On the Brink of WWIII, A Primer on Russian History-- Facts and Fantasy
By Deena Stryker
On the day before a meeting that may decide whether Washington succeeds in starting a third world war, a primer on Russian history, going way back, and showing that today's accusations of boundary change by Washington are incorrect.
When today's pundits talk about Russia as the greatest threat since Hitler's Germany, it's time for a look at Russian history.
The American people
The first crucial piece of information in the present context is the fact that Russia began in Kiev. Kievan Rus was "a loose federation of East Slavic tribes in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Rurik dynasty. The modern peoples of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors," Wikipedia reports. No rational discussion of the present crisis is possible without this knowledge.
Now picture the world's largest landmass, (nine time zones to the US's three), much of which lies in the same northerly latitudes as Canada, but, in a crucial difference, with access to the ocean only on its Eastern tip, while the areas bordering on southern seas are inhabited by Muslim peoples. Add now that Russia is the seat of Orthodox Christianity, which in the 13th century was repeatedly attacked from the Roman Catholic and Protestant North and West. (Sergei Eisenstein made a famous film about the attacks by the Teutonic Knights, titled Alexander Nevsky.) According to Wiki, to the Orthodox Church and most princes, the fanatical Northern Crusaders seemed a greater threat to the Russian way of life than the Mongols, who protected and assisted Alexander Nevsky in fighting them.
Russia had been subjugated by Ghengis Khan's Golden Horde's from 1223 to 1240, to which it paid tribute for another four hundred years. For more on the lasting impact of that subjugation see my book review of TIbor Szamuely's The Russian Tradition . (In a similar scourge, the Ottoman empire took over half of Europe, their advance only halted with an unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1529. More on that later in this article.)
Starting with Kievan Rus, Russia, Poland, the Baltic princes, Sweden and Iran fought each other for centuries, so there is no historical record of a specifically 'aggressive' Russia. For hundreds of years, today's Baltic countries, facing onto the northern sea, were Russian principalities, as were Ukraine - and at times, Poland. Following are excerpts devoted to Russia's interactions with its neighbors, from the Wikipedia article on Russian history: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Russia:
In the 15th century, the grand princes of Moscow went on gathering Russian lands to increase the population and wealth under their rule. The most successful practitioner of this process was Ivan III who laid the foundations for a Russian national state. Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, for control over some of the semi-independent Upper Principalities in the Dnieper and Oka River basins.
Ivan refused to pay further tribute to the Tatars and initiated a series of attacks that opened the way for the complete defeat of the declining Golden Horde. Ivan and his successors sought to protect the southern boundaries of their domain against attacks of the Crimean Tatars and other hordes. Although his long Livonian War for the control of the Baltic coast and access to sea trade ultimately proved a costly failure, Ivan managed to annex the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia. Through these conquests, Russia acquired a significant Muslim Tatar population and emerged as a multiethnic and multiconfessional state. Also around this period, the mercantile Stroganov family established a firm foothold at the Urals and recruited Russian Cossacks to colonize Siberia.
At the end of Ivan IV's reign the Polish--Lithuanian and Swedish armies carried out a powerful intervention in Russia, devastating its northern and northwest regions. During the Polish--Muscovite War (1605--1618), Polish--Lithuanian forces reached Moscow. The Seven Boyars, a group of Russian nobles recognized the Polish prince Władysław IV Vasa as the Tsar of Russia on 6 September 1610. The Poles entered Moscow on 21 September 1610, setting the city on fire. This "Time of Troubles" resulted in the loss of much territory to the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Russo-Polish war, as well as to the Swedish Empire in the Ingrian War. Fortunately for Moscow, its major enemies, the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden, were engaged in a bitter conflict with each other, which provided Russia the opportunity to make peace with Sweden in 1617 and to sign a truce with the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1619. Recovery of lost territories started in the mid-17th century, when the Khmelnitsky Uprising in Ukraine against Polish rule brought about the Treaty of Pereyaslav concluded between Russia and the Ukrainian Cossacks.
According to the treaty, Russia granted protection to the Cossacks state in the Left-bank Ukraine, formerly under Polish control. This triggered a prolonged Russo-Polish War which ended with the Treaty of Andrusovo (1667), where Poland accepted the loss of Left-bank Ukraine, Kiev and Smolensk.
Peter the Great's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks. His aim was to establish a Russian foothold on the Black Sea by taking the town of Azov. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport except at Archangel on the White Sea, whose harbor was frozen nine months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden, whose territory enclosed it on three sides. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him in 1699 to make a secret alliance with the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark against Sweden resulting in the Great Northern War.
The war ended in 1721 when an exhausted Sweden sued for peace with Russia. Peter acquired four provinces situated south and east of the Gulf of Finland, thus securing his coveted access to the sea. Russian intervention in the Commonwealth marked" the beginning of a 200-year domination of that region by the Russian Empire. In celebration of his conquests, Peter assumed the title of emperor as well as tsar, and Russian Tsardom officially became the Russian Empire in 1721.
By this time, the once powerful Persian Safavid Empire to its south was heavily declining. Taking advantage of the profitable situation, Peter launched the Russo-Persian War (1722-1723) in order to be the first Russian emperor to increase Russian influence in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea. After considerable success and the capture of many provinces and cities in the Caucasus and northern Persia, the Safavids were forced to hand over the territories to Russia. However, 9 years later they would be ceded back to Persia, as part of a Russo-Persian alliance against the Ottoman Empire.
Catherine the Great extended Russian political control over the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth and successfully waged war against the decaying Ottoman Empire advancing Russia's southern boundary to the Black Sea. Then, by allying with the rulers of Austria and Prussia, she incorporated the territories of the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth, and during the Partitions of Poland, pushed the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. Catherine waged a new war against Persia in 1796 after they had again invaded Georgia, expelling the newly established Russian garrisons in the Caucasus. By the time of her death in 1796, Catherine's expansionist policy had made Russia into a major European power. This continued with Alexander I's wresting of Finland from the weakened kingdom of Sweden in 1809 and of Bessarabia from the Ottomans in 1812.
After the Russian armies liberated allied Georgia from Persian occupation in 1802, they clashed with Persia over control of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan, and also got involved in the Caucasian War against the Caucasian Imamate. To the south west, Russia attempted to expand at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, using Georgia at its base for the Caucasus and Anatolian front. In the 1828-29 Russo-Turkish War Russia invaded northeastern Anatolia and occupied the strategic Ottoman towns of Erzurum and Gumushane and, posing as protector and savior of the Greek Orthodox population, received extensive support from the region's Pontic Greeks. Following a brief occupation, the Russian imperial army withdrew back into Georgia.
In 1826 another war was fought against Persia, acquiring Armenia, Nakhchivan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, and Iğdır.By the 1830s, Russia had conquered all Persian territories and major Ottoman territories in the Caucasus. In 1831 Nicholas crushed a major uprising in Congress Poland; it would be followed by another large-scale Polish and Lithuanian revolt in 1863.
One can see this history as that of a conquering power, or more accurately, as that of powerful neighbors vying for control over various parts of the great Eurasian plain. Europe was no different, the problem being the presence on a very small peninsula of some fifty different nationalities and languages, but Americans do not study either European or Russian history. When the US reluctantly entered the first world war, the common wisdom was that the Europeans couldn't stop squabbling, and the same was true in spades with the Second World War. Although Germany was fingered in both as the aggressor - and by the French as the aggressor in the war of 1870 - Russia was never seen as 'the aggressor' of the Eurasian plain. And for Russians, the problem has always been that of encirclement and access to warm waters.
Napoleon attempted to conquer Russia in the early nineteenth century, courting an ignominious defeat. In the early twentieth century, Russia lost a war with Japan over access to the warm water port of Port Arthur in southern Manchuria. The West tried to roll back the Russian revolution in a war that lasted in various phases and fronts from 1917 to 1925.
It was invaded by Hitler in World War II, prompting it to hold on to the Baltic States and the countries of Eastern Europe that had been his allies. It was because of the history of attacks on Russia that Roosevelt and Churchill agreed at a meeting with Stalin in Yalta that Eastern Europe, through which these attacks came, would be a Soviet sphere of influence after the war. (Notwithstanding today's revisionist allusions, Russia did not 'conquer' Eastern Europe, but rather liberated it from the Nazi occupation. Most historians now admit that without Russia, Germany would not have been defeated.)
At present, 'fears' of Russian 'aggression' center on Poland, the Baltic states, and Moldova (Bessarabia), all of which were the locus of wars in centuries past. With the end of the Cold War, the Baltic States were let go, and the countries of Eastern Europe resumed the task of building independent polities they had started after World War I. Rule by the Ottoman Empire from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, had contributed in no small measure to their economic and political backwardness with respect to Western Europe. I witnessed the psychological effect of that history first hand when I lived in Poland, then in Hungary, from 1965 to 1971. Poland carries the added burden of having been literally carved up by its European neighbors no fewer than three times over the centuries. All the European countries I have lived in had an acute sense of history, but none so much as Poland. Poland's current attitude toward the conflict in Ukraine is as much tributary of that history as it is of European Union politics, which is why it is so contradictory, ultimately coming down on the side of Ukraine, yet unable to resist bashing it at the same time.
This brings us to the crux of the fabricated dispute that currently risks turning into World War III, complete with nuclear weapons: the accusation, repeated enunciated by President Obama and Secretary Kerry, that by respecting the referendum of the inhabitants of Crimea in favor of rejoining Russia, Vladimir Putin has arbitrarily modified the post-World War II borders. The border between Crimea and Russia was modified in 1954 when Khruschev 'gave it' to Ukraine, which at that time was one of the Soviet Socialist republics that constituted the Soviet Union. As the above history shows, Crimea had been part of Russia since the time of Catherine the Great, AND IT REMAINED SO AT THE END OF WORLD WAR II. So the return of Crimea to Russia cannot be construed as a modification of the borders agreed upon by the US, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, the latter maintaining a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, while Great Britain retained an upper hand over Greece, preventing that country's strong Communist Party from gaining power.
Notwithstanding these historical facts, the Putin-bashing continues. On Fareed Zakaria's GPS Sunday, Christa Vreeland, a journalist who is also a member of the Canadian Parliament, painted a picture of a struggling Russia, claiming that Putin had thought Yanukovich would bring the Ukraine into his Eurasian customs union and 'all would be fine'. But the coup put intolerable internal pressures on Putin, 'his cronies were unhappy, the bourgeoisie destroyed. He didn't want this crisis.' We are expected to believe that without notoriously backward and corrupt Ukraine, Russia would be doomed! Apparently, Vreeland hasn't heard of the BRICS, the Silk Road, and the deepening Russia/China alliance".
On the same program, Bill Browder, grandson of the one-time leader of the American Communist Party and (no small irony) Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, had this to say: 'Putin is entirely rational but he has no morality. He will kill, start wars if it makes him wealthier, or saves him from being arrested. He started a war in Crimea, and says the Ukrainian leaders are fascist nazis backed by US, provoking nationalist fervor.'
To decide how much credibility to grant this man's testimony, starting with his apparent ignorance of the weight of the Neo-Fascist Right Sektor and Svoboda parties within the Ukrainian government, notwithstanding the many videos featuring their thuggish behavior, I suggest you read the lengthy interview he gave to Barrons in which he details his business dealings in Russia starting in the nineteen-nineties. Readers will be familiar with the death of Barron's lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison, but whatever the circumstances of that death, they do not change Barron's participation in the rape of that country, which he relates with undisguised gusto. Claiming that he wanted Russia to become a normal country where 'the valuations (of stocks) were the same as the West', he is not talking about the rule of law. And this is the man who accuses Putin of being an oligarch!
Finally, as France, Germany and Russia try to resolve the Ukraine crisis through diplomacy, Washington, oblivious to the fact that it is the Europeans who would be on the front-line in a war with Russia, continues to insist that it must 'protect' these allies from Putin's 'aggression'! Possible presidential candidate and uber hawk ally of John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham made the following astonishing statement a few days ago, referring to his colleagues who are against arming the Kiev government: (They) "don't see how arming those who are willing to fight and die for their freedom makes things better (my emphasis)."
On RT this morning, anticipating tomorrow's crucial meeting in Minsk between Ukraine, Russia France and Germany, a retired Deputy Ambassador to NATO and Ambassador to Germany, John Kornblum, echoing Victoria Nuland's famous quip "F.. the EU!", affirmed that 'the real power lies in Washington'. But it doesn't look like a convincing sign of power to claim, as Washington is currently doing, that Vladimir Putin suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a mental condition whose main symptom is an inability to read social cues! Distancing itself from this latest 'stupid stuff', the psychiatric community is probably wondering why Washington failed to diagnose the severe alcoholism of Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, to whom the Browders of this world are beholden.
Born in Philadelphia, I spent most of my adolescent and adult years in Europe. I began my journalistic career at the French News Agency in Rome, spent two years in Cuba finding out whether the Barbados were Communists before they made the revolution ('Cuba 1964: When the Revolution was Young'). After spending half a decade in Eastern Europe, and a decade in the U.S., studying Global Survival and writing speeches in the Carter State Department, I wrote the only book that foresaw the fall of the Berlin Wall AND the dissolution of the Soviet Union ("Une autre Europe, un autre Monde'). My memoir, 'Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel', tells it all. Other books include 'A Taoist Politics: The Case for Sacredness', which examines the similarities between ancient wisdom and modern science and what this implies for political activism; and 'America Revealed to a Honey-Colored World" a pamphlet about how the U.S. came down from the City on a Hill'.
Ukraine War: Kiev Announces America’s War With Russia!
By George Eliason
According to the BBC on Febuary 9th President Barack Obama: ”The possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that is being examined.” What this means is if the Minsk talks fail, the US will supply lethal heavy weapons openly to Ukraine if Russia does not get into line with western policy.
Kiev, which has openly denied Russia is invading or sending regular troops into the conflict is now giving Russia an ultimatum. In October I traveled through the Donbass region and did invasive passport checks on soldiers. My findings agree with Kiev on this point.
There are no Russian military units or regular soldiers in the region. I interviewed Spanish volunteers. I spoke with Chechens, Afghanis, Russian citizens, and Cossacks. They are private citizens that have family here or have come to fight fascism so it does not spread further into Europe or Russia.
Even in the face of this According to the BBC Obama further stated “Russia had violated “every commitment” made in the failing Minsk agreement, he added, after talks with the German chancellor on a new peace deal.”
President Obama is under tremendous pressure from the combined Eastern European Caucus on Capital Hill to make this happen. For the nationalists the largest threat to them hasn’t been American democracy as it should have been, and should be. It has been Russia that has taken the lead in this and suffered the most for it.
On February 10th the Deputy Head of the Poroshenko Administration, Valery Chaly released these statements.
“Every decision concerning outcome of the upcoming meeting (Minsk) has been made already. Kiev unilaterally rejects all proposals for federalization, the expansion of the DNR an LNR to their administrative borders, and granting rights of broad autonomy.
The only thing that Kiev is ready to agree to is abolish duties between Russia and Donbass at their borders and indulge Donbass in the use of the Russian language.”
By taking any and all negotiations off the table, Poroshenko’s government has effectively rendered the Minsk talks and agreement worthless.
Taking a Stick To Russia’s Putin
Speaking for Poroshenko’s administration, Chaly went much further by saying under no circumstances will the conflict be frozen. In an ultimatum to Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia he boldly said “If Putin does not accept these terms the “West will thrash Russia! Russia will pay a high price, and among the serious consequences resulting from Russia’s lack of obedience would be an escalation of the conflict.”
How can Poroshenko’s Kiev escalate the conflict more than openly attacking civilians with banned weapons and destroying entire towns? The Ukrainian governments crimes against humanity in front of the world is what frames this conflict. This escalation can only mean drawing Russia into the conflict further, well beyond the diplomatic cover and humanitarian aid Russia is currently providing Donbass today.
This hit’em with a stick diplomacy is part and parcel to Ukrainian ultra-nationalist ideology. Diplomacy can only be conducted with a weapon pointed and your “enemy” crushed.
Heavy NATO weapons such as the Paladin artillery system and tanks are used in the arena already. The Ukrainian military has no training or experience on these systems. Will American troops fight for the openly nationalist Ukrainians? To date by the current reckoning well over 100 American mercenaries are buried here. Two US army military trainers were reported killed near Mariupol last August training Azov Battalion.
In one of the few articles to openly show the stark realities for Donbass the BBC in a congratulatory piece showed how much Ukraine is receiving for weapons and aid from private donors. It then compares the level of support Russia gives Donbass which according to the pro-junta BBC is minimal humanitarian aid.
Ukraine sealed off Donbass from getting medicines and foodstuffs from the west. Now it is demanding Russian do it from the East. It also demands that Russia take responsibility for weapons it is not sending. The twisted side politically is that Ukraine and the west want Russia’s Putin to take responsibility for decisions made outside his own country by the leaders of DNR and LNR who have clearly shown that while cooperative with Russia, Novorossya will be its own country. Vladimir Putin has also made it clear Novorossya does not have a future being absorbed as part of Russia.
Russia’s Response to the Ultimatum
As I sit writing this, the Kremlin has responded to both the ultimatums and the threat of US heavy weapons shipped openly to the conflict area. Simply, “we will respond to the US sending weapons with diplomacy.”
If Kiev was telling the truth about a Russian invasion through MSN all this time then US and EU troops are about to come in direct contact and conflict with them. This most dangerous of lies may eventually solve the problem of people not knowing where the Donbass conflict is. Should the worlds Titan countries go head to head, the Ukraine war, with Kiev’s lies, manipulations, war crimes, and eventual escalated attacks on Russia itself, may find its way to your own backyard.
For the American way of life, a crossroads has appeared in front of us. The decision about which road we should take will have profound effects on who we are as a country. If we are a great people we need to rely on and restore democratic principles.
If we sit by that decision is being made by neo-liberals and neo-cons for us today. In that case America will be remembered as a once great country that lost itself in both self-absorption and a nation that lost faith in its people. It became a people managed by its government. It is the most horrible of epitaphs.
if the American people fall for the lies of their 'leaders' again... to quote a lying George Bush, "fool me once...uh!, fool me twice..."
Perhaps you missed it: We’re at war with Russia
By Chris Martenson
But nobody has explained what our vital interest is in Ukraine
Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of providing heavy arms to Ukrainian separatists but has offered no proof.The U.S. has been waging economic, financial, trade and political war against Russia and even kinetic war-by-proxy in Ukraine. Worryingly, nobody in power in the U.S. or Europe really seems willing to tell us exactly why.
From the Russian point of view, everything from its plunging ruble to bitter sanctions to the falling price of oil are the fault of the U.S., either directly or indirectly. Whether that is fair is irrelevant; that’s the view of the Russians right now. So no surprise, it doesn’t dispose them toward goodwill negotiations with the West generally and the U.S. specifically.
Until the arrest Monday of an alleged Russian spy in the Bronx, the anti-Russian stance in the U.S. press had quieted down significantly, presumably as the political leadership moved its attention on to other things, leaving Russia largely out of the U.S. news cycle. Throughout, though, there had continued to be plenty of serious action taking place in Russia and Ukraine — including what could be described a re-escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine — as well as related activity in the U.S. deserving of our careful attention.
The U.S. (via John Kerry) and NATO have steadily accused Russia of having funneled hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers and other heavy equipment to the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
These assertions bring to mind the Sherlock Holmes case of the dog that did not bark where the absence of a piece of evidence leads us to a very different conclusion than the one the U.S. political establishment would like us to believe.
The sorts of weaponry that NATO and the U.S. have charged Russia with providing are virtually impossible to conceal from the air. Snapping high-resolution photos of such war machinery is child’s play for today’s military satellites, and even civilian ones too. If the assertions were true, we should have seen a flood of photographs of Russian heavy equipment every step of the way as it passed into Ukraine.
But none have been offered, not even one so far. And the simplest explanation for this is that none exist. If they did, you can be 100% certain they’d have been released and replayed over and over again on CNN until everybody and their uncle could distinguish a T-72 tank outline from that of a T-64.
What concerns me even more than these undocumented charges are two especially ill-conceived, if not overtly confrontational, pieces of legislation passed by the Congress in December.
The first is H.Res 758 passed on Dec. 4, which, among other charges, accused Russia of having invaded Ukraine again without providing or referring to any sort of evidence photographic or otherwise. Entitled “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” the resolution is packed with a variety of one-sided assertions and leaves no diplomatic wiggle room for the possibility that Russia has a different view of what has transpired in Ukraine.
According to Ron Paul, these sorts of resolutions are dangerous because they politically commit the U.S. political structure to rigid stances that are politically difficult to back down from and have historically been a stepping stone on the path to war.
The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, or S.2828, was passed by the Senate on Dec. 11. This goes even further than merely condemning Russia and authorizes the distribution of both lethal and non-lethal military aid to Kiev, including sniper and assault rifles, mortars and shells, stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles, night vision goggles, radar systems and a host of other hardware items.
If the tables were turned, and it were the Russian lawmakers passing a resolution condemning the U.S. for a variety of international crimes for which exactly zero proof was offered, and then were actively arming a dangerous conflict right on the U.S. border, I think we all know just how ablaze with indignity the U.S. political leadership would be. And rightly so.
So is it any surprise that Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in response, “Both houses of the U.S. Congress have approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act bypassing debates and proper voting. The overtly confrontational message of the new law cannot but evoke profound regret. Once again Washington is leveling baseless sweeping accusations against Russia and threatening more sanctions.”
The really bizarre part of this story is that I cannot yet find any credible analysis or commentary explaining exactly what the U.S.’s interests are in Ukraine that are so compelling as to risk increasing confrontation with Russia. And it bothers a great many analysts that the U.S. is on an increasingly combative course with yet another country without providing any evidence in support of its accusations and actions. Again.
The biggest news stories of 2014(1:55)From unrest over the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to the Ebola epidemic to the crisis in Ukraine to the death of Robin Williams, here's an interactive look at the stories that captured the world's attention in 2014.
In response, Russia is rapidly withdrawing from additional dialog with the U.S. and Europe, while drawing ever closer to China, Turkey and India. Russians feel that they are already under siege from the U.S., and that acts of war have already been committed.
Despite being almost completely out of the U.S. news cycle, events are in and around the Ukraine situation are actually picking up pace. On Jan. 15, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree mobilizing 50,000 new servicemen to the front lines, while Russia announced that Europe would have to accept gas via Turkey as the Ukraine route is being shut down.
This situation remains much more fluid and nuanced than we’re being told by the Western media, with much more to this story than a short column allows, those interested in delving deeper can read our latest report here.
But in short, the situation is getting more strained, not less, and it has the very real chance of blossoming into something far larger and more deadly than the sparse coverage in the Western press might imply.
If it looks like a war, acts like a war and smells like a war, it may just be a war. Everyone should be very concerned by these events, but especially European readers.
Chris Martenson is an economic researcher and futurist specializing in energy and resource depletion, and co-founder of PeakProsperity.com
by Tiffany Rider
December 5, 2014--The passage of H. Res. 758 strongly condemning Russia is a prime example of how so many members of the current Congress are out of step with the U.S. Constitution, with peace, and with the American people, according to Congressman Ron Paul.
The resolution passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday “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.” In an article for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Ron Paul describes this bill as “16 pages of war propaganda that should have made even neocons blush, if they were capable of such a thing.”
This bill reminded him of a vote in 1998 on the Iraq Liberation Act, a bill that jumped all over Saddam Hussein in Iraq saying he was about to attack us with nuclear weapons. He knew the legislation would lead to war, and look where we are now. In a forthcoming episode for the Ron Paul Channel, he says, “I hope and pray that I’m absolutely wrong with this.” Check back soon for the episode.
The following 10 legislators voted against this resolution, showing that they are concerned about this reckless taunting of Russia:
#1: Justin Amash (R-MI)
#2: John Duncan (R-TN)
#3: Alan Grayson (D-FL)
#4: Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
#5: Walter Jones (R-NC)
#6: Thomas Massie (R-KY)
#7: Jim McDermott (D-WA)
#8: George Miller (D-CA)
#9: Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
#10: Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Is one of your representatives on this list? If not, what would you tell them about this resolution?
Here are some points from the resolution, as outlined in his article:
• 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 U.S. 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?
• The resolution (paragraph 13) demands a withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine even though the U.S. government has provided no evidence the Russian army was ever in Ukraine. This paragraph also urges the government in Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence.
• The resolution (paragraph 14) states with certainty that the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that crashed in Ukraine was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.” This is simply incorrect, as the final report on the investigation of this tragedy will not even be released until next year and the preliminary report did not state that a missile brought down the plane. Neither did the preliminary report—conducted with the participation of all countries involved—assign blame to any side.
• Paragraph 16 of the resolution condemns Russia for selling arms to the Assad government in Syria. It does not mention, of course, that those weapons are going to fight ISIS—which we claim is the enemy—while the US weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria have actually found their way into the hands of ISIS!
• Paragraph 17 of the resolution condemns Russia for what the U.S. claims are economic sanctions (“coercive economic measures”) against Ukraine. This even though the U.S. has repeatedly hit Russia with economic sanctions and is considering even more!
• In paragraph 34 the resolution begins to even become comical, condemning the Russians for what it claims are attacks on computer networks of the United States and “illicitly acquiring information” about the US government. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the level of U.S. spying on the rest of the world, how can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?
• Chillingly, the resolution singles out Russian state-funded media outlets for attack, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” The US government, of course, spends billions of dollars worldwide to finance and sponsor media outlets including Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as to subsidize “independent” media in countless counties overseas. How long before alternative information sources like RT are banned in the United States? This legislation brings us closer to that unhappy day when the government decides the kind of programming we can and cannot consume – and calls such a violation “freedom.”
• The resolution gives the green light (paragraph 45) to Ukrainian President Poroshenko to re-start his military assault on the independence-seeking eastern provinces, urging the “disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine.” Such a move will mean many more thousands of dead civilians.
• To that end, the resolution directly involves the US government in the conflict by calling on the U.S. president to “provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.” This means U.S. weapons in the hands of U.S.-trained military forces engaged in a hot war on the border with Russia. Does that sound at all like a good idea?