Disembarking a British Airways plane on the tarmac at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, waved a piece of paper in the air bearing the signature of Herr Hitler along with his own. Before the assembled crowd, Chamberlain read the contents of the letter to which the two leaders had inked their names.
Later that day, standing outside No 10 Downing Street, after again sharing the contents of the letter, Chamberlain triumphantly declared “I believe it is peace for our time”.
We all know how Chamberlain’s peace turned out not 12 months later.
Now, it appears the current US President has been channeling the former British PM in Germany.
During a speech before European leaders at what was impressively touted as the “world’s largest industrial technological fair” in Hannover, Germany this past Monday, Obama triumphantly declared that the people of the world are living in the most peaceful and prosperous era in human history.
“I want to begin with an observation that, given the challenges that we face in the world and the headlines we see every day, may seem improbable but it’s true. We are fortunate to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history.”
He did caution, however, that this “isn’t to say that there is not still enormous suffering and enormous tragedy and so much work for us to do.”
On that point, at least, he is right.
Peaceful, prosperous and progressive for some … maybe
So, could it really be true? Are we all living in a golden age of peace, prosperity and progress?
According to the US President, the answer is you betcha.
“If you had to choose a moment in time to be born, any time in human history, and you didn’t know ahead of time what nationality you were or what gender or what your economic status might be, you’d choose today.”
For those of us currently living on this planet lucky enough to have been born in the West, the answer maybe is a “maybe” or possibly a “yes”. But only maybe. Think one in seven US citizens on food stamps, France’s recent outbreak of martial law, the obesity epidemic and the continuing erosion of our privacy and civil liberties.
And for the rest of us born in the Middle East, Africa, the sub-continent or Asia, far fewer may be as enthusiastic about Obama’s peace, prosperity and progress.
Few signs of peace, prosperity and progress in Syria
For the past five years, the people of Syria have been subjected to a destructive and deadly war fuelled by foreign fighters, pallet loads of cash, illegal oil sales, imported weapons, wahhabi ideology, drugs, and of course, convoys of shiny new Toyota pickup trucks.
And the main suppliers?
All those countries that want to see the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, the US and its western allies. I’m looking at you.
So just how much peace, prosperity and progress have the Syrian people received from this foreign war?
In Syria crisis death toll stands at 400,000: UN Envoy, PressTV reported on 24 April that:
“The United Nations special envoy for Syria says some 400,000 people have lost their lives as a result of more than five years of foreign-sponsored conflict gripping the Arab country.
“Speaking on the sidelines of Syria peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday, Staffan de Mistura said the figure was based on his ‘own analysis’ and thus ‘not verified’.
“We had 250,000 as a figure two years ago,” said de Mistura, adding, “Well two years ago was two years ago.”
Remember, the UN threw up its hands in defeat back in 2014 and stopped keeping track of the Syrian war death toll.
… or in Yemen
You could be forgiven for not knowing much about what is happening in Yemen today. It’s not all that easy coming across reports … from western news sources, at least.
Unlike the constant news coverage at the outbreak of the war in Syria, where western journalists were only too happy to report on Assad’s “barrel bombs” and “chemical weapon attacks”, the Saudi-led, US-supported war in Yemen has received scant coverage.
Our ABC did cover the conflict on 11 April 2016 in Yemen conflict: Rival sides begin ceasefire amid reports of deadly clashes.
“Rival sides in Yemen’s year-long conflict have begun a UN-brokered ceasefire, saying they are committed to the halt in hostilities despite deadly clashes in the hours leading up to the truce.
“The conflict between the Yemeni Government, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and Houthi rebels has killed more than 6,200 people and displaced 2.4 million.”
Many of those killed have been civilians.
Following Saudi airstrikes on an outdoor market in March, the ABC reported that:
“The death toll from Saudi-led air strikes on an outdoor market in north-western Yemen has risen to more than 100, a provincial health director and a UN official say, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the year-old war.”
“In January, a UN panel found that air strikes had targeted civilians, assessed that some of the attacks could be crimes against humanity and recommended the UN Security Council consider establishing an investigation.
“The Saudi-led coalition strongly denies targeting civilians.”
The US has provided Saudi Arabia logistics support in its air strikes in Yemen. Further, foreign-backed mercenaries have been doing much of Saudi Arabia’s dirty work on the ground in Yemen.
Not much peace, prosperity or progress there either.
Turkey’s war against the Kurds
Busy buying stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil, keeping tabs on ISIS fighters running back and forth across their border with Syria and invading Greek airspace with monotonous regularity, Turkey has also found time to deny any peace, prosperity or progress to the Kurds living within its southeastern territory.
Turkey’s internal war is being conducted under cover of an almost total western media blackout.
Here’s an example of what you won’t be hearing about in your nightly news bulletin.
On 20 March Kurdish Daily News posted video of of civilian neighborhoods in the Kurdish city of Sirnak being bombed by Turkish tanks and helicopters.
Europe, in particular, is not all too keen to highlight Turkish operations against the Kurds due to the ongoing refugee crisis and the potential for Turkey to use refugees as a weapon against Europe.
And then there’s Erdogan’s war against free speech.
US-NATO military buildup
With the US President waxing lyrical before the lectern about the unprecedented level of peace we all enjoy today, rather than singing a rousing rendition of Kumbayah, the US administration is instead marching to a very different beat.
The war drums are beating loudly as the US racks up an annual military spending bill in excess of $600 billion.
Let’s put that figure into perspective by comparing it with the military spending habits of other nations at the top of the war machine stockpile …
Of course, with all that spending on the war machine, you have to do something constructive with it … like having another destructive major all-out war with an invented enemy. And that’s exactly where we appear headed.
In an outstanding piece of patriotic puff reporting, on 26 April, US propaganda network CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported that the U.S. was sending F-22 warplanes to Romania.
Romania is pretty close to Russia.
But Russia’s eastern border is even closer to Russia.
Just three days after Clarissa’s effusive reporting, the Wall Street Journal ran this headline: NATO Allies Preparing to Put Four Battalions at Eastern Border With Russia.
“Western allies are preparing to put four battalions—a force of about 4,000 troops—in Poland and the Baltic countries as part of an effort by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to reinforce its border with Russia as Moscow steps up military activity, officials said Friday.
“The U.S. is likely to provide two battalions, while Germany and Britain would likely provide a battalion each, according to Western officials.”
US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work was quoted as saying:
“The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the borders, with a lot of troops. From our perspective, we could argue this is extraordinarily provocative behavior.”
War is Peace.