Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NATO Marches Eastward

We're on a dangerous collision course with Russia, no matter who wins the White House

April 2, 2008
by Justin Raimondo

The relentless march of NATO, decades after the implosion of the Soviet Union and the death knell of the Leninist project, is surely an object lesson in the real motivations and character of "democratic" imperialism, here and in Europe. The Communist enemy may be long gone, but NATO soldiers ever onward, and ever eastward. Suddenly we're back in the heyday of the Cold War: once again we hear the War Party's clarion call – "The Russians are coming!"

What they really mean to say however – as the video clip above makes visibly and audibly clear – is that the Americans are coming, along with the Brits, actively seeking to delegitimize and destabilize the government still dominated by Vladimir Putin. A new campaign for "regime change" is in the making, this time aimed at Moscow.

When the neoconservatives launched their campaign to exclude Russia from the G-8 summit, in retaliation for their arming of Syria and refusal to get on board the Iraq war-wagon, Russo-American relations took a steep dive. Vice President Dick Cheney was quick to join the refrain, accusing the Russians of using oil as a "weapon" against Ukraine in what is presumably a new cold war. Bush, who had previously gazed into Putin's eyes and found a fellow spirit, is now championing NATO membership for Ukraine and – incredibly – Georgia.

The Europeans are having none of it, with France and Germany opposed outright and several of the smaller NATO members "skeptical," as news accounts put it. That doesn't really matter to the Bushies, however, who are doing this for domestic political reasons, as a show of support to McCain and the McCainiacs.

The links between the McCain campaign and the campaign for NATO expansion, and Russophobic circles in general, are extensive. Randy Scheunemann , McCain's top foreign policy adviser, is a key figure in the NATO expansion campaign: he has been a top lobbyist for British Petroleum, several major defense contractors, and various Baltic and Central European governments. He worked with Bruce Jackson, a former vice president in charge of planning for Lockheed-Martin and Pentagon official, on the U.S. Committee for NATO. Scheunemann has been an American adviser to the Georgian government and a registered lobbyist for Macedonia, Romania, and Latvia, as well as a corporate lobbyist for BP America and Lockheed-Martin. To top it off, Scheunemann was a founding member of the Project for a New American Century and a co-founder and director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He is, in short, the embodiment of all the pressure groups and special interests who profit, materially and ideologically, from the renewal of the Cold War.

The old drama has been revived, let there be no doubt. That is the meaning of the U.S.-funded and stage-managed "color revolutions" from Kiev to Kyrgyzstan, epitomized by that whole mysterious business with the alleged poisoning of Victor Yushchenko – an affair that resembled the hokiest sort of Cold War propaganda.

Even more bizarre is the case of Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB spy who supposedly "knew too much" – so much that his former bosses bumped him off by poisoning him with a rare radioactive isotope, a substance that just happens to play a key role in making triggers for nuclear devices. Was it a KGB assassination, or, perhaps, something along the lines of what Sibel Edmonds is describing – an underground network of nuclear smugglers? In any case, it's like something out of a novel by John le CarrĂ©, or, perhaps, one of his substandard imitators.

In spite of these histrionics, however, the regnant anti-Russian hysteria – induced and maintained by these sensational stunts, which give every indication of being carefully staged – doesn't have much popular resonance, particularly in the front-line trenches of Cold War II. Ukrainian voters have since turned sour on the "Orange Revolutionaries," on account of their wrecking the country economically and their warmongering Russophobia, especially the radical wing led by the fiery Yulia Timoshenko, the "gas princess," whose ultra-nationalist tirades against Russia are the key to her limited electoral appeal. Support for Ukrainian NATO membership may be popular in Washington, D.C., but it is distinctly unpopular in Ukraine, where only 30 percent are in favor.

In Ukraine, many people can barely feed their families. Why should they care if the Ukrainian air force, such as it is, is being upgraded to meet NATO standards? The real constituency for this is in Washington, where lobbyists for arms contractors – Scheunemann's old buddies at Lockheed-Martin, for one – are delirious with joy at the prospect of more NATO members, all of which will have to be outfitted with and trained to use sophisticated new weapons systems. Guess who rakes in billions in profits, at taxpayers' expense?

Ideological ambidexterity is the key operating principle inside the Washington Beltway, where policymaking is all about corporate socialism for the rich – Lockheed-Martin and Bear Stearns – and social Darwinism when it comes time to foreclose on some poor schmuck's mobile home.

There is also an ideological motivation, congruent with the corporate interest in NATO expansion, and that is the neoconservative insistence on continental hegemony. In practice, this means the maintenance of American military supremacy in Europe as well as the Middle East. An important addendum to this is the extension of American military influence in the Caucasus, and, as usual, McCain has been in the vanguard of this trend. The candidate has been a big booster of Georgia, although he's had no comment on the recent government crackdown on the opposition, the obviously phony elections, and the spectacle of Georgian cops beating peaceful protesters in the streets of the capital city.

McCain once traveled to the disputed region of Abkhazia, whose pro-Russian inhabitants seek independence from Tbilisi and close relations with Moscow, where he declared the Russians must not be allowed to possess one square inch of "sovereign" Georgian territory. As president, he'd have us involved in every territorial dispute along the periphery of the former Soviet Union, from the snowy fields of Latvia to the steppes of Central Asia.

Unlike Bush, who keeps up the insulting pretense that the U.S. is intent on building a missile shield in Poland and the Czech republic to counter an alleged "threat" emanating from Iran, President McCain would make no secret of the real target of this "defensive" weapon – which, for the first time, makes a first strike on the Russians militarily feasible. McCain, the "Atlanticist," is unleashing the most feverish phraseology, describing Russia as "revanchist" and even accusing Moscow of launching cyber-attacks on Latvia – without, of course, any supporting evidence. Perhaps, as president, he would launch a preemptive cyber-strike at the Russians, applying the Bushian-neocon military doctrine to the Internet – and maybe not just there…

As for the other aspirants up for admission into this archaic Cold War conclave – Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania – NATO's secretary-general is cautiously optimistic that at least two out of three will be welcomed into the fold at the Bucharest summit. Macedonia may not make it because of a dispute that gives a hint as to why the word balkanize means to split up into a multitude of irreconcilable camps. The admission of Croatia and Albania, the allies of NATO during the Euro-American war of aggression against the former Yugoslavia, is a reward for their fealty, as well as alms for the American arms industry. It is also insurance that if Kosovo blows up again, the Croatians can repeat their performance in the Krajina, where they slaughtered nearly 2,000 Serbs, burned down 73 percent of Serbian homes, and forced thousands more to flee.

The really bad news is that U.S.-Russian relations are likely to undergo a radical decline no matter which presidential candidate takes the White House. What this means is that McCain's malevolent vision of a "revanchist Russia," backsliding into authoritarianism and a threat to its neighbors, may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the not-too-distant future. In our search for endless enemies, the worst, it seems, are our own creation.

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