The not-so-united Soviet Union
Chris O’Regan writes: Re. “A quarter-century after the Wall fell, Europe hunkers down along old battle lines” (yesterday).I’m not sure how Charles Richardson comes to a tally of 17 or 18 modern states that “fell under Soviet control” during the Second World War, but Kosovo and the other component entities of the former Yugoslavia were certainly not among them; on the contrary, Titoist Yugoslavia was stridently independent of Moscow for most of its history, being active in the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement. Aside from that, Richardson makes the same error made by many Western commentators of assuming a basic dichotomy of “democracy/EU membership/stability” and “dictatorship/collapse”, an oversimplification of a vastly more complex picture, and one that elides the fact that NATO and the EU, from Moscow’s perspective, are making an aggressive play for strategic influence in a region that the USA had promised Gorbachev would be left to its own devices in the aftermath of 1989.
Too many articles in the Western press understate or ignore to which the expansion of NATO and the EU has seriously alarmed Russia, a factor that explains what sometimes is portrayed as unprovoked Russian aggression.
That’s not to defend the brutality of Putin’s regime in internal and external matters, but it’s simply not tenable to purport that there is some sort of “European consciousness” based on a 1939 division. Talking about a “reintegration” into Europe based on a line in 1939 is very strange — it’s not as though eastern and southern Europe had any kind of “unified” identity at that time, much less a democratic one!
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The beginning of the end of Israeli apartheid
Richard Middleton writes: Re. “From mensch to meshuggah: why Bob Carr turned on Israel” (yesterday). Wonderful news to see that a senior Australian politician has finally seen the light, the truth and is prepared to stand up and speak it. This is not the beginning of the end for apartheid Israel — that was marked when Australians for Palestine began to be heard.
We have a long way to go before decent Jews in Australia and particularly Melbourne can stand up to the threats of ostracism by the Zionist lobby. This is the lobby that prevent decent Jews speaking out for the human rights of all in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Perhaps if they were able to do so, they might offer some helpful advice to their Israeli brethren about how to treat the Palestinians and perhaps minimise the inevitable trauma when Zionism is swept away.
This is the end of the beginning. We now can move on to the next phase. A concerted global BDS campaign to bring release for all from the present regime and an end to Israeli apartheid.
Crikey writes: Re. “Labor and the Greens play Deal or No Deal in Victoria” (yesterday). Daniel Scoullar is not a communications consultant for the Victorian Greens as stated in yesterday’s article. He is not a Greens staff member of any kind and is not involved in preference negotiations. He is a Greens member and consults in a private capacity.