Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Putin is Playing Chess, While the West Plays Checkers

by JOHN WIGHT

The abiding arrogance of the West when it comes to its contemptuous disregard for the rest of the world has never been more evident than its role in the Ukrainian crisis over these past few days. The coup which brought down the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych was the catalyst for a dangerous rise in tensions that show no sign of abating, with Russian troops continuing to cement their control over the Crimea, where Sevastopol is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, seizing control of the regional parliament, airports, and other strategic points.

The role of the EU in fomenting this crisis, with more than a little help from US ‘champions of democracy’ such as Senator John McCain – a man who belongs to the yee-ha! school of US foreign policy – qualifies as criminally irresponsible and politically reckless. The sight of those same political figures now attempting to claim the moral high ground vis-à-vis Moscow after ramping up tensions in Kiev and giving the protesters who occupied Maidan Square – many of them members of far right neo Nazi organisations – their unequivocal support has been embarrassing to behold.

No amount of dissembling and propaganda can alter the fact that a democratically elected government was overturned by an armed mob, with fascists and neo Nazis playing a key role, thus revealing that where the West is concerned democracy is not an end but merely a means to an end. This end is focused on the creation of governments pliant to western interests, regardless of whether those governments come by way of the ballot box or the mob. The hypocrisy in this regard is clear.

It is also clear that there is a compelling geopolitical context to these events, revolving around the struggle between the continuation of a unipolar world, wherein the writ of Washington and its allies runs anywhere it so decides regardless of international law or national sovereignty, or the multipolar alternative that the emergence of Russia, China, and other rapidly emerging economies demands.

When it comes to Russia, the re-emergence of Moscow as a global player post the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in the early nineties qualifies as a remarkable success story in Russian terms and a huge strategic and foreign policy failure by Washington and its allies. Russia’s ability to project hard power as well as soft power, utilising its oil and gas deposits as a political weapon, has been increasingly evident over the past few years, enabling it to defeat western objectives in Georgia in 2008, Syria last year, and now sees it in direct and open conflict with the West in the Ukraine. Clearly, hawks in the US and Europe have proved consistent when it comes to failing to learn the lesson that Russia is no slouch when it comes to protecting its interests.

Oil and gas is a key factor in this unfolding crisis. At the start of 2009 Russia temporarily cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in response to allegations by the Russian government that Ukraine was siphoning off gas destined for Europe. A section of the Ukrainian political and business class has been determined to turn Ukraine to the West ever since, which if successful could set in train a ripple effect that would hurt Russia economically and pose an increased security threat from Nato expansion up to its border.

That said, the relationship between Russia and Europe is by definition one of interdependence. Europe receives over 60% of its gas from Russia and Moscow depends on the revenue it receives in the process. What Putin has done by acting so decisively in sending Russian troops into the Crimea is to create that all important fact on the ground. In any negotiations that will subsequently ensue over the crisis will necessarily revolve around this key fact. The bombast being bandied around in western capitals regarding the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty is hot air, akin to a bully in a school playground accusing the boy who beats him at his own game of not fighting fair.

The sight of Russian soldiers in the Crimea is evidence that western hegemony, long held as the sine qua non of global affairs, is no longer a given. It is also further evidence that when it comes to foreign policy, Vladimir Putin is playing chess while his counterparts in Washington, London, and throughout the EU are playing checkers.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]