Dear World, Who’s Encircling Whom?

Their old bugbear

Uncle Sam Sells Rancid Fictions

Everything is hunky punky in the Ukraine. Everybody got what they wanted. Putin got to deal with his noisome cousins on the west, and along the way he got to reaffirm Russia as a force not to be taken lightly. He was preternaturally aware for some time that the Americans had been punching above their weight and finally got the opportunity to reply in kind. The Americans were delighted to get the definitive proof that their old bugbear was once more on the march, this time for real. The Russians were clearly threatening world peace–and what’s worse–American hegemony. Now the Yanks can resume peddling their bi-polar version of the world–us and them, cowboys and Indians. You’re one or the other.

The surprising thing to the impartial observer is that almost everybody, but for the few cranks who have been following the story for years, seems to buy into the American narrative. That virtually-world-wide consensus is driven by the mass media. But before swallowing their version whole, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the international media are big businesses, whose aim is to perpetuate the status quo, which is to say, big business. So it’s not surprising that the world’s press, TV and online media should have unanimously grabbed the worn, anti-Russkie ball and run with it. For them it’s a slam-dunk.

Has Anyone Looked at a Map?

Nor is it complicated for them to denounce Russian armed aggression against a neighbor–actually family–and illustrate it with images of bloodied civilians and reports of kindergartens being bombarded (albeit in the middle of the night). It’s clear to them that Russia’s strategy is to encircle Europe and devour it bite by bite. (One sclerotic commentator dared suggest in this morning’s paper that Russia had its eye on Germany.) That cannibalistic assertion is an absurdity that can be dispelled by looking at a map, though there are lots of people who want to believe it.

Who’s circling whom, and why?

Biden and Co. are championing NATO as the valid mediator in this fight but NATO is the worst possible solution. It is, among other things, the Americans’ proxy armed forces in Europe and elsewhere, a fraternity of American running dogs. In line with the rationale for its creation at its inception–to protect Europe from Soviet encroachment–it should have been disbanded with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, something many of us expected. But it remains determinedly dedicated to meddling farther and farther afield and doing more harm than good. (See some of my previous pieces on NATO, here, here and here.)

A Telling Historical View

In the slightly longer view, this whole brouhaha is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fault, for dying at exactly the wrong time and leaving the world in the hands of Winston Churchill–too colonial– Harry Truman–entirely too limited–and Joseph Stalin, beleaguered and outnumbered. Neither the British prime minister nor the American president, were prepared to acknowledge Russia’s World-War-II-winning sacrifices on the eastern front to the tune of some 20-million dead. This posture alone was enough to discolor postwar international relations until our own time.

The Russia voice has seldom been heard over the static of American and British media dominance. Churchill’s overweening first priority, during and after the war, was to preserve the British Empire, which turned out to be a fool’s errand, at an astronomical cost in every respect. Nevertheless, it took the United States-British alliance no time at all to convert their loyal Russian ally (which Roosevelt acknowledged explicitly at the Yalta Conference just before his death) into the bitter enemy of the entire world, a step which was not only grossly unfair, but counterproductive, as we are seeing today.

Russia, until recently, faced all alone with the American military behemoth and all of its nominal allies, has been for generations an outnumbered, outgunned adversary. But in the company of the looming figure of China, the old bear has had his teeth and claws sharpened. This is confirmed by President Biden’s overwhelming response to Putin’s inhuman bombardment and troop movements on Ukranian soil. He canceled Putin’s credit cards.

Dirty Hands

So what was all that sabre rattling about? China already has Russia’s back economically, which is the key to the castle. Now, even at this early stage in the game, the Russians seem to be able to deal with Ukraine. What is meant by “deal with?” First, it’s about eliminating their ex-province’s capacity to make war, and ending the deadly harassment of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. This includes disposing of the weaponry the Americans and British gentlemen have so generously contributed to the mess when they detected the opportunity to harm Russia without getting their hands dirty.

That move in itself afforded sufficient incentive for Putin to put boots on the ground and missiles in the air. Putin, who wasn’t born yesterday, is acutely aware that the Americans/NATO will push him just as far as he will let them. Now they know where that point is. Unfortunately, there will inevitably be civilian casualties. But who can affirm that the Russians are not doing their best to obviate them, unless they should decide to go whole hog and match the American record in Iraq?

Putin is constantly going on about “Ukranian fascists,” and that allegation is not entirely erroneous. Though not all Ukranians are dangerous right wingers, there is a significant number of them nursed on the legacy of the Ukranian divisions that fought on the side of the Nazis in the Second World War. How to deal with them is Putin’s problem now.

As for problems, are the Americans positively sure they haven’t opened another can of worms on the other side of the world? How did Blinken et al, their ace international diplomacy experts, manage not to notice that China is deadly serious on the subject of Taiwan and might take this golden opportunity to harvest it?


P.S. An article by Robyn Dixon and Paul Sonne in today’s Washington Post has this to say:

The attack also carries a direct challenge to the post-Cold War global order. Putin’s sweeping ambition involves hammering out a new international balance, setting the scene for a club of powerful nuclear powers to dominate smaller states and carve out spheres of influence — by force if they see fit.

The Washington Post

Isn’t that precisely what the United States has been doing for decades?

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