Many years after the end of the Cold War, when the United States government brings to power a neo-Nazi leader in Ukraine in order to hurt both Moscow and Europe, the world finds itself on the brink of nuclear war once again. This may sound like an oversimplified distillation of current headlines, but it is in fact a plot point in Norman Spinrad’s science-fiction novel "Russian Spring", published in 1991.
Written as the Cold War came to an end, Spinrad’s novel envisioned the USSR not falling apart, but embracing market capitalism and joining with "Common Europe" to develop a civilian space program. Meanwhile, the U.S. retreated across the Atlantic to play hegemon in Latin America and build the "Battlestar America" missile shield – until opportunity arose to destroy the USSR by sponsoring a foaming-at-the-mouth Ukrainian separatist.
In actual history, Washington first encouraged the breakup of the USSR, then used the Balkan Wars to reassert dominance in Europe, ensuring the EU would remain a toothless hanger-on. Rather than carving out an empire in Latin America, the USclaimed the world. The US space program did devolve to a purely military one, but never got the fabled "missile shield" to actually work. Meanwhile, those who want to go to the International Space Station must use the Soviet-designed Soyuz, the only orbital spacecraft still in function.
But for all that, the world is still facing a confrontation between Moscow and Washington over a U.S.-backed chauvinistic regime in Ukraine.
The Troubled East
While a month ago it looked for a moment as if Washington and Moscow might climb down from the brink and work out a compromise solution for the Ukraine crisis, the US has since ratcheted up the belligerent rhetoric. Western media are filled with hysterical reports of "Russian invasion forces" massing at the borders of Ukraine, preparing to invade Belarus (!), or Latvia, or Moldova (!!). Reporters who can’t find Moldova on the map now claim Russia might "invade" the country – either unaware or not caring that a Russian peacekeeping contingent has been deployed in the disputed region of Transnistria ever since Moldova declared independence in 1991.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the "Maydan" coup government (led by "Our Man Yats") has launched a crackdown on Russian-speaking regions in the east of the country, appointing oligarch governors and arresting local community leaders and peaceful protesters ("pro-Russian mobs" in propaganda-speak).
Kiev and NATO argue these are "Russian provocations" intended to provide a pretext for invasion; in keeping with the first rule of propaganda – always accuse the opponent of something you yourself intend to do – it is far more likely that the crackdown is intended to justify beefing up NATO presence on Russia’s borders, and even in Ukraine itself.
Not everyone in Europe is on board with Empire’s Drang Nach Osten. With opposition voices coming out in support of Moscow, the German government is treading softly between the orders from Washington and economic imperatives of cooperating with Russia. Even in Britain, the "Airstrip One" and ideological progenitor of the Atlantic Empire, the populace views Russia more positively than the EU – or its own government. The Guardian even published an op-ed by Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, earlier this week.
In America, however, the mainstream media are united in a message of rabid Russophobia, unseen since the heady days of demonizing the Serbs in the 1990s. So too are the political parties, with even some "libertarians" jumping in bed with NED.
Voices in the Wilderness
A few brave voices remain in the Imperial media wilderness. For example, Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity writes:
"it is not difficult to understand why parts of Ukraine heavily populated by Russians want nothing to do with the radically anti-Russian junta installed in Kiev, but to the US government the unrest has nothing at all to do with US intervention and in fact is all a Russian plot. The mainstream media happily plays on this theme, as the full extent of their presentation of the rest of the world to American viewers consists of breathlessly uncovering the next Hitler to be vanquished by US bombs. The tortured rhetoric and logic of the US government on Ukraine is so painful it is almost unbearable. "
And if one wants an explanation of the current crisis "more in accord with historical facts" than with propaganda fantasies, look no further than Professor Stephen F. Cohen writing for The Nation – a magazine that also examined the dark secret of the West’s decades-long collaboration with Nazis in Ukraine.
Frank Furedi, writing for Spiked in late March, warned about the complete disconnect of Russia-bashers from reality:
"The EU and the US act as if they bear no responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine and in Western-Russian relations. Possibly the West has deluded itself about global affairs to such an extent that it is oblivious to its own complicity in the current crisis. Such delusions mean that the normal rules that inform international relations have given way to shallow posturing and empty moralising, always with an eye to making an impact with the media. This corrosion of Western diplomacy represents a real danger to global stability. It also undermines the moral authority of democracy."
Earning That Nobel
In Spinrad’s excessively optimistic yet strangely prescient 1991 novel, the confrontation is eventually defused by a wild-card US president and his Russian counterpart. America, Europe and Russia unite to make possible the dream of a dying idealist, an American "space cadet" who moved to Europe and married a Russian in order to build spaceships.
In our grim reality, it is up to Barack Obama to reverse what Prof. Cohen calls "a twenty-year bipartisan policy that has led to disaster," wondering if that is even possible in Washington’s "rabid anti-Putin, Russophobic atmosphere."
Mr. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Here is a golden opportunity for him to actually earn it.