SAN FRANCISCO, USA, Feb 23 (IPS) – Fifty-nine years in the past, Bob Dylan recorded “With God on Our Aspect.” You most likely haven’t heard it on the radio for a really very long time, if ever, however proper now you might take heed to it as his most evergreen of topical songs:
I’ve realized to hate the Russians
All by means of my complete life
If one other battle comes
It is them we should combat
To hate them and concern them
To run and to cover
And settle for all of it bravely
With God on my facet
In latest days, media protection of a attainable summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin has taken on nearly wistful qualities, as if the horsemen of the apocalypse are already out of the barn.
Fatalism is simple for the laptop computer warriors and blow-dried studio pundits who maintain insisting on the necessity to get robust with “the Russians,” by which they imply the Russian authorities. Precise individuals who endure and die in battle simply grow to be faraway abstractions. “And also you by no means ask questions / When God’s in your facet.”
Over the last six many years, the religiosity of U.S. militarism has pale right into a extra generalized set of assumptions — shared, within the present disaster, throughout conventional political spectrums. Ignorance about NATO’s historical past feeds into the great vs. evil bromides which are really easy to ingest and internalize.
On Capitol Hill, it’s onerous to discover a single member of Congress prepared to name NATO what it has lengthy been: an alliance for battle (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya) with nearly nothing to do with “protection” apart from the protection of huge weapons gross sales and, at instances, even fantasies of regime change in Russia.
The reverence and adulation gushing from the Capitol and company media (together with NPR and PBS) towards NATO and its U.S. management are wonders of thinly veiled jingoism. About different societies, reviled ones, we might hear labels like “propaganda.” Right here the supposed truisms are laundered and flat-ironed as frequent sense.
Glimmers of inconvenient reality have flickered solely not often in mainstream U.S. media shops, whereas a bit extra seemingly in Europe. “Biden has mentioned repeatedly that the U.S. is open to diplomacy with Russia, however on the difficulty that Moscow has most emphasised — NATO enlargement — there was no American diplomacy in any respect,” Jeffrey Sachs wrote within the Monetary Instances as this week started.
“Putin has repeatedly demanded that the U.S. forswear NATO’s enlargement into Ukraine, whereas Biden has repeatedly asserted that membership of the alliance is Ukraine’s alternative.”
As Sachs famous, “Many insist that NATO enlargement will not be the true difficulty for Putin and that he needs to recreate the Russian empire, pure and easy. All the pieces else, together with NATO enlargement, they declare, is a mere distraction. That is totally mistaken. Russia has adamantly opposed NATO growth in direction of the east for 30 years, first below Boris Yeltsin and now Putin…. Neither the U.S. nor Russia needs the opposite’s army on their doorstep. Pledging no NATO enlargement will not be appeasement. It doesn’t cede Ukrainian territory. It doesn’t undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
Whether or not or not they know a lot about such historical past, the USA’s media elites and members of Congress don’t appear to care about it. Pink-white-and-blue chauvinism is working wild. But there are actual diplomatic alternate options to the collision course for battle.
Talking Monday on Democracy Now, Katrina vanden Heuvel — editorial director of The Nation and a longtime Russia professional — mentioned that implementing the Minsk accords might be a path towards peace in Ukraine. Additionally, she identified, “there may be discuss not simply of the NATO difficulty, which is so key, but additionally a brand new safety structure in Europe.”
Desperately wanted is a brand new European safety framework, to demilitarize and defuse conflicts between Russia and U.S. allies. However the identical method that for 3 many years pushed to develop NATO to Russia’s borders is now gung-ho to maintain upping the ante, regardless of how a lot doing so will increase the probabilities of a direct conflict between the world’s two nuclear-weapons superpowers.
The final U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union earlier than it collapsed, Jack Matlock, wrote final week: “Since President Putin’s main demand is an assurance that NATO will take no additional members, and particularly not Ukraine or Georgia, clearly there would have been no foundation for the current disaster if there had been no growth of the alliance following the tip of the Chilly Conflict, or if the growth had occurred in concord with constructing a safety construction in Europe that included Russia.”
However excluding Russia from safety constructions, whereas encircling it with armed-to-the-teeth adversaries, was a transparent purpose of NATO’s growth. Much less apparent was the realized purpose of turning Jap European nations into prospects for huge arms gross sales.
A gripping chapter in “The Spoils of Conflict,” a brand new guide by Andrew Cockburn, spells out the mega-corporate zeal behind the large campaigns to develop NATO starting within the Nineties. Big Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin have been downcast concerning the dissolution of the united states and feared that army gross sales would maintain slumping. However there have been some potential huge new markets on the horizon.
“One particularly promising market was among the many former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact,” Cockburn wrote. “Have been they to hitch NATO, they’d be pure prospects for merchandise such because the F-16 fighter that Lockheed had inherited from Common Dynamics. There was one minor obstacle: the Bush administration had already promised Moscow that NATO wouldn’t transfer east, a pledge that was a part of the settlement ending the Chilly Conflict.”
By the point legendary foreign-policy sage George F. Kennan issued his unequivocal warning in 1997 — “increasing NATO could be probably the most fateful error of American coverage within the post-Chilly Conflict period” — the growth was already taking place.
As Cockburn notes, “By 2014, the 12 new members had bought near $17 billion price of American weapons.”
When you assume these weapons transactions have been about maintaining with the Russians, you’ve been trusting approach an excessive amount of U.S. company media. “As of late 2020,” Cockburn’s guide explains, NATO’s collective army spending “had hit $1.03 trillion, or roughly 20 instances Russia’s army price range.”
Let’s go away the final phrases right here to Bob Dylan, from one other music that isn’t on radio playlists. “Masters of Conflict.”
Let me ask you one query
Is your cash that good?
Will it purchase you forgiveness
Do you assume that it may?
Norman Solomon is the nationwide director of RootsAction.org and the creator of a dozen books together with Made Love, Received Conflict: Shut Encounters with America’s Warfare State, printed this yr in a brand new version as a free e-book. His different books embody Conflict Made Straightforward: How Presidents and Pundits Hold Spinning Us to Dying. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic Nationwide Conventions. Solomon is the founder and government director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
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