AUGUST 18, 2023 / https://www.counterpunch.org/
If you believed the two central tenets of western dogma and propaganda about the Ukraine war, namely that Russia’s invasion was unprovoked and that Moscow has imperial ambitions beyond Ukraine’s borders, then you naturally would regard NATO as the best defense against this threat. If, however, you paid attention to the history and to what Russian officials actually say and have done and their initially deliberately limited conduct of this war, you would conclude that Russia was massively egged on into invading by NATO’s looming absorption of Ukraine and by Kiev’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Russian speakers in the Donbass, an assault which saw a tremendous uptick in early 2022.
If you studied facts rather than fictions, you’d also observe that the narrative of Moscow’s imperial ambitions was cooked up after the U.S.-backed, 2014 neo-Nazi putsch in Kiev. Prior to that time, as professor John Mearsheimer has noted, Putin was not considered an imperialist. But once NATO installed itself, bristling with weapons, on Russia’s front porch, the narrative of imperialist Moscow proved very useful. NATO created a danger that required more NATO to solve. Now that misbegotten mess has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and tens of thousands of Russian ones, and thanks to NATO, the U.S. very nearly wages war on Russia, while humanity teeters over the nuclear abyss.
None of this would have happened without NATO and its incessant, mad expansion east to Russia, thus breaking many official western promises not to do so. Moscow screamed for decades that if Kiev joined the NATO axis, Russia would destroy Ukraine. And that’s what’s happening. Why? Because Moscow regards Ukraine in NATO as an existential threat, which it probably is. The truth is, NATO should have died when the cold war ended. Tons of American defense intellectuals and national security luminaries said so. But instead of driving a stake through this vampire’s heart, the west allowed it to live on, draining money from its members, fattening the wallets of war profiteers and weapons moguls and wreaking havoc in places like Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, now Ukraine and soon, so the vampire informs us, the China Sea. NATO even helped cripple democracy, such as it was, here in the United States.
How? By recreating the Russian threat after the Soviet Union’s collapse. By pretty much installing NATO in Kiev after the CIA-backed coup there in 2014. By turning Putin into such a bogeyman that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama felt quite comfortable concocting the Russiagate garbage to explain away the humiliating Dem loss of the 2016 election. This Russophobic frenzy, in turn, rendered the credulous American public primo territory for the lie to flourish that Moscow intended to conquer Europe. It also enabled more prevarications – specifically during the 2020 election campaign, the enormous fib by former U.S. intelligence officials that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation. It wasn’t. Even Hunter Biden says so. But that falsehood threw the election to Joe Biden at a time when the laptop’s contents could have defeated him. It also incited another tornado of hysteria about devious Russian manipulation of gullible, unsuspecting Americans.
And it gets worse. Trading on Russophobic delusions, the white house and FBI censored social media. The security state also quashed evidence of Biden family corruption in its dealings with Ukraine. So now we have what many Americans regard as a possibly senile, very unpopular crook for president, installed by the FBI and CIA, with no end in sight to this skullduggery. And the root of this evil, NATO, nestles alongside the putrid rot of corporate donor-controlled government, while NATO’s thirst for fresh blood requires an ostensible enemy, that is, Moscow, which just so happens to possess more nuclear weapons than anyone else on the planet.
This catastrophe afflicts us with a leading presidential alternative in reckless, indicted Trump, who may even campaign from a jail cell, and who clearly intends to impose martial law, become president for life and conduct show trials for his enemies. The only way out of this trap the duopoly set for us is a third-party candidate – and an excellent one happens to be available, to wit, Cornel West – or for Biden finally to do the right thing, step up and step aside.
But Biden hasn’t got the memo yet that he’s crushing what’s left of American democracy. And this is particularly infuriating because Biden knew he was vulnerable to an allegation of bribery, specifically a $5 million alleged pay-off, yet his wild presidential ambition and narcissism led him to risk gift-wrapping this club with which the far right now clobbers him and, by extension, everyone to his left. Maybe he thought he could beat this rap, this morass of financial chicanery that stinks to high heaven, but now it’s clear he can’t. He should have the decency, in the twilight of his life, to shed the sickening opportunism that led him to cheerlead and grease the wheels for the criminal Iraq war, to boost the nation’s carceral gulag to two million wretched, imprisoned souls and shove us, from 2021 till today to the precipice of nuclear holocaust with Russia. He should lead by example and step aside, and with any luck, Trump, too, will fall by the wayside. The GOP simply is not an alternative. Any political agglomeration with a 1000-page plan to kill all rules and laws addressing the climate collapse, as Trump’s GOP has, is not a party. It is an enemy of humankind.
Meanwhile, having drained the blood out of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya and now almost finished with the corpse of Ukraine, NATO turns its hungry gaze to Taiwan. Despite the vampire’s well known and scandalous history, Taiwan hasn’t caught on. It too is slated for the cemetery. Hey, numerous U.S. political bigwigs have even bandied about the notion of bombing Taiwan’s computer chip industry, rather than letting it fall into Chinese hands. What’s the island’s response to these American threats of mayhem? “We’ll do whatever you say, master. Send guns.” Hello? Is this suicidal or what?
Maybe, just maybe with a ruler other than Biden or a GOP China Hawk, this incursion into the Far East won’t happen. Maybe, once again, humanity will slip free of the nuclear noose. Maybe those pentagon Strangeloves raring for naval warfare and willing to bomb Chinese cities will be disappointed. Maybe the U.S. could even downsize its empire and undo the NATO damage. But perhaps that’s too much to hope for. Maybe NATO the vampire isn’t done drinking our blood and won’t be until the world goes up in nuclear flames.
Twice on Biden’s watch Russia has invaded Ukraine – when he had the Ukraine portfolio as vice president, then again in 2022 as commander in chief. On both occasions, Moscow was provoked. Maybe it’s time for Biden to accept the verdict of history that he’s part of the problem, that he contributed to these two frightening invasions and so cannot be the solution. It’s time for Biden to do the correct and graceful thing: Bow out. It would save lives in Ukraine, Taiwan and maybe the rest of us from nuclear winter. But to judge from this president’s track record, when has that altruistic calculus ever swayed him?
Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Lizard People. She can be reached at her website.