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White House confirms plans to send US-NATO jets to fight Russia
Andre Damon, WSWS, Jul 22 2022

In what may be the most provocative escalation of the US-NATO war against Russia to date, the White House has confirmed that the US is planning to send NATO-made fighter jets to Ukraine. NSC spox Adm (Retd) John Kirby confirmed that the Pentagon is discussing “providing fighter aircraft to the Ukrainians.” Kirby’s statement marks a rejection of the Biden administration’s previous refusal to send fighter aircraft to Ukraine because, in Biden’s words, such a move would lead to “WW3.” Friday’s announcement confirms the earlier statement by Gen Charles Q Brown Jr, that “discussions are ongoing” to send US-NATO fighters to Ukraine. Speaking at the Aspen Security Conference, Brown was asked:

Is it possible the UScould sell or provide Ukraine more US fighter platforms?

To this, Brown replied:

It’ll be something non-Russian, I could probably tell you that.

In May, the Pentagon rejected an earlier proposal by Poland to send Soviet-made MiG fighters to Ukraine, calling it “high risk.” At the time, Biden declared that the move could start “WW3,” saying:

The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews, just understand, don’t kid yourself, no matter what y’all say, that’s called WW3.

In announcing the Pentagon plan, Kirby said the Pentagon is looking to solve logistical issues including training, maintenance and spare parts. The WSJ reported:

A former Pentagon official said F-15 and F-16 fighter jets have been discussed as options for Ukraine, though both aircraft require significant training and maintenance. The former official, now in private industry, says a separate contingent is pushing to get Ukraine A-10s.

Also on Friday, the White House announced a further $270m in weapons deliveries to Ukraine, in the 16th weapons package since the start of the war. The new package includes four additional HIMARS missile weapons systems, as well as hundreds of Phoenix Ghost “kamikaze” drones. A clear strategy of the US in the proxy war against Russia is emerging. Washington apparently believes that by abandoning all restraints on the type of weapons systems being deployed to Ukraine, Kiev will be enabled to regain territories lost since the start of the war and achieve their aim, first stated in Mar 2021 as the official military doctrine, of retaking the entire Donbass and the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. US Sec Def Austin said this week:

Our assistance is making a real difference on the ground. Russia thinks that it can outlast Ukraine, and outlast us, but that’s just the latest in Russia’s string of miscalculations.

Under these conditions, Ukraine officials have categorically rejected peace talks. Zelensky told the WSJ in an interview:

All the territories must be liberated first, and then we can negotiate about what to do and how we could live in the centuries ahead. Our people are convinced we can do it. And the faster we do it, the fewer will die.

In the process of building a fighting force they hope will be able to defeat the Russian military, the US is supplying Ukraine with the exact same weapons systems used by the US military, and training Ukrainian forces to operate them just like the US military does. To date, the US has given Ukraine sixteen of its most advanced ground-based guided missile systems, the HIMARS, as well as its standard anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, and the anti-aircraft system used to guard the White House, the NASAMS, as well as over 100 top-of-the-line long-range artillery pieces, hundreds of APCs and over a thousand lethal UAVs. In addition, the US has provided hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition and millions of rounds of small-arms ammunition. Since the start of the war, the US has committed $7.6b in military aid to Ukraine. The flow of US weapons to Ukraine has been so enormous that military officials have expressed concern whether this would deplete the US’ own military stockpiles.

Biden has repeatedly placed limits on the level of US involvement in the war, only to then overstep those limits. After claiming the US would not provide Ukraine with weapons capable of striking within Russian territory, Biden announced that the US would provide long-range missiles to Ukraine. Now, the White House is moving rapidly to send fighter jets in a massive escalation of the conflict. Even as the US is recklessly escalating the war with Russia, US officials told the media that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would travel to Taiwan, prompting Chinese officials to demand a “military response.” After Biden said Thursday that the trip is “not a good idea right now,” broad sections of the Republican party demanded that the trip go forward. In its second editorial on the proposed trip this week, the WSJ declares:

The Pentagon fears China might shoot down a US aircraft carrying the person third in line to the Presidency. If China can stop a senior US official from visiting Taiwan, how resolute is America going to be in a shooting war?

Under these supercharged conditions, ForeignAffairs.com ran an article this week entitled, “What If the War in Ukraine Spins Out of Control,” declaring, “a nuclear attack is still in the realm of possibility.”

New Zealand foreign minister sounds alarm about Sri Lankan “lessons”
John Braddock, WSWS, Jul 23 2022

NZ FM Nanaia Mahuta on NZTV Q+A

The escalating political crisis in Sri Lanka which, amid a catastrophic economic crisis has seen forced resignations of the president and prime minister, is generating growing concern among ruling classes around the world about the dangers of the emerging global class struggle. A mass movement of the Sri Lankan working class and rural poor has erupted against the social and economic breakdown devastating living conditions of the masses. The explosion of popular anger over the past three months saw more than a million people descend on the capital Colombo on Jul 9 in defiance of government emergency orders and threats of mass repression. In response to the crisis, NZ FM Nanaia Mahuta in a recent television interview sounded the alarm amid sharpening geopolitical tensions about high debt levels and potential unrest in the Pacific. The interview aired on TVNZ Q+A on Jul 17, shortly after Mahuta had returned from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Fiji. At the forum, US vice president Kamala Harris announced an escalation of US involvement across the region, aimed at ramping up the strategic, economic and military encirclement of China. Mahuta’s “concerns” about the way Pacific development has been funded singled out China for criticism. She said:

I’d say there’s a level of indebtedness that sits across the whole of the Pacific to financial institutions, including the way in which China has funded into certain countries. This is a key area of vulnerability that should be addressed. The point at which Sri Lanka has reached its political unrest because of economic vulnerability is something we should be concerned about and is something that can be considered in relation to the level of economic vulnerability across the Pacific.

Mahuta said the NZ government was hopeful of a “peaceful way of resolving the situation” via elections for a new president and prime minister, and that the “constitutional arrangements will provide some guidance for that.” However, the 1978 constitution is fundamentally anti-democratic, giving the president vast autocratic powers. Parliament has now installed the widely despised Ranil Wickremesinghe in order to ruthlessly impose the austerity dictates of the IMF and strangle the popular uprising.

Mahuta emphasised that NZ’s military “stand ready and willing to respond very quickly to natural disasters or civil unrest” should it erupt in the Pacific as it has in Sri Lanka. She pointed to the way in which ANZ and PNG responded “with a level of urgency” to last year’s deadly anti-government riots in the Solomon Islands. NZ’s Labour-Green government ordered police and troops to join an Australian-led intervention in the Solomons. Days of rioting in November claimed three lives and left much of the capital Honiara in ruins. These events were not a genuine mass uprising, but were preplanned by US-backed opposition forces and aimed at removing the government of PM Manasseh Sogavare and reversing its diplomatic recognition of China. NZ troops joined a force of over 200 led by Australia purportedly to “maintain peace and security.” After Sogovare subsequently invited a contingent of Chinese police to train the local force, ANZ maintained their joint military presence in Honiara. The NZ government announced it will extend its deployment there until next May.

For many years, NZ’s military has been openly training for interventions to “restore order” in Pacific countries, including in its biennial multi-national Southern Katipo exercise. In her interview Mahuta talked up the defence and security relationships NZ currently has with Pacific countries, suggesting that military capabilities could be increased. She said:

In terms of maritime surveillance, there’s a lot of conversation how more could be done, and an integrated approach towards maritime surveillance because of illegal, unreported fishing activities. It could mean drones. It could also mean extra maritime support, as well as aviation support as well.
So-called “illegal fishing” invariably refers to China’s fishing fleet. Defence Minister Peeni Henare said last week that with “what’s happening in the Pacific,” investment in military hardware had to continue, plus support for exercises such as the current US-led RIMPAC exercise off Hawaii. Labour has dramatically increased defence spending from 1.15% to 1.59% of GDP and committed an additional $20b over the next decade. Mahuta pointed to the Biketawa Declaration as a purported example of regional co-operation. Signed in 2000 following pressure from ANZ, the document jettisoned a long-standing principal of non-interference in the affairs of PIF member nations. It established that in time of crisis, including when countries face threats to their security, broadly defined, this can trigger diplomatic, economic and military intervention anywhere in the region, at the behest of the major powers. Mahuta’s comments further expose the fraud that NZ represents a kinder and more independent foreign policy approach in the Pacific, compared with Australia and the US. Speaking to the Lowy Institute this month, NZ PM Jacinda Ardern hypocritically declared that her government was opposed to the militarisation of the region, declaring:

Diplomacy must become the strongest tool and deescalation the loudest call.

New Zealand has been a colonial power in the region for over a century. While pursuing its own interests, it has always relied on one of the major imperialist powers (first Britain and later the US) to maintain its strategic position. Involvement in wars, including support for the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, are the quid pro quo for support for NZ operations in its own “back yard.”

Mahuta, who is Māori, has been promoted on the basis of racial identity politics, so that the Labour government can posture as “family” to indigenous Pacific peoples. In a speech to a Māori and Pacific audience earlier this month, Mahuta cited “values unique to us, reflecting a Māori perspective that is relevant beyond our shores.” The list included such virtues as kindness, care, reciprocity and common humanity, human rights buzzwords that the US exploits to justify its wars and regime-change operations around the world. Mahuta’s allegations of debt trap diplomacy are parroting Washington’s propaganda amid its anti-China diplomatic offensive. At a Pacific leaders’ conference in Hawaii in Jun 2021, Blinken angrily declared that China was breaching international standards and using economic coercion in its provision of aid and concessional loans. The allegations are bogus. In 2019, 67% of Chinese aid to the Pacific was given in the form of loans, mainly for infrastructure projects, up from 41% the year before. Pacific leaders, however, often prefer China’s funding over that from Australia and New Zealand, saying it comes with fewer strings attached.

According to a recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report based on World Bank data, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu are the countries most indebted to China. However, the majority of the Pacific’s external debt is with multilateral agencies. The Asian Development Bank is the major creditor for Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, holding about 38% of all external debt, followed by China (22%), the World Bank (13%), and Australia and Japan (6%). Chinese loans are less than half the total in Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu and Samoa. The ABC report warns that trade deficits and high debt levels may lead Pacific governments, without vastly increased financial assistance, to adopt deeper austerity measures likely to worsen poverty and inequality in the region and undermine economic recovery. Far from addressing the looming social disaster, local imperialists ANZ are preparing to intervene and suppress the inevitable popular discontent.

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