most unsettling aspect of the current US presidential campaign, aside from the
studied avoidance of any serious proposals to address the worst economic
depression since the 1930s, is the fact that both major party candidates,
Barack Obama and John McCain, have to date been stone silent on the most
pressing issue of future war or peace, namely the steps taken by the
Bush-Cheney administration to encircle Russia with a new Iron Curtain of NATO
member states, including strenuous efforts to push Ukraine and Georgia into
NATO, and to establish an advanced nuclear missile defense system which, from a
standpoint of military strategy, far from defense, puts the world on a
hair-trigger to nuclear holocaust in a few years.
context, it is equally disturbing how the Western major media and the
Washington administration have chosen to ignore what might be a last glimmer of
hope for diplomatic resolution of a looming nuclear war by miscalculation. The
present policy of the Bush administration genuinely can be called Mutual
Assured Destruction, MAD, as in the brilliant Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove.
context there are proposals being offered by Russia�s new president, Dmitry
Medvedev, however tentative, which bear closer scrutiny than the West has yet
given them. Since becoming president, he has begun in speech after speech to
speak of a proposed �new order� of security relations incorporating the United
States, Russia and the European Union. At the very least it offers a starting
point for entering new dialogue rather than escalate the current NATO
provocation course that the Bush administration has followed since 2001 against
Moscow. The details are worth noting, even if still preliminary.
outlines of Medvedev�s concept for cooperation not confrontation between East
and West came in Berlin in June during his talks with German Chancellor Merkel.
There he proposed an all-European security pact with Russia�s
participation, inherently in opposition to NATO.
The West faced an entirely new possibility in 1989 as
Mikhail Gorbachev allowed the Berlin Wall to collapse and soon after Russia
dissolved the military Warsaw Pact alliance against NATO. At the time there was
great expectation within many European capitals that a new era of peaceful
cooperation would slowly evolve as mutual trust could be established between
the two major Cold War foes -- the United States and Russia. It was also clear
to many that the need for NATO would also vanish.
There was serious debate at that time whether in fact NATO
was at all necessary in a world where Moscow had agreed to systematically
dismantle its nuclear arsenal and open its economy up to the West, even
including allowing the International Monetary Fund to dictate economic policy.
While Moscow engaged in reducing its military forces and its nuclear
stockpiles, the United States chose to maintain and even expand NATO, now to
the very former satellite nations of the Warsaw Pact.
It is important to be clear as to the timing of the alleged
�aggressive� turn of former President Vladimir Putin. The provocations came not
from the side of Moscow. Rather they came from NATO and most especially the
United States. Following the 2001 US declaration of a global all-out War on Terror, the Bush administration
has significantly escalated its efforts to achieve what any sober Kremlin
strategist would have to understand as a total military encirclement of Russia
by NATO member countries. We may ask what that has to do with the War on Terror as defined by the
In 2003, the US administration held private talks with
Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky about arranging a sale of 40 percent of
what was then Russia�s largest oil company, Yukos-Sibneft, to US oil giant
Chevron, the former firm of Condi Rice. George H.W. Bush, then an adviser to
the once-powerful Washington investment group, Carlyle Partners, came to Moscow
to lobby for the US oil firm�s bid. That would have allowed the US directly to
place itself, in conjunction with the British Petroleum presence in Russia, in
a strategic place within Russia�s vital energy complex.
Following the arrest of Khodorkovsky by Russian police in
2004, Russia was then faced with CIA and US State Department-sponsored and
financed putsches in Georgia and then in Ukraine which brought into power
politicians who had previously been cultivated by Washington and who openly
advocated NATO membership.
Seen from Moscow�s eyes, the attempt of NATO to take Ukraine
or Kievan Rus, the historic heart of Slavic Russia for almost one thousand
years, along with Russia and Belarus, was not only militarily a grave threat, it
was also culturally and economically potentially catastrophic given the
distribution of industry and infrastructure between Ukraine and Russia dating
back to the 1930s.
However, the proverbial �straw that broke the Russian
camel�s back� was the decision by Washington to pursue nuclear missile defense
installations in NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic.
To add insult to injury, as Russian military spokesmen point
out, a missile installation in Poland and US-controlled advanced radar
installations in the Czech area is absurd from the standpoint of the alleged
need to defend against what the Bush administration alleges are �Iranian rogue
missile threats.� More threatening, there would be no way for Moscow to verify
that the 10 US-controlled interceptor missiles in Poland were not in fact US
intermediate ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Military
experts confirm there is no way to verify. A US nuclear missile would be then
only minutes away from its Russian target rather than hours, leaving no window
of negotiation or defense.
Missile defense is anything but �defensive.� If only one of
two nuclear opponents also possesses even a primitive anti-missile capability,
it would achieve the dream of Pentagon strategists since the 1950s, namely nuclear
primacy. Put in simple terms, it would mean Washington would be in a position
to dictate terms of unconditional surrender of Russia to NATO. The way would
open for a complete US military domination of the planet as, with Russia
neutered, China would be able to offer little effective military defense. There
are simply no other contenders that can make a credible counterweight to a sole
US hegemony. That would be an unhealthy state of affairs not only for Europe but
the rest of the world. It would be a disaster for the American people, as well.
It is in this light that the recent proposals of the Russian
president and Foreign Minister Lavrov take on significance. With Washington
fresh from signing the US missile shield agreement with the Czech government,
over the objections of the Czech population, and a missile defense deal with
Poland imminent, Moscow is trying to suggest a dramatic new architecture to the
unilateral Washington one of unprecedented military build-up, militarization of
space, unilateral military and political interventions from Eastern Europe to
Sudan to Iraq to Somalia and beyond.
In a major speech recently in a Deutsche Bank conference in
Moscow, Lavrov called for a strategic pause in the trans-Atlantic debate with a
mutual freeze on controversial actions like NATO expansion, US missile defense
deployments in Eastern Europe, US recognition of Kosovo, and frozen conflicts
in the former Soviet Union such as around Georgia.
Lavrov proposed that Russia, the EU and the US should stop
�arguing over superficial issues� like a League of Democracies replacing the
UN, or spheres of influence, and focus on immediate real-life challenges where
interests clearly coincide like arms control, counter-proliferation, combating
terrorism. Significantly, while warning against �sliding backward into the
past,� Lavrov called for trans-Atlantic cooperation to deal with the global
challenges that could not be dealt with during the Cold War -- fighting world
poverty, hunger, and communicable diseases.
again stressed his new concept for Russian foreign policy on July 12 in Moscow
where he stated, �The evolution of international relations in the early 21st
century, and Russia�s consolidation have compelled us to review the conditions
around us, and revise the priorities of Russian foreign policy with respect to
the country�s enhanced role in international affairs, and . . . the resulting
opportunity of participating not only in the implementation of the world�s
agenda but also in its formulation.�
Europe torn between
West and East
The recent history of EU foreign relations demonstrates that
as a body the 27 nations comprising the EU are split and unable to make up their
mindd as a unified response to improving relations with Moscow.
In a real sense, the EU political elites today are
schizophrenic. On the one hand, Germany and the EU as a whole seek peaceful
economic cooperation with Russia, particularly in energy but increasingly in
broader investment and economic terms. The Russian economy is seen more and
more by European business as a prime area to invest in and a booming potential
market. Russia enjoys the fourth largest foreign exchange reserves in the
world, near half a trillion dollars. It is the world�s premier repository of
raw materials and the second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia and by far
the largest natural gas producer.
Yet at the same time, the EU or many of its member states
are pulled to Washington, even if reluctantly, for their imagined security
guarantee. Repeated efforts to create a separate European defense capability as
an integral part of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union have been met
with vehement opposition by Washington, which demands the EU strictly
subordinate its defense to a Washington-controlled NATO.
EU political elites are divided on the issue of building a
European Super State. Its diverse member state problems -- economic,
demographic and ethnic -- tend to push national inward-turning solutions rather
than unified EU solutions. In short, it is stymied at a time when, owing to the
now clear depth of the financial and economic emergency which is devastating
the United States, the EU must make strong, clear policy choices.
The emerging new
Medvedev�s various proposals are premised on a view that the
old era of the Cold War, with a sole Western hegemon, Washington, that dictates
terms to the rest of the world, is over. The time when Washington and what US
strategists such as presidential candidate Obama�s foreign policy adviser,
Zbigniew Brzezinski, openly call Washington�s European �vassal states,� would
act in lock-step is past. Medvedev�s recent speeches make this point, as well.
In this context of a collapsing superpower hegemony on the part
of the United States, either the world faces untold chaos and likely wars of
untold destructiveness or it can recognize the reality and discuss an entire
new geopolitical global architecture.
Today�s Russia, after the debacle of the Yeltsin years, is clearly
not intent on re-establishing some new variant of Stalinism. However, it is
clearly determined to be respected as a sovereign power. It is clearly also
vitally interested in extending a capitalist economic system it views as
necessary for the country to survive and prosper. It is also willing to be
completely pragmatic in world affairs, as it has shown during the past 17 or so
years since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia does not believe that the American power pursuit --
Full Spectrum Dominance as the Pentagon likes to term it -- will work. China,
India, South America and a growing portion of the Middle East oil producing
countries clearly share this uneasiness about America�s determination to be
Sole Superpower, a kind of 21st Century New Empire.
Three bold ideas
The Russian government in this critical global conjuncture,
with US presidential elections ahead, a growing global financial instability
centered in the USA, and an EU elite confused about its place in the shifting
world, is proposing three bold new ideas.
First is the creation of a unified North -- a United
States-EU-Russia alliance that implements coordinated security and economic
policies. Russia would offer its natural resources, territorial, scientific and
human potential for mutually beneficial integration with Europe and America.
Second, Russia asks that the West recognize the
inevitability of the rise of non-Western powers, especially China, and cease
trying to block their ascent by sabotage and military action such as occupation
of Iraq and key oil sources. Washington and the EU instead should engage with
the new powers using collective forums, such as the UN Security Council, to
shape a non-confrontational peaceful order.
The third, and perhaps the most bold and most obvious,
Medvedev proposes reshaping the present failed global economic order that was
built up after 1944 around a US-dominated International Monetary Fund as a de
facto neo-colonial weapon of securing cheap raw materials and imposing North
dominance on Africa, Latin America and Asian nations. He proposes instead the
North share some of its gains with the South before it is too late.
This would be quite a change of the present paradigm. It
reminds of the burst of optimism following the November 1989 fall of the Berlin
Wall. No wonder that the EU is dumbfounded. It remains to be seen if they at
least engage in serious dialogue with their former Cold War adversary rather
than stand, as now, like deer frozen before the oncoming headlights of Russian
nuclear bombers headed for Warsaw, Prague, Berlin or Paris as a move to preempt
Washington�s possible First Strike attack.
F. William Engdahl is
author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
(Pluto Press), and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic
Manipulation (www.globalresearch.ca). This essay is adapted from a book he has just
completed, titled Full Spectrum Dominance: The Geopolitical Agenda Behind
Washington�s Global Military Buildup (release date estimated Autumn 2008). He
may be contacted through his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.