Guardian BTL exchanges on Russia

17 Jan

That zerohoursuni fellow’s been at it again. Today’s Guardian had Lucianna stating, in a below-the-line comment on a characteristically superficial piece on whether Dodgy Dave Cameron is “fit” – whatever that means – to head NATO, that:

Poland and the Baltic States have asked for more NATO troops on their borders in response to Russian expansion in Crimea and aggression in Ukraine.

To which zerohoursuni responded:

I can’t agree. Polish and Baltic leaders – not their peoples – have asked for more NATO troops. As Honduras, Ukraine and at least seven countries in the middle east can attest, it doesn’t do to get in the way of Washington’s endless aggression, which has pushed NATO against Russia’s western borders in ways America would not for a moment tolerate in its own backyard. (Regardless of the “democratic will” of Mexico or Canada!) We don’t have to guess this. Look at the CIA’s history in Latin America.

Can you give a single reason why Russia would invade Poland or the Baltic states? It would be crazy not just militarily but economically too, when energy rich Russia seeks trade with Europe. On the other hand, I can give three reasons why the USA threatens Russia. One, the fruits of cold war victory did not deliver the anticipated goodies. Privatising the USSR enriched ex KGB billionaires, not Wall Street. Russia is still unfinished business. Two, as the USA declines, Russia and China are coming together – most obviously in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – to challenge the IMF and through it, the rule of the dollar. Three, America’s $10 trillion for-profit arms sector (2012 figures) is itself a major incentive for the wars it ceaselessly wages.

This brought Westmorlandia into the discussion:

“Can you give a single reason why Russia would invade Poland or the Baltic states? It would be crazy not just militarily but economically too, when energy rich Russia seeks trade with Europe.”

Much the same arguments could be made about the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and yet Russia invaded the Crimea and is contributing to the conflict in Ukraine, and is happy to suffer the costs on the international stage for doing so. The apparent reason for their actions is an imperalist belief in a greater Russia, which is why the Baltics (in particular) are right to be worried.

The important difference between Ukraine and Poland/the Baltics is NATO membership, which brings in your point about it being militarily “crazy” – so you are yourself admitting that Poland and the Baltics were quite right to have joined NATO, and so I don’t see why you complain about supposed NATO “aggression”.

To which zerohoursuni replied:

To be fair, Westmorlandia, my arguments do not apply in Crimea. Neither Poland nor the Baltic states (which do have Russian populations, true) had a Russia leaning government (Yanukovych’s) overthrown with CIA help (remember Victoria “fuck the EU” Nuland?) to install a semi fascist regime. Also relevant is the fact Crimea’s ethnic Russian majority was understandably horrified by the make-up of Poroshenko’s cabinet, and rise of fascism post the Maidan coup. There’s another specifically Crimean factor in that one of Russia’s few military bases beyond its borders – less than a dozen as opposed to America’s thousand across the globe – had to be secured. Poland and the Baltics do not have this toxic stack of factors. For a fair minded appraisal – neither pro Moscow nor pro Washington – of Ukraine’s situation and the dangers it poses to us all, see Richard Sakwa’s Frontline Ukraine.

The example that does come close to Ukraine, Georgia, so far unmentioned, also has a large Russian population in South Ossetia. We can argue all day over Russia’s ‘invasion’ of Ossetia but two facts seem highly pertinent. One, Georgia premier Saakashvili wanted to join NATO, which would have put that anti Russian alliance on Russia’s border and east of the Black Sea. (I wish more people – I don’t say you – would study maps to see the build up of NATO on Russia’s borders.) Two, Russian forces were in Georgia a few days. Again I invite you to consider: would the USA, whose invasions tend to last somewhat longer, put up with anything like the encirclement it wants for Russia?

But Westmorlandia made a second response to that single comment by zerohoursuni:

“Washington’s endless aggression, which has pushed NATO against Russia’s western borders in ways America would not for a moment tolerate in its own backyard”

Perhaps it looks like aggression from Russia. But from the point of view of Poland and the Baltics it looks like a precaution against aggression, and Russia has proved those fears absolutely right by what it did in Ukraine. Russia doesn’t have a leg to stand on if it wants to complain about this, because it brought it on itself by resuming an imperialist stance under Putin.

Poland and the Baltics chose to look West, because they fear Russia – I don’t seem to recall them getting much choice after 1945. If Russia understood that, perhaps they would see that NATO “aggression” is nothing of the sort. No one is going to attack Russia, but Russia will not be permitted to dominate Eastern Europe again, against the will of its people.

.To which zerohoursuni replied:

“No one is going to attack Russia”.

Well I hope so, but that’s all it is – hope. In my response to Lucianna I gave three reasons for America’s cold but heating up war on Russia, and the climate of neoMacarthyism I see sweeping the USA, with Russia experts like Stephen Cohen – who used to advise Reagan – dismayed. It does little to assuage my fears that the doctrine of “mutually addured destruction” I grew up with – I’m in my sixties now – may no longer apply. There are clearly elements within America’s senior military and political ranks who believe a ‘limited’ nuclear war can be won. Worse still, they may be right given Washington’s ability to arm-twist or bribe European leaders – whose interests and desires should never be confused with those of their peoples – to have these nukes on their soil, meaning Europe might be nuked to ashes alongside Russia, while America – especially rich Americans with their own private bunkers – remained immune provided it got in that first strike it has always maintained its right to.

Yes, it’s insane. But, technically, they may be right. So while I hope that “no one is going to attack Russia”, my hope appears to be shakier than yours.

Followers of this blog won’t be surprised to hear that we steel city scribblers – though we might have expressed things with greater clarity, more rigorous punctuation and better knowledge of keyboard layout – are unapologetic in our support for zerohoursuni in this as in other of his BTL encounters. We reproduce it here in the view that the matters it touches on could not be more important. We share his alarm at the willingness of America’s ruling class, aided by gullibility and ignorance both sides of the Atlantic, to take us to the brink of thermonuclear war. And quite possibly beyond.

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