The Roman republic began its descent into empire as victorious generals – starting with one Julius Caesar – returned to claim the fruits of their victories, their final conquest being the republic itself. “Crossing the Rubicon” has today become a phrase meaning an event that cannot be undone, usually of ominous portent, and surely this applies to the machinations of one General Philip Breedlove, former Supreme Commander of NATO.
Revealed by hackers who broke into his email accounts, Breedlove’s plot to start World War III with Russia recalls the recklessness of Dr. Strangelove in a movie of the same name – except this isn’t a movie, it’s reality.
Coordinating with sympathetic retired military personnel, such as Wesley Clark, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Harlan Ullman, a top official of the Atlantic Council, the idea was – as Ullman put it – to “leverage, cajole, convince or coerce the U.S. to react” to an alleged Russian threat in Europe. Another academic contact, one Phillip Karber, head of the neoconservative Potomac Foundation, was involved in disseminating a crude forgery supposed to have depicted Russian tanks in Ukraine. Naturally, the Washington Free Beacon fell for it, as did Sen. James Inhofe. Confirmation bias is pandemic in these circles.
Breedlove has himself been at the center of similar hoaxes, claiming that tens of thousands of Russian troops are present in Ukraine, armed to the teeth with the latest advanced weaponry: this was an outright lie, as the German intelligence agency, the BND, pointed out.
Another retired general in this network, Wesley Clark, acted as an intermediary between Washington officials and the Kiev regime: he lobbied the Obama administration through neoconservative Victoria Nuland to send advanced offensive weaponry to Ukraine. Gen. Clark,, you’ll recall, tried to start World War III by ordering an attack on a Russian military contingent in Pristina during the Kosovo war, and was prevented from doing so by the British refusal to go along with it.
Testifying before Congress, Breedlove directly contradicted both the administration and our NATO allies, declaring that Russia was getting ready to invade Ukraine with a force of 80,000 troops. The Ukrainian regime took up the cry, with President Poroshenko declaring martial law – a ready excuse to shut down his political opponents and institute conscription – and demanding that the West come to his aid. Of course, there was no such invasion, but that didn’t matter – the propaganda blitz, with the help of the Russophobic “liberal” media, had accomplished its purpose of establishing the Russian Threat. Cold War II was launched.
Speaking of the media, the more “liberal” precincts of the Fourth Estate have been ablaze with calls to arms against the Russkies, especially since Donald Trump has declared his willingness to get along with Vladimir Putin. Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine, declares that Trump is “Putin’s patsy.” Trump’s sin? Like Obama, he’s unwilling to get the US involved in Ukraine. Comparing Trump’s rhetoric on Russia with his China-bashing, he wonders why Trump is soft on the “misogynistic” Putin while he would “stand up” to China in the South China Sea. The answer is glaringly obvious: Trump, like most Americans, thinks we have no business in Ukraine. On the other hand, China, in the Trumpian calculus, is running a huge trade deficit with the US.
Franklin Foer, whose tenure at The New Republic was famously cut short by a change in ownership and a chorus of neocon blubbering and caterwauling, enters the Cold War II sweepstakes with his own rhyming indictment of Trump as a Manchurian candidate: “Putin’s Puppet.” In a trope that must have delighted his old neocon warhorses at TNR, Foer compares Trump’s White House bid to the “Communist-infiltrated” campaign of former Vice President Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party candidate in the 1948 presidential election He even strongly implies that Trump is on the receiving end of Kremlin gold: “Why wouldn’t the Russians offer him the same furtive assistance they’ve lavished on Le Pen, Berlusconi, and the rest?” Evidence? Foer and his fellow neo-McCarthyites can’t be bothered with such mundane details.
Reading this nonsense is like going back in a time machine to those glory days of the 1950s, when every patriotic American had a bomb shelter in his backyard and was busy looking for a commie under every bed. Except for one big difference: communism is extinct, except for the faculty lounges of a few elite universities. Russia has come out of the long nightmare of totalitarianism, however inconsistently and hesitantly, its ramshackle economy sputtering and coughing, the sick man of Europe considerably shrunken in size, influence, and military prowess. And yet still the Cold Warriors are manning their battle-stations, more determined than ever to bring the Kremlin to its knees – with billionaires like George Soros lurking in the background, hoping to recoup his lost investments in Russia and acquire the defeated nation’s remaining assets.
Speaking of Soros, he’s a major contributor to Foer’s new employer, the New America think tank: his son, Jonathan, sits on the New America board. (Thirty percent of New America’s funding comes from the US government, including the State Department.)
New America is the premier Democratic party thinktank, where a great deal of the top Obama administration officials came out of and where Hillary Clinton is bound to draw much of her staffing should she win the White House. And of course Hillary famously compared Putin to Hitler, and is eager to restart the “war of civilizations” against the Slavs begun by her husband.
New America is also where the corporate liberals meet the neocons: on the board alongside the Soros gang and such blue chip liberals as James Fallows are neocon David Brooks, “reformocon” Reihan Salam (executive editor of National Review), and Walter Russell Meade of The American Interest, a neocon outlet.
What we have here is a grand alliance of Russophobes, stretching from the neocon right to the “liberal’ left, and also including a substantial military element, i.e., the US Army, which is lobbying for more funding. In order to win that funding, they are competing with the other services for scarce resources and must convince lawmakers that the “threat” from ramshackle Russia is so great that we must prepare to fight a land war with the Russkies in Poland and the Baltics.
Trump is right that we have common interests with Russia, that NATO is obsolete, and that we have nothing to gain by antagonizing the Russian bear. While Russia takes on ISIS in Syria, and is battling terrorists on its own territory, an unsavory amalgam of Clintonistas, rebellious generals, and warmongering neocons is plotting to restart the Cold War. Is it a coincidence that these are the same people who hate Trump, bemoan Brexit, and supported the Iraq war?
I don’t think so.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.