According to the Western corporate media, Russia’s incorporation of the Crimea represents a menacing threat to global peace and a sudden re-heating of the Cold War we all thought was over. The Associated Press (AP) has missed no opportunity to portray Vladimir Putin as some evil, hybrid reincarnation of tsarism and Soviet communism, obsessed with reconstituting the failed USSR. But for any thinking adult, this Western narrative has been one of the most breathtaking examples of propaganda in living memory, as corrupted as it is devoid of historical – or moral – context. For if there is imperialism to be denounced here, it is not the imperialism of a Russia that feels compelled to respond to a situation on its own doorstep, but the imperialism of a United States that has decided to create unnecessary crises thousands of miles away from its precious homeland. The Ukrainian imbroglio presents a golden opportunity – on a par with America’s response to Wall Street’s recent misadventures – for attentive citizens to understand the true nature of the regime under which they live. This inadvertent disclosure may well be the only reason we will ever have to be grateful for the presidency of Barack Obama.
Ugly, Stupid, and Arrogant: Hiding in Plain Sight
Although America’s corporate media have conspired to hide this fact, it is a matter of public record that the United States has spent $5 billion on the “promotion of democracy” in the Ukraine. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s little adventure has seen the U.S. cozy up to delusional neo-Nazis and sundry, biddable oligarchs in an obvious attempt to control the destiny of a distant, sovereign country. That the U.S. would then exhibit the chutzpah to accuse the Russians of illegal interference in Ukrainian internal affairs is no more surprising to neutral observers (as opposed to brainwashed drones) than the Western media’s willingness to jump on the hypocrisy bandwagon.
Thus, all loyal citizens of the West know that the superpower that destroyed an entire country in the Middle East and caused the deaths of over a million people is fundamentally good. Whatever the Iraq War might have been, it was not a land grab; it was not a violation of international law; it did not present a dangerous destabilization of geopolitical balance; and it did not require the “international community” to reply with a firm roster of punitive sanctions. Similarly, the country that kills innocent civilians in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan every day of the week is not thuggish, brutal, or evil in the way that only a former KGB operative can be. And America’s long history of interference abroad, even including presumed democracies like Australia (as John Pilger recently highlighted), does not disqualify it from lecturing other nations about the primacy of sovereignty, democracy, and the rule of law.
At some point, this hideous pack of lies has got to become untenable, even in a society as intellectually decadent as the contemporary United States. Perhaps Mr. Putin, having prevented the Americans from bombing Damascus and having sheltered Edward Snowden from America’s burgeoning Gestapo, will do us all one more favor and turn over the monolith of delusions under which the imperial cockroaches have been hiding for far too long.
Making the World Safe for Corporate Feudalism
America’s orchestration of the Ukrainian putsch could be seen as an echo of Medieval rivalry between jealous kings, with Barry the Black striking back at Vlad the Impaler just as he was trying to bask in the glory of his Sochi eisteddfod. In this version of events, Obama felt slighted by Putin’s hilarious diplomatic victory in the Syria crisis, and sought to punish him for harboring recent history’s most effective critic of the national-security state. Others have suggested that the American regime, struggling to maintain legitimacy at home in the face of persistent economic problems, has resorted to the age-old method of rallying dupes around the flag by reactivating neuronal fear circuits carved by decades of living with the possibility of nuclear Armageddon. The latter argument is not entirely without merit: the War on Terror may have lost some of its domestic usefulness, local hysteria about terrorists in schools notwithstanding, since it is only really scary for those faceless and nameless subhumans living under America’s drones. But these explanations are far too superficial, and miss the chance to perceive more disturbing realities.
America’s attempt to remove the Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence has not come out of nowhere. The United States set about enlarging NATO – its vehicle for projecting military hegemony while simultaneously boosting arms sales to client states – as soon as the Iron Curtain collapsed. Initially, at least, the U.S. recognized that the Ukraine’s ties to Russia were tighter than those binding, say, Poland or the Baltic States. Two factors seem to have altered that calculus, and neither one is reducible to the kind of childish editorial cartoons by which so many of America’s gray-haired newspaper readers have been entertained.
In an excellent, comprehensive analysis of the Ukraine’s economic crisis and the West’s proposed solution thereto, Dr. Jack Rasmus, the Green Party’s shadow-Treasury Secretary, established beyond a reasonable doubt that the EU/IMF plan for the Ukraine would be devastating for its citizens. What the West is offering the Ukraine is its familiar smorgasbord of bailouts for bankers and a scrumptious array of distressed assets for predatory capitalists. (As the Ukrainian economy descends ever deeper into an austerity-driven depression, opportunities will arise to pick up businesses killed by inadequate aggregate demand, and public assets sold off to balance budgets or comply with the edict to pursue the false God of privatization.) We know who the winners are in this story, for we’ve seen it all before. How much longer will the peoples of literate countries allow it to be replayed? The Ukraine presents the world with a test case, the importance of which is being studiously concealed by the West’s characterization of Mother Russia as a kidnapper of the Crimean baby.
Frack the EU
While the diversity and sophistication of some sectors of the Ukraine’s economy would probably surprise many people, its relevance as an energy bridge is well known. One of the reasons why Washington’s bluster about sanctions against Russia rings so hollow is the fact that the EU, and Germany in particular, cannot afford to disrupt the flow of gas from Russia to residential and industrial consumers. This state of affairs does not just limit America’s ability to mete out the punishments it considers itself qualified to hand down; it represents a fundamental tilting of power away from the United States. For a regime intent on nothing less than global control, this link between Europe and Russia is a problem that must be solved. It is all well and good to have much of the former Warsaw Pact in NATO, and to have American bases in Germany nearly 70 years after the end of WWII, but if German households run on Russia’s dead dinosaurs then Europe’s largest economy can never be fully under America’s thumb.
As luck would have it, a solution to this imperial problem appears to be at hand. Our would-be masters of the universe believe that Germany can be persuaded to purchase America’s increasing output of fracked gas, which can be transported across the oceans in a new generation of transport ships. As a recent article in the National Journal made clear, the vision we outlined in our previous discussion of fracking is well on the way to becoming a reality. And this vision does not just entail massive fracking of the American homeland; it involves encouraging America’s “friends” to start deploying the same, American-developed technologies in their own countries. This export of extraction techniques could be seen as the oil and gas industry’s equivalent of NATO, creating massive opportunities for sales of drilling equipment just as NATO promoted sales of American-made killing machines. And it is equally depressing, for the technology to be stimulated is as damaging to the earth as the military-industrial complex is to human life.
Thus, the outlines of a new Pox Americana have been clearly defined for all who care to look. Failing to accept the possibility that life could be perfectly fine in a multipolar world, the United States seeks global dominance at any cost. It will destroy its own drinking water supplies and thereby unleash massive suffering on its own population, and it will feel no qualms about imposing the same wholly preventable outcomes on the countries it calls friends. It will guarantee the arrival of planetary climate hell by pursuing a demented technology that is even worse for the atmosphere than coal. Meanwhile, it will ensure that the financial and extractive elites are protected and further enriched, even if this means concentrating economic and political power in ever fewer hands, in direct contradiction of the alleged principles of the republic it claims to be.
Presented with such a ghastly American vision for the future, the peoples of Europe need to consider the accident of geography that placed them on the same continent as Russia. In time, perhaps they will come to realize that the people of the Crimea were not entirely irrational to go home to their Mother.