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The Easy Priority

The Easy Priority

Omar Sharif as Dr. Zhivago, a window into life under Oppression.

News about US Secretary of State Blinken making statements on China came this week while we were re-watching Dr. Zhivago. Flipping back and forth made me think of how Hong Kong was mostly ignored when their democracy was silently given away by the rest of the world without much action or similarly robust statements from the United States. Hong Kong’s silent loss as a prosperous member of democratic nations came in stages, much like the scene where Omar Sharif’s character finds his way back to his family home after the Communists took over Moscow.

After serving his people in war, the good doctor was berated for having such a large and wealthy estate by Communist political officials. His home was parsed out to other families, and his family and their possessions were confined to one room in their former home. A few scenes later, the other families were able to take his personal possessions, save a Balalaika, and his family was warned that any protest would lead to their arrest. Connections to a family member who told him that he would likely be arrested for his political ideas gave them the chance to leave, more so, survive as best as possible as the accusation was as good as a death sentence. Prosperity turned to obedient survival for most in society, with those lucky enough to have connections being the only ones to prosper. While Hong Kong may have not reached the last stages of this process, the silence on Hong Kong lead to one of the greatest losses of a democratic nation in modern times, mostly lost without Western support. As an added irony, the story of Dr. Zhivago was banned by the Soviets for subversive ideas and the author harassed and tortured throughout his entire life for producing non-state sanctioned art while living in the Soviet system.

Recent statements by the US revolved around China shipping raw material products to Russia that can be used to produce artillery shells and other weapons of war. While it had been assumed that China was shipping already made artillery and other weapons to Russia, the statement stopped short of claims of anything being sent past electronic components for weapons systems and raw metals for Russian arms manufacturers. As billions in support had been agreed to help Ukraine fight their war against Russia, reports of raw materials being sold to Russia by Western allies, and even NATO members, were not addressed in his statement on China’s exports. No mention was made on the third party sellers of Russian energy products still making their way into the European energy grid, nor on policies that keep North American energy exports in the ground while NATO allies continue to beg their partners for support via energy exports. Canada declined such help to a fourth ally recently as well, allies that are the bulwark against Russian and Chinese military threats to Europe and Taiwan, helping raise energy profits for those pushing against NATO more than contributing to its collective defense.

Ukraine has been losing some territory in recent weeks, and the debate around giving military and financial assistance contributes greatly to later outcomes. Areas such as Western Ukraine that saw Lviv as an early escape for internal refugees inside of Ukraine is now suffering more missile and drone attacks. Much of the expense in defending Ukraine comes from having anti-air systems destroy missiles and drones that are targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Despite the tense disagreements in funding Ukraine, there is little to no thought given to targeting the source of many of the missile and drones by destroying their manufacturing plants inside of Iran. Despite multiple acts of war against international shipping, US allies, US service members, Ukraine, civilians and terror victims, the US will not address the source of these terror weapons despite them being designed purposefully to kill civilians. If Blinken wishes to openly condemn China for its exports on unmade weapons supplies to Russia, he should also address the suppliers in his own backyard and manage known threats that have already expanded the war in Ukraine globally. The lack of full action against the current conflict in Ukraine has given space for other conflicts to take hold, all to the external and internal detriment of Western allies. A stern speech against China exporting copper is not the main source of problems for Ukraine and its allies. Priorities ignored has lead to more conflict, starting with the active bleaching of Hong Kong from the discussion. Real priorities are very evident, being avoided if not directly discouraged from being addressed, and are currently flying towards a cargo ship in the Red Sea. The end result can be as bad as life in a Boris Pasternak novel, with the artists being treated as such in Western societies. It remains to be seen if his books will be eventually banned in Hong Kong under the current Government.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration