The US and NATO Cross a Line

One major nuclear war catastrophically interrupts the progress of human civilization and ushers in God only knows how many decades of dystopian madness. Pray that NATO’s march on Moscow doesn’t make Napoleon look like a genius and Hitler a brilliant military strategist. Bonaparte’s retreat during the winter of 1812? A walk in the park compared to a nuclear winter. The Battle of Stalingrad? A minor skirmish compared to the destruction attendant upon a major nuclear conflagration.

At a moment when wise leaders would spare no effort to move heaven and earth to find and implement new ways to encourage all of us to work together to solve the several potentially existential threats — all of them of mankind’s own making — to the uninterrupted continuity and progress of human civilization, instead we find ourselves on the brink of a nuclear war.

Donald Trump has declared that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine strategy is a stroke of “genius.” Apropos Trump, one might observe that even a stopped clock is right twice a day but to do so would give the former US president too much credit and misrepresent both changing political and geopolitical realities and Russia’s options as Putin no doubt understands them.

Wise statesmen have an ability to understand their opponents’ perspectives. American politicians have typically failed to understand Putin or appreciate the gravity of his concerns, which he has often sought to make quite clear. Post-WWII American leaders have too often seen themselves as masters of the geopolitical universe despite the ignominious defeat of U.S. forces in Vietnam and more recent debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wars in Libya and Yemen that have further destabilized Southwest Asia and Africa and flooded much of Europe and even Australia with refugees (never mind the refugee crisis on our own southern border). Putin addressed those issues and more quite frankly in his speech at the United Nations on Sept. 28, 2015 asking, “Do you realize what you have done?

In his August 30, 2017 article for War on the Rocks, Prof. Ian Johnson noted, “For President Vladimir Putin, the war remains personal. Putin’s older brother, whom he never met, died during the Siege of Leningrad. His father was maimed in the war. Much of his extended family died in the conflict. Putin himself has repeatedly attended the wreath-laying ceremony at Stalingrad’s central monument to the battle at Mamaev Kurgan. In 2014, he also said he favored a referendum to consider renaming the city Stalingrad. He has also used the historical memory of the war to shore up his own base of power and to justify his foreign policy worldview.”

On the face of it, given Russia’s history of horrendously destructive military invasions from the West, why would anyone be surprised that Putin or any other Russian leader would take a very dim view of what, to them, looks very much like a US-organized NATO march on Moscow? What should Putin make of assurances by then-US Secretary of State James Baker and other Western leaders that, in return for Russian agreement to the reunification of Germany, NATO would advance “not one inch eastward,” as documented by Mr. Seppo Neimi on December 6, 2021?

Does anyone suppose that Russian leaders have forgotten the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, brought about by the presence of Soviet missiles in what US leaders considered their “back yard,” which brought the US and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war? Would any Russian leader sit silently and acquiesce to NATO expansion into Ukraine and, presumably, US missiles in Russia’s “front yard”?

Ukraine is a fight that Russia did not want. The US forced the issue, inciting a coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014. Thank Victoria Nuland for that, reported Gary Leupp on Jan. 25, 2021: “Nuland is perhaps best known for her pithy ejaculation: ‘Fuck the EU!’ in a telephone call with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in 2014. In that year, while Nuland built support for the coup in Kiev (Feb. 18 to 21), she boasted openly that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in supporting ‘the Ukrainian people’s European aspirations.’  (This referred to the support of some Ukrainians for the violent overthrow of the democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, on the basis of his alleged pro-Russian policies and his opposition to European Union affiliation under the conditions the EU was then offering.) To state the matter honestly: the U.S. spent $5 billion to install a government in Kiev that would request NATO membership (ostensibly to protect it from always aggressive, always expanding Russia) and bind it forever to the U.S. military-industrial complex and ‘Free World.'”

On the heels the coup d’etat Nuland orchestrated in Ukraine, her former boss, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at a political fundraiser/campaign event in California, compared Putin, who lost family members in the Nazi invasion of his homeland, to Adolph Hitler. How about that for pouring salt in a wound?

Both Mikhail Gorbachev and President Putin had previously proposed or inquired about Russian membership in NATO. Moreover, after the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, Putin was the first foreign leader to call then-President George W. Bush. On Nov. 15, 2001 Putin visited the site of the terrorist attack that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Putin followed up by directly aiding “the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan — where the Taliban had shielded Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was behind the 9/11 attacks — by opening Russian airspace for U.S. humanitarian flights, sharing intelligence, and acquiescing to U.S. deployments in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Russia still considers part of its sphere of influence.”

The closer one looks at the situation, the more difficult it becomes to avoid the realization that the US government and NATO are aggressors in relations with Russia, that the fight over Ukraine is one Official Washington’s first family of war has picked and is determined to pursue even at the real risk of nuclear war.  It is a strategy some say reeks of deception and desperation. Israel, enjoying lavish and slavish US support and always anxious to expand its yet to be officially declared borders, would benefit should a withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria become necessary because a hot war in Ukraine strained Russian military capabilities.

Michael Gillespie, in addition to his regular freelance work for Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, is also a contributing editor and the Des Moines, IA correspondent for The Independent Monitor, the national newspaper of Arab Americans, published by Sami Mashney in Anaheim, CA. Read other articles by Michael.