The Rush to a New Cold War

The U.S. government and news media have jumped back into Cold War attitudes since early 2014 when a U.S.-backed coup overthrew Ukraine’s elected president and prompted countermoves by Russia, setting the stage for a potential nuclear showdown, as journalist Robert Parry discussed with Dennis J. Bernstein.

By Dennis J. Bernstein

A new Cold War has taken shape between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States with very little public debate, just a return to hostile rhetoric and military moves and counter-moves over Ukraine, an issue that journalist Robert Parry has followed over the past year and a half.

Parry, a longtime Washington-based investigative reporter and editor of Consortiumnews.com, was interviewed about the crisis by Dennis J. Bernstein for Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoint program.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

DB: It looks like the U.S., with Barack Obama leading the charge, has entered what you call “the second cold war.” What do you mean by the second cold war?

RP:  There has been a sharp increase in tension, obviously, between the United States and Russia. We’ve seen a very divergent way of looking at the problem. The United States and mainstream media have taken a very propagandist view of what occurred in Ukraine. The Russians have taken a very different view, which, perhaps to our amazement, is more accurate than what the United States is saying.

Because of these two divergent narratives, the countries have essentially plunged back into a cold war, where there’s a lot of hostility, threats of military escalations, with the U.S. sending military teams to essentially parade along the western border of Russia. Some of those countries are NATO allies, and others, like Ukraine, may want to become a NATO ally.

So these tensions are building up, that oddly don’t have much direct connection to U.S. national interests, but have become a kind of cause célèbre in Official Washington where everyone just wants to stand tough against the Russians and bash Putin. It’s become almost a self-perpetuating dynamic.

The Russians have taken a very different perspective, which is that the United States is encroaching on its borders and threatening them in a strategic manner. They also look at what happened in Ukraine very differently. They see a U.S.-backed coup d’état in February 2014 that ousted an elected president and put in a regime that is very supportive of free market, neo-liberal policies, but also includes very strong right-wing elements, including neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists. A crisis was created and tensions continue to spiral out of control.

DB: Let’s talk about the origins of this cold war rhetoric. First, we have Barack Obama leading the charge. He has become a real cold warrior, hasn’t he?

RP: He’s certainly allowed some of his underlings to use very aggressive rhetoric against the Russians, particularly Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who led the charge in supporting the coup in Ukraine in early 2014.

DB: When you say coup, most people don’t know that occurred. Was there a coup?

RP:  Of course there was. There was an armed uprising that involved some very far right neo-Nazi militias that had been organizing and penetrating into what became the Maidan protests against the decision by the elected President Yanukovych not to go ahead quickly with an association with the European Union. That became increasingly violent; including some mysterious sniper attacks killing police and demonstrators, and getting the two sides to go at each other.

There was a political effort on Feb. 21, 2014, where Yanukovych agreed to reduce his powers and have early elections so he could be elected out of office. It was signed by three European countries to guarantee it. The next day there was a coup. These right-wing groups surged forward, seizing buildings, and Yanukovych barely escaped with his life.

Very quickly, despite the very unconstitutional nature of this change of power, the United States and European Union recognized this as legitimate. But it was obviously something the ethnic Russians, especially those in the eastern and southern Ukraine, found objectionable. They were the bases of support for Yanukovych, so they began to rise up, and this coup d’état then merged into a civil war.

DB: You have previously said the U.S. played an active role in this “coup.”

RP: There’s no question. The U.S. was supporting, through the National Endowment for Democracy, scores of political organizations that were working to overthrow the elected government. There were other U.S. entities, like USAID, as well as members of the U.S. government. Sen. John McCain went to Kiev, spoke to this very right-wing group, and said the U.S. supports you and what you are doing.

Then there was the famous phone conversation that was intercepted between Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and Ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt where they discussed who was going to take over after the change of power. Nuland put forward that Yatsenyuk “is the guy,” who after the coup became the prime minister. There were all the markings of a coup d’état. More neutral observers, who have looked at this, including the head of the Stratfor think tank (George Friedman), have called it the most obvious coup he’s ever seen.

That was the reality, but the U.S. news media and U.S. government chose to present it in a very different way. The Yanukovych government just left the scene, or something, is how the New York Times presented it. That wasn’t real, but that’s how they sold it to the American people.

We have two very distinct ways of looking at this. One is the ethnic Russians of Ukraine who saw their president violently overthrown, and the other is the western Ukrainians, backed by the U.S., and in some degree the European Union, saying they got rid of a corrupt leader, through a revolution, if you will. That became the core problem between the U.S. and Russians. Instead of finding common factual points to agree on, there are these two distinctly different narratives about what went on there.

DB: In Germany, recently, Obama himself carried this forward.

RP: Obama has been all over the map on this. In May, he sent Secretary of State Kerry to meet with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov in Sochi, Russia. Those meetings, by all accounts, went very well in that Kerry was looking for Russian help on a variety of international problems, including Syria, Libya, the Iranian nuclear talks, and so forth. These are areas where Putin has been very helpful in the past in terms of U.S. policy. There was a general meeting of the minds, it seemed.

But after Kerry returned, Obama seemed to swing back, to go more with his hard-liners. That was followed by the recent G7 Summit in Bavaria, at which Obama pushed for a continuation of economic sanctions against Russia. He continued to blame Russia for all the problems of Ukraine. He pretended that the Russians were the problem for why the Minsk 2 Peace Accord had not been going forward, even though the accord was essentially Putin’s idea that he sold to the Germans and the French. It’s really the Kiev regime that has tried to derail the Minsk 2 agreement from the very time it was signed.

Yet Obama took aggressive positions in Bavaria, including personal insults directed at Putin. Now we are back into this idea that we must have a confrontation with Russia. We’re seeing this play out not just at the government level, but now also at the media level. At the more popular level, the New York Times and other major news organizations essentially are acting as propaganda agents for the U.S. government, by simply conveying whatever the government says as fact, and not something to be checked out.

DB: You are saying this as somebody who is based outside the Beltway, correct?

RP: No, I’m actually inside the Beltway.

DB: Good, I feel better now that you’re in there. Where could this kind of policy lead? You’ve expressed concerns that we are dealing with two major nuclear powers. We have a man in Russia who will not be fooled with public relations, given that he was a master of it as head of the KGB. So where is this going?

RP: It has very dangerous possibilities. One hopes, of course, that cooler heads will prevail. But we see that when people paint themselves into corners, they sometimes don’t want to get into the embarrassment of getting themselves out. The more rhetoric and propaganda you throw into this, the harder it is for people to come to some common ground, reach an agreement and work things out.

There’s been this idea among the neoconservatives in Washington, for some time now, that the real goal here is to oust Putin. As Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, said back in 2013, Ukraine is “the biggest prize.” But he made clear that it was simply a stepping-stone to removing Putin as the President of Russia, doing some sort of regime change in Moscow.

What the neo-cons often fail to understand, as we’ve seen very painfully in places like Iraq, is they think things are going to be easy, they can simply put in somebody like Chalabi in Baghdad and everything will work out fine. But that often isn’t the way it goes. In the case of Russia, the great danger is that if the U.S. could de-stabilize Russia, somehow create a political crisis there, it’s very possible that instead of an easily manipulated person like Yeltsin, there would be a super hard-line nationalist taking over, taking a harder line than Putin. Then you can get into a situation where a nuclear confrontation would become a very real possibility.

To deal with that kind of dangerous reality and be reasonable, the U.S. needs to realize that the ethnic Russians in Ukraine have a legitimate beef, and they are not simply part of a Russian invasion or aggression. Both sides have some argument here. All the truth does not rest in Washington DC and I would argue that less of it rests in Washington DC. If you don’t deal with people honestly and straightforwardly, and try to understand their concern, a manageable crisis can turn into one that spins out of control.

DB: I have always thought that to some degree that the New York Times and Washington Post, on foreign policy issues, particularly East and West, have often acted as a wing, an arm, a public relations division of the State Department. Is that getting worse?

RP:  Yes, it’s been a problem. In 2002 and 2003, the Washington Post and New York Times essentially led the drive for believing that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and the only answer was to invade Iraq. We’ve seen what that led to. The great irony here is that as much as the Washington press corps pretends it stands for truth and all these good things, there was virtually no accountability assessed upon people who misreported that story.

It’s true that there’s safety in numbers. All the important journalists got the story wrong and almost none of them were punished. They were allowed to go on, many in the same positions that they held then. Michael Gordon is still the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times. He was one of the co-authors of the famous aluminum tube story, that these tubes being used for nuclear centrifuges, when they weren’t fit for that at all. Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post, said as flat fact that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction back in 2002 and 2003. He’s still in the same job.

There’s a problem of no accountability, so many of these news organizations go from one catastrophic inability to report honestly about what is going on in the world, to the next. Now they’ve upped the ante to a possible confrontation between nuclear-armed Russia and nuclear-armed United States. We are now back into the cold war mentality. The New York Times had a piece this week essentially suggesting that anybody who doesn’t go along with the U.S. version of events must be working for Moscow.

We are starting to see McCarthyism rear its ugly head as well. Once you get into these kinds of propaganda wars, anyone who challenges or questions them has their patriotism questioned. We saw that somewhat in Iraq when people who questioned the WMD story early were called Saddam apologists. Now we’re seeing something similar happening. If you point out some of these inconvenient facts that don’t make the Kiev regime look too good, you’re accused of being a stooge of Moscow.

DB: I am concerned that this kind of policy is going to continue. And it’s not Saddam Hussein now, but Vladimir Putin, who has extreme experience, about how to play public relations games. And he has a nuclear arsenal, so it’s a whole different game here.

RP: The American propaganda barrage has not at all swayed the Russian people and government. Of course, the U.S. says they are all being propagandized by Russia Today and other Russian networks. Frankly, one can argue with some ways some things have been reported by RT or other Russian sources, but they have been doing a more accurate, on-the-ground job than the U.S. press corps has been.

You can point to a number of egregious major mistakes made by the major US news organizations. The New York Times went along with a bogus photograph from spring 2014 supposedly showing Russian troops in Ukraine. It turned out that some of the photographs were misrepresented and did not show what they were supposed to show. They [the Times writers] were forced to retract that.

You can point to factual errors on both sides, but it’s not something where the U.S., as the New York Times tries to present it, is perfect and hasn’t presented anything improperly, while the Russian media are all lies and propaganda. It’s not true. But it’s getting to the point where you cannot be a reasonable person, or look at things objectively, because you are pushed into taking sides.

That’s where journalism is a very dangerous thing – especially here. There was a lot of dangerous reporting during the cold war that in some cases pushed the two sides into dangerous confrontations.  That can happen again. We were lucky to escape the 60’s without a nuclear war. Now we are rushing ourselves back into something that William Polk, a writer and former diplomat of the Kennedy administration, has called a possible Cuban missile crisis in reverse. This time we’re the ones pushing our military forces onto the Russian border, rather than the Russians putting missiles onto a place like Cuba. We know how Americans reacted to that. Now the Russians are facing something very similar.

Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom.  You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

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19 comments for “The Rush to a New Cold War

  1. Michael
    June 19, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Where is John Kerry ?

    His unprecedented surprise visit to Sotchi was shrouded in mystery. Then he met a bicycle accident in Switzerland. I have seen pictures of him on his bike, surrounded by body guards (?). And now there is silence, it seems.
    How did the accident happened ? Is there any enquiry on the circumstances ?
    Will he be back in office ?

    Stranger things happen, for sure, but are we 100 % sure he really broke a leg ?

  2. dahoit
    June 19, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    How America can point a finger at any nation in this world with a straight face is laughable to the extreme.Our infrastructure,both physical and mental is collapsing at the rate of free fall,and our heart is a black and empty as ancient Romes.

    • Joe L.
      June 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      As a Canadian, I am always surprised how the US, or even western governments in general, can point the finger at anyone. Look at the “real” history. Seems to me that we largely ended up in a Cold War due to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan which were completely unnecessary for Japan’s surrender (as Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune reported on August 19, 1945 that Japan was ready to surrender in January 1945 with the same surrender terms that were accepted – http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1945/08/19/page/1/article/bare-peace-bid-u-s-rebuffed-7-months-ago). After that it seems that the US overthrew many democracies and installed dictators who were friendly to US interests (Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, attempt in Venezuela 2002 etc.). 11 of those Latin American dictators, along with death squads, were trained in the US itself at the School of the America’s (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/nov/18/us-military-usa). Look at Panama and that illegal invasion and everything that led up to it to even having Noriega on the CIA payroll. Both the US and Britain supported Suharto in Indonesia meanwhile he pulled off genocide against his people. We can add in what the US and Britain did to the people of the Chagos Islands by stealing their land so that the US could build a military base on Diego Garcia. Along with our leaders Obama, Kerry, McCain, Harper, Cameron etc. all calling the dead King of Saudi Arabia a “man of peace” meanwhile it is one of the most repressive dictatorships on the planet (something like 85 public beheadings this year alone). Lastly, I am really appalled by US NGO’s going into country after country and instituting “regime change” especially when those countries are already democracies. Seems to me the only “democracies” that we like in the west are those that are subservient to our interests and our corporations otherwise we could car a less about them. It was quite disturbing to hear former Senior CIA Official, Duane Clarridge, talk about the US overthrowing the “democratically elected” government of Allende in Chile as being perfectly O.K. because it was in the interests of the United States (this can be seen in the documentary by John Pilger called “War on Democracy” at about 58 minutes into the documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeHzc1h8k7o).

      Overall I guess that I want people to wake up to the dark history and force our politicians to stop acting like children and instead truly work with the rest of the world for peace.

      • Zachary Smith
        June 19, 2015 at 4:29 pm

        …Japan was ready to surrender in January 1945 with the same surrender terms that were accepted…

        Sir, I fear you’e run into some serious nonsense. If you want to surrender, you do NOT communicate through an area commander, no matter how famous.

        And your source – the Chicago Tribune – is hardly reliable. That’s the same lousy newspaper which had already published articles with the potential of doing serious harm to the US war effort. The first was a leak of the war plans formulated by Albert C. Wedemeyer. If Germany had been paying attention, that leak would have hurt us badly. The second time was after the naval battle of Midway. Once again, the newspaper published a story which would have alerted the Japanese we were reading their naval codes – if they’d been paying attention.

        The Tribune was run by the Roosevelt-hating isolationist Robert R. McCormick. He obviously didn’t give a **** what happened to the US so long as he could take a smack at Roosevelt.

        The story may have had a tiny thread of truth in that some low-level Japanese in foreign embassies may have tried to run their own end-the-war scheme. Had the Japanese Government sent a suitable war-ending proposal to its embassy in a neutral place like Switzerland, the US would have taken it seriously. From some staffers in a Japanese embassy in Spain or Argentina or some such – the “offer” was so much toilet paper material.

        At a guess, it was MacArthur who gave the “peace plan” to the Tribune. He had desperately wanted to command the invasion of Japan, figuring it was his ticket to the White House. Since he was a venomous little man, why not take his own shot at the dead Roosevelt?

        • Joe L.
          June 19, 2015 at 5:35 pm

          Chicago Tribune: “Bare Peace Bid U.S. Rebuffed 7 Months Ago” (August 19, 1945):

          “Washington, D.C., Aug. 18’ – Release of censorship restrictions in the United States makes it possible to announce that Japan’s first peace bid was relayed to the White House seven months ago.

          Two days before the late President Roosevelt left for the Yalta conference with Prime Minister Churchill and Dictator Stalin, he received a Japanese offer identical with the terms subsequently concluded by his successor, President Truman.

          The Jap offer, based on five separate peace overtures, was relayed to the White House by Gen. MacArthur in a 40 page communication. The American commander, who had just returned triumphantly to Bataan, urged negotiations on the basis of the Jap overtures.”

          http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1945/08/19/page/1/article/bare-peace-bid-u-s-rebuffed-7-months-ago

        • Joe L.
          June 19, 2015 at 5:40 pm

          John Pilger: “The lies of Hiroshima are the lies of today” (August 6, 2008):

          “The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. “Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

          The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US air force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. He later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb”. His foreign policy colleagues were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.” The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

          http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-lies-of-hiroshima-are-the-lies-of-today

          • Zachary Smith
            June 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm

            …it is the Survey’s opinion that …

            Sorry, but in this situation the “Survey’s opinion” is worthless. They were NOT in any way neutral, believing as they did that Bombing was a panacea cure for everything. It wasn’t.

            Regarding Mr. John Pilgar, his wiki suggests that he’s a prolific author and is on the side of the angels in every case I saw there.

            Since that’s the case, I’ll cut him some slack and merely suggest that if he ever writes again about the end of WW2, he seek out some more reliable sources.

        • Joe L.
          June 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm

          Well Mr. Pilger is an award winning journalist, a very decorated one at that, who even has articles published on Consortium News, as I am sure that Robert Parry would attest to. He has been reporting for decades from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and a whole host of nations and conflicts. Being that I have given you two separate accounts (one which even gives information from the US National Archives themselves, which obviously you discount) which verify that Japan indeed wanted to surrender far before the atomic bombs were dropped from 1943 onwards. I didn’t even include quotes from the different generals and admirals of the time which also conclude that the dropping of the atomic bombs was unnecessary and barbaric.

          I just kind of get the feeling that no matter what evidence you are presented with you are going to put “patriotism” before “logic” meanwhile simply dismissing it. I actually visited Hiroshima over 2 years ago now and seeing all of the photos, people’s shadows burned into stone – it proved to me that it was a horrific, cowardly act since the overwhelming majority of people were civilians. So you can shut your eyes to the reality but I really suggest taking a trip to Hiroshima or Nagasaki and seeing for yourself.

          Oh and is it so mind boggling that the US Government would do something so horrific when it has trained 11 Latin American dictators, and their death squads, at the School of the Americas, used Agent Orange on the people of Vietnam who still suffer from deformations to this day, used depleted uranium in Iraq where babies of Fallujah are being born deformed… the atrocities by the US Government go on and on to this day yet it is unthinkable that the US would use the atomic bombs as a demonstration to the Russians even though Japan was ready to surrender.

        • Joe L.
          June 19, 2015 at 6:19 pm

          Well I have given you sources which cite the US National Archive in Washington, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, and an article in the Chicago Tribune which all support that Japan was vying to surrender since as early as 1943 – yet you discount all of it. Like I said putting “patriotism” before “logic”. Believe whatever you want. Maybe in your world the earth is flat, the moon is made of cheese, and the sun revolves around the earth.

        • Joe L.
          June 19, 2015 at 6:26 pm
        • Joe L.
          June 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm

          One last thing, since you are criticizing Mr. Pilger, you made a number of comments which seems to support his stance on his article for Consortium News entitled “The Rise of a ‘Democratic’ Fascism” (March 2, 2015)” but of course you have dismissed him as some quack for his reporting on WW2… interesting…

        • Anonymous
          June 20, 2015 at 6:29 am

          There are a number of people that believe Japan was planning to surrender — including some in the US intelligence community at the time the bombs were dropped.

          http://www.fpp.co.uk/History/Churchill/Japan_surrender_attempts/MS.html

          There is so much evidence out there that says the US governments stated decisions and actions should always be subjected to close scrutiny amd rarely passes any test concerning hypocrisy as the administrator of double standards and double-speak whenever convenient.

  3. Mark
    June 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Looking at her photo, I think the resemblance of Nuland’s physical features to those of nurse Ratchet in ‘One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest’ is uncanny — and the fact that her style of promoting democracy is exactly the same as nurse Ratchet’s is even more uncanny…

    Any of you anti-empire freedom and democracy fighters need a lobotomy?

  4. Joe L.
    June 19, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    With this new Cold War, I frankly hope that we lose it or start to lose it – such as the BRICS Development Bank, SCO, AIIB, alternative to SWIFT, New Silk Road etc. I think that our arrogance and triumphalism need to be taken down a whole bunch of notches – maybe then we will start to work with the rest of the world rather than trying to continuously divide it hopefully bringing an end to these “perpetual” wars that we have created.

    • Dongi
      June 20, 2015 at 7:05 am

      We divide the world and conquer–all for the sake of our businessmen. The US is not going to play fair and act honorably, my god, there is no money in that. So Russia, and perhaps, China must be taken care of, they are in the way so to speak. Only, as you said up thread nuclear weapons are involved and Putin is no dummy when it comes to cold war maneuverings.

      So the ultimate chess match of all time is on: Russia v US. The fate of the world hangs in the balance. Winner take all. Except there will be no all. There won’t be anything except radiation and suffering humanity. A pox on both their houses because in my opinion the human race and its continued evolution is more important than both countries combined. It’s time for the UN to be involved; to take away nuclear weapons from everybody; to bring about world peace.

  5. Rob Roy
    June 20, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you, Joe L., for your erudite and informative responses to Z.Smith. You are proveably correct on all counts and it’s much appreciated that you state it with eloquence and facts. What a shame that ‘well-respected’ newspapers use reporters who are stenographers for the White House and MIC propaganda. And if those “journalists” don’t follow the party line, their facts are dismissed and they sometimes are fired. Think Chris Hedges. Again, thank you. Victoria Nuland, et. al., can’t pull a coup on Putin and get away with it, thank god.

  6. M Henri Day
    June 21, 2015 at 7:02 am

    With regard to the question of the Japanese government’s decision to surrender in 1945, the following two article are illuminating : Professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Japan Focus article, «The Atomic Bombs and the Soviet Invasion: What Drove Japan’s Decision to Surrender?» (http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tsuyoshi-Hasegawa/2501/article.html) and Ward Hayes Wilson’s Foreign Policy article, entitled «The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan… Stalin Did», (http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/) cf even the discussion in the commentary thread….

    Allow me to here point out an error on the part of the interviewer, Dennis J Bernstein : «We have a man in Russia who will not be fooled with public relations, given that he was a master of it as head of the KGB.» Gospodin Putin was never head of the KGB, although he did serve as head of one of its successor organs, the FSB, for little more than a year, between 25 July 1998 and 9 August 1999, after which he was appointed to the post of acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin….

    Henri

    • Zachary Smith
      June 21, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      (4) the most important, immediate cause behind Japan’s decision to surrender were the emperor’s “sacred decision” to do so, engineered by a small group of the Japanese ruling elite;

      When I got to this part of your first link I realized that I was going to have to pay careful attention to what the authors wrote, for they totally nailed it in this observation. Working on the Emperor’s mind was the object of all the important players. HE was the only one who had the ‘pull’ to curb the Army’s wish for a Götterdämmerung battle fought on the Home Islands.

      So when the authors asserted that the Soviet Invasion of Manchuria was a major factor in ending the war, I was forced to give that idea some consideration for really the first time. How could it be so?

      Well, back in 1939 the insubordinate Kwangtung Army in Manchuria had gotten the idea of tackling the Soviets. To this day I don’t know what the Japanese there had in mind, but perhaps it was to teach the Commies a lesson. Put fear into their heart. Maybe to grab some land. The Khalkhin Gol battles went badly – the Japanese forces involved were severely mauled. Avoiding antagonizing the Soviets became Japanese policy. Driving South against the much ‘softer’ Americans and European colonial powers was chosen instead.

      Fast forward to 1945. The Japanese had been steadily losing ground to the Americans and Australians. But with every losing battle they’d been learning how to improve their “kill” ratio – making the Allies suffer more with each battle. The Japanese Army’s reasoning was that in a gigantic set-piece battle in Japan, they could force so many Allied casualties that they’d be allowed to have much better surrender terms.

      Two things intervened with this calculation. First, the Americans demonstrated that they could stand off and kill thousands – hundreds of thousands of Japanese without any dead or wounded of their own. How do you resist an unending string of atomic bombs?

      Next, all of a sudden the Army is looking at fighting the Soviets again. The memory of the 1939 experience plus years of watching Stalin’s indifference to casualties in west Asia and Eastern Europe fighting the Germans caused them to be even more afraid of the Soviet Armies. Obviously the Ketsugō battle plan of maximizing enemy battle deaths wasn’t going to work. Stalin gave every indication of not giving a solitary damn how many troops he lost.

      In my revised opinion it was the combination of the two new dooms which allowed those advisers to influence the Emperor.

      A week ago I’d have greatly discounted the Soviet factor – your first link was mighty impressive, even if I’m only barely started reading it.

      Thanks!

  7. hammersmith
    June 23, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    It is as though it is a game.

Comments are closed.