JEA: I do not necessarily agree with everything that Scott Horton has written here, but much of what he has said about the history behind the Russia/Ukraine conflict is absolutely true. Horton’s article is quite long, but it is necessary because it meticulously details why Russia is essentially resisting NATO’s aggressive expansion in the region. Historically, Russia’s position is perfectly rational.
by Scott Horton
Just to get this out of the way first real quick: Whenever someone dares to differ with the common government and TV narrative about Russia and their role in the world, that person is usually instantly condemned as spouting “Russian talking points,” or being “paid by Putin.” This is probably especially the case this week as Russia is waging an aggressive invasion against their neighbor Ukraine as we speak.
But that is still nonsense. Where would a Texan obtain these talking points? Are they true?
Back in the days of the Communist Soviet Union, there were some Americans, many fewer than supposed, and no true danger, but still, there were some Americans who shared an ideological affinity and loyalty to Communism and the Soviet government. But there just is nothing whatsoever comparable to that in the United States today. A cult of Putin? Where? Certainly not in either major party, or within liberalism, progressivism, socialism, conservatism, populism, libertarianism, or any other broad-based political movement in America.
Putin is no charismatic Communist leader of the 4th International. He’s a center-right Republican, essentially, tied closely to certain business oligarchs. His flag is red, white, and blue. His religion is Christian. We’ve already got all of that. Why would we need a cult of a foreign power or leader to find some conservatives to worship? And he speaks quietly. There is not one single faction of any significance, or maybe at all anywhere in this country, that favors Russia or puts Russian interests first. It just doesn’t exist. The people who claim that do so in order to avoid having to deal with the other side of the story at all. Or they’re just dumb.
And so why would we contradict the common narrative? Because our government lies, and the truth is important. Twenty years ago began the push to lie us into war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The most important aspect of it was the way they tried to controversial critical thinking. Those who contradicted the received wisdom were accused of being “objectively pro-Saddam” and his government. But the critics were 100% right and the war party was lying the whole time. The lesson should have been that we will never let our government and media do that to us ever again. But it keeps happening.
As Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University and leader of the so-called “realist” school of foreign policy wrote earlier this week, “‘strategic empathy’ isn’t about agreeing with an adversary’s position. It is about understanding it so you can fashion an appropriate response.”
Now, on February 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the supposed independence of the Donbass, the two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in far-eastern Ukraine, and then sent so-called “peacekeeping forces” into that territory.
The next day Russia launched a massive invasion of the rest of Ukraine. As of this morning, it is not clear if they intend to conquer all of the land east of the Dnieper River, though stretching all the way to Odesa in the southwest or all of Ukraine, including the city of Lviv in the far west and all the land to the borders of Romania and Poland. There are some indications that Putin may agree to pull back to the Donbass if he can get the Ukrainian government to bend to his terms.
In his speech on the 22nd, Putin’s argument about the dangers of Ukraine’s independence went far enough to justify taking over the entire country permanently.
To be perfectly clear, I condemn all of this. Even considering what I am about to tell you about the U.S. government’s role in precipitating this conflict, and taking into account Putin’s legitimate concerns about the Donbass region, I think absorbing the Donbass in this way, much less conquering the rest of the country, was totally unnecessary and could end up leading to a wider war in Europe and worse reactions from nations all around.
I think it was not just unconscionable, but completely unreasonable. I have a Twitter friend who’s sister’s life is in danger from the war right now. But the American hawks say this is all happening because Russian President Vladimir Putin is a megalomaniac dictator bent on imperial expansion and becoming the next great Russian Czar.
No. It was unreasonable. But it was rational. A reaction. Understandable not in the sympathetic sense, but in the strictly literal one.
The responsibility for the invasion of Ukraine by Russia belongs to Putin, but the new Cold War it takes place within is primarily the responsibility of the U.S. government and its leaders over the last 30 years.
And when I say 30 years, I mean it. Just this last Christmas day was the 30th anniversary of the last day of the USSR. The Communists’ red flag came down, the Red, White, and Blue Russian standard went up in its place. The Cold War with the Soviet Union was over. The evil empire was dead.
But then the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden ruined our great peace and victory at the end of the last Cold War. Instead, they got us into this mess.
This was primarily due to the policies of NATO expansion, tearing up important nuclear treaties, the installation of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, overthrowing multiple governments friendly to Russia, including Ukraine twice in 10 years, spending the last 5 years sending sophisticated arms to Ukraine and increasing harassment by American Navy ships and Air Force planes in the Black, Baltic, and Okhotsk seas. They were warned. They thought it would be fine. It wasn’t.
The George Bush Sr. Years
But let’s go back to the beginning. President Ronald Reagan had negotiated an end to the Cold War with the old Soviet Union beginning in 1988. But then, under president H.W. Bush, the American foreign policy community, led by the neoconservatives, adopted a doctrine of global dominance.
This was, as Charles Krauthammer put it in Foreign Affairs in 1990, the U.S.’s “Unipolar Moment” and opportunity to remake the world our way and keep it that way. They call it leadership, hegemony, preeminence, predominance, or even Full Spectrum Dominance. It’s a world empire. No really, it’s all for their own good though. Keeping the peace; protecting the sea lanes; enforcing the global rules-based liberal international order.
Dick Cheney’s Defense Department’s post-Iraq War I, “Defense Planning Guidance” from 1992, defined the doctrine for the new decade and into the new millennium: The U.S. must remain the single dominant power on the planet and must maintain enough military power to prevent any possible strategic rivals, such as Germany, Japan, Russia or China, from even considering an attempt to challenge U.S. power. As those same neoconservatives wrote in their 1998 Project for a New American Century study, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” expanding the U.S. presence in the Middle East and the NATO alliance in Europe was at the core of the doctrine.
But there was a problem. On February 9, 1990, President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker, promised Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that if the Soviet Union would withdraw their troops and allow German reunification under America’s NATO military alliance, they would not expand it, as Baker put it, “one inch eastward” beyond that. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President Francois Mitterrand, British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, and later John Major, all made the same promise.
Of course, they have lied about it since, at various times claiming this pledge either never happened or doesn’t count because it wasn’t in writing. But in 2019, the records were posted at George Washington University’s National Security Archive. You can read the writing yourself.
Just last month, at the end of February 2022, an American researcher found in the British National Archives a formerly secret document, minutes of a meeting with the political directors of the foreign ministries of America, the UK, France, and Germany, on March 6, 1991, in which German representative Jürgen Chrobog, says, “We made it clear in the two-plus-four negotiations that we would not expand NATO beyond the Elbe.
We can therefore not offer NATO membership to Poland and the others.” As reported by the German paper Der Spiegel, U.S. Representative Raymond Seitz said: “We have made it clear to the Soviet Union – in two-plus-four talks and elsewhere – that we will not take advantage of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.”
A somewhat embarrassing but important related point: Did you know that President Bush Sr. actually tried to save the Soviet Union? It’s true. He and his secretary of state James Baker III and national security adviser Gen. Brent Scowcroft thought it would be preferable if Moscow could retain control of the former Soviet Republics, the Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine. The second-to-last American ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock has explained this history to me himself.
Some of you may remember or have heard of H.W. Bush’s so-called “Chicken Kiev” speech of August 1991, as New York Times writer William Safire called it. It turns out the speech was written for Bush Sr. by Condoleezza Rice, later, famously, his son’s national security adviser and secretary of state. In the speech Bush warned against Ukrainian agitation for independence from Russia on anything but the Kremlin’s deliberate time-table, telling their central committee,
“Freedom is not the same as independence. Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.”
Though he was probably rightly mocked for trying to hold the USSR together in a new, loose federation, rather than favoring its outright destruction, 1st his caution helped the Russian reformers see the fall of the Soviet Empire through to the end without the U.S. provoking an unnecessary backlash against their effort and 2nd, showed recognition of potentially dangerous nationalist forces in Ukraine who could do themselves much more harm than good.
Though Bush launched America’s so-called “New World Order” of attempted global hegemony and our 30-year long catastrophic war in the Middle East, it should be mentioned that President H.W. Bush, in one important way, handled the end of the Cold War in what you could even say was heroic fashion by signing multiple treaties with the Soviets and then the successor Russian state to reduce both sides’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons from the tens of thousands down the much lower totals of today – including up until the very last days of his presidency. So at least he’s got that going for him.
But the trouble started with Bill Clinton. He started expanding NATO in his second term. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were brought in 1999.
Clinton and his advisers said that Russia wouldn’t mind. Maybe they’ll join! They created the NATO-Russia Council with a promise toward further integration. But then the Kosovo war of 1999 ended all that talk for good. Of course inviting Russia into NATO, creating essentially a one-world white army of the North, would have also been a disaster, but the alternative our government has chosen has been at least as bad.
Many Cold War hawks such as President Bush Sr.’s close friend Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry, George Kennan, who had coined the containment policy back in the 1940s, and his rival Paul Nitze who had favored the more aggressive policy of Soviet “rollback,” Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during most of the war in Vietnam, former CIA directors Adm. Stansfield Turner and Robert Gates, Amb. Jack Matlock, Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Warner, Sam Nunn, and Bill Bradley, anti-communist academics Richard Pipes and Edward Luttwak, and dozens more of the highest-ranking active and retired generals, admirals, and foreign service officers all warned Clinton not to go through with it. In an open letter signed by President Eisenhower’s granddaughter Susan and 50 of these important foreign policy establishment leaders, they warned in part,
“The current U.S.-led effort to expand NATO … is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability for the following reasons:
“In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance in the Duma to the START II and III treaties; In Europe, NATO expansion will draw a new line of division between the “ins” and the “outs,” foster instability, and ultimately diminish the sense of security of those countries which are not included;
“In NATO, expansion, which the Alliance has indicated is open-ended, will inevitably degrade NATO’s ability to carry out its primary mission and will involve U.S. security guarantees to countries with serious border and national minority problems, and unevenly developed systems of democratic government.”
But Bill Clinton had said that they would “build and secure a New Europe, peaceful, democratic and undivided at last.” But he wasn’t uniting Europe. He was redividing it. Amb. Matlock warned that if you exclude Russia from the expanded alliance it would necessarily be against them. Here the Cold War had already been over for two years before the final end of the USSR, and the U.S.A. was already on the path to restarting it again.
Kennan wrote in the New York Times in 1997:
“[E]xpanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era. Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”
Kennan complained to the Times’s Thomas L. Friedman in 1998,
“I think [NATO expansion] is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.
“Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.
“Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.”
His prediction; our present.
Joe Biden claimed Thursday that Russia’s recent actions have nothing to do with NATO expansion, that this is merely a thin excuse invoked by Vladimir Putin’s government. Well in 2016, Bill Clinton’s former secretary of defense William Perry admitted to the Guardian that,
“In the last few years, most of the blame can be pointed at the actions that Putin has taken. But in the early years, I have to say that the United States deserves much of the blame. The first action that really set us off in a bad direction was when NATO started to expand, bringing in Eastern European nations, some of them bordering Russia.
“At that time, we were working closely with Russia and they were beginning to get used to the idea that NATO could be a friend rather than an enemy … but they were very uncomfortable about having NATO right up on their border and they made a strong appeal for us not to go ahead with that. …
“It wasn’t that we listened to their argument and said he won’t agree with that argument. Basically, the people I was arguing with when I tried to put the Russian point [of view out there] … the response that I got was really: ‘Who cares what they think? They’re a third-rate power.’ And of course, that point of view got across to the Russians as well. That was when we started sliding down that path.”
Secretary Perry almost resigned over NATO expansion back then. In the interview, he also blamed the U.S. for provocative missiles defense systems in Europe and the Color-Coded revolutions in Russia’s near-abroad for poisoning relations with Putin’s Russia. In fact he said Putin was sure the U.S. was plotting to overthrow him too, something which Perry did not seem to think was too far-fetched himself:
“After he came to office, Putin came to believe that the United States had an active and robust program to overthrow his regime. And from that point on a switch went on in Putin’s mind that said: ‘I’m no longer going to work with the west.’ … I don’t know the facts behind Putin’s belief that we actually had a program to foment revolution in Russia but what counts is he believed it.”
As the great Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute and Antiwar.com pointed out last week, Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, conceded in her memoirs that “Yeltsin and his countrymen were strongly opposed to [NATO] enlargement, seeing it as a strategy for exploiting their vulnerability and moving Europe’s dividing line to the east, leaving them isolated.”
Are you familiar with the current CIA director William Burns? In 2008, he was ambassador to Russia. In January of that year, he meant with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and then wrote a memo for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice back home entitled “Nyet Means Nyet.”
Julian Assange sacrificed his liberty to the darkest dungeons of the Empire to bring us this information.
In the memo, Burns wrote:
“During his annual review of Russia’s foreign policy January 22-23, Foreign Minister Lavrov stressed that Russia had to view continued eastward expansion of NATO, particularly to Ukraine and Georgia, as a potential military threat. While Russia might believe statements from the West that NATO was not directed against Russia, when one looked at recent military activities in NATO countries (establishment of U.S. forward operating locations, etc.) they had to be evaluated not by stated intentions but by potential.
Lavrov stressed that maintaining Russia’s “sphere of influence” in the neighborhood was anachronistic, and acknowledged that the U.S. and Europe had “legitimate interests” in the region. But, he argued, while countries were free to make their own decisions about their security and which political-military structures to join, they needed to keep in mind the impact on their neighbors. …
“Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”
Burns further elaborated in his memoir, The Back Channel, that he had noted as far back as 1995 that, “Hostility to early NATO expansion is almost universally felt across the domestic political spectrum here.” In another memo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008, he wrote,
“Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”
Burns also wrote to Rice that it would be “hard to overstate the strategic consequences” of bringing Ukraine into NATO and warned, “it will create fertile soil for Russian meddling in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.”
Over and over we can see that not just the guys at Antiwar.com and the Cato Institute, but many of the greyest and supposedly wisest of all the greybeards at the Council on Foreign Relations, academia, and the State and Defense departments, warned from the 1990s up to recent times, in the strongest language available what was likely to happen.
Some would prefer we forget all that and simply presume, as TV does, that history began this morning and none of this matters. But that would be foolish because it does matter, obviously very much.
On top of the insult and danger of Western incorporation of former Warsaw Pact states into the NATO alliance, was the “shock therapy” economic policy of the “Harvard Boys,” Larry Summers, Jeffrey Sachs, David Lipton, and Robert Rubin, which totally destroyed the Russian economy. Instead of being a good sport at the end of a world-historical peaceful victory, the U.S. under Bill Clinton just kept kicking them while they were down.
All at once these so-called “Harvard Boys” abolished all subsidies and price controls in the formerly completely Communist economy, induced hyperinflation, destroying all available capital for real investment, and used “voucher” and “loans for shares” schemes that handed over entire industries to connected gangsters and oligarchs. The consequences for the economy and civilian population were beyond severe. They were devastated. Life expectancy fell by double digits across the country.
Just imagine, the fall of a Communist regime and economy leading to the lowering of life expectancy by more than ten years for the entire population. That was the result of the corruption and bad faith of the American neo-liberal adviser Bill Clinton sent over there.
The September 1999 congressional testimony of former Wall Street Journal reporter Anne Williamson explains the full scale of the tragedy and how they got away with it. I just interviewed her about it two weeks ago, in fact.
American journalist Matt Taibbi, who then lived in Russia, recently wrote:
“The oligarch class was formalized in a stroke via a deal brokered at Davos, [Switzerland] in 1996. A handful of businessmen would be handed the loans-for-shares gifts in exchange for a promise to fund Yeltsin’s campaign against the communists. The bankers had reason to worry. No less a source than Canada’s current Finance Minister and former Financial Times writer Chrystia Freeland reported that they’d been warned by George Soros. Soros, Freeland said, told the oligarchs that Yeltsin, who initially polled at 7% nationally, would lose in 1996 to communist Gennady Zyuganov, who would certainly re-take their riches. “Boys, your time is up,” he reportedly said.
“Instead of fleeing, they agreed to throw their weight behind Yeltsin, putting the West-friendly Chubais in charge of the campaign. My good friend Leonid Krutakov was fired from Izvestia for reporting on the fee Chubais was paid for this service: an interest-free $3 million loan given by Stolichny bank.”
Taibbi writes that Putin was originally brought to Moscow by these gangsters and made his major break toward power when he helped his mentor, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, escape the country to the West to avoid prosecution for corruption. America’s man Boris Yeltsin took an instant liking to him and his promotion up the ranks was on. “Putin would go on to help the whole Yeltsin clan slither out of Russia with their stolen millions,” he wrote.
The U.S. also rigged the Russian presidential election of 1996 with billions of dollars in last-minute loans for passing out bribes and massive and sophisticated propaganda and ballot box stuffing campaign to secure the corrupt Boris Yeltsin’s reelection. They even made a movie about it called Spinning Boris with Jeff Goldblum. Is that “ancient history”?
Bill Clinton launched two major interventions in the Balkans against the Russian-allied Serbs. The New World Order died in 1999 when Clinton decided the launch his “victory lap” Kosovo war after his acquittal on his impeachment charges in the U.S. Senate in which he sided with the bin Ladenite-tied Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbia to break off the province of ethnic-Albanian-dominated Kosovo, which W. Bush officially recognized in 2008.
Clinton bypassed the UN Security Council, where Russia had inherited the USSR’s seat and veto power, and waged the war on his own and NATO’s authority. This humiliated Yeltsin and severely set back U.S.-Russian relations. It also set a precedent that is being invoked by the Russians right now: Where an ethnic minority is claiming persecution, great power can move right in and change their sovereign status with unilateral force, the so-called international law be damned.
During the Kosovo war, famous British singer James Blunt, then a colonel in the British army, allied with his superior, Gen. Michael Jackson – seriously – to thwart NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark’s command to attack the Russians when they seized the airport at Pristina, Serbia during the war. “I’m not going to start World War III for you,” Jackson is reported to have told Clark.
Clinton’s CIA, in alliance with Saudi Arabia, also supported the separatist mujahideen fighters in Chechnya against the Russians in the late 1990s at the same time they supported Russian efforts against the Chechens, as detailed by the Washington Post, the Stratfor emails at Wikileaks, and the journalism of former FBI lawyer Coleen Rowley. These schemes of course contributed to the rise of Vladimir Putin, who ran the second Chechen war and was named Prime Minister by Yeltsin in 1999.
Yeltsin then resigned and named Putin to replace him as President on the New Year of the year 2000, a rise to power that was, as Matt Taibbi has recently reminded us, widely celebrated by American politicians and pundits. Putin has since isolated, exiled, and replaced America and Israel’s favored Russian oligarchs with his own.
In his statement announcing the de-facto absorption of the Donbass this last Monday, Putin mentioned this U.S. support for the Chechen mujahideen as an example of how unfairly the west has treated Russia over these last few decades. He also referred to stories about jihadists from the dirty war in Syria linking up with neo-Nazis to fight against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine in the Obama years. That’s true too. You can read all about it at the Intercept.
The George W. Bush years:
Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call George W. Bush on September 11th, 2001, to offer his condolences and full cooperation, including the use of Russia’s “northern route,” into Afghanistan through Kazak and Uzbek airspace, and the use of former Soviet bases in those countries. Putin is said to have spent considerable political capital facing down critics on his right in Russian politics and military to do so.
Bush turned right around three months later and announced American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and plans to put defensive missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. Attempting to avoid the obvious, the president claimed these were to protect Poland from ballistic missile attacks from Iran.
When Bush said this at a NATO or G-8 meeting in Europe – sorry, I couldn’t find it but I swear I do remember – the others all busted out laughing in spite of themselves. Instead, these missiles dangerously tip the balance of Mutually Assured Destruction toward one of the potential first-strike capabilities. This is of course considered a major threat by Russia.
Bush’s government also launched a project of what is called the Color-Coded Revolutions, primarily against Russian-leaning states in their near-abroad. These are essentially U.S. coup d’état disguised as fake “revolutions” backed by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and friendly, supposedly private NGOs like Otpor.
This trend started in the Bill Clinton years with mixed success in Albania in 1996, Montenegro and Croatia in 1997, Slovakia and Armenia in 1998, and Serbia in 2000. Bush brought the successful Serbian template to Georgia with the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the failed Denim Revolution in Belarus in 2005, the short-lived Tulip Revolution in Tajikistan in 2005, the failed Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005, and disastrous Green Revolution in Iran during Obama’s presidency in 2009.
In the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the U.S. helped to overthrow the elected president Victor Yanukovych from the Russian-leaning Party of Regions in favor of the Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko and his allies such as the so-called “Gas Princess” Yulia Tymoshenko.
The Bush government also continued further NATO expansion into Eastern Europe in violation of his father’s promise, bringing seven more countries into the alliance: the former Warsaw Pact nations of Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia and the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – the latter three actual former Soviet so-called “republics,” the former two of which share a border with Russia. In 2008, Bush announced America’s intention to include Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, but thus far Germany, France and circumstance have refused to allow it.
NATO membership is a war guarantee. The people in charge act as though it’s just an invite to a fancy cocktail party for powerful international government socialites. Instead, it is a mutual defense pact. President Bush Sr.’s right-hand man and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft opposed NATO expansion in the 1990s.
He later explained that one major reason for it was that the Americans wanted to see Eastern Europe integrated with the West. Though he believed the European Union was the best vehicle for this, he said the French and the Germans were more reluctant. So instead the U.S. in part chose to expand the NATO military alliance just to hurry along the process of eastern nations’ integration into the European Common Market. What could go wrong?
In 2007, Putin addressed the Munich Security Conference, telling them,
“I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.
But I will allow myself to remind this audience of what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.’ Where are these guarantees?”
Like Pat Buchanan, a former ardent Cold Warrior in the bad old days likes to point out, the U.S. used to draw the line at the Elbe river halfway across Germany. The threat was that if the Soviets invaded West Germany, threatening France, Belgium, Denmark, and the other Western democracies, we would go to war to stop them. Now America has moved that line 1200 miles to the east to Russia’s very western border with the Baltic states.
There’s no real reason to fear it, but if Russia did decide to reconquer Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, our politicians have signed us up to fight a war to defend them from a power that could in fact destroy our entire civilization permanently in a single afternoon if it came down to it.
The short Georgia war of August 2008 could have turned into a real war. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili – victor of the U.S.-backed Rose Revolution of 2003 – was incentivized to take bigger risks due to the Bucharest Declaration of America’s intent to bring them into the NATO alliance just four months before, U.S. military support, and vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring. Saakashvili launched an attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia in the southern Caucasus Mountains, then enjoying full autonomy and protection by Russian peacekeepers under a deal that had been brokered by our European Union allies. The Russians, suffering casualties in the initial assault, quickly struck back, destroying Georgia’s invading force and securing South Ossetia’s independence from Georgian rule.
Vice President Cheney reportedly proposed missile strikes against the Russian troops coming through the Roki tunnel under the Mountains. Luckily, the much wiser George W. Bush had decided better than to listen to Cheney by that late date.
Imagine, Georgia, this tiny, weak nation in the southern Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas, is included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. You thought Turkey was pushing it. But what value could Georgia possibly add to the American alliance, other than to get the people of this country into the worst kind of trouble over issues that are absolutely none of our business?
Putin gave a speech to the NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008, telling the Western leaders that, “The claim that this process [of bringing as many of Russia’s neighbors into the West’s military alliance as possible] is not directed against Russia will not suffice. National security is not based on promises.”
Fiona Hill, a Russian expert at the Brookings Institution who made herself famous during Trump’s first impeachment, told the New York Times that the intelligence agencies recommended against declaring a path to membership by Ukraine and Georgia because so many of our NATO allies opposed it. But W. Bush went ahead anyway.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who as retired CIA director in the 1990s had opposed NATO expansion to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in the first place, later took a swipe at W. Bush: “Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into Nato was truly overreaching.” It was, he said, “recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests.” Just as the case with the war in Libya, Gates likes to talk a lot of smack about Bush and Obama’s bad decisions, but he sure never resigned over them. Of course in Libya, he was responsible for carrying out those illegal orders and did so unhesitatingly.
As Putin elaborated in an interview with Oliver Stone, whether America’s motives are truly just centered around corporate welfare or not, the position the U.S. is putting him in requires him to respond to the heightened threat and target our anti-ballistic missile stations in Romania and Poland. Soon thereafter, in March 2018, he claimed in his annual address to the Duma that the Russian military has developed an entirely new generation of nuclear weapons.
These include new heavy MIRV (that is, Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) missiles, which are designed to travel around the South Pole, approaching from a direction where we have no defense and are armed with enough warheads that just one missile could kill every major city in Texas.
Putin also boasted of new nuclear-powered cruise missiles with essentially unlimited range for evading U.S. defenses; virtually undetectable nuclear torpedoes for destroying American coastal cities and major ports; and hypersonic delivery vehicles that travel at speeds above Mach 5, which completely skew the balance of Mutually Assured Destruction by reducing the amount of time that policymakers have to decide whether to go to nuclear war from 15 or 30 minutes to perhaps less than five.
The primacy project did not create a permanent state of dominance and security. Instead, we got endless new liabilities with nothing real to show for it, and a new nuclear arms race, which it looks like we’re losing, badly.
The Obama Years
The Democrats, especially, attack Russia, but perhaps they should take responsibility. President Barack Obama continued down the same destructive path as his predecessors. First of all, his administration continued NATO expansion by adding the Balkan states Albania and Croatia to the alliance.
He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after making such a big deal about their attempted so-called “reset” with Russia, then turned around made a chump out of new Russian President Dimitry Medvedev by lying him into supporting the 2011 Libya war resolution in the UN Security Council. Obama’s government claimed they were only going to launch a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians in Benghazi in Libya’s east – against the pretended threat that Gaddafi meant to slaughter the entire civilian population there, which was a ridiculous hoax.
They then used the resolution as cover to launch a nine-month-long regime-change war on behalf of the Libyan veterans of Iraq War II – those who had fought for al Qaeda in Iraq there: the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Ansar al-Sharia, who has helped turn the country into a free-fire zone in the decade since. This discredited the apparently gullible pushover Medvedev and led to Putin’s early return to the presidency.
Putin accused the Obama administration of bankrolling dissenters protesting the Russian parliamentary elections of 2011. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton certainly did denounce the elections as unfair, and the State Department admitted to the media that they and allied Non-governmental Organizations spent money promoting the democratic process, but swear none of their activities favored any group.
Yet, Putin still helped Obama avoid full-scale war against Assad’s government in Syria in 2013, by negotiating the destruction of all their chemical weapons stocks, and he also helped pressure Ayatollah Khamenei to support the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s efforts to negotiate the nuclear deal of 2015 with the U.S. and UN Security Council powers.
If you know nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Even libertarians, often times blind to history and context, sometimes see these problems through TV and John McCain’s eyes. For example, in Ukraine in 2014, the democratically elected, Russian-leaning government was overthrown in a violent, U.S.-backed street putsch – the “most blatant coup in history,” according to Stratfor’s George Friedman. The overthrow was led by neo-Nazis from the Right Sector and Svoboda Party. Once President Yanukovich fled, American-picked puppets were installed in his government’s place.
When the new government threatened to kick the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of the naval base at Sevastopol, Crimea, the Russians reacted by seizing the entire Peninsula in a coup de main. When ethnic Russian separatists occupied government buildings in Donesk and Luhansk, refusing to recognize the authority of the new coup regime, Kiev attacked and Moscow responded by sending special operations forces to help the locals repel the assault.
“Freedom is being threatened by Russian aggression!” the narrative went, which could not have been further from the truth. It was a battle over spheres of influence. Theirs is inside their own borders only, and even then only for the time being. Ours is the entire sphere. As National Endowment for Democracy head, Carl Gershman threatened in the Washington Post in September of 2013, just as the U.S.-backed Ukrainian Maidan movement was getting started, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
Now, it is certain that the very worst thing that Russia has done in this century has been its involvement in the wars in Ukraine and Syria. But it is important to note that first of all, in both cases the U.S. started it, not Russia. Again, in Ukraine, Putin sent deniable special operations types into the eastern Donbass region to help defend it. Like that or not, up until the end of February 2022, for eight years they did not invade the country with any conventional force or take any territory in the east.
When the Donbass region held a referendum and voted to ask to join the Russian Federation in February 2015, Putin refused. He would only help them to maintain their autonomy from the hostile regime in Kiev. More than fourteen thousand people were killed in the 2014-2015 war there and in the low-level fighting which continued between then and now.
But the vast majority, approximately 80%, of these were Ukrainian civilians and militia fighters killed by the Kiev government, not pro-regime Ukrainians killed by separatists or Russian invaders. Never mind the truth. The narrative is what counts on TV. Except in this case, there’s hardly even a narrative at all. Just the endlessly repeated slogans “Russian aggression” and “Russian seizure of Crimea” without any explanation or context.
Well here is some context on the subject of Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014: Russia won the Crimean Peninsula away from the Turks back in 1783, the same year Benjamin Franklin and John Adams negotiated America’s peace with Great Britain after the Revolutionary War, four years before our Constitution had even been written. It is part of Russia like Virginia is part of the U.S.A. Think about how important West Point is to New Yorkers or the Alamo is to Texans.
The Russians lost more than two hundred-thousand soldiers fighting to keep Crimea out of the hands of the Germans and Romanians in World War II. Plus it’s their only year-round warm water port, and home of their Black Sea Fleet. You could see why they consider it important. Try to take San Diego from the U.S.A. and see what happens.
The only reason Crimea was under Ukrainian control at all was that Soviet First Secretary and Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave it to them by decree in 1954 in order to shore up Ukrainian support for his rise to power after the death of dictator Joseph Stalin. At that point, it made no difference since they were all answerable to the Kremlin first anyway.
The population in Crimea is something like 60% Russian, 15% Turkic Tatars, and 25% Ukrainian. In the generation between the fall of the Soviet Union and the events of the last decade, Crimea had maintained a great deal of autonomy from the central government in Kiev. But after the 2014 coup, three former Ukrainian presidents signed a letter demanding that Russia be expelled from the naval base at Sevastopol where they had maintained a naval presence on the lease after the end of the Cold War.
Instead, Putin ordered his men to leave their bases and take control of the Peninsula. Reportedly, six people were killed in total. It is not clear how many, if any, were actually shot by Russian marines or sailors. A referendum was quickly held, and better than a super-majority of the people of Crimea voted to join the Russian federation. Later independent polling confirmed the results.
That is too bad for the minority who didn’t want to change allegiance, but these are nation-states, not libertarian theorists, and super-majority votes like that are as close as humans can get to full consensus on such large questions involving sovereignty over so many people.
Putin later joked in a speech by way of explanation that:
“[L]et me say … that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organization, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.”
President Obama himself told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine, not because of some grand strategy but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan, and Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” And as Obama elaborated, as The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg put it, “Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one, so Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there.” Obama told him, “The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-nato country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.”
Again, when the eastern Donbass region originally tried to join Russia back in February 2015, Putin said no. The U.S. and its clients were threatening Russia’s vital interest in the warm water naval port at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. That’s the only reason he moved there. The status quo had held for 23 years since the red flag came down, despite majority support there for rejoining Russia instead of remaining with Ukraine. The Kremlin had been happy to lease the port and otherwise stay out. It was the U.S. that forced the change in the situation, and it blew up in their face.
Never mind our Monroe Doctrine in the sense that the Russians must feel the same way about their near-abroad as Americans do, but the Doctrine itself actually promises to stay out of European affairs if they will stay out of our hemisphere in return.
One-hundred and ninety-nine years ago, President James Monroe promised in his “Seventh Annual Message” of December 2, 1823, that in return for the European powers staying out of the Americas,
“Our policy in regard to Europe … [will remain] not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; [and] to cultivate friendly relations with it.”
That part always goes unmentioned, doesn’t it?
But imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, in, say, Canada: What if the Russians, after having won the Cold War, had begun incorporating all of Latin America into their Warsaw Pact military alliance, and then even used neo-Nazis to do a street putsch against the government in Ottawa, overthrowing it, threatened to kick the United States out of its naval bases in Alaska, and then helped the new regime launch a war against the people of Vancouver, B.C. for refusing to recognize the new coup junta, and all while threatening to overthrow the government in Washington D.C. next?
Right. The U.S. would invade Canada and probably nuke Moscow. Those crazy, liberty-hating Russians though? – especially that Vladimir Putin, the supposedly most dangerous, freedom-hating psychopath on the planet? Well, they’ll just have to learn to get used to it. The Americans act as though there is nothing he could ever or would ever do about it.
Speaking of which, I highly recommend you-all look up and check out the clip of Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose on the old Stephen Colbert show on February 24, 2014, bragging about the Kiev coup two days before; about how easy it was and how we’re stealing this important strategic asset away from Russia while Putin is distracted with the Sochi Olympics so he can’t do anything about it. Rose explains that Ukraine is formerly part of “the old Soviet bloc,” and that, “It’s basically Robin to Russia’s Batman. And the challenge here is to try to attract it to the West, to get it to flip sides.”
Explaining former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych’s decision to turn away from a new trade deal with the European Union, Rose compares Ukraine to a woman in a dysfunctional relationship “with its boyfriend from the hood,” trading up to “a nice Yuppie,” the EU, until Putin offered the Ukrainian government a bribe of $15 billion in the period leading up to the coup. When Colbert confirms that the “good guys are winning now,” and asks why Obama isn’t “spiking the football” and mocking Vladimir Putin for the success of the coup, Rose explains, “We don’t want Russia to intervene and kick over the table like a game of Risk, and take Ukraine back.” Yes, they could send troops, he conceded but says that’s why we want to say “Oh look you go the highest medal count [in the Sochi Olympics]. You did really well. And so focus on the Olympics.”
Colbert gleefully added, “Look, a shiny object, we’ll just take an entire country away from you!”
“Basically,” Rose confirmed.
This was similar to State Department official Victoria Nuland and Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt’s leaked discussion – the famous “F– the EU” phone call – about getting the regime change all settled, including hand-picking Ukraine’s new leaders, before Putin could figure out how to react.
Nuland is saying “F– the EU” because she’s complaining that they’re taking too long to get the coup going. Instead, they’re going to bring in some people from the UN to “glue it.” At that point, Pyatt says, “No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.” So we’ve got to hurry up and “midwife” this thing, he says.
Just as in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, the hawks’ hubris is unparalleled and is constantly their undoing.
By the way, Nuland responded to Pyatt that she’d just heard from then-Vice President Biden’s then- and current national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, that Biden is quote “willing,” and that she is going to arrange a conference call with between him and the new pending regime so that he can give them an “attaboy” and “get the deets to stick.”
Seven months later Putin threatened European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, an Italian, “If I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.”
Statements like these should have been taken much more seriously at the time. Again, enough mainstream foreign policy establishment types who said so before are still around to remind us. Even Thomas L. Friedman ran an I-told-you-so in the New York Times, quoting his 1998 Kennan interview, last week. The War Party always resorts to their Hitler-and-Chamberlain-at-Munich analogies, but they’re bunk. Putin is much more like Hindenburg than Hitler. Maybe instead of kicking Weimar Russia while they’re down after the end of Cold War I in such a Versailles Treaty fashion, we could be better sports and help to cultivate their republic to stave off darker forces waiting for their chance to exploit a crisis.
And on Russia’s role in Syria: the various armed uprisings against the Assad regime in 2011 and 2012 would have been quickly destroyed by the regime there if the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Israel had not intervened on behalf of the supposed revolution, which was very quickly dominated by the jihadist followers of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s merciless terrorist group from Iraq War II.
Instead, U.S. and allied intervention on behalf of the bin Ladenites, motivated primarily by animus against the Assad regime for its alliance with Shi’ite Iran, led directly to the rise of the Islamic State, which conquered western Iraq in 2014 and raised the real threat in 2015 that a combined assault against Damascus by advancing terrorist forces could lead to a fall of the regime. Only then, after Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, and John Kerry’s treason threatened a final victory for al Qaeda and/or ISIS in the capital city, did Russia finally enter the war in late 2015.
A secret recording of Secretary Kerry admitting to this fact was leaked to the press in 2016. There’s no excusing the massive civilian so-called “collateral damage” inflicted on the people of Syria by the Russian air force flying on behalf of their government, but again, none of this would have happened if the U.S.A. and its allies didn’t create such a dangerous situation in the first place.
And the rates of civilian casualties caused by their airstrikes were no greater than those caused by the U.S. and their coalition in the anti-ISIS war in Iraq and eastern Syria at the very same time. As the expert Chris Woods from Airwars.org has shown, it is population density below, not the type of munitions and technique used in dropping them that determines civilian casualty rates from airstrikes.
If you listen to them now, the hawks are all screaming that Russia has returned to the Middle East after 25 years, but since it’s their fault, we shouldn’t listen to them. Half the time the same people boast that the Russians can’t afford it and that we like to see them bogged down in an expensive fight far from home.
By the way, all three major chemical attacks blamed on Bashar al Assad’s government, in 2013, 2017, and 2018 were all hoaxes perpetrated by the bin Ladenites to try to increase U.S. support for their cause. In the latter two cases, they got it. In the first case, Russia brokered a deal to allow the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, (OPCW) to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stocks as a compromise to avoid war after Obama’s foolish declaration of his “red line” for full-scale intervention there.
The great journalist Robert Parry believed that this cooperation between Obama and Putin in 2013 was part of the reason the neoconservatives pushed so hard for the coup of 2014 in Ukraine: to nip that growing relationship in the bud.
Donald Trump ran, for one thing, on the promise that he wanted to “get along with Russia.” Not that he had any real idea what issues divided the U.S. and Russia or what should be done about them. He simply possessed the completely pedestrian insight that the Evil Empire ceased to exist more than a generation ago, and that his predecessors’ failures to forge a peaceful coexistence and partnership with Russia by this late date should be placed at their own feet.
He has also parroted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s advice that the U.S. should seek partnership with Russia to divide them from and use them against China – getting the answer half-right for the wrong reason. But when Trump hired Paul Manafort, the lobbyist for foreign states who had worked for the previous, Russian-leaning President, Viktor Yanukovych, in March 2016, they panicked.
Never mind that Manafort, if anything, was serving American interests in attempting to persuade Ukrainian President Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to lean toward the U.S. and EU and away from Russia, they had a narrative to run with: Trump doesn’t just want to get along with Russia, he wants to give them the keys to the entire castle! Collusion!
Now I really don’t know what you know, so let me tell you, Russiagate was just a big fake hoax. CIA Director Brennan and FBI Director Comey and their underlings knew that the entire story of Russian interference and the Trump Campaign’s so-called “collusion” was nonsense. The investigation was the end itself.
After the leaks about Russia’s supposed hack of the DNC emails failed to stop Trump’s election, the CIA and Democrats – I know this sounds so crazy it sounds like I’m the one who’s crazy, but really, check my facts in the New York Times – they wanted to have acting CIA Director Mike Morell brief the Electoral College that Trump cheated with the Russians to win and so they should throw the election to Hillary Clinton, or at least to the House of Representatives which could then name former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or Ohio Congressman John Kasich to take his place.
That of course went nowhere. Someone must have finally told them those electors come from the state parties, not the D.C. suburbs, and there’s no way in the world they were going to give Trump’s win to anyone else. Then three days before his inauguration came the completely fake and stupid “intelligence assessment,” which is a made-up thing, written by a few people, quote “hand-picked by John Brennan,” in place of a real National Intelligence Estimate, and which contained exactly zero substance whatsoever.
This was followed by the leaking of the completely fake Christopher Steele Dossier alleging Trump’s full subordination to Russia and its goals going back for years. Of course the basis for the media printing the story was that the FBI’s Comey had warned Trump about the fake accusations in it in the first place.
After Trump fired Comey, the leaders of the Department of Justice plotted to try to invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and get the cabinet to vote to remove him from power. Once they were sure they would fall short if they tried it, they settled on the plan to just pretend to investigate the fake treason plot for another two years. If they couldn’t get rid of him, they could at least “reign him in,” as FBI officials told CNN.
Amazingly, they kept this lie going for just short of three years; well, dozens of them: The DNC and Podesta email hacks, which they have never proven were done by Russia and later admitted they have no proof of a chain of custody to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange; Manafort’s supposed handling of Trump for Putin, which of course was never prosecuted because it was not true; George Papadopoulos and rumored emails stolen by Russia, which was revealed to all be an FBI/CIA set-up in the first place; Carter Page’s alleged deal to lift Russian sanctions – Yeah sure, the Russians promised someone with no pull inside the Trump campaign a 19% ownership stake in Gazprom, the giant Russian government-owned oil firm, if only he would seize control of America’s sanctions policy for them. It turned out in the end that Page was actually a loyal CIA asset whom the agency had told the FBI was a solid guy and no traitor at all.
The FBI censored this from their Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court search warrant application against him, alleging a pretended belief that he was an agent of the Kremlin in order to keep the investigation going. An FBI lawyer named Kevin Clinesmith was eventually convicted for this crime.
Then there was Senator Sessions’ substanceless meetings with the Russian ambassador in his office and at a public speech and Gen. Michael Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador, which was spun as treason for Russia when in reality he was asking a favor of them on behalf of Israel – oops; endless snipe hunts for pee tapes which even Steel’s source admitted was made up; the big nothing Trump Tower meeting that we were told for years was the certain key to lock up the President’s son for conspiracy and treason, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s non-existent trip to Prague to arrange for the Russian Facebook ad campaign that in fact was not run by the Russian government at all, was not aimed at influencing the election and flatly did not do so; the Russian plot to hack Vermont’s power grid and C-SPAN TV; the “PropOrNot” blacklist of good journalists; the secret server communicating with Russian intelligence that really was just a Trump Hotels spam bot; the Russians’ supposed invention of the Black Lives Matter movement to stir up those otherwise perfectly contented survivors of state violence; the so-called “Havana Syndrome” of psychosomatic hysterical weaponized cricket chirps at the U.S. embassy in Cuba – yeah, no, really, the U.S. government said the Russians and Cubans were shooting them with a mind control ray gun that was causing all sorts of terrible psychosomatic effects on the poor State Department and CIA victims therein.
It turned out to be the mating call of the Indies short-tailed cricket. Terrible were the accusations about Russia’s hacking of all the state parties’ voter rolls – Remember that one? this was an obvious joke long before they admitted it. You can go ahead and start with a scoff when the reports are coming from the Department of Homeland Security. They just want some attention. Then there was the Russian GRU’s alleged intervention in Brexit – the British vote to leave the European Union – and in French, German and EU Parliamentary and other elections throughout Europe; and Putin’s supposed influence looming behind Trump’s choice of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for the Secretary of State job, and then later arranging his eventual firing. All of these accusations were eventually walked back or abandoned, with another few thousand dishonest claims like them, and smears against everyone who knew better along with them.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller could have let it be known from at least near the very beginning of his appointment as Special Counsel in 2017 that their investigation was not pointing to the fact that the President of the United States was guilty of treason in league with the Kremlin to destroy our democracy and all.
As Bob Woodward explained in his 2018 book, Fear, Trump told his lawyer to give Mueller’s team every scrap of paper from the 2016 campaign, no problem, not a thing to hide in the world. Just as Woodward understood and the Department of Justice must have known, this meant that from the very beginning there was nothing there to find. They could have made that most important part of the story clear in a reasonable amount of time after that.
Instead, we got 1,000 leaks from the spies and the feds for another two years trying to make us believe it was all true. When Buzzfeed somehow crossed the line by falsely claiming that Trump had instructed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, Mueller quickly put out a press release denying it was true. But whether the sitting president was guilty of High Treason, of past and current subordination to the most dangerous foreign power on the planet? Sorry, you’ll just have to wait and wonder and watch TV speculate for a couple of years until we get back to you.
And “reigning Trump in” worked, in spades. Trump didn’t have the intelligence or the strength to stand up to the National Security State’s onslaught. Desperate to prove what a traitor he wasn’t to the foreign policy establishment, Trump betrayed the American people and his promise to end the recent era of enmity and work things out with Russia. Instead, he oversaw the addition of Montenegro and Northern Macedonia to NATO; sent more American troops and equipment to Poland and the Baltics, including provocative military exercises and parades within just yards of the Russian border; almost certainly sponsored an attempted Color-Coded Revolution in Belarus; and where Obama, the first black president to support a Nazi coup, was afraid to arm the regime forces who attacked their countrymen in the eastern Donbass region for fear of a real escalation into war with Russia, Donald Trump went ahead and sent arms to Ukraine’s Nazi-infested armed forces – sniper rifles, armed boats, RPGs and Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of non-lethal equipment like Humvees, night vision goggles, radars, and armor, along with training and joint military exercises.
All this just incentivized more violence after the major Minsk II peace deal – negotiated by Germany and France with the Russians and Ukrainians in 2015 – has already been signed. For all the provocation of Russia provided by these arms, the last week seems to have shown that they entirely failed to deter their invasion or meaningfully slow their advance into the country.
If you can believe it, the House of Representatives of the United States of America actually impeached President Trump over allegedly holding up part of one of these arms deals for a few days until he could generate some bad public relations for ex-Vice President Biden who we know was intimately involved in the 2014 coup and whose son got an in-name-only job at a major Ukrainian gas company in the aftermath for a cool $85,000 per month – that’s a million dollars per year – which he blew on crack and sex workers while cheating on his wife and dead brother’s widow at the same time. But anyway, holding up that arms deal was really bad, the Democrats thought, worse than genocide in Yemen, worse than doubling down on a lost war in Afghanistan, and much worse than picking a fight with Russia, which is what he was actually doing.
Under Trump, the U.S. Navy stepped up its presence in the Black and Baltic seas and armed U.S. frigates in the Baltic with medium-range cruise missiles that reduce first strike warning times, which of course makes the Russians’ launch-on-warning trigger finger itch that much worse.
He also increased U.S. Air Force bomber missions right up to the line of Russian airspace in the Baltic, Black, and Okhotsk Seas in the Far East, testing their radar and anti-aircraft abilities.
The Trump administration also worked overtime to try to prevent the completion of the so-called Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, even going so far as to sanction the Swiss and German firms working on the project. On one hand, as Senator Rand Paul pointed out in a recent speech, this is about mercantilism: the power of American firms to lobby the U.S. government to intervene so that they can sell the Germans natural gas instead. But it also seems to be an effort to just prevent the Germans from deepening their ties to Russia. Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, NATO’s first Secretary-General, said the purpose of the Alliance was “to keep the [Russians] out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
But strengthening economic ties between Russia and Germany could lessen their supposed need for dependence on the U.S. military and NATO alliance to protect them from a country they’re getting along with just fine. Who needs the Americans then?
You might remember from history that the last two times Russia and Germany fought, it was the worst thing that ever happened. Thirty million people were killed on the eastern front in World War II. That is a conservative estimate. No matter the cost in dollars, that pipeline of economic interdependence between these two major powers could be the greatest invention in the history of peace, valuable beyond measure in money.
Some have speculated that American strategists preferred to see Russia attack Ukraine if that’s what it would take to stop the newly completed pipeline from being activated. If so, then it seems to have worked. At least for now, the Germans have canceled the deal and joined the rest of the West’s economic sanctions regime against Russia in response to the invasion.
Worst of all Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty, and had promised to let New START expire in 2021 had he been reelected. Open Skies, Dwight Eisenhower’s idea, was finally signed by President Bush Sr. in 1992. It allowed for aircraft overflights of the U.S. and Russia by each other’s air forces for surveillance so that each side could reassure themselves the other was not mobilizing for war. It’s now dead. Putin offered to revive it. Biden declined.
When Trump did propose negotiations for a grand new nuclear deal between the U.S. and Russia, the media slammed him as naïve and dangerous and only proving once again what a treacherous agent of the dastardly Vladimir Putin he is.
This is the deadly legacy of the Democrats, FBI, and CIA’s Russiagate hoax. Millions of Americans caught up in the lies of these monsters, came to believe that their country had quite literally been conquered by the Russians in a way that the Communists only ever could in the movies: they had installed a Manchurian Candidate, a compromised white-supremacist agent of the Kremlin in the Oval Office, with his finger on the big red button and all. Narratives about politicians and statesmen fighting over regional power and influence give way to cartoonish morality plays full of heroes and villains and black and white issues and perceptions about Russa taken from appraisals of Nazi Germany back in the 1940s but just do not apply to Russia today. You cannot negotiate with Evil, as Dick Cheney might say.
An important note about the INF Treaty: The MK-41 missile launchers Obama installed in Romania and Poland are supposedly for firing defensive missiles, but they also fit medium-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be tipped with hydrogen bombs. So the U.S. broke at least the spirit of the INF Treaty first. The same was true with the ships in the Baltic Sea which also employ these possible dual-use launchers. Russia then developed some new missiles that were probably also in violation – but was only being used for deployment near Russia’s frontier with China. But guess what? That’s why the U.S. wanted out of the treaty too, so they could deploy medium-range missiles against China. So instead of saying, “hold on now,” and trying to negotiate a continuation, this important Reagan-era treaty that kept medium-range nuclear missiles out of Europe for 30 years is now dead. (More on that in a minute.)
Perhaps worst of all was Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review which, like his official National Security Strategy, announced a return to “great power competition,” specifically citing the alleged Russian “threat” and called for the development and deployment of more low-yield, “usable” nuclear bombs and missiles (more on those in a minute), announced that the United States will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and even denounces the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which of course America signed back in 1968, promising to abolish our nuclear weapons stockpile completely, but has always ignored anyway.
In the summer of 2020, the disgusting New York Times/CIA stenographer Charlie Savage wrote a trash article reporting on the “fact” of the existence of an obviously fake rumor that the Russians were paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The truth is there was no truth to this at all.
The Russians pay the Taliban for the same reason the U.S. spent the last years of the war flying as their “air force”: they won the war, and were a far better bet for fighting ISIS than the phony Afghan government the U.S. had created in Kabul. But the hoax was enough to preemptively cancel any attempt Trump might have made to pull the troops out that summer, a possibility his people had begun to float as a possibility in the spring.
All other things being equal, the best thing would have been to leave in the winter, but leaving in the summer 9 months ahead of schedule would have almost certainly have avoided the disaster that took place when Biden postponed the withdrawal to September 2021, trying to evacuate just as the Taliban were marching into the capital city.
Biden So Far
Joe Biden came to power seemingly determined to increase tensions with Moscow. He vastly increased provocative naval missions in the Black Sea and increased weapons transfers to Ukraine. On the other hand, he did save the New START Treaty, which, is the last standing nuclear weapons treaty limiting overall and deployed numbers of nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Russia.
And he also finally gave up and lifted the sanctions on the firms building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. [John Stewart earpiece joke.] What’s that? Sorry yall, I spoke too soon. They’re back on again. That didn’t last very long. And as I said, it doesn’t even matter since the Germans have now gone ahead and canceled it in response to the invasion. (Apologies to John Stewart out there somewhere.)
Biden vowed to reinforce America’s “sacred” commitment to the NATO alliance in Europe to roll back Russia. It has to be something. After helping turn Kosovo over to a bunch of terrorists and gangsters, losing a 20-year war in Afghanistan, and turning Libya into a warring den of militias and bin Ladenites, the bureaucrats at alliance headquarters were starting to get nervous. A New York Times headline from the end of 2020 says it all. “NATO Needs to Adapt Quickly to Stay Relevant for 2030, Report Urges.”
They do not even know to be embarrassed. If the NATO alliance is not relevant, then why do we have it at all? How can their mission be “sacred” when they had to hold an emergency study group to decide what it is? The answer they came up with? China. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s new reason for existing is China. Or maybe they just got lucky and a new lease on life in Eastern Europe instead.
This is how the Bush and Obama governments talked about the Afghanistan war as well. It was a “team-building exercise” for the Atlantic alliance. In other words, these policies exist because all the vested interests want to stay paid without having to get a real job. It is understandable but unacceptable.
Americans caught off guard by all the big news recently might have no reason to believe whatsoever that the U.S. could be unreasonably instigating a conflict here. But the blogger Bernard from Moon of Alabama recently pointed to an important study by the Air Force’s RAND Corporation think tank, titled, “Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground,” which recommended a nearly endless list of provocations against a presumably weak and helpless Russia: providing arms to Ukraine; increasing support to the so-called “rebels” in Syria’s Idlib Province (madness, treason); promoting “regime change” in Belarus; exploiting tensions in the South Caucuses; reduce Russian influence in Central Asia; and “challenging” Russian influence in Moldova.
As Bernard points out, the Biden administration has largely pursued the agendas laid out in the document. Observing that the official demands of the attempted revolutionaries in Khazakstan last January include withdrawal from all alliances with Russia and the efforts of the U.S. embassy and National Endowment for Democracy to support anti-regime forces there, he inferred that the U.S. and its allies were playing a role in the short-lived violent uprising, and correctly predicted that the effort would backfire and “strengthen Russia.” In fact Russian troops did intervene, quickly crushed the insurrection, and withdrew, now with the government there more dependent on them than before.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington in September 2021 and asked to begin negotiations toward Ukraine’s admission to NATO. This may have been the final straw before President Putin began to build up forces at bases adjacent to Ukraine last fall.
Putin proposed a treaty stating that Ukraine will not be brought into the alliance, that the U.S. promises not to station troops or offensive weapons there, to revive the INF treaty and for the U.S. to withdraw its military footprint in NATO member nations in Eastern Europe, as the Bill Clinton administration had promised not to do when embarking on the expansion project in 1997.
Putin knows the U.S. will not agree to these terms, but he knows the U.S. will not seek to integrate Ukraine into NATO in the medium term at least. Biden said repeatedly he does not seek to integrate Ukraine into the alliance or station missiles there, and in his written response to Putin offered serious guarantees that the U.S. will not deploy Tomahawk cruise missiles to Romania and Poland even with the INF Treaty now being dead, including a new verification regime. On both of these major points, Putin had already won.
But apparently, the Americans’ childish stubbornness on the issue of supposedly allowing Russia to “close the door” on another country’s ability to join NATO, the situation in the Donbass, and the failure of the Kiev government to fully implement the Minsk II peace deal of 2015, which would have ended the fighting, given the Donbass increased autonomy and also veto power over the foreign policy decisions of the government in Kiev, was too much.
On Monday the 21st, the eighth anniversary of the 2014 coup against Yanukovych, Putin announced he was recognizing the “independence” of the two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk and began marching his so-called “peacekeepers” in. At the time I’m giving this talk on Saturday, March 5, the Russians seem to be in the process of conquering the entire country. In his statement Monday, Putin certainly made an argument broad enough to justify seizing the entire nation of Ukraine and integrating it into the Russian federation. As I said at the beginning it is not clear what his goals are at this point.
In a way, Putin’s absorption of the Donbass is actually a major loss for Russia. It made more sense to leave that strongly pro-Russian population inside Ukraine to at least possible one day again serve as a balance against the western nationalists. That seemed to have been a major part of why he did not incorporate the Donbass back in early 2015 when they voted to ask to join Russia. Now that Putin has taken them away from Ukraine, he has strengthened the hand of his opponents. Now it seems that he has escalated to full-scale war in an attempt to solve that problem.
So far the U.S. and its allies have launched an all-out diplomatic and economic war against Russia in response. What future demands will he issue? What will the Western and NATO reaction be? I hate to consider it. Biden has sworn the U.S. will not fight for Ukraine, but they would still escalate the economic and diplomatic war to a point it could break out into a real war with NATO anyway.
The Germans have already announced the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and all of the Western nations and our East Asian allies have all announced a massive new round of sanctions against Russia. Biden has increased troop levels in the Baltics, though thankfully still not above decorative levels.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The U.S. should send someone capable, if the secretary of state isn’t up to it, to hammer out a deal. Retired U.S. army Col. Douglas Macgregor, an expert at the top of his field on the question of how to fight a war against Russia in Eastern Europe if it ever came down to it. Macgregor is proposing a deal recognizing Ukrainian neutrality and the scaling back of the U.S. and other NATO forces in Eastern Europe in exchange for Russia staying east of the Dnieper river.
At this point that would mean they would have to withdraw from Lviv, Kiev, and Odessa. Either way, it shows that this is a peripheral interest to America at all, while it’s obviously central to Russia’s policy: “Okay, take half, but no more.” And we will pull back our military presence in Eastern Europe because the Russians really do have a point that putting them does not spread peace and security but suspicion and destabilization.
What’s it all about?
Well, it isn’t the threat of Soviet Communism, dead and gone 30 years now.
Putin is correct when he consistently refers to America as Russia’s “partners.” In 2021, the U.S. imported somewhere around 20 million barrels of Russian oil and gas per month.
I swear this is true: One week ago today, the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine successfully launched a rocket and satellite into orbit together. Again.
And it isn’t about containing “Russian Aggression” which exists only in the minds of their aggressive accusers. Russia’s entire GDP last year was 1.5 trillion dollars. When you include the VA and the energy department’s care and feeding of the nuke stockpile, the U.S. spends a trillion dollars per year on the military. Russia spends $60 billion. We have more than a million-man army spread throughout the world. They have 420,000 men and they almost all stay home, except special operations types in Ukraine and those and some air power in Syria, where, again, the U.S. has provoked their intervention through irresponsible policies in the first place.
The Russians have one broken-down old diesel-powered aircraft carrier. America has 11 nuclear-powered carrier battle groups throughout the world at all times, 20 carriers overall. The U.S. has more than 3 times the amount of military aircraft as the Russians when including the U.S. air force and navy.
But Congressman Adam Schiff of California says we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here. He really said that. He said it to justify sending arms to Ukraine, helping pick a fight for them that they cannot win when there never was any threat to us in the first place.
Well, so far Putin has absorbed the Donbass region in the far east of Ukraine in the name of recognizing their “independence,” at least from Kiev. Some experts claim that Putin is determined to recreate the USSR or at least the old Russian empire. But the residual fear left over from the Russiagate hoax has tainted Americans’ fears so badly that it’s hard to know how serious any of that is. Putin has begun insisting that NATO be rolled all the way back to Germany, like in the deal George H.W. Bush made, whether he really intends to call America’s bluff in the Baltics or Poland remain to be seen.
The man has been president of Russia for 20 years, virtually uninterrupted and up until now betrayed no intention of going this far. Again, in February 2015, the Donbass voted to join Russia and Putin told them no. Lyle Goldstein, an expert at Defense Priorities, formerly with the Naval War College told me two weeks ago that he believed the failed so-called “revolution” staged by the U.S. in Belarus last year was the final straw that changed Putin’s calculations. After decades of slights, that was the last one.
In his speech last Monday, February 21st, when Putin announced his government’s recognition of the so-called independence of the Donbass region, Donetsk and Luhansk, he again complained in quite explicit terms about Gorbachev’s decision to allow independence not only for the Warsaw Pact states, but also for the former so-called “republics,” the Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), as well as Belarus and Ukraine, leaving ethnic Russians behind and allowing for security threats on their borders.
He brought up the danger of Ukraine’s admission to NATO and the eventual deployment of missiles and other American forces armaments being stationed there. If the Biden administration truly has no intention of installing such missiles, they should have given all the assurances necessary to satisfy Russia’s legitimate security concerns there.
Again, not that it justifies what Putin has done here or the worsening problems that are almost certain to come from it. But many of his worst accusations about the actions of the U.S.-led West in Ukraine were true, including the breaking of Bush Sr.’s no NATO expansion promises, CIA support for the bin Ladenite terrorists in Chechnya, Libya, and Syria, and war against Serbia to break off Kosovo, the disaster of Iraq War II and Bush’s withdrawal from the ABM treaty, (again!) dual-use launchers at ABM sites in Eastern Europe, the 2014 coup and the subsequent and ongoing war in the east, including U.S. training for fighters, all the American and allied arms and advisers in the country since 2014 and cooperation with the U.S. Navy that he says puts the Russian Black Sea Fleet at risk. He also credibly claimed that the Ukrainian military had already been integrated with NATO and has given access to U.S. surveillance drones and planes.
TV says Putin is just a psycho-case who wants to be a great Czar in history or something like that. It’s definitely a personal problem manifesting itself this way. Condoleezza Rice publicly wonders if he’s mentally ill. Why else could he possibly be acting this way? I think this part of his speech is worth quoting:
“After the US destroyed the INF Treaty, the Pentagon has been openly developing many land-based attack weapons, including ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km.
“If deployed in Ukraine, such systems will be able to hit targets in Russia’s entire European part. The flying time of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Moscow will be less than 35 minutes; ballistic missiles from Kharkiv will take seven to eight minutes; and hypersonic assault weapons, four to five minutes.
“It is like a knife to the throat.”
This all provided him a compelling narrative to his domestic audience that Ukrainian independence was a mistake because it just cannot be without the west taking it over. Purposely echoing the arguments of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Putin invoked an illusory nuclear weapons threat – “weapons of mass destruction” – from Ukraine and his determination to protect the people of the Donbass from so-called “genocide.”
He claimed that Ukraine has been “reduced to a colony with a puppet regime,” by the United States, and again he essentially argued that he would be justified in conquering the entire country. Again, I am not saying that his actions are reasonable. They are not. But his argument is rational if angry, more substance than bluster.
Biden has said repeatedly that the U.S. has no intention of inviting Ukraine into NATO anytime in at least the next ten years. But it was somehow decided that it was a “sacred” principle that no one can ever “close the door” on NATO membership for anyone else. So if Putin wants the obvious in writing, forget it.
That would be letting him “close the door,” which would be intolerable. So it’s come to this over alliance membership which is not truly on offer and missiles the U.S. has no real intent to install. Biden now argues those are just pretexts for war. Well, maybe the U.S. should have given in and called their bluff by offering these security guarantees – since these are their policies anyway. They could have just put it in writing.
This is not just Antiwar.com’s point of view. Many liberal, conservative, and realist scholars and experts agree on the same thing: Russia has very real security concerns here, and the U.S. and its allies should recognize that and treat them with the respect they deserve. Not more than that, but just what’s right.
The only risk to the United States itself is that our government would get us into a nuclear war over a country where we have no national interests whatsoever like Ukraine. The original Red Dawn invasion-occupation scenario makes for a hilarious and awesome movie, but despite Adam Shiff’s threats that the Russians will soon be parachuting into Colorado’s Front Range, it is just a movie.
“Wrong Commie! It’s Houston!” Sorry, I just love that.
Speaking of Wolverines, what will the U.S.-trained neo-Nazi-infested Stay Behind militias and saboteurs accomplish against Russia? Will the U.S. and its allies provide them safe haven in Poland from which to fight?
Somewhat famously, I and a few other prominent antiwar types had mistakenly thought the administration and media were overreacting to Putin’s buildup and that Biden had hopefully conceded enough to avoid war.
Though it is not certain, I’m beginning to believe that my mistake was in – even after everything we’ve been through – not immediately presuming the worst about the U.S. government: that they really did want this to happen.
Some important indications are in recent prominent references to an American-backed Stay Behind program, complete with not just training by the U.S. CIA and military, but according to Michael Isikoff in Yahoo News, training them in the United States.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s quotes indicate a possible plan to bait Russia into this to separate them from Germany and bleed them dry in the Afghan style. Irony is not their strong point.
“Well, what the president has said is that we will continue to support Ukraine even after an invasion begins, and I’m not going to get into the specific details of what that will look like, but it is one of the three fundamental elements of our response.”
On January 14, the New York Times ran a story called “The U.S. Considers Backing an Insurgency in Ukraine.” Helene Cooper wrote, “In Afghanistan, the United States showed itself to be dismal at fighting insurgencies. But when it comes to funding them, military experts say it is a different ballgame.”
She quoted the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe and Hillary Clinton adviser, retired admiral James Stavridis:
“If Putin invades Ukraine with a major military force, U.S. and NATO military assistance – intelligence, cyber, anti-armor and anti-air weapons, offensive naval missiles – would ratchet up significantly. And if it turned into a Ukrainian insurgency, Putin should realize that after fighting insurgencies ourselves for two decades, we know how to arm, train and energize them.”
“The level of military support would make our efforts in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union [in the 1980s] look puny by comparison.”
Weapons to Ukraine had all been supposedly “calibrated” they said, “not to provoke Mr. Putin,” officials told the New York Times. Maybe arming an insurgency truly is Plan B after an invasion they truly meant to deter and these Democrats are just very poor at “calibration.” But they sure seem to be thinking ahead to how an invasion could hurt Russia, with the poor Ukrainians serving as merely an instrument against them.
“A Western military adviser to the Ukrainians said that details of a specific resistance there remained a closely held secret. But already, particularly in the west, Ukrainians are joining territorial defense forces that train in guerrilla tactics.
“The Biden administration and its NATO allies want to capitalize on any distaste the Russian body politic might have for troop casualties, U.S. and European officials said in interviews.”
Former Obama-era defense department official Evelyn Farkas told the Times, “I think the gloves should come off.” When asked about the involvement of Hitler-loving neo-Nazis, inlcudign Americans, among Ukrainian nationalist forces, Farkas told Newsweek, “The far-right groups are helping defend Ukraine. … the Ukrainian government needs all the help it can get from its citizens, regardless of their ideology.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent performance on MSNBC gives further reason to suspect this outcome was welcome if not preferred.
“Remember, the Russians invaded Afghanistan back in 1980. And although no country went in, they certainly had a lot of countries supplying arms and advice and even some advisers to those who were recruited to fight Russia. It didn’t end well for the Russians. And there were other unintended consequences, as we know, but the fact is, that a very motivated, and then funded, and armed insurgency basically drove the Russians out of Afghanistan.
“Obviously the similarities are not ones that we should bank on because the terrain, the development in urban areas is so different, but I think that is the model that people are now looking toward. And if there can be sufficient armaments that can get in, and they should be able to get in along some of the borders between other nations and Ukraine, and keep the Ukrainians, both their military and their citizens, volunteer soldiers, supplies, That can continue to stymie Russia.
“Now, let’s be clear that Russia has an overwhelming military force. But of course, they did in Afghanistan as well. They have also brought a lot of airpower to Syria. It took years to finally defeat Syria in terms of the insurgencies, the democratic forces – as well as others – who battled the Russians, the Syrians, and the Iranians.”
By others she means, the terrorists backed by the United States and its allies, like Jaysh al Islam, Arar al-Sham and Jabhat al Nusra, aka Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
After claiming the Russian forces are completely disorganized and weak, she continues, “So I think we have to watch this carefully. We have to provide sufficient military armaments for the Ukrainian military and volunteers. And we have to keep tightening the screws.”
People really should watch the entire clip to see the way Clinton smirks at the cute little irony of al Qaeda’s attacks against America and the entire 20-year terror war: What are two million dead humans, 10 trillion dollars wasted, the 21st century and new millennium started off soaking in blood just a decade after the peaceful victory for the West after the fall of the USSR? Just a few little-old “unintended consequences,” not even worth mentioning.
But the most compelling bit of information along these lines came from CBS News’s Margaret Brennan, who wrote on March 1, that,
“Given the durability of the Ukrainian resistance and its long history of pushing Russia back, the U.S. and Western powers do not believe that this will be a short war. The UK foreign secretary estimated it would be a 10-year war. Lawmakers at the Capitol were told Monday it is likely to last 10, 15 or 20 years – and that ultimately, Russia will lose.”
To me, this seems to indicate that the Pentagon and intelligence agencies have been planning for this. To “give them their own Vietnam” again in Ukraine as our government is still giving us for 20 years in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and beyond.
Why is the U.S. government taking such risks? It’s the money. As Richard Cummings did such a great job of explaining in his 2007 article “Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” the 1990s-era U.S. Committee To Expand NATO was a project of Lockheed Vice-President Bruce Jackson. The whole thing was just a racket for selling jets either directly to the eastern European states, or failing that, to force the American taxpayer to pick up the tab for them.
A fun anecdote about that: back in the spring of 2014, Harper’s magazine reporter Andrew Cockburn reported that he had a source who had been at a big party in Crystal City outside of Washington, D.C. – an area heavy with military contractors and lobbyists – when it was announced that the Russian sailors were leaving their bases and seizing the Crimean Peninsula. They all started laughing and cheering and celebrating. Forget patrolling Pashtun peasants in Paktika, a massive buildup against the renewed Russian Threat was exactly the conflict these men were looking and hoping for; threatening the future of our entire species so they can keep making money for nothing.
You’ll note that while the Army and Air Force focus on Eastern Europe, the Navy and Marines are more concerned with implementing their Air/Sea Battle doctrines in East Asia, while the Special Operations Command is doubling down in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and on into West Africa. What accounts for the different services’ perception of the threats facing America?
It’s all in the game. The entire U.S. military is, as they themselves call it, a “self-licking ice cream cone,” dedicated to its own perpetuation at any cost, and conveniently, continually creating the disasters which are said to require their next intervention.
Full-Spectrum Dominance is a government program; as such it is the means and the end in itself.
Of course, we shouldn’t sell the American foreign policy establishment too short: they are not only greedy but seem to truly believe their own public relations about how smart and moral and exceptional they are. As Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright explained in 1998,
“If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are an indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future. And we see the danger here to all of us.”
(She was defending bombing Iraq from bases in Saudi Arabia, a policy which got 3,000 Americans killed just three and a half years later.)
The elephant in the room here of course is the hydrogen bombs, otherwise known as thermonuclear fusion bombs or “strategic” nuclear weapons. One of these in the high kiloton or low megaton range can kill your entire city in a single shot.
Barack Obama pushed a massive appropriation toward revamping the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal as well as a complete overhaul of the entire industry; all the factories and national laboratories too. They started by saying the project would cost 1 trillion dollars. Now it’s 1.75 trillion. We’ll be lucky if it’s only 3 or 4 trillion dollars by the time they are done. And this is after spending almost 6 trillion on the current arsenal during the last arms race with Russia in the 20th century. This was the only way to get the New START Treaty ratified by the Senate. The “nuclear weapons caucus’s” financial needs must be satisfied for us to have any limits on overall stockpiles and deployed nukes at all.
Much of the time, if you listen to the DC wonks talk about it, the H-bombs just go without saying. Of course, everybody knows that both sides are armed to the teeth with them still, but so then their part in the story remains unsaid, leaving entire plans and discussions about war revolving around the idea that we could really just fight a conventional war with Russia like in some fun fantasy of a junior tank officer or a stay-at-home PlayStation general.
But both sides still have about 2,000 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs deployed, with approximately another 4,000 each in reserve.
Possibly even more dangerous than the multi-megaton city-killers are the new dial-a-yield bombs, capable of being detonated at so-called “usable” low-yield strengths in the 10s or even single-digit kilotons. They also come with new and improved proximity fuses that make them far more accurate. This might sound like an improvement, but at the same time, it makes the actual use of these weapons seem far more plausible to the men in control of them. It was only just announced two years ago that the first of the new generation of these weapons have been deployed on U.S. submarines.
The Americans have a theory that Russia’s new military doctrine in Europe is to “escalate to de-escalate” – that is, in the event of war, to use one small nuke to dissuade any further escalation by our side. But the U.S. wants the Russians to know that that won’t work: the U.S. will escalate back, not disengage.
To drive this point home a story was leaked in 2020 about a war game that included the use by Russia of a low-yield nuke under their alleged new doctrine. So in the simulation, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper immediately nuked them right back. Hans Christianson from the Federation of American Scientists said this leak was also a public relations stunt to get Congress to fund the new submarine-launched low-yield cruise missile.
By the way, in Andrew Cockburn’s book Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, he describes how the former Secretary of Defense, filling in as the president while playing Continuity of Government games in the 1990s, would always blow up the world, every chance he got. Even when the game was designed to provide off-ramps from full Omnicide, Rumsfeld still went for it every time.
In real life, this type of exchange, beginning with so-called tactical nukes, would almost certainly devolve into general nuclear war and the destruction of the northern hemisphere and the starvation of billions more, as a war simulation carried out by Princeton University demonstrated in 2019.
Any people who survived would have been set back centuries. Even an extremely so-called “limited” nuclear war, such as between India and Pakistan, could kill as many people as all who died in World War II in a single day. The soot from the fires, rising high above the clouds where it cannot be rained out, could be enough to darken sunlight enough to cause nuclear winter, massive global crop failures, and the deaths of billions.
And for what? To keep Russia from occupying Lviv, Tallinn, or Vilnius, cities most Americans have never heard of before in their lives?
In another recent DoD exercise, Russia nukes Ukraine first and the U.S. responds by nuking their ally Belarus. Who comes up with this stuff?
If you want to know how crazy America’s nuclear weapons policy really is, please read The Doomsday Machine by the great Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. He was also a nuclear war planner and has some serious things to tell you in there. For example, back in the ’50s, the one and only nuclear war plan said that in the event of a crisis with the Soviets, in, say, West Berlin, the U.S. would nuke every single city in the Soviet Union and China. Though that was revised somewhat in the Kennedy years, anecdotes since that time are not reassuring.
Old “Iron Ass,” Dick Cheney, was said to be astonished and disturbed when as secretary of defense in the Bush Sr. years, he was shown a simulation of a U.S. nuclear war against Russia which included scores and scores of strikes on Moscow, long after it would have ceased to exist. “Moscow turned slowly into a solid red, covered over and over with ludicrous targets,” a witness later said. “Cheney started squirming around and finally asked one of his military aides why we were doing this kind of thing.”
Well, you see, every service wants two cracks at every target because what if the first shot is a dud? Better make it three air force gravity bombs, two ICBMs, two Tomahawk cruise missiles, and a couple of sub-launched Polaris missiles at this one radar station on the edge of town, just to be sure. And every new weapon invented and deployed is added to the list while the old ones remain.
Year after year it adds up to just comic book-crazy scenarios such as nuking cities full of people and then the empty craters over and over and over again. As Ellsberg recounted, when he left his first viewing of Dr. Strangelove, he and a RAND Corporation college said to each other, that wasn’t satire; it was a documentary.
It seems crazy and alarmist to even consider. After all, what could we really have to fight about with Russia now that’s more important than all the crises of the first Cold War era? But it is crazy. And that’s why we should be alarmed. And we should do everything we can to shout down those ignorant TV-slogan shouting myna birds in our communities who have climbed on board the bandwagon on this.
It’s no different than the demonization of any of the U.S. government’s enemies here and around the world: virtually the entire popular narrative is fake.
The older generation is used to hating Russia and the young have been sold a line about “Russian aggression” throughout Eastern Europe for years now and of course, the Russiagate hoax and the dastardly Putin inflicting Trump upon our land which has seemingly forever damaged the brains of America’s Democrats.
But the U.S.A., not Russia, is the World Empire. And it shouldn’t be. Primacy in the Old World is a Fool’s Errand. This is the middle part of North America. Our supposed limited constitutional republic should never have tried it. And while it’s possible that economic catastrophe could end the era of attempted predominance before a nuclear war does, it seems that the more responsible course would be to recognize the self-destructive nature of our current policy and just call it all off now while we’re still ahead.
Even Victoria Nuland’s husband, Robert Kagan, author of the doctrine of “benevolent global hegemony” admitted in the Washington Post the other day that the unipolar moment is truly over now. The former power disparity between the U.S. and the two major independent powers of Russia and China has now begun to shift back.
“It is time to start imagining a world where Russia effectively controls much of Eastern Europe and China controls much of East Asia and the Western Pacific. Americans and their democratic allies in Europe and Asia will have to decide, again, whether that world is tolerable.”
Tolerable? Compared to what? Better dead than also-red, white, and blue?
Sorry, I’m almost done.
Strobe Talbott was Bill Clinton’s roommate at Oxford when they were Rhodes Scholars and later became his national security adviser and eventually became one of the biggest promoters of NATO expansion inside the Clinton administration in the 1990s.
In 2018 a New York Times reporter went to see Talbott to ask what went wrong with the American-Russian relationship. Talbott conceded that NATO expansion had been provocative but argued in his own defense that, “If the leadership of a country has any view but the following, it’s not going to be the leader of that county for very long. And that is: We do what we can in our own interest.” When it came to NATO expansion, Talbott asked, “Should we have had a higher, wiser concept of our real interests that would require us to hold back on what many people would say is our own current interest?”
It’s just a simple matter of time preference. Should we worry more about angering and provoking Russia, ruining our new friendly relationship, and risking going back to the bad old days of the Cold War 24 years from now, or should we worry about collecting Polish votes and Lockheed dollars today? To us, the answer is obvious. To them, it is too, but they answer it wrong.
It never had to be this way. Putin and his men obviously are responsible for the decisions that they have made and the blood on their hands. But the fact remains that it is the U.S.A. that has picked this fight so far from our shores.
And it seems the establishment is going mad with frustration over the crisis they have created. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution both publicly threatened regime change in Moscow. Republicans and Democrats of all descriptions are demanding no-fly zones over Ukraine and escalated intervention against Russia there, the lesson of what can happen when the U.S. does so seemingly completely lost on them. Biden and the Pentagon so far are more reluctant.
Of course in the current political climate any statement or position that contains anything better than the most overly simplistic, “other side”-bashing, fear-mongering point of view is spun from on high as not just “pro-Russian,” but also “obviously-secretly-controlled-by-Russia” because what other explanation for someone not believing the hype could there possibly be?
But that’s why the current political climate must change. America’s relationship with Russia is the single most important matter facing humanity. We all deserve policies that will bring an end to the current system which requires a perpetual nuclear sword hanging over all of our necks while tragic proxy conflicts are waged against innocent people and the threat of a real war breaking out is higher than at any time since the early 1980s, if not the early 1960s.
This essential issue is one where libertarians can lead by telling the truth and demanding an end to this insane game of militarism and global hegemony so that we can truly live in peace and prosperity together.
Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California, and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2021 book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and the editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,500 interviews since 2003.
First published on March 3, 2022.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.