LET’S END THE NEW COLD WAR
BEFORE IT HEATS UP
March 5, 2015
Co-Editor: The Crisis Papers
Take heed ... how you awake the
sleeping sword of war. For never two such kingdoms did contend
without much fall of blood; whose guiltless drops are every one a
woe, a sore complaint, ‘gainst him whose wrongs give edge unto the
swords that make such waste in brief mortality.
Shakespeare, Henry V
The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That
is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and
denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
The United States and Russia are rushing, relentlessly, toward war, unless
cooler voices are heard and heeded. Those voices are not being heard in our mass
media or heeded by our politicians.
The familiar historical indicators of a march to war are
apparent to all with eyes to see: arms buildup, depersonalization of the
"enemy," demonization of its leaders, marginalizing of moderate voices,
suppression of dissent, refusal to negotiate and compromise in good faith,
deliberate failure to recognize the concerns and interests of "the other."
And propaganda – OMIGAWD, the propaganda!
We are immersed in it.
Exhibit A: On the cover of a recent "The Week" magazine,
Vladimir Putin is depicted as a mafia don at a casino. And on that cover we find
this question: "Why is Putin preparing for an all-out war with the West?" This
sort of question would not be allowed in any court of law, for it assumes what
should be at issue; namely is Putin is in fact "preparing for war? "
Well is he? Where is the proof? There is none in the
indicated article. So why should we believe that Putin is "preparing for an
all-out war with the west? No reason whatever is offered.
Exhibit B: In the Time Magazine "The Year in
Review," Table of Contents we find: "Russia’s Leader Seeks to Restore an
Empire." Notice: this is not a question, it is a declarative sentence.
So we read the article. Proof? None! Just a
reiteration of the accusation. We are given no reason to believe it. Instead we
are presented with an array of groundless assertions and accusations too
numerous to tally, in an essay that reads like a declaration of war.
The American corporate media is notorious for its habit of
presenting "both sides" of settled scientific issues such as climate change,
vaccination and evolution. But when the subject is official dogma, "the other
side" is absent. There is no shortage of scholars and journalists familiar with
Russian culture, history, politics, foreign policy – scholars who have devoted
their lives to Russian Studies, many of whom have lived in Russia and speak
Russian. Among them, Stephen Cohen, Ray McGovern, Robert Parry, John Mearsheimer,
Ambassador Jack Matlock, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and
many others. These individuals understand Russian concerns and objectives; in
other words, they understand
"what it is like to think
like a Russian." Thus they are well equipped to lead us away from our
But you are unlikely to hear or read such individuals in the
American commercial mass-media. To be sure, if one seeks out the opinions of
such well-informed dissenters, these opinions may be found on the internet, or
at independent and non-commercial publications. But the audiences of these
independent media are minuscule, and thus of no practical concern to the
"establishment" voices who spew out the official dogma.
And so the unified "approved" voice of the corporate mass
media prevails. This is the same media that convinced a majority of Americans
that, in the infamous words of Richard Cheney: "there is no doubt that Saddam
Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing
them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." This is
the same media that silenced war critics such as Phil Donahue. Twelve years
later, at the cost of four thousand American and up to a half million Iraqi
lives, and three trillion wasted dollars of national wealth, we now know that
Cheney was lying. And yet the American media is at it again, with unfounded
accusations that Vladimir Putin is "preparing for all-out war," and is seeking
"to restore an empire." And, having been fooled once, it appears that a sizeable
potion of the American public is prepared to be fooled again.
As significant as the distortions, inuendos and outright lies
of the official propaganda, is the absence of plain indisputable facts that
undedrmine "the official line" about Russia. (See
the BBC "Ukraine Timeline").
Fact: In February, 2010, Victor Yanukovych is elected
President of Ukraine in a free and fair election.
Fact: In December, 2013, Yanukovych accepts a Russian
economic aid deal, declining a more punishing deal from the European Union.
Fact: Protests of unknown origin erupt in Kiev and in
February, 2014, in fear of his life, Yanukovych flees the capitol city. (Why and
how was he overthrown? That’s speculation, and I choose here to confine this
list to demonstrable facts).
Fact: In May, 2014, Petro Poroshenko is elected President
of Ukraine in an election that largely excludes the ethnic Russian and Russian
speaking eastern region.
Fact: Natalie Jaresko, an American Citizen and an
employee of the US State Department, is appointed the Ukraine Finance Minister.
The Economy Minister is from Lithuania and the Health Minister is from Georgia
(the Republic, not the US state). All were granted Ukranian citizenship hours
before the inauguration of the current President Porochenko.
Fact: June, 2014: "Russia's parliament cancels a
parliamentary resolution authorizing the use of Russian forces in Ukraine."
Fact: September, 2014: NATO reports a "significant"
withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Ukraine." (BBC)
Fact: October, 2014: "Putin orders thousands of troops
stationed near the Ukrainian border to return to their bases." (BBC)
There are many more: additional plain facts, and still more
allegations that are highly plausible but not fully substantiated,. Among the
latter are allegations of US government involvement in the coup that overthrew
Yanukovych and in the selection of his successors. Facts such as these erode the
official line of Putin-as-despot-and-threat ("the new Stalin"), and the
determined effort to mobilize the American public for "a new Cold War." And so,
you must look far and wide for a statement of these facts in the "official
media," and thus, unsurprisingly, little awareness of these facts among the
Predictably, this inflation of poisonous propaganda is found
on "the other side" as well. And, sadly, it has had a troublesome result.
polling firm, Levada Centre reports that 13% of the Russian public
views United States positively, and 81% negatively. This is a dramatic change
from a year ago when the ratio was even at 43/44%. Today, 79% of Russians
describe relations between the US and Russia as "tense" or "hostile." A year
ago, that number was 17%. Sadly, there is little reason to dispute that 79%
figure. (There is a wealth of additional information at this website.
Unfortunately, it is in Russian. However, IE and Google translators can help you
So it appears that both sides are adopting a "White Hat vs.
Black Hat" – our side (good) vs. their side (evil) – polarization that history
has taught us, time and again, is a precursor to war. As W. B. Yates famously
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Please understand me. I don’t wish to suggest that the
Russians are without fault in this conflict. I am no admirer of Vladimir Putin,
and most emphatically would not wish to live under his regime. But the internal
problems of Russia are the business of the Russian people, to tolerate or to
meliorate as they choose. And at the moment, it is clear that a sizeable
majority of the Russians have endorsed Putin’s leadership. I am far more
familiar with the shortcomings on the American and western European side of the
dispute. And from that perspective, and the perspective of numerous wise and
informed individuals that I have come to trust, "the Russia threat" to world
peace has been vastly exaggerated by our leaders. And that exaggeration poses a
grave danger to us all.|
There is a road via negotiation and compromise toward
peaceful coexistence. And tragically, this is a road that is not being followed
Why not? "What kind of madness possesses the the American and
NATO leaders today?
First of all, captivated by "group think," these leaders
appear to be totally clueless about political psychology and history, as they
attempt, full-out, to bully Russia with threats and sanctions. Don’t they
realize that such behavior almost invariably unites a nation behind its leader –
even a despot as ruthless as Josef Stalin? Again, look to history: Pearl
Harbor, The Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa (the Nazi invasion of the
Soviet Union). The Japanese were convinced that Americans were weak, selfish and
pleasure-seeking. Destroy their Pacific fleet and the Americans will surely sue
for peace. When warned not to invade the Soviet Union, Hitler reportedly said:
"We have only to kick in the front door and the whole rotten Russian edifice
will come tumbling down."
Instead, we Americans responded to the Japanese attack with
defiance, as did the Russians to the Nazi invasion.
Yet today, the political ignoramuses that write and implement
our foreign policy seem to believe that with a few sanctions and NATO missile
bases along the western border, Russia will fold like a cheap lawn chair and
meekly consent to "regime change" followed by economic colonization in the
"hegemony" of the neo-cons’ "New American Century."
Don’t these Ivy-League idiots understand who they are dealing
with? Did they flunk all their history classes at Harvard and Yale? Do they not
realize that the Russians are a proud and stubborn people, who, just like us,
respond to threats with defiance? "Billions for defense, not one Kopeck for
tribute." Just ask the Germans.
Russia is a nation that built factories from the ground up
east of the Urals after the Germans flattened their industrial base in the west.
It is a nation that produced thousands of first-class weapons such as the
Ilyushin Stormavic fighter-bomber and the T-34 tank. It is a nation which, at
the sacrifice of a sixth of its population, pushed back the Wehrmacht along a
two-thousand mile front from Leningrad through Stalingrad to Sevastopol and the
Caucuses, all the way back to the streets of Berlin.
Yet we somehow believe that the Russians won’t stand up to
our economic bullying. People capable of believing that are also capable of
believing that when we invade Iraq our troops will be "greeted with flowers and
sweets," and that the cost of the invasion will be fully covered by oil
revenues. (Off by a mere three-trillion dollars).
And so now, having failed to learn from history, we Americans
are apparently preparing to repeat it.
Instead, let’s all pause for a moment, take a deep breath,
and look carefully down that dreadful road, before we travel on.
First, it is past time that we shelve the imperial ambitions
that were clearly articulated by the Neo Cons and the
Project for a New American Century. Aside from the immorality of such
pretensions, the simple fact is that the rest of the world, Russia above all,
will not tolerate and will steadfastly resist the American "hegemony" that the
neo-cons wish to impose on them. The nations beyond our shores are well aware of
the misery that unregulated libertarian capitalism has brought to the mass of
Americans, and they want none of it.
As we may soon discover to our sorrow, the rest of the world
is well-equipped to resist and reject "the New American Century." Especially so
if economic alliances unite against the American "hegemon." Such alliances are
being formed at this moment, as China has recently agreed
to come to Russia’s aid during its current economic crisis. And today,
the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) is gaining
strength, and is in place to dominate the global economy if and when the 95% of
humanity outside our borders has had quite enough of our lawless arrogance and
Second, it is long past time that we rid ourselves of the
conceit that we are the most admired nation on earth. Anyone abroad with half a
brain and access to a newspaper and the internet is well aware that for the
first eight years of this century, the United States was governed by authentic
war criminals. They know that we routinely ignore international law when
convenient. Millions of widows and orphans from Viet Nam to Iraq to Nicaragua
are tragically aware of our indifference to innocent human life when it gets in
the way of our international ambitions. Accordingly we should not be surprised
the Gallup organization poll of 24 countries tells us that the United
States is regarded in these countries as the greatest threat to world peace.
Furthermore it is no secret abroad that authentic democracy
has disappeared from the United States, that the top one percent of Americans
own more than a third of the national wealth, and that the same one percent took
for themselves 95% of the national wealth gained since 2008. The government of
the United States has, in effect, become
property of the oligarchs. As Senator Durbin (D. IL) said: "The
bankers own this place" (i.e., the Senate of the United States).
No, we are no longer admired abroad. And the world beyond our
shores wants no part of the "gift of freedom" (for the elites) that the neo-cons
are attempting to impose upon them.
Finally, there is much more that should unite us with the
Russians than that which divides. Time and again throughout history, traditional
enemies have united in the face of a common external threat. So it was with the
Athenians and Spartans facing the Persians. So it was with the Americans,
British and Soviets facing the Nazi regime. So it is again today.
To begin, there is the so-called "global war against
terrorism." The Russians arguably have a greater stake in defeating the Islamic
militants than we do. About 15% of the Russian population is Muslim. In
addition, the former Soviet "Stan" republics to the south of Russia are
predominantly Muslim: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
Azerbaijan. Like the vast majority of the billion-plus Moslems throughout the
world, these Russian and post-Soviet Muslims reject the violent extremism of
ISIS and other militant groups. Yet these regions within and immediately outside
Russia are fertile seedbeds for the recruitment of extremists
Islamic terrorism is a concern shared by the United States,
and Europe, as we are reminded daily by the news reports. Thus the struggle
against Islamic extremism should be an international endeavor, including to be
sure the Islamic nations which are especially vulnerable to the militants. All
nations involved in this struggle must acknowledge that "the enemy" is not a
religion, Islam, but rather fanaticism. It is a struggle that can and should
unite the United States and Russia.
But there is a still greater over-arching global emergency
that is well-suited to unite us all and put our divisive power struggles
permanently in the dust bin of history.
I refer, of course, to global climate change. If this is not
addressed immediately and forcefully, in the next century there will be no
diplomatic game-playing among elites in Washington, London, Beijing, Berlin and
Tokyo, because all these cities will then be under water. Ironically, Moscow
will then be high and dry. But no matter: the breadbasket steppes of Ukraine and
Russia will be parched and sterile deserts.
All of us – every single nation on this planet – now face
that common enemy, if only we had the eyes to see. And the industrialized
nations have caused it. "We have met the enemy and he is us." Climate change is
a threat to our children, grandchildren and generations beyond greater than the
armies of Xerxes or Hitler. Human civilization must either deal with it head-on
or perish on an uninhabitable planet. There is no third alternative. (In
November, 1989, during my first trip to Russia,
I spoke on this theme at a conference sponsored
by the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
The Russians can be essential allies, as we discovered in
WWII. They are intelligent, resourceful, and determined. And as I have
personally discovered, as friends and colleagues they are loyal, trustworthy and
Russian scientific research is first rate, or at least it was
until the cowboy capitalists of the Yeltsin era slashed their funding. The glory
days of Russian science can and must be revived. As for technology, think
Sputnik and Soyuz, along with the Stormavik and T-34. Even today, American
astronauts and their supplies are carried aloft in Russian rockets.
The military-industrial establishments of several countries
will resist a demobilization. The answer is to apply judo: redirect their
engineering and manufacturing might toward research and development in renewable
energy, carbon capture, etc. If our best engineering minds are now attached to
the military establishment, then let’s direct their attention to planetary
survival and renewal. There is precedent: the US demobilized in 1945 and
restarted the domestic industrial economy without hardship. Many of the
returning veterans, rather than joining the unemployment lines, went to college
on the GI Bill to become doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers – the
foundation of the middle class that was, until recently, the envy of the world
This late in the essay, I will not test the reader’s patience
by presenting a long list of proposals aimed at detente between the
United States and Russia. It is not necessary, since I have done so elsewhere
(see the final section of my
"Letter to my
Friends in Russia").
Instead, I close with a plea: Stop the madness – now!
There is nothing to be gained by a new cold war that is remotely worth the risk
of devastation that it might bring upon all of us. We earthlings – all of us –
face a planetary crisis that we must either address collectively and
intelligently, or else our posterity will endure unimaginable horror and face
the end of civilization.
Where are the leaders that will rescue us from this insanity?
None are in evidence at this moment in time. If none, then we the people of the
United States, of Russia, and of the entire world must unite and demand: no
war! Survival at any cost! If existing political and economic
institutions and leaders will not respond, then we must together establish new
institutions and find new leaders.
We cannot afford, or survive with, any less than this.
Copyright 2015 by Ernest Partridge
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
Send E-Mail to: email@example.com .