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7 Dec, 2014 20:32

America tuned out as Congress bangs war drum against Russia

America tuned out as Congress bangs war drum against Russia

On December 4, as America was tuned into Thursday night football, or staring into the cold depths of the refrigerator at commercial time, House members brought the nation one step closer to all-out war with Russia.

Future historians - that is, assuming there are humans still around to contemplate history - may one day point to House Resolution 758 as the single piece of legislation that sparked a global conflagration between two leading nuclear powers.

This is not hyperbole. US rhetoric against Russia is quickly overstepping reality, causing US politicians to endorse policies that severely inflate the perceived threat. When political veteran Ron Paul says the House passed what he ranked as “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever,” well, we had better sit up and switch off CNN, especially when that legislation happens to involve a historical heavyweight like Russia.

Resolution 758 was forged in a political furnace of unbalanced, one-sided debate, where American politicians regularly attempt to outdo each other in a lame contest called ‘Russian fear mongering.’ This popular game, which is never out of season, is played among intellectually challenged officials looking for quick political advantage; a bit like Special Olympics for American politicians where everybody goes home a winner.

However, these Russian games are no longer a laughing matter as they were during the feel-good Yeltsin era. Vladimir Putin has shown himself to be a highly competent statesman and whether this fact is responsible for America’s bad mood is difficult to say. Whatever the case may be, judging by the wording of HR 758, America seems to be sliding inexorably towards a ‘war footing’ with Russia.

The opening paragraph of HR 758 accuses Russia of conducting an "invasion of Ukraine" and violating its territorial sovereignty. Like so much else in this resolution, the statement is delivered into American living rooms like a dry, cold pizza without the toppings. Yet nobody, except Ron Paul and a few others, seems to be complaining.

A joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

“Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion,” Paul argued. “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?”

Indeed, as Ukraine was approaching open rebellion, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine were overheard in taped conversations bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. They even mentioned the names of the individuals the US wants to see in leadership positions, and while we’re at it: ‘F*ck the EU!’

Paragraph 13 of the document demands the “withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine” even though not a shred of evidence has been produced to prove that the Russian army ever set foot in Ukraine. Further on, HR 758 urges Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence, a move that will certainly exasperate East-West relations if it goes forward.

Paragraph 14 states that Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which went down in murky circumstances in eastern Ukraine, was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.”

How can the House make such a reckless conclusion when the final report on the investigation of this tragedy is not scheduled to be released until next year? Moreover, the preliminary report never says that a missile was responsible for bringing down MH17.

Paragraph 22 states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is a blatant misrepresentation of the historical record since it is well known that Georgian forces launched a crack-of-dawn military offensive against South Ossetia, killing hundreds of civilians, as well as a dozen Russian peacekeepers. Yes, Russia chased the Georgian army back to the outskirts of Tbilisi before turning back, but what country would have done differently under similar circumstances?

HR 758 also calls on Russia “to reverse its illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, to end its support of the separatist forces in Crimea, and to remove its military forces from that region other than those operating in strict accordance with its 1997 agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet Stationing on the Territory of Ukraine.”

A woman stands by her smoldering home in the Lidievka district, after it was hit and destroyed by shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 6, 2014. (AFP Photo/Eric Feferberg)

This statement represents the falsification of history in an effort to pursue a political agenda. The people of the Crimean peninsula, under the threat of violence from government forces, independently called for a referendum to decide their sovereign status. Only after Crimea voted – overwhelmingly - to join the Russian Federation did the Russian Duma hold a vote on the issue. The entire process was done according to the dictates of international law.

There are many more such preposterous claims and dangerous demands in HR 758, yet the document has been greeted with a deafening silence in the United States by the corporate-owned media.

“Global security is at stake,writes Michel Chossudovsky in Veteran News. “This historic vote – which potentially could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide– has received virtually no media coverage. A total media blackout prevails.”

It is the opinion here that the recent upsurge in anti-Russian rhetoric, which is quickly transforming into concrete actions, is not a new phenomenon. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States never really shook off its cold war hangover, and moreover, never really wanted to.

A holier-than-thou attitude has permeated the great majority of US think-tank papers over the years, creating a palpable sense of fear towards Russia while sowing the seeds for immense defense sector profits. Newspaper articles since the time of Boris Yeltsin have dripped with condescending, disparaging remarks about Russia, which have worked to create a particular mindset in many Americans towards a country they have most likely never experienced firsthand.

Meanwhile, inside the world of America’s hermetically sealed cauldron of ‘academic Russian studies’ (READ: Sovietology) - a veritable echo chamber where anti-Russian mantras are recited like unthinking prayers - an atmosphere of hostility against Russia has been carefully cultivated for years. There are only a handful of honest US academicians as far as Russia is concerned.

Sevastopol residents at a celebratory show held after the referendum on Crimea's status. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Given this overtly hostile attitude towards all things Russian, it was quite easy for the United States to sell the idea of a dangerous enemy “on the doorstep of NATO” that has some kind of wild desire to recreate an empire.

Yet what country has been steadily encroaching on Russia’s doorstep like a wolf in sheep’s clothing since the end of the Cold War? What country has refused to cooperate with Russia in its missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, thus bringing the continent to the brink of another arms race? What country has over 800 military franchises spanning the globe, yet accuses Russia of yearning for empire? What country has launched military offensives against seven countries in the last six years, yet calls Russia an “aggressive state” because it dares defends itself when attacked by a foreign power? What country has been playing geopolitical games in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union – even sending high-ranking political figures into central Kiev to spew venomous rhetoric against Russia when it appeared that Ukraine was going to join an economic bloc with Russia, as opposed to the EU?

Before the US Senate votes on HR758, it should ask itself these simple questions, otherwise it risks stirring up a hornet’s nest of problems the world does not need.

Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which discusses the dangerous consequences of extreme corporate power in the United States.

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

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