There’s been a lot of “neo” rhetoric lately surrounding Russia and the invasion of Ukraine. Neoconservatives want to paint a picture of a weakened US, neoliberals in the European Union continue to make economic missteps across the continent, and certain folks in Washington want to implement a neo-containment policy to address the new Russian scourge.
Both academics and journalists are pushing hard for neocontainment, and it’s supported by some very familiar propaganda.
The New York Times reporter, Michael Gordon has been at it again, doing what he does best: trumping up half-truths and self-interested sources to support an ill-informed confrontation with another country. Gordon has been out front with stories “proving” that Russian military special forces are secretly directing the popular uprisings in eastern Ukraine.
This is the same reporter who peddled his lies and trumpeted the call to invade Iraq back in 2002. Now he’s back on the warpath, fear-mongering over Putin’s violent urge to put the broken pieces of the former Soviet Union back together. With propaganda pieces like this, there’s hardly any room for truth. It’s actually sad to see a so-called journalist stoop so low.
It’s not entirely clear what the angle is here. Gordon is obviously a puppet, but who’s pulling the strings? And why are so many in the media, the government, and academia pushing the Putin:Hitler comparison? Is it just more infotainment? Pure and simple scare tactics to keep the rubes tuned tight to the screen?
Whatever it is, Gordon isn’t alone.
Richar Perle, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, extolls a similar claim. That Putin is hell-bent on putting the Soviet Union back together but Obama and his predecessors have been too “indulgent with respect to the Russians and their policies.”
Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board under President George W. Bush, said Putin regarded the collapse of the Soviet Union as “a great tragedy.”
“He’s been trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and re-create something that looks like the old Soviet empire. What will impress him most is if NATO and the European Union . . . pull themselves together and impose some significant sanctions,” Perle said.
Perle also pointed to the economic implications behind Putin’s abrasive moves, alluding that the Crimean invasion is part of a nationalistic endeavor to distract the Russian populace from how bad things actually are (which might actually be closer to the truth than his previous claims).
“The Russian economy is a very weak economy. It’s based almost entirely on oil exports. The financial sanctions that are feasible would have an immediate and serious impact on a feeble Russian economy, and that’s what we ought to do,” Perle said.
Except for one thing. It’s not that weak. Sure, the Russian economy is smaller than ours. But there’s more to consider. Their population is roughly 145 million…compare that with NATO’s nearly 900 million. And add to that, the number of men under arms (about a quarter of NATO forces) to protect an enormous land mass with long, meandering, and easily penetrable border, Soviet Union or no Soviet Union.
These are just a few basic truths that point to how preposterous the claim is that Russia is trying to recreate the old sickle and hammer and cast a red shadow across Europe. Also consider that Russia does not want to go through the ordeal of occupying potentially hostile countries who are their paying customers. Gazprom makes a lot of money off of the “old Soviet Union.”
Russia is not a real threat. To Europe or the U.S. Putin is an ex-KGB thug, he’s just beating his chest and making a belligerent power play following his hosting of the Olympics. He doesn’t fear any military repercussions and he scoffs at the economic sanctions. While it is unfortunate people are dying in incidents in Ukraine and Crimea, this is all geopolitical theatre that will be resolved when it is convenient to do so. If anything it serves the global power structure more than it detracts.
The U.S. is still weary after a decade of warfare. Europe has its own problems to worry about and the EU isn’t about to capitulate to Russia over Ukraine. Whether neoconservative, neoliberal, or an advocate of neocontainment, we need to stick to the problems inside our own borders and stop the bloodthirsty babble.