First, a few updates on the terrorist-hostage situation in France:
For several weeks now the anti-Russian stance in the US press has quieted down. Presumably because the political leadership has moved its attention on to other things, and the media flock has followed suit.
Have you read much about Ukraine and Russia recently?
I thought not, despite the fact that there's plenty of serious action -- both there as well as related activity in the US -- going on that deserves our careful attention.
As I recently wrote, the plunging oil price is a potential catalyst for stock market turmoil and sovereign instability. Venezuela is already circling the drain, and numerous other oil exporters are in deep trouble as they foolishly expanded their national budgets and social programs to match the price of oil; something that is easy to do on the way up and devilishly tricky on the way down.
But consider the impact on Russia. From the Russian point of view, everything from their plunging ruble to bitter sanctions to the falling price of oil are the fault of the US, either directly or indirectly. Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant; that's the view of the Russians right now. So no surprise, it doesn't dispose them towards much in the way of good-will towards the West generally, and the US specifically.
The fall in the price of oil is creating serious difficulties economically and financially for Russia. We'll get to those facets in a minute. But right now, I want to focus on the continued belligerence of the US towards Russia -- some of which is overt and some of which, you can be certain, is covert -- which could very well end up provoking a more kinetic and dangerous response than the West is prepared for.
Based on the preponderance of evidence, its' clear to me that the West/US deserve the lion's share of the blame for the conflict that now rages with Ukraine and between Russia and the western world.
It was the West that supported the unsavory assortment of thugs, neo-Nazis, and ultra-nationalists that seized power in a coup from the democratically-elected Yanukovych. We can argue all we want about whether he was a good boy or not, but that's irrelevant and plays into the hands of those at the US State Department who would like to deflect attention away from the very non-democratic events (shaped behind the scenes by our influence) that led to his overthrow.
Let's look more closely at the reasons why Russia may not exactly be in a conciliatory mood towards the US at this moment in time.
With just our short-term memories, we can recall that the US Congress passed a serious piece of anti-Russian resolution last month that can easily be seen as a declaration of war by a reasonable person.
This unfortunate piece of legislation, H.Res. 758, was passed on December 4, 2014 and is titled "Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination."
Ron Paul expressed the problems with this resolution very well...
After chiding Russia for supplying military aid, for which the US has provided no solid evidence in support of that claim, the US has passed an Act designed to funnel all sorts of military aid to the ruling powers in Kiev.
This could just as easily have been labeled the "Do As We Say, Not As We Do" Act. For some reason, the Russians are not too impressed with that approach.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in response:
“Both houses of the US Congress have approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act bypassing debates and proper voting. The overtly confrontational message of the new law cannot but evoke profound regret.”
“Once again Washington is leveling baseless sweeping accusations against Russia and threatening more sanctions. At the same time it is muddling together the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts, which the United States has been instrumental in inflating. It even refers to the INF Treaty although American compliance with it is questionable, to put it mildly.
At the same time, it promises to Kiev to arm its military operation in Donbass and openly admits that it intends to use NGOs for an impact on Russia’s domestic processes.”
We cannot but conclude that, blinded by outdated phobias, the United States is anxious to reverse time. As the US Congress instigates anti-Russian sanctions, it should part with the illusion of their effect. Russia will not be intimidated into giving up its interests and tolerating interference in its internal affairs.”
The really bizarre part of this story is that I cannot yet find any credible analysis or commentary explaining exactly what the US's compelling interests are in Ukraine, nor what the end goal might be. It's all something of a mystery, compounded substantially by the fact that Russia can be a very powerful ally or enemy to have. Why not choose ally? Why choose enemy?
On the flip side, we have lots of compelling evidence that the US has a serious plan in place to weaken and destabilize Russia. The tactics we're using would certainly be considered acts of war by the US were the circumstances reversed.
As one Russian observer put it:
The United States is waging a fully fledged economic war against the Russian Federations and its national economy. Ultimately, all Russians are collectively the target. The economic sanctions are nothing more than economic warfare. If the crisis in Ukraine did not happen, another pretext would have been found for assaulting Russia.
Both US Assistant-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Assistant-Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Glaser even told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives in May 2014 that the ultimate objectives of the US economic sanctions against Russia are to make the Russian population so miserable and desperate that they would eventually demand that the Kremlin surrender to the US and bring about "political change". "Political change" can mean many things, but what it most probably implies here is regime change in Moscow.
We Not On A Road To War, We've Already Arrived
If it looks like a war, acts like a war and smells like a war, it may just be a war. The US has been waging economic, financial, trade, political and even kinetic war-by-proxy against Russia. The only question is why?
From the perspective of Russians it seems clear that neocons are driving the US ship of state, and that they are simply not the sort of people with whom you negotiate in good faith or whom you trust. The neocons believe they have the upper hand, they are part of the most powerful country on earth, and they never negotiate preferring to dictate.
The only problem is, the US is rapidly losing allies and friends the world over and it's not nearly as powerful as it used to be, thanks to a profound failure to invest in itself (education, infrastructure, etc)
There is simply no good rationale for the geo-political risks being taken right now. Leaving us with the critical question: Why are we willing to let our leaders play nuclear "Russian roulette", for stakes we don't agree with?