With typical American hubris, US President Barack Obama came to Europe this week – yet again – with the rhetoric and demeanour of a knight in shining armour. The self-proclaimed «indispensable nation» was again indulging its own sense of vanity and delusion, telling others how lucky they are to have American protection.
With the dramatic backdrop of an American F-16 fighter jet, Obama said: «I’m starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland’s security, as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security, and it is sacrosanct»…
What’s alarming is that the exceptionally arrogant US is no longer scaremongering in vague terms, but rather is pointing the finger directly at Russia as the imminent threat to European security. In a speech at the end of last month at the US West Point military academy, Obama even went as far as saying: «Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe».
This week, in Warsaw, the American president accentuated the hypocrisy and hysteria by declaring: «The days of empire and spheres of influence are over. Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun, or with masked men taking over buildings».
Obama mustn’t appreciate irony, as his sanctimonious rhetoric glided effortlessly over the victims of American bullying: former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, to name just a few countries, destroyed in recent years at the barrel of American guns, warships, warplanes and drones.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hit back at the outrageous conceit of Obama’s lecturing, alluding to the rampant American military presence across the globe and unlawful interference in countless foreign states, while Washington has the audacity to accuse Russia of aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe without a shred of evidence to support its brazen assertions.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also commented this week on how US-led «anti-Russian propaganda» has reached «proportions that have nothing to do with common sense or decency».
Indeed, American hypocrisy, hysteria and histrionics are recklessly out of control, completely divorced from reality. The supposed threat to Europe from Russia and the supposed American defense of Europe is illusory. We will not get into arguing here about the real cause of instability and appalling violence against civilians in southeastern Ukraine. It should be patently obvious to anyone who cares to look at the facts of recent history that the crisis in Ukraine is an ongoing consequence of Western-backed regime change in that country.
The necessary distortion of this reality and the grave implications for Western criminality against Ukrainian sovereignty and international law are partly behind the surge in Western anti-Russian propaganda. Since Washington bears the heaviest culpability for fomenting the bloodshed in Ukraine, it stands to reason that Washington is thus taking the lead in shaping the anti-Russian distortion to conceal its primary criminality.
But there is another stealthy rationale at work. As Obama more or less admitted in his speech in Warsaw earlier this week, the NATO military alliance is «the cornerstone for our own security». By «security» Obama is actually referring to American «global hegemony». Without the 28-member NATO organization – and expanding – the Americans would not have the geopolitical architecture or pretext to assert their strategic interests over Europe.
And as Russia’s Sergei Lavrov also pointed out, the great unspoken American objective is to prevent Europe and Russia developing a transcontinental partnership. This American objective goes back to the early days of the Cold War just after the end of the Second World War. The Cold War may have officially ended nearly a quarter of a century ago, but from the American point of view the antagonism towards Russia must be continually stoked and kept going.
The natural evolution of partnership between Europe and Russia – from trade, commerce, finance, politics and mutual defense – is a threat to the selfish hegemony and zero-sum mentality of American capitalist power.
This explains why Washington has led the aggressive expansion of NATO towards Russia’s borders over the past 25 years, in contravention of its own avowed commitments to Russian leaders not to do so. The imperative dependence of American power on NATO also explains why Washington is currently talking up threats from Russia towards Europe in proportions that have nothing to do with common sense, decency or facts.
There is another onerous incentive for America to wind up geopolitical tensions between Europe and Russia and thus give the NATO alliance a renewed license for its being. America is bankrupt. Washington can no longer afford to maintain its imperial garrisons that are NATO.
In an editorial on Obama’s European tour this week, the New York Times whips up the anti-Russian propaganda with reference to Putin’s «ruthless unpredictability» and European states living «within Russia’s shadow». The paper then builds on its own false premise with this assertion: «It clearly makes sense for NATO to strengthen its defenses… The challenge is to firmly and credibly signal an enduring commitment to defend [US] allies… That, in turn, will require NATO countries, many of which have cut military spending, to pitch in».
Then the Times went on to reveal the following telling calculation:
«In 2006, the 28 members of the alliance agreed to spend 2 per cent, a bare minimum, of their GDPs on defense. By 2012, only three besides the United States had met even that modest goal: Britain, Greece and Estonia. The burden borne by America has grown so disproportionate — from 50 per cent of NATO defense spending during the Cold War to 70 per cent today — that [US] Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned that the alliance itself could be in trouble».
In other words, the US can no longer afford to prop up the NATO architecture that serves its geopolitical power projection. Washington’s hegemony is dependent on NATO’s expansion, but Washington, with more than $17 trillion in debt, can no longer afford the colossal bill.
Russia’s new trade and finance pacts with China, Kazakhstan, Belarus and other Eurasian partners are only reinforcing the precariousness of the US dollar and America’s chronic indebted condition.
This gives the real meaning to Obama’s words this week when he said: «We’ve been reminded of Russia’s [alleged] aggression in Ukraine; our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share of a Europe that is whole and free and at peace».
The theme of offloading NATO costs was previewed by Obama in his address at West Point on 28 May when he emphasized the need for «multilateral military action» with «our allies», rather than the US «going it alone».
Ever since the Ukraine crisis erupted at the end of last year, American officials, from Obama down, have been continually chiding European members of NATO to «pitch in» and «pull their weight» with increased military spending.
The American empire has been stretched to fatal over-reach with a military spend that is unsustainable and indeed unbearable given the bankrupt state of US capitalism. And now America wants others to pay the financial cost for the NATO monstrosity that underpins US transatlantic imperialism. It can only pull that chicanery off by inflating purported dangers and threats to Europe and fellow NATO members. As in the old days of the Cold War, Russia is once again being cast as the spectre to scare Europe with and from which the «poor little, defenceless Europeans» will flock to benevolent Uncle Sam for protection.
This is the kind of bogeyman charade that works on little children. Why adult European leaders continue to buy into this patently ridiculous scam is astonishing. America wants Europe to pay for its profligacy and its bankrupt empire of domination, even if that means European economies being drained for the benefit of US militarism and being pushed into an unnecessary war with Russia.
Russia is not the bogeyman; but America is a veritable monster. Let’s get real.
Finian CUNNINGHAM / Strategic Culture Foundation