THE RUSSIANS DID IT!
The imagined ‘threat’ from Russia
Everyone needs an enemy. It justifies defence spending; supports defence manufacturing and exports, worth about £12 billion to the UK; and, of course, a bogeyman helps to keep the peasants from rising up against their rulers. Since the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, the West has been deprived of its favourite antagonist. For around fifty years, Soviet Russia was perceived to be a significant global threat. Fighting communism gave excuse for American expansion and domination around the world with a much-diminished United Kingdom hanging on to her coat tails. The struggle against international communism was spun to show increased defence spending and military intervention was thus vindicated and the support of the population could be relied upon in support of their governments.
November 1989 saw the Berlin Wall come down and the search was on for someone else to demonise. New ‘threats’ arose in other places as replacements for the old USSR. First, there was Saddam Hussain, the ruthless dictator of Iraq. After chasing the hapless man for nine months, they did eventually catch up with him, pulling him out of a hole in the ground. He looked like someone who had been sleeping rough in one of our large British cities. His US interrogators then found to their chagrin that much they had heard about him was untrue. He had been a confused ruler, hardly able to concentrate on anything for more than a few moments. He was humiliated and hanged anyway in December 2006. There followed Slobodan Milošević, President of Serbia. Milošević was indirectly exonerated at his trial at the Hague in the 2016 by the ruling judges who said they were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to convict him. He died of a heart attack after being denied treatment for a heart condition. We must now add to this the rise of China and radical Islam.
It would now seem that Vladimir Putin is assuming the role of the new bogeyman. Certainly, he has expressed his disdain for many ‘western values’ and refuses to conform. His apparent authoritarian approach makes him a ruthless dictator in the eyes of many wimpy western leaders. As a former KGB officer, he has resources at his disposal to enable him to steer the outcome of the US elections in favour of Donald Trump, so we are led to believe, even although there is no credible evidence to support the accusations. Even Mrs Merkel has rumoured that Mr Putin could be about to instigate her downfall through hacking or ‘fake news’. Would that he really could do this, we should have a lot to thank him for! If Merkel is brought down she will have done it by her own stupidity. Yet despite all this nonsense, unlike his predecessors in the Kremlin, we need to remember that Putin was elected by a largely free and fair election and enjoys an 80% popularity rating. Something western leaders can only dream of. He is a Russian nationalist and totally committed to acting in his country’s best interests.
Dmitry Medvedev, whilst he was President, maintained that the West reneged on commitments made to Russia at the fall of the iron curtain. He has stated publicly that assurances were given that NATO would not expand endlessly eastwards and Russian interests would always be continuously taken into consideration. This being so, NATO’s continuing expansion into Eastern Europe has violated these commitments, made during the negotiations on German reunification. These assurances have continually been a matter of dispute, but documents recently uncovered in Western archives support the contentions of the Russians.
Directly provocative invitations were extended by NATO to former Soviet bloc members in eastern Europe and the Baltics to join. Add to this, Americans and the West have assisted and funded groups, such as those in western Ukraine, who are antagonistic towards Russia and so contributed to the slaughter in Maidan. Those individuals, groups or countries embracing western ‘democratic values’ whether in Kiev or Moscow can expect help. His resistance to Western powers and reassertion of Russian power have only served to make Vladimir Putin even more popular with the Russian people. The USA and her Allies condemned the secession of Crimea to the Russian Federation. This is sheer hypocrisy on the part of the West, who did nothing but give encouragement a similar move by Muslim Kosovars when they seceded from Serbia in 1994.
Western politicians and their mass-media have portrayed the Russian support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and the military help given him as primarily anti-American. Yet it is forgotten that Syria has been a long-time friend of Russia. Russia’s presence in the Middle East stretches back the 19th century. It is perfectly understandable that Russia has legitimate concerns about the spread of radical Islam on its borders as they could easily turn up within the Russian Federation. Quite rightly and with good reason, Mr Putin accuses the US and the West of destabilising the whole region by removing Saddam Hussein. All this has achieved is to have strengthened the power of radical Islamists and led to the formation of Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
Russia joined with Assad for the precise purpose of defeating this cruel terrorist quasi-State and has called for US-Russian co-operation to achieve the same end. The West seems too busy giving military assistance to the Al-Nusra Front in a misguided attempt to oust yet another legal head of State, this time Bashar al-Assad. Were they to succeed the result would be the further spread of ISIS. Is chaos their goal? The UK and the USA resist all overtures from the Russians with the mantra: Assad must go! Whilst they have no time for Assad, they continue to be close to the cruel medieval rulers of Saudi Arabia. The great threat is Russia, they say, and continue to use and supply Islamic terrorist groups to further their nefarious goals.
Anti-Russian rhetoric has reached to point of being obviously foolish. Social media has been full of well-deserved mockery. No evidence for any of the claims has been forthcoming and press officers in Washington stutter and stumble. Some wiser souls have backtracked saying it was all an insider leak. ‘Mutti’ Merkel herself has expressed fears for similar reasons for next year’s German elections. Of course, the Russians made sure the British would vote to leave the EU. Russia unlike the USA is not seeking world-wide domination.
It is time to call a halt to this rubbish lest someone make a disastrous mistake. The indications from the Trump camp have so far been encouraging. Let us hope that he follows through in January. Mrs Merkel, well who can say whether she will survive the next German elections after all that has happened of late? The Front National in France led by led by Marine le Pen threatens the established parties as does Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. Similar movements, all pro-Russian, have sprung up in other European countries too. Perhaps, we shall yet see a more conciliatory stance towards, what is after all, the largest country in the world.
D. William Norris