The following is the text of a speech Scott gave to the King County, Washington Libertarian Party, February 29, 2020.
According to Rep. Jason Crow, Russian President “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”
But that’s not true. There’s no real reason to believe that Putin means us any harm at all. The new Cold War with Russia is all America’s fault.
See, at the end of the last Cold War the American foreign policy community, led by the neoconservatives, adopted a doctrine of global dominance. This was as Charles Krauthammer put it in 1990, the U.S.’s “Unipolar Moment” and opportunity to remake the world our way and keep it that way. They call it leadership, hegemony, preeminence, predominance or even Full Spectrum Dominance. No really, it’s all for their own good though. Keeping the peace; protecting the sea lanes; enforcing the global rules-based liberal international order.
Dick Cheney’s Defense Department’s post-Iraq War I, “Defense Planning Guidance” from 1992 defined the doctrine for the new decade and into the new millennium: The U.S. must remain the single dominant power on the planet, and must maintain enough military power to prevent any possible strategic rivals, such as Germany, Japan, Russia or China, from even considering an attempt to challenge U.S. power.
The George Bush Sr. Years:
On February 9, 1990, President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker, as well as West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, promised Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that if the USSR would withdraw their troops and allow German reunification under America’s NATO military alliance, they would not expand it “one inch eastward” beyond that.
Of course they lied about it since, at various times claiming this pledge either never happened or doesn’t count because it wasn’t in writing. But last year the records were posted at the National Security Archive at George Washington University’s website. You can read the writing yourself.
But then Bill Clinton started expanding NATO in his second term. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were brought in 1999.
Clinton and his advisers said that Russia wouldn’t mind. Maybe they’ll join! They created the NATO-Russia Council with a promise toward further integration. But then the Kosovo war of 1999 ended all that talk for good. Of course inviting Russia into NATO, creating essentially a one-world white army of the North, would have also been a disaster, but the alternative our government has chosen has hardly been better.
Many Cold War hawks such as Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry, George Kennan, who had coined the containment policy back in the 1940s, and his rival Paul Nitze who favored the more aggressive policy of Soviet “rollback,” the Butcher of Asia, Robert S. McNamara, who later confessed to war crimes in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and Robert Gates, the former director of the CIA and later defense secretary all warned Clinton not to do it. As Kennan told the New York Times:
“I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.
“Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.
“Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.”
On top of the insult and danger of Western incorporation of former Warsaw Pact states into the NATO alliance, was the “shock therapy” economic policy of the “Harvard Boys,” Larry Summers, Jeffrey Sachs, David Lipton and Robert Rubin which totally destroyed the Russian economy. Instead of being a good sport at the end of a world-historical peaceful victory, the U.S. under Bill Clinton just kept kicking them while they were down. All at once the “Harvard Boys” abolished all subsidies and price controls in the formerly completely Communist economy, induced hyper-inflation, destroying all available capital for real investment and used “voucher” and “loans for shares” schemes that handed over entire industries to connected gangsters who mostly just liquidated it all and ran. The consequences for the economy and civilian population were beyond severe. Life expectancy fell by double digits across the country. The congressional testimony of former Wall Street Journal reporter Anne Williamson explains the full scale of the tragedy and how they got away with it.
The U.S. also rigged the Russian presidential election of 1996 with billions of dollars in last minute loans for passing out bribes and a massive and sophisticated propaganda and ballot box stuffing campaign. Is that “ancient history”? This scheme of course contributed to the rise of Vladimir Putin, whom Yeltsin named Prime Minister in 1999. He then resigned and named Putin to replace him as President on New Years of the year 2000. Putin has since isolated, exiled and replaced America and Israel’s favored Russian oligarchs with his own.
The George W. Bush years:
Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call George W. Bush on September 11th to offer his condolences and full cooperation, including the use of Russia’s “northern route,” into Afghanistan through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and the use of former Soviet bases in those countries. Putin is said to have spent considerable political capital facing down critics on his right in politics and the military to do so.
Bush turned right around three months later and announced American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and plans to put defensive missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. Attempting to avoid the obvious, the president claimed these were to protect Poland from ballistic missile attack from Iran. When Bush said this at a NATO or G-8 meeting in Europe – sorry, I couldn’t find it but do remember – the others all busted out laughing in spite of themselves.
Bush’s government also launched a project of what are called the Color-Coded Revolutions, primarily against Russian-leaning states in their near-abroad. These are essentially U.S. coup de tat’s disguised as fake “revolutions” backed by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and friendly supposedly private NGOs like Otpor. This trend got started in the Bill Clinton years with mixed success in Albania in 1996, Montenegro and Croatia in 1997, Slovakia and Armenia in 1998 and Serbia in 2000. Bush brought the successful Serbian template to Georgia with the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the failed Denim Revolution in Belarus in 2005, the short-lived Tulip Revolution in Tajikistan in 2005, the failed Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005, and disastrous Green Revolution in Iran during Obama’s presidency in 2009.
The Bush government also continued further NATO expansion in violation of his father’s promise, bringing seven more countries into the alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. He tried very hard to include Ukraine and Georgia but Germany and France refused to allow it.
NATO membership is a war guarantee. The people in charge act as though it’s just an invite to a fancy cocktail party for powerful international government socialites. But as Pat Buchanan, former ardent Cold Warrior in the bad old days, likes to point out, the U.S. used to draw the line at the Elbe river half way across Germany. The threat was that if the Soviets invaded West Germany, threatening France, the Netherlands and the other Western democracies, we would go to war to stop them. Now America has moved that line 1200 miles to the east to Russia’s very western border with the Baltic states. There’s no real reason to fear it, but if Russia did decide to reconquer Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, our politicians have signed us up to fight a war to defend them from a power that could in fact destroy our entire civilization permanently in one afternoon if it came down to it. Nevermind our Monroe Doctrine in the sense that the Russians must feel the same way about their near-abroad as Americans do, but the Doctrine itself actually promises to stay out of European affairs if they will stay out of our hemisphere in return. That part always goes unmentioned, doesn’t it?
The short Georgia War of August 2008 could have turned into a real war. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili – victor of the U.S.-backed Rose Revolution of 2003 – was incentivized to take bigger risks due to U.S. military support and vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring. He launched an attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia, then enjoying full autonomy and protection by Russian peacekeepers under a deal that had been brokered by our European Union allies. The Russians, suffering casualties in the initial assault, quickly struck back, destroying Georgia’s invading force and securing South Ossetia’s independence from Georgia.
Vice President Cheney proposed missile strikes agianst the Russian troops coming through the tunnels under the Caucasus Mountains. Luckily, the much wiser George W. Bush had decided better than to listen to Cheney by that late date.
Imagine, Georgia, this tiny, weak nation in the southern Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas, being included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. You thought Turkey was pushing it. But what value could Georgia possibly add to the American alliance, other than to get the people of this country into the worst kind of trouble over issues that are absolutely none of our business?
Putin gave a speech to a NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008, telling the Western leaders that, “The claim that this process [of bringing as many of Russia’s neighbors into the West’s military alliance as possible] is not directed against Russia will not suffice. National security is not based on promises.”
As Putin elaborated in an interview with Oliver Stone, whether America’s motives are truly just centered around corporate welfare or not, the position the U.S. is putting him in requires him to respond to the heightened threat. Soon thereafter he claimed in his annual address to the Duma an entire new generation of heavy MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) missiles, one of which could kill every major city in Texas; nuclear-powered cruise missiles with essentially unlimited range for evading U.S. defenses; virtually undetectable nuclear torpedoes for destroying American coastal cities and major ports; and hypersonic delivery vehicles which completely skew the balance of Mutually Assured Destruction by reducing the amount of time that policy makers have to decide whether to go to nuclear war from 15 or 30 minutes to perhaps less than five.
The primacy project didn’t create a permanent state of dominance and security. Instead we got endless new liabilities with nothing real to show for it, and a new nuclear arms race, which it looks like we’re losing.
First of all the Obama government continued NATO expansion by adding Albania and Croatia to the alliance.
He also made a chump out of Russian President Dimitry Medvedev by lying him into supporting the Libya resolution in the UN Security Council. Obama’s government claimed they were only going to launch a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Benghazi in Libya’s east, and then used the resolution as cover to launch a nine-month long regime change war on behalf of the Libyan veterans of Iraq War II – those who had fought for al Qaeda in Iraq there: the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Ansar al Sharia, who have helped turn the country into a free-fire zone in the decade since.
If you know nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Even libertarians, often times blind to history and context, see these problems through TV and John McCain’s eyes. For example, the crisis in Ukraine in 2014. “Freedom is being threatened by Russian aggression!” the narrative went, which could not have been further from the truth. It was a battle over spheres of influence. Ours is the entire sphere. Theirs is inside their own borders only, and even then only for the time being. As National Endowment for Democracy head Carl Gershman threatened in the Washington Post in September of 2013, just as the U.S.-backed Ukrainian Maidan movement was getting started, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, in, say, Canada. The Russians, after having won the Cold War had begun incorporating all of Latin America into the Warsaw Pact and then even used neo-Nazis to do a street putsch against the government in Ottawa, then helping them launch a war against the people of Vancouver, BC for refusing to recognize the new coup junta and threatening to overthrow the government in Washington D.C. next.
Right. We’d go to war over it. Those crazy, liberty-hating Russians though? They’ll just have to learn to get used to it.
Now, it is certain that the very worst things that Russia has done in this century has been their involvement in the wars in Ukraine and Syria. But it is important to note that first of all, in both cases the U.S. started it, not Russia. In Ukraine Putin sent deniable special operations types into the eastern Donbass region to help defend it. Like that or not, what they did not do was invade the country with any conventional force or take any territory in the east. When the Donbass region held a referendum and voted to ask to join the Russian federation in 2015, Putin refused. He would help them to maintain their autonomy from the hostile regime in Kiev only. More than ten thousand people were killed in the 2014-2015 war there – there is still some fighting – but the vast majority of these were Ukrainian civilians and militia fighters killed by the Kiev government, not pro-regime Ukrainians killed by Russian invaders. Nevermind the truth. The narrative is what counts on TV. Except in this case there’s hardly even a narrative at all. Just the endlessly repeated slogans “Russian aggression” and “Russian seizure of Crimea” without any explanation or context.
Well here is some context on the subject of Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014: Russia won the Crimean Peninsula away from the Turks back in the 1780s, when America was still under the Articles of Confederation. It is part of Russia like New York is part of the U.S.A.. The only reason it was under Ukrainian control at all was because Soviet First Secretary and Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave it to them by decree in 1954 in order to shore up Ukrainian support for his rise to power after the death of dictator Joseph Stalin. At that point it made no difference since they were all answerable to the Kremlin first. The population is something like 60% Russian, 14% Turkic Tatars and 25% Ukrainian, and in the generation between the fall of the Soviet Union and the events of the last decade, Crimea had maintained a great deal of autonomy from the central government in Kiev. After the 2014 coup, three former Ukrainian presidents signed a letter demanding that Russia be expelled from the naval base at Sevastopol where they had maintained a naval presence on lease on after the end of the Cold War. Instead Putin ordered his men to leave their bases and take control of the Peninsula. Not a single person was killed. Two warning shots were fired and that was it. A referendum was quickly held, and better than a super-majority of the people of the peninsula voted to join the Russian federation. Later independent polling confirmed the results.
Putin later joked in a speech by way of explanation that:
“[L]et me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organization, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.”
Again, when the eastern Donbass region tried to join Russia, Putin said no. The U.S. and its clients were threatening Russia’s vital interest in the warm water naval port at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. That’s the only reason they moved there. The status quo had held for 23 years since the red flag came down. The Russians were happy to lease the port and otherwise stay out. It was the U.S. that forced a change in the situation, and it blew up in their face.
Speaking of which, I highly recommend you-all look up and check out the clip of Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose on the old Stephen Colbert show bragging about the Kiev coup; about how easy it was and how we’re stealing this important strategic asset away from Russia while Putin is distracted with the Sochi Olympics so he can’t do anything about it. This was similar to Victoria Nuland and Geoffery Pyatt’s leaked discussion about getting the regime change all settled before Putin could figure out how to react. Just as in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, the hawks’ hubris is unparalleled and is constantly their undoing.
And on Russia’s role in Syria: the various armed uprisings against the Assad regime in 2011 and 2012 would have been quickly destroyed by the regime there if the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel had not intervened on behalf of the supposed revolution, which was very quickly dominated by the jihadist followers of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s group from Iraq War II. Instead, U.S. and allied intervention on behalf of the bin Ladenites, motivated primarily by an animus against the Assad regime for its alliance with Iran, led directly to the rise of the Islamic State, which conquered western Iraq in 2014 and raised the real threat in 2015 that a combined assault against Damascus by advancing terrorist forces could lead to a fall of the regime. Only then, after Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan and John Kerry’s treason threatened a final victory for al Qaeda and/or ISIS in the capital city, did Russia finally enter the war in 2015. There’s no excusing the massive civilian so-called collateral damage inflicted on the people of Syria by the Russian air force flying on behalf of their government, but again, none of this would have happened if the U.S.A. and its allies didn’t create such a dangerous situation in the first place. If you listen to them now, the hawks are all screaming that Russia has returned to the Middle East after 25 years, but since it’s their fault, we shouldn’t listen to them. Half the time the same people boast that the Russians can’t afford it and that we like to see them bogged down in an expensive fight far from home. By the way, all three major chemical attacks blamed on Bashar al Assad’s government, in 2013, 2018 and 2019 were all hoaxes perpetrated by the bin Ladenites to try to increase U.S. support for their cause. In the latter two cases they got it.
Donald Trump ran, for one thing, on the promise that he wanted to “get along with Russia.” Not that he had any real idea what issues divided the U.S. and Russia or what should be done about them. He simply possessed the completely pedestrian insight that the Evil Empire ceased to exist more than a generation ago, and that his predecessors’ failures to forge a peaceful coexistence and partnership with Russia by this late date should be placed at their own feet. He has also parroted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s advice that the U.S. should seek partnership with Russia to divide them from and use them against China – getting the answer half-right for the wrong reason. But when Trump hired Paul Manafort, the lobbyist for foreign states who had worked for the previous, Russian-backed President, Viktor Yanukovych, in March 2016, they panicked. Nevermind that Manafort if anything was serving American interests attempting to persuade Ukrainian President Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to lean toward the U.S. and EU and away from Russia, they had a narrative to run with: Trump doesn’t just want to get along with Russia, he wants to give them the keys to the entire castle! Collusion!
Now I really don’t know what you know, so let me tell you, Russiagate was just a big fake hoax. CIA Director Brennan and FBI Director Comey and their underlings knew that the entire story of Russian interference and Trump Campaign “collusion” was nonsense. The investigation was the end in itself.
After the leaks about Russia’s supposed hack of the DNC emails failed to stop Trump’s election, the CIA and Democrats – I know this sounds so crazy it sounds like I’m the one who’s crazy, but really, check my facts in the New York Times – they wanted to have acting CIA Director Mike Morell brief the Electoral College that Trump cheated with the Russians to win and so they should throw the election to Hillary, or at least to the House of Representatives which could then name House Speaker Paul Ryan or former Secretary of State Colin Powell to take his place. That of course went nowhere. Someone must have finally told them those electors come from the state parties, not the D.C. suburbs, and there’s no way in the world they were going to give Trump’s win to anyone else. Then three days before his inauguration came the completely fake and stupid “intelligence assessment,” which is a made-up thing, written by a quote “hand-picked by Brennan” few, in place of a real National Intelligence Estimate, and which contained exactly zero substance whatsoever. This was followed by the leaking of the completely fake and stupid Christopher Steele Dossier alleging Trump’s full subordination to Russia and its goals going back for years. Of course the basis for the story was that the FBI’s Comey had warned Trump about the fake accusations against him in the first place.
After Trump fired Comey, the leaders of the Department of Justice plotted to try to invoke the 25th Amendment and get the cabinet to vote to remove him from power. Once they were sure they would fall short if they tried it, they settled on the plan to just pretend to investigate the fake plot for another two years. If they couldn’t get rid of him, they could at least “reign him in,” as FBI officials told CNN.
Amazingly, they kept this lie going for just short of three years; well, dozens of them: The DNC and Podesta email hacks, which they have never proven were done by Russia and later admitted they have no proof of a chain of custody to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange; Manafort’s supposed handling of Trump for Putin, which of course was never prosecuted because it was not true; George Papadopoulos and rumored stolen emails, which was revealed to all be an FBI/CIA set-up in the first place; Carter Page’s alleged deal to lift Russia sanctions – Yeah sure, the Russians promised someone with no pull inside the Trump campaign a 19% ownership stake in Gasprom, the giant Russian government-owned oil firm, if only he would seize control of America’s sanctions policy for them. It turned out in the end that Page was actually a CIA asset whom the agency had told the FBI was a solid guy and no traitor at all, which the FBI censored from their FISA search warrant application against him, alleging a pretended belief that he was an agent of the Kremlin in order to keep the investigation going. Then there was Senator Sessions’s substanceless meetings with the Russian ambassador in his office and at a public speech, Gen. Mike Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador, which was spun as treason for Russia when in reality he was asking a favor of them on behalf of Israel – oops; endless snipe hunts for pee tapes which even Steel’s source admitted was made up; the big nothing Trump Tower meeting that we were told for years was the certain key to lock up the President’s son for treason, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s non-existent trip to Prague to arrange for the Russian Facebook ad campaign that in fact was not run by the Russian government at all, was not aimed at influencing the election and flatly did not do so; the Russian plot to hack Vermont’s power grid and C-SPAN TV; the “PropOrNot” blacklist of good journalists; the secret server communicating with Russian intelligence that was just a Trump Hotels spam bot; the Russians’ supposed invention of the Black Lives Matter movement to stir up those otherwise perfectly contented survivors of state violence; weaponized cricket chirps at the U.S. embassy in Cuba – yeah, no, really, the U.S. government said the Russians and Cubans were using a mind control beam weapon that was causing all sorts of terrible psychosomatic effects on the poor State Department victims therein; the Russian hacking of all the state parties’ voter rolls was an obvious joke long before they admitted it. You can go ahead and start with a scoff when the reports are coming from the Department of Homeland Security. They just want some attention. Then there was the Russian GRU’s alleged intervention in Brexit, in French, German and EU Parliamentary and other elections throughout Europe, and Putin’s supposed influence looming behind Trump’s choice of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for the Secretary of State job, and then later arranging his eventual firing. Virtually all of these were eventually walked back or abandoned, with another few thousand dishonest claims and smears against everyone who knew better along with them.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller could have let it be known from at least near the very beginning of his appointment as Special Council in 2017 that their investigation was not pointing to the fact that the President of the United States was guilty of treason in league with the Kremlin to destroy our democracy and all. As Bob Woodward explained in his 2018 book, Fear, Trump told his lawyer to give Mueller’s team every scrap of paper from the 2016 campaign, no problem, not a thing to hide in the world. Just as Woodward understood and the Department of Justice must have, this meant that from the very beginning there was nothing there to find. They could have made that most important part of the story clear in a reasonable amount of time after that. Instead we got 1,000 leaks from the spies and the feds for another two years trying to make us believe it was all true. When Buzzfeed somehow crossed the line by falsely claimed that Bush had instructed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, Mueller quickly put out a press release denying that was true. But whether the sitting president was guilty of High Treason, of past and current subordination to the most dangerous foreign power on the planet? Sorry, you’ll just have to wait and wonder and watch TV speculate for a couple years until we get back to you.
And “reigning Trump in” has worked, in spades. As Tulsi Gabbard pointed out in a great piece in The Hill last week, Trump doesn’t have the intelligence or the strength to stand up to the National Security State’s onslaught. Desperate to prove what a traitor he’s not to the foreign policy establishment, Trump betrays the American people and his promise to end the recent era of enmity and work things out with Russia. Instead he’s overseen the addition of Montenegro and Macedonia to NATO; sent more American troops and equipment to Poland and the Baltics, including provocative military exercises and parades within just yards of the Russian border; and where Obama, the first black president to support a Nazi coup, was afraid to arm the regime forces who attacked their countrymen in the eastern Donbass region for fear of a real escalation into war with Russia, Donald Trump has gone ahead and sent arms to Ukraine’s Nazi-infested armed forces – sniper rifles, armed boats, RPGs and Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of non-lethal equipment like Humvees, night vision goggles, radars and armor, along with training and joint military exercises. All this just incentivizes more violence after the major Minsk II peace deal has already been signed, calm is mostly reigning and talks continue.
If you can believe it, the House of Representatives of the United States of America actually recently impeached President Trump over allegedly holding up part of this arms deal for a few days until he could generate some bad PR for ex-Vice President Biden who we know was intimately involved in the 2014 coup and whose son got an in-name-only job at a major Ukrainian gas company in the aftermath for a cool $85,000 per month – that’s a million dollars per year – which he blew on crack and sex workers while cheating on his wife and dead brother’s widow at the same time. But anyway, holding up that arms deal was really bad, the Democrats thought, worse than genocide in Yemen, worse than doubling down on a lost war in Afghanistan and much worse than picking a fight with Russia, which is what he’s actually been doing.
Under Trump the U.S. Navy has stepped up its presence in the Black and Baltic seas and armed U.S. frigates in the Baltic with medium range cruise missiles that reduce first strike warning times, which of course makes the Russians’ launch-on-warning trigger finger itch that much worse.
And worst of all Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and threatened to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and let New START expire next year.
Then again, when he proposes negotiations for a grand new nuclear deal between the U.S. and Russia, the media slam him as naïve and dangerous and only proving once again what an treacherous agent of the dastardly Vladimir Putin he is.
An important note about the INF Treaty: The MK-41 missile launchers Obama installed in Romania and Poland are supposedly for firing defensive missiles, but they also fit medium range Tomahawk cruise missiles. So the U.S. broke at least the spirit of the INF Treaty first, just as with the ships in the Baltic Sea. Russia then developed some new missiles that were probably also in violation – but were only being used for deployment near Russia’s frontier with China. But guess what? That’s why the U.S. wanted out of the treaty too, so they could deploy medium range missiles against China. So instead of saying, hold on now, and trying to negotiate a continuation, this important Reagan-era treaty that kept medium range nuclear missiles out of Europe for 30 years is now dead.
Perhaps worst of all is Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review which, like Trump’s official National Security Strategy, announced a return to “great power competition,” specifically citing the Russian “threat” and called for the development and deployment of more low-yield, “usable” nuclear bombs and missiles (more on those in a minute), announced that the United States will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and even denounces the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which of course America signed back in 1968, promising to abolish our nuclear weapons stockpile completely, but has always ignored anyway.
What’s it all about?
Well it ain’t the threat of Soviet Communism, dead and gone 30 years now.
And it ain’t “Russian Aggression” which exists only in the minds of their aggressive accusers. Russia’s GDP last year was 3 trillion dollars. When you include the VA and the energy department’s care and feeding of the nuke stockpile, the U.S. spends a trillion dollars per year on the military. Russia spends $60 billion. We have more than a million-man army spread throughout the world. They have 750,000 and they almost all stay home, except special operations types in Ukraine and those and some air power in Syria, where, again, the U.S. has provoked their intervention through irresponsible policies in the first place.
The Russians have one broken down old diesel-powered aircraft carrier. America has 11 nuclear-powered carrier battle groups throughout the world at all times, 20 carriers overall. The U.S. has more than 3 times the amount of military aircraft as the Russians when including the U.S. air force and navy.
But Congressman Schiff says we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.
And there is no reason to believe that Vladimir Putin is dumb enough to try to make the same old mistake and invade and occupy foreign territory at all. What does he need from the eastern European states that he cannot trade for – other than possibly a defensive “land cushion” to their west to protect them from American aggression?
It’s the money. As Richard Cummings did such a great job of explaining in his 2007 article “Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” the 1990s-era U.S. Committee To Expand NATO was a project of Lockheed Vice-President Bruce Jackson. The whole thing was just meant to be a racket for selling jets either directly to the eastern European states, or failing that, to force the American taxpayer to pick up the tab for them.
A fun anecdote about that: back in the spring of 2014, Harper’s magazine reporter Andrew Cockburn reported that he had a source who had been at a big party at Crystal City outside of Washington, D.C. – an area heavy with military contractors and lobbyists – the night it was announced that the Russian sailors were leaving their bases and seizing the Crimean Peninsula. They all started laughing and cheering and celebrating. Forget patrolling peasants in Afghanistan, a massive buildup against the renewed Russian Threat was exactly the conflict these men were looking for; threatening the future of our entire species so they don’t have to get real jobs.
You’ll note that the Navy and Air Force are more concerned with implementing their Air/Sea Battle doctrines in East Asia, while the Special Operations Command is doubling down in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and on into West Africa.
It’s all in the game. The entire U.S. military is, as they themselves call it, a “self-licking ice cream cone.”
Full-Spectrum Dominance is a government program; as such it is the means and the end in itself. And so it goes.
The elephant in the room here of course are the hydrogen bombs, otherwise known as thermonuclear fusion bombs or “strategic” nuclear weapons. One of these in the high kiloton or low megaton range can kill your entire city in a single shot.
Barack Obama pushed a massive appropriation toward revamping the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal as well as a complete overhaul of the entire industry; all the factories and national laboratories too. They started by saying the project would cost 1 trillion dollars. Now it’s 1.75 trillion. We’ll be lucky if it’s only 3 or 4 trillion dollars by the time their done. (This after spending almost 6 trillion on the current arsenal during the last arms race with Russia in the 20th century.) A recent article in Defense One said:
“Modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is Pentagon leaders’ top priority. The Pentagon, in its fiscal 2021 budget request, asked Congress to approve [another] $28.9 billion to maintain its existing weapons and buy new intercontinental ballistic missiles, [a new generation of] stealth bombers, submarines, cruise missiles, warheads and communications equipment. The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration has requested $15.6 billion for its nuclear weapons projects.”
Much of the time, if you listen to the DC wonks talk about it, the nukes just go without saying. Of course everybody knows that both sides are armed to the teeth with them still, but so then they just seem to get left out, leaving entire plans and discussions about war revolving around the idea that we could really just fight a conventional war with Russia like in some fun fantasy of a junior tank officer or a stay-at-home PlayStation general.
But both sides still have about 2,000 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs deployed, with approximately another 6-7,000 each in reserve. This is still way down from the height of the arms race the last time around in which both sides built up nuclear weapons arsenals in the tens of thousands of bombs.
Possibly even more dangerous than the multi-megaton city-killers are the new dial-a-yield bombs, capable of being detonated at “usable” low-yield strengths in the 10s or even single digit kilotons. They also come with new and improved proximity fuses that make them far more accurate. This might sound like an improvement, but at the same time it makes the actual use of these weapons seem far more plausible to the men in control of them. It was only just announced a few weeks ago that the first of the new generation of these weapons have been deployed on U.S. submarines.
The Americans have a theory that Russia’s new military doctrine in Europe is to “escalate to de-escalate” – that is, in the event of war, to use one small nuke to dissuade any further escalation by our side. But the U.S. wants them to know that that won’t work: the U.S. will escalate back, not disengage. To drive this point home a story was recently leaked about a war game earlier this month which included the use by Russia of a low-yield nuke under their new doctrine. So in the simulation, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper immediately nuked them right back. Hans Christianson from the Federation of American Scientists says this leak was also a public relations stunt to get Congress to fund the new submarine-launched low-yield cruise missile they want to develop.
(In Andrew Cockburn’s book Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy, he describes how the former Secretary of Defense, filling in as the president while playing Continuity of Government games in the 1990s, would always blow up the world, every chance he got. Even when the game was designed to provide off ramps from full Omnicide, he still went for it every time.)
In real life, this type of exchange, beginning with so-called tactical nukes, would almost certainly devolve into general nuclear war and the destruction of the northern hemisphere and the starvation of billions more, as a war simulation carried out by Princeton University demonstrated last year. Any people who survived would have been set back centuries. Even an extremely “limited” nuclear war, such as between India and Pakistan, could kill as many people as all who died in World War II in a single day. The soot from the fires, rising high above the clouds where it cannot be rained out, could be enough to darken our sunlight enough to cause nuclear winter, massive global crop failures and the deaths of billions.
And for what? To keep Russia from occupying Tallinn or Vilnius, cities most Americans have never heard of and certainly would never have signed up to be wiped off the face of the earth over?
In another recent DoD exercise, Russia nukes first and the U.S. responds by nuking their ally Belarus. Who comes up with this stuff?
If you want to know how crazy America’s nuclear weapons policy really is, please read The Doomsday Machine by the great Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. He was also a nuclear war planner and has some serious things to tell you in there. For example, back in the ’50s, the one and only nuclear war plan said that in the event of a crisis with the Soviets, in, say, West Berlin, the U.S. would nuke every single city in the Soviet Union and China. Though that was revised somewhat in the Kennedy years, anecdotes since that time are not reassuring. Old “Iron Ass” Dick Cheney was said to be astonished and disturbed when seeing a simulation of a U.S. nuclear war against Russia which included scores and scores of strikes on Moscow, long after it would have ceased to exist. Every service wants two cracks at every target because what if the first shot is a dud? Better make it three air force gravity bombs, two ICBMs, two Tomahawk cruise missiles and a couple of sub-launched Polaris missiles at this one radar station on the edge of town, just to be sure. And every new weapon invented and deployed is added to the list while the old ones remain. Year after year it adds up to just comic book-crazy scenarios such as nuking cities full of people and then the empty craters over and over and over again. As Ellsberg recounted, when he left his first viewing of Dr. Strangelove, he and a RAND Corporation college said to each other, that wasn’t satire; it was a documentary.
It seems crazy and alarmist to even consider. After all, what could we really have to fight about with Russia now that’s more important that all the crises of the first Cold War era? But it is crazy. And that’s why we should be alarmed. And we should do everything we can to shout down those ignorant TV-slogan repeating myna birds in our communities who have climbed on board the bandwagon on this.
It’s no different than the demonization of any of the U.S. government’s enemies here and around the world: virtually the entire popular narrative is fake.
Of course the older generation is used to hating Russia and the young have been sold a line of garbage about “Russian aggression” throughout Eastern Europe, and of course the Russiagate hoax and Putin inflicting Trump upon our land.
But the U.S.A., not Russia, is the World Empire. And it shouldn’t be. Primacy in the Old World is a Fool’s Errand. This is the middle part of North America. Our supposed limited constitutional republic should never have tried it. And while it’s possible that economic catastrophe could end the era of attempted predominance before a nuclear war does, it seems like the more responsible course would be to recognize the self-destructive nature of our current policy and just call it all off now while we’re ahead.
In truth, neither Russia nor Germany nor anyone else has any interest whatsoever in starting a war in Eastern Europe. It is the U.S.A. which has picked this fight.
Of course in the current political climate any statement or position that contains anything better than the most overly simplistic, “other side”-bashing, fearmongering point of view is spun from on high as not just “pro-Russian,” but also “obviously-secretly-controlled-by-Russia” because what other explanation for someone not believing the hype could there possibly be?
But that’s why the current political climate must change. Already the most recent false accusations about Russia’s supposed support for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have fallen flat amongst all but those most determined to believe it about the other side. But last week, as the writer Matt Taibbi noted, Trump’s approval rating went up, while Sanders cleaned up in Nevada the day after the smear story was launched. Of course the entire story was later walked back, like all the rest of them.
America’s relationship with Russia is the single most important matter facing humanity. We all deserve policies that will bring an end to the current system which requires a perpetual nuclear sword hanging over all of our necks while tragic proxy conflicts are waged against innocent people and the threat of a real war breaking out is higher than at any time since the early 1980s, if not the early 1960s.
This essential issue is one where libertarians can lead by telling the truth and demanding an end to this insane game of militarism and global hegemony so that we can truly live in peace and prosperity together.
Thank you very much.
Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.