“The Fog of War”: The West’s Headlong Dash Toward War with Russia

The United Nations has raised the death toll from fighting in eastern Ukraine to more than 5,300 people since last April following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych one year ago this month. Another 1.5 million people have been displaced. The ceasefire is fraying and as fighting resumes, the Obama administration is considering directly arming Ukrainian forces against Russian-backed rebels. Washington already supplies nonlethal military equipment to Ukraine, but top officials are reportedly leaning toward sending arms, from rifles to anti-tank weapons.

The role of the U.S. and European allies in Ukraine has prompted former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to accuse the West of dragging Russia into a new Cold War. In the following Democarcy Now interview Amy Goodman and Aaron Maté discuss the latest developments and their implications with Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University.

As a little taster, here’s a brief exeprt from an article Cohen recently contributed for Nation magazine:

I regret to say that today the crisis is even worse. The new Cold War has been deepened and institutionalized by transforming what began, in February last year, as essentially a Ukrainian civil war into a US/NATO-Russian proxy war; by a torrent of inflammatory misinformation out of Washington, Moscow, Kiev and Brussels; and by Western economic sanctions that are compelling Russia to retreat politically, as it did in the late 1940s, from the West. Still worse, both sides are again aggressively deploying their conventional and nuclear weapons and probing the other’s defenses in the air and at sea. Diplomacy between Washington and Moscow is being displaced by resurgent militarized thinking, while cooperative relationships nurtured over many decades, from trade, education, and science to arms control, are being shredded. And yet, despite this fateful crisis and its growing dangers, there is still no effective political opposition to the US policies that have contributed to it—not in the administration, Congress, mainstream media, think tanks, or on campuses—but instead mostly uncritical political, financial, and military boosterism for the increasingly authoritarian Kiev regime, hardly a bastion of “democracy and Western values.”

Here’s the Democracy Now interview:

Click here to watch the rest of Democracy Now’s interview with Stephen Cohen (from about 10 minutes in).

2 thoughts on ““The Fog of War”: The West’s Headlong Dash Toward War with Russia

  1. It is very disappointing, even alarming, that there are no political leaders in the European Union who have the wisdom or wit: (1) to see through the childish aggression of the US and NATO and the hail of misinformation; (2) to see the disadvantages of driving Russia away from the trade, financial and political ties that had been developed with the EU; nor (3) to avoid the renewal of the Cold War and its risks to civilization.

    The EU apparichniks in Brussels seem to be consumed with what they see as an energy game with Russia, trying to wrest control of natural gas pipelines and control of natural gas prices from Gazprom. After problems with unpaid accounts for gas supplies to Ukraine led to gas supply to Europe being cut off in 2006 and 2009, Russia proposed the North Stream and South Stream pipelines to bypass Ukraine. North Stream was completed in 2012, but the EU is limiting its use to 50% of capacity under their Third Energy Package “competition rules”. These “competition rules” were enacted after Russia’s Gazprom had signed agreements with the EU countries along the South Stream route for its construction, and have been used (with direct encouragement from the USA to hinder South Stream) to prevent the issuance of building permits for the line. Hence Russia cancelled South Stream and is re-directing the gas via Turk Stream to Turkey and Greece.

    The USA/EU/NATO cabal staged a coup in Ukraine on February 22, 2014, installing the USA’s choice as puppet leader, Yatsenyuk, and his neo-Nazi cronies from the Pravy Sektor and Svoboda parties in the government. The cabal’s aims were to take over Ukraine and exploit its resources, install NATO missile bases, and expel Russia from its naval base in Crimea. Russia responded with a successful plebiscite in Crimea in which the locals voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. Frustrated, the cabal went on a propaganda campaign against Russia and Putin, and unleashed military forces against the separatist populations in Lugansk and Donetsk. More than 5,000 have been killed, and more than a million residents have been displaced. The economy of Ukraine, which was already in bad shape, has been severely damaged in the conflict. The Ukrainian currency, the Hryvnia, has fallen severely in value, and inflation is out of control. Kiev awaits new funding from the International Monetary Fund to keep the government afloat, but the IMF is demanding severe austerity measures on public food and energy subsidies, and is very concerned that loan advances will be stolen by the corrupt members in government.

    The leaders of the EU nations went along with US-inspired sanctions against Russia, in spite of obvious damage to EU trade, political, and financial relations with Russia. Only recently did Germany’s Merkel and France’s Hollande meet privately with Russia’s Putin to arrange a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, “Minsk 2”, after they woke up to the risks of escalation of the conflict beyond the borders of Ukraine. The EU nations are reaping the economic losses from sanctions as their economies stagnate and slide into recession. Ukraine is an economic and financial Black Hole that no one wants to bail out, with a government so corrupt that aid is as likely to be stolen as it is likely to be applied for the benefit of the country.

    The USA, the Poroshenko government in Kiev, and NATO are doing their best to undermine Minsk 2 and get a hot war going again. The USA and UK are busy re-arming and training the Kiev military for another attempt to put down the separatist movements in eastern Ukraine. The USA is parading its naval forces around the Black Sea, and the USA and NATO are building up their forces in the countries on Russia’s western and south-western borders and staging ostentatious military exercises. Russia, the USA, and NATO are assuming a war-readiness status.

    Mischief in the Middle East is rampant, in the form of proxy wars between (1) the USA and its allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, in ISIS, and (2) Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Tunisia are the settings for the hot conflicts now. The Arab Spring revolution in Egypt has been beaten back and a fairly stable and pragmatic non-Islamist government under Al Sisi is now in charge.

    There is hope of a peaceful transition from mutual hostility between the USA and Iran to more peaceful relations with the new framework agreement, but Israel’s Netanyahu and the neo-con war hawks in Washington are doing their best to hinder the peace agreement.

    As Paul Craig Roberts has warned, one of the most worrying aspects in all this is that the war-hawks in Washington believe that the USA can “win” a nuclear war with Russia, and want to engage in a full-out war with Russia. Such a war would not be confined to Ukraine or the Middle East, but would devastate Europe, the USA, Russia, and cities and military and industrial assets world-wide. The toll on life around the planet would be horrendous.

    To his credit, Russia’s Putin has repeatedly sought diplomatic solutions in all this, but his efforts have been rebuffed by the USA and NATO, and more often than not by the EU. Russia has been driven away from the West and into closer military, political, and economic ties with China, the BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization nations, to the detriment of the prosperity of the EU and USA.

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