This was very good. Worth reading the whole thing if you ahve the time:
Is it war yet?
Yes, in too many respects.
It’s a relentless economic, diplomatic, and ideological war, spiced with (so far) just a dash of military war, and the strong scent of more to come.
I mean war with Russia, of course, although Russia is the point target for a constellation of emerging adversaries the US is desperate to entame before any one or combination of them becomes too strong to defeat. These include countries like Iran and China, which are developing forces capable of resisting American military aggression against their own territory and on a regional level, and have shown quite too much uppitiness about staying in their previously-assigned geopolitical cages.
But Russia is the only country that has put its military forces in the way of a U.S. program of regime change—indirectly in Ukraine, where Russia would not get out of the way, and directly in Syria, where Russia actively got inthe way. So Russia is the focus of attack, the prime target for an exemplary comeuppance.
Is it, then, a new Cold War, even more dangerous than the old one, as Stephen F. Cohen says?
That terminology was apt even a few months ago, but the speed, ferocity, and coordinationof the West/NATO’s reaction to the alleged nerve-agent poisoning of the Skripals, as well as the formation of a War Cabinet in Washington, indicates to me that we’ve moved to another level of aggression.
It’s beyond Cold. Call it the Warm War. And the temperature’s rising.
The Nerve of Them
There are two underlying presumptions that, combined, make present situation more dangerous than a Cold War.
One is the presumption of guilt—or, more precisely, the presumption that the presumption of Russian guilt can always be made, and made to stick in the Western mind.
The confected furor over the alleged nerve-agent poisoning of the Skripals demonstrates this dramatically.
Theresa May’s immediate conclusion that the Russian government bears certain and sole responsibility for the nerve-agent poisoning of the Skripals is logically, scientifically, and forensically impossible.
False certainty is the ultimate fake news. It is just not true that, as she says: “There is no alternative conclusion other than the Russian state is culpable.” This falsity of this statement has been demonstrated by a slew of sources—including the developers of the alleged “Novichok” agent themselves, a thorough analysis by a former UN inspector in Iraq who worked on the destruction of Russian chemical weapons, establishment Western scientific outlets like New Scientist(“Other countries could have made ‘Russian’ nerve agent”), and the British government’s own mealy-mouthed, effective-but-unacknowledged disavowal of that conclusion. In its own words, The British government found: “a nerve agent or related compound,” “of a type developed by Russia.” So, it’s absolutely, positively, certainly, without a doubt, Russian-government-produced “Novichok”….or something else.
Teresa May is lying, everyone who seconds her assertion of false certainty is lying, they all know they are lying, and the Russians know that they know they are lying.
It boggles the—or at least, my—mind how, in the face of all this, anyone could take seriously her ultimatum, ignoring the procedures of the Chemical Weapons Convention, gave Russia 24 hours to “explain”—i.e., confess and beg forgiveness for—this alleged crime.
Indeed, it’s noteworthy that France initially, and rather sharply, refused to assume Russian guilt, with a government spokesman saying, “We don’t do fantasy politics. Once the elements are proven, then the time will come for decisions to be made.” But the whip was cracked—and surely not by the weak hand of Whitehall—demanding EU/NATO unity in the condemnation of Russia. So, in an extraordinary show of discipline that could only be ordered and orchestrated by the imperial center, France joined the United States and 20 other countries in the largest mass expulsion of Russian diplomats ever.
Western governments and their compliant media have mandated that Russian government guilt for the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II is to be taken as flat fact. Anyone—like Jeremy Corbyn or Craig Murray—who dares to interrupt the “Sentence first! Verdict afterwards!” chorus to ask for, uh, evidence, is treated to a storm of obloquy.
At this point, Western accusers don’t seem to care how blatantly unfounded, if not ludicrous, an accusation is. The presumption of Russian guilt, along with the shaming of anyone who questions it, has become an unquestionable standard of Western/American political and media discourse.
Old Cold War McCarthyism has become new Warm War fantasy politics.
The economic war against Russian is being waged through a series of sanctions that seem impossible to reverse, because their expressed goal is to extract confession, repentance, and restitution for crimes ascribed to Russia that Russia has not committed, or has not been proven to have committed, or are entirely fictional and have not been committed by anyone at all. We will only stop taking your bank accounts and consulates and let you play games with us if you confess and repent every crime we accuse you of. No questions permitted.
This is not a serious framework for respectful international relations between two sovereign nations. It’s downright childish. It paints everyone, including the party trying to impose it, into an impossible corner. Is Russia ever going to abandon Crimea, confess that it shot down the Malaysian jet, tricked us into electing Donald Trump, murdered the Skripals, is secretly arming the Taliban, et. al.? Is the U.S. ever going to say: “Never mind”? What’s the next step? It’s the predicament of the bully.
This is not, either, an approach that really seeks to address any of the “crimes” charged. As Victoria Nuland (a Clintonite John Bolton) put it on NPR, it’s about, “sending a message” to Russia. Well, as Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov said, with this latest mass expulsion of diplomats, the United States is, “Destroying what little remained of US-Russian ties.” He got the message.
All of this looks like a coordinated campaign that began in response to Russia’s interruption of American regime-change projects in Ukraine and especially Syria, that was harmonized—over the last 18 to 24 months—with various elite and popular motifs of discontent over the 2016 election, and that has reached a crescendo in the last few weeks with ubiquitous and unconstrained “enemization”of Russia. It’s hard to describe it as anything other than war propaganda—manufacturing the citizenry’s consent for a military confrontation.
Destroying the possibility of normal, non-conflictual, state-to-state relations and constituting Russia as “the enemy” is exactly what this campaign is about. That is its “message” and its effect—for the American people as much as for the Russia government. The heightened danger, I think, is that Russia, which has for a long time been reluctant to accept that America wasn’t interested in “partnership”, has now heard and understood this message, while the American people have only heard but do not understand it.
It’s hard to see where this can go that doesn’t involve military conflict. This is especially the case with the appointments of Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel, and John Bolton—a veritable murderers’ row that many see as the core of a Trump War Cabinet. Bolton, who does not need Senate confirmation, is a particularly dangerous fanatic, who tried to get the Israelis to attack Iran before even they wanted to, and has promised regime change in Iran by 2019. As mentioned, he considers that Russia has already given him a “casus belli.” Even the staid New York Times warns that, with these appointments, “the odds of taking military action will rise dramatically.”
The second presumption in the American mindset today makes military confrontation more likely than it was during the Cold War: Not only is there a presumption of guilt, there is a presumption of weakness. The presumption of guilt is something the American imperial managers are confident they can induce and maintain in the Western world; the presumption of weakness is one they—or, I fear, too many of them—have all-too blithely internalized.
I found all of that pretty reasoned and in accordance with my views on the situation and how it developed.
Later in this same article the author makes this point which really jumped out at me:
There is a reason for this American delusion. The present generation of American leadership was spoiled and addled by the blissful post-Soviet decades of American impunity.
The problem is not exactly that the U.S. wants full-on war with Russia, it’s that America does not fear it.
Yes, that’s it. The problem is not that the U.S. wants war with Russia, but that it does not fear it.
The current crop of neocons are truly delusional and really believe that the US is militarily invulnerable, and that’s just plain wrong. It’s delusional. Not least of which is that I have yet to talk with any single US citizen in favor of more war. We’re done. We’re tired of the constant bullying, death and loss of blood and treasure.
It’s time to focus on rebuilding our own crumbling country, but the powers that be are all excited by the additional powers and money that will accumulate to them if they get another war.