The month of August was named for the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus whose reign from 27 BC to 14 AD is usually remembered for what became known as Pax Romana — an era of peace — but ended with him becoming ever more dictatorial. As Tacitus recorded, “Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap corn… and so grew greater by degrees, while he concentrated in himself the functions of the Senate, the magistrates, and the laws”, which sounds familiar.
In addition to over fifty people being killed in mass shootings in the US and three US soldiers being killed for no reason at all in the Afghanistan quagmire, this August has seen more winning over of the US military by President Trump who has embraced some of the Roman dictator’s more obnoxious peculiarities, not least the practice of stacking the Supreme Court with ultra-right wing bigots and an overwhelming desire to interpret and wield both national and international laws in his own peculiar fashion.
There was yet more provocation of China by the Pentagon which ordered the Navy to carry out yet another “freedom of navigation” operation in the South China Sea on August 28. The spokeswoman of the US 7th Fleet said that “US Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
During an earlier provocation, on 6 August, when the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan carried out air operations in the South China Sea, US Admiral Karl Thomas declared that “We just think that folks should follow the international law and our presence allows us to provide that security and stability in the background for these discussions to take place.”
The “international law” referred to by these people is based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, which details the “legal status of the territorial sea, of the air space over the territorial sea and of its bed and subsoil” but what is never mentioned by the Pentagon or the Western establishment media is that the United States has not ratified the Convention. As The Diplomat pointed out in regard to this contemptuous dismissal of international law, “the national interest has fallen victim to the confessional nature, the hardened doctrinarism, of modern American politics.”
But this doesn’t matter, so long as US Navy guided-missile warships can roam over the backyards of nations half a world away from Washington while the US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, tours Russia’s borders to further whip up anti-Russia sentiment in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.
It was not coincidental that Bolton’s trot around Russia took place immediately before a meeting in Berlin of senior diplomats from Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia intended to prepare for substantive discussions aimed at reducing tension and furthering dialogue. This type of gathering does not attract Washington’s approval, for it is in the best economic interests of the Military-Industrial Complex to maintain tensions, discourage dialogue and concentrate on flooding the world with expensive US weaponry.
It was ironical and even amusing that, as reported by Radio Free Europe, when Bolton went to Moldova he declared that “The United States believes very strongly in the sovereignty and independence of Moldova. It’s up to its citizens to decide what its future will be, not to outside influences” — because Bolton’s aim in the region and elsewhere in the world is exactly that : to influence countries to favour the United States against Russia and China.
The Washington of Trump Augustus continues to do its utmost to berate and intimidate Russia and China with the aim of portraying them as being intent on the world domination that is so obviously being exercised by the United States which has “established more than 400 military bases on every continent except Antarctica.” Yet Trump and his pliant Senate and other eager followers are ever-ready to find exciting new challenges, the most recent one being Space, where, according to Emperor Trump, there are problems.
On 29 August he announced that “We’re gathered here in the Rose Garden to establish the United States Space Command. It’s a big deal. As the newest combatant command, SpaceCom will defend America’s vital interests in space — the next warfighting domain. And I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody. It’s all about space… SpaceCom will boldly deter aggression and outpace America’s rivals, by far.”
How aggression is deterred “boldly” by someone at a desk tapping a keyboard is not revealed, but Trump imagines this to be so, and was eloquent in his declaration that “From our nation’s first days, America’s military blazed the trails and crossed the frontiers that secured our nation’s future. No adversary on Earth will ever match the awesome courage, skill, and might of American Armed Forces” even if they’re only pressing buttons.
Then the US Air Force notified the world that it had deployed “a task force of B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, airmen and support aircraft to RAF Fairford in England. The task force is from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. During the bombers’ deployment, the airmen will conduct theatre integration and flying training, including joint and allied training in Europe, to improve bomber interoperability”
The deployment was headlined in Britain’s Express newspaper as “Russia threat: US B-2 bombers arrive in the UK after latest Russian jet incident.” The paper continued that the bombers had been sent “as the US shores up defences in the UK against a backdrop of Russian sabre-rattling . . . the arrival of the bombers will send a signal to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin just days after RAF Typhoon fight jets were scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft approaching British airspace earlier this month. The Royal Air Force said the jets were dispatched after two Tu-142 Bear bombers were spotted approaching UK airspace.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia was ‘determined to push international norms and to test the UK’s resolve’.
This rubbish was put in perspective by the RAF which stated that “At no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace.”
Of course they didn’t. They were on a routine training flight and had no intention of going anywhere near the UK. But Western media outlets seize every opportunity to try to convince the public that Russia has mounted a campaign of “sabre-rattling.”
One voice of sanity in the West, French President Emmanuel Macron, said on 27 August that Europe should reach out to Russia and avoid the hideous confrontation of a new Cold War that is so desired by Washington’s Finest. In a speech following the August G-7 Summit he made clear what policy Europe would be wise to follow as regards relations with Russia, and France 24 recorded him as saying “Pushing Russia from Europe is a profound strategic error.”
He then made the sensible observation that “The European continent will never be stable, will never be in security, if we don’t pacify and clarify our relations with Russia.”
This is a strikingly important pronouncement by a major Western leader, but it wasn’t mentioned in Washington — or by any of Washington’s news outlets. The reason for its being ignored and cast into the dungeon of unpalatable truth is quite simple:
Trump Washington is up against the World.