NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve paced ahead this week with the latest arrival of more US military forces in the Baltic region. Under the guise of defending eastern Europe from «Russian aggression», more than 100 Abrams tanks and Bradley armoured personnel carriers rolled into Latvia. Last month, a similar motorised display of military support was deployed in Estonia – in the town of Narva – with American flags flown by the US Army’s Second Calvary Regiment just 300 metres from the Russian border.
Narva protrudes sharply eastward – like a metaphorical blade – into Russian territory. It is only some 100 kilometres from St Petersburg – Russia’s second city after Moscow, and with a searing history of military assault by Nazi Germany during 1941-44. The siege of St Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, caused over one million Russians to perish, mainly from hunger, before the German Wehrmacht was eventually pushed back and defeated by the Soviet Red Army. More on that in a moment.
Back to the present: US General John O’Conner said of the latest deployment in Latvia that American troops would «deter Russian aggression», adding with Orwellian prose: «Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended».
The US-led Operation Atlantic Resolve has seen a surge in American military presence in the Baltic countries and other eastern European members of the NATO alliance over the past year. Technically, it is claimed that the US forces are «on tour duty» and therefore not transgressing past agreements with Russia to limit NATO permanent forces on Russia’s borders. But semantics aside, it is hard not to see that Washington has, in effect, significantly stepped up its military footprint in a geo-strategically sensitive region, in brazen contravention of erstwhile commitments made to Moscow. NATO warplane sorties have increased four-fold in the Baltic region over the past year, as have NATO warships in the Black Sea.
Citing «Russian aggression», Washington and amenable rightwing governments in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, are giving themselves a licence to do what they are forbidden to do under binding accords, such as the NATO-Russia Founding Act signed in the 1990s, – namely, to expand military forces on Russia’s western borders. Operation Atlantic Resolve is predicated on unsubstantiated US-led claims – propaganda – that Russia is the source of aggression, primarily in Ukraine, and to the rest of Europe. Fact: Russia is not in Ukraine or any European country.
Such blatant inversion of reality is part of the «psyops» in the US-led propaganda offensive.
US commanded military exercises, including live-fire drills and the installation of Patriot and Cruise missiles, are scheduled to take place over the next months in the Baltic countries, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, as well as Ukraine and Georgia on Russia’s southern flank. The latter two reveal the wider non-NATO dimension of Washington’s geopolitical agenda.
US Colonel Michael Foster said of the forthcoming military exercises across Europe: «So by the end of the summer, you could very well see an operation that stretches from the Baltic all the way down to the Black Sea.»
It is doubtful that this American colonel understands the historical significance of his excited military vista. Part of the problem is that Americans and many other Westerners have such a paucity of historical understanding. They are inebriated with Western Victors’ History, which is bereft of real causes and effects. It is a propagandised version of chronological events, with the causal forces omitted, and which is used to justify the subsequent actions of Western powers. This inebriated understanding of history explains why history seems to so often repeat. Without understanding the real causes of events, how can repetition be averted? And that’s just the way Western corporate rulers like it, with their culpability obscured from public view.
Let’s have a look at US-led Operation Atlantic Resolve in a more realistic, historical perspective. Then we might appreciate that it has the scope and unerring sinister resonance with a previous military development – Operation Barbarossa – the mammoth invasion of Soviet Russia that was launched by Nazi Germany in the summer of 1941.
Furthermore this is not superficial analogy indulging in sensationalism. If we look into the ideological motive forces there is a consistent continuum.
Nazi Germany’s unprovoked assault on the Soviet Union in June 1941 was the biggest military invasion ever in the history of modern warfare. It led to the death of some 30 million Russians at the hands of the Waffen-SS and Einsatzgruppen extermination squads, along with forced starvation, disease and appalling privations, such as in the cities of St Petersburg and Volgograd (Stalingrad).
Operation Barbarossa, like Operation Atlantic Resolve, spanned from the Baltic to the Black Sea, with key invasion points through Estonia, Poland and Ukraine. And we wonder why the current Kiev regime’s onslaught on the ethnic Russian people of eastern Ukraine is deemed so provocative to Russia? During Operation Barbarossa, Ukrainian regiments served as auxiliaries to the Waffen-SS in the mass murder of millions of fellow Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, Gypsies, Jews and others. All were seen as «untermenschen» (sub-humans) to be eliminated by the «exceptional» Germanic «Aryan race».
When Adolf Hitler wrote his infamous manifesto, Mein Kampf, in 1925, he postulated that Germany’s imperial greatness would be realised by crushing Soviet Russia. The necessary «lebensraum» (expansion) would be by conquest of the eastern region, which he disparaged as being populated by «untermenschen slavs ruled by Bolshevik Jews». Hitler’s hatred of Jewry was only matched by his utter detestation of Communist Russia. Both had to be exterminated, in his view.
Western conventional history tends to focus on Hitler’s anti-Semitism and Final Solution as being directed primarily at Jews. The truth is that Hitler and Nazi Germany was equally obsessed with destroying Soviet Russia. This obsession with Soviet Russia was intimately shared within Western ruling circles in the years preluding the Second World War.
In 1918 at the end of the First World War, and despite all its horrors and 20 million death toll, US Secretary of State Robert Lansing was vexed by quite another matter when he wrote: «Bolshevism is the most hideous and monstrous thing that the human mind has ever conceived… it is worse, far worse, than a Prussianised Germany, and would mean an ever greater menace to human liberty.»
Russia’s October Revolution of 1917 and the threat of communist insurrection worldwide presented Western rulers with a staggering nightmare. This was underlined by the crisis in capitalism at that time and its quagmire of economic recession, social collapse and the looming Great Depression, not unlike today’s crisis.
Fascism in Europe – from Portugal, Spain, Italy to Germany – was courted by Western elites as a bulwark against the spread of socialist movements inspired by Russia’s October Revolution. Hitler’s Germany with its industrial prowess was seen as a particularly favourite strong-arm, anti-Soviet regime, which would crush a growing European labour movement as well as the perceived geopolitical rival of Russia to Western capitalism.
It is a matter of record that US corporations, from Wall Street banks to Ford and General Motors, invested heavily in building up the Nazi war machine during the 1930s. The Fuhrer was also covertly engaged by the British Conservative elite, led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, whereby he was given a «freehand» to expand eastwards. When Nazi Germany annexed Austria and Czech Sudetenland in 1938, that was just the beginning of the eventual intended assault on the Soviet Union that the Western rulers were quietly rooting for. (See The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion by Alvin Finkel and Clement Leibovitz.)
When Operation Barbarossa came in the summer of 1941, the largest military invasion in history was thus fulfilling a deeply held strategic agenda to crush Russia as a geopolitical rival, not just to Germany but to the Western powers who had covertly built up the Nazi war machine.
A quirk in the historical matrix saw the Western governments go to war with Nazi Germany for their own tactical interests. But the telling point is that as soon as the Second World War closed these same Western powers began recruiting Nazi agents, intelligence and assassins to assist in the new Cold War against the Soviet Union. Ukraine and the Baltic countries were again instrumental in the postwar subterfuge against Russia as they had been under the Nazi’s Operation Barbarossa, only this time they were recruited by the CIA, MI6 and US-led NATO, formed in 1949.
Today, Russia may no longer profess Bolshevism as a state ideology. And we are not predicting here that the current US-led NATO manoeuvres around Russian territory are going to precipitate into an all-out military attack. That is beside the main issue. The point is that Russia still presents a problematic rival to American and Western hegemony. Moscow under Vladimir Putin is seen as an obstacle to US-led capitalist domination of Asia and the rest of the world. Russia’s stolid insistence on abiding by international law is an irksome impediment to Washington’s «exceptional» petulance to use military force whenever and wherever it wants to underpin its putative global hegemony. International popular support for Putin as a respected world statesman, together with widespread disdain for US rulers, is also another source of intense chagrin to Washington. This is the context in which we should assess the US-led hostility toward Russia and the latent war signals that emanate from Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The historical resonances over the past century are the same. Operation Barbarossa and Operation Atlantic Resolve are part of the same continuum of Western aggression towards Russia. Russia is deemed to be a countervailing force to Western hegemony, and therefore must be removed.
For Russia, the menacing military encirclement of Operation Atlantic Resolve has profoundly bad resonance with the past, and for good reasoning. Operation Barbarossa – only 74 years ago – is seared into Russian consciousness through immense human suffering. Russia was then on the brink of extirpation and was only saved by the heroic sacrifice of millions of its people; any nation would never allow such a danger to ever come close again.
The West has never suffered in history to the depth that the Russian people have; and therefore many in the West, especially the pampered elite rulers, have no idea of how resolute Russians are in defending their homeland. Vladimir Putin’s home city is St Petersburg, the city where one million died from Nazi siege.
When Western leaders talk breathlessly about «defending freedom» and glibly pillory Russians for being «paranoid» their Godawful inebriated ignorance of history is just cause for even more alarm.
Russia can perceive, rightly, the continuum of aggression.