(CounterPunch, Weekend Edition April 11-13, 2014)
New Axis in the House?
By the time you read this Russia will have invaded Ukraine. Well, that’s what the Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, is spinning. Breedlove Supreme says the Russians are “ready to go” and could easily take over eastern Ukraine. Western corporate media have already dusted off their Kevlar vests.
Now compare Breedlove Supreme with a grown-up diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has called on NATO to please de-escalate the “unreasonable” warmongering rhetoric, which also includes officially ending all civilian and military cooperation with Russia and planning more military moves in Eastern Europe.
While NATO – shorthand for the Pentagon’s European division – freaks out, especially via its outgoing secretary-general, Danish patsy Anders Fogh Rasmussen, let’s see where we really stand on the ground, based on leaks from both Lavrov’s and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s camps.
The heart of the matter – obscured by a rainbow bridge of hysteria – is that neither Washington nor Moscow want Ukraine to become a festering wound. Moscow told Washington, officially, it has no intention of “invading” Ukraine. And Washington told Moscow that, for all the demented rhetoric, it does not want to expand NATO to either Ukraine or Georgia.
Whatever Washington’s actions, they won’t convince the Kremlin the putsch in Kiev was not orchestrated in large part by goons allied to Kaghanate of Nulands – aka US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands. At the same time, the Kremlin knows time is on its side – so it would be totally counterproductive to even contemplate “invading” eastern Ukraine.
Compound the vicious catfight among dodgy factions in Kiev, from fascists to Saint Yulia “Kill all the Russians” Timoschenko; Gazprom raising the price of natural gas by 80%; and the International Monetary Fund about to unleash some nasty structural adjustment that will make Greece look like Cinderella playing in a rose garden, and all that Moscow needs to do is sit back, relax and watch the (internal) carnage.
The same applies for the Baltics – which, as NATO hysteria would have it, might be invaded next week. As the Baltics are part of NATO, then we would really have the Brussels Robocops going ballistic. Yet only trademark arrogant/ignorant neo-cons believe Moscow will break complex political/trade relationships with Europe – especially Germany – risking a hot war over the Baltics. The Germans don’t want a hot or cold war either. Even in the extremely unlikely event that would happen, what would macho, macho NATO do, under Pentagon’s orders? Invade Russian territory?
That does not even qualify as a lousy joke.
By the way, as bad jokes ago, it’s hard to top Olli Rehn, vice president of the Kafkaesque European Commission, stressing that ” in the interests to maintain peace and stability on our continent” the European Union is part of the 11 billion euro (US$15 billion) IMF/disaster capitalism package to plunder, sorry, “help” Ukraine, and this while EU citizens are unemployed and/or thrown into poverty by the millions.
As for Berlin’s top priority, that is to at least try to steer the EU out of an almighty crash, which implies keeping the equally economically devastated Club Med and Central Europe on board while fighting off the rise and rise of nasty, “normalized” neofascism. “Massive undertaking” does not even begin to describe it. Why add a confrontation with Moscow to this indigestible bouillabaisse?
New axis in the house
Moral high ground epiphanies such as this Guardian editorial (“he gained a peninsula but lost a country”) are pointless. Same for minion Poland freaking out and asking for more “protection” from the Brussels mafia.
Predictably, Western corporate media is spinning Putin “blinked” when he phoned US President Barack Obama to try to set up a solution package – which includes, crucially, a federalization of Ukraine. The Obama administration – even staffed by astounding mediocrities – knows this is the only rational way ahead. And no amount of “pressure” will bend Moscow. Those go-go days of imposing whatever whim over serial drunkard Boris Yeltsin are long gone. At the same time, Moscow is a realist player – fully aware that the only possible solution for Ukraine has to be worked out with Washington.
So Ukraine is essentially a detail – and “Europe” is no more than a helpless bystander.
Who are you gonna call in “Europe”? That Magritte-style nonentity European Council President Herman Van Rompuy? Anyone who’s been to Brussels knows that “Europe” remains a glorified collection of principalities bickering in a smatter of languages. Machiavelli would easily recognize it as such.
To top if off, the Obama administration has no clue what it wants in Ukraine. A “constitutional democracy”? Moscow might even agree with that, while knowing, based on rows and rows of historical/cultural reasons, it’s bound to be a failure. The red line though has been spelled out over and over again: no NATO bases in Ukraine.
Rational players in Washington – a certified minority – certainly have noticed that if you don’t play ball with Moscow, Russia will play very hard ball within the framework of the P5+1 (the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany) negotiations on the Iranian nuclear dossier.
Only the blind won’t see that Moscow and Tehran are evolving towards a closer strategic partnership as much as Moscow and Beijing. There’s a real strategic geopolitical axis in the house – Moscow-Beijing-Tehran – and the whole developing world has already noticed that’s where the real action is. But as far as Ukraine is concerned, the stark fact is this is all about the US and Russia.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at email@example.com.
This essay originally appeared on Asia Times.