Anti-Russia hysteria in the United States notched up several degrees this month after the Kremlin dispatched a couple TU-160 to Venezuela, triggering speculation that Vladimir Putin was preparing to open an airbase in the Caribbean Sea. But considering NATO’s massive footprint on Russia’s doorstep in Eastern Europe isn’t Washington being a bit hypocritical in its condemnation?
Judging by the reaction to the Russian ‘White Swans’ being spotted outside of their natural habitats, you’d have thought that Russia had just organized a full-scale mobilization on the US border, similar to the way US-led NATO has nudged up to the Russia border ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union – and despite assurances given in 1990 to Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev by then Secretary of State James Baker that the military bloc would never move “one inch eastward.”
Since then, the alliance has tripled in size to 29 members and is double-parked on Russia’s lengthy border with Europe. In addition to US soldiers regularly conducting massive war games on the territory of many former Soviet republics, like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, there is also the very permanent US missile defense shield bolted down in Romania.
Yet a couple Russian bombers making a voyage to cash-strapped Venezuela elicits the most bombastic response from the United States.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded off on Twitter after the Russian aircraft completed their 10,000 km (6,200 miles) transatlantic journey, saying “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”
That remark is rather laughable when it is considered that the US taxpayer must cough up over $700 billion annually to satisfy the thirst of the military-industrial complex and its global network of 800+ franchises. To put that amount into perspective, the US spends more on its military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the UK and Japan combined. I’m no military expert, but I would guess that the United States would easily defend its territories on less than half of what it spends now. But that is precisely the point, since defending itself is not what this is all about. Rather, projecting American “hyper-power” – a term coinedin 1999 by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine – around the world is the main objective. And since power is the most potent drug known to man, it has turned the country into the equivalent of a bully where governments that lack the wherewithal to defend themselves on the geopolitical playground (i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria) are beat up solely on the basis of their weakness. The prospect of being on the receiving end of a US-regime change operation has made much of the world believe that the US is the main threat to global peace today.
It is not too difficult to imagine the sort of response there would be if Russia truly did attempt to do the exact thing that the US is doing today, and that is militarize those states in the near proximity of the US which have poor relations with Washington. We would almost certainly be forced to ponder the thermonuclear implications of a second ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ as the hawks in Washington would screech in one voice about the “imperialistic ambitions” of Moscow, or some such nonsense. Yet somehow Americans fail to appreciate the hypocrisy that their own actions are having in Russia’s backyard. Aside from the US missile defense shield in Romania, the Trump administration has recently announced that it would withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, within certain distances. Putin said Russia would retaliate if Trump walked away from the 1987 treaty, much as George W. Bush walked away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2001, thereby forcing Russia to undertake a successful reorientation of its weapons research and development.
It is not very difficult to imagine a situation where Caracas, for example, which is experiencing very hostile relations with Washington, gives Russia the green light to use part of its territory for military purposes. In fact, such rumors have already been floated in the Russian media.
Even though such a presence would most likely be limited in scope and more symbolic than anything, the fact that it would generate such a powerful reaction on the part of Washington says everything one needs to know about how the US perceives itself. It truly believes that it is the ‘indispensable nation’ – God Country, if you will – that alone has the right to flaunt its military assets around a shell-shocked planet, meting out a very dubious unilateral style of justice. However, in the same way that Russia cooled down America’s exaggerated sense of power and purpose in Syria, where Trump just announced a withdrawal of troops, the day may come when it does the same in America’s Caribbean backyard. Watching America hubris fall back to earth from the dizzying heights would alone be worth the price of admission to the blockbuster of the year.