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EU cowers to American power as relations with Russia tumble

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
EU cowers to American power as relations with Russia tumble
In the dramatic diplomatic disaster that is occurring alongside the Ukrainian crisis, why are European leaders compelled, against their better interest and judgment, to follow Washington into an intractable feud with neighboring Russia?

Increasingly, America's superpower hubris is destroying European relations with Russia, America’s former Cold War nemesis.

Europeans, who inhabit the explosive middle ground between the world's two nuclear-armed superpowers, may want to compare the behavior of Ronald Reagan’s communist “Evil Empire” of yesteryear with this shocking list of American achievements. It at least deserves some consideration since Uncle Sam’s appalling activities of late have very little in common with traditional European values and principles.

For those who have forgotten Washington’s recent shortcomings, which should have forced a major rethink in European capitals, here is the sinister short list: Rendition flights to black hole sites in unknown locations in Eastern Europe, where purported terrorists were duly tortured; the grand opening of Guantanamo Bay Detention facility, which continues to do a robust business despite Obama's pledge to shutter the "gulag of our times," as Amnesty dubbed it; the bombing of Iraq in 2003 for the sheer hell of it; the indiscriminate drone attack on seven nations in five years by America's Nobel Peace Prize winning president; revelations of a worldwide spying network courtesy of the NSA against US enemies and allies alike, which included the personal phone conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Yet, despite the occasional transmogrification of the United States into something utterly unrecognizable - a bit like Count Dracula waiting for nightfall in his Transylvanian castle - European subservience to Washington continues. Nowhere has this been more disastrous for Europe and its millions of subject peoples than in its dealing with Russia, which has been on the receiving end of a US-led slander campaign since the Ukrainian crisis erupted.

A photo taken on September 9, 2014 shows part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk. (AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)

Case in point: The downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014 at the height of Ukrainian conflict in the east of the country. In total disregard for standard operating procedure following such a disaster (i.e. an open and transparent investigation), European politicians, attempting to keep pace with their American dance partner, came out and blamed “pro-Russian rebels” for shooting down the aircraft. Does the Western definition of democracy include a seldom-heard word when dealing with Russia called proof?

Apparently not, because the Western mainstream media, which sold out its independent cognitive skills to corporate interests a long time ago, hawked this warmed-over tripe from the next morning’s newsstands. And the European people, despite their reputation for maintaining healthy diets, gobbled up the hogwash and greedily asked for seconds.

By the way, is anybody in Europe expressing an interest in how that crash investigation is going? Russia certainly is, since it was largely on the basis of that horrific incident and the reckless recriminations that followed that Russo-phobic hysteria shifted into high gear. Yet for whatever reason, European investigators, who still have the tell-all black box in their possession, have been strangely mum on the subject - and despite their initial cocksureness.

The last the world heard of the crash investigation was in mid-September, when a team of Dutch investigators released a preliminary report that said Malaysian Flight MH17, “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from the outside.”

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov criticized the findings, saying the commission “says nothing of the steps that any expert investigating such a disaster must take. These things are like ABC…There is a certain procedure. But the experts who went to Ukraine did not collect all the debris, did not look for the objects that hit the plane.”

Meanwhile, as European investigators dragged their feet on the crucial investigation, the outcome of which could have led to a more sober analysis of European-Russian relations at the height of the Ukrainian meltdown, Washington pulled the European Union into a disastrous sanctions war with Russia that few people in Europe wanted. This is something that even America was gracious enough to admit.

It is true, they did not want to do that [impose sanctions on Russia],” Vice President Joe Biden candidly admitted in a speech last week. “But again it was America’s leadership, and the President of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs [on Russia].”

US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo / Pool / Andrew Gombert)

The only thing missing from that monologue is Victoria Nuland’s “F--- the EU” comment.

So how is this display of American leadership working? Judging by the latest economic indicators for Germany, the economic powerhouse of the EU, much less than swell. German foreign orders in August have tumbled a whopping 8.4 percent since the unpopular sanctions regime took bite, while the IMF is expected to slash German growth rates in 2014 and 2015 by about 1.5 percent.

It will be interesting to see how long the people of Europe, not to mention the harried politicians, will tolerate the economic pain that the sanctions are having. Judging by some recent comments, probably not long.

We do not want them. We know that we are bringing harm to ourselves, and I have listened to enough businessmen who are telling me this every day. The sooner we are out of sanctions, the better,” Gernot Ehrler, German government’s envoy for relations with Russia, told Kommersant on Monday.

We have to remove the sanctions which are not only useless but they cause a reverse effect than their authors hoped to achieve," Milos Zeman, President of Czech Republic told Radio Praha last month. "We need to develop a dialogue based on the exchange of people, commodities and capital as well as completely uncensored information.

Meanwhile, France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls, whose public approval rating of 22 percent amid double-digit unemployment rates are almost as bad as President Holland’s, avoided traditional French formalities when he candidly admitted, “We’ll be f----- if the economy doesn’t bounce back.”

But not only will France be “foutu” if the world economy continues on its present downward slide. A global economic crisis will affect every country, including the United States, which has unnecessarily helped to fuel a regional crisis that benefits nobody – and, perhaps worst of all, the people of Europe.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.