By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog
It is interesting to note how the collective west has reacted to the present and ongoing events in Eastern Europe – namely, in Russia and Ukraine. As I understand it Russia has concerns about its own security and NATO’s inexorable push toward the Russian frontier. Moreover, there has been a positioning of missile systems, nuclear and otherwise, right smack on the borders of Romania and Poland. How did this situation arise, to the extent which it has?
Back in 1990 but not wishing to alarm the Russians the American Secretary of State, James Baker, proposed a hypothetical bargain to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the fall of the Berlin Wall: if you give up your part of Germany, NATO will “not shift one inch eastward.” (Famous Words).
Controversy erupted almost immediately over this 1990 exchange—but more important was the decade to come, when the words took on a new meaning. Gorbachev let his East Germany (DDR) go, but Washington rethought the bargain, not least after the Soviet Union’s own collapse in December 1991. Russia was initially assured that NATO forces and hardware would not move one inch further to the Western borders of Russia. Washington realized, however, that it could not just win big but win bigger. The new approach completely reversed the original pact: Not one inch of territory need be off limits to NATO. The Russians had not done their paperwork and had not signed up to the original written agreement. A silly oversight perhaps, but a costly, legal, and enforceable one.
Well, we all know how this worked out. Just to rub salt in the wound NATO Chief, Jens Stoltenberg, has made it clear that there is more to come. Apparently, anyone can join NATO and have its own missile system installed and pointing at Russia with a 3-to-5-minute flight time to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Well, and who could possibly object to this! (Sarcasm). Sooner or later, however, Russia was going to alter facts on the ground starting with Ukraine. No state worth its salt, viz., a sovereign state, could possibly allow itself to be surrounded with a view to war, invasion, and total obliteration. The Cuba crisis of 1962 was a prototype of this face-off. At that time both the US and USSR adhered to a Westphalian posture, to wit, non-interference in each other’s sphere of influence, security imperatives and recognition of each other’s sovereignty. But it would appear things had changed since the US Anglo-Zionist empire came into being by NATO’s incremental expansion and push to Russia’s western frontiers. It would appear things had changed in terms of the West’s foreign policy which had become belligerent and expansionist. If Russia didn’t like the new ‘Rules-Based’ Policy of the western hegemon in tow with its Western allies, well, too bad!
Russia’s initial inertia in 2014 allowed the NATO backed Ukrainian army to push up to the eastern republics in the Donbass, Lugansk and Donetsk. But the stout resistance of these two republics halted the advance of the Ukie army and inflicted two heavy defeats at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo in 2014/15. At that time Russia did not allow the incorporation for the two republics into the Russian Federation. (It should be understood, however, that the two republics were in fact receiving aid, both in war materiel and ‘volunteers’ from Russia, although this was never openly admitted by the Russian government.) Be that as it may, Crimea, was a different matter; it was the home base of the Russian navy and a permanent military presence for Russia. Russia also held the freehold for its base in Sevastopol until 2045 and paid an annual rental for this to the Ukrainian government. This being the case there was a referendum which overwhelmingly endorsed the outcome: Crimea, whose population was dominantly Russian, and Russian speaking, became Russian again after the temporary period of Ukrainian stewardship which had lasted since 1954.
This much is history.
The West. God’s own creation. Where to start!
The United States.
The United States is – unlike western central and eastern Europe – a sovereign state. Since its inception the US has pursued wars just about everywhere around the globe but started at its home base. After the anti-British revolution, the US started to play the imperialist game. First there were the wars against Mexico. From 1846 to 1848, the United States of America and Mexico fought the Mexican American War. There were many causes of the war, but the biggest reasons were Mexico’s lingering resentment over the loss of Texas and the Americans’ desire and acquisition of Mexico’s western lands, such as Arizona, Nevada, California and New Mexico. The Americans believed their nation should extend to the Pacific: this belief was called “Manifest Destiny.” This was a quasi-religious doctrine, which if anything has actually grown stronger as the centuries pass.
Additions to the US empire came in the form of Cuba, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines – pretty run of the mill stuff, as imperialism goes. The US did not have a hinterland beyond the Americas but got global after the first and more importantly the second world war. The United States was to become a full-blown imperialist power, particularly in Western Europe, and Japan which had become a patchwork of non-sovereign states under US hegemony. This is still the case today. Now even Eastern European non-sovereign states became part of the US-NATO bloc.
But the US war machine ran into trouble in Southeast Asia, first with the Korean and then Indo-China wars. The carnage and general fall-out of these wars was unparalleled. See the bombing of Laos, Vietnam and particularly North Korea. These were outright defeats for the American war machine, though the Americans were loath to admit it.
Then of course there has been the US involvement in the middle east which has included, ongoing wars against Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. More to come to be sure. But It seems ominous to conclude that the US is trapped in unwinnable wars in the middle-east but in fact leaves much of the heavy lifting to its Zionist Rottweiler, not only in the middle-east, but crucially in the US itself where the Anti-Deformation League (ADL) American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA); in terms of international relations and foreign policy I suppose you could call this the tail wagging the dog. The British had the common sense to remove themselves from the Zionist entity in 1948. The American-Israel lobby have, however, have been loath to part with this geopolitical entity which has been a liability ever since.
The United Kingdom
When Britain was a sovereign state its Empire covered a vast patchwork of subaltern states – most importantly India, which also included modern Pakistan, Burma, Malaya, Singapore – and various states in Africa: from Capetown to Cairo. There were many wars fought in Southern Africa, for example the Boers vs the Zulus, the Boers vs the English known as the Boer Wars, and the Zimbabwean (at that time Rhodesia) bush war.
These wars were also bloody affairs but particularly brutal in India – during the so-called Indian Mutiny 1857-58. This was an uprising of the – Sepoys – Native Indian soldiers against their British masters. The violence with which the British put down the rebellion has only been approached in the history of the empire by the repression of the Irish rebellion in the 1790’s and of the native Mau Mau rebellion in East Africa in the 1950s. Karl Marx wrote in 1853 ‘’the British had a double mission in India, one destructive the other regenerating … they had accomplished in a way that unbound before all our eyes all the profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization, turning from its home where it assumes respectable forms to the colonies where it goes naked.’’
(In this respect see India and George Orwell’s personal experiences in this jewel in the crown of the British Empire. In two particular factual pieces where he was personally involved, he recounted the following two essays which are well worth reading: ‘’A Hanging’’ and ‘’Shooting An Elephant’’ 1936)
The British long retreat from empire was given an additional shove by the US in 1946 with the American loan – Michael Hudson explains:
‘’The first loan on the post-war agenda was the British Loan which, as President Truman announced in forwarding it to Congress, would set the course of American and British economic relations for many years to come. He was right, for the Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great (imperial) Power. (Super-Imperialism – pp.268/269). So the UK was, to use an American expression, forced to eat crow.
This pattern of imperialism, its rise and fall, has been generally on the same trajectory, with the various states involved having had only a limited tenure. The UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austro-Hungary, and even little Belgium have had their own involvement with their imperial fate. These are now all subaltern regimes in the present American Empire.
(See The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival. First published in 1913, Sir John Glubb British-soldier and diplomat examined the human race over a period of 4,000 years and found the same patterns of rise and fall of national greatness and all in the same timescale.)
All of which brings us to the present impasse.
The present geopolitical situation involving the great powers seems to be reaching a critical moment. To recount the history and present situation. The Ukrainian government sent its army into the Eastern Ukraine – some 100,000 men – earlier in the year, with the intent of invading and subduing the two breakaway republics – the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, which had defied the bombing and shelling campaign which had been going on since 2014. This had cost the lives of some 14000 inhabitants of these two republics. But the Kiev forces were thrown back after their initial first push by a counterattack in 2014-15, where they were comprehensively defeated at the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo. But the shelling still continued. However, this second Ukrainian offensive has had unforeseen outcomes.
When Putin heard of the new invasion from the western Ukraine attacking the breakaway republics, he had had enough, as had the Russian people and the Russian Parliament a fortiori. He firstly extended full citizenship to the populations of the two republics which automatically became part of the Russian Federation. Next came the part which changed everything. It was expected that having absorbed the two breakaway republics he decided in his own words to demilitarise and clear out the neo-nazi forces – for good – in the rest of the Ukraine. And then to the alarm of the western elites the Russian forces rolled west.
Of course, this has caused consternation if not abject panic, in western capitals with what amounted in military terms to a complete paralysis of the West. But then the information war took off. This is the formidable weapon of the western states and is used to potent effect. But there were also economic effects which are just beginning to come on stream.
These included shortages for various components and food stuffs and raw materials which will negatively affect western economies as well as the all-pervasive death wish of financialization. Russia has not yet rolled out its own sanctions to see how they go down in western capitals, but it will be interesting to see their effect.
So, this is where we are. At the dawn of a bi-polar world. As Robert Kennedy once said. ‘’Like it or not, we live in interesting times.’’