American, Not Russian, Aggression is the Real
By Bryan MacDonald
August 30, 2015 "Information
- Russia didn’t want a new Cold
War. The myth of a “revanchist Russia” is convenient spin. The
real issue is American interventionism.
Ordinary Russians generally like and admire
American culture. They consume American TV and movies. Teenagers
in Siberia follow the street fashion of New York. Even in
isolated Yakutia you will find people who can rap along to Kanye
West or Jay Z. Many older people can manage a few bars of Elvis
The reverse is not true in the States. Few
Americans could quote a bit of Pushkin. In fact, most US
citizens have probably not even heard of him. Or Pasternak. Or
Tolstoy. Regrettably, if you ask an average American for an
opinion on Russia, the current likely answer is something that
depicts the nation as their enemy.
This is very, very sad. Especially when Russia
has no desire to be an enemy of the US and is not a threat to
any genuine American interests. Actually, Russia is not even
much of a danger to most of the things it’s supposed to be a
danger to. Like the Baltic States, for instance. Or the EU
However, relentless anti-Russia propaganda in
the US corporate media has brought us to this point. American
elites are now more united in their disdain for Russia than they
ever were during the Cold War. During that period, dissenting
voices were heard. Now, they are completely frozen out.
Indeed, anybody with any real knowledge of
Russia is condemned
as “Putin’s shill” these days. Even academic heavyweights
like Stephen Cohen. Thus, we have the bizarre situation where
most American mainstream media commentators on Russia are people
who have either never lived in the country or haven’t been there
for years. Or both. If old Joe McCarthy himself was around, he’d
be on CNN every five minutes.
The fact that genuine Russia analysts, who
understand the country, have been replaced by neocon nutters who
lump the nation in with the likes of Syria, ISIS and North Korea is,
frankly, disturbing. Russia is not some martial lightweight; it’s
the globe’s second strongest military power. Or maybe that’s the
whole point? Russia is bigger and scarier than the aforementioned
and presenting it as an imminent danger is more likely to secure
increases in defense spending?
It’s also interesting to note that, almost to a
man (or woman), the media figures calling for confrontation with
Russia are the
same people who pushed for conflict with Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The current climate is toxic. Washington-Moscow
relations are at all time low. The media, in both countries, fuels
the tension. Yet, to understand where we are, we first need to
understand how we got here.
The American establishment hates Russia’s
president, Vladimir Putin. For daring to challenge Washington’s
authority, he’s been designated as the bad guy du jour. With Bin
Laden and Saddam dead, many imagined that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un
would inherit this role. However, unlike Al Qaeda, North Korea is
too weak and insular to threaten the US directly. To preserve the
military budget, which increased dramatically since 2001, they
need an existential danger. Russia fits the bill.
It wasn’t always like this. After Bin Laden’s
henchmen attacked the US on September 11, 2001, Putin was the first
foreign leader to call President George W Bush. He offered what the
US needed and far more than any NATO members did. Intelligence,
supplies, access to central Asia and transit across Russian
territory. Putin even threw in the Northern Alliance to help America
defeat the Taliban. This wasn’t popular with the Russian elite.
Before Putin, the 90s-era Boris Yeltsin government
bent over backward to help the US. Indeed, Yeltsin even gave Bill
Clinton a map of the electronic bugs in the US embassy in Moscow as
a sign of friendship. At this stage, NATO had just 12 member states
to resist the “Soviet threat.”
How did the Bush administration repay Russian
loyalty? They continued to expand NATO eastward, despite assurances
to the last Soviet government that it would never happen. Now, NATO
comprises 28 countries - and there are a few more on its waiting
America continued to support every country and
politician who portrayed themselves as a potential victim of Russia.
While Putin was trying to foster a new era of cooperation,
Washington just couldn’t tear itself away from Cold War thinking.
Kremlin bad, Kremlin’s enemies good.
Since the turn of the century, politicians in
ex-USSR states have had a clear path to riches. Simply sound as
anti-Russian as possible and voila, money and support beyond their
wildest dreams will suddenly appear, all thanks to Uncle Sam. The
formula is repeated time and time again. Thus, we have the bizarre
situation where US taxpayers are bankrolling a smorgasbord of
ex-Communists, neo-Nazis and corrupt oligarchs across the former
Russia has responded by developing ties with
leaders opposed to the US. Syria’s Assad, Venezuela’s Chavez and
Hungary’s Orban. Again, a nonlinear combination of conflicting
left-wingers and their right-wing opposites. Amid all these
geopolitical games, it’s like the Reagan-Gorbachev detente never
happened. That said, Russia has so far restrained itself from
actively supporting American enemies. If US hostility encourages
Moscow to change tack, expect a run on tinned food and a Bay Of Pigs
Alas, US aggression appears to be intensifying. In
this year’s State of the Union speech, President Obama named only one
country as an American enemy - Russia. The other adversary
mentioned was ISIL.
In an earlier address, he also equated
Russia to the Ebola virus. A gloating Obama claimed that
Russia’s economy was “in
tatters” and that the state was “isolated.” Neither of these
statements is true. In actual fact, in many regions - including Asia
and Latin America - Russia has more friends than the US.
Incessant propaganda reduces hopes of a thaw.
Especially when most popular western press seems to simply
regurgitate the government line these days. Again, the same useful
idiots who shilled for the illegal Iraq war now turn their sights to
Russia. For evidence of this, see Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought
Journalism) by German journalist Udo Ulfkotte. In the
bestseller, the former editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
explains how many stories in the German media are essentially
planted by the CIA.
At the same time, anti-Russia rhetoric in the US
reaches new levels. Americans are bombarded with daily
fear-mongering propaganda about “Russian aggression.” This
is particularly pronounced on Fox News and CNN, where figures such
as retired Major General Robert Scales bombard
the airwaves daily. Scales recently called for America
"to start killing Russians ... killing so many
Russians that even Putin's media can't hide the fact that Russians
are returning to the motherland in body bags.”
Oddly, Russia is
reducing media spending. This year, TASS news agency announced a
25 percent staff reduction and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the state’s
official publication service (which also oversees Russia Beyond The
Headlines and Russia Direct in foreign languages), released
10 percent of its employees. Also, RT's budget is down 46 percent in
dollar terms this year.
Shaken, not stirred
Meanwhile. Putin is smeared as a cross between a
new Hitler and a James Bond villain. The Russian president is
accused of nostalgia for the Soviet Union. In reality, Putin is a
Russian nationalist. Indeed, his political
mentor was Anatoly Sobchak, a noted and outspoken opponent of
communism. Putin’s KGB past is also frequently used against him. In
fact, the President was a low-ranking administrator, not a *Stirlitz-esque
Putin himself believes that the west is
implementing a policy of “containment” against Russia. Even
the “shadow-CIA,” US-political intelligence firm Stratfor
with this assessment. The agency’s chief, George Friedman, has often
stated that US policy is to prevent a rival power emerging in
Eurasia. In simple terms, this means that Washington loves Moscow
when it’s weak, as in the 90s, but fears a successful Russia which
could rival it.
Hence, the Kremlin now realises that using
cooperation with the west to fuel economic growth is futile. This
explains Russia’s enthusiasm for the BRICs movement. It has also led
to a nascent alliance with China, one that may not be in Moscow’s
long-term interests. However, Putin has calculated that the
alternative, meekly cowering before Washington, is worse.
As Moscow-Washington relations atrophy, there are
now two scenarios in play. America can continue its aggression and
Putin, a moderate by Russian standards, could feel compelled to dust
off the Soviet playbook. This would mean a tit-for-tat campaign to
destabilise America's near abroad as Washington has done, or
attempted to do, in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova. The far
better option would be for the US to take a step back and attempt a
rapprochement with Moscow before the present acrimony becomes
*Stirlitz (Maxim Maximovich Isaev) was a
fictional Soviet spy, created by Yulian Semyonov. Best described as
the USSR’s answer to James Bond.