The U.S. political/military officials and the corporate dominated media continue to allege Russian aggression while ignoring or spinning U.S. aggression. These media claims help build U.S. public support for increased military spending and more U.S. interventions to counter the alleged aggressive actions by the other.
Most of the current claims around Russian aggression are centered on Ukraine and Crimea. Russia is accused of invading Ukraine to support the Russian-speaking part of the country and for its annexation of Crimea. The U.S. government and its corporate media fail to provide any context for their claims about Russian actions.
Two key points provide some information that is crucial to understanding the situation. The first occurred during the period after the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the 1990 negotiations about the reunification of Germany, U.S. and other West European leaders promised that NATO wouldn’t expand “one inch eastward.” This promise was key for the Soviets who remembered previous devastating invasions by Western European nations. For example, during WWII estimates are that the Soviet Union lost over 26 million people, about 13% of its 1939 population. The Soviet Union was thus understandably concerned about a possibly hostile military group coming closer to its border.
The Clinton administration showed the U.S. could not be trusted when it pursued the eastward expansion of NATO. In 1996, George Kennan, architect of the U.S. containment policy toward the Soviet Union after WWII, warned that NATO’s expansion into former Soviet territories would be a “strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” In 1998, Kennan added: ”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. … ”
The U.S. wants Ukraine, which shares a long border with Russia, to join NATO. To start the process, in February 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, the democratically-elected president of Ukraine was overthrown in a blatant U.S.-backed violent coup to get a U.S.-friendlier leader.
This coup created unrest among the Russian speaking areas in Ukraine including Crimea. Pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Crimea and the Russian forces based in Crimea quickly took control of the area. There was a vote in Crimea that overwhelmingly supported independence and then a return to Russia. Almost immediately after the vote, Russia annexed Crimea. Unfortunately the U.S. had given a precedent for this questionable action when it supported the breaking away of Kosovo from Serbia.
The Russian-speaking areas in eastern Ukraine soon rebelled against the discrimination and violence from the newly installed illegal Ukrainian government and voted for independence. This coup government tried to crush the rebel areas prompting Russia support to these areas. Fighting has continued though on a much lower level than initially. U.S. weapons provided to Ukraine help keep this senseless conflict alive.
Is expanding a potentially hostile military alliance close to or on Russian borders an aggressive act? Is trying to prevent such a move by defending your borders aggression?
In addition, the U.S. military spending is about 10 times that of Russia and the U.S. also has about 800 military bases around the world compared to a handful of Russian bases. One also cannot forget recent U.S. aggressions against, for example, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and Venezuela as well as support for crimes committed by Saudi Arabia and Israel. Who is really the aggressor nation?
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs Fridays in the Colorado Daily.