NEOCONIC RUSSOPHOBIA | Diary of small wars
By G. Murphy Donovan
“The best political, social and spiritual work we can do is to remove the casting of our shadow on others.” –Carl Jung
After 75 years, the Cold War seems to be a permanent feature of American foreign policy. Russia is still the crux of Allied anxiety. It doesn’t matter that Slavic communism turned into Russian capitalism. Moscow has always occupied a prominent place in the matrix of American and NATO threats for eight decades. Never mind that Red China and the Muslim jihad, at the same time, are eating Uncle Sam’s strategic lunch. The national policy towards Beijing and Mecca now amounts to abject, even flattering appeasement. Hong Kong and Kabul have now followed the path of Yugoslavia. Taiwan and Pakistan are probably next. US foreign policy today seems to demand that the Russian threat be exaggerated while the Chinese and Islamist threat is downplayed or, even worse, ignored.
At the end of the last century, a good friend of mine was serving as a US Army attaché in Moscow, an eyewitness to this Russian “unarmed revolution”. In several discussions at the time, we both agreed that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact offered a golden opportunity to bring Russia back into the European fold of the Allies; enlightened capitalism perhaps, if not real democracy. Certainly, America had more security, cultural or strategic affinities with Moscow than it had with Beijing or Mecca. My attached friend (Col. Jeffrey Barrie, Citadel ’65), an American Jew with a Russian background, agreed that any attempt by the EU/NATO consortium to fill the void in Eastern Europe would kill any hope of rapprochement with the new fantasy Russian now diminished. .
Remember 1989 by Frank Fukuyama End of the story argument where the intellectual of the RAND Corporation cum State Department argued that with the fall of the Soviet empire, liberal democratic ideals triumphed globally, establishing a milestone in human political history.
In fact, the last decade of the last century was a tipping point, but not one that Pollyannas like Fukuyama prophesied. With the fall of the Warsaw Pact, Marxist socialism morphed into viral, if not paranoid, Russian nationalism; indeed, a nation that now believes itself besieged by an imperial EU and NATO marching slowly towards the borders of Rodina. With the help of American demagogues, right and left, Putin is now a permanent fixture in America’s domestic and foreign hate policy.
In the 1990s, some of us thought that smart money wouldn’t tap into Russia’s historical paranoia or the alliance vacuum in Eastern Europe. After all, surely Moscow had legitimate inherited interests with Russian speakers in the former Warsaw Pact states, genuine security concerns with their new federation border. In short, my attached friend and I thought Washington might want to take yes for an answer, instead of looking for yet another fight with Moscow in Eastern Europe.
We were as wrong as Fukuyama was optimistic.
At the turn of the century, perceptions of the European threat were redirected from west to east. Imperial NATO seems to be crawling towards Moscow’s target. Needless to say, given Eastern Europe’s experience with 50 years of communism, it is easy to see how the EU and NATO, victims of post-war opulence, could be confused with the 21st Century Security Blankets.
Russia’s reaction under Vladimir Putin was quick to come, especially after America and NATO dismembered Tito’s Yugoslavia, siphoning off new EU/NATO member states and taking sides in old ones. Muslim/Christian sectarian quarrels, this long-standing religious “clash of civilizations” in the Balkans. Worse still, two new Muslim-majority states, Bosnia and Kosovo, emerged from the Yugoslav carnage, states that would later go to supply more jihadists in ISIS in the Levant than any other country of comparable size.
The Muslim sectarian war in the Levant has surely inspired meme copycats in the Balkans. A clear signal that Moscow received from the implosion of sovereign Yugoslavia was NATO’s hidden agenda. After the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and Yugoslavia, it was not hard to believe that the Russian Federation might be next. US intrigues on Russia’s borders in Europe and the Far East, with Muslim terrorists in Chechnya and jihadists in Afghanistan, have likely only fueled the existing flames of Russian paranoia.
Eventually, Putin drew a line in Ukraine.
Reclaiming Crimea was a no-brainer for the Kremlin in several respects; ninety percent of the population are ethnic Russians, a large majority prefer Moscow to Kiev anyway, and Crimea is home to the Sevastopol naval base, an important strategic nuclear asset on the Black Sea. Any idea that Moscow will offer Sevastopol to a hostile and corrupt regime in Kiev is as likely as Washington giving Pearl Harbor back to the Hawaiians.
As for other places of strategic sensitivities, such as Georgia, Putin is no more likely to support hostile EU border states or NATO forces across the Russian border, nor are Americans will not tolerate hostile regimes or Russian military forces in Cuba, Mexico or Canada.
We could do worse than consider this Russian military exercise taking place today against Ukraine as the Moscow version of the Monroe Doctrine.
Victoria Nuland with the Maidan neo-Nazis in Kiev
American foreign policy and clandestine operations in Ukraine follow a pattern established by the CIA in post-war Italy. If the CIA or the Oval Office (we don’t know who’s in charge anymore) doesn’t like the politics of a foreign regime, we mobilize illegals subversive do their best. Diplomacy is usually a fig leaf or a side show.
the said Maidan the Kiev revolt is conclusive, another risky chapter in the annals of American sponsorship coup d’etat and misadventures. When Ukrainian President Yanukovych looked east rather than west in 2014, his regime had to leave, even if Ukrainian neo-Nazis were to be used to do the dirty work.
Global companies like the US State Department and the CIA will exploit the chaos, but the main sources of instability in Ukraine are internal. Kiev is probably the most corrupt capital in Europe. America guarantees there as long as corruption genuflects in the West and not in the East. If you lose an election in Kyiv, you risk being tried for treason. Poroshenko is the last ex-president in the dock.
Politics à la Kiev now has an obvious echoes inside the ring road.
Professor Peter Beinart describes the corrosive biases of American foreign policy as “delusions of innocence”; It is, “the predisposition of Americans to think well of ourselves and to dismiss the stated concerns of others as being rooted in dishonesty or bad faith. In short, Beinart thinks Americans and their allies have lost the ability to appreciate and consider the security concerns of others – or perhaps any against a current foreign policy outlook.
The terms of the recent Geneva negotiations on Ukraine illustrate American arrogance and vanity. Lavrov and Blinken roll the bones of Kyiv without Ukrainian players. Kiev is going to have to live with what the big dogs decide – or else.
So much for national sovereignty in Ukraine.
Political arrogance in Washington today has more than a tinge of schizophrenia, a kind of clinical corruption. The grassroots, deep state, Beltway apparatchik is a partisan, at best a Democrat, or at worst a militant socialist. In foreign policy, however, there is little tolerance for any foreign policy other than, to coin a phrase, “neoconic rusophobia.”
On most issues, the steady state, including the so-called national security establishment and media vassals, is well to the left of American center. A side-by-side loop video Contrasting Russian and American recruiting arguments illustrate, visually, the very state of play in Pentagon military culture, must see television these days.
Effective propaganda always contains pearls of prescience.
Peter Beinart’s “illusions of innocence”, alas, are not the only illusions at play as we head towards another proxy war in Ukraine. NATO is a paper tiger and Vladimir Putin and General Valery Gerasimov know it.
Any alliance whose members cannot or will not pay for themselves is unlikely to put troops at risk. Indeed, given what we know about Europe’s behavior during World War II; continental Europe, especially the northern part, is likely to fall back like a cheap tent in any real military confrontation with Russia.
Predictably, the Oval Office has already telegraphed its moves saying it will not send US troops to fight or save Ukraine. Good thing. The American armed forces are probably the best trained and best equipped troops, led by the most politicized general officer corps in United States history. After a 50-year occupation, Russian troops for the most part left Soviet Europe while American troops, bases and weapons are still there after nearly 75 years. Calling the new US deployments in Eastern Europe “defensive” is about as true as calling Victoria Nuland the patron saint of Ukrainian “democracy”.
History, however, should still be always instructive. Russophobic warriors would do well to remember that the Nazis and Fascists in Europe were defeated, for the most part, by Field Marshal Georgi Zhukov, not General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
For a fuller discussion of the origins, motives, dangers, and culpability of the Ukraine crisis, see the excellent historical investigation and analysis by John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) at link. Professor Mearsheimer points out that America doubles down on a losing hand. Ukraine is not a strategic concern for America, by our own admission. However, Georgia and Ukraine are vital strategic issues for Moscow.
We ignore this reality at our peril.