US-Russia enmity is here to stay. Cold War II is a fact of life for the foreseeable future. The only questions are where, when, and how it might turn hot. That didn’t happen in Syria this past Friday the Thirteenth, for reasons yet to be explained. But the danger is by no means gone.
Rather, the threat of a major war will continue to intensify as President Donald Trump continues to stack his team with GOP retards who diametrically oppose his oft-repeated desire to improve ties with Moscow. Whether or not his desire is genuine is irrelevant. With each new appointment to the National Security Council and the State Department the Russophobic critical mass grows.
Personnel is policy. The door to rapprochement is being nailed ever more firmly shut
“FISAgate” and the Christopher Steele “dirty dossier,” on top of bogus claims of Russian election meddling, have done their job. It would be remiss not to mention the major role played by British special services. The dossier itself, authored by a “retired” MI6 agent. The British diplomat (or another spook?) who passed it on to a top GOP Trump critic, and thence to then-FBI Director James Comey. The likelihood that GCHQ spied on Trump and his team. The Salisbury chemical provocation. The Douma chemical provocation.
Never forget that however culpable the likes of Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan, and others are, they had a lot of help from their “Five Eyes” pals abroad. There was foreign interference, alright, in what we still quaintly call “our democracy.” But it was British, not Russian.
The fact that the House Intelligence Committee wrapped up its investigation having found no evidence of Russian collusion makes no difference. Neither does the fact that Robert Mueller’s probe won’t turn up any evidence either, since it doesn’t exist. If Mueller nails Trump – and he well might – it won’t be because of anything to do with Russia, it will be a “process crime” like perjury or obstruction trumped up during the investigation (cf., Flynn, Papadopoulos) or related to something in Trump’s business and personal life (a supposed election law violation for a payoff to Stormy Daniels, corners cut in a sharp-elbowed New York real estate deal).
Again, the specifics hardly matter. If Trump’s head rolls, the new President Mike Pence – Vice President Nikki Haley Administration will be even more anti-Russian. To quote America’s schoolmarmish Metternich of Turtle Bay: “Russia will never be our friend, we’ll slap them when needed.” Surely Russia would never be crazy enough to slap back!
For Republicans, the factual vacuum at the heart of “Russiagate” only means that the narrative of Trump’s canoodling with the Kremlin just flips on a partisan basis to a Democratic conspiracy. The DNC paid Steele for Russian dirt! Hillary gave Putin our stocks of fissile material under the Uranium One deal! The variable (Democrat vs. Republican) changes, the constant (Russia is bad) doesn’t. GOP NeverTrumpers and Trump supporters alike smugly chortle that “Mitt Romney was right” when Barack Obama mocked him for suggesting in 2012 that Russia was America’s greatest geopolitical foe. (Note that putting “Mitt Romney” and “was right” in the same sentence violates basic grammar of the English language.)
To say that Russia is an adversary for “geopolitical” reasons is obvious to many people whose views matter in Washington. Russia is the closest approximation of the “Heartland” of Halford Mackinder’s “World Island”: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.” The United States is master of Mackiner’s “Outlying Islands” (Western Hemisphere and Australia) and “Offshore Islands” (British Isles and the Pacific “First Island Chain”).
So there you have it! According the expert graduates of geopolitical Mackinder-garten, Washington must confront Moscow over every square inch of Eastern Europe and the Middle East! Otherwise the Russians will consolidate the “Heartland” – and then it’s curtains for America! Never mind the Mexican border, our frontline “self-defense” really lies in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and on Russia’s Baltic and Black Sea littoral. (Ditto US naval dominance in the South China Sea and East China Sea.) Anything less than perpetual, full-spectrum, unipolar global domination by Washington would be a dereliction of duty!
Of course we shouldn’t overlook the fact that perpetual war (or at least perpetual projection of power to the far corners of the earth at the risk of war) is a breathtakingly profitable business – “doing well by doing good.” If Russia (and China) didn’t exist our mandarin class would have to invent them.
At least, we are told, that unlike the first Cold War this second one is not about ideology, like the struggled between “capitalism” (use of the term itself was a bow to anarcho-socialist vocabulary) and communism. As summarized by Susan B. Glasser of Politico:
‘...the new Cold War is not like the original Cold War because it lacks an ideological dimension. … the current tension between the United States and Russia is a Seinfeldian fight about nothing: Putin has no ideological goal beyond the elevation of the Russian state, ruled by him and his clan; he is not seeking adherents in the West, and therefore has brought about no great contest between two systems. … After all, Putin does not preach worldwide revolution, which was a key doctrinal element of Soviet communism.’
Ah, but the new Cold War is ideological but with two critical differences from the old one.
First, in the original Cold War the ruling cliques in Washington and Moscow basically believed in the same ideology. While ordinary Americans thought about communism as a murderous, godless machine of oppression (think of the Knights of Columbus’ campaign to insert “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance), many if not most of the irreligious intellectuals making policy firmly believed that material progress, in a mildly socialist form, was the duty of government – it was only the communists’ methods they found objectionable. As described by Professor Daniel J. Mahoney of Assumption College:
‘So many intellectuals were disarmed before the challenge of communism and could not see it for the radical evil that it was. For many, it was simply a more brutal means for achieving the desired ends of industrial modernity and social equality—“the New Deal in a hurry,” in Harry Hopkins’s notorious formulation. That explains in part the divide between ordinary Americans, who … hated communism for its atheism as well as for its brutality, and elite opinion, which tended toward anti-anti-communism and refused to believe in the guilt of one of its own.’
Second, while Glasser is right that “Putin does not preach worldwide revolution,” western governments do. Just as members of the old Soviet nomenklatura depended on Marxism-Leninism both as a working methodology and as a justification for their prerogatives and privileges, denizens of the entrenched duopoly of Democrat liberal interventionists and Republican neoconservatives rely upon an ideological imperative of “democracy promotion” for global empire and endless wars.
Perhaps the fullest expression of this was from a 1996 article by neoconservative ideologists William Kristol and Robert Kagan, misleadingly titled “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy,” in which they called for the US to establish and maintain indefinitely “benevolent global hegemony” – American world domination. As scrutinized by this analyst the following year, Kristol and Kagan laid down virtually all of the elements that have guided US foreign policy and its media aspect during the ensuing years. It is no accident that these same GOP neoconservatives were enthusiastic supporters of Bill Clinton’s Balkan interventions of 1990s, under the guidance of people like then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who once opined regarding the sanctions-related deaths of a half million Iraqi children that “the price is worth it.” In the US establishment, there is little dissent on either side of the partisan aisle with Albright’s sincere conviction that a militant United States has a special wisdom: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future...”
So if some country doesn’t agree with the “indispensable” opinion of officials in Washington, they should prepare at least to get sanctioned, if not bombed, occupied, targeted by terrorists, or set up for a “color revolution” regime change, with the media cheering it on. Hence the succession of humanitarian, therapeutic wars of aggression in Serbia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, plus regime change operations in many, many other places.
After all, extremism is no vice in eliminating opposition to the inexorable forward march of “liberal democracy” against its benighted opponents: nationalists, neo-fascists, xenophobes, racists, anti-Semites, champions of neo-Marxism, protectionists, forces of illiberalism, conspiracy-mongers, fringe websites that spread “fake news,” and other insects of their ilk. [From the “Renew Democracy Manifesto,” paragraph 8. Somehow it’s a bit reminiscent of another famous “Manifesto”...]
It’s easy to see why a revived, national, non-communist Russia is the main enemy for the ideologists of this faux “America.” The promise of putting America first, which is why the real America elected Donald Trump, terrified them.
Unfortunately, the ersatz America has taken firm hold of the key levers of power. Worse, Trump handed those levers to them.