy becomes more dangerous than autocracy and wars become permanent.
Democracy requires votes. Votes require funds. The funds from the military/industrial complex will go to the party which seems to be best able to invent enemies. The incentive to find or create enemies and then go to war is great.
In fact war has become so easy to promote and so profitable, that the complex now funds both sides in democracies, to make sure the wars continue. War has become permanent, the pressure to find or create enemies unending. And that is the situation we find today
It is a process that can only end in Armageddon.
It is something that remains constant throughout my career.
1.The Sino-Indian Dispute. My first job as a novice foreign affairs official was to study the 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict. We had the facts, and the maps. It was clear India was trying to push into Chinese-claimed Himalayan territory as part of Nehru’s openly announced Forward policy.
He was angry over the way China had occupied Tibet, where he believed India had traditional rights.
In October,1962, and despite repeated warnings from the Chinese side, India had moved troops across the line of actual control (LAC) separating the two sides in the Thagla Ridge area. It was also making forays elsewhere across the LAC.
At first China had responded with pleas for restraint. But the Thagla Ridge incident went too far. China decided to send in troops.
Then after giving India a lesson, China withdrew its troops precisely back to the line of control which India had violated and where the fighting had started.
With wounded pride New Delhi then set about expelling all Chinese from India and looking for allies in the West.
Border clashes have continued ever since with still-miffed India later joining with Canberra and Tokyo in the anti-China Quad.
Throughout all this we had the evidence needed to prove that India had attacked China first.
But the Cold War bureaucrats said No: China had made an unprovoked attack against India.
And so with the help of a compliant media, a lazy academia, and a biased bureaucracy the myth was created that said not even a friendly, peace-loving India was safe from an aggressive, expansionist China.
That myth later was to do much to persuade policy makers and policy influencers to encourage intervention in the Vietnam War.
The lesson? Disputes often have origins going back decades. The distortion of their results can stay with us for ever.
2. Vietnam For me at the time the Vietnam War with its daily gloating accounts of bomber raids and body counts was the defining experience.
It was then I realised there were no limits to the brutality the US side would use to win its interventions. Without US help the pro-Hanoi Vietnamese would have had no trouble defeating the corrupt and unpopular government in Saigon. Initially the Vietcong alone could have done that.
No, said the Cold War bureaucrats. The Vietnamese population favoured Saigon but for some reason would not fight for Saigon. So we had to do the fighting for them.
And so it continued – bright shining lie after bright shining lie, fiction after fiction, with much of the world impervious to the cruelty that would descend on this small Asian nation for ten long years.
I tried in vain to introduce the idea of an ‘enclave solution’ for the war.
I knew how a primeval fear of China had led Australia into that war. I spent a year producing a book – In Fear of China – trying to dispel the fear, but whose main effect was to give the UK-Australian establishment the pleasure of seeking to derail its publication.
A Vietnam side-bar had been the ugly British moves in the immediate postwar years. Having left defeat of the Nazi enemy mainly to the Soviets, the UK was keen to find some postwar action to justify its place in the postwar world. So it joined with the French their colonialist Vietnam War, and set about the cruel suppression of the local Chinese who had bravely resisted the Japanese in Malaya and had been promised some political freedom by the UK as a reward – a promise quickly forgotten.
I hope it is proud of that record. The tactics of the British for that successful suppression in Malaya were much used to convince the US and Australian bureaucracies the same tactics would work in Vietnam.
3. Afghanistan 2001-2021 in Afghanistan saw the Cold War enemy creation machine out of control.
A proud nation which the Soviets had done much to help modernise (see attached photo) was reduced to abject poverty and backwardness first by the supply of US lethal arms to Islamist guerrillas and then by direct US (and Australia) military intervention against the very same Islamists they had armed.
It began as a ten year anti-Soviet, Cold War exercise. After the 9.11 attacks, the ‘war-on-terror’ excuse allowed the bureaucrats and military/industrial complex to extend the war for another ten years.
‘War on terror’ gave the complex a bonus via a war with Iraq. This time the lies were so blatant that even amateurs could see through them.
Then just as that bonus was about to end, Yemen and the badly delayed Russian reaction to the US-backed 2014 coup in Ukraine provided a bonanza for the military/industrial complex – a bonanza which it is determined to extend by provoking a war with China.
Failing that, a war with North Korea.
Hopefully the Chinese will have enough sense not to be provoked. Their innate dislike of war is an antidote we warlike Westerners could use.
The North Koreans, unfortunately, will be obliterated
4. Ukraine. Anyone following the escalation of events in Ukraine would realise Moscow’s position: it had been deceived by the 2014-5 Minsk Accords which were supposed to protect the large Russian-speaking population in Donbas from the tender mercies of NATO-trained and armed ‘neoNazi’ brigade attacks after the US-backed 2014 Maidan coup.
UN figures show 8,000 Russian speakers killed in the first year after 2014 events. The total was 18,000 killed in the eight years before Moscow’s 2022 intervention, an intervention finally triggered by Ukraine’s plan to send its NATO-trained army in to occupy the remaining areas of the Donbas provinces of Donetsk and and Luhansk they had not already invaded.
The fact that both provinces had been promised autonomy under the Minsk Accords was not allowed to bother the consciences of the NATO generals and bureaucrats. As for the Western media, the less said about its Ukraine ignorance the better…
That Moscow’s badly needed and badly delayed intervention to stop the massacre of Russian speakers in Ukraine is invariably described as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, even by Moscow supporters, shows how little this background is understood. Moscow’s intervention only became an invasion after the NATO intervention.
And now we have the almost desperate Western attempts to link the Taiwan conflict with Ukraine in the hope that one war will lead to another, and the profits to the military/
industrial complex will escalate further.
Meanwhile the Japan, which I had known and respected in its early pacifistic postwar years, has gradually moved back to its militaristic roots. Its use of the abductee issue to demonise North Korea shows it retains its prewar liking for sustained mendacity. Its inability to compete with China’s economy underlies its militaristic cooperation with the West.
Other formative events go back to the British 1953 attempt to takeover the Suez Canal plus the record of British or French colonialism in Asia.
5. Korea (and Vietnam). 1950-75 Later I was forced to look at the reality of the 1950-53 Korean War. It was similar to the later 1964-75 Vietnam War: both countries were artificially divided by the West and with governments seeking reunification.
The US imposition of a rightwing regime in South Korea also matched events in South Vietnam, with both regimes relying on US backing to execute or assassinate thousands of their citizens for the ‘crime’ of having turned leftwing or pro-Hanoi in their struggle to oppose the former Japanese colonialists (in North Korea) or French and US forces (in South Vietnam) respectively.
As in Vietnam, the cruel, corrupt South Korean regime had to depend almost entirely on US military power to resist its more strongly supported rival in the North.
And as in Vietnam, a biassed media had no trouble insisting that the North was guilty of unprovoked aggression even though in both cases the South was also planning to attack the North. Unification of the country was an early stated US and UN goal, and a declared US goal again when in late 1950 when it seemed to be winning in Korea.
And as in Vietnam, the military intervention by the North in Korea was also justified by the need to end the killings in the South.
Somehow the North Korean forces, denied the massive air power available to the US and lacking the jungle cover in Vietnam, managed with Chinese help to end the war with a draw.
Then with only a pause after the Korean War we were into the Vietnam War and its US-inspired horrors – massive B52 carpet bombing, the CIA assassination Phoenix Program, Agent Orange, tiger cages and prisoners dumped from helicopters, etc., etc. Fortunately, and after exposure to Korean War realities (the ruthlessly massive bombing of all towns and countryside), most US allies preferred not to be involved, apart from a China-obsessed Australia and a blood-thirsty South Korean military.
Here use of jungle cover ended with a win to Hanoi, despite lack of air superiority.
US defeat in Vietnam and the Kissinger initiative in China did much to cure the bureaucratic hawk-military/industrial complex war hunger in Asia. But that was soon to be replaced by US involvement in the former Yugoslavia.
6. Yugoslavia and Serbia Tensions in that multi-cultural, multi-religious nation had long provided the opportunity for meddling by US, UK and German hawks.
And they succeeded, with much killing – Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia.
That left Serbia. Part of its multi-cultural heritage had been to allow migration of Albanians to its large southern province of Kosovo, to the point where they could demand autonomy, which was granted.
But for the Albanian extremists that was not enough. With Western arms they set out to expel the original Serbian population and other minorities, plus the symbols of Serbia’s cultural heritage. They wanted an all Albanian state.
When the Serbians objected, with force to match the force of the Western-armed Albanian extremists, they were bombed by NATO in 1999, ruthlessly, for 78 days.
The NATO members at the time included a Germany which only a generation or two earlier had sent its Nazi armies to invade and slaughter Serbians. They were bombing one of the few European nations which had had the courage to stand up against Nazi Germany, and had paid a dreadful price for doing so.
That illegal (non-UN approved) NATO attack included bombing of crucial infrastructure, destruction of a nascent car industry and the killing of employees in the national broadcasting organisation.
The Chinese embassy was also hit with a floor-penetrating bomb probably aimed to kill Chinese experts examining the remains of a captured US stealth fighter in the Embassy basement.
The NATO excuse for this mayhem? The claimed sufferings of the Albanian population in Kosovo province even though such sufferings as there were came as a result of attacks on Serbians by the Albanian extremists. It had culminated in a cynically encouraged, very temporary, but highly media publicised exodus of some Albanians to provide the excuse for the subsequent NATO attack.
7. NATO pretexts. By any standard the 1999 bombing of Serbia was a war crime. Even NATO seemed to realise it had to create pretexts.
In a bid to justify the planned bombing crime, the Serbians were offered the Rambouillet draft agreement over Kosovo. But that called for free movement of NATO troops throughout Serbia.
Even Kissinger said ‘it was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.’
Henry Kissinger, The Daily Telegraph, 28 June 1999.
The historian Christopher Clark supports this view, saying that the terms of the 1914 Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia appeared lenient compared to the NATO demands.
A former staffer on the State Department’s Yugoslavia desk, George Kenney, reported in May 1999 that a senior State Department official had briefed journalists off the record that “[we] deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept”.
For the Serbs, the Rambouillet agreement would have meant signing away all Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo. It was not even a “take it or leave it” proposition, as Secretary of State Albright emphasised back in February 1999; rather, it was “sign it or get bombed.” There were, in fact, no negotiations at all.
It was an excuse to bomb Serbia into submission so the West could expand its zone of domination in the Balkans.
For as soon as Serbia was forced by the bombing to agree to independence for Kosovo the US set about creating yet another base, Camp Bondsteel, to add to its 800 plus bases around the globe
In 2024 NATO was to resume military interventions, this time in Ukraine.
This time it claimed the need to counter claimed Moscow ‘aggression’ for having sent in troops to stop ‘neoNazi’ Ukrainian forces seeking to crush the autonomy for the Russian-speaking majority in Donbas promised under the UN-approved 2014-5 Minsk Accords.
The NATO, which had ignored earlier ‘neoNazi’ abuse against the Minsk Accords, had decided that Moscow had no right to try to stop the abuse.
Its intervention continues, to the approval of an ignorant West which has almost no idea of the has been going on.
I speak Russian and have visited Donbas. The blatancy of NATO lies over Ukraine is obvious.
8. The Vicious Circle. And so for almost thirty years we have, in effect, been forced to accept the concept that the West, by virtue of its alleged superior values, can on any spurious pretext order the bombing and destruction of other peoples.
And that the military/industrial complex could enjoy enormous profits as a result – profits that would be used again to encourage more wars in Europe and Asia.
The more we have wars, the greater the wealth and arrogance of the military/industrial complex; the greater the wealth and arrogance of that complex, the more we have wars.
Add the nuclear threat and it is the ultimate vicious circle.
The military/industrial complex has much more than arms-producing wealth going for it.
In one form or another it controls the bulk of our media. It controls the paid politicians and the power-hungry pundits, the pro-war journalists, the system of donors funding pro-war, local base-hungry US congressmen, to the point where even the Democrats among them call for 10-20 percent increases in already bloated Pentagon budget requests, to please the donors
Few dare to vote against these requests.
Now with its amply funded networks of think tanks, fake news sources, biassed commentators, undercover agents – the complex can swing our societies like rag dolls in whatever direction it likes.
The next rag doll to be held up as a so-called ‘existential threat’ could well be North Korea. That it is now nuclear armed to avoid a repeat of the dreadful bombing it suffered in the Korean War is ignored. The Japan’s blatant use of the phoney abductee issue to force collapse of the 2002 normalisation agreements is never mentioned.
Over the years I have seen time and time again – sometimes at a distance, sometimes closeup – how the complex operates. And not just over North Korea but also over China, Hong Kong, Syria, Taiwan, Georgia, Iraq, Ukraine…
9. Anglo-Saxon Values. In trying to fix blame for the ugliness in the world we face something of a dilemma.
This is the fact that the two major nations able to produce non-aggressive leaders are precisely leaders of the two nations we accuse of chronic aggressiveness.
That alone should force us to reconsider who is virtuous and who is not.
The key excuse for the orgy of aggression by the West is the claimed superiority of Western democratic values. But the West includes a number of civilised, war-avoiding nations. So it is not the so-called West which is at fault. Rather it is the small grouping of Anglo-Saxon culture societies – the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand – that has come to dominate the concept of ‘the West.’
There we find most the claims to the right to aggression. Usually they are based on claims to sustain and promote superior democratic values which the grouping says it aims to spread around the world.
In fact the grouping dominates largely through its past murky colonial record based on superiority in arms production. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, its vigorous efforts to promote a Cold War with a weakened Soviet Union also allowed it to claim domination.
Any current pretence of democratic virtue disappears with the events over Ukraine, and with the CIA record of coups and assassinations.
To the drumbeat of that assumed ‘superiority of Western values’, this apology for a second-rate, war-obsessed value system with its biassed media and public ignorance believes it has the right to decide the fate of the world – a world with a much richer history and values that anything we Anglo-saxons have scraped together in the past 200 or so years.
And this apology for a system of values operates with the same logic that it once used to impose slavery and colonialism on much of the rest of the world – the logic of arms superiority
Unfortunately via institutions such as NATO the Anglos have now been able to infect the other Western societies with its aggressive, might-is-right philosophy.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union I had wondered what they would do without a communist enemy, given that Gorbachev was so obviously a progressive who despised war.
I need not have wondered. Our Western warmongers had the answers. They quickly reneged on their NATO non-expansion promises and set out to turn non-communist Russia into an enemy.
The 78 day NATO bombing of Serbia to gain control of Kosovo was one move.The deliberate destruction of Libya was another.
They were proof, if there was no other, of the total lack of any moral superiority in Western values.
Today, my one satisfaction is seeing the harm the Europeans have self-inflicted on their own societies since they now have to take refugees from the Middle Eastern and North African societies they so recklessly destroyed.
10.Khrushchev, anti-Cold War
There was one voice of sanity in this Western-led procession of violence and mendacity. This was Nikita Khrushchev whom I got to see close up in Moscow in 1964.
In the late fifties Khrushchev had begun his first move to end the Cold War, with a call for a Paris conference between the USSR and the leading Western powers.
US hawks set out to disrupt Khrushchev’s plans by reviving U2 spy plane flights over Soviet territory.
But they needed publicity needed for the success of the plan. With a timed bomb in the back of the aircraft, they had arranged so the plane would crash on Russian territory.
The resulting uproar was bound to frustrate Khrushchev’s plans for that Paris conference and for peace with the West.
In bid to recover face with the world and against his Soviet opponents Khrushchev had demanded an Eisenhower apology for the incident. US hawks blocked the apology. The world went back to the Cold War.
(Khrushchev’s further attempts to get rapprochement with Kennedy were sabotaged by the CIA-inspired invasion of Cuba.)
The record of other CIA-US hawk interventions to prevent any easing to East-West tensions is long. One of the first, and least known, was the move to prevent Taiwan leader, Chiang Ching-kuo (1978-88, Chiang Kai-shek’s son), from opening contacts with Mainland China.
More recently we have the US-UK 2022 moves to prevent a settlement in Ukraine.
11. Memory Notes
Before I end, some notes from the scrap-book called my memory.
1. Within weeks of the US being defeated in Vietnam I was a witness to Washington with its Australian allies giving the green light to the Indonesian military to commit similar atrocities against poor, harmless East Timor.
As in the Vietnam war, a China-threat was concocted to serve as the excuse for the atrocity. (The main political force, Fretilin, was supposed to be pro-China.)
On a per population basis, the East Timor atrocity was even worse than that of Vietnam. In terms of moral squalor it had no equal.
2. Ten years earlier the Anglos had looked on or encouraged the massacre of one million allegedly leftwing Indonesians – many of them the people with the education to lay the basis for the industrialisation Indonesia was to lack for the next fifty years.
Once again the excuse for accepting or encouraging the killings was the paranoiac belief they were under Chinese influence.
Another victory for Western values?
3. In Vietnam, the massacre figures reached three million.
To justify its participation in the Vietnam war Canberra repeatedly denounced Hanoi as a Beijing puppet. Was there any apology or explanation from Canberra when it became clear that Vietnam was not a puppet of Beijing?
Of course not. The alleged superiority of Western moral values means you never have to say sorry.
Earlier efforts by myself from Moscow to point out Hanoi’s close relations with the USSR and strained relations with China did not go far against the wall of superimposed ignorance.
4. Over Kosovo I lost an important writing connection (Herald Tribune) by pointing out how BBC reports of the killing off of elderly Serbs in rural villages was being covered up, and that the real ‘ethnic cleansing’ atrocity in Kosovo was the brutal expulsion of the 30 percent Serb population (today it is only 5 percent, crowded into a Serbia-Kosovo buffer zone).
As over Ukraine, BBC real news turned to fake news the moment the UK government decided to get involved on the side of the killers.
The equally cruel expulsion of the Serbian majority in Croatian-held Krajina was barely noticed by our biassed anti-Serb media.
5. Within months of agreeing in 1979 that Taiwan was an integral part of China the US was already planning how separate Taiwan from China and preserve a US military presence there.
Today it claims to be seeking a rules-based world order. But for some reason the rules it accepted in 1979 over Taiwan remain abandoned. Instead it prefers the rules it created for itself with its 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.
6. My detailed work proving India was at fault in the 1962 first Himalayan border dispute was overturned with a cynical notation from superiors: ‘We fail to see it is not in our interest to see India and China at each others throats.’
From several sources (including Kissinger, Whitlam etc), the dogma of Chinese aggression in the Himalayas led directly to support for the Vietnam War intervention, also seen as Chinese aggression.
7. Over North Korea I saw closeup how the efforts of a Japanese diplomat, an acquaintance, to persuade his government to agree that in exchange for release of four Japanese abductees it should sign a declaration which would have seen relations with North Korea normalised, NK population released from starvation and its rocket testing ceased.
All this was overturned by a corrupt, rightwing, Western-admired politician called Shinzo Abe, determined to keep North Korea as an enemy.
8. In 1973 I got to talk to US B52 pilots setting off early morning from Andersen base, Guam, to fly 6 hours to bomb innocent Cambodian farmers on what they said were ‘pretty green fields.’ They were fretting over whether they could return in time PM for the steak dinner and Filipino band.
9. In 1975 I had to experience the stupidity of a society seeking to axe its prime minister over the phoney Vietnam Cables affair set up by treacherous Whitlam appointee, Alan Renouf OBE. It was left solely to me to save Whitlam’s name and at the great damage to my own.
Also the stupidity of a bureaucracy that allowed the 1975 breakdown of talks for a friendly relations treaty with Japan and for a sensible Australia Japan Foundation. (See my chapters on events in Canberra in 1975 for details.)
10. After being pushed aside by the free trader fanatics unable to grasp the merits of the Tariff Auctioning scheme which I saw in the seventies as the sole way to rescue Australia’s manufacturing base, I had the small satisfaction many years later watching those same free traders scrambling to embrace the ridiculous idea that building nuclear submarines in South Australia would rescue that manufacturing base.
11. Shortly after one of the worst Western postwar atrocities (the WMD Iraq War – one million dead), I discovered an Australian involved in promoting the WMD lies for the US, Richard Butler, had been appointed governor of Tasmania. Few seemed to have realised.
12. In November,1964, I was to witness an Australian foreign minister sitting in the Kremlin trying to convince Soviet prime minister Kosygin and Foreign Minister Gromyko of China’s non-existent designs against Soviet territory and that this was why Moscow should join Australia and the US in Vietnam to defeat alleged Chinese aggression.
13. For a while I had hoped Japan with its postwar pacifism and then its economic miracle would provide a model that could compete with the Western militarist arrogance. But Japan too was to be pushed by its militarist minority into becoming a member of the Western military/industrial complex.
Japan’s attractive pacifism was to be dismissed as deluded political immaturity by the very people suffering immature delusions over the so-called China threat.
14. Of all the Western policy mistakes of the last century the most outstanding is also the most little known – the effort to prevent Lee Kwan Yew from coming to power in Singapore. He was seen as too leftwing – a trojan force for Chinese communist infiltration.
Instead Australia, the UK and US backed with large funds the hopeless Anglified Lim Yew Hock who could never win an election against Lee.
15. The lies and distortion over Ukraine after the successful, US-backed, rightist (‘neoNazi’) colour revolution of the 2014 Maidan was on a par with Vietnam as an example of Western foreign policy evil.
The Minsk agreements aimed to deceive a trusting Moscow, and to give NATO, in partnership with Ukraine’s rightists, time of retrain and kill 18,000 people in Donetsz and Luhansk before Moscow finally moved to end this abuse of power must rank high in European history for its cynicism.
Moscow was then accused of unprovoked aggression when in fact its delay in making its justified intervention allowed others to aggress.
It will be decades before the world will recover from these egregious mistakes.
The Future. So where does our future lie?
China does not have a military/industrial complex. It does not aggress on its neighbours.
Is this our only hope for a better world?
I admire its ability to absorb and overcome the unrelenting Western pressures and provocations over the South China sea and Taiwan. I see its economic progress as continuing. I wait for the day when the West has no choice but to respect its leadership in foreign affairs and accept the value of what it has to offer in other areas.
Meanwhile we as individuals have to cope with the war-hungry environment in which we find ourselves.
We can only write and pray that the so-called West will thrash itself into military exhaustion and cease its arrogant abuse of democracy.
What else can we do?
Learn an Asian language is my advice.
It will broaden your outlook, and encourage humility.