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The cold war strikes back



Joe Biden’s foreign policy as president has two signature declamations: 

  • America is back – as the leader of NATO and as the leader of the Free World.  In his first address to a global audience, Biden said:

“America is back, the transatlantic alliance is back I know the past few years have strained and tested the transatlantic relationship.  The United States is determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.”

  • At the Munich security conference a year ago – the same conference where, over the weekend, Ukraine’s President Zelensky, pleaded for his country’s freedom and independence from Russia – Biden said:  

“We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future and direction of our world. We’re at an inflection point between those who argue that, given all the challenges we face – from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic – that autocracy is the best way forward, they argue, and those who understand that democracy is essential – essential to meeting those challenges.”

Biden has been true to these bedrock principles as he faces the prospects for war to return to Europe after 75 years. 

President Joe Biden says he is ‘convinced’ Russia will invade Ukraine (AP)

In meeting this crisis, NATO has never been stronger – or more united. 

NATO’s military forces have stepped up. Arms are flowing into Ukraine to help repel a Russian invasion. 

Differences over the scope and stringency of sanctions if Russia invades have been bridged. All of NATL is all in on protecting Ukraine’s rights to determine its future – including a future with NATO in the years ahead.

The heart of this crisis indeed is perched on the fault-line between authoritarianism versus democracy. 

Putin is not exporting Soviet communism; he is projecting power.  So of course he would witness a nuclear weapons test exercise on Saturday with the president of Belarus – who stayed in power by crushing the movement supporting three women whose movement won the presidency in an election last year.

The Cold War is back thirty years after the Soviet Union died. 

We are reliving its brinkmanship.  The most frightening Cold War crisis was over the Soviet Union’s placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off Florida. 

President Kennedy’s UN Ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, showed the U2 spy plane photos to the world in the UN Security Council.  There was no doubt even as the USSR’s leaders lied about what they had done.

As we reach an era where private companies launch people into space, so private satellite imaging companies, such as Maxar Technologies, have replaced CIA satellites and Air Force spy planes. 

The stationing of 150,000 Russian troops around Ukraine, the building of pontoon bridges for tanks, are all there is living colour.

Authoritarian Russia can hide at home, but nowhere else.  In the Security Council last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken showed the evidence and coalesced world opinion. 

Twenty years ago, US Secretary of State Colin Powell also went to the Security Council, with intelligence that was devastatingly wrong.  Saddam Hussein was not building and did not have weapons of mass destruction – which was the justification for the US (and allied, including Australia) invasion of Iraq.  

Years later, Powell acknowledged the tragic mistake that he contributed to.

“It turned out, as we discovered later, that a lot of sources that had been attested to by the intelligence community were wrong. It has blotted my record, but you know, there’s nothing I can do to change that blot. All I can say is that I gave it the best analysis that I could.”

Memories are long, and Blinken understood this perfectly in the UN last week as he presented the evidence against Russia:

“Now, I am mindful that some have called into question our information, recalling previous instances where intelligence ultimately did not bear out.  But let me be clear: I am here today, not to start a war, but to prevent one.  The information I’ve presented here is validated by what we’ve seen unfolding in plain sight before our eyes for months.”

Biden said over the weekend: “We’re calling out Russia’s plans loudly, repeatedly, not because we want a conflict, but because we’re doing everything in our power to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine, and prevent them from moving”  

But it is likely not enough.

In the 60s and 70s, the Cold War embraced China too.  Today’s Cold War is no different. 

SHANGHAI, CHINA – MAY 20: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jingping (R) attend a welcoming ceremony on May 20, 2014 in Shanghai, China. Putin is on a two day visit to China (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

For Putin and China’s Xi, they see a weak America and a weak American president.  One of Australia’s great defence and intelligence scholars, Hugh White of ANU, had these words last week on China and Taiwan:

“It was always a little hard to believe either America or China would really risk a war over the rocks and reefs of the South China Sea… To repeat, neither side wants a war. 

So, as the next Taiwan crisis unfolds, both sides will have a big incentive to talk and act as if they are prepared to fight, hoping and expecting that this will deliver them a costless victory by making the other side back down.

But there is a fair chance they will both be wrong about this. Both will face a disastrous choice between humiliation and war. In such situations, leaders in the past have often chosen war. This is how wars happen despite neither side wanting or intending them.”

Substitute “Ukraine” for “Taiwan” and “Russia” for “China” and it is crystal clear that the Cold War strikes back.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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China conducts ‘punishment’ war games near Taiwan



China initiated military ‘punishment’ exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan in response to the newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te.

These drills come amid escalating tensions in the region, with Beijing asserting its sovereignty over Taiwan, denouncing the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te and labelling this one of several “separatist acts”, as reported by Reuters.

These military manoeuvres are seen as a show of force and a warning to Taiwan and its supporters against any moves perceived as challenging China’s territorial claims.

President Lai has repeatedly offered talks with China but has been rebuffed.

He says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future, and rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

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Apple Music’s controversial top 10 albums of all time



Apple Music has released its highly anticipated “100 Best Albums of All Time” list, with the top 10 rankings causing a bittersweet symphony of destruction for some music lovers.

The list was curated by a panel of experts and based on various factors including cultural impact, critical acclaim, and commercial success, with the aim to celebrate the most influential and timeless albums across genres.

As reported by the official Apple Music Newsroom blog post, the top ten best albums of all time are the following:

10. Lemonade (2016), Beyoncé

9. Nevermind (1991), Nirvana 

8. Back to Black (2006), Amy Winehouse

7. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012), Kendrick Lamar

6. Songs in the Key of Life (1976), Stevie Wonder

5. Blonde (2016), Frank Ocean

4. Purple Rain (1984), Prince & The Revolution

3. Abbey Road (1969), The Beatles

2. Thriller (1982), Michael Jackson

1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), Lauryn Hill

In other news, Apple recently became the first company to hit a $3 trillion stock market value, before falling just below that milestone, as reported by Reuters.

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Essential daily protein needs for better health



Protein is a fundamental macronutrient essential for various bodily functions, including muscle repair, enzyme production, and immune system support.

Daily protein requirements can vary significantly based on factors such as activity levels, age, and gender.

To help unpack this topic, Kate Save from BeFitFood joins to share her key insights. #featured

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