Foreign relations in between the so-called “West” and Russia have become increasingly hostile the last two years. However desperate tensions may have seemed now though, a look at America’s policies over the last two administrations reveals the longstanding strategy to vilify the Russian Federation. Here’s a look at the rhetoric now, and via the media since 2003. Russia was not declared the “enemy” just now, she always was for some.
In America today, many people think Vladimir Putin shot down MH17 personally. It’s also true that the typical NFL football fan really believes Putin swiped New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring. Yes, you discern correctly, one big reason for America and Russia being in an unbridled nuclear war is a cheating NFL owner’s (see ball inflation scandal) trophy. Not many ever took note of the fact News Corp billionaire Rupert Murdoch was supposedly a witness to this nefarious crime. Strange coincidence, is it not, that one of the men responsible for bashing Russia over the head with newspapers was also witness to the crime of the century? (See CNN video) If this is all news to you, I can identify. You see, even I considered this new Cold War as having a start date that coincided with the Euromaidan uprisings in Ukraine. But I was very far wrong, as you shall see too.
What took place 21 November 2013 in in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev was a coup d’é·tat, it is certain. However suddenly the events may have seemed though, this uprising was a contingency plan in case Vladimir Putin intervened in the plan to expand NATO further toward Moscow. This was years in the making, not simply months. Global Research and many other analysis media frame this well. As for the mainstream though, we know no such insinuation exists. Ergo people like Murdoch, and others with vested interests in things like energy, funds, and currencies coincidentally own most media from Berlin to LA and back. Without further argumentation as to sellout media though, if we’re astute we can trace media coverage to the key strategy points we see manifest today.
America policy toward Russia made a dramatic shift the instant George W. Bush left office. Looking at the issues, the coverage in media, and the stated policies of the years 2001 through to this morning, several fundamental facts come to light. Once Barack Obama took the oath of office, even before if the truth be known, the anti-Russia rhetoric swung into a higher gear. Observing the stories via Google News, using the custom date feature, I found a razor sharp transition from “normal” détente, and into the current combative state we see now. I’ll quote a the key headlines from 2003 to today with dates, just to illustrate.
- 2003 and CNN was focused on – “Putin’s fight against oligarchs”
- In 2004 the top New York Times headline read – “Salmon Find an Ally in the Far East of Russia”
- December 1st, 2005 – The most negative BBC article I could find was headlined – “Russian squirrel pack ‘kills dog’”
- December 2006 – Speigel Online had the most bombastic headline – “Putin’s Russia: Kremlin Riddled with Former KGB Agents”
- 2007 was a slow year – ABC reported – “Russia: Make Love, Have Baby, Get Money”
- 2008 things warm up in August – the New York Times begins with – “Russia Backs Independence of Georgian Enclaves”
- Later in 2008, after the elections – The Telegraph – “Russia to cut gas supplies to Ukraine, threatening Europe’s supply”
- In 2009, right after the inauguration the Washington Post has it – “’Reset’ Sought on Relations With Russia, Biden Says”
- Also in 2009 the dealing under the table Vladimir Putin spoke of recently, it appeared in the form of “secret letters” from Obama to Dmitry Medvedev. (International New York Times)
- In 2010 the big back stab was fully underway as BBC reports – “Nato and Russia promise ‘fresh start’ at Lisbon summit”
- Then it happened – Arab Spring – Early 2011 the New York Times reported – “In Shift, Russia Agrees to Try to Talk Qaddafi Into Leaving”
- December 2011 – The New York Times “Voters Watch Polls in Russia, and Fraud Is What They See”
- Later in December 2011 – The New York Times again dominates Google News “Rally Defying Putin’s Party Draws Tens of Thousands”
- 2012 starts with “Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Crisis in Syria” via New York Times
- Then Spiegel chimes in during August with “Putin’s Russia Is Becoming a Flawless Dictatorship”
- In 2013 Putin forced the US to be moderate, BBC reported US and Russia agree Syria chemical weapons deal
- In December of 2013 Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal kicks in “Don’t Expect Germany to Stand Up to Russia”
- February 2014 rolls in with the Sochi Olympics reportage debacle – The Washington Post leads – “Journalists at Sochi are live-tweeting their hilarious and gross hotel experiences”
- Then 2014 became the year of Russophobia, the Anti-Putin, and one million stories on how Russia and Putin are evil.
- 2015 – Cold War II full on
While the critical point in between the West and East seems evident to me, it may not be for everyone. I think it is interesting here to take note of the 2008 presidential election in particular. Before Barack Obama was inaugurated in January, a lot of personnel movement took place. Given the Arab Spring we now see decimating North Africa and the Middle East, and the Ukraine situation, this election bears special attention if only for the participants roles. In 2008 Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were first bitter presidency bid opponents, then later collaborators in US foreign policy. For Clinton’s part, she’s still sidestepping allegations of wrongdoing over Bengazi, the uranium scandal, and her Email issues. Even more interesting is the fact Obama’s challenger in this election, Arizona Senator John McCain lost the election, then headed to Syria and Ukraine as the cheerleader in charge of war. Vice President Joe Biden withdrew from the election to support Obama, and then became his running mate. Biden’s son later went to Ukraine to work for an energy company there.
I suppose it could also be argued that Vladimir Putin being elected President of Russia in March of 2012 had some role in creating a wider rift in between America and Russia. After all, Dmitry Medvedev had proposed Putin for a third term as far back as September 2011. However easy this might make things, it was clearly Putin’s so-called ‘From Lisbon to Vladivostok’ (2010) initiative that was unwanted. My argument is hinged upon this.
When the United States was solidly engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration’s focus and mission was on carrying out these wars – and the business such wars all bring. The emergence of Russia was a secondary consideration, even though we saw NATO moving within Georgia and other former Soviet republics. With the scaling down of these wars, and particularly the urgent need for new conflict to sustain, the Obama administration’s goals were crystal clear. I believe the US administrations attempted to “sucker” Russia into a sort of “western brotherhood” – a more for which putting Putin back in power ran contrary to. This has been insinuated by others besides me. Neil Buckley at FT spoke of Putin’s admonishment to Europeans over religion. He quotes Putin:
“People in many European countries are ashamed, and are afraid of talking about their religious convictions. [Religious] holidays are being taken away or called something else, shamefully hiding the essence of the holiday.”
This commentary by Putin came in the wake of calls in the west for a boycott of the Sochi games, but the tone encapsulates Mr. Putin’s views, the views of the Russia it is Obama’s mission to curtail. Looking at all that’s transpired since Obama took office, including the vehement painting of America’s capital in rainbow colors, makes very clear this key point of departure. At almost the instant Russian policy deviated from the obvious plan of Washington, all hell broke loose in condemning anything Putin is involved with. The cadre of Washington players have ever since 2009, pulled out all the stops in damning Putin. John McCain, the spokesperson for a trillion dollar arms industry offered a Pravda piece on Putin cements his place among psychopathic leadership in history. Of Russia’s (Putin’s) stance on gays, McCain wrote:
“They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn. They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin’s rule.”
It is in this sort of maniacal behavior the reader can galvanize my concept of policy today. Read what Mr. McCain wrote in one of Russia’s leading newspapers. His rhetoric testifies not only to his respect of the Russian people, but to his ignorance and immorality period. The man who was made president has killed off thousands with drones, his runner up runs naked, cheering chaos and war throughout the world. Worse still, he does not even consider vulgarity in any house of worship as indecent, let alone a crime. As a southerner I’ll tell you, had Pussy Riot performed in a Baptist church in South Carolina or Alabama, they’d have prayed for jail time. My Mom always used to say; “There’s a time and a place for everything.” And most Americans of my generation would side with Putin on this one.
In summary, it seems fair to assume the “mission” against Russia and other nations was not just a reaction to Putin on Syria. Nor was the Arab Spring revolution something that happened spontaneously. Since the so-called “war on terror” began, maybe even before, a new elite has risen in Washington, and elite power there is no denying now. Two Bush presidents, a Clinton and one to go, and an Obama administration containing all the elements of those, democracy no longer involves choice. As for the ideal of America and Russia in peaceful collaboration, there probably never was any hope. America is currently a victim of her own dominance. The status quo of leadership, citizens satisfied with “good enough” – the world is in peril now because of this. This new Cold War did not just start when Crimea returned to Russia, nor was LGBT rights the central issue – ever. Leverage, lies, logistics, and the longstanding strategy of being combative – this has never ceased. Knowing this we may be able to take pause, and reevaluate what a real democratic choice is. Big maybe.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.