American Conservative on Russia

18 Jan

For the second time in three days I’m indebted to OffGuardian editor Vaska. Her FB posting of a cringeworthy example of Israeli hasbara prompted my post: Breast cancer, feminism, Israeli warplanes.

Today she put this up:

Vaska is right – or would be if the Left, both its soft and hard1 manifestations, had it in them to be embarrassed. Do read this article in full. Meanwhile here’s how it begins:

It is commonplace for Americans to portray Russia as a dangerous country with nearly unlimited territorial ambitions. But the facts simply do not support such an alarmist view. Instead, Russia’s behavior is more consistent with that of a beleaguered regional power trying to fend off hostile intrusions from an American-led NATO.

The self-serving myth of a malignantly aggressive Russia, however, continues to grow—with potentially dangerous consequences for European and global peace.

Assertions that Moscow’s behavior pose a serious, even an existential, threat to Europe and the entire democratic West surfaced even before Donald Trump became president. They flared up in 2008 when fighting erupted between Russia and neighboring Georgia—even though the latter country had initiated the aggression. Senator John McCain asserted that “it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire.”

Such allegations became more pervasive when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 following the Western-assisted Maidan revolution that overthrew Ukraine’s elected, pro-Russian government. Ultra-hawkish writer and media talking head Ralph Peters asserted that Putin had a detailed plan for reclaiming the Russian empire. “Make no mistake,” Peters warned, “Putin truly believes he’s entitled to reclaim Ukraine and a great deal more. In his view, independent capitals from Warsaw (yes, Warsaw) to Bishkek [the Kyrgyz Republic’s capital] are integral and natural parts of the Russian imperium. He regards them as property stolen from its rightful owner: Moscow.” Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric was even more apocalyptic: Putin’s actions, she contended, were “what Germany did back in the ‘30s.”

Such hyperbole has continued and even increased over the past five years on both sides of the Atlantic …

Here again is the full article by Ted Carpenter. The Left has ceded to lone wolves on the Right the terrain for challenging a demonisation thoroughly internalised by liberal audiences. That not only green lights the very scary road our self-serving rulers are taking us down, but leaves an explanatory vacuum. One that has been filled from the Right: partially and inadequately, yes, but be thankful for small mercies. Just as Mail maverick Peter Hitchens, with his demands for evidence – and for answers as to why in God’s name Assad would gas Syrian children to no conceivable gain the week UN weapons inspectors arrive – show up the painful prejudices of Monbiot and Jones, so does Carpenter’s take-down of Russophobia shame not just the Luke Hardings of this world but the entire Democrat machine, its pet media and, this side of the pond, BBC, Guardian and pretty much all wings of the British Labour Party.

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  1. I’ve objected before to the tendency of far left groups in the West to assert without a shred of evidence, far less what Marxists used to call materialist analysis, that Russia is ‘imperialist’. I’m obliged to Roger “Socialist in Canada” Annis for pointing out that not only is there zero evidence for so complacent a reading – a wonderful excuse for playing Pontius Pilate as NATO creeps eastward and Syria is devastated by Western interventions covert and overt – but that there is ample counter evidence. See the excellent eight-thousand worder Roger co-wrote with Renfrey Clarke on this facile trope.

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