By Brian Cloughley and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org
You may find it difficult to believe the content of a speech by US President George W Bush in November 2001 when he met with President Putin in Texas and, among other things, declared that “a lot of people never really dreamt that an American president and a Russian president could have established the friendship that we [have].”
He went on to say that “When I was in high school, Russia was an enemy. Now the high school students can know Russia as a friend, that we’re working together to break the old ties, to establish a new spirit of cooperation and trust so that we can work together to make the world more peaceful.”
How sensible. How optimistic.
But, regrettably, how wrong. Because the United States administration, at the urging of the Pentagon and its sub-office in Brussels, the HQ of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, had already embarked on a policy of confrontation with Russia, encouraging and subsidizing expansion of that expressly anti-Russia military alliance from 16 to its present 28 countries.
There were corporate benefits for the US along the way, of course. Eight NATO countries bought hundreds of F-16s and all the add-ons, for example, and “NATO Standardization” was military code for “Buy American.” The State Department is barefaced about this. Its head of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Andrew J Shapiro, proudlydeclared that “We view the American defense industry as an integral part of our efforts to advance US national security and foreign policy.” You can’t be more open than that.
Mr Shapiro made it clear that the policy of the United States of America is:
“When a country buys an advanced US defense system through our . . . programs, they aren’t simply buying a product, they are also buying into a relationship. These programs both reinforce our diplomatic relations and establish a long-term security relationship. What is generally underappreciated is that the complex and technical nature of advanced defense systems frequently requires constant collaboration and interaction between countries over the life of that system – decades in many cases.” [Original emphasis retained.]
Two years after President Bush welcomed President Putin to Texas, NATO welcomed eight more nations as members, increasing its military presence ever-closer to Russia’s border. Moscow was presumably meant to ignore this menacing development, while NATO’s aircraft flew intelligence-gathering missions along its borders, and US combat ships of its massive nuclear-armed Sixth Fleet made coat-trailing forays into the Black Sea (One of them ran aground, which might show that Russia doesn’t have too much to worry about; but it’s the thought that counts.)…