When it comes to foreign policy, the relentless stupidity of the bipartisan duopoly knows no bounds. That proposition was reinforced in spades yesterday when Sleepy Joe gave the GOP a screaming invitation to denounce Washington’s wasteful meddling in the affairs of a remote nation which have nothing whatsoever to do with the peace and security of the American homeland.
But, instead, the GOP morons were out in force, caterwauling about presidential “weakness” during Sleepy Joe’s pointless bracing of Putin per the Deep State talking points he was handed by Jake Sullivan. The sawdust-for-brains GOP Senator from Mississippi, Roger Wicker, actually urged sending American troops to Ukraine, equipped with tactical nuclear weapons!
All afternoon and evening this pathetic chorus of GOP breast-beating filled the cable airways, even as the kneejerk commentators at Fox News thundered on about the “weakness” card over and over again.
Well, except for the the intrepid Tucker Carlson, who actually tore these GOP lamebrains (and implicitly his own Fox colleagues) a new one. In fact, Tucker’s rant against what he properly described as the ignorant blathering of “children” is worth quoting a length:
“Just this afternoon,” said Carlson, “Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi – not a genius, famously, but still, a sitting Republican senator – went on Fox News to say we may need to send American troops to Ukraine, and possibly – because this isn’t insane or anything – think about the use of nuclear weapons. Got that in our back pocket. Nuclear weapons. Roger Wicker, sitting U.S. Senator. No one in Washington laughed at Roger Wicker. This is so crazy, that no one seems aware of how crazy it is.”
“Here’s a sad piece of tape,” he said, referring to a recent appearance of Ernst on Fox News. “This is Joni Ernst, who’s totally affable, nice Republican, sort of reasonable on most things from the Midwest suddenly sounding like a bloodthirsty warmonger, sounding a lot like, actually, [Rep.] Adam Schiff [D-CA] when she talks about that dastardly Vladimir Putin.
“What you just saw there is a child who has no idea what she’s talking about, but keeps talking anyway,” he said. “‘We will defend Ukraine,’ says Joni Ernst. This is a senator from Iowa? So what happens if we don’t defend Ukraine, Joni Ernst? Will kids in Des Moines grow up to speak Russian? No one asked her that question. She’s never thought about it for a moment.”
He concluded, “It turns out that foreign lobbying campaigns work pretty well. And that’s why the Ukrainians paid for one in Washington.”
He got that right. But, still, the question recurs: Are these people so abysmally ignorant of history, geography, economics and the wherewithal of a true national security threat that they think the map below is worth WWW III?
This is nothing more than an ethnic conflict between Ukrainian nationalists, who dominate in the blue areas, and Russian speakers (red areas), who constitute an 80% or more majority in the historic Russian territory of Crimea and along the eastern border region known as the Donbas. And most especially, it has nothing to do with sovereign borders, the territorial integrity of a long-standing nation state and the rule of international law.
Ukraine has never had stable borders, nor has it been a long-standing independent nation state – to say nothing of a fledgling democracy. In fact, for hundreds of years under the Czars and Commissars alike, Ukraine was at best a vassal state and mostly a provincial satrapy of Moscow. Its current borders were actually drawn to precision by communist apparatchiks during the Soviet era, and thereafter embraced by the Kiev government which emerged in 1991 when the Soviet Union suddenly evaporated.
In fact, Ukraine’s history can be summarized as follows:
- 700 or so years as a meandering set of borders in search of a country (1200 AD to 1922);
- 69-years as an administrative appendage of totalitarian Soviet rulers in Moscow, who purged Tartars and replanted Russians in the eastern regions along the way;
- 23-years as a happenstance nation-state that fell into existence when the biggest and most evil empire in history collapsed overnight (1991-2014); and
- 7-years as a pretext for Washington interventionists, neocons and anti-Trump Dems to rekindle cold war fears, the better to keep hideously swollen national security budgets firmly in place.
Yet these Foxified Republican pols and neocons blather on about “weakness” and phony threats to national security. Of course, the only weakness about the thing is that which lies beneath their collective skulls.
In Part 1, we referred to the idea that Crimea must be returned to the Ukrainians as tantamount to embracing the dead hand of the 1954 Soviet Presidium, which re-assigned Crimea to Kiev after 171 years of Russian ownership and russification of its economy, culture and language. But apparently these GOP caterwaulers have never read a speck of the history, so here is a passage from the definitive study of the matter by Professor Mark Kramer, Director of the Cold War Studies Program at Harvard University and a Senior Fellow of Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
The notion that the transfer was justified solely by Crimea’s cultural and economic affinities with Ukraine is also far-fetched. In the 1950s, the population of Crimea – approximately 1.1 million – was roughly 75 percent ethnic Russian and 25 percent Ukrainian. A sizable population of Tatars had lived in Crimea for centuries until May 1944, when they were deported en masse by the Stalinist regime to barren sites in Central Asia, where they were compelled to live for more than four decades and were prohibited from returning to their homeland.
Stalin also forcibly deported smaller populations of Armenians, Bulgarians, and Greeks from Crimea, completing the ethnic cleansing of the peninsula. Hence, in 1954, Crimea was more “Russian” than it had been for centuries.
Although Crimea is briefly contiguous with southern Ukraine via the Isthmus of Perekop, the large eastern Kerch region of Crimea is very close to Russia. The peninsula did have important economic and infrastructural ties with Ukraine, but cultural ties were much stronger overall with Russia than with Ukraine, and Crimea was the site of major military bases from Tsarist times on, having become a symbol of Imperial Russian military power against the Ottoman Turks.
But that history made no never mind to Ukraine-born Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, as he maneuvered to grab power and liquidate his rivals upon the death of the murderous Joseph Stalin. At that point, Khrushchev had been elevated to the post of CPSU First Secretary in September 1953 but was still consolidating his leading position in early 1954.
Crucially, he had earlier served as the head of the Communist Party of Ukraine from the late 1930s through the end of 1949, as professor Mark Kramer further amplified:
During the last several years of Khrushchev’s tenure in the UkrSSR, he had overseen the Soviet government’s side of a fierce civil war in the newly annexed western regions of Ukraine (taken from Poland), especially Volynia and Galicia. The civil war was marked by high levels of casualties and gruesome atrocities on both sides. Despite Khrushchev’s later role in denouncing Stalinism and implementing reforms in the USSR, he had relied on ruthless, unstinting violence to establish and enforce Soviet control over western Ukraine.
The repeated references at the meeting of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium on 19 February to the “unity of Russians and Ukrainians” and to the “great and indissoluble friendship” between the two peoples, and the affirmation that the transfer would demonstrate how wise it was to have Ukraine “under the leadership of the Communist Party and the Soviet government,” indicate that Khrushchev saw the transfer as a way of fortifying and perpetuating Soviet control over Ukraine now that the civil war had finally been won. Some 860,000 ethnic Russians (from Crimea) would be joining the already large Russian minority in Ukraine.
The transfer of Crimea to the UkrSSR also was politically useful for Khrushchev as he sought to firm up the support he needed in his ongoing power struggle with Soviet Prime Minister Georgii Malenkov, who had initially emerged as the preeminent leader in the USSR in 1953 after Joseph Stalin’s death. Having been at a disadvantage right after Stalin’s death, Khrushchev had steadily whittled away at Malenkov’s position and had gained a major edge with his elevation to the post of CPSU First Secretary in September 1953.
Nevertheless, the post-Stalin power struggle was by no means over in early 1954, and Khrushchev was trying to line up as much support as he could on the CPSU Presidium for a bid to remove Malenkov from the prime minister’s spot (a feat he accomplished in January 1955). Among those whose support Khrushchev was hoping to enlist was Oleksiy Kyrychenko, who had become first secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine in early June 1953 (displacing Leonid Mel’nykov, who had succeeded Khrushchev in that post in December 1949) and soon thereafter had been appointed a full member of the CPSU Presidium.
So why did Washington get its panties in a huge bunch about Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014?
After all, Putin’s action amounted to little more than the reversal of an arbitrary 1954 action of the Soviet Politburo. Even then, it was done pursuant to a March 2014 referendum in which upwards of 85% of Crimeans participated and more than 90% voted to return to its historic Russian affiliation when the crypto-Nazis who seized power at Maidan in February threatened an ethnic cleansing of Russians and Russian language as one of their first acts of governance.
Of course, that gets us to the next layer of GOP ignorance and Washington lies and hypocrisy. Namely, the fact that the Washington sponsored, funded and instantly recognized Maidan coup was the actual transgression against the rule of law and peaceful coexistence; and that, in any case, Russia poses no threat to America’s homeland security, regardless of what it may find necessary to do to protect its borders and legitimate sphere of influence.
In this regard, we start from our own personal vantage point. We are here speaking of our view from the 19th floor of our apartment above the East River in New York City, and this honest truth: Namely, we can see more GDP from our balcony than the IMF can tabulate for the whole of Russia!
The fearsome bogeyman at the center of Imperial Washington’s war palpitations, therefore, is a complete chimera.
To expand on our observations from Part 1 (because the Washington GOP obviously doesn’t get it), contemporary Russia is actually an economic and industrial midget transformed beyond recognition by relentless Warfare State propaganda. It is actually no more threatening to America’s homeland security than the Siberian land mass that Sarah Palin once espied from her front porch in Alaska!
After all, how could it be? The the GDP of the New York City metro area is about $1.7 trillion, which is well more than Russia’s 2020 GDP of $1.6 trillion. And that, in turn, is just 7% of America’s $22 trillion GDP.
Moreover, as previously noted Russia’ dwarf economy is composed largely of a vast oil and gas patch; a multitude of nickel, copper, bauxite and vanadium mines; and some very large swatches of wheat fields. That’s not exactly the kind of high tech industrial platform on which a war machine capable of threatening the good folks in Lincoln NE or Worcester MA is likely to be erected.
And especially not when the Russian economy has been heading sharply south in dollar purchasing terms for several years running.
GDP Of Russia In USD
Indeed, in terms of manufacturing output the comparison is just as stark. Russia’s annual manufacturing value added is currently (2020) about $197 billion, which figure represents a 22% decline from the $254 billion level recorded in 2013. Even more crucially, it amounts to just 8% of the $2.35 trillion figure for the US economy.
And that’s not the half of it. Not only are Russia’s vast hydrocarbon deposits and mines likely to give out in the years ahead, but so are the livers of its Vodka-chugging work force. That’s a problem because according to a recent Brookings study, Russia’s working age population – even supplemented by substantial in-migration and guest worker programs – is heading south as far into the future as the eye can see.
Even in the Brookings medium case projection shown below (red line), Russia’s working age population will be nearly 20% smaller than today by 2050. Yet today’s figure of about 85 million is already just a fraction of the US working age population of 265 million.
Russia’s Shrinking Work Force
Not surprisingly, Russia’s pint-sized economy can not support a military establishment anywhere near to that of Imperial Washington. To wit, its $65 billion of military outlays in 2020 amounted to less than 32 days of Washington’s current $755 billion of expenditures for defense.
Indeed, it might well be asked how Russia could remotely threaten homeland security in America short of what would be a suicidal nuclear first strike. Recall the remnant of the Soviet strategic weapons arsenal at Putin’s disposal today amounts to 4,500 operational nuclear warheads, of which under two-fifths are actually deployed. That compares to 4,600 nuclear weapons in the US arsenal with a similar fraction actually deployed.
Accordingly, what exists on the nuclear front is a state of mutual deterrence (MAD) – -the arrangement by which we we got through 45-years of cold war when the Kremlin was run by a totalitarian oligarchy committed to a hostile ideology; and during which time it had been armed to the teeth via a forced-draft allocation of upwards of 40% of the GDP of the Soviet empire to the military.
By comparison, the Russian defense budget currently amounts to just 4% of the country’s anemic present day economy – one shorn of the vast territories and populations of Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and all the Asian “stans” among others. Yet given those realities we are supposed to believe that the self-evidently calculating and cautious kleptomaniac who runs the Kremlin is going to go mad, defy MAD and trigger a nuclear Armageddon?
Indeed, the idea that Russia presents a national security threat to America is laughable. Not only would Putin never risk nuclear suicide, but even that fantasy is the extent of what he’s got. That is, Russia’s conventional capacity to project force to the North American continent is nonexistent – or at best, lies somewhere between nichts and nothing.
For example, in today’s world you do not invade any foreign continent without massive sea power projection capacity in the form of aircraft carrier strike groups. These units consist of an armada of lethal escort ships, a fleet of aircraft, massive suites of electronics warfare capability and the ability to launch hundreds of cruise missiles and other smart weapons.
Each US aircraft carrier based strike group, in fact, is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, at least one cruiser, a squadron of destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft. A carrier strike group also sometimes includes submarines and attached logistics ships.
The US has eleven such carrier strike groups. Russia has zero modern carrier strike groups and one beat-up, smoky old (diesel) aircraft carrier that the Israeli paper, Haaretz, described as follows when it entered the Mediterranean a few years ago:
Russia’s only aircraft carrier, a leftover from the days of Soviet power, carries a long history of mishaps, at sea and in port, and diesel engines which were built for Russia’s cold waters – as shown by the column of black smoke raising above it. It needs frequent refueling and resupplies and has never been operationally tested.
For want of doubt, just compare this image of the Admiral Kuznetsov belching smoke in the Mediterranean with that of the Gerald R. Ford CVN 48 next below.
The latter is the US Navy’s new $13 billion aircraft carrier and is the most technologically advanced warship ever built.
The contrast shown above serves as a proxy for the vastly inferior capability of the limited number of ships and planes in Russia’s conventional force. What it does have numerical superiority in is tanks – but alas they are not amphibious nor ocean-capable!
Likewise, nobody invades anybody without massive air-power and the ability to project it across thousands of miles of oceans via vast logistics and air-refueling capabilities.
On that score, the US has 6,100 helicopters to Russia’s 1,200 and 6,000 fixed wing fighter and attack aircraft versus Russia’s 2,100. More importantly, the US has 5,700 transport and airlift aircraft compared to just 1,100 for Russia.
In short, the idea that Russia is a military threat to the US homeland is ludicrous. Russia is essentially a landlocked military shadow of the former Soviet war machine. Indeed, for the world’s only globe-spanning imperial power to remonstrate about an aggressive threat from Moscow is a prime facie case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Moreover, the canard that Washington’s massive conventional armada is needed to defend Europe is risible nonsense. Europe can and should take care of its own security and relationship with its neighbor on the Eurasian continent.
After all, the GDP of NATO Europe alone is $17 trillion or 11X greater than that of Russia, and the current military budgets of European NATO members total about $300 billion or 4.4X more than that of Russia.
More importantly, the European nations and people really do not have any quarrel with Putin’s Russia, nor is their security and safety threatened by the latter. All of the tensions that do exist and have come to a head since the illegal coup in Kiev in February 2014 were fomented by Imperial Washington and its European subalterns in the NATO machinery.
In fact, the coup which overthrew the constitutionally elected government in Kiev was a $5 billion all-hands Washington undertaking. It was organized and financed by the US State department along with the National Endowment for Democracy, the CIA and a raft of so-called NGOs (non-government organizations) indirectly funded by Washington and NATO.
Ukraine had already held own its election by the time of the Maidan putsch in February 2014 and four years earlier had installed the winner, Viktor Yanukovych, as President. But Washington didn’t merely leak the man’s emails to make him look bad to voters – it canceled the election long after the fact and sent him fleeing for his life.
As it happened, Washington nullified Ukraine’s 2010 election – even though Yanukovych got 49% of the vote compared to 45% for the runner-up – -on the grounds that its duly elected President had disobeyed certain apparatchiks in the State Department and NATO. That is, he rejected an aid and affiliation deal with the EU/NATO in late 2013 for a better deal with Ukraine’s historic hegemon in Moscow.
Needless to say, nullification of a country’s election – backed by the stick of NATO’s military might and the carrot of billions from a Washington/EU/IMF consortium – -is big league meddling. It makes the ballyhooed 2016 hacking of the emails of Washington fixer and Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, look like a schoolyard prank by comparison.
As former president Obama told CNN at the time, Washington was just going about its “indispensable nation” business. It had helpfully encouraged another “flowering of democracy” and to that end had,
“……brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.”
That’s right. Washington wasn’t interfering in the governance of an independent nation; it was just “brokering” a few more pieces on Imperial Washington’s global chessboard.
Never mind that Washington’s massive political and financial support for the Maidan uprising on the streets of Kiev, and then nearly instantaneous recognition of the resulting putsch as the official government of the Ukraine was a frontal assault on the nation’s sovereignty.
What added insult to injury was that Victoria Nuland, the US assistant Secretary for Europe, didn’t merely tell some undercover operatives to buy ads on Ukrainian social media. She actually picked Yanokovych’s successor and cabinet. And we know this from a hacked phone call between Nuland and the US ambassador in Kiev.
In discussing who should lead the Washington-installed government, Nuland made clear who the next prime minister would be and who he should be talking to for advice.
Nuland: I think Yats (Arseniy Yatseniuk) is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. … what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know.
As it turned our, the putsch leaders followed Nuland’s advice to the letter, installing “Yats” as the new prime minister. But it also filled four cabinet posts out of eleven with rabid anti-Russian crypto-Nazis.
Indeed, at the heart of the putsch were Ukrainian organizations called Svoboda (national socialist party of Ukraine) and Right Sector. Their national hero was one Stepan Bandera – a collaborator with Hitler who led the liquidation of thousands of Poles, Jews and other minorities as the Nazi Wehrmacht made it way through Ukraine toward Stalingrad in 1943.
As shown below, there could be little doubt where one of the founders of Svoboda and a principal leader of the Maidan coup, Oleh Tyahnybok, was coming from. The leaked transcript cited above also shows that Viceroy Nuland had no problem telling the new prime minister that he needed to talk to this self-avowed Nazi “four times a week”.
In fact, another founder and leader of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy, was given a portfolio which included the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. That the Kremlin was alarmed by these developments and that the Russian-speaking populations of Crimea and the Donbas feared an ethnic cleansing led by the new Ukrainian nationalist government in Kiev – given the bloody history described in Part 1 – is hardly surprising.
Indeed, the real truth of the matter is that Imperial Washington is now reaping the whirlwind it sowed over decades by massive interference in the internal politics and governance process of countries all over the world – of which the vignette above about the Ukrainian coup is only the latest example.
Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America had absolutely no national security interest in the spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014.
As we detailed earlier, for several centuries the Crimea has been Russian; for even longer, the Ukraine has been a cauldron of ethnic and tribal conflict, rarely an organized, independent state, and always a meandering set of borders looking for a redrawn map.
Like everything reviewed above, the source of the current calamity-howling about Russia is the Warfare State. That is, the existence of vast machinery of military, diplomatic and economic maneuver that is ever on the prowl for missions and mandates and that can mobilize a massive propaganda campaign on the slightest excitement.
The post-1991 absurdity of bolstering NATO and extending it into eastern Europe, rather than liquidating it after attaining “mission accomplished”, is just another manifestation of its baleful impact.
In truth, the expansion of NATO is the underlying causes of America’s needless tension with Russia and Putin’s paranoia about his borders and neighbors.
Indeed, it needs be asked: Precisely what juvenile minds bivouacked in Washington’s Warfare State beehive actually determined that America needs a military alliance with Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro and now the mini-state of North Macedonia!
So the resounding clatter for action against Russia emanating from Washington Dems and Republicans alike and the nation’s house-trained media is not even a semi-rational response to the facts at hand; its just another destructive spasm of the Warfare State and its beltway machinery of diplomatic meddling, economic warfare and military intervention.
Finally, there is an alternative history – one that didn’t happen. When the Cold War officially ended in 1991 Washington could have pivoted back to the pre-1914 status quo ante. That is, to a national security policy of America First because there was literally no significant military threat left on the planet.
Post-Soviet Russia was an economic basket case that couldn’t even meet its military payroll and was melting down and selling the Red Army’s tanks and artillery for scrap. China was just emerging from the Great Helmsman’s economic, political and cultural depredations and had embraced Deng Xiaoping proclamation that “to get rich is glorious”.
The implications of the Red Army’s fiscal demise and China’s electing the path of export mercantilism and Red Capitalism were profound.
Russia couldn’t invade the American homeland in a million years and China chose the route of flooding America with shoes, sheets, shirts, toys and electronics. So doing, it made the rule of the communist elites in Beijing dependent upon keeping the custom of 4,000 Walmarts in America, not bombing them out of existence.
In a word, god’s original gift to America – the great moats of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – had again become the essence of its national security.
After 1991, therefore, there was no nation on the planet that had the remotest capability to mount a conventional military assault on the U.S. homeland; or that would not have bankrupted itself attempting to create the requisite air and sea-based power projection capabilities – a resource drain that would be vastly larger than even the $750 billion the US currently spends on its own global armada.
Indeed, in the post-cold war world the only thing the US needed was a modest conventional capacity to defend the shorelines and airspace against any possible rogue assault and a reliable nuclear deterrent against any state foolish enough to attempt nuclear blackmail.
Needless to say, those capacities had already been bought and paid for during the cold war. The triad of minutemen ICBMs, Trident SLBMs (submarines launched nuclear missiles) and long-range stealth bombers cost only a few ten billions annually for operations and maintenance and were more than adequate for the task of nuclear deterrence.
Likewise, conventional defense of the US shoreline and airspace against rogues would not require a fraction of today’s 1.3 million active uniformed force – to say nothing of the 800,000 additional reserves and national guard forces and the 765,000 DOD civilians on top of that.
Rather than funding 2.9 million personnel, the whole job of national security under a homeland-based America First concept could be done with less than 500,000 military and civilian payrollers.
In fact, much of the 475,000 US army could be eliminated and most of the Navy’s carrier strike groups and power projection capabilities could be mothballed. So, too, the Air Force’s homeland defense missions could be accomplished for well less than $50 billion per annum compared to its current $145 billion budget.
Overall, the constant dollar defense budget (2019$) was $580 billion in 1989 when the cold war ended and the Soviet Union subsequently disappeared from the face of the earth. Had Washington pivoted to an America First national security policy at the time, defense spending could have been downsized to perhaps $250 billion per year.
Instead, the Imperial City went in the opposite direction and ended up embracing a de facto policy of Empire First. The latter will cost $750 billion during the current year and is heading for $900 billion annually a few years down the road.
In a word, Empire First easily consumes one-half trillion dollars more in annual budgetary resources than would America First. And that giant barrel of weapons contracts, consulting and support jobs, lobbying booty and Congressional pork explains everything you need to know about why the Swamp is so deep and intractable; and also why the purported “anti-Big Government” Republicans are Leviathan’s best friend on the Pentagon side of the Potomac.
Obviously, it’s also why Imperial Washington has appointed itself global policeman. Functioning as the gendarme of the planet is the only possible justification for the extra $500 billion per year cost of Empire First.
For example, why does the US still deploy 100,000 US forces and their dependents in Japan and Okinawa and 29,000 in South Korea?
These two counties have a combined GDP of nearly $7 trillion – or 235X more than North Korea and they are light-years ahead of the latter in technology and military capability. Also, they don’t go around the world engaging in regime change, thereby spooking fear on the north side of the DMZ.
Accordingly, Japan and South Korea could more than provide for their own national security in a manner they see fit without any help whatsoever from Imperial Washington. That’s especially the case because North Korea would seek a rapprochement and economic help, and their relationship with China is based on business, not military confrontation.
Indeed, sixty-five years after the unnecessary war in Korea ended, there is only one reason why the Kim family is still in power in Pyongyang and why they have noisily brandished their incipient nuclear weapons and missiles. To wit, it’s because the Empire still occupies the Korean peninsula and surrounds its waters with more lethal firepower than was brought to bear against the industrial might of Nazi Germany during the whole of WWII.
And speaking of Germany, why is it that its modest $68 billion defense budget amounts to only 1.4% of GDP if Russia is really some kind of expansionist military threat?
The Germans clearly don’t believe it and see Russia as a vital market for exports and as a source of supply for natural gas, other natural resources and food stuffs. Besides, with a GDP of nearly $4.0 trillion or more than 2.5X Russia’s $1.6 trillion GDP, Germany could more than handle its own defenses if Russia should ever become foolish enough to threaten it.
From there you get to the even more preposterous case for the Empire’s NATO outposts in eastern Europe. As recounted above, the history books are absolutely clear that in 1989 George H. W. Bush promised Gorbachev that NATO would not be expanded by a “single inch” in return for his acquiescence to German unification.
At the time, NATO had 16 member nations bound by the Article 5 obligation of mutual defense, but when the Soviet Union and the Red Army perished, there was nothing left to defend against. NATO should have declared “mission accomplished” and dissolved itself.
Instead, it has become a political jackhammer for Empire First policies by expanding to 30 nations – many of them on Russia’s doorstep.
Yet if your perception is not distorted by Washington’s self-justifying imperial beer-goggles, the question is obvious. Exactly what is gained for the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE or Springfield MA by obtaining the defense services of the pint-sized militaries of Latvia (6,000), Croatia (14,500), Estonia (6,400), Slovenia (7,300) or Montenegro (1,950)?
Indeed, the whole post-1991 NATO expansion is so preposterous as a matter of national security that its true function as a fig-leaf for Empire First fairly screams out loud. Not one of these pint-sized nations would matter for US security if they decided to have a cozier relationship with Russia – voluntarily or not so voluntarily.
But the point is, there is no threat to America in eastern Europe unless such as Montenegro, Slovenia, or Latvia were to become Putin’s invasion route to effect the Russian occupation of Germany, France, the Benelux and England.
And that’s just plain silly-ass crazy!
Yet aside from that utterly far-fetched and economically and militarily impossible scenario, there is no reason whatsoever for the US to be in a mutual defense pact with any of the new, and, for that matter, old NATO members.
And that gets us to most ridiculous NATO fig leaf of all. The patently bogus claim that Russia’s self-evidently defensive actions in Crimea and the Donbas (eastern Ukraine) prove that it is an aggressive expansionist. But on that score, Washington’s imperial beer goggles are utterly blind to history and geopolitical logic.
As we indicated above, Sevastopol in Crimea has been the home-port of the Russian Naval Fleet under czars and commissars alike and was purchased from the Ottoman’s for good money by Catherine the Great in 1783. It is the site of one of Russia greatest patriotic events – the defeat of the English invaders in 1854 made famous by Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade – and is 80% Russian speaking.
After 171 years as an integral part of the Russian Motherland, it only technically became part of Ukraine during a Khrushchev inspired shuffle in 1954.
The fact is, only 10% of the Crimean population is Ukrainian speaking, and it was the coup on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 by extremist anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists and proto-fascists that caused the Russian speakers in Crimea to panic and Moscow to become alarmed about the status of its historic naval base, for which it still had a lease running to the 2040s.
In a word, 83% of eligible Crimeans turned out to vote and 97% of those approved canceling the aforementioned 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium and rejoining mother Russia during the March 2014 referendum. There is absolutely no evidence that the 80% of Crimeans who thus voted to sever their historically short-lived affiliation with Ukraine were threatened or coerced by Moscow.
Indeed, what they actually feared were the anti-Russian edicts coming out of Kiev in the aftermath of the Washington funded, supported and instantly recognized overthrow of the legally elected government. And exactly the same thing is true of the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas.
After all, the good folks of that industrial heartland of the former Soviet Union had always been an integral part of its iron, steel, chemical and munitions industries, and, indeed, their grandparents had been put there by Stalin because most native Ukrainians had not cottoned to his bloody rule.
By the same token, Uncle Joe’s 1930s Russian transplants forever hated the Ukrainian nationalist collaborators, who rampaged though their towns, farms, factories and homes in the Donbas side-by-side with Hitler’s Wehrmacht on the way to Stalingrad.
So the appalling truth of the matter is this: By Washington’s edict the grandsons and granddaughters of Stalin’s industrial army in the Donbas are to be ruled by the grandsons and granddaughters of Hitler’s collaborators in Kiev, whether they like it or not.
But we repeat and for good reason: You simply can’t make up $500 billion worth of phony reasons for an Empire First national security policy without going off the deep-end. You have to invent missions, mandates and threats that are just plain stupid (like the purported Russian “occupation” of Crimea) or flat out lies (like Saddam’s alleged WMDs).
Indeed, you must invent, nourish and enforce an entire universal narrative based on completely implausible and invalid propositions, such as the “Indispensable Nation” meme and the claim that global peace and stability depend overwhelmingly on Washington’s leadership.
Yet, is there not a more cruel joke than that?
Was the Washington inflicted carnage and genocide in Vietnam a case of “American leadership” and making the world more peaceful or stable?
Did the two wars against Iraq accomplish anything except destroy the tenuous peace between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurds, thereby opening up the gates of hell and the bloody rampages of ISIS?
Did the billions Washington illegally channeled into the rebel and jihadist forces in Syria do anything except destroy the country, create millions of refugees and force the Assad regime to engage in tit-for-tat brutalities, as well as call-in aid from his Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah allies?
In a word, Imperial Washington’s overarching narratives and the instances of its specific interventions alike rest on a threadbare and implausible foundation; and more often than not, they consist of arrogant fabrications and claims that are an insult to the intelligence of anyone paying even loose attention to the facts.
Then again, Imperial Washington no longer cares about facts, logic, history or truth. At the time of the Bush War on Saddam’s nonexistent WMD’s, GOP “strategist” Karl Rove explained the Empire’s New Creed without pulling any punches.
“That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
There you have it. And Rove is no out-of-the-way academic scribbler inventing some high-flutin’ rationalization for American global hegemony. To the contrary, he’s a lifetime Swamp creature, leading beltway racketeer and the strategic brain trust of the GOP establishment.
It is, in fact, the moronic thinking of beltway lifers like Rove which explain why the Washington GOP started screaming “weakness” when Sleepy Joe mumbled through his scripted lines during yesterday’s Zoom with Putin.
That was an opening for the GOP to finally pivot back to its Taftian “America First” roots. Yet in all of Washington it would appear that only Tucker Carlson got the joke.
So persevere, Tucker, you’re the only remaining hope!
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.