Sky News – Blatant propaganda on the world order
Deborah Haynes, foreign affairs editor at Sky News won the inaugural Bevins Prize and an Amnesty International UK Media Award for her work documenting the dangers that Iraqi interpreters faced after the withdrawal of British troops from the country. Back then she worked for The Times as defence correspondent. Credibility is everything and Haynes has clout. However, her most recent piece at Sky News could easily be mistaken for something written by MI6 spook Luke Harding at The Guardian after reading – “Sky Views: The rules-based international system is under increasing strain”
In this piece, Haynes is of course right to say that the network of accords and institutions, the framework that helps to ensure security, rights, freedoms and justice is under increasing strain, albeit, that’s probably something of an understatement.
And again, she is right to say that these institutions were conceived after the end of the Second World War with the aim of preventing a third and that the United Nations is the best-known example of the world’s attempt to build order from destruction.
It is right to say that the latest strand of the world order ‘snapped when the United States withdrew from a landmark 1987 nuclear missile pact with Russia.’
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However, is it right to blame the crumbling world order on Russia?
Whilst no-one should be under the illusion that Putin’s Russia is a beacon of righteousness because it is far from that – to say the world’s problems emanate there is utter nonsense.
Haynes writes – “The Kremlin denies this allegation (of Moscow supposedly violating 1987 nuclear missile pact) but Britain and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – NATO, another important strand in the rules-based order – agree with the long-held US assessment.” It is here that the reality of the world order assessment by the Sky News foreign affairs editor departs from anything remotely resembling reality in today’s world.
That treaty was a huge success. By May 1991, the two nations had eliminated 2,692 missiles, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections. It set an example to all countries of what was expected in a post-cold-war environment – to aim for peace and respect.
Russia is not in the same league as America when it comes to military strength. Its current spending on the military is less than ten per cent of America, not forgetting NATO or the two nuclear-armed countries of the UK and France. Russia is within very easy striking distance of US/NATO partners and its European borders are littered with enormous western military capabilities, all pointed at Russia. On the other hand, Russia, even in the wildest imaginations of some journalists – does not have anything like that capability.
Setting an example of good global behaviour would be a good place to start because it defines what is and what is not acceptable on the geopolitical chessboard and America is breaking all the rules right now. The structures and institutions that America is withdrawing from is the bar to which other geopolitical players are now being forced to test.
Haynes goes on to say that President Donald Trump said he would like to strike a new arms deal with Russia and possibly China to reduce all nuclear forces. She says – “But his positive words are meaningless unless steps are being taken to make such an accord happen.”
But look at America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear weapons deal. That deal failed because of who. Obama or Trump? Or both. Was it Obama’s ‘terrible deal‘ as Trump puts it or Trump’s election chest-thumping MAGA campaign that caused the deal to fail? That was a deal that took seven years to negotiate and five minutes to tear up. That deal was negotiated by the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany that included the 28 nation bloc of the European Union.
Haynes goes on to blame Russia for … drumroll … “attacking the global rulebook of normal behaviour” and the – “2014 annexation of Crimea described as the most blatant land grab in Europe since the Second World War.” No mention of the reality of this conflict or that it was direct US involvement in Ukraine – an expansion of NATO to further threaten Russia that resulted in Crimea joining Russia.
No mention is made of the forced displacement of nearly 70 million people, the equivalent of the entire population of Thailand – much of which can be directly blamed on the actions of America. It is the biggest displacement of people since the last human catastrophe called World War Two. Today, there are over 3 million asylum seeker applications in the world and 40 million displaced from their own homes and communities. Just over a fifth of the global displaced are Palestinians where American foreign policy has seriously escalated tensions.
There are 15 million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. The common denominator to many of these countries problems is America’s meddling.
We can now add the number of Venezuelans leaving their country, which has reached 4 million, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, announced last month. That is as a direct result of America’s meddling. Tens of thousands are dying because America has sanctioned, therefore blocked vital medical equipment and supplies – already paid for by the Venezuelan government, from reaching innocent civilians.
Turkey remained the world’s leading refugee-hosting country in terms of absolute numbers, with a population of 3.5 million refugees, mainly Syrians. Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees relative to its national population. In all, 63 per cent of all refugees under UNHCR’s responsibility were in just 10 countries. And America has much of the blame for causing them.
Haynes writes in the same article – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin also supports President Bashar al Assad of Syria even though the Syrian regime is accused of using chemical weapons – outlawed by another arms control treaty – against its own people.” Where has Haynes been? This story is no longer talked about because proof of these chemical weapons attacks have been completely debunked. Not just by Ambassadors and leakers but even by mainstream journalists.
“Britain has accused Russia of its own chemical weapons violation, blaming two Russian intelligence officers for the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury using the nerve agent novichok.” The unearthing of the direct involvement of the ‘Integrity Initiative’ and ‘Institute of Statecraft’ has shown this whole embarrassing episode as little more than a state-sponsored propaganda campaign that went wrong.
Of course, Haynes fails to mention America’s consistent attacks on the biggest institution set up to contain and manage the world order – the United Nations. The UN itself is appalled at America’s international behaviour and has made no effort to disguise what it fears most – the destabilisation of the world order as a direct result of America’s recent foreign policy decisions.
Trump’s decisions to quit the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal are now sources of deep-rooted bitterness, particularly among close allies within the UN and is already having very serious consequences for world order.
Under Trump, America has withdrawn support for UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization. The US has left the Human Rights Council, revoked funding for the United Nations agency that provides education and health care to Palestinians classified as refugees, and boycotted a United Nations agreement on migration. America is not paying its full agreed levy towards the UN.
It is also widely agreed amongst member states of the UN that the US should relinquish its veto power in the Security Council and submit to the rulings of the International Court of Justice, which could significantly improve the UN’s ability to foster the growth of democracy and promote global peace and the protection of human rights. America chooses to do the opposite.
Louis Charbonneau, the United Nations director for Human Rights Watch said America’s actions have been “an assault on the most important institutions we have for accountability and monitoring and exposing the worst abuses.”
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the recently retired United Nations High Commissioner, likened Trump to a bus driver “careening down a mountain road with steep cliffs on either side, while in the back humanity hangs on for dear life.”
“I think Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency has made a challenging situation significantly more challenging,” said Kumi Naidoo, the secretary-general of Amnesty International. “He has taken it to another level of isolation.”
One mainstream media headline reads: US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war and even the American Civil Liberties Union lists: Five Ways the Trump Administration Has Attacked the U.N. and International Human Rights Bodies
At what point does Sky News not understand that America is actually the main driver of global destabilisation simply by setting an agenda of destabilisation.
Haynes is right to point out that – “Every time international rules are flouted, norms violated and treaties scrapped, the world becomes a little bit less safe,” and that – “It is a trend that can only be stopped if enough people cry foul and push back. Otherwise, the erosion will only continue for a finite period until the whole system collapses. Perhaps only then everyone will appreciate just how important that phrase “rules-based international system” really was.”
The Sky News foreign affairs editor chose simplistically to attack the ‘red under the bed,’ instead of reporting the real source of the current world disorder. America with Trump at its helm is a very big cog in a multi-faceted system currently being challenged by the rising economic and political self-interest of other players.