I’ve been working on a piece on domestic political inanity, but am taking a detour to comment on the latest news from DC regarding Russia. Whatever happens at home doesn’t matter if it doesn’t affect what is happening abroad, where we have lost our marbles. The only politician making sense on foreign policy at present is Rand Paul. All the rest, and Mrs. Clinton in first place, are macho posturers who think they can still push other major powers around with impunity and that not threatening Russia in its own backyard is weakness. What has set me off this time is the announcement that the White House is considering getting even tougher on Russia to make sure it behaves itself in Europe. To justify the action, NATO asserts some non-existent Russian threat to NATO countries on NATO’s “far eastern” fringe. There is nothing to suggest this, of course, but that’s the glory of propaganda: a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.
The newly-imagined NATO militarization program involves upgrading all the regional armies (magnificent arms sales!), and even stationing missiles. We have already sent military advisers and military hardware to Ukraine, a country not a member of NATO that is sinking under the waves of ineptitude and division, and rumor is rife that the US is funding a mercenary army for Ukraine to fight against Russia and Russia’s own proxy army in eastern Ukraine. NATO also declared one of its new missions (and apparently newly discovered authorities) is to weed out corrupt governments in Europe. I have already watched with amazement the replacing of Ukrainian government officials with foreigners, no matter what the public wants — whose hand is behind this incredibly disrespectful attitude to national interests, do you think? The One World’ers, the ones now declaring the right to weed out somebody else’s government, anywhere in Europe. And how does the weeding out occur? Through Color Revolutions? Pre-planned and deliberate disruptions of public order to achieve a much larger goal? Violent ousters of the “corrupt government”? Is weeding out anything like what we did in Syria? Could Hungary be in for some weeding out, and the Czech Republic, too? The Hungarian prime minister is a pragmatic man who prizes Hungarian independence; even under the Soviet regime Hungary was known to be rather independent in its economic dealings with the west. Now the Hungarian president is being told by the US/EU what to do in both foreign and trade policy. It rubs the wrong way. And the Czech president has banned the US ambassador in Prague from ever going to the presidential palace after the latter insulted the former by telling him what to do vis-à-vis Russia. Sounds like corruption to me.
Before my patriotic readers cheer on US provocations in eastern Europe, consider this: the last time we tried putting missiles in Europe, we had a huge anti-war movement in all the west European countries. Nobody wants to be in the missile cross-hairs of the Russians, and certainly not on behalf of the Poles, who just hate the Russians on principle, or the Latvians with their neo-Nazi sympathies. And they would be in those cross-hairs if the Americans put missiles in their backyards. Many western and even eastern Europeans also reject the US rationale that it is only making Europe safer. Most people in western Europe don’t care what happens to Ukraine unless it involves a lot of refugees, but so far the refugees are going almost exclusively to Russia. Anybody with even one eye in his head can see that all the military armament over a twenty some year period has been flowing eastward, not westward. It was flowing eastward when Russia was barely able to keep its Army together. Pull out a map and look at foreign military bases belonging to the US and Russia. And yet it is obvious that Russia would never attack NATO short of a NATO attack on Russia. What’s the real goal of all this? Containment, disarming, “weeding out.”
I read an article today that warned that we have entered a New Cold War period. I shot back that the commentator should get serious, it isn’t a Cold War, it is the prelude to WWIII. Many west European commentators, including Le Pen in France and Farage in UK, are increasingly worried by the militant US position on relations with Russia and object to it. They blame NATO and EU actions for ushering in the opening phase of WWIII. This is a nuclear war we are discussing and people are beginning to sit up and take notice. As one west European recently wrote, if the US is reverting to its expansionist era, then the Europeans have a right to know of the new policy and adjust their own accordingly. Vladimir Putin has already ridiculed US plans, asserting that “only in a madman’s dream would Russia attack NATO.”
All of what we have been seeing in the development of a policy of confrontation with Russia coincides with the unfolding of the new and bigger US propaganda effort led by Cold War hounds Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Voice of America. The US government was concerned about the burgeoning success around the world of Russia Today, a Russian state-controlled news outlet. I myself read and watch it on-line, not only for news on Russia, which is predictably skewed, but for news on my own country. You can always bank on finding the bad news stories that have been spiked in the US press, and they are all one hundred percent true. That’s why others read it, too — to hear the other side of the story, and the things their own governments are hiding. Really, who would have thought that one day propaganda would have a use?
In the past, of course, such propaganda would have been only for purveyance to the ignorant world and prohibited for distribution within the US, lest the American citizen also be influenced by untruths. Nowadays, there is no exemption from propaganda for the supposedly naive world or the US citizen. One of the clearest examples was the recent performance of our Ms. Potato Head press spokesperson at the US State Department. Despite OSCE monitoring reports showing that there are equal numbers of Minsk agreement violations in Ukraine by each side, Marie Harf insisted that “we know” that the “vast majority” of the incidents were by the “Russian-backed rebels” and only “a tiny minority” by Kiev’s forces. She absolutely refused to acknowledge the facts as reported by the European monitors and instead spread blatant disinformation. She briefly tried to justify any violations, however few, by Kiev by asserting that Kiev was fighting to defend its country and thus was morally right. She was forced back to issue by a Russia Today reporter, who put her down deftly with a little dig on US moral superiority, but the reporter got nothing for her efforts. Harf wasn’t budging and that’s that. Harf can follow simple instructions, like “deny deny, deny.”
In any case, here’s what I think. I think that the Russian propaganda and disinformation system is now ramping up to meet the US ramp-up; I think that Russians will meet any placement of US missiles in Ukraine and Eastern Europe by putting nuclear weapons in Kalingrad and Crimea and targeting them on European capitals and economic regions. They are also rapidly developing their own advanced anti-missile missile system. I predict a rebirth of the anti-war protest movement in Europe, where the left is already geared up for their usual anti-G7 antics. The addition of the more reputable anti-war elements will significantly raise the pressures on governments. Tensions within NATO between those looking for accommodation of Russian national interests and those determined to screw Russia will likely be exacerbated by growing tension between east and west. Chafing at the imposition of US interests over those of Europe will not help tempers.
I also predict that if there is not a serious reconsideration of the growing militarization of our foreign policy, we are looking WWIII in the face. At these close quarters, with the US pushing into Russia’s front door, accidents happen. And sometimes others provoke accidents for their own stupidly short-sighted purposes.
And I didn’t even mention our similar provocations of China, or the emerging Sino-Russian military cooperation and coordination of positions. The multi-polar world has emerged full-blown. No longer that stable bi-polar world, or the incredibly heady days of unipolar power for America, but one where powerful nations are asserting their rightful position in global decision-making. We need to recalibrate. We need to rediscover diplomacy.