Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Emeritus Russia Scholar: U.S. 'Testing, Provoking Russia', Pushing Towards Hot War

Emeritus Russia Scholar at Princeton: Obama, US are 'Testing, Provoking Russia', Pushing towards Hot War

Points from interview with Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University:
“The US in its history has never put troops so close to Russia, going back to the eighteenth century.”  (Okay, this is factually incorrect; the US invaded Russia with some 13,000 troops in 1918, but give Cohen a break, he got his PhD at Columbia.)  Now the US is “right on Russia’s borders. … Obama cannot hide from this one in the shadows as he sometimes does regarding foreign policy.  This is his decision” and now “NATO is going to quadruple its military power around Russia.”
“The new Cold War has become much hotter because of a decision taken in Washington” and is “more dangerous than the preceding Cold War”.
Saying the new Cold War is “solely due to Putin’s ‘aggression'” is “simply not true.  At a minimum, both sides were responsible”, and in fact, as Cohen details, the US is the aggressor (which makes sense, as it has been expanding militarily since its inception, and is by far the largest military force in the world.)

On the US/NATO using Turkey to ignite the hot war: “We do know, I think, one thing: that for whatever reason, possibly because of its lucrative bootleg relations with the Islamic State, mainly involving oil, Turkey is trying to provoke a military conflict with Russia on the assumption that that would bring NATO directly in against Russia. … on the surface, there is no other explanation … NATO can tell Turkey to knock this off, but it goes on”; Washington doesn’t stop it, just as it does not, as Dr. Prashad points out, invoke the NATO charter to force Turkey to close its border to stop relations with ISIS.
“What’s going on at the moment” in terms of Turkey, Syria, and NATO’s expansion, is the US “testing Russia… provoking Russia… awaiting Russia’s reaction.”
Russia’s reaction so far is talk of “fortify[ing] its Western border.”
In the West, “all this is blamed on Russian aggression. But who’s the aggressor here?  Russia didn’t move its military equipment toward NATO.  NATO moved its toward Russia.  So I would say what you have here is a proactive NATO/American policy against Russia and a highly predictable reactive policy on the part of Russia.

In Ukraine, “the provocations and the initial punch came from the West, and Putin reacted in a way that Yelstin could not have or would not have, but Putin is Putin.”
Cohen says we are now at the most dangerous nuclear moment since the nuclear crisis of the early 1960s, and “Obama cannot hide from this now.  All his silences and his ellipses and his vanishing moment… this is his decision.  The buck stops there.  He signed off on this, and it is an enormous escalation of the Cold War in the direction of hot war.”
Perhaps the most notable statement of the interview comes at the end, when Cohen points out:
“Not one question about it has been raised in all this multitude of presidential debates.  … You and I tonight have talked about something that is unknown to the American public.”
How’s that for a propaganda system?

There is something mysterious about the unanimity demonstrated by the Western media and think tanks in the past few days regarding the prospects of a Russian invasion of the Baltics.

Nothing hinted at any trouble in July 2015, when Financial Times finally admitted that the Kremlin is obviously not planning to rebuild the Russian or Soviet Empire in "a literal sense" anytime soon.  

"A piece published by the Financial Times last July admitted that the 'consensus' among diplomats and analysts was that Putin had 'not embarked on a rampage' to recreate an empire 'as some feared last year'," Danielle Ryan, an Irish freelance journalist and media analyst, narrates in her article for RT.

"Given that new-found consensus, one might have suspected that the lull in stories about a forthcoming invasion could be chalked up to journalists deciding to put the subject to rest — but one would have been wrong. For they were back last week with a vengeance," she continues.

Indeed, on February 3, the UK's BBC broadcasted a controversial show that simulated a Russian invasion of Latvia, accompanied by a nuclear attack on Britain. On the same day, the RAND Corporation, an influential American think tank released a report saying that Russia is able to overrun the Baltic NATO member-states in 60 hours.

Ryan calls attention to the fact that a month ago, the Atlantic Council — "whose primary founding aim is to defend NATO interests" — began to bang the drums over Russia's imaginary imperial designs for the Baltic states.
"Most anxieties focus on the Baltic states as Russia's next potential military target," Stephen Blank, a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, warned.
"The piece was then re-published by Newsweek with the headline: 'Counting down to a Russian invasion of the Baltics'," Ryan points out.
So, what was the root cause of the propaganda campaign?
According to the journalist the answer is obvious: on February 2, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Pentagon would seek to quadruple its budget for Europe in 2017. The pretext for the increase is a "military threat" posed by Russia to Central and Eastern Europe.
In light of this, the question arises why, for God's sake, would Russia attack the Baltics?
"So what would Russia gain from attacking the Baltics?" Doug Bandow, a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, asked in his op-ed for The National Interest, commenting on the RAND report.
"[Russia would gain] a recalcitrant, majority non-ethnic Russian population. A possible temporary nationalist surge at home. A likely short-lived victory over the West. The costs would be far greater. Grabbing the Baltics likely would spur population exodus and trigger economic collapse," Bandow stressed, highlighting the absurdity of the assumption.
Unfortunately, the voice of reason is being silenced.

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