by Syarif Hidayat
US President Barack Obama’s hegemonic policies regarding Russia are pushing the world into a new war, an analyst writes in a column for the Press TV website. “Obama overthrew the Ukrainian government in order to be able to stuff the country into NATO, throw Russia out of its Black Sea naval base, and put US missile bases in Ukraine on Russia’s border,” Dr. Paul Craig Roberts wrote in a column for Press TV on Saturday, March 29, 2014. “Obama is angry that his plan didn’t pan out as intended, and he is taking his anger and frustration out on Russia,” he added.
The analyst pointed that Obama’s demand for more NATO troops to be stationed in Eastern Europe and the buildup of military forces on Russia’s borders to allegedly protect Poland and the Baltic states is yet another provocation by Washington that could trigger a war with Moscow.
“Obama doesn’t say what effect the US/NATO military buildup and numerous war games on Russia’s border will have on Russia. Will the Russian government conclude that Russia is about to be attacked and strike first? The reckless carelessness of Obama is the way wars start,” he said.
“Today the drive to war is blatantly obvious. The lies are obvious, and the entire West is participating, both media and governments,” he added. “World War 1 (and World War 2) was the result of the ambitions and mistakes of a very small number of people,” the analyst recalled.
Tensions between the Western powers and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which nearly 97 percent of voters in Crimea said “yes” to reunion with Russia.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Mark Billington, with the Executive Intelligence Review from Leesburg, to discuss tensions in US-Russia relations. Below is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Billington Russia has said that it is trying to become more independent in the light of these tensions with the West, specifically these sanctions being imposed. Is this then going to backfire on the West?
Billington: Absolutely. I think that this is yet another proof of these sanctions themselves that in fact the crisis over Ukraine and Crimea is not really over Ukraine and Crimea; it is over the collapse of the Western financial system. In fact just today S&P notified all the banks in Europe that they will be downgraded soon because of the adoption this week by the EU of what they call a single resolution mechanism, which is essentially a bail-in, a plan that when the banks begin to collapse, they are going to, simply, steal from the accounts in those banks, as they did in Cyprus last year.
So this is going to lead to a total panic collapse of the entire Western banking system and in general the sanctions being imposed against Russia, which as your story said, the Russians will deal with this by developing their own collaboration with other Eurasian nations; it will hurt but they will deal with it.
The fact is that it is going to hurt the West far more than it hurts Russia and the point is that the West, the British Empire, as LaRouche has said repeatedly, the Empire meaning the financial institutions in London and Wall Street, do not give a damn about the economies in the West; they only care about the financial power of the bankrupt financial system and therefore they are willing to provoke a war, as they are now trying to do with Russia, in order to have what they consider their right to loot Ukraine, Russia, China and so forth to prop up this bankrupt, moribund, collapsing financial system in the West.
This is going to lead to thermonuclear war very soon, unless in fact the cause of this, which is Obama and the British Empire in London are removed through impeaching Obama.
Press TV: But Mr. Billington very quickly if you can, we are also seeing this willingness on the part of Russia to consolidate its interests with the BRICS group of nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and as many have pointed out, once integrated properly, these economies can rival the financial institutions of the West, as you just outlined. So are these certain measures being taken into account by the West, even going to help?
Billington: The ability of the BRICS and the Eurasian nations to unite and work together is very important but it will not serve as a counter to the collapse of the Western economies. This cannot be a competition, if the massive quadrillion dollar bubble in the West in not eliminated through implementing Franklin Roosevelt-type Glass-Steagall legislation so that we can restore sanity in America and in Europe, there will be global thermonuclear war and the collaboration of the Eurasian and BRICS nations is not going to save them from the holocaust, the thermonuclear war.
We have to solve the problem in the West, not have a surrounding of the wagons in order to create a Eurasia or BRICS which can somehow compete with a West, which is collapsing into fascist police state measures, economic decay. We have to resolve that problem as citizens of the world with all nations of Eurasia working with those of us in America, who are committed to restoring America and Europe to its historic role as nation-builders, as republics, in collaboration with what should be our true allies in Russia, in China and Iran and so forth.
Press TV: And very quickly if you can Mr. Billington. Is there a political will and even awareness in order to bring this about?
Billington: In the West?
Press TV: Precisely.
Billington: There is a growing awareness in the West that Obama is stark raving mad, that he is trying to provoke a war with Russia, which will be thermonuclear, which Putin and Russia will not back down, nor will China.
And there is a growing recognition that his police-state measures here especially the recent discovery or the making public of the fact that Obama and his CIA were spying on our own Congress, in fact on the committee that was investigating the CIA torture under Dick Cheney.
So this is leading to impeachment, that has not happened yet, it has to happen quickly but there is a growing rage in America including amongst leading Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and the Senate that we are dealing with the out of control dictator in the White House who has to be removed.
US sets Europe and Russia at war
Finian Cunningham* in his article titled “US sets Europe and Russia at war” writes When US President Barack Obama embarked on his European tour this week there was the usual sycophantic Western media image of the American leader as a benefactor. Obama, so the story went, was coming to unite and support Europe in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine. With tiresome florid speechifying, Obama claimed that the US and Europe have together historically built up institutions of international law and democracy and that the “allies” would now stand together against Russian “brute behavior” just as they had done during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
The facts are the opposite. The US has sought to divide Europe from Russia and sow conflict in Eurasia ever since the end of the Second World War nearly 70 years ago. That is a continuum to the present day. The main objective for Washington is to prevent Europe developing closer relations with Russia. Central to the problem, from the US point of view, is to curb Europe and Russia becoming strategic energy partners.
This is what the current crisis over Ukraine is really about. Washington took the lead in inciting regime change in Kiev at the end of last year. And it is Washington that is taking the lead in rushing through Congress-approved finance and IMF loans to shore up the unelected anti-Russian junta in Kiev.
Russian security measures in Crimea and on its borders with Ukraine have subsequently led to the worst diplomatic crisis between European capitals and Moscow since the end of the Cold War more than 20 years ago.
In this current crisis it is Washington that has been the most strident in calling for punitive sanctions against the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin. As the Washington Post reported this week: “President Obama attempted Wednesday to rouse Europe to confront Russia’s military seizure of Crimea, framing the West’s dispute with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a clash of ideologies lingering from the Cold War.”
The American media have also gone into a frenzy of demonizing Putin as a mad dictator, while it is US military forces under the NATO flag that have mobilized on the Western borders of Russia. All in all, the US propensity is to incite tensions. Admittedly, some European politicians, such as Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Francois Hollande, appear to have gone along gung-ho with the US adversarial agenda towards Moscow. But there again several other European states, including Italy, Austria, Holland, Belgium and Finland, have sought to de-escalate tensions. Most notable is Germany, Europe’s largest economy.
Economic sanctions on Russia
German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week pointedly rejected the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia in spite of much American pressure to do so. If we strip off Obama’s schmaltz and pseudo-history rhetoric, it is patent that the US stands to gain most from conflict between Europe and Russia – just as it always has done in past decades.
While Obama was this week endorsing “unity” between the US and Europe and “isolation” for Russia, he was also pushing for two major American interests – under the guise of American benevolence of course.
Those two interests are, firstly, the long-term replacement of Russian energy supplies with American exports of natural gas. The renewed US fossil fuel industry is a leitmotif of recent years in an attempt to boost the stagnant American economy. America needs to find export markets for its projected natural gas production. Currently, Russia supplies some 30-40 per cent of Europe’s fuel consumption. The US wants this lucrative chunk of the global energy market.
The second major strategic interest from stoking conflict with Russia is to give Washington a continuing military, and therefore political, role in the affairs of Europe as the lead NATO power. That’s not new, to be sure, but such a role always needs renewing. Already this week the Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia are reportedly doubling their military spending on the back of US-instigated Ukrainian and Russian tensions, which no doubt will entail sales of US-made F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, as well as missile systems and warships.
Historically, the Cold War conflict in Europe was not a natural tendency. The US fomented the hostility with the Soviet Union, which included originating the threat of nuclear weapons and the covert arming of Nazi saboteurs behind Soviet lines in the aftermath of WWII. The Soviets responded by imposing the Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe, which the US planners gladly welcomed for the strategic reasons of justifying American militarism in Europe and thwarting Eurasian relations.
Despite this hostile backdrop, however, relations between Moscow and the rest of Europe managed to grow cordially. This was especially as a result of the wise West German leadership under chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmudt Schmidt, who developed an “Ostpolitik” policy of outreach towards the Soviet Union – to the disapproval of Washington and its trusty British minions. Over the two decades since the Cold War that strategic energy relationship between Europe and Russia has continued to grow.
Other trade relations have also prospered. Today, bilateral trade between Europe and Russia is about ten times the volume between the US and Russia. Germany is the lynchpin in this strategic relationship between Europe and Russia. More than 6,000 German businesses have invested in long-term partnerships with its giant neighbor to the East, with a total bilateral trade of some $100 billion. Millions of jobs on either side bind these two countries together in a mutual dependence. And what is good for Germany is good for the rest of Europe. This is precisely what the US wants to sabotage for its own selfish strategic interests.
It is significant that one of the early casualties in the commercial relation between Europe and Russia over the latest Ukraine tensions is the South Stream natural gas project. This pipeline is planned to transport gas from Russia into southern Europe and to become operational by the end of 2015. The route would complement existing Russian supply lines through the North Stream, from Russia directly to Germany, and through the existing network of Gazprom pipes via Ukraine.
However, business press reports this week say that the South Stream gas route is now in danger of falling through because the Russian owner of one of the companies involved, Gennady Timchenko, of Stroitransgaz, is on the sanctions list drawn up by Washington last week. Interestingly, Timchenko is not included in a similar sanctions list against Russian individuals drawn up by European Union. That selective targeting of the South Stream gas project by Washington is indicative of the ulterior strategic purpose.
EU-Russia strategic trade and energy partnership
As Christof Lehmann, editor of nsnbc international, points out if Europe and Russia were to develop a long-term strategic trade and energy partnership that would then spell the rapid demise US global hegemony. A closer working relationship between Europe and Moscow would greatly undermine the role of the US dollar as a reserve currency and it would obviate the need for Washington’s military presence on the European continent and the relentless expansion of NATO eastwards around Russia.
Says Lehmann: “The development of ties between Europe and Russia would leave the US politically, culturally and economically isolated within no more than 25 years. It would also mean that Washington would become increasingly isolated in terms of its militarist and strategic encirclement of Russia and China. The dollar would collapse earlier than that.”
In other words, in order for US hegemony to survive Washington needs conflict to persist and to be continually stoked between Europe and Russia. Despicably, that divisive American logic is a dangerous warpath that puts millions of lives at risk from a possible nuclear conflagration. What Europe needs is real political leadership instead of the American “yes puppets” we see in the pathetic shape of Cameron and Hollande. Europe needs to wake up to how it has been and continues to be played for a fool and a stooge by Washington, where potentially good neighborly relations with Russia are abused to the point of war.
A cheeky admission of that divisive American influence was let slip by Obama during one of his European speeches this week when he told an admiring audience in The Hague: “We [the US] have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong co-operative relationship with them.” Instead of “co-operative relationship” Obama really meant to say “coercive relationship”. And there’s no need for the US to invade in order to coerce when it can just cast a continual specter of conflict and war over everyone.
US war plan for Europe and Russia
In another article titled “US war plan for Europe and Russia”, Finian Cunningham writes The US is prepared to plunge Europe into a war with Russia in order for Washington to preserve its hegemony over the transatlantic axis. The key issues are the prevention of Russia and Europe developing closer trade and political ties – stemming primarily from a vast trade in energy fuels; and, secondly, the survival of the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
So vital are these issues for continued American hegemony that Washington is prepared to sacrifice millions of lives in a war between Russia and its so-called transatlantic European “ally”. This shocking revelation comes from a former European NATO commander. According to Christof Lehmann, editor of the news and analysis website nsnbc international, the European military officer was given the grim warning by American counterparts in an off-the-record briefing.
The European commander, now retired, subsequently confided the information with Lehmann, who says that the tensions over Ukraine between Russia and Western powers are consistent with this latent American threat. The original threat was disclosed during the 1980s, but there is no reason to believe that the American policy of inciting a war in Europe has since changed. This is because the strategic rationale for the US bellicose logic remains the same. And recent events over Ukraine strongly suggest that Washington’s destructive designs are still in place.
New European war
Says Lehmann: “In the early 1980s, a European top NATO admiral said that American colleagues at the Pentagon had told him, unequivocally, that the US and UK would not hesitate in creating a new European war if the situation ever arose that Europe and Russia, then the USSR, were to develop close relations.” Central to the American rationale was, and continues to be, the issue of energy fuel. Washington does not want to see European and Russian economies integrating on the vital issue of trade in oil and gas, the foundation for economic and social development.
Over the past two decades since the end of the Cold War between the US-led West and the former Soviet Union, Europe and Russia have seen substantial alignment of their economies, primarily due to the enormous oil and gas volumes supplied by Moscow. European-Russian bilateral trade is well over $1 trillion annually, and is some tenfold that of US-Russian trade.
Russia accounts for nearly one-third of Europe’s total hydrocarbon fuel consumption. In Germany, the largest European economy, that figure rises to 40 per cent. With the new pipelines of the North Stream and the currently constructed South Stream, the role of Russia as the main energy supplier to Europe is set to grow even more over the coming decades.
Lehmann adds: “The American dominance of the Atlantic axis with Western Europe is threatened by this development of closer economic ties between Europe and Russia. Germany and the Czech Republic have since the end of the Cold War developed close economic and other relations with Russia. Both are, together with Austria and Italy, pushing a trend towards even tighter relations with Moscow.”
This trend was always seen as a strategic danger by Washington. It can be argued that the Cold War from 1945 to 1990 was deliberately instigated by the US as a bulwark to counter the naturally inclined trade integration between Europe and Russia, owing to the latter’s prodigious energy reserves and its continental proximity.
The strategic danger for the US is twofold
The strategic danger for the US is twofold. Firstly, a close relationship between Moscow and Europe would remove the rationale for America’s military role in NATO and thereby its political influence in Europe. The second is that the European-Russian energy trade undermines the role of the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Exchange in such a key world market will inevitably move to the use of the Euro/Ruble, which would spell the end of global American financial hegemony, and with that, the end of the monstrously indebted US economy.
The American economy is already teetering on bankruptcy, with a total debt of $17 trillion, and spiraling. American bankruptcy and social implosion is an eventuality that is so far only postponed by the dollar’s continuance as the standard currency for international trade in fuel, and the de facto license for the US Federal Reserve to keep printing money way beyond any sound economic basis for doing so.
Says Lehmann: “The development of Russian-European partnership would leave the US politically, culturally and economically isolated within no more than 25 years. It would also mean that the US would become increasingly isolated in terms of its militarism and strategic encirclement of Russia and China. The dollar would collapse.” An important side note is the insidious role of Britain. As the top European NATO commander revealed, the American war plans for Europe were supported by Britain.
This is partly because of the historical co-dependence of Anglo-American capitalism, and also, as Lehmann points out, “a weakened Atlantic axis would mean a significant loss of British influence over Germany and France.” This is the background to why Washington has sought to create a crisis over recent events in Ukraine. Washington has played the key role in fomenting regime change in that country, which has seen the rise of an unelected fascist junta in Kiev that poses a serious threat to Russia.
The Kiev demagogues have openly talked of inciting terrorism and mass murder against Russia and are willing to install American missiles on their Western border with Russia.
The debacle has led to the worse diplomatic crisis between European capitals and Moscow since the end of the Cold War. The possibility of a war between nuclear-armed powers may have receded for now, but the danger of such a catastrophe remains. This weekend Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his American counterpart John Kerry for urgent talks in Paris. Reportedly, Kerry was holding the meeting to “de-escalate tensions” between Russia and the West. The reality is that Washington has done everything to escalate this conflict, in particular between Russia and Europe, for its own selfish strategic interests. That includes, if deemed necessary by the pyromaniacs in Washington, the ignition of all-out war in Europe.(HSH)
* (Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa as a freelance journalist, where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring, based on eyewitness experience working in the Persian Gulf as an editor of a business magazine and subsequently as a freelance news correspondent. The author was deported from Bahrain in June 2011 because of his critical journalism in which he highlighted systematic human rights violations by regime forces. He is now a columnist on international politics for Press TV and the Strategic Culture Foundation. More articles by Finian Cunningham)