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Thread: It's NATO That's Expanding Not Putin: The Ukraine Coup Was The USA's Respons Against Putin for Syria

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    Default It's NATO That's Expanding Not Putin: The Ukraine Coup Was The USA's Respons Against Putin for Syria

    Peter Hitchens brings his usual logic and common sense to banish the mist of propaganda to reveal the reality: it's NATO that's expanding and empire-building, not Russia. As Hitchins says, when one looks at these matters objectively and "unclouded by passion" anyone can see the reality.

    Begone! the myth of NATO being a defensive alliance.

    FEATURES
    It’s Nato that’s empire-building, not Putin


    Two sides are required for a New Cold War — and there is no obvious need for an adversarial system in post-Soviet Europe
    Peter Hitchens

    Peter Hitchens
    7 March 2015
    9:00 AM


    Just for once, let us try this argument with an open mind, employing arithmetic and geography and going easy on the adjectives. Two great land powers face each other. One of these powers, Russia, has given up control over 700,000 square miles of valuable territory. The other, the European Union, has gained control over 400,000 of those square miles. Which of these powers is expanding?


    There remain 300,000 neutral square miles between the two, mostly in Ukraine. From Moscow’s point of view, this is already a grievous, irretrievable loss. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the canniest of the old Cold Warriors, wrote back in 1997, ‘Ukraine… is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.’


    This diminished Russia feels the spread of the EU and its armed wing, Nato, like a blow on an unhealed bruise. In February 2007, for instance, Vladimir Putin asked sulkily, ‘Against whom is this expansion intended?’


    I have never heard a clear answer to that question. The USSR, which Nato was founded to fight, expired in August 1991. So what is Nato’s purpose now? Why does it even still exist?


    There is no obvious need for an adversarial system in post-Soviet Europe. Even if Russia wanted to reconquer its lost empire, as some believe (a belief for which there is no serious evidence), it is too weak and too poor to do this. So why not invite Russia to join the great western alliances? Alas, it is obvious to everyone, but never stated, that Russia cannot ever join either Nato or the EU, for if it did so it would unbalance them both by its sheer size. There are many possible ways of dealing with this. One would be an adult recognition of the limits of human power, combined with an understanding of Russia’s repeated experience of invasions and its lack of defensible borders.


    But we do not do this. Instead we have a noisy pseudo-moral crusade, which would not withstand five minutes of serious consideration. Mr Putin’s state is, beyond doubt, a sinister tyranny. But so is Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, which locks up far more journalists than does Russia. Turkey is an officially respectable Nato member, 40 years after seizing northern Cyprus, which it still occupies, in an almost exact precedent for Russia’s seizure of Crimea. If Putin disgusts us so much, then why are we and the USA happy to do business with Erdogan, and also to fawn upon Saudi Arabia and China?


    Contrary to myth, the expansion of the EU into the former communist world has not magically brought universal peace, love and prosperity. Croatia’s economy has actually gone backwards since it joined. Corruption still exists in large parts of the EU’s new south-eastern territories, and I am not sure that the rule of law could be said to have been properly established there. So the idea that the recruitment of Ukraine to the ‘West’ will magically turn that troubled nation into a sunny paradise of freedom, probity and wealth is perhaps a little idealistic, not to say mistaken.


    It is all so much clearer if we realise that this quarrel is about power and land, not virtue. In truth, much of the eastward expansion of Nato was caused by the EU’s initial unwillingness to take in backward, bankrupt and corrupt refugee states from the old Warsaw Pact. The policy could be summed up as ‘We won’t buy your tomatoes, but if it makes you happy you can shelter under our nuclear umbrella’. The promise was an empty assurance against a nonexistent threat. But an accidental arrangement hardened into a real confrontation. The less supine Russia was, the more its actions were interpreted as aggression in the West. Boris Yeltsin permitted western interests to rape his country, and did little to assert Russian power. So though he bombarded his own parliament, conducted a grisly war in Chechnya, raised corruption to Olympic levels and shamelessly rigged his own re-election, he yet remained a popular guest in western capitals and summits. Vladimir Putin’s similar sins, by contrast, provide a pretext for ostracism and historically illiterate comparisons between him and Hitler.


    This is because of his increasing avowal of Russian sovereignty, and of an independent foreign policy. There have been many East-West squabbles and scrimmages, not all of them Russia’s fault. But the New Cold War really began in 2011, after Mr Putin dared to frustrate western — and Saudi — policy in Syria. George Friedman, the noted US intelligence and security expert, thinks Russia badly underestimated the level of American fury this would provoke. As Mr Friedman recently told the Moscow newspaper Kommersant, ‘It was in this situation that the United States took a look at Russia and thought about what it [Russia] wants to see happen least of all: instability in Ukraine.’


    Mr Friedman (no Putin stooge) also rather engagingly agrees with Moscow that overthrow last February of Viktor Yanukovych was ‘the most blatant coup in history’. He is of course correct, as anyone unclouded by passion can see. The test of any action by your own side is to ask what you would think of it if the other side did it.


    If Russia didn’t grasp how angry Washington would get over Syria, did the West realise how furiously Russia would respond to the EU Association Agreement and to the fall of Yanukovych? Perhaps not. Fearing above all the irrecoverable loss to Nato of its treasured naval station in Sevastopol, Russia reacted. After 23 years of sullenly appeasing the West, Moscow finally said ‘enough’. Since we’re all supposed to be against appeasement, shouldn’t we find this action understandable in a sovereign nation, even if we cannot actually praise it? And can anyone explain to me precisely why Britain, of all countries, should be siding with the expansion of the European Union and Nato into this dangerous and unstable part of the world?
    Source

    George Friedman's interview in Kommersant (translated from Russian by Google). Questions have been bolded:


    Photo: Alexander Shcherbak / Kommersant

    "The interests of the Russian Federation and the United States in relation to Ukraine are incompatible with each other"
    Head of Stratfor George Friedman on the root causes of the Ukrainian crisis


    12/19/2014, 00:03


    A well-known American political scientist GEORGE FRIEDMAN visited Moscow. The private intelligence-analytical agency Stratfor in the US headed by him is often called the "shadow CIA".

    In an interview with Kommersant, he told about what goals the US pursues in Ukraine, and explained why these goals are incompatible with Russia's interests.


    - In your analytical work you are talking about the process of European fragmentation. What is it manifested in?


    - During the Cold War, the borders inside Europe were mothballed. There was an understanding that if you start to change them, it will lead to destabilization. As soon as the Cold War ended, the borders of Yugoslavia began to be reshaped. Later, in fact, the borders in the Caucasus changed. And more recently, 45% of Scots voted for independence. Catalans are striving for independence.


    Against this background, I do not consider the Ukrainian situation (when one part of the country seeks to rapprochement with the EU, and the other tends towards Russia) is something completely unique. The Ukrainian situation fits into the centrifugal tendencies that we have been observing in Europe for some time. After all, not long ago, no one thought that the British-Scottish question, which seemed to have been settled 300 years ago, will again arise with all severity. In other words: the Ukrainian crisis is connected with Russia, but not only. It is also connected with the processes in Europe, with the crisis of Europe itself.


    - European politicians say that this is Russia's actions in the Ukrainian direction destabilizing Europe.


    - Europeans are very proud of what they call their "exclusivity": they allegedly got rid of wars and have been living in a world of stability and prosperity for more than half a century. But until the early 1990s, Europe, in fact, was occupied by the USSR and the United States. And then came Yugoslavia, then the Caucasus. The European continent has never been truly peaceful.


    "But the representatives of the US administration, like the leadership of the EU member states, explain the tough policy towards Russia by the fact that, having annexed the Crimea, for the first time since the Second World, Russia" overcame the border by force ".


    - Americans know that this is nonsense. Yugoslavia was the first example of the change of borders. And Kosovo was only the culmination of this process. And the US is directly involved in these events.


    - What is the goal of US policy in the Ukrainian direction?


    "Americans have had a very consistent foreign policy throughout the last 100 years. Its main goal is not to give any power to concentrate in its hands too much power in Europe. At first, the US sought to prevent Germany from dominating Europe, and then prevented the strengthening of the influence of the USSR.


    The essence of this policy is this: how can you maintain the balance of power in Europe longer, helping the weaker party, and if the balance is about to be seriously violated, intervene at the very last moment. So the US intervened in the First World War after the abdication of Nicholas II in 1917, without allowing Germany to strengthen. And in the Second World USA the second front was opened only very late (in June 1944), after it became clear that the Russians were taking over the Germans.


    At the same time, the United States considered the potential union between Russia and Germany to be the most dangerous. It would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources.


    - And now the US whom, in your opinion, is holding back?


    - Now they are engaged in blocking a number of potential regional hegemons - Serbia, Iran, Iraq. At the same time, the US authorities resort to distractions. Say, in battle, when the enemy is about to defeat you, you can hit him in the side to get out of balance. The US does not seek to "defeat" Serbia, Iran or Iraq, but they need to create chaos there, so as not to let those become too strong.


    - And with respect to Russia, what tactics do they use?


    - Fragmentation of Europe is accompanied by a weakening of NATO. The European countries, in fact, and the armies, then no. The USA within the framework of the North Atlantic alliance is the only country that is strong from the military point of view. Against the background of the weakening of Europe, the comparative power of Russia has grown substantially.


    The strategic imperative of Russia is to have as deep a buffer zone on its western borders. Therefore, Russia has always treated Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltics and other countries of Eastern Europe in a special way. They are of great importance for the national security of Russia.


    At the beginning of this year in Ukraine there was a slightly pro-Russian, but greatly shaky government. Moscow was happy with it: Russia does not want to fully control Ukraine or occupy Ukraine - it is enough that Ukraine does not join NATO and the EU. The authorities of the Russian Federation can not allow a situation in which the western armed forces will be hundreds of kilometers from Kursk or Voronezh.


    The United States was interested in forming a pro-Western government in Ukraine. They saw that Russia was on the rise, and tried not to let it consolidate its positions in the post-Soviet space. The success of pro-Western forces in Ukraine would have made it possible to restrain Russia.


    Russia refers to the events of the beginning of the year organized by the US government coup. And it really was the most undisguised coup in history.


    - Do you mean the termination of the agreement on February 21 or the entire Maidan?


    - Together. The United States openly supported human rights groups in Ukraine, including money. And the Russian special services ignored these tendencies. They did not understand what was happening, and when they realized, they could not take measures to stabilize the situation, and later misjudged the mood in the East of Ukraine.


    - That is, the Ukrainian crisis is the result of the confrontation between Russia and the United States?


    - Here you have two countries. One wants Ukraine to be neutral. The other is for Ukraine to be part of the line of restraining Russian expansion. One can not say that one of the parties is mistaken: both act on the basis of their national interests. These interests are simply incommensurable with each other.


    Americans, as I said, it is important not to allow the emergence of a hegemon in Europe. And recently they began to seriously worry about the potential of Russia and its intentions. Russia began to shift from the defensive position, which it occupied since 1992, to the restoration of its sphere of influence. The point is the fundamental discrepancy between the national interests of the two great powers.


    - What could the US be wary of in the actions of the Russian Federation?


    - Russia began to take certain steps that the US considered unacceptable. First of all in Syria. There, the Russians demonstrated to the Americans that they are able to influence the processes in the Middle East. And the United States and without the Russians have enough problems in this region.


    The Russians intervened in the Middle East, including as they hoped to get an instrument of influence on US policy in other areas. But they miscalculated. The US considered this an attempt by Russia to harm them. It is in this context that it is worth considering the events in Ukraine. The Russians, apparently, just did not calculate how serious the US will perceive their actions or that they will easily find countermeasures. The United States, in the circumstances, looked at Russia and thought what it wants least of all - instability in Ukraine.


    - Do you consider Ukraine a revenge for Syria?


    "No, not revenge." But the Russians intervened in Syria at a time when the United States was solving problems in Iraq and negotiating with Iran ... In Washington, many had the impression that the Russians want to destabilize the already volatile positions of the United States in the Middle East - a region that has a key Meaning for America.


    In Washington, on this account, there were two points of view: that the Russians are simply fooling around or that they have found the weak point of the United States and are trying to take advantage of this. I'm not saying that Russia's intervention in the Syrian conflict caused the Ukrainian crisis, it would be a stretch. But this interference led to the fact that many in Washington decided that the Russians - this is a problem. And what should I do? Do not enter into a confrontation with them in the Middle East. It is better to divert their attention to another problem in another region.


    I'm now simplifying things a little, it's clear that everything is actually more complicated, but the cause-and-effect relationship is this. As a result, the essence is that in the strategic interests of the United States - not to let Russia become a hegemon. And in the strategic interests of Russia - do not let the US to its borders.


    - And what, from your point of view, is the meaning of American sanctions? The Russian authorities say that the US wants to achieve a regime change.


    - The purpose of the sanctions is to cause minimal damage to the United States and a little bit more for the EU to cause Russia's pain so that it surrenders to American demands.


    Sanctions demonstrate the strength of the United States. And the United States is willing to use this force against countries that have nothing to answer adequately. It is also an opportunity to "build" Europeans. I do not think that the main goal of the US is to change the regime in Russia. The main goal was to limit the space of the Russian authorities' maneuver, which we observe. But other factors also played a role here, such as a decline in the Russian economy, a drop in the price of oil.


    - In Russia, many say that oil has fallen in price because of the US plot with the countries of the Persian Gulf.


    - It is always easier to explain troubles with someone's deliberate actions. But in fact a number of countries, including China, India and Brazil, have reduced their forecasts on the rate of growth of their economies. Europe generally has zero growth. At the same time, there is an oil revolution, the amount of oil available is growing.


    The fall in oil prices was inevitable. What else did you expect? But you built your economic strategy, focusing not only on high oil prices, but in general on the export of energy resources. It made you vulnerable! It was necessary to use the last 10-15 years of high revenues from the sale of energy resources to diversify the economy, but your authorities did not.


    - Should we expect improvement in Russian-American relations after the next US presidential election?


    - In Russia, too much personifies American politics. In the United States, the president is only one of the institutions of power, he is not powerful. Obama is also bound hand and foot, like his predecessors. If the groupings of the "Islamic state" type are gaining strength in the Middle East, it does not matter whether the US president is a democrat or a Republican - he will have to strike at them.


    And no American president can afford to sit back, if Russia is becoming more influential. Russia's actions in the Middle East and, for example, in the case of granting asylum to Edward Snowden, were perceived in the United States as directed against American interests. Any president of the United States would have to react to this. I predicted a year or three ago in one of my books that as soon as Russia starts to gain strength and demonstrate it, a crisis will occur in Ukraine. It was obvious.


    - How realistic do you think Russia's rapprochement with China?


    - China now has a lot of problems - economic growth is declining, high inflation and unemployment. Do not expect gifts from Beijing. And the construction of a pipe to China, which the Russian authorities will have to spend substantial amounts of, is unlikely to have any tangible effect on the Russian economy.


    - How do you see the further development of events around Ukraine?


    - Russia will not make concessions in the Crimea, it's obvious. But I believe that it can face serious problems with the supply of the peninsula. At the same time, Moscow can not depart from a number of its demands with regard to Ukraine. It can not allow Western military forces to appear on the territory of Ukraine. This is a nightmare of Moscow, and this limits its space for maneuver.


    The US will need to make a strategic decision, not now, but in the future: either more actively intervene in the events in Ukraine, which is fraught with difficulties, or build a new alliance - inside NATO or outside NATO - with the participation of Poland, Romania, the Baltic countries and, for example, Turkey. This is already happening, slowly, but happening. And this will be something that Russia does not accept: the "sanitary cordon". The US does not need to control Ukraine itself, it is important for Russia not to be controlled by Russia.


    Much will depend on Kiev. Kyiv's power is the weak point of Ukraine. If it splits - which is now surprisingly not observed, Russia will try to wrap this up in its favor.


    But the main question is whether Russia itself will be able to resist. She is now confronted with many factors that led to the collapse of the USSR: this is the lack of an efficient transport system; This is a skeptical attitude towards the capital in many regions from the Caucasus to the Far East; But the main thing is an economy that functions only under certain circumstances, namely, at high energy prices. You have only one product, and it is now on the world market in an overabundance.


    Interviewed by Elena Chernenko and Alexander Gabuev
    Source
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    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

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