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Keeping Russia as an Enemy

“Russia is the most significant threat just because they pose the only existential threat to the country right now.”

— General John Hyten, Commander US Strategic Command, February 2, 2018

“A Russian space capsule carrying three astronauts has docked with the International Space Station two days after it was launched from Kazakhstan . . . It is carrying Serena Aunon-Chancellor of the United States, Sergey Prokopyev of Russia and German Alexander Gerst.”

— Media Reports, June 8, 2018

Following on from the modest movement towards détente achieved at the Putin-Trump meeting, what next?

Anything but détente, it seems.

US media outlets, followed by those of the UK and some other western countries, went nigh on berserk with fury, and the war-supporters in Washington have been shrill to the point of hysteria. Their paranoia about Russia, never far from the surface, has burst through with a vengeance.

Another predictable result has been escalation of the West’s anti-Russia propaganda campaign which has been gathering momentum for years.

Remember the Sochi Winter Olympics?  They took place in 2014 and as noted by the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, “were a great success” because “the Russians provided seamless organization. Sochi promised excellent sports venues, outstanding Olympic Villages and impeccable organization. It delivered all that it promised. The athletes themselves praised every aspect. . . it is clear that Sochi provided many lasting legacies.”

Unfortunately, the only legacy in the West is irritation that the Sochi Olympics were so well planned and mega-successful. And there is resentment and even rage that such success was repeated when Russia hosted the 2018 football World Cup Competition so efficiently.

The West finds it infuriating that the competition went so well.  I am no football fan, but I watched a bit of the BBC’s coverage following the final game when a reporter interviewed English football fans in Moscow and tried to guide them into saying something critical about Russia. But they were all extremely supportive of Russia and said they had enjoyed their stay and that everything had been perfect. How annoying.

Intriguingly, there is no BBC internet link to that piece of reporting, but I didn’t dream it.  Nor did I dream that BBC television ignored the closing ceremony, although Rupert Murdoch’s Sunnewspaper told the world that “those who did see the closing ceremony were left unimpressed as it was described as ‘boring’ by fans.” But of course.  How could it possibly be anything else? It took place in Russia, after all.

The only piece of juicy nastiness that could be grabbed and blazoned to the world by the Western media before the World Cup Competition ended so successfully was a minor incident at the final match. This was quickly publicized, with, for example, the US CBS television network reporting that “a posse of pitch invaders interrupted the match before quickly being accosted and dragged — not so nicely — off the pitch. The real question is, how in the world do this many people even get on the pitch?”  (At a football match in London in March this year “hundreds of fans charged along the concourse” and the owners of one of the football teams that were playing “had to leave the directors’ box for their own safety as the London Stadium descended into chaos.”  That’s how people get on the pitch in England.)

Facts often confuse the Western mainstream media, and the “posse” invading the pitch consisted of only four people who were swiftly removed.  But not before the intellectual Mr Jason Burt, Chief Football Correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph informed the world that “security guards ran onto the grass immediately to tackle the pitch invaders and grab them all very quickly. And it’s off to the Gulag for them. Well done lads, you’ll enjoy your lifetime in a Russian prison.”

It is this sort of outrageous and totally imbecilic comment that illustrates the attitude of much of the West to Russia. And it is clever and attractive in a propaganda sense, being pithy and quick and nerve-striking, because so many westerners think they know all about gulags.

As recounted by the commentator Garret Epps in The Atlantic in March 2018, “In 1973, the great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn coined the term ‘Gulag Archipelago’ to denote the Soviet system of political prisons and labor camps. In the last 25 years, the United States has, without fanfare, brought into being a kind of Enforcement and Removal Operations’ Archipelago — secretive, loosely supervised, and, in human and constitutional rights terms, deeply problematic. And the ‘system’ will, if the current administration carries forward its enforcement plans, grow significantly larger year by year.” The US gulag archipelago is firmly in place.

But in the minds of so many of the Western world, that have been ever-so-gently brainwashed over the years of the New Cold War, ‘gulags’ are forever Russian, and they are ready for pitch invaders.

Cold War Two is thriving, having been initiated and fostered by West and especially by the Pentagon and much of Congress, whose members benefit enormously from cash donations by weapons’ manufacturers whose generosity so far this election cycle has totaled $19,332,442 in traceable hand-outs.  The Pentagon is reported as having calculated that “overseas weapons sales by US firms rose $8.3 billion from 2016 to 2017, with American arms makers moving a total of $41.9 billion in advanced weaponry to foreign militaries last year.”  There is profit in supporting confrontation.

Development of the new Cold War was described succinctly in February 2018 by Stephen F Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, in that “[President] Clinton pursued winner-take-all policies consistent with viewing Russia as a defeated power, presiding over a massive intrusive crusade to shape that former rival into ‘the Russia we want’;  beginning the expansion of NATO, now on Russia’s borders; and bombing Moscow’s traditional Slav ally Serbia in 1999, despite Yeltsin’s protests. Indeed, the extreme vilification of Putin by former members of the Clinton administration, including Hillary Clinton, who equated him with Hitler, are not unrelated to their unwise Russia policies of the 1990s — loudly applauded, it should be added, by media journalists now also in the forefront of demonizing the current Kremlin leader.”

The Western media and what is now called the ‘deep state’ — the power clique, somewhat akin or even complementary to the military-industrial complex spotlighted by President Eisenhower almost sixty years ago — are intent on portraying Russia as a warmongering expansionist state, but they never mention the fact that, as recorded in the 2018 World Report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute “In 2017 the USA spent more on its military [$610 billion] than the next seven highest-spending countries combined. . . . at $66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016.”

The New York Times summed up the Washington Establishment’s attitude to the Putin-Trump July 16 talks with the headline “Trump Opens His Arms to Russia. His Administration Closes Its Fist.”  Entirely coincidentally, three days before the meeting, Washington’s best and brightest announced that twelve Russians had been indicted for allegedly interfering with the US elections in 2016.   The word “allegedly” was rarely used by the West’s mainstream media, and the fact that no evidence of any sort has been presented to backup up the allegations has been completely ignored. The automatic verdict is that Russia is guilty of whatever charges might be levelled, just as in Britain the blame for an incident of poisoning has been laid firmly at Russia’s door without a shred of proof that Russia was involved.

Make no mistake:  the man Trump is the worst president the US has ever had.  He is, in the well-chosen words of the commentator Robert Reich, a “selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, lying, narcissistic, boastful megalomaniac.”  But — it seems he wants to talk and negotiate with Russia, rather than indulging in ceaseless confrontation.

Trump has long expressed interest in improving ties with Russia, and the recent summit was his first real opportunity for doing so. Yet it will be difficult for this progress to have any permanence with so many in the Military-Industrial Complex uniting to undermine it.  The Deep State’s fury and bitterness will not die down, and its propaganda campaigns will continue to fuel the Second Cold War.  Exporting weapons is most lucrative, and many big-ticket items are scheduled to be sold to European countries, which is why it’s important to keep Russia as an enemy.

More articles by:

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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