What’s wrong with these people?
We are referring to the dipshit NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who recently informed the Kremlin that what happens on Russia’s border is none of Russia’s damn business:
“It’s only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO. … Russia has no veto, Russia has no say, and Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence trying to control their neighbors.”
Did this warmongering jackass and relic of a cold war that ended 30 years ago ever hear of the Monroe Doctrine? Is he possibly not educated enough to know that in October 1962 the world came to the brink of nuclear annihilation over the principle that Cuban territory 90 miles from the US border was exactly in Washington’s sphere of influence and that the encroachment of Khrushchev’s missiles on Cuba was distinctively unwelcome?
And yet here we go again. An irredeemably corrupt and belligerent NATO-financed government in Kiev has essentially declared hot war on its own Russian-speaking populations in the Donbas and Crimea, thereby bringing on a new crusade to enroll the Ukraine into NATO and its collective security guarantees under article 5.
No greater folly is imaginable. The safety and security of the American people depends not a whit on what happens in Ukraine and whether it remains a financially crippled ward of the West or reverts to its historic role as a vassal of Moscow. Peace and liberty in America have absolutely nothing to do with the outcome.
So let’s recall the context of this latest effort to revive the cold war and the resulting need for Washington’s elephantine $1 trillion national security budget. The latter is the true cost of Empire when you add foreign aid, security assistance, homeland security, the $200 billion Veterans budget and debt service on past wars to the $750 billion Pentagon budget.
Literally, the nation’s fiscal accounts are being drawn and quartered by the dual menace of the Welfare State and Warfare State; and now the neocon and war hawk dominated GOP and anti-Russian Dem-left are all on the same page.
So today they trotted out Sleepy Joe to brace Putin with the threat of still more hostile economic sanctions because the latter has mobilized military forces, well, inside his own borders in response to the new rounds of belligerence from Kiev, Washington and Brussels.
President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. and its allies would meet a military escalation into Ukraine with a series of actions, including strong economic measures, bolstering Ukrainian defenses and fortifying support for Eastern European nations, as allies work together to prevent renewed conflict in Eastern Europe.
For more than two hours on Tuesday, the leaders held a secure video call to address what the US has described as large and unusual troop movement near Russia’s border with Ukraine in recent weeks.
Yet with respect to the so-called Russian threat, the last time we checked the old Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history 30 years ago. Shortly thereafter the 50,000 Red Army tanks, which had been arrayed menacingly (and unbeknownst to the CIA, largely without spare fuel) behind the Iron Curtain, were mostly melted down for scrap by the destitute statelets of the Warsaw Pact (Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania etc.) and 14 ex-Soviet Republics (like Belarus, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine, etc.)
What was left of the Soviet Empire was the rump state of Russia (red area) – -shorn of much of its industrial base and with an aging population of just 140 million compared to the 425 million souls who had been incarcerated in Stalin’s dystopia.
So, yes, there was every reason to declare “mission accomplished” and disband NATO because the much exaggerated conventional military threat of the Soviet Union had literally vanished from the face of the earth. At that point, NATO was, in fact, pointless.
Post-Soviet states: 1. Armenia 2. Azerbaijan 3. Belarus 4. Estonia 5. Georgia 6. Kazakhstan 7. Kyrgyzstan 8. Latvia 9. Lithuania 10. Moldova 11. Russia 12. Tajikistan 13. Turkmenistan 14. Ukraine 15. Uzbekistan
Indeed, when George Bush the Elder, who was no wimpy Yale pacifist, promised Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for his acquiescence to the reunification of Germany that NATO would not move ” a single inch to the east”, he wasn’t exactly selling the “free world” (as they called it) down the drain.
In fact, as the above map unfolded, the 77-Years War that had incepted in August 1914 was finally over. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the second world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.
To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.
So finally the time had come for Washington to lead the world into a golden age of peace, disarmament and prosperous commerce among the nations.
Yet there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77 Years War ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address.
But that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch. So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the legislative pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID, NED etc.) and the circle would have been complete.
It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world.
In a word, the real threat to world peace circa 1991 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly into the good night.
In fact, during the past 30 years Imperial Washington has lost all memory that peace was ever possible at the end of the cold war. Today it is as feckless, misguided and bloodthirsty as were Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna and London in August 1914.
Needless to say, there is no peace on earth today for reasons mainly rooted in Imperial Washington – -not Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, Tehran, Damascus, Mosul or what’s left of Raqqah (not much). The former has become a global menace owing to what didn’t happen in 1991.
What needed to happen back in 1991 was for Bush the Elder to declare “mission accomplished” and slash the Pentagon budget from $600 billion to $250 billion.
So doing he should have demobilized the military-industrial complex by putting a moratorium on all new weapons development, procurement and export sales; dissolved NATO and dismantled the far-flung network of US military bases; slashed the US standing armed forces from 1.5 million to a few hundred thousand; and organized and led a world disarmament and peace campaign, as did his Republican predecessors during the 1920s.
Unfortunately, George H.W. Bush was not a man of peace, vision or even mediocre intelligence. He was the malleable tool of the War Party, and it was he who single-handedly blew the peace when he plunged America into a petty argument between Saddam Hussein, the impetuous dictator of Iraq and the greedy Emir of Kuwait that was none of our business.
By contrast, even though liberal historians have reviled Warren G. Harding as some kind of dumbkopf politician, he well understood that the Great War had been for naught, and that to insure it never happened again the nations of the world needed to rid themselves of their huge navies and standing armies.
To that end, he achieved the largest global disarmament agreement ever made during the Washington Naval conference of 1921, which halted the construction of new battleships for more than a decade.
And while he was at it, President Harding also pardoned Eugene Debs. He thereby gave witness to the truth that the intrepid socialist candidate for president and vehement antiwar protester, who Wilson had thrown in prison for exercising his first amendment right to speak against US entry into a pointless European war, had been right all along.
In short, Warren G. Harding knew the war was over, and the folly of Wilson’s 1917 plunge into Europe’s bloodbath should not be repeated at all hazards.
The Unforgivable Sins of George H.W. Bush
Not George H.W. Bush. The man should never be forgiven for enabling the likes of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Gates and their neocon pack of jackals to come to power – even if he did denounce them in his bumbling old age.
Even more to the point, by opting not for peace but for war and oil in the Persian Gulf in 1991 he opened the gates to an unnecessary confrontation with Islam. In turn, that nurtured the rise of jihadist terrorism that would not haunt the world today – save for forces unleashed by George H.W. Bush’s petulant quarrel with Saddam Hussein.
We have addressed more fully elsewhere the 50-year old error that holds the Persian Gulf is an American Lake and that energy security requires it be patrolled by the Fifth Fleet. As history proves, the real answer to high oil prices everywhere and always is high oil prices and the wonders they work to re-balance the global energy market.
But first it is well to remember that there was no plausible threat anywhere on the planet to the safety and security of the citizens of Springfield MA, Lincoln NE or Spokane WA when the cold war ended abruptly in 1991.
But rather than dismantling the NATO machinery, virtually the opposite happened. NATO has been expanded to 30 countries including such powers as Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and now the statelets of North Macedonia and Montenegro, the latter of which has a military half the size of the police force of Philadelphia.
In the context of this relentless and pointless NATO expansion to the very borders of the shrunken Russian state, Washington not only sponsored and funded the overthrow of Ukraine’s constitutionally elected government in February 2014. But once it had unleashed a devastating civil war, it relentlessly blocked the obvious alternative to the bloodshed that has claimed tens of thousands of civilian and military casualties.
That is, partition of its population among the Russian speaking provinces in the Donbas and Crimea and Ukrainians in the west. After all, partition was accomplished peacefully in the artificial state of Czechoslovakia, which is no more (happily) and at the insistence of NATO bombers in the short-lived nation of Yugoslavia.
Growth Of NATO, 1949-2021
Had not the Donald been stopped cold by the hail of hysteria which emanated from the War Party and their dutiful stenographers in the main stream media, the next step after his historic meeting with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018 would have been to take up where George H.W. Bush faltered in 1991.
That is, on the dismantlement and interment of NATO and the re-opening of Europe to peaceful commerce among all the nation’s that had been artificially separated by the now long departed Iron Curtain.
The fact is, Washington doesn’t need its budget-busting $750 billion defense budget to defend Europe from Russia, nor should it be endlessly haranguing those nations to waste more of their own money on defense than they already are.
That’s because there is absolutely no reason to believe that Russia wants to attack Germany or any other country in Europe. Indeed, the very idea is just plain madness.
As shown by the table below, the NATO-30 are now actually spending $1.11 trillion per year on defense (2021). That’s 16X Russia’s entire military budget of $68 billion (2020)
Likewise, the GDP of Russia is but $1.5 trillion compared to $40 trillion for the NATO-30. So is Cool Hand Vlad so completely foolish and reckless as to think that he could invade and occupy territories that have an economy 17X bigger than that of Russia?
Actually, it’s far more ludicrous than that. The rump of Russia today is a giant hydrocarbon province attached to some wheat fields, timber lands and mineral deposits – all dependent upon an aging work force afflicted with an undue fondness for Vodka etc.
What that means is that Russia must export its commodities big time or die. In fact, during 2020 Russian exports totaled $337 billion or 23% of its GDP. And 50% of that went to Europe!
Moreover, when you breakdown Russian exports it is plain to see that the industrial maw of Europe is the port of first call for its vast tonnages of exported commodities. These included the preponderant share of its $141 billion of oil and gas exports and $60 billion of iron, steel, aluminum, precious metals, forest products, fertilizers, grains and copper.
In other words, the Russian economy ain’t no South Korea or Taiwan, chock-a-bloc with semiconductors and other high tech products. Its wherewithal to become an economic powerhouse, to say nothing of a dangerous military power, is somewhere between negligible and nonexistent.
Finally, the table on defense spending by country below speaks for itself as to the purported Russian threat. If the German government really feared that Russian tanks would be soon rolling through the Brandenburg Gates, it would have more than 20 operational tanks, and it would spend far more than $65 billion or 1.5% of GDP to defend itself.
And the same is even more true of the former Warsaw pact countries that are located cheek-by-jowl on Russia’s border. Yet Romania spends the tiny sum of $5.8 billion or just 2.0% of GDP on its military.
Likewise, the figure for Hungary, which learned all about Soviet-style invasions in 1956, spends only $2.9 billion or barely 1.6% of GDP. And besides that, its intrepid leader, Viktor Orban, doesn’t even support NATO’s ridiculous sanctions on Putin’s cronies and allies.
And as for the allegedly threatened Baltic states, their combined defense budgets are less than $3.0 billion, representing a minuscule 2.0% of combined GDP; and Bulgaria, fast upon the Russian Lake called the Black Sea, spends only $1.3 billion or 1.6% of its GDP.
In short, European policy action on the defense spending front trumps all the hot air that wafts from NATO’s spanking new Brussels headquarters. Their governments and parliaments positively do not think they are threatened by the Russian Bear because they aren’t.
Unfortunately, when he had the chance to put NATO out of its misery, the Great Disrupter blew it. Rather than carry through with his campaign promise to declare “mission accomplished” with respect to NATO and disband it forthwith, the Donald carried on a wrong-headed campaign to get them to waste even more on their defense budgets.
So the needed Mercy Killing didn’t happen, paving the way for Sleepy Joe’s misbegotten mission today.
Washington’s Ukrainian Folly
Needless to say, under the prior Obama-Biden Administration, Washington started the present Ukrainian confrontation by sponsoring, funding and instantly recognizing the February 2014 coup that overthrew a Russia-friendly government. So doing, the Maidan Coup replaced the elected government with one that is militantly nationalistic and bitterly antagonistic to Russia. And it did so for the most superficial and historically ignorant reason imaginable.
Namely, Washington objected to the decision of Ukraine’s prior government in late 2013 to align itself economically and politically with its historic hegemon in Moscow rather than the EU and NATO. Yet the fairly elected and constitutionally legitimate government of Ukraine then led by Viktor Yanukovych had gone that route mainly because it got a better deal from Moscow than was being demanded by the fiscal torture artists of the IMF.
Needless to say, the ensuing US sponsored putsch arising from the mobs on the street of Kiev reopened deep national wounds. Ukraine’s bitter divide between Russian-speakers in the east and Ukrainian nationalists elsewhere dates back to Stalin’s brutal reign in Ukraine during the 1930s and Ukrainian collusion with Hitler’s Wehrmacht on its way to Stalingrad and back during the 1940s.
It was the memory of the latter nightmare, in fact, which triggered the fear-driven outbreak of Russian separatism in the Donbas and the 96% referendum vote in Crimea to formally re-affiliate with mother Russia in the spring of 2014.
In this context, even a passing familiarity with Russian history and geography would remind that Ukraine and Crimea are Moscow’s business, not Washington’s.
In the first place, there is nothing at stake in the Ukraine that matters with respect to matters of sovereignty and historically validated national borders. To the contrary, during the last 700 years Ukraine has actually been a meandering set of borders in search of a country.
In fact, the intervals in which the Ukraine existed as an independent nation have been few and far between. Invariably, its rulers, petty potentates and corrupt politicians made deals with or surrendered to every outside power that came along.
These included the Lithuanians, Turks, Poles, Austrians, Muscovites and Czars, among others. Indeed, in modern times Ukraine largely functioned as an integral part of Mother Russia, serving as its breadbasket and iron and steel crucible under czars and commissars alike. Given this history, the idea that Ukraine should be actively and aggressively induced to join NATO was just plain nuts.
The allegedly “occupied” territory of Crimea, in fact, was actually purchased from the Ottomans by Catherine the Great in 1783, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. Over the ages Sevastopol then emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the Soviet Union, too.
For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia (until 1954). That span equals the 170 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego.
While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian rifles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland from invading Turks, French and Brits.
And the portrait of the Russian “hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I – whose brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith. Yet despite his cruelty, Nicholas I is revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans.
Washington Is Actually Enforcing the Dead Hand of the Soviet Presidium in Crimea
At the end of the day, security of its historic port in Crimea is Russia’s Red Line, not Washington’s. Unlike today’s feather-headed Washington pols, even the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt at least knew that he was in Soviet Russia when he made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945.
Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev.
As it happened, therefore, Crimea became part of the Ukraine only by writ of one of the most vicious and reprehensible states in human history – the former Soviet Union:
On April 26, 1954. The decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring the Crimea Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR…..Taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR….
That’s right. Washington’s hypocritical and tendentious accusations against Russia’s re-absorption of Crimea imply that the dead-hand of the Soviet presidium must be defended at all costs – as if the security of North Dakota depended upon it!
In fact, the Kiev government’s current Washington supported brouhaha about “returning” Crimea is a naked case of the hegemonic arrogance that has overtaken Imperial Washington since the 1991 Soviet demise.
After all, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of Ukraine – with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990’s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.
In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848, and even during the 170-year interval since then, America’s national security has depended not one whit on the status of Russian-speaking Crimea and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. That the local population of the former in March 2014 chose fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev amounts to a giant: So what!
Still, it was this final aggressive drive of Washington and NATO into the internal affairs of Russia’s historic neighbor and vassal, Ukraine, that largely accounts for the demonization of Putin. Likewise, it is virtually the entire source of the false claim that Russia has aggressive, expansionist designs on the former Warsaw Pact states in the Baltics, Poland and beyond.
The latter is a nonsensical fabrication. In fact, it was the neocon meddlers from Washington who crushed Ukraine’s last semblance of civil governance when they enabled ultra-nationalists and crypto-Nazis to gain government positions after the February 2014 putsch.
As we indicated above, in one fell swoop that inexcusable stupidity reopened Ukraine’s blood-soaked modern history. The latter incepted with Stalin’s re-population of the eastern Donbas region with “reliable” Russian workers after his genocidal liquidation of the kulaks in the early 1930s.
It was subsequently exacerbated by the large-scale collaboration by Ukrainian nationalists in the west with the Nazi Wehrmacht as it laid waste to Poles, Jews, gypsies and other “undesirables” on its way to Stalingrad in 1942-43. Thereafter followed an equal and opposite spree of barbaric revenge as the victorious Red Army marched back through Ukraine on its way to Berlin.
So it may be fairly asked. What beltway lame brains did not chance to understand that Washington’s triggering of “regime change” in Kiev would reopen this entire bloody history of sectarian and political strife?
Moreover, once they had opened Pandora’s box, why was it so hard to see that an outright partition of Ukraine with autonomy for the Donbas and Crimea, or even accession to the Russian state from which these communities had originated, would have been a perfectly reasonable resolution?
Certainly that would have been far preferable to dragging all of Europe into the lunacy of the current anti-Putin sanctions and embroiling the Ukrainian factions in a suicidal civil war.
As it happened, apparently not much by way of threats and belligerence came out of today’s 2-hour Zoom call between Biden and Putin. Perhaps Sleepy Joe was actually nodding off as he read the talking points prepared by career warmongers like Jake Sullivan.
If so, that alone would be worth the price of admission. The last thing America needs is another “strong” President to shill for Washington’s hegemonic pretensions, and in Sleepy Joe it may have virtually the opposite.
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.