Deter Russian aggression! - US and NATO in full cold war mode

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
© Rafael Marchante
The US European Command (USEUCOM) has published an Updated Theater Strategy. And guess what was listed as number one of the six top ‘priorities’. ‘Deter Russian aggression’!

We are told that “Russian aggression threatens NATO allies and partners in Europe.

Russia is accused of showing “disregard for the sovereignty of its neighbors in Europe” and violating “numerous agreements which require the country Russia to act within international law.

In the east and north, Russia is the cause of much concern due to its increasingly aggressive behavior…As demonstrated in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Russia is employing a form of warfare that combines conventional, irregular, and asymmetric means – including the persistent manipulation of political and ideological conflicts – to foster instability, and it is rejecting a collaborative security approach with the international community.”

And it’s not only in Europe where Russia threatens. The ‘Bear’ is on the prowl all over the world! “Russia is presenting enduring challenges to our allies and partners in multiple regions; therefore, it is a global challenge that requires a global response.”

The 12 page document by General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF Commander, has a distinct early 1950s feel about it. That’s not surprising, because the present propaganda war against Russia is as strong - and unrelenting - as in the McCarthyite era. A ‘revanchist Russia’ is now deemed to be the most important factor in “the most profound negative change in the European security environment since the end of the Cold War.”

As a work of fiction, the Updated Theater Strategy should be in line for all the top literary prizes in 2016. For in reality, the “most profound negative change in the European security environment since the end of the Cold War” has been the neocon-inspired Drang nach Osten. It’s Washington - and its aggressive policies - that’s made Europe and indeed the world in general less secure, not Moscow.

In fact if you swap the words Russia with US in the document, it would actually make more sense.

Let’s think back to 1990. Back then, as the old Cold war ended, progressives quite rightly enthused about the so-called ‘peace dividend’. Money spent on weapons could be spent on more worthwhile things such as hospitals, schools and public libraries. But NATO - unlike the Warsaw Pact - didn’t disband, on the contrary, it expanded to Russia’s borders.

Countries that didn’t wish to join the NATO club were targeted with sanctions (Belarus) - or sanctions and bombing (Yugoslavia). In 1999, NATO - established as a defensive military alliance in 1949 - not only broke international law when it attacked the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but also contravened Article One of its own constitution which states: The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

What was that line in the USEUCOM report about violating numerous agreements and international law?

Russia was fine when it was acquiescing in all of this, but as soon as it began to stand up for itself and try and defend its own legitimate interests, the Cold War restarted. As my fellow OpEdger John Wight put it in a recent article on the demonization of Vladimir Putin: “All this baloney about Putin having expansionist aims is an attempt to throw a smokescreen over the West’s own expansionist agenda in Eastern Europe with the goal of throwing a cordon sanitaire around Russia in pursuit of a cold war agenda.

When the staunchly pro-US government in Georgia pounded South Ossetia in August 2008 and Russia responded to protect ethnic Russian citizens, it was Russia who was portrayed as the aggressor in the neocon media.

Likewise in Ukraine in 2014/15 when a State Department/EU “regime change” operation to topple a neutral government and replace it with a staunchly pro-US, pro-EU, anti-Russian one, took place.

What happened in eastern Ukraine and Crimea after the regime change in Kiev was not Russian ‘aggression’ but the response to US/EU aggression against Russia.

U.S. General Philip Breedlove © STR

As I noted here - just imagine what the US reaction would have been if Russia had funded and organized a ‘regime change’ op against a democratically elected government in Canada - and if a Russian foreign minister and the Russian Ambassador to Canada had been caught on tape discussing who should be in the new Russian-friendly Canadian government, as Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt were in relation to Ukraine.

The double standards over ‘national interests’ which the Updated Theater Strategy highlights are quite remarkable.

Europe has historically been and will remain key terrain for the US military,” General Breedlove writes. “The bases, access and freedom of movement provided to the United States by allies and European partners are essential to DoD’s mission to employ forces globally to meet contingency requirement, conduct operations, and defend US vital national interests,” we are told.

But while the US can claim that a continent that is thousands of miles away from the US is “key terrain” and essential to defending its “national interests”- Russia has absolutely no right to respond when the US carries out regime change on its own doorstep. Again, just imagine the furor if Russian military command produced a document which described Central America as “key terrain for the Russian military.”

USEUCOM ambitions in fact go beyond Europe as Breedlove’s document shows.

The Levant and the Mediterranean are also regions in which USEUCOM will be fully engaged. One of USEUCOM’s core missions is assisting Israel in its inherent right to self-defense.” Citing the “threat posed by Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah,” we are told that USEUCOM will continue to work closely with the Israeli Defense Forces to assure them of “US commitment to their defense and to preserve their qualitative military edge over their adversaries amid a rapid and uncertain regional transformation.

But of course all this ‘defense’ will require high levels of manpower - and funding. Breedlove is concerned that fewer than 65,000 US military personnel “remain permanently stationed in Europe to secure and advance US national interests from Greenland to the Caspian Sea and from the Arctic Ocean to the Levant.”

Reduced US forward presence and degraded readiness across the Services are inhibiting the United States’ ability to favorably shape the environment,” he warns.

So come on Mr. Obama - get the nation’s check book out and fund more military spending to counter the Russian “threat” and help advance US national interests “from Greenland to the Caspian Sea and from the Arctic Ocean to the Levant”!

It’s only with extra troop numbers the US and its allies are hoping to counter the “Russian threat”.

Reuters has revealed NATO is also looking to combat what is called the Kremlin’s “weaponization of information”.

Both NATO and the European Union are concerned by Russia's ability to use television and the internet to project what they say is deliberate disinformation,” Reuters says.

Apparently a 23-page document has been produced by NATO’s military committee to deal with the problem. One Western diplomat is quoted as saying about the Russians “They can create a virtual reality that is meant to confuse and achieve certain aims.” A better description of Western neocons I’ve yet to come across.

It’s not hard to understand what NATO and US European Command are up to.

There was a time when US military involvement in Europe was very welcome - when the US helped liberate the continent from Nazi occupation in 1944/5.

Unlike after WWI, the US stayed on in Europe - and perhaps that was understandable in the light of what had happened on the continent in the 1930s. At the same time, there’s no doubt that the “Soviet threat” to Western Europe was hyped in order to justify a continued military presence in the continent. Today, something very similar is occurring - except the “Soviet threat” has been replaced by a “Russian threat”. But there’s a problem: people need to be persuaded that there is indeed a threat, especially at a time of austerity when cutbacks are being made in important areas. The internet age, which has given people access to more sources of information and the growing popularity of channels like RT which urge people to ‘question more’ have made it harder to dupe the public and push a fraudulent narrative.

And then there’s the legacy of Iraq. The blatant lies told about Iraq having WMDs prior to the illegal invasion of 2003 have not, and will not be forgotten.

NATO and the US Military High Command should not blame what they call “the Kremlin’s weaponization of information” for the fact that people in Europe aren’t swallowing the latest wave of anti-Russian propaganda. It should blame George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

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