Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia

Exclusive: Any propaganda war starts by planting stories that your target is getting rich, whether he is or isn’t, the latest move in demonizing Vladimir Putin. But the larger question is what might happen if the neocons succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia, asks Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Now that the demonization of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is in full swing, one has to wonder when the neocons will unveil their plan for “regime change” in Moscow, despite the risks that overthrowing Putin and turning Russia into a super-sized version of Ukraine might entail for the survival of the planet.

There is a “little-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly” quality to neocon thinking. When one of their schemes goes bad, they simply move to a bigger, more dangerous scheme.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Russian government photo)

If the Palestinians and Lebanon’s Hezbollah persist in annoying you and troubling Israel, you target their sponsors with “regime change” – in Iraq, Syria and Iran. If your “regime change” in Iraq goes badly, you escalate the subversion of Syria and the bankrupting of Iran. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Just when you think you’ve cornered President Barack Obama into a massive bombing campaign against Syria – with a possible follow-on war against Iran – Putin steps in to give Obama a peaceful path out, getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons and Iran to agree to constraints on its nuclear program.

So, this Obama-Putin collaboration has become your new threat. That means you take aim at Ukraine, knowing its sensitivity to Russia. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

You support an uprising against elected President Viktor Yanukovych, even though neo-Nazi militias are needed to accomplish the actual coup. You get the U.S. State Department to immediately recognize the coup regime although it disenfranchises many people of eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych had his political base.

When Putin steps in to protect the interests of those ethnic Russian populations and supports the secession of Crimea (endorsed by 96 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum), your target shifts again. Though you’ve succeeded in your plan to drive a wedge between Obama and Putin, Putin’s resistance to your Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of “regime change.”

Your many friends in the mainstream U.S. news media begin to relentlessly demonize Putin with a propaganda barrage that would do a totalitarian state proud. The anti-Putin “group think” is near total and any accusation – regardless of the absence of facts – is fine.

In just the past week, the New York Times has run two such lead stories. The first, last Monday, trumpeted supposed photographic evidence proving that Russian special forces had invaded Ukraine and were provoking the popular resistance to the coup regime in Kiev. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Another NYT-Michael Gordon Special?”]

Two days later, the Times buried deep inside the paper a grudging retraction, admitting that one key photo that the Times said was taken in Russia (showing the supposed troops before they were dispatched to Ukraine) was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the whole premise of the earlier story. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Retracts Russian-Photo Scoop.”]

Then, on Sunday, the Times led the paper with a lengthy report on the “Search for Secret Putin Fortune” with the subhead: “U.S. Suggests Russian Leader Has Amassed Wealth, and That It Knows Where.” Except the story, which spills over to two-thirds of an inside page, presents not a single hard fact about Putin’s alleged “fortune,” other than that he wears what looks like an expensive watch.

The story is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s propaganda campaign against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for wearing “designer glasses,” a theme that was picked up by the major U.S. news outlets back then without noting the hypocrisy of Nancy Reagan wearing designer gowns and Reagan’s beloved Nicaraguan Contra leaders profiting off arms sales and cocaine smuggling.

Spreading suspicions about a target’s personal wealth is right out of Propaganda 101. The thinking is that you can turn people against a leader if they think he’s ripping off the public, whether he is or isn’t. The notion that Ortega’s glasses or Putin’s watch represents serious corruption – or that they are proof of some hidden fortune – is ludicrous, but it can serve a propaganda goal of creating divisions.

But what would it mean to destabilize Russia? Does anyone think that shattering the Russian political structure through a combination of economic sanctions and information warfare will result in a smooth transition to some better future? The Russians already have tried the West’s “shock therapy” under drunken President Boris Yeltsin – and they saw the cruel ugliness of “free market” capitalism.

Putin’s autocratic nationalism was a response to the near-starvation levels of poverty that many Russians were forced into as they watched well-connected capitalists plunder the nation’s wealth and emerge as oligarchic billionaires. For all Putin’s faults, it was his pushback against some of those oligarchs and his defense of Russian interests internationally that secured him a solid political base.

In other words, even if the neocons get the Obama administration – and maybe its successor – to ratchet up tensions with Russia enough to generate sufficient political friction to drive Putin from office, the likely result would be a dangerously unstable Russia possessing a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. Putin loyalists are not likely to readily accept a replay of the Yeltsin years.

But the neocons apparently think the risks are well worth it. After all, the end result might finally let them kill off that pesky fly, Israel’s near-in threat from the Palestinians and Hezbollah. But we might remember what happened to the little old lady in the ditty, when she swallowed the horse, she was dead, of course.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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28 comments on “Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia

  1. Misty Ann on said:

    Well said!!

  2. Tony Vanderperk on said:

    Thank you for the article.

  3. I’m Russian and after have read this article I wanted to thank the author for the in depth analysis of the situation.
    Indeed, Putin is far from being an angel in all senses but so far he is from being a demon as western media presents him.
    He may be accused in a number of things perhaps but not in continuously defending Russia’s national interests.
    Overthrowing Putin from power may lead to collapse of the country with far reaching consequences for the entire world.
    Neocons are better think very well if this is really what they want

  4. It amuses me to read such rubbish as “to ratchet up tensions with Russia enough to generate sufficient political friction to drive Putin from office”.
    With my genuine respect for Robert Parry, I can’t agree with this. Putin has the highest possible approval rating among Russians. All his opponents are called “traitors” the vast majority of Russians. There is absolutely no meaningful opposition to him in Russia. He is the “good tsar” that Russians have waited for over a century. Russian people are finally waking up from the Western propaganda of consumerism and tolerance. They WANT more sanctions, so that they can finally get rid of Western companies and build their own industry. Only an assassination or poor health can stop Putin from staying in power until 2020.

    • lumpentroll on said:

      Russian people are finally waking up from the Western propaganda of consumerism and identity politics.

      Better, no?

  5. Kirill on said:

    Wise words of a smart man!

  6. Dave-O on said:

    Just a few notes from Canada our Prime Minister is foaming at the mouth for a piece of the action. For the record he’s been gung ho for any invasion since 2001, he’s been tossing millions at the new Ukraine “government” like a sailor at a strip club on shore leave.

  7. Fouad Boussetta on said:

    Excellent piece. I just love a bullshit-free article. Thank you.

  8. Eddie on said:

    This certainly seems to be a highly probable explanation of why all of a sudden ‘we’ are SO concerned with the plight of the Ukrainians (i.e.; contrast that with pre-1992 Neo-con sentiment when the Ukraine — like the rest of the USSR — was an acceptable nuclear target should the USSR ‘start a war’). The only factor that wasn’t emphasized enough in Mr Parry’s article was the entrenched militarism in the US and the Neo-con reliance on it as virtually the sole mechanism of international-relations with nations not aligned with the US.

  9. I’ve found the last couple of Robert’s articles perfectly serviceable as summaries of what those of us who are following all this know; there’s nothing wrong with that, people need convenient summaries. But in this one, I see a desire to exculpate the neolibs and blame everything on the neocons, which i think is to a certain degree, intellectually dishonest. It isn’t Walnuts McCain and Lindsey Graham who are setting the agenda for this, it is Obama’s own wunderkinder, such as the horrifying married duo, Cass Sunstein and Sam Power, for instance. I would like to think of them as a sort of Svangali & Trilby, because not so many years ago, Sam Power looked rathersweet and innocent, and now she looks like one of the harpies of hell, all the time. But anyway, my point is, they are not neocons but absolutely archetypical neolibs, and it’s dishonest to obfuscate the fact that these are the kind of people who actually populate obama’s cabinet. That’s why the policy is so childish; if neocons were running it it would at least be a bit more professional.

    • incontinent reader on said:

      You’re right about Power and Sunstein, of course. As for the distinction to be made between neocon and neoliberal, some would say the agenda or goals are still basically the same, with maybe differences in emphasis, or of tactics. Notwithstanding, can one conclude that either approach has been professional, other than in creating chaos and spreading devastation, or advancing the interests of the military industrial complex, the energy companies and international banks, (and Israel), or propagandizing with temporary success an otherwise malleable American public? My sense is that there a growing dissatisfaction, and even rage, below the surface for neocon/neoliberal thinking and those responsible for its implementation, and that at some point things here could blow apart.

    • lumpentroll on said:

      I see a desire to exculpate the neolibs and blame everything on the neocons.

      This is what they do at Consortium News.

      It’s like saying there are good black people and there are bad black people.

      Only we’re not talking about black people whenever the -ism suffix is applicable.

    • Coleen Rowley on said:

      The neocons and the neolibs work in perfect tandem. When the University of Minnesota hosted a forum last Thursday on “Global Prosperity and Democracy: Challenges for Corporations, Government, NGOs, and Civil Society,” it was easy to notice that the names of the backers and speakers were all well-known neo-cons and neo-libs (i.e. the two keynote speakers Fukuyama and Zoellick were both signers of the “Project for the New American Century” as was PNAC signer Vin Weber, sitting on the Board of the National Endowment of Democracy (NED) which had co-sponsored the forum). https://www.tickets.umn.edu/UMATO/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=GlobalProsperity

      It’s increasingly apparent that Republicans to Democrats are like PNAC (out to control the world through brute military force) to NED’s “humanitarians” wanting to bring democracy, capitalism and “human rights” to the world. Both sides play a charade very similar to the classic “bad cop” to “good cop.” Torture doesn’t work at all but the “good cop”–”bad cop” routine does tend to fool people. The guy playing the “bad cop” goes in and bullies, threatens and maybe even roughs up a person. When the bad cop goes out, he winks as he shares a cigarette with the guy playing the “good cop” aka “the lesser evil.” The “good cop” then goes in pretending to sympathize and it usually works. It’s all part of an elaborate manipulation. But that’s also how the two party system works and how the neo-libs play off the neo-cons.

      The split is no longer between Republicans and Democrats; conservatives and liberals; macho men and feminist warhawks; neocons and neolibs. The real split that now exists is between realists and those unhinged from reality.

  10. mmckinl on said:

    Dear Robert,

    Obama isn’t falling prey to the neocons … Obama knows full well what is being done in his administration. How many campaign promises have been not only unfulfilled but countermanded by Obama himself …

    Obama is a willing puppet of the powers that be. He has shown his treachery time and time again. He recently tried to rewrite the story of our war in Iraq, something he had nothing to do with.

    This theory of yours that Obama can be “reached” and “rehabilitated” is not born out by any facts whatsoever. Obama is preparing the country for a war to cover a looming financial crisis so that the police state can be fully implemented.

  11. Bob Parry may have missed the boat, and worse, when it comes to 9/11, but when it comes to the Neocons Bob is one of the few extraordinary journalists in our country constantly exposing and explaining them with remarkable knowledge and insights.

  12. I dont fall in line with the tag “neocon” or whatever other names they are called. I believe the embodiment of US government is in real bad shape. Hypocrisy, lies, greed, hubris and arrogance, the face of past and present US foreign policies. Soon, there will be a clash somewhere and those responsible for stoking the fire of conflicts and death will be walking free and proud after destruction has been wrought in whatever part of the world happen to be on their radar.
    Is is not time people rise up and start demanding more information from their elected representatives? What decisions they make and how it affects stability around the world.

  13. Bruce on said:

    Or an eagle endeavoring to swallow a bear, on a Nukrainian DEAD End dare …
    (Want “Svoboda” fries with those gnat-chokers?)

  14. I appreciate the perspective you have brought to this matter.

    I am curious however how you interpret the events ongoing in eastern Ukraine. It seems clear there are not only local ethnic Russians (and some real local concern for political rights there given the regime in Kiev), but also some Russians from Russia operating there. This Ponomaryov guy seems to be in the forefront.

    Any comment on those matters?

    PS. I am posting this for the third time since it always disappears.

    • Legionnaire on said:

      Ponomaryov himself does not deny the presence in his team some Ukrainian and Russian friends, former colleagues in the Soviet Army (Ponomaryov is former military), arrived to help him defend himself and his family. Since any oppositionist to the actual Kiev regime, not capable to defend himself physically is subjected to public beatings and humiliation by the hands of the “Right sector” (as the Ukrainian presidential candidate O. Tsariov), or simply disappearing without a trace, as many of the supporters of the federalization of Ukraine.
      But the number of Ponomariov’s Russian friends in Slaviansk is not so important to call it “Russian invasion”. Although Russians have a good proverb that is meaning: “Fear has big eyes”…

  15. elmerfudzie on said:

    That ringmaster of genetically-modified food -Monsanto, is the principal instigator of this latest international crisis. Behind this Ukraine fascist putsch is simply a resource grab. However, now it’s for corn and wheat fields. Grabs are occurring elsewhere with similar parallels that are against the public interests , example Thailand too. The head strong philosophy of the corpotcracy types continue to muscle in on everyone’s national treasures, monuments, landscapes, cultural artifacts, public trusts, everything’s for sale! and it seems that most of the time it’s a fire sale- AKA following an insurrection or mini-war. You see folks, the corporate moguls are up to the same old stuff. Divide, conquer and install a kleptocracy who’d be willing to sell off anything, from people (human trafficking) to autobahns, wheat fields, oil reserves, roads sold off into the hands of private interests in Europe, New Jersey or Ontario. At bottom, the crux of this international problem, is and remains the proverbial Gordian Knot moving through the centuries spelled, CORPORATION. It’s a devilish invention and began with Queen Elizabeth in 1600 allowing the British East India Company to ACT ON BEHALF of the government. Add to this obvious dissolution of sovereign control, the black art(s) of deregulation, limited liability (the plutocrats favorite clause) and lest we forget, who will be the nominees on the board of directors, for example; Soros. Well, time pass yet nothing has changed. Monsanto is acting on behalf of the USA, in the Ukraine, and on behalf of Obama too! Now the reader can better comprehend just how perilous our predicament is! Either this latest fascist takeover will harden Russia’s determination to unite the BRIC and PIIGs nations against our reserve privileged or WW III will commence in short order. Hot dog! what an exciting choice or prospect us lowly proles have to look forward to! In any case the plutocrat corpotcracies have, once again, hedged their bets on both sides of this equation, they are determined to at least appear as tho they died filthy rich!

    • lumpentroll on said:

      Kelptocrats, Plutocrats, Zionists — it’s all the same.

      Putin is onside with the sedentary masses, possibly because he’s been given no choice.

    • elmerfudzie on said:

      Coleen consider this, Putin is a trained KGB agent, has come up through the ranks, as the expression goes. His soul if you will, has little identification with or inclination for the tastes found with in the silver spoon crowd. The War Pigs, a collection of CEO’s from arms manufacturers, neo-con ringmasters and associated supportive industries such as big steel (Morgan’s) , gave Putin a “bribe”, a gilded cage, they hope, a Dasha in Russia’s warmest spot. The western Occident War Pigs are sending a message to Putin; stay in your corner and do not interfere with our global domination plans or else! Putin is far far too shrewd to waltz along with this world dominion dance. If treachery is spotted or even suspected, he will take action immediately. Putin has no intention of being found hung in his bathroom like the Rothschild s first son was back in 1997 (just before 911, hint!) nor will he submit to being assassinated like a Romanov or Czar Nicholas. At the first sign of treachery or even suspicion, my opinion is, Putin will wipe off the map, a half dozen or so, favored European cities by the War Pigs. Do you think NATO will respond by ending all world history to come? I think not. If the war pigs are reading this, take do care! and above all…think!

  16. Yaroslav on said:

    Oh, thank you all.
    From Russia it seems all Americans are just absolutely crazy (or mad caricatured Nazis – absurdly). From such articles and comments we can see – there are sane people at this planet yet… :)
    I hate Putin’s government – for the education collapse (yes, I’m a university guy) – it’s a national crime. But most of his attempts in international policy directed to keep stability and safety – and isn’t it more important than ALL ELSE.

    Peace to your home

  17. Enrique Ferro on said:

    “Putinophobia” is nothing new in the West. It started as soon as he announced his candidacy for president. I remember they used to say: “he’s dangerous”. And I thought: Dangerous for whom? If he is “dangerous” here, after all the misery Russia was enduring under Yeltsin, that means he is the leader the Russian people needs!
    I wasn’t wrong. And ever since I have followed the MSM record on Putin, as well as the academic and editorial record. The media have gone from bad to worse, but if you want to buy a book on Putin or contemporary Russia in any bookshop, the mission to find a decent book with a measure of objectivity is actually an impossible mission. I think I found one or two with some academic seriousness, all the rest throughout 15 years have competed in smearing and demonizing the man and his country. And that is the way our public is treated by authors who do not care for the truth but for their careers and “prestige”…

  18. Victor Zaharov on said:

    Hi from Russia. I think CIA must be recognized as terrorist organization because it practises overthrowing legitimate authorities as it had been in Kiev.

  19. phyllis on said:

    Great article that helps put the pieces together of what we are enduring in American news. The propaganda against Puting and the Kiev news daily is overwhelming trying to find the “right” side.
    Thanks.