Black Ops in the Black Sea

24 Jun

The Royal Naval destroyer, HMS Defender

Having a jail sentence hanging over him is doing nothing to stop courageous whistle-blower Craig Murray from calling out an increasingly criminal empire, and the willingness of its John Bull junior partner to do the bidding of its epicentre.

It beggars belief that a British warship would not only enter one of the planet’s three likeliest WW3 flashpoints1 but, for good measure, cruise in disputed territorial waters2 without a very clear steer from Washington. Here’s WSWS today:

The incident with HMS Defender must be seen in the context of a ramping up of militarism by British imperialism and its NATO partners, with Moscow and China in their crosshairs.3

For his part Dimitris Konstantakopoulos – less sexy than his former Syriza colleague, Yanis Varoufakis, but no less insightful – has this to say in a Defend Democracy piece today:

We have no independent way of determining what happened. But we do have an independent way to know that, for centuries, lies have been the most perfect weapon of the British Empire, being the world champion regarding this sport. 4 In fact, when the Americans needed to construct the story of Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, they … resorted to Tony Blair and the British secret services to help them!

The British [have] signed a huge agreement to modernise the Ukrainian navy that will cost the extremely impoverished Ukrainians a few billion. The only mission this navy could serve is a war against Russia, the first victim of which will be Ukraine itself.5

But back to Craig Murray, who offers this on his site today:

Black Ops in the Black Sea

Sometimes it is worth stating the obvious. The United Kingdom does not have a coast in the Black Sea. British warships are not infesting the Black Sea out of a peaceful intent, and there is no cause for them to be entering disputed waters close to anybody’s coast. This is not a question of freedom of navigation under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. There is nowhere that a British warship can be heading from the UK under the right of innocent passage that would require it to pass through coastal waters by Crimea. The Black Sea is famously a cul-de-sac.

I expect we will now be in for a mad frenzy of Russophobia, yet again. I shall comment further once I have more details of why and exactly where Russia was firing warning shots. But just remember this, it was not Russian warships near the British coast, it was British warships in an area where they had no business other than ludicrous, British nationalist, sabre-rattling.

The UK needs to lose its imperial delusions. Sending gunboats to the Crimea is as mad as – well, sailing an aircraft carrier expressly to threaten the Chinese. There are those who see this activity as evidence of the UK’s continued great power status. I see it as evidence of lunacy.

I don’t entirely share that last assessment. UK’s behaviour may be madness, but there’s method in it. I’ll be posting soon a sixty-three minute video by Tim Anderson on the US Empire’s eight 21st century wars on the Middle East. The context for those wars is the same as that for NATO’s provocations on Russia’s western borderlands – imperial determination to stop Eurasia Rising.

Let me get my most overworked map out yet again.6

Yes, the Orwellianly named HMS Defender’s Black Sea brinksmanship, on behalf of its masters in Washington, is indeed ‘lunacy’. But the criminal insanity on display is of a higher order, a play in a Greater Game, than Britain’s ‘imperial delusions’.7

* * *

  1. The other two flashpoints are the Middle East and South China Sea.
  2. It is not necessary here to consider whether Crimea – Russian speaking and Russia leaning, but ‘donated’ by the USSR to one of its component nations – is Russian or Ukrainian. Treatment of the issue in Western corporate media is simplistic to the point of risibility, as though Crimea were part of Ukraine the way Thanet is of England, but such intrinsics may be bypassed by this extrinsic question: how would Washington respond to Russian (or Cuban) warships in the Gulf of Mexico; within or without US territorial waters?
  3. WSWS is good on some things, weak on others. Its report on the Black Sea incident is both. It houses useful facts, and a decent appraisal except for this: “[the] incident in the Black Sea is a stark indication of how the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the interests of competing imperialist powers [make the region] a powder keg that could ignite a worldwide conflagration.” That’s a disgraceful equivalence (look at my NATO map again) – byproduct of the ‘vanguard’ notion that Western workers will one day rise up to overthrow capitalism, and with it imperialism. (Spoiler alert: they won’t because, with capital-labour relations now global, Western workers no longer have economic clout.) WSWS are of the view, unproven and some say refuted, that Russia and China are imperialist in the sense they and I understand the term. I see Eurasia’s rise as posing dangers from “our” response, to be sure, but still humanity’s best hope via such as Belt & Road and AIIB (touched on in sources linked from footnote 7). Think me extreme to say so? I’m outside the Overton Window. Study Harold Pinter’s Nobel Acceptance Speech. Read this site’s posts on the systemic incapacity of corporate media to be honest with us precisely when honesty most matters. Consider that by ‘full spectrum dominance’ the US Empire of Chaos means not just in every military and geopolitical arena but in that of narrative too. Then come back and tell me just what it is that makes me the extremist.
  4. Here Dimitris underestimates Washington’s own mastery of deceit. Mike Pompeo: we lied, we cheated, we stole …
  5. Let me use the Britain-Ukraine arms deal as an example of how we go seriously astray when we confuse nation with class. (A bigger example is given here.) Clearly, Britain’s arms suppliers – and, in a smaller if tautological way, workers at their factories – will benefit. So too, in ways brought briefly to light in the Saudi bribes investigation Blair halted in its tracks, will sections of the Kiev elite. Those who assuredly will not benefit – by the diversion of taxes needed elsewhere, and by being put in a firing line they’ll have no way of dodging – are ordinary Ukrainians who had zero say in the matter.
  6. [Heavy irony alert] damned if I can see from that map what possible cause Putin and Lavrov could have for objecting to Ukraine joining NATO [End irony]. I know of no crisper response to the ludicrous charges, by those whose knowledge of the region could be written on the back of a stamp, of ‘Russian aggression’ than this map.
  7. See also, Perilous DaysThe late great Michael HudsonBiden-Putin Summit: rhetoric & realpolitik … the recent interview with Vladimir Putin.

6 Replies to “Black Ops in the Black Sea

  1. Just posted:

    The legality of the British action is, at very best, moot. In realpolitik, it is an act of brinkmanship with a nuclear power and further effort to ramp up the new Cold War with Russia, to the benefit of the military, security services and armaments companies and the disbenefit of those who need more socially useful government spending. It is further an act of jingoist populism for the neo-liberal elite to distract the masses, as the billionaires’ incredible wealth continues to boom.

    NATO will shortly commence a naval exercise in the Black Sea. As not all the member states of NATO are quite as unhinged as Johnson, it is to be hoped it will refrain from this kind of extra layer of provocation. There is a large part of me that says they cannot possibly be mad enough to attempt to intervene in Ukraine with military force, or at least its threat. But then I look at Johnson and Biden, and worry. This can all go horribly wrong.

    • I don’t believe NATO, and Washington in particular, have grasped that Russia truly has had enough. She has seen two decades of tempered responses to provocation read (see Paul Craig Murray’s rebuking of Moscow ‘softness’ in Our beautifully democratic wars) as weakness. Like China, with which we can be sure there is close and high level contact over this incident, Russia has hardened her stance.

      There is a faction within the US ruling class which believes a nuclear war on China and Russia can be won (doubtless with sociopathic reckonings of ‘acceptable’ levels of collateral deaths). That faction, once a lunatic fringe, became increasingly mainstream in the two decades of unchallenged US hegemony. Russia’s very recent game-changing developments in ultra high speed, ABM defying ICBMs may have forced a rethink – since they destroy a core premise of the plan, which was to take out Russia’s defence capacity and have the Pentagon’s ABMs turkey-shoot whatever was left of the Russian response out of the skies – but I wouldn’t count on too much sanity from the blend of exceptionalism and “christian” fundamentalism in the corridors of US power.

      In any case, Craig’s final sentence – ‘this can all go horribly wrong’ – points to the fact that, regardless of the precise calculations being made, such brinksmanship – and with it the capacity for each side to misread the other – is insanely high risk.

  2. Actually, I think you’re wrong there Phil – it is lunacy, as the UK’s armed forces are now a shadow of their former ‘glory’. These destroyers are (mostly) armed only with AA missiles. They are useless against subs or surface ships. RN frigates are slightly more versatile, but are obsolescent. The airforce often only has half its planes operational, and there are not many of them anyway. If there was a war only between Russia and the UK we would soon be welcoming Mr Putin into Downing Street. (He would make a much more efficient PM than the present incompetent).

    “Global UK’ is dependent on US back up to do anything. In Iraq and Afghanistan the British Army had to have their chestnuts pulled out of the fire by the US on numerous occasions. Lunacy for the UK to foment a war anywhere.

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