The Saudi Crown Price was all smiles in Moscow. But it is Russia that should be smiling at this turn of events.
President Vladimir Putin has met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman today in a meeting that left the Saudi Prince saying, “relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia are seeing one of their best stages at the moment”.While this may leave many scratching their heads, it actually follows the logic of both Russia’s foreign policy and of wider developments in the world.
First of all, Russia’s foreign policy is non-ideological and nor does it seek to violently oppose nations who have a different foreign policy to that of Russia, no matter how different.
Although Saudi Arabia helps to support al-Qaeda and ISIS which Russia is fighting in Syria, Turkey not only supporters similar jihadist groups in Syria such as the FSA, but more importantly also has an extremely capable army to back up the proxy jihadists. Saudi Arabia has lots of money to throw at vile jihadists but they have no real armed forces capable of backing them up. In Yemen, the only place the Saudi’s have tried to do so, they are losing a brutal war to poorly armed Houthi forces whose support from Iran is greatly exaggerated by western mainstream media.
If Russia can talk reasonably with Turkey, then surely Russia can do the same with the vastly less militarily relevant Saudi Arabia.
Secondly, there is the fact that many do not want to admit. Saudi Arabia needs Russia more than it needs the US. When all the weapons and convoys Cadillacs America has to offer are sold to Saudi, America realistically offers Saudi little in terms of trade. With the US becoming increasingly energy independent, America’s need for Gulfi oil is decreasing and apart from oil Saudi exports virtually nothing other than terrorism.
By contrast, like Saudi, Russia is an major energy producer and exporter. It was indeed only when Russia agreed with OPEC to cut production levels last year that Saudi avoided an even bigger economic recession than the one it is currently experiencing and trying its best to ignore.
Russia has the ability to flood the energy market at whim and is not formally bound by OPEC. In this sense Russia could if it so desired, play a tough upper hand with Saudi in respect of world-energy prices.
The Saudi Crown Prince went to Moscow knowing full well of Russia’s strategic partnership with Iran. The Saudis also know that if they declared war on Iran, Russia would give full political support and possibly also material support to Iran while America would not be likely to risk war with a major Iranian military power over Saudi Arabia. America hasn’t yet done so for Israel which should worry a state that if anything is slightly less close to Washington than the leaders in Tel Aviv.
With astounding precision, Donald Trump zeroed in on the worst possible Middle East policy option in his recent trip to Saudi Arabia and made it his own. He rebuffed the efforts of Iran’s newly elected moderate government to open up communications with the West and instead deepened America’s alliances with decrepit autocratic regimes across the Persian Gulf.
President Donald Trump is escorted by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia during the arrival ceremonies, Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead)
Turning up his nose at Iran — a rising young power — he embraced Saudi Arabia, which is plainly on its last legs. It was a remarkable display — rather like visiting a butcher shop and passing up a fresh steak for one that’s rancid and smelly and buzzing with flies.
Saudi Arabia is not just any tired dictatorship with an abysmal human-rights record but one of the most spectacularly dysfunctional societies in history. It takes in half a billion dollars a day in oil revenue, yet is so profligate that it could run out of money in half a decade. It sits atop 18 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, yet is so wasteful that, at current rates, it will become a net importer by the year 2030.
Its king travels with a thousand-person retinue wherever he goes while his son, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, plunked down $550 million not long ago when a 440-foot yacht caught his eye in the south of France. Yet this pair of royal kleptocrats dares preach austerity at a time when as much as 25 percent of the population lives on less than $17 a day in trash-strewn Third World slums.
The kingdom accuses Iran of sectarianism yet bans all religions other than Islam, arrests Christians for the “crime” of praying and possessing Bibles, equates atheism with terrorism, and has imposed a state of siege on Shi‘ite Muslims in its own Eastern Province. Although a bit restrained of late, its religious police are notorious for roaming the shopping malls and striking out with canes at anyone violating shari‘a law.
As the English novelist Hilary Mantel (of Wolf Hall fame) recalled of the four years she spent in the kingdom with her geologist husband, it was impossible to know what might arouse their ire: “it might be the flashing denim legs of a Filipina girl revealed for a second beneath an abaya gone adrift, or it might be the plate-glass shop front of a business that, as the evening prayer call spiraled through the damp air-conditioned halls, had failed to slam down its metal shutters fast enough. What were the rules? No one knew.”
Saudi Arabia also denounces terrorism at every turn even though its funding groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS (also known as ISIL and Islamic State) is an open secret. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained in a diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In September 2014, she observed that “Qatar and Saudi Arabia … are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
A few days later, Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard audience that “the Saudis, the emirates, etc. … were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war … [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” (Quote starts at 53:30.)
Arming the Saudis
Rather than fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda, the Saudis give them money so that they can wage jihad on religious minorities. Yet this is the country that Trump now calls upon to “drive out the terrorists and extremists,” which is as ludicrous as relying on the KKK to drive out racism. It’s also the country that he hopes will serve as the cornerstone of an “Arab NATO” so that he can sell it more jet fighters and Blackhawk helicopters.
Entertainers perform traditional dances during a banquet held in honor of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Murabba Palace, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
But the Saudi military is already top-heavy with such gear while at the same time so short of infantry that it relies on ill-trained Sudanese mercenaries, scores of whom were reportedly killed in a recent battle in the Red Sea province of Midi in Yemen’s north. This is not surprising since no Saudi in his right mind wants to serve as a foot soldier so that the deputy crown prince can buy another yacht. But more such purchases will only add to the military imbalance while adding more fuel to the broader Middle East conflagration.
So how did this god-awful marriage come about? Is it all Trump’s fault? Or have others contributed to the mess? The answer, of course, is the latter.
Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has contributed to the catastrophe. Roosevelt declared Saudi Arabia a U.S. protectorate while Dwight Eisenhower got it into his head that a corrupt desert monarchy would somehow be useful in the fight against Communism. Worried that it might come under Soviet influence, Jimmy Carter commenced a military buildup in the Persian Gulf that, according to a 2009 Princeton University study, has now surpassed the $10-trillion mark.
Ronald Reagan relied on the Saudis to finance arms to the Nicaraguan Contras and to Jonas Savimbi’s pro-apartheid guerrillas in Angola. George H.W. Bush launched a major war to save the Saudis from the evil Saddam Hussein. George W. Bush and Barack Obama covered up the Saudi role in 9/11, while Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged them and other Gulf monarchies to fund anti-government rebels in Libya and Syria during the Arab Spring. Both Libya and Syria fell to ruin as a consequence as hundreds of millions of dollars flowed to pro-Al Qaeda forces and the flames of Wahhabist terrorism spread ever wider.
Indeed, Donald Trump for a while seemed to augur something different. Rather than praising the kingdom, he denounced it in 2011 as “the world’s biggest funder of terrorism” and asserted, not inaccurately, that it was using “our petro dollars – our very own money – to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people while the Saudis rely on us to protect them.” Once on the campaign trail, he upped the ante by declaring that the Saudis “blew up the World Trade Center” and threatened to block their oil if they didn’t do more to fight ISIS.
Even more disconcertingly – at least to Washington’s endlessly bellicose foreign-policy establishment – Trump dismissed the cherished U.S.-Saudi-neoconservative goal of overthrowing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, arguing that the U.S. should concentrate on fighting ISIS instead.
“I don’t like Assad at all,” Trump declared in his second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton. “But Assad is killing ISIS, Russia is killing ISIS, and Iran is killing ISIS.” If killing ISIS was the main goal, then it followed that checking the power of the other three could be safely put off to another day.
Prioritizing in this way made a modicum of sense. But it went counter to Official Washington’s self-serving orthodoxy that Assad was somehow in league with the terrorists and that weakening one would undermine the other. Trump’s “Assad is killing ISIS” line thus triggered a firestorm of protest from those “in the know.” Clinton shook her head sadly at Trump’s naiveté while the mainstream U.S. media agreed that Trump didn’t know what he was talking about.
CNN, a division of Time Warner, said the claim was false because “there has been no visible effort by Assad regime forces to go after ISIS.” The Huffington Post, owned by Verizon Communications, wrote that Syria’s “primary focus” was not to go after ISIS, but “to wipe out less radical Syrian rebel groups that pose a larger challenge to Assad because they could be a popular, internationally acceptable alternative to him.”
In other words, although it might look to an objective observer that Assad was fighting ISIS, the Washington groupthink held that he really wasn’t; he was somehow on ISIS’s side. Or so such mainstream outlets assured us.
President Donald Trump touches lighted globe with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman and Donald Trump at the opening of Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology on May 21, 2017. (Photo from Saudi TV)
But it was nonsense as IHS Markit, a London analytics firm with extensive aerospace and defense experience, made clear in a subsequent report. Beginning in April 2016, its study of actual field conditions in Syria found that government forces engaged Islamic State in battle two and a half times as often as U.S.-backed forces did. Damascus, for all its faults, was the one doing the heavy lifting, not the United States and its allies.
“Any further reduction in the capability of Syria’s already overstretched forces,” IHS Markit observed, “would reduce their ability to prevent the Islamic State from pushing out of the desert into the more heavily populated western Syria, threatening cities like Homs and Damascus.”
Added a Middle East analyst named Columb Strack: “It is an inconvenient reality that any US action taken to weaken the Syrian government will inadvertently benefit the Islamic State and other jihadist groups.”
Overthrowing Assad, in other words, means clearing a path for ISIS straight through to the presidential palace. This reality is obvious. Yet it is a reality that Official Washington prefers to ignore so it can continue selling Saudi Arabia more military goods.
As a result, Democrats, neocons and the liberal media opened up with a rhetorical artillery barrage when it became apparent that America had someone in the White House who might think differently. Trump, they cried, was a “Siberian candidate”! He was a Kremlin stooge!
The fact that Trump questioned whether overthrowing Assad should be the first priority of the U.S. strategy in Syria was proof that he was in league with Vladimir Putin! Reeling from the onslaught, Trump began to realize that he was in a no-win situation, just as Obama had eight years earlier when he gave Hillary Clinton and her neocon allies control of the State Department.
Bucking Washington’s foreign-policy establishment, a.k.a. “The Blob,” was a losing proposition. The neocons were too powerful. Resistance was pointless. So Trump surrendered to the “truisms” of Official Washington’s foreign-policy elite regarding the Middle East conflicts: Saudi Arabia and its allies: good; Russia, Syria, and Iran: baaaad.
Shoring up his right flank, Trump brought on board standard-issue hawks like Secretary of Defense James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. He launched a raid inside Yemen and bombed a Syrian military air base, earning rave reviews from the press. He invited Saudi Defense Minister Muhammad bin Salman to a lavish White House lunch and then flew to Riyadh to cozy up with his dad, King Salman. Washington Officialdom was pleased. So was Israel.
Trump’s discordant comments on the campaign trail were forgotten as U.S.-Saudi relations settled back into their well-worn groove. The upshot was a record $110-billion arms deal, a sword dance, ritualistic denunciations of terrorists – Saudi-speak for anyone opposed to the royal family – and a good deal of incendiary rhetoric aimed at Tehran.
Where to Now?
The big question now is whether all this tough talk leads to something more substantial. If so, two flashpoints bear watching. One is the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen’s chief entry point for humanitarian aid and, according to the Saudis, for Iranian military aid to the Houthis. For months, the kingdom has been pushing for an all-out effort to wrest the port away from Houthi control, and the great danger now is that Trump, swept along by his own rhetoric, will go along.
Map of Syria
But a frontal assault on a city of more than 300,000 is no easy matter. To the contrary, it would be a major undertaking requiring not only U.S. air and naval support but probably U.S. ground troops as well.
As the rightwing Jamestown Foundation noted: “Even with US assistance, the invasion will be costly and ineffective. The terrain to the east of Hodeidah is comprised of some of the most forbidding mountainous terrain in the world. The mountains, caves, and deep canyons are ideal for guerrilla warfare that would wear down even the finest and best disciplined military. The most capable units of what was the Yemeni Army and the Houthis themselves will inflict heavy losses on those forces that try to take Hodeidah and then, if necessary, move up into the mountains.”
It’s hard to imagine even Trump blundering into such a trap. This is why the second flashpoint is even more worrisome. Located some 1,800 miles to the north near the desert town of Al-Tanf, it is where the Baghdad-Damascus highway, a crucial supply route, crosses into Syria from Iraq. It is also where U.S. jets struck a pro-Syrian government convoy on May 18 as it neared a U.S.-British military outpost. It is an area where all sides – the Syrian army, Iraqi Shi‘ite militias, Iranian-backed forces plus U.S., U.K., and even Norwegian troops – are now beefing up their forces. With Trump’s “Arab NATO” vowing to contribute 34,000 troops to the struggle against both ISIS and Iran, the question is whether the U.S. and Saudis will push matters to the brink by attempting to sever a key Syrian supply link to the outside world.
If so, the upshot could well be a firefight that triggers a wider war. That will make the neocons and their Saudi allies very happy and no doubt please Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well. But it will scare the hell out of everybody else.
During the election campaign Donald Trump argued for better relations with Russia. He wanted to engage in a common fight against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Hillary Clinton argued for a confrontational policy against Russia and a new cold war. The foreign policy establishment, the media and the CIA were solidly on Clinton's side. The people of the United States made their choice. It was Trump and his views of policies that were elected.
After Trump had won the election, he advised his staff to set up a confidential track-2 communication channel with the Russian government. He rightfully did not trust the established official channels through the State Department and the CIA. His incoming National Security Advisor Flynn and his foreign policy advisor Kushner worked on his behalf when they soughed contacts with Russian officials. Such diplomacy is by nature not acted out in public.
The various formulations in those pieces are painting the discrete diplomatic contacts as something sinister and illegal:
NBC News reported on Thursday that Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI, in the first sign that the investigation, which began last July, has reached the president’s inner circle. ... FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.
But paragraphs down from that:
While the FBI is investigating Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently a target of that investigation, the current law enforcement official said. ... There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.
The WaPo author has at least the honesty to note:
It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and officials.
As an aside the Washington Post leakers reveal that U.S. intelligence can listen to Russian diplomatic communication between the embassy in Washington and Moscow. This is a criminal breach of a "sources and methods" secrets that should be punished.
The scandal here are not various contacts of Trump advisors with Russian and other country's diplomats. The scandal is the undermining of the constitutional prerogative of the elected President of the United State to set foreign policy:
Under the Constitution, the President serves as head of state and head of government. [..] As head of government, he formulates foreign policy, supervises its implementation and attempts to obtain the resources to support it. He also organizes and directs the departments and agencies that play a part in the foreign policy process. Along with the Vice President, he is the only government official elected nationally. This places him in a unique position to identify, express and pursue the “national interests” of the U.S.
The scandal here is not Trump and are not his advisors' contacts with Russian officials. The scandal are the leaks by "officials" about confidential diplomacy, the sham FBI "investigations" and the general undemocratic hostility and resistance of the foreign policy establishment, the security services and the media towards the president's chosen policies. This is completely independent of whether one likes those policies or not.
Am 20. Mai veröffentlichte die Tageszeitung „Junge Welt“ auszugsweise eine ‘Drucksache’ des international renommierten Faschismusforschers Kurt Gossweiler aus dem Jahre 2005. Der Historiker korrigiert dort die verbreitete, aber irrige Annahme, die Hauptgefahr eines neuen Faschismus gehe von den im Aufwind begriffenen neuen braunen Strömungen aus. Diese seien vielmehr „genau wie die großen Parteien, von SPD bis CSU, nur Filialen der einen großen Partei der herrschenden Klasse der imperialistischen deutschen Monopolbourgeoisie, deren wirklichen, den Kurs bestimmenden Leitungen im BdB (Bundesverband deutscher Banken) und im BDA (Bundesverband der Arbeitgeberverbände) und im DIHT (Deutscher Industrie-und Handelstag) sitzen. Die hierzulande wohlberechnet nicht mit ihnen zustehenden Namen „faschistisch“, sondern als „rechtsextremistisch“ benannten Parteien sind seit dem Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges ein unverzichtbarer Bestandteil des imperialistischen Herrschaftssystem.“Solche Gruppierungen sind nicht nur völkerrechtswidrig, sondern auch verfassungswidrig. Laut Art. 139 GG und unter Einhaltung des Potsdamer Abkommens hätten sie niemals zugelassen werden dürfen. So weit Gossweiler und so richtig, die Sache im Kern treffend. Problematisch aber ist das große Begleitfoto zum Text, das den umstrittenen AfD – Landesvorsitzenden von Thüringen, Björn Höcke am 1. Mai auf einer Kundgebung seiner Partei zeigt. Diese neue, rechtslastige, aus dem Schoß der CDU gekrochene, Partei konnte Gossweiler natürlich nicht kennen. Seine letzten Lebensjahre verbrachte er in einem Altersheim in Berlin Friedrichshagen. Auf Grund schwindender Kräfte konnte er die neueren Entwicklungen nicht mehr verfolgen. Im Vollbesitz seiner geistigen Kräfte, hätte der messerscharfe, stets an Fakten orientierte Analytiker und Kommunist diese Parteienbildung niemals mit dem Etikett „faschistisch“ versehen. Die Meinungstrommler aller Couleur tun dies allerdings ohne den geringsten Skrupel, sind sie doch Teil des gesteuerten Apparates.
Anders die AFD. Sie ist Teil jener vom monopolbourgeoisen Establishment meist gehassten, weltweiten, anti-globalistischen, realpolitischen Strömungen. Diese suchen die Verständigung mit Russland und nicht den Krieg. Nach der politisch inszenierten Migrationsschwemme 2015 plötzlich sehr erfolgreich, ist die neudeutsche Partei Teil jener bürgerlichen Kräfte, deren Spitze der derzeitige US-Präsident Donald Trump verkörpert. Diese Strömungen vereinigen heute im globalen Maßstab potentiell mehrheitsfähige Massen, die den Plänen der Herrschenden ungemütlich zu werden drohen. Die Konzernmedien haben diesen Gegenströmen zunächst im Bunde mit der ‘Linken’ das Etikett „populistisch“ verpasst. Äußerst populär sind sie in der Tat, weil sie berechtigte Bedürfnisse der Millionen gegen die Milliardäre artikulieren, wozu eine blutarm gewordene, revisionistische Linke schon längst nicht mehr fähig ist.
Inzwischen sind diese anti-globalistischen, nationale Belange geltend machenden Ströme mit BREXIT in Großbritannien, Trumps Wahlsieg in den USA und Marine Le Pens großem Erfolg in Frankreich den Interessen der weltweit vernetzten und global agierenden imperialistischen Monopolbourgeoisie so gefährlich geworden, dass ihre medialen Verstärker sie, nun in einem wieder einmal geschickten Dreh als rechtsextremistisch, rassistisch, ja „faschistisch“ bezeichnen. Eine begriffslose, wenn nicht gar begriffsstutzige ‘linksliberale’ Meinungsmaschinerie geht ihnen, mit samt ihrem noch verbliebenen Anhang, auf den Leim. So etwa die sich „marxistisch“ nennende Tageszeitung „Junge Welt“ oder ihre französische Schwester „Liberation“. Letztere hatte unter Bruch der dortigen Wahlgesetzgebung am Vorabend der Präsidentschaftswahl groß über die ganze Frontseite getitelt: „Macht was ihr wollt, aber wählt Macron“. Das libertinäre, links angehauchte Blatt unterstützte somit ganz offen den transatlantischen Kandidaten der Banken und des Großkapitals wider die volkstümliche, arbeiterfreundliche, keineswegs rassistische und schon gar nicht faschistische Kandidatin Le Pen.
Tragischer Weise geht in völliger Verkennungen der Anliegen der Massen in Deutschland die gesamte Linke mit allen Schattierungen gegen vermeintliche Faschisten vor und lässt die Wirklichen unterdessen ungeschoren ihr schmutziges Spiel zu Hause und im Weltmaßstab treiben. Sie macht sich damit zum Handlanger der Übeltäter.
Solch fatale Verkennung der Zusammenhänge, solcher Etikettenschwindel wäre nicht möglich, wenn die sich progressiv-links dünkenden Eliten die Nach-Wende-Texte von Kurt Gossweiler gelesen und sich zueigen gemacht hätten. Seine zweibändige „Taubenfußchronik“ und seine Schriften „Wider den Revisionismus“ sind noch immer eine eingehende Befassung wert. Dort dokumentiert und untersucht der Historiker nämlich akribisch die Ursachen für die innere Zerrüttung und den schließlichen Zusammenbruch des sozialistischen Lagers. Es sind dieselben objektiven und subjektiven Faktoren, die letztlich zum historischen Niedergang der einst ruhmreichen, von Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels begründeten und von Lenin und Stalin stark gemachten, internationalen Arbeiterbewegung geführt haben. Es handelt sich um die Revision aller dort niedergelegten Erkenntnisse und um Ignoranz gegenüber den Kampferfahrungen von Generationen. Es ist die Missachtung aller mit Menschenblut bezahlten Opfer zugunsten opportunistischer Vorteilssuche für die Wenigen.
So lange nachwachsende Generationen sich die Schriften der Klassiker nicht neu erobern und dazu gehören inzwischen auch jene des Revisionismus-Forschers Kurt Gossweiler, solange wird es kein Vorankommen geben. Solange der Menschen Feind falsch geortet wird, so lange ist man der Demagogie schutzlos ausgeliefert. Es handelt sich um die massenmedial verbreitete, dem Faschismus und dem blutigem Terrorismus zuarbeitende Demagogie monopolbourgeoiser Kreise. Von Kurt Gossweiler, dem Wehrmachtsüberläufer und sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen, dem späteren Lehrer an der Antifa-Schule in Tuzla, dem Mitglied an der DDR Akademie der Wissenschaften, von Kurt, dem Genossen lernen, heißt aber den Sozialismus als Wissenschaft begreifen. Der Marxismus-Leninismus ist vor allem eine gesellschaftswissenschaftliche Methode zum Begreifen historischer Gesetzmäßigkeiten. Wenn diese Gesetzmäßigkeiten ignoriert werden, so führt das zu noch größeren menschheitlichen Katastrophen als bei der Missachtung der schon länger erforschten Gesetze der Natur.
All die Millionen Opfer, alle die Kriege der „Nachwende“- Zeit, alle die unter der Folter Geschundenen, die Hungeropfer, die Orgien von Gewalt, die dem Niedergang des Sozialismus im Osten folgten, der von Bush ausgerufene „Krieg gegen den Terror“, die ganze nachfolgende Barbarei, inklusive des kulturzerstörerischen Niedergangs und der in böser Absicht angezettelten Migrationsströme, all das sind letztlich Folgen der Revision des historischen Fortschritts. Dieser Menschheitsfortschritt bestand im Sieg des Sozialismus in zunächst einem und dann in mehreren Ländern. Die “Realsozialistischen Länder” hatten auch am Ende noch eine gewisse Bremswirkung gegenüber dem ungehinderten Weltauftritt des Imperialismus.
Der moderne Revisionismus, dem wir mit Gossweiler deren Niedergang zuschreiben, ist eine eine Ausgeburt des Faschismus. Er ist eine Folge der über lange Jahre unbestrittenen Herrschaft der am meisten zur Gewalt treibenden, skrupellosesten Kräfte des imperialistischen Monopolkapitals, dessen Namen und Adressen Kurt Gossweiler in seinen Studien zum Faschismus für seine Zeit ausfindig machen konnte. Ebenso akribisch hat er die Wurzeln des modernen Revisionismus historisch bloß gelegt und exemplifiziert. Man kann diese studieren und sie unschädlich machen. Es kostet allerdings Zeit und Kraft. Vorurteilsfreiheit ist eine Grundvorrausetzung. Möge die Lebensarbeit von Kurt Gossweiler nicht vergeblich gewesen sein, möge die Jugend seine Werke studieren, sich aneignen und entsprechend handeln.
MÖGEN MUTIGE MENSCHEN DAS LEBENSWERK GOSSWEILERS ZUM NUZEN DER MENSCHHEIT FORTSETZEN.
Europe May Finally Rethink NATO Costs By Ray McGovern
Exclusive: By dunning NATO nations to chip more money into the military alliance, President Trump may inadvertently cause some Europeans to rethink the over-the-top anti-Russian propaganda, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
President Donald Trump’s politically incorrect behavior at the gathering of NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday could, in its own circuitous way, spotlight an existential threat to the alliance. Yes, that threat is Russia, but not in the customary sense in which Westerners have been taught to fear the Russian bear. It is a Russia too clever to rise to the bait – a Russia patient enough to wait for the Brussels bureaucrats and generals to fall of their own weight, pushed by financial exigencies in many NATO countries.
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump traveled to Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday evening for their fourth stop on their trip abroad. President Trump met with leaders from around the world before the NATO Summit in Brussels. (White House photo)
At that point it will become possible to see through the West’s alarmist propaganda. It will also become more difficult to stoke artificial fears that Russia, for reasons known only to NATO war planners and neoconservative pundits, will attack NATO. As long as Russian hardliners do not push President Vladimir Putin aside, Moscow will continue to reject its assigned role as bête noire.
First a request: Let me ask those of you who believe Russia is planning to invade Europe to put down the New York Times for a minute or two. Take a deep cleansing breath, and try to be open to the possibility that heightened tensions in Europe are, rather, largely a result of the ineluctable expansion of NATO eastward over the quarter-century since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Actually, NATO has doubled in size, despite a U.S. quid-pro-quo promise in early 1990 to Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev in early 1990 not to expand NATO “one inch” to the east of Germany. The quid required of Russia was acquiescence to a reunited Germany within NATO and withdrawal of the 300,000-plus Russian troops stationed in East Germany.
The U.S. reneged on its quo side of the bargain as the NATO alliance added country after country east of Germany with eyes on even more – while Russia was not strong enough to stop NATO expansion until February 2014 when, as it turned out, NATO’s eyes finally proved too big for its stomach. A U.S.-led coup d’etat overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installed new, handpicked leaders in Kiev who favored NATO membership. That crossed Russia’s red line; it was determined – and at that point able – to react strongly, and it did.
These are the flat-facts, contrasting with the mainstream U.S. media’s propaganda about “Russian aggression.” Sadly, readers of the New York Times know little to nothing of this recent history.
Today’s Russian Challenge
The existential threat to NATO comprises a different kind of Russian “threat,” which owes much to the adroitness and sang froid of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who flat-out refuses to play his assigned role of a proper enemy – despite the Western media campaign to paint him the devil incarnate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)
Over time, even the most sophisticated propaganda wears thin, and more and more Europeans will realize that NATO, in its present form, is an unnecessary, vestigial organ already a quarter-century beyond its expiration date – and that it can flare up painfully, like a diseased appendix. At a time when citizens of many NATO countries are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, they will be reluctant to sink still more money into rehab for a vestigial organ.
That there are better uses for the money is already clear, and President Trump’s badgering of NATO countries to contribute ever more for defense may well backfire. Some are already asking, “Defense against what?” Under the painful austerity that has been squeezing the Continent since the Wall Street crash nearly a decade ago, a critical mass of European citizens is likely to be able to distinguish reality from propaganda – and perhaps much sooner than anyone anticipates. This might eventually empower the 99 percent, who don’t stand to benefit from increased military spending to fight a phantom threat, to insist that NATO leaders stop funding a Cold War bureaucracy that has long since outlived its usefulness.
A military alliance normally dissolves when its raison d’etre – the military threat it was created to confront – dissolves. The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 – more than a quarter century ago – and with it the Warsaw Pact that was established as the military counter to NATO.
NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, who had been Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant during World War II, stated that NATO’s purpose was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” But a lot can change over the course of almost seven decades.
The NATO flag is raised during the opening ceremony for Exercise Steadfast Jazz in Poland, Nov. 3, 2013. (NATO photo by British army Sgt. Ian Houlding)
The Russians relinquished their East European empire after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and withdrew their armed forces. There no longer needed to be a concerted priority effort to “keep the Russians out,” preoccupied as they were with fixing the economic and social mess they inherited when the USSR fell.
As for “keeping the Germans down,” it is not difficult to understand why the Russians, having lost 25 to 27 million in WWII, were a bit chary at the prospect of a reunited Germany. Moscow’s concern was allayed somewhat by putting this new Germany under NATO command, since this sharply lessened the chance the Germans would try to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.
But NATO became the “defensive” blob that kept growing and growing, partly because that is what bureaucracies do (unless prevented) and partly because it became a way for U.S. presidents to show their “toughness.” By early 2008, NATO had already added ten new members – all of them many “inches” to the east of Germany: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
There were rumors that Ukraine and Georgia were in queue for NATO membership, and Russian complaints were becoming louder and louder. NATO relations with Russia were going to hell in a hand basket and there was no sign the Washington policymakers gave a hoot.
A leading advocate from the Russo-phobic crowd was the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had been President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser and remained in the forefront of those pressing for NATO expansion – to include Ukraine. In 1998, he wrote, “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”
The relentless expansion of NATO greatly bothered former Sen. Bill Bradley, a longtime expert on Russia and a sober-minded policy analyst. On Jan. 23, 2008, in a talk before the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, he sounded an almost disconsolate note, describing NATO expansion a “terribly sad thing” … a “blunder of monumental proportions. …
“We had won the Cold War … and we kicked them [the Russians] when they were down; we expanded NATO. In the best of circumstances it was bureaucratic inertia in NATO – people had to have a job. In the worst of circumstances it was certain … irredentist East European types, who believe Russia will forever be the enemy and therefore we have to protect against the time when they might once again be aggressive, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
As tensions with Russia heightened late last decade, Sen. Bradley added, “Right now we are confronted with something that could have easily been avoided.”
Finally Saying Nyet
A week after Bradley’s lament, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called in U.S. Ambassador William Burns to read him the riot act. The subject line of Burns’s CONFIDENTIAL cable #182 of Feb. 1, 2008, in which he reported Lavrov’s remarks to Washington shows that Burns played it straight, choosing not to mince his own or Lavrov’s words: “Nyet means nyet: Russia’s NATO enlargement redlines.”
NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Here what Ambassador Burns wrote in his summary, which the public knows because the cable was among the thousands leaked to WikiLeaks by Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, for which she was imprisoned for seven years and only recently released (yet the cable has been essentially ignored by the corporate U.S. news media):
“Following a muted first reaction to Ukraine’s intent to seek a NATO Membership Action Plan at the Bucharest summit, Foreign Minister Lavrov and other senior officials have reiterated strong opposition, stressing that Russia would view further eastward expansion as a potential military threat. NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains an emotional and neuralgic issue for Russia, but strategic policy considerations also underlie strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.
“In Ukraine, these include fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene. Additionally, the government of Russia and experts continue to claim that Ukrainian NATO membership would have a major impact on Russia’s defense industry, Russian-Ukrainian family connections, and bilateral relations generally.”
So, it is not as though then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. policymakers were not warned, in very specific terms, of Russia’s redline on Ukrainian membership in NATO. Nevertheless, on April 3, 2008, the final declaration from at a NATO summit in Bucharest asserted: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
The Ukraine Coup
Six years later, on Feb. 22, 2014, the U.S.-pushed putsch in Ukraine, which George Friedman, then President of the think-tank STRATFOR, labeled “the most blatant coup in history,” put in power a fiercely anti-Russian regime eager to join the Western alliance.
President Barack Obama talks with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker following a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Russia’s reaction was predictable – actually, pretty much predicted by the Russians themselves. But for Western media and “statesmen,” the Ukrainian story begins on Feb. 23, 2014, when Putin and his advisers decided to move quickly to thwart NATO’s designs on Ukraine and take back Crimea where Russia’s only warm-water naval base has been located since the days of Catherine the Great.
U.S. officials (and The New York Times) have made it a practice to white-out the coup d’etat in Kiev and to begin recent European history with Russia’s immediate reaction, thus the relentless presentation of these events as simply “Russian aggression,” as if Russia instigated the crisis, not the U.S.
A particularly blatant example of this came on June 30, 2016, when then U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute spoke at a press briefing before the NATO summit in Warsaw:
“Beginning in 2014 … we’re moving into a new period in NATO’s long history. … So the first thing that happened in 2014 that marks this change is a newly aggressive, newly assertive Russia under Vladimir Putin. So in late February, early March of 2014, the seizing, the occupying of Crimea followed quickly by the illegal political annexation of Crimea. … Well, any notion of strategic partnership came to an abrupt halt in the first months of 2014.”
And so, for the nonce, Western propaganda captured the narrative. How long this distortion of history will continue is the question. The evolution of Europe as a whole (including Russia) over the past half-century, together with the profound changes that this evolution has brought, suggest that those of the European Establishment eager to inject life into the vestigial organ called NATO – whether for lucrative profits from arms sales or cushy spots in NATO’s far-flung bureaucracy – are living on borrowed time.
President Trump can keep them off balance by creating uncertainty with respect to how Washington regards its nominal NATO obligation to risk war with Russia should some loose cannon in, say, Estonia, start a shooting match with the Russians. On balance, the uncertainty that Trump has injected may be a good thing. Similarly, to the degree that his pressure for increased defense spending belatedly leads to an objective estimate of the “threat” from Russia, that may be a good thing too.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A CIA analyst for 27 years, he specialized in Russian foreign policy. He led the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and briefed the President’s Daily Brief one-on-one during President Ronald Reagan’s first term.