Posted March 26, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
“They detest war as a very brutal thing; and which, to the reproach of human nature is more practiced by men than any sort of beasts; and they, against the custom of almost all other nations, think that there is nothing more inglorious than that glory which is gained by war. They should be both troubled and ashamed of bloody victory over their enemies; and in no victory do they glory so much, as in that which is gained by dexterity and good conduct without bloodshed.”
– Sir Thomas More (1478-beheaded 1535) Utopia (1516)
Elder statesman Malcolm Fraser is an ex-Prime Minister of Australia. He is a guest on a recent Worlds Apart with Oksana Boyko, where he shares his views on the current situation in Ukraine. After listening to this interesting interview, the thought of Mr. Fraser joining together with former world leaders like Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Thabo Mbeki, Mary Robinson and other elder retirees from around the Earth came forward.
It would be a good thing if a conference/meeting of elder men and women who share being their nation’s elected leader took place soon, with discussions on Ukraine the central focus. The world would benefit greatly from the wisdom that comes forward from such a meeting, open to any man or woman former national leader – from any region on Earth – who wished to help with their ideas.
Mr. Fraser has developed the wisdom that comes from many years of living on Earth, so his words illustrate that wisdom in this interview. He begins by noting that Mikhail Gorbachev thought he had reached agreement after the fall of the Berlin Wall with NATO not to expand East toward Russia’s borders, but that the agreement was not held together by the west. Bill Clinton thought that NATO expansion was a “democratizing move” and went ahead with it. Mr. Fraser believes that after the collapse of the USSR, the west should have focused on working with the Russians.
In 2014, he thinks the European Union (EU), United States, NATO, and Russia need to do a type of “restart” to build more trust between their respective leaders and people. He thinks the leaders of Ukraine need to become persuaded by the west to engage in the fine art of compromise, that the west needs to recognize its past mistakes, and that “…one of the problems of the world, where are the great leaders – the great statesmen”. This is a profound point by Mr. Fraser, yet all he needs to do is look in the mirror – then call his men and women colleagues around the world to arrange a meeting to discuss solutions.
He goes on to mention World War II, after which most people realized that humanity had almost destroyed itself, then decided to build a more peaceful world. Ms. Boyko shared a quote from the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith to describe the current situation of Ukraine, “politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable”. Malcolm Fraser believes that what the west and Russia need to attempt to do for the maintenance of peace is persuade the parties in Ukraine to focus on compromising.
He thinks that Ukraine needs to be free to deal with any nation – including EU countries, the USA, and Russia – and that Ukraine should not join the NATO military alliance. He frankly states his view that the USA feels it can break international law, and that rules are for other people. America is right because America does it; the great powers interpret international law according to what is in their best interest. Mr. Fraser advises the EU and USA to absolutely not intervene militarily in Ukraine.
He responds to Ms. Boyko’s observation that he has a slightly different view of events than most political leaders, and Mr. Fraser points out that there are other retired elders like himself who have similar big-picture, balanced ways of analyzing the situation in Ukraine and the region. He points out that western politicians have contributed to the unfortunate situation and been very short-sighted – incapable of looking at the larger picture. He stresses that all nations must get on together in joined efforts to build a more peaceful world, without saying things that create distrust.
“We’ve got to try and build a better world.”
Mr. Fraser admits regret for the events that occurred in East Timor and Indonesia while he was Australia’s Prime Minister. Finally, Malcolm Fraser says to Oksana Boyko, “…USA has yet to understand that good political outcomes are not going to come through military power.” He notes that the USA accounts for 42% of the world’s military spending compared to China’s 8%.
This was the first time I’ve listened to Malcolm Fraser of Australia, so there is no background or history of his years as Australia’s leader that I can share with you at this time. Evidently it’s been over 30 years since he left office. The reason his interview has been posted is because of his status as an elder statesman, and the hope that his wisdom can get into the public consciousness.
Rational dialogue, especially from the world’s wise elders, offers the greatest gift to guarantee peace for the men, women, and children of Ukraine.
(Thank you to WorldsApaRT at YouTube)