The Guardian 20 April, 2005

Howard Government wriggling into Asia

Peter Symon

The Howard government is wriggling and squirming and attempting to weasel its way to the meeting of Asian governments due to take place towards the end of this year.


At the heart of the Howard government's problem is its refusal so far to agree to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and adhere to the principles it contains.

The Treaty calls for a commitment on the part of those who sign it to the "settlement of differences and disputes by peaceful means and the renunciation of the threat or use of force".

These principles cut across Howard's statements by which he takes to himself the right to make "pre-emptive strikes" against any other country in the world that he and his US masters (who have also declared their right to take pre-emptive action) regard as "evil" or a "failed state" or just simply having a government which does not bow to the demands of these arrogant and superior arbiters of what is right and wrong.

If Howard honestly (as against cynically) signed the Treaty he would be obliged to renounce the policy of pre-emptive strikes or be branded as a lying hypocrite in the international community of nations.

In a lame attempt to justify his refusal to sign the Treaty, Howard said that it belonged to a "mind-set that we've really all moved on from".

Neither Howard nor the media has informed the Australian people of the wording that we have "moved on from". All the principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation are also contained in the UN Charter. Although the Australian government tore up the UN Charter when it and the US administration decided to invade Iraq, Howard and Downer do not dare speak of the UN Charter in the same terms.

So what is Howard saying is now out of date?

Is the Treaty's reference to "mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations" out of date?

The Treaty also bans "external interference, subversion or coercion" against other states and encourages "effective cooperation" among the signatories. Are these principles also out of date? Obviously Howard and his government think that they are.

The UN Charter also lays down the principle of the "sovereign equality of all its members" and "the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means". All nations are to "refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state". The UN Charter specifically rules out "acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace".

The Asian Treaty refers specifically to the "spirit and principles of the Charter of the UN".

It is now reported that the Howard government is considering signing the Treaty "with reservations". But what reservations can there be to such specific and meaningful principles which must govern relations between states if wars of aggression are to be ruled out and the people of all countries are to have the right to live in security and peace?

Howard desperately wants to join the Asian meeting, not just for economic reasons, and certainly not from any genuine intention to adhere to the principles adopted by Asian countries, but to be a spoiler on behalf of the US which is not invited to the meeting.

The government's cynical manoeuvring arises from the fact that the international situation is rapidly moving against the aspirations of successive US governments to dominate the whole world economically, politically and militarily. This aim is strongly supported by the Howard government and by Howard personally.

The US is being left out of the growing economic and political unity of the Asian countries which are building an economic power that is beginning to challenge that of the US.

Consolidation of Asian power

The consolidation of Asian power is seen in the recent visit to India by China's Premier Wen Jiabao. Discussions resulted in a number of agreements covering trade, the settlement of border problems, cultural exchanges and, most importantly, their stand for the establishment of a new international political and economic order that is fair, rational, equal and mutually beneficial. Relations have been upgraded to the status of a "strategic and cooperative partnership". China will back India to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

This relationship brings together the two most populous countries, both of which are now rapidly developing their economies. Russia may well become a part of this Asian grouping.

These three states also have solid relations with Iran, Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea which are the particular targets of US venom and threats.

On another continent the US is facing the rise and rise of the popular revolutionary movements in Latin American countries. [See Latin America and Caribbean move left] Once the backyard of the US and ruled by US corporations and US-installed military fascist dictatorships, Latin American countries are now breaking free from the US imperialist grip.

A titanic struggle is still going on in Iraq with the Iraqi people overwhelmingly opposing the US occupation. At the same time the trumpeted "coalition of the willing" is becoming a "coalition of the not-so-willing" with the troops sent by the Ukraine and Poland being only the most recent to announce their departure. The US is becoming more and more forlornly isolated in Iraq and hated throughout the Middle East.

Blair and Howard (and Koizumi of Japan) have become the few remaining leaders faithfully committed to the aggression and invasion of Iraq that was initiated by the Bush administration.

Another serious problem bedevilling the plans of the US is the transfer by a number of countries of financial reserves into euros and away from the US dollar. If this process continues it will, in time, seriously undermine the US dollar as the world's reserve and main trading currency.

There are a number of other problems both domestic and international facing the would-be rulers of the world and the reality is shaking the US plans to their foundations.

Rather than accept this reality and join the world-wide movement for a free and peaceful world, Howard, Bush, Blair, Koizumi and a small number of other government leaders are stubbornly resisting these changes. They continue to hope that by lying, manoeuvring, bullying and threatening the use of force, the world will be driven into accepting their domination.

The truth is that they are facing a world-wide political tsunami which will eventually overwhelm their policies and plans. The world's people have no interest in being driven back into a new dark age of savagery, torture, lying, hypocrisy and depravity that is the reality of imperialist domination — just ask the inmates of the Abu Ghraib prison or the victims of the US concentration camp at Guantánamo.

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