Talking WW3 Blues. (Somebody has to.)

30 May

These people are not only very skilled at constructing these kind of narratives. They live inside them.

That’s Alexander Mercouris yesterday, in one of his regular duets with Alex Christoforou. And “these people”? They’d be your Beltway Neocons, since 9/11 closer – that red card for Nuland notwithstanding – to the levers of empire decision-making than at any previous point.

US-led Western leaders, and the US elites who rule from the shadows, thought to break Russia on the battlefield of a proxy war they had engineered through two decades of provocation. And to crush her economy. Anyone remember Biden’s promise to reduce the rouble to rubble?

Neither has happened. Western media now openly acknowledge what some of us have been saying for well over a year. Russia is winning the war and its economy is in far better shape than those of America’s vassals allies.

Which makes this the most perilous point in human history. More so than Cuba ’62. 1 For all the hostility, superficially ideological, 2 US and Soviet leaders were able to talk turkey. They had hotlines. They had back channels. They had a grasp of realpolitik  which did not mistake rhetoric for reality. 3  Crucially, they had teams of Russia experts who were listened to. Even Reagan, not the brightest of chaps, appointed men of the calibre of Stephen Cohen. By contrast, under every administration from Bush and Clinton on, Russian speakers and cultural Russophiles have been relentlessly exorcised. Glaringly absent from All The President’s Men are those able to see the world as Russians do. In a climate where such experts are viewed with suspicion and scorn, 4 it is beginning to dawn on some of the less fanatical that a sentiment famously expressed by Karl Rove …

We are an empire; we make our own reality …

… has led them wildly astray.

But will that hubris incinerate us all? Here to consider that question – it’s quite important – are the two Alexes, in the dialogue from which my opening quote is taken.

* * *

  1. Two takeaways. One, JFK did not “win” by Facing Down Khrushchev. He quietly ordered the removal of nuclear tipped Jupiter missiles from Turkey as a quid pro quo for removal of their Soviet equivalents from Cuba. Two, that happened because even at the height of cold war tensions, Washington and Moscow still talked.
  2. I say “superficially ideological” when Russia’s vast natural wealth plus half a millennium of Western fear of a Eurasian threat to its supremacy form the key to understanding both the first and current cold wars. Putin’s error, failing for all his passion for history to grasp these realities, was to believe the West would embrace a post Soviet but not subservient Russia. (An illusion he no longer labours under.) Post Yeltsin Russia has shed the basket case status induced by the IMF shock-therapy of disaster capitalism. (Putin’s nationalism, shared by even his domestic critics, being no less an obstacle to Wall Street plunder than Soviet property relations.) Russians have seen living standards soar and, united in seeing Ukraine as a war for them existential, two months ago handed their incumbent president a landslide victory on a turnout twice to thrice that of any Western ‘democracy’.
  3. After Nixon, whose ability to drop the home-turf grandstanding and get real off-camera they understood, Brezhnev and Politburo had trouble getting the measure of an idealistic Jimmy Carter who appeared genuinely to believe the guff churned out for mass Western consumption. The Kremlin could never fathom his bible and apple pie act, and it spooked them. Carter was no Neocon but did share their confusion of rhetoric with reality.
  4. A fascinating insider account of the expulsion – we might say constructive dismissal – from US government circles of Russia experts is given here.

4 Replies to “Talking WW3 Blues. (Somebody has to.)

  1. Greetings Phil,
    am loathe to admit that today for the very first time, I thought I´d have a listen to your Tune of the day! I hope you can forgive my tardiness.
    Absolutely wonderful.
    As I have a daughter who is in a band, I do have a very softspot for young ladies who
    make music! AJ Lee is fantastic.
    Anyway, keep up your writing, we all depend on a bit of sanity now and again.
    Take care

    • Hey Billy. No apology needed! Tune of the Day (a misnomer since it seldom if ever gets a daily update) is pure indulgence. Unlike my posts, on which I get approximate audience figures – am absurdly gratified to be read in scores of countries and on every continent bar Antarctica – I have no way of knowing who bothers with my selected toons.

      Except on the few occasions when someone cites one. Thanks!

      And yes, A J Lee is sublime.

  2. The absurd thing is, as Alex C. said near the end, is that hardly anyone (among the Western publics, that is) has any idea that all of this is going on… and therefore, implicitly, how close to being reduced to radioactive ash they might be.

    Still, I suppose they still have Saturday night TV – or whatever passes for their ‘entertainment’ these days :-/

    • In an email exchange this morning with Ed Curtin, apropos this post and one he published yesterday on the same subject, I wrote:

      Homo sapiens-sapiens has not evolved with a well honed capacity to think critically on matters outside the warp and weft of daily life. In the face of overwhelmingly interconnected and all-embracing narratives – what some call the matrix and I call ideology – which serve ruling elites in ways not always obvious, the obtuseness of my fellows irks and alarms me but I can’t condemn them for it.

      With Ed’s permission I’ll be featuring his post tomorrow.

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