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America Is Now an Insane Country

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On the same day when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, on September 3rd, that Texas might lead the way to America’s outlawing abortions, Houston Public Media headlined “Doctors Say Texas Leaders Failed To Stop COVID-19 From Spreading”, and reported that

Texas schools have amassed more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in students in just a couple of weeks. More than a dozen school districts have closed temporarily as a result of the disease, and Texas is a leader in child deaths from COVID-19 with 59 as of Sept. 3.

But state leaders have spent weeks of the surge pushing through controversial bills around abortionvoting restrictions and bail reform while Gov. Abbott has been fighting local governments over their efforts to stem the spread of the disease.

On the one hand, America’s Supreme Court is so concerned, about the alleged ‘right to life’ of non-conscious early-stage human fetuses, as to dictate to any woman in whose body such an object is being formed, “That is state property and you have no right to terminate it.” (It’s not the mother’s property; it doesn’t belong to her — not even because it’s part of her own body’s health and is affected by what foods, medications, etc., that she consumes while it’s in her body, nor because her own health or maybe even her life will be affected by its presence in her body. It belongs to the state. Is that sane? But it is this Court’s opinion.) However, on the other hand, America’s public are actually so little concerned about their ownreal — “right to [conscious] life,” as to allow (and to accept their Government’s allowing) unnecessarily many real deaths, from covid-19, such as by maskless crowds. At this time, when one of the deadliest and most intensely communicable pandemics in all of global history is raging, unmasked people are being allowed to mass together in crowds of strangers, to entertain themselves and to unintentionally catch and transmit this sometimes deadly disease — allowed to amplify the numbers of these diseases and deaths. Everyone in those entertainment crowds goes home, and now has an increased likelihood of spreading the disease to their loved ones and friends. This produces vast numbers of entirely preventable deaths throughout the entire U.S. population, despite America’s claimed ‘right to life’ (but, apparently, this is a country that is especially concerned only for unborn fetuses, not for real and conscious people). 

Americans, obviously (if one is to judge by its government, which claims to be representative — a democracy — but is actually representing fetuses more than people), care more about protecting the lives of pre-conscious fetuses than about protecting the lives of themselves, and of all of the strangers whom they meet — really conscious beings. Is that priority-ordering sane? People crowd into entertainments, at a time like this? That’s sane?

Also on September 3rd, at this time when “Texas schools have amassed more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases [and when the number of new covid-19 active cases among Texas students had tripled in just the latest week],” NPR’s Nina Totenberg headlined “The Supreme Court Heads Toward Reversing Abortion Rights”, and she reported:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority tossed a legal bomb into the abortion debate late Wednesday night.

By a vote of 5-to-4, the court’s most conservative members upheld, for now, a Texas law that, in effect, bans abortions after about six weeks. But almost as important as the result was how the court reached its decision — without full briefing and arguments before any court.

The court majority, including its three Trump appointees, emphasized that it was not ruling on the issues presented in the case. Still, it refused to block the law from going into effect for procedural reasons. The unsigned court order was just one long paragraph in length. And within a day, state legislators in Florida and elsewhere announced plans to introduce copycat legislation in their states.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who has dissented from almost every decision upholding expansive abortion rights, disagreed this time. He called the Texas law unprecedented because it not only bans abortions after roughly six weeks, but delegates enforcement powers not to state officials but to the general “populace at large.” Roberts noted that the law appears to be deliberately structured to prevent courts from being able to promptly consider the constitutionality of the law. …

Specifically, the law confers on any individual the right to file suit for money damages against a clinic, or any person who aids or abets an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

This is now the Trump Court. Whereas, previously, signed 5-to-4 conservative U.S. Supreme Court rulings were common, the Court’s new ruling is an unsigned 5-to-4 theocratic ruling by all 5 of the U.S. Supreme Court’s fundamentalist Christians: four Roman Catholic fundamentalists (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh), and the only Protestant fundamentalist) (Barrett), ruling that the new Texas law, which places $10,000 bounties on the heads of anyone who participates or assists (or “intends” to) an abortion in Texas, should maybe be allowed to be enforced by this private bounty-system in Texas, and should temporarily be allowed to be enforced that way, though “this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law,” but the ruling instead invites all other states to consider passing similar laws so that the U.S. Supreme Court itself maybe won’t need to act in order to outlaw abortions, and thus this matter might simply go back to being a state instead of federal matter. Interestingly, the billionaires-controlled U.S. ’news’-media report details of each of the two (signed) dissenting opinions, but say little if anything about the one (and far more important but unsigned) five theocrats’ majority decision (not even stating the names of the five ‘Justices’ in that majority-opinion), so that the public won’t understand what’s happening (which that majority decision is imposing). 

Among the very few public commentaries on that majority (5-to-4) decision was one by the NYC lawyer, Mr. Luppe Luppen, who headlined “The Supreme Court Guts Roe and Opens a New Era of Nullification”, and he summed up by saying “If state legislatures can effectively turn off constitutionally protected rights by inventing or copying procedures that flummox these five Justices, they may well try to do it.” He pointed out the legislative chaos which that will cause. However, his assumption, there, that the five theocrats were simply “flummoxed,” instead of carrying out a very systematic and carefully thought-out pro-theocracy restoration of the coathanger-abortion era in America, wasn’t backed by him citing any evidence, because it is simply false. A lot of preparation by anti-abortion organizations went into their preparing this challenge. Moreover, these theocratic ‘Justices’ are respected by the public, though they are carrying out the commands in the Bible, instead of in the U.S. Constitution, and it’s achieved by their own, and by the ’news’-media’s, deceits, and, especially, by ‘news’-media refusing to call lies “lies” (such as that a younger-than-six-week-old fetus is alive in the same sense that, say, its mother is).  Though, during Trump’s Presidency, Democratic Party ‘news’-media were starting to call his lies “lies,” none of the American media call lies “lies” generally, and it’s not being done in the reporting on this case.

As regards Americans being so little concerned about their own — and actual — “right to [conscious] life” as to allow (and to accept their Government’s allowing) unnecessarily many real deaths, from covid-19,” RT headlined on September 5th, “‘Not a mask in sight’: Fans return to US college football in a BIG way – to the delight of many, but the horror of others (VIDEO)”, and posted numerous photos of huge crowd-scenes of Americans at sporting events and other entertainments, in which no one was wearing a mask. Covid isn’t just a matter of private health, but it is especially a raging matter of public health; but, if Americans don’t care about the health of anyone but themselves, and if they are stupid enough to believe that by attending such events they are not endangering both themselves and others, then what else can this be but an insane country, where such dangerous behavior is legal? It might be common for many countries — France, for example, being another — but still it is, quite simply, insane. And it has consequences.

On September 4th, the New York Times bannered “Kentucky’s schools struggle as coronavirus outbreaks close entire districts.” What type of life will America’s forcibly non-aborted children be living, in such a land, which has one of the world’s worst public-health systems, and a psychopathically casual attitude toward causing real deaths?

A government like this does not represent its public, but simply misrules them. To accept such a government would be insane, if the public were informed that they are living in a dictatorship. But neither the government nor its ‘news’-media says that they are (they instead call this a ‘democracy’); and, so, America’s insanity must have its source in the country’s rulers (who peddle the falsehood that ‘the people rule here’). But how can America be a democracy and yet have a higher percentage of its people living behind prison-bars than does any other country on this planet? Only an insane — or else profoundly misinformed — person could believe that such a police-state is a democracy.

Is insanity normal? Is it good? Or is it bad? Is there any doubt about that? What about misinformation? It’s the way to get the public to accept such a status-quo.

Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

Americas

Early Elections in Canada: Will the Fourth Wave Get in the Way?

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On August 15, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Liberal Party, announced an early parliamentary election and scheduled it for September 20, 2021. Canadian legislation allows the federal government to be in power up to 5 years, so normally, the elections should have been held in 2023. However, the government has the right to call early elections at any time. This year, there will be 36 days for the pre-election campaigns.

At the centre of the Liberals’ election campaign is the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in Canada and the economic recovery. The coronavirus has also become a motivator for early elections. In his statement, Justin Trudeau emphasised that “Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back better. Canadians deserve their say, and that’s exactly what we are going to give them.” Thus, the main declared goal of the Liberals is to get a vote of confidence from the public for the continuation of the measures taken by the government.

The goal, which the prime minister did not voice, is the desire of the Liberal Party to win an absolute majority in the Parliament. In the 2019 elections, the Liberals won 157 seats, which allowed them to form a minority government, which is forced to seek the support of opposition parties when making decisions.

The somewhat risky move of the Liberals can be explained. The Liberals decided to take advantage of the high ratings of the ruling party and the prime minister at the moment, associated with a fairly successful anti-COVID policy, hoping that a high level of vaccination (according to official data, 71% of the Canadian population, who have no contraindications, are fully vaccinated and the emerging post-pandemic economic recovery will help it win a parliamentary majority.

Opinion polls show that the majority of Canadians approve Trudeau’s strategy to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Between the 2019 elections and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau’s government was unpopular, with ratings below 30%. Unlike Donald Trump, Trudeau’s approval rating soared after the outbreak of the pandemic to 55%. During the election campaign, the rating of the Liberal Party decreased and was 31.6% on September 16, which reduces the chances of a landslide victory.

Trudeau left unanswered the question of whether he’d resign if his party fails to win an absolute majority in the elections.

Leaders of opposition parties—the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party—criticised Trudeau’s decision to call early elections, considering the decision inappropriate for the timing and situation with regard to the risk of the fourth wave of the coronavirus epidemic. They stressed that the government’s primary task should be taking measures to combat the pandemic and restore the economy, rather than trying to hold onto power.

The on-going pandemic will change the electoral process. In the event of a fourth wave, priority will be given to postal voting. Liberal analysts are concerned that the registration process to submit ballots by mail could stop their supporters from voting, thereby undermining Trudeau’s drive to reclaim a majority government. However, postal voting is the least popular among voters of the Conservative Party, and slightly more popular among voters of the Liberal and New Democratic parties. The timeframe for vote-counting will be increased. While ballots are usually counted on the morning after election day, it can take up to five days for postal voting.

One of the key and most attractive campaign messages of the Liberal Party is the reduction of the average cost of childcare services. Liberals have promised to resolve this issue for many years, but no active action has been taken. Justin Trudeau noted that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of this issue.

As in the 2019 elections, the Liberal Party’s key rival will be the Conservative Party, led by new leader Erin O’Toole. The Conservative Party’s rating a five days before the election was 31.3%. Conservatives suggest a different approach to childcare—providing a refundable child tax subsidy that covers up to 75% of the cost of kindergarten for low-income families. Trudeau has been harshly criticised by the Conservatives in connection with the scale of spending under his leadership, especially during the pandemic, and because of billion-dollar promises. In general, the race will not be easy for the conservative O’Toole. This is the first time he is running for the post of prime minister, in contrast to Justin Trudeau. Moreover, the Conservative Party of Canada is split from within, and the candidate is faced with the task of consolidating the party. The Conservative will have to argue against the billion-dollar promises which were made by the ruling Liberals before the elections.

The leaders of the other parties have chances to increase their seats in Parliament compared to the results of the 2019 elections, but they can hardly expect to receive the necessary number of votes to form a government. At the same time, the personal popularity of Jagmeet Singh, the candidate from the New Democratic Party, is growing, especially among young people. The level of his popularity at the end of August was 19.8%. Singh intends to do everything possible to steal progressive voters from the Liberal Party and prevent the formation of a Liberal-majority government. Singh will emphasise the significant role of the NDP under the minority government in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight that it was the New Democratic Party that was able to influence government decisions and measures to support the population during the pandemic.

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, whose popularity level was 6.6%, intends to increase the Bloc’s presence in Parliament and prevent the loss of votes in the province of Quebec in favour of the Liberal Party. According to him, it is fundamentally important to protect the French language and the ideas of secularism. The Bloc Québécois is also not interested in the formation of a majority government by the Liberals.

Green Party leader Annamie Paul is in a difficult position due to internal party battles. Moreover, her rating is low: 3.5%. Higher party officials have even tried to pass a no-confidence vote against her. Annamie Paul’s goal is, in principle, to get a seat in Parliament in order to be able to take part in voting on important political issues. The Greens are focused on climate change problems, the principles of social justice, assistance to the most needy segments of the population, and the fight against various types of discrimination.

Traditionally, foreign policy remains a peripheral topic of the election campaign in Canada. This year, the focus will be on combating the COVID-19 epidemic, developing the social sphere, and economic recovery, which will push foreign policy issues aside even further.

The outcome of the elections will not have a significant impact on Russian-Canadian relations. An all-party anti-Russian consensus has developed in Canada; none of the parties have expressed any intention of developing a dialogue with Russia.

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Interpreting the Biden Doctrine: The View From Moscow

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Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe

It is the success or failure of remaking America, not Afghanistan, that will determine not just the legacy of the Biden administration, but the future of the United States itself.

The newly unveiled Biden doctrine, which renounces the United States’ post-9/11 policies of remaking other societies and building nations abroad, is a foreign policy landmark. Coming on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, it exudes credibility. Indeed, President Biden’s moves essentially formalize and finalize processes that have been under way for over a decade. It was Barack Obama who first pledged to end America’s twin wars—in Iraq and Afghanistan—started under George W. Bush. It was Donald Trump who reached an agreement with the Taliban on a full U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Both Obama and Trump also sought, albeit in strikingly different ways, to redirect Washington’s attention to shoring up the home base.

It is important for the rest of the world to treat the change in U.S. foreign policy correctly. Leaving Afghanistan was the correct strategic decision, if grossly overdue and bungled in the final phases of its implementation. Afghanistan certainly does not mean the end of the United States as a global superpower; it simply continues to be in relative and slow decline. Nor does it spell the demise of American alliances and partnerships. Events in Afghanistan are unlikely to produce a political earthquake within the United States that would topple President Biden. No soul searching of the kind that Americans experienced during the Vietnam War is likely to emerge. Rather, Washington is busy recalibrating its global involvement. It is focusing even more on strengthening the home base. Overseas, the United States is moving from a global crusade in the name of democracy to an active defense of liberal values at home and Western positions abroad.

Afghanistan has been the most vivid in a long series of arguments that persuaded Biden’s White House that a global triumph of liberal democracy is not achievable in the foreseeable future. Thus, remaking problematic countries—“draining the swamp” that breeds terrorism, in the language of the Bush administration—is futile. U.S. military force is a potent weapon, but no longer the means of first resort. The war on terror as an effort to keep the United States safe has been won: in the last twenty years, no major terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil. Meantime, the geopolitical, geoeconomic, ideological, and strategic focus of U.S. foreign policy has shifted. China is the main—some say, existential—challenger, and Russia the principal disrupter. Iran, North Korea, and an assortment of radical or extremist groups complete the list of adversaries. Climate change and the pandemic have risen to the top of U.S. security concerns. Hence, the most important foreign policy task is to strengthen the collective West under strong U.S. leadership.

The global economic recession that originated in the United States in 2007 dealt a blow to the U.S.-created economic and financial model; the severe domestic political crisis of 2016–2021 undermined confidence in the U.S. political system and its underlying values; and the COVID-19 disaster that hit the United States particularly hard have all exposed serious political, economic, and cultural issues and fissures within American society and polity. Neglecting the home base while engaging in costly nation-building exercises abroad came at a price. Now the Biden administration has set out to correct that with huge infrastructure development projects and support for the American middle class.

America’s domestic crises, some of the similar problems in European countries, and the growing gap between the United States and its allies during the Trump presidency have produced widespread fears that China and Russia could exploit those issues to finally end U.S. dominance and even undermine the United States and other Western societies from within. This perception is behind the strategy reversal from spreading democracy as far and wide as Russia and China to defending the U.S.-led global system and the political regimes around the West, including in the United States, from Beijing and Moscow.

That said, what are the implications of the Biden doctrine? The United States remains a superpower with enormous resources which is now trying to use those resources to make itself stronger. America has reinvented itself before and may well be able to do so again. In foreign policy, Washington has stepped back from styling itself as the world’s benign hegemon to assume the combat posture of the leader of the West under attack.

Within the collective West, U.S. dominance is not in danger. None of the Western countries are capable of going it alone or forming a bloc with others to present an alternative to U.S. leadership. Western and associated elites remain fully beholden to the United States. What they desire is firm U.S. leadership; what they fear is the United States withdrawing into itself. As for Washington’s partners in the regions that are not deemed vital to U.S. interests, they should know that American support is conditional on those interests and various circumstances. Nothing new there, really: just ask some leaders in the Middle East. For now, however, Washington vows to support and assist exposed partners like Ukraine and Taiwan.

Embracing isolationism is not on the cards in the United States. For all the focus on domestic issues, global dominance or at least primacy has firmly become an integral part of U.S. national identity. Nor will liberal and democratic ideology be retired as a major driver of U.S. foreign policy. The United States will not become a “normal” country that only follows the rules of realpolitik. Rather, Washington will use values as a glue to further consolidate its allies and as a weapon to attack its adversaries. It helps the White House that China and Russia are viewed as malign both across the U.S. political spectrum and among U.S. allies and partners, most of whom have fears or grudges against either Moscow or Beijing.

In sum, the Biden doctrine does away with engagements that are no longer considered promising or even sustainable by Washington; funnels more resources to address pressing domestic issues; seeks to consolidate the collective West around the United States; and sharpens the focus on China and Russia as America’s main adversaries. Of all these, the most important element is domestic. It is the success or failure of remaking America, not Afghanistan, that will determine not just the legacy of the Biden administration, but the future of the United States itself.

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AUKUS aims to perpetuate the Anglo-Saxon supremacy

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Image credit: ussc.edu.au

On September 15, U.S. President Joe Biden worked with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison together to unveil a trilateral alliance among Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS), which are the major three among the Anglo-Saxon nations (also including Canada and New Zealand). Literally, each sovereign state has full right to pursue individual or collective security and common interests. Yet, the deal has prompted intense criticism across the world including the furious words and firm acts from the Atlantic allies in Europe, such as France that is supposed to lose out on an $40-billion submarine deal with Australia to its Anglo-Saxon siblings—the U.K. and the U.S.

               Some observers opine that AUKUS is another clear attempt by the U.S. and its allies aggressively to provoke China in the Asia-Pacific, where Washington had forged an alliance along with Japan, India and Australia in the name of the Quad. AUKUS is the latest showcase that three Anglo-Saxon powers have pretended to perpetuate their supremacy in all the key areas such as geopolitics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. In short, the triple deal is a move designed to discourage or thwart any future Chinese bid for regional hegemony. But diplomatically its impacts go beyond that. As French media argued that the United States, though an ally of France, just backstabs it by negotiating AUKUS in secret without revealing the plan. Given this, the deal among AUKUS actually reflects the mentality of the Anglo-Saxon nations’ superiority over others even if they are not outrageously practicing an imperialist policy in the traditional way.

               Historically, there are only two qualified global powers which the Europeans still sometimes refer to as “Anglo-Saxon” powers: Great Britain and the United States. As Walter Mead once put it that the British Empire was, and the United States is, concerned not just with the balance of power in one particular corner of the world, but with the evolution of what it is today called “world order”. Now with the rise of China which has aimed to become a global power with its different culture and political views from the current ruling powers, the Anglo-Saxon powers have made all efforts to align with the values-shared allies or partners to create the strong bulwarks against any rising power, like China and Russia as well. Physically, either the British Empire or the United States did or does establish a worldwide system of trade and finance which have enabled the two Anglo-Saxon powers to get rich and advanced in high-technologies. As a result, those riches and high-tech means eventually made them execute the power to project their military force that ensure the stability of their-dominated international systems. Indeed the Anglo-Saxon powers have had the legacies to think of their global goals which must be bolstered by money and foreign trade that in turn produces more wealth. Institutionally, the Anglo-Saxon nations in the world—the U.S., the U.K, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—have formed the notorious “Five eyes alliance” to collect all sorts of information and data serving their common core interests and security concerns.

This is not just rhetoric but an objective reflection of the mentality as Australian Foreign Minister Payne candidly revealed at the press conference where she said that the contemporary state of their alliance “is well suited to cooperate on countering economic coercion.” The remarks imply that AUKUS is a military response to the rising economic competition from China because politics and economics are intertwined with each other in power politics, in which military means acts in order to advance self-interested economic ends. In both geopolitical and geoeconomic terms, the rise of China, no matter how peaceful it is, has been perceived as the “systematic” challenges to the West’s domination of international relations and global economy, in which the Anglo-Saxon superiority must remain. Another case is the U.S. efforts to have continuously harassed the Nord Stream 2 project between Russia and Germany.

Yet, in the global community of today, any superpower aspiring for pursuing “inner clique” like AUKUS will be doomed to fail. First, we all are living in the world “where the affairs of each country are decided by its own people, and international affairs are run by all nations through consultation,” as President Xi put it. Due to this, many countries in Asia warn that AUKUS risks provoking a nuclear arms race in the Asian-Pacific region. The nuclear factor means that the U.S. efforts to economically contain China through AUKUS on nationalist pretexts are much more dangerous than the run-up to World War I. Yet, neither the United States nor China likes to be perceived as “disturbing the peace” that Asian countries are eager to preserve. In reality, Asian countries have also made it clear not to take either side between the power politics.

Second, AUKUS’s deal jeopardizes the norms of international trade and treaties. The reactions of third parties is one key issue, such as the French government is furious about the deal since it torpedoes a prior Australian agreement to purchase one dozen of conventional subs from France. Be aware that France is a strong advocate for a more robust European Union in the world politics. Now the EU is rallying behind Paris as in Brussels EU ambassadors agreed to postpone preparations for an inaugural trade and technology council on September 29 with the U.S. in Pittsburgh. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared in a strong manner that “since one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we need to know what happened and why.” Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for European affairs, went even further as he put it, “It is once again a wake-up call for all of us in the European Union to ask ourselves how we can strengthen our sovereignty, how we can present a united front even on issues relevant to foreign and security policy.” It is the time for the EU to talk with one voice and for the need to work together to rebuild mutual trust among the allies.

Third, the deal by AUKUS involves the nuclear dimension. It is true that the three leaders have reiterated that the deal would be limited to the transfer of nuclear propulsion technology (such as reactors to power the new subs) but not nuclear weapons technology. Accordingly, Australia remains a non-nuclear country not armed with such weapons. But from a proliferation standpoint, that is a step in the direction of more extensive nuclear infrastructure. It indicates the United States and the U.K. are willing to transfer highly sensitive technologies to close allies. But the issue of deterrence in Asia-and especially extended deterrence-is extremely complicated since it will become ore so as China’s nuclear arsenal expands. If the security environment deteriorates in the years ahead, U.S. might consider allowing its core allies to gain nuclear capabilities and Australia is able to gain access to this technology as its fleet expands. Yet, it also means that Australia is not a non-nuclear country any more.

In brief, the deal itself and the triple alliance among AUKUS will take some years to become a real threat to China or the ruling authorities of the country. But the deal announced on Sept. 15 will complicate Chinese efforts to maintain a peaceful rise and act a responsible power. Furthermore, the deal and the rationales behind it is sure to impede China’s good-will to the members of AUKUS and the Quad, not mention of their irresponsible effects on peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

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