It takes a remarkable amount of front to present the G7 summit in Japan as a decisive step towards peace writes Lindsey German

It takes a quite remarkable level of front to present what has just taken place at the G7 summit in Japan as a decisive step towards peace. But in the Orwellian world of the western governments, this is what is now being proclaimed. The whole summit centered on building support for more weapons to the Ukraine war and attacking China. All the talk is about China’s ‘economic coercion’ and increasingly aggressive military stance. The cheek of this is almost breathtaking.

The richest and most powerful countries in the world, plus several carefully invited strategic allies, gathered in the Pacific to discuss that region’s most powerful state and accuse it of aggression, at a time when those exact same countries are developing new bases, creating new treaties and alliances, making huge increases in arms spending, and supplying non-nuclear power Australia with nuclear powered submarines.

Perhaps most sickeningly, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was chosen for the summit to, as we were repeatedly told by fawning journalists, highlight the dangers and consequences of war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were all but destroyed by the first atom bombs, dropped by the US in August 1945, right at the end of the Second World War. Many died instantly, many more suffered radiation sickness which killed them. The justification was that these bombs would save lives because they would force Japan to surrender, when the US knew that such a surrender was already being prepared. The bombings were about demonstrating that the US had such a weapon and asserting its strength as a major superpower.

Not a mention of any of this as Rishi Sunak gave a press conference from a peace centre in the city. Of course not, because that might highlight the central role that this country and its allies, especially the United States, have played in wars over the past century.

It is absolutely clear from the summit that these powers have no interest in peace in Ukraine. Indeed, Volodymyr Zelensky continued his world tour by attending both the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia and then the G7 itself. The aim was to berate those countries who do not fall in behind the western analysis of the Ukraine war and put pressure on them to do so. According to a Financial Times article this was the main reason for his attendance at the summit. Sunak’s final press conference rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying it is not a ‘just and durable’ peace. This is also a rejection of the recent Chinese peace proposal.

Instead Sunak and the UK government have been at the forefront of pushing for the war to continue and for increasing the levels of arms sent to Ukraine. Despite US hesitation about supplying F16 fighter jets for fear of escalating the war further, Joe Biden gave into pressure on Friday and has agreed now from US to train pilots and support the planes going to Ukraine. While all the major powers were hesitant about sending offensive weapons at the beginning of the conflict that has now changed with supposed red lines crossed month after month, leading to the provision of German Leopard tanks, long range missiles including now British cruise missiles and the once vetoed F16s.

Despite the overwhelming pressure to send more weapons, the reality is that they will not be operational for months in many cases, so these decisions are as much political as military, but they are part of a very dangerous game.  The war in Ukraine itself is at a stalemate. Whatever the truth about who now controls Bakhmut, fighting there has gone on for months with little movement, and the town itself has been destroyed. The long talked of a Ukrainian spring counter offensive has been deferred, and still there is talk of delay. The people suffering are the Ukrainians themselves, who are experiencing high casualties on the battlefield, and bombardment in the towns and cities.

The constant calls for more arms come from the US and European powers, but are not echoed by many other governments, especially in the global south. Zelensky’s calls to the Indian and Brazilian governments for more support will not alter that fundamental fact. Opposition to weapons supplies and sanctions will be for a number of reasons, some no doubt self-interest alone, but there is also a recognition of the aggressive role of NATO, of the failed previous interventions, and of the need to avoid what could rapidly become a global conflict.  Nor is continued war the view of the retired diplomats and military figures who signed an ad in the New York Times last week, stressing the need for a diplomatic solution and saying that the war could not be won.

It is against this background that we have to see this Pacific summit and the tensions that will arise from it. The confrontational language has already been attacked by the Chinese government. Sunak went further than the official communique from the G7, saying that China is the biggest challenge to global security and prosperity, possessing ‘the means and intent to reshape the world order’.  This is simply not true but it reflects China’s growing economic and military strength in relation to the US, which is in decline. What the G7 said this week is that it is prepared to confront anyone who challenges US and European hegemony and power.

22 May 2023 by Lindsey German

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