Letters & Opinion

The Gaza War, APEC Summit and Memories of a 78-year-old Peace Accord

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

ON the 11th  hour of the 11th  day of the 11th month of 1945, after the eternal human destruction by the atom bombs dropped on Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the antagonists in World War II met in France to sign the accord that ended a global war whose intensity dwarfs Gaza today.

Seventy-eight years later, influential world leaders will meet at the 2023 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, which opens today in San Francisco as the world watches the very-possible start of another world war, while nursing memories of the 1945 ceasefire agreement.

The US city and President Joe Biden will host leaders of 21 APEC member economies from the Pacific Rim regions, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Summit – to be held under the theme ‘Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All’ – will hopefully underscore what the organizers have described as Washington’s “commitment to promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth while bolstering American competitiveness in a free and open Asia-Pacific…”

The gathering of APEC leaders, opens with official meetings this weekend, but will also offer another chance for the two leaders – and their counterparts – to talk about peace and war, global security and continued instability, against the background of the Gaza war.

President Biden, facing an uphill November 2024 election battle, that’s drawing on his every sinew, has to balance his domestic policy with a global agenda that is more crisis-ridden than one year ago – Ukraine, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and Haiti – and now has to face fractured relations with friends over Gaza.

AS the summit meets, American diplomacy is in deepening crisis, with US State Department staff formally calling on the Washington to condemn Israel’s violations of international law and rules of war and US Congress staff also mounting a similar protest earlier this week.

Senior government leaders in Europe (including Spain and Belgium) are calling for breaking of ties with Tel Aviv, as some developing nations have already done.

G-7 Foreign Ministers met in Japan earlier this week, where Israel’s traditional allies and backers agreed to call for a pause in the fighting, but not for a ceasefire.

China will not be expected to take sides in passing blame in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but can be expected to lend its voice to pleas for a peaceful end through peace talks, to avoid a new regional war.

Beijing had warned, within days after the overwhelmingly disproportionate Israeli response to the bold October 7 Hamas attack, that growing and deepening conflict could assume wider regional proportions across borders with Lebanon and Syria.

Not much later, fighting erupted on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon involving the armed wing of the powerful Hezbollah political movement and the US fired missiles into Syria this week, alleging it was attacking ‘Iranian-backed’ targets.

With two of its largest aircraft carriers in Mediterranean waters to support ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ and Israel having already dropped over 6,000 bombs weighing 4,000 tons on over 12,000 Gaza targets, Washington is now talking about opening ‘humanitarian corridors’ and deploying ‘hospital ships’ to care for the tens of thousands of mainly Palestinian victims of Israel’s Collective Punishment.

Washington and Israel have lost the propaganda war as Israelis and Jews at home and abroad are protesting that the killings are “Not in our name” and millions the world over are pounding pavements and streets across cities, calling for an end to the fighting.

Qatar is leading negotiations for possible release of hostages and prisoners on both sides, while Israel says it’s not interested in negotiations, only in doing all it can to carpet-bomb Hamas and Gaza into non-existence.

Israel’s traditional G-7, EU and NATO allies – especially those with upcoming elections – are also becoming increasingly disturbed about public reaction and global responses to Israel’s continuing slaughter of Palestinians at a rate of more-than ten-to-one.

Over 10,000 Palestinians have died in the first month of this latest conflict and the number continues adding-up by the minute and hour, while the number of Israeli deaths – though just as regrettably – remains almost the same as on the first day.

But close to 5,000 children are dead and unaccounted for, killed at a rate of 160 per day or more-than one every ten minutes, while 55,000 pregnant women can’t get health care, 5,000 newborns face diseases and hundreds of premature babies on ventilators end-up dying when hospital generators run out of fuel.

While Washington will be more interested in consolidating its competitive economic presence in the Asia-Pacific area at the summit, many APEC nations will also be seeking to maintain or increase their own levels of competitiveness and independence where they can, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.

China is outpacing Western competitors by restoring post-COVID economic recovery, outshining US and EU nations in post-Ukraine war economic growth performance, expanding its engagements with over 100 nations through the Belt & Road ‘Silk Road’ global construction and infrastructure initiative – while simultaneously ensuring its continuing modernity drive reaches people and pockets in all communities.

Just this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its forecast of China’s economic growth to 5.4% from 5% in October, due to a stronger-than-expected third-quarter output and recent policy announcements.

All in all, President Xi will get another opportunity in San Francisco to appeal to his US counterpart to stop allowing presidential election politics to dictate Washington’s policies towards Beijing.

Recent high-flying visits to Beijing by US officials have been low on results that will close the widening gaps on and deepening divides between Washington and Beijing.

China’s historical advanced-roles in Information Technology (IT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have also placed it at the apex of the current discussion on needs for regulation and enforcement of related safety measures and standards.

But when the foreign ministers and leaders of APEC meet for their 2023 gathering, they will also be even-further divided by the global disconnections between people and governments over the conflict today in the eyes of Humankind, while only dreaming of the French accord 78 years ago.

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