The Road To War With Russia

by Chris Martenson, Peak Prosperity image/The Common Sense Show

For several weeks now the anti-Russian stance in the US press has quieted down. Presumably because the political leadership has moved its attention on to other things, and the media flock has followed suit. 

Have you read much about Ukraine and Russia recently?

I thought not, despite the fact that there's plenty of serious action — both there as well as related activity in the US — going on that deserves our careful attention.

As I recently wrote, the plunging oil price is a potential catalyst for stock market turmoil and sovereign instability. Venezuela is already circling the drain, and numerous other oil exporters are in deep trouble as they foolishly expanded their national budgets and social programs to match the price of oil; something that is easy to do on the way up and devilishly tricky on the way down.

But consider the impact on Russia. From the Russian point of view, everything from their plunging ruble to bitter sanctions to the falling price of oil are the fault of the US, either directly or indirectly. Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant; that's the view of the Russians right now. So no surprise,  it doesn't dispose them towards much in the way of good-will towards the West generally, and the US specifically.

The fall in the price of oil is creating serious difficulties economically and financially for Russia. We'll get to those facets in a minute. But right now, I want to focus on the continued belligerence of the US towards Russia — some of which is overt and some of which, you can be certain, is covert — which could very well end up provoking a more kinetic and dangerous response than the West is prepared for.

Russia Forced To Act

Before anyone jumps in to say "Why are you defending Putin? He's a bad man", let me just say that I have been closely analyzing each move by Russia and the West since then President of Ukraine Yanukovych declined to sign the European Association Agreement back in November of 2013. 

Based on the preponderance of evidence, its' clear to me that the West/US deserve the lion's share of the blame for the conflict that now rages with Ukraine and between Russia and the western world.

It was the West that supported the unsavory assortment of thugs, neo-Nazis, and ultra-nationalists that seized power in a coup from the democratically-elected Yanukovych.  We can argue all we want about whether he was a good boy or not, but that's irrelevant and plays into the hands of those at the US State Department who would like to deflect attention away from the very non-democratic events (shaped behind the scenes by our influence) that led to his overthrow.

The US did the same thing with Saddam, if you recall. It's a simple deflection: away from the actions of the US, and towards the character of the person standing in the line of fire from those actions.

In my view, if Yanukovych had not been violently deposed, Ukraine would be peaceful right now, Russia would not have had to intervene, and there would be no civil war in Ukraine and far reduced tensions between the West and Russia.

So ham-handed were those efforts to intervene in Ukraine on the part of the Obama State department that no less an historically loathsome creature than Henry Kissinger even called the US's actions a 'fatal mistake':

Kissinger warns of West’s ‘fatal mistake’ that may lead to new Cold War

Nov 10, 2014

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has given a chilling assessment of a new geopolitical situation taking shape amid the Ukrainian crisis, warning of a possible new Cold War and calling the West’s approach to the crisis a “fatal mistake.”

The 91-year-old diplomat characterized the tense relations as exhibiting the danger of “another Cold War.”

“This danger does exist and we can't ignore it,” Kissinger said. He warned that ignoring this danger any further may result in a tragedy,” he told Germany’s Der Spiegel.

(Source)

When even Henry Kissinger thinks you've been too reckless in the application of raw power, you've over done it.

So given the timeline of the events that have led to the frostiest US-Russian relations since the depths of the cold war, I am of the view that Russia has been actually quite restrained and has not over reacted to any of the numerous provocations.

Despite the lull in front page reporting of the Russian situation, there remains a careful program of steady anti-Russian propaganda running through the western press.

It Takes Two To Tango

prop·a·gan·da

ˌpräpəˈɡandə/

Noun  – derogatory

Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

For propaganda to work well, there needs to be tight coordination between the State and the press.  The role of the press is to first publish the propaganda, and second, to neglect to look into it or report on anything that might call it into question. Sins of omission and commission are both required.

The good news is that the internet is a great equalizing force and we can readily unearth inconvenient facts with a little digging that blunt the propaganda. The bad news is that a lot of people still get all their news from so-called 'official' sources.

At any rate, here's a first-rate piece of unadulterated propaganda courtesy of Bloomberg.  Note that it was printed on Dec 31, one of several very quiet news days where little debate is likely to happen:

Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia

Dec 31, 2014

President Barack Obama's administration has been working behind the scenes for months to forge a new working relationship with Russia, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in repairing relations with Washington or halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.

In several conversations with Lavrov, Kerry has floated an offer to Russia that would pave the way for a partial release of some of the most onerous economic sanctions. Kerry’s conditions included Russia adhering to September's Minsk agreement and ceasing direct military support for the Ukrainian separatists. 

(Source)

The tenor of this piece is set. It's the US that is trying to be reasonable, but Russia has shown little interest in repairing relations. That's one assertion.

Another is that Russia has been providing direct military support for the separatists in neighboring Ukraine. And yet another that Putin himself has shown little interest in halting his aggression. 

That's the main narrative that the US wants to put forward. Putin is a bad guy. Like Saddam…remember him?  The US is the one being reasonable here, according to this piece, and it'is Russia that has been fomenting the troubles.

The US narrative goes further, repeatedly claiming that Russia has been supplying major arms to the separatists, as we see here from early December 2014:

U.S. Says Russia Arms Ukraine Rebels, OSCE Wary on Truce

Dec 2, 2014

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of sending tanks, advanced air-defense systems and other heavy weapons across the border to Ukrainian rebels.

Russia denies involvement in the conflict.

“Since the Sept. 5 Minsk cease-fire agreement, Russia has funneled several hundred” tanks, armed personnel carriers, and other military vehicles directly to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, Kerry said.

Russian military forces still operate inside eastern Ukraine where they provide “command and control” for the separatists they back, he added.

(Source)

The charge from the Secretary General of NATO and from John Kerry of the US State department is that Russia has military forces inside Ukraine, and that they've funneled hundreds of tanks, APCs, and other military vehicles numbering in the hundreds.

As with the MH-17 disaster, we have to call this another case of the dog that did not bark.

Where are the pictures? 

The sorts of weaponry being claimed here are impossible to conceal from the air.

Snapping high resolution photos of such things is child's play for today's military satellites, and even civilian ones, too.

Accusing a major world power of action this brash should require at least some demonstration of proof. Especially after the WMD warning fiasco that played out at the UN leading up to the Bush II Iraq invasion. The least you could do is provide a few pictures of said military vehicles and heavy weaponry.

But there are none.  And the reason none have been offered is because none exist.  If they did, you can be 100% certain they'd be released and replayed over and over again on CNN until everybody and their uncle could distinguish a T-72 tank outline from a Russian made APC.

About Those 'Unwilling' Russians

Let's look more closely at the reasons why Russia may not exactly be in a conciliatory mood towards the US at this moment in time.

With just our short-term memories, we can recall that the US Congress passed a serious piece of anti-Russian resolution last month that can easily be seen as a declaration of war by a reasonable person.

This unfortunate piece of legislation, H.Res. 758, was passed on December 4, 2014 and is titled "Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination."

Ron Paul expressed the problems with this resolution very well:

Reckless Congress 'Declares War' on Russia

Dec 4, 2014

These are the kinds of resolutions I have always watched closely in Congress, as what are billed as “harmless” statements of opinion often lead to sanctions and war. I remember in 1998 arguing strongly against the Iraq Liberation Act because, as I said at the time, I knew it would lead to war. I did not oppose the Act because I was an admirer of Saddam Hussein – just as now I am not an admirer of Putin or any foreign political leader – but rather because I knew then that another war against Iraq would not solve the problems and would probably make things worse. We all know what happened next.

That is why I can hardly believe they are getting away with it again, and this time with even higher stakes: provoking a war with Russia that could result in total destruction!

If anyone thinks I am exaggerating about how bad this resolution really is, let me just offer a few examples from the legislation itself:

The resolution (paragraph 3) accuses Russia of an invasion of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. The statement is offered without any proof of such a thing. Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion. None have been offered.

As to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, why isn’t it a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty for the US to participate in the overthrow of that country’s elected government as it did in February? We have all heard the tapes of State Department officials plotting with the US Ambassador in Ukraine to overthrow the government. We heard US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that OK? 

The resolution (paragraph 11) accuses the people in east Ukraine of holding “fraudulent and illegal elections” in November. Why is it that every time elections do not produce the results desired by the US government they are called “illegal” and “fraudulent”? Aren’t the people of eastern Ukraine allowed self-determination? Isn’t that a basic human right?

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