Pushing Russia Toward War

NATO’s military pressure on Russia and the West’s economic sanctions have empowered Moscow’s hardliners, setting the stage for an escalation of the new Cold War into possibly a hot one, ex-British intelligence officer Alastair Crooke warns.

By Alastair Crooke

Something significant happened in the last few days of April, but it seems the only person who noticed was Stephen Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University.

In a recorded interview, Cohen notes that a section of the Russian leadership is showing signs of restlessness, focused on President Vladimir Putin’s leadership. We are not talking of street protesters. We are not talking coups against Putin — his popularity remains above 80 percent and he is not about to be displaced. But we are talking about serious pressure being applied to the president to come down from the high wire along which he has warily trod until now.

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking the presidential oath at his third inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2012. (Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking the presidential oath at his third inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2012. (Russian government photo)

Putin carries, at one end of his balancing pole, the various elites more oriented toward the West and the “Washington Consensus“ and, at the pole’s other end, those concerned that Russia faces both a real military threat from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a hybrid geo-financial war as well. He is being pressed to come down on the side of the latter, and to pry the grip of the former from the levers of economic power that they still tightly hold.

In short, the issue coming to a head in the Kremlin is whether Russia is sufficiently prepared for further Western efforts to ensure it does not impede or rival American hegemony. Can Russia sustain a geo-financial assault, if one were to be launched? And is such a threat real or mere Western posturing for other ends?

What is so important is that if these events are misread in the West, which is already primed to see any Russian defensive act as offensive and aggressive, the ground will already have been laid for escalation. We already had the first war to push back against NATO in Georgia. The second pushback war is ongoing in Ukraine. What might be the consequences to a third?

In mid-April, General Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee (a sort of super attorney general, as Cohen describes it), wrote that Russia — its role in Syria notwithstanding — is militarily ill prepared to face a new war either at home or abroad, and that the economy is in a bad way, too.

Russia, furthermore, is equally ill-prepared to withstand a geo-financial war. He goes on to say that the West is preparing for war against Russia and that Russia’s leadership does not appear to be aware of or alert to the danger the country faces.

Bastrykin does not say that Putin is to blame, though the context makes it clear that this is what he means. But a few days later, Cohen explains, the article sparked further discussion from those who both endorse Bastrykin and do precisely mention Putin by name.

Then, Cohen notes, a retired Russian general entered the fray to confirm that the West is indeed preparing for war — he pointed to NATO deployments in the Baltics, the Black Sea and Poland, among other places — and underlines again the unpreparedness of the Russian military to face this threat.

“This is a heavy indictment of Putin,” Cohen says of the revelations from this analysis. “It is now out in the open.”

‘Mother Russia’

What is this all about? For some time there have been indications that a key faction within the Kremlin, one that very loosely might be termed “nationalist,” has become deeply disenchanted with Putin’s toleration of the Washington Consensus and its adherents at the Russian central bank and in other pivotal economic posts.

Some of the estimated 12 million Russians who took part in Immortal Regiment parades across the country over three days. (RT photo)

Some of the estimated 12 million Russians who took part in Immortal Regiment parades across the country over three days. (RT photo)

The nationalists want them purged, along with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s perceived Western-friendly government. Putin may be highly popular, but Medvedev’s government is not. The government’s economic policy is being criticized. The opposing faction wants to see an immediate mobilization of the military and the economy for war, conventional or hybrid. This is not about wanting Putin ousted; it is about pushing him to wield the knife — and to cut deeply.

What does this faction want apart from Russia preparing for war? They want a harder line in Ukraine and for Putin to reject U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s snares in Syria. In short, Kerry is still trying to force Assad’s removal and continues to push for further U.S. support for the opposition.

The American government is reluctant as well to disentangle “moderates” from jihadis. The view is that America is insincere in trying to cooperate with Russia on a settlement and more intent on entrapping Putin in Syria. Perhaps this is right, as Gareth Porter and Elijah Magnier have outlined.

What this means at a more fundamental level is that Putin is being asked to side with the nationalists against the internationalists aligned with the Washington Consensus, and to purge them from power. Recall, however, that Putin came to power precisely to temper this polarity within Russian society by rising above it — to heal and rebuild a diverse society recovering from deep divisions and crises. He is being asked to renounce that for which he stands because, he is being told, Russia is being threatened by a West that is preparing for war.

The prospect of the seeming inevitability of future conflict is hardly new to Putin, who has spoken often on this theme. He has, however, chosen to react by placing the emphasis on gaining time for Russia to strengthen itself and trying to corner the West into some sort of cooperation or partnership on a political settlement in Syria, for example, which might have deflected the war dynamic into a more positive course. Putin has, at the same time, skillfully steered Europeans away from NATO escalation.

But in both of these objectives the Obama administration is acting to weaken Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s hand, and therefore strengthening the hand of those in Russia calling for a full mobilization for war. It is not coincidental that Bastrykin’s alarm-raising article came now, as the Syria ceasefire is being deliberately infringed and broken.

American Strategy

Is this properly understood in the White House? If so, must we conclude that escalation against Russia is desired? As Cohen notes, “the Washington Post [in its editorial pages] tells us regularly that never, never, never … under any circumstances, can the criminal Putin be a strategic partner of the United States.”

President Barack Obama talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Is the die then cast? Is Putin bound to fail? Is conflict inevitable? Ostensibly, it may seem so. The stage is certainly being set.

I have written before on, “the pivot already under way from within the U.S. defense and intelligence arms of Obama’s own administration” toward what is often referred to as the “Wolfowitz doctrine,” a set of policies developed by the U.S. in the 1990s and early 2000s. The author of one of those policies, the 1992 U.S. Defense Planning Guidance, wrote that the DPG in essence sought to:

“preclude the emergence of bipolarity, another global rivalry like the Cold War, or multipolarity, a world of many great powers, as existed before the two world wars. To do so, the key was to prevent a hostile power from dominating a ‘critical region,’ defined as having the resources, industrial capabilities and population that, if controlled by a hostile power, would pose a global challenge.”

In an interview with Vox, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter was clear that this was broadly the bearing by which the Pentagon was being directed to sail. Then again, there is the rather obvious fact that, instead of the much-touted U.S. military pivot ostensibly being to Asia, the actual NATO pivot is being directed to Central Europe — to Russia’s borders. And NATO is plainly pushing the envelope as hard as it dares, up and against Russia’s borders.

Then there is the rhetoric: Russian aggression. Russian ambitions to recover the former Soviet Empire. Russian attempts to divide and destroy Europe. And so on.

Why? It may be that NATO simply presumes these envelope-pushing exercises will never actually come to war, that Russia somehow will back off. And that continuously poking the bear will serve America’s interest in keeping Europe together and NATO cohesive, its sanctions in place, divided from Russia.

NATO is due to meet in Warsaw in early July. Perhaps, then, the Western language about Russia’s “aggression” is little more than America heading off any European revolt on sanctions by stirring up a pseudo-threat from Russia and that the Russians are misreading American true intentions, which do not go beyond this. Or do they?

The extraordinary bitterness and emotional outrage with which the American establishment has reacted to Donald Trump’s probable nomination as a presidential candidate suggests that the U.S. establishment is far from having given up on the Wolfowitz doctrine.

So has Putin’s strategy of co-opting America in the Middle East been the failure that the Bastrykin faction implies? In other words, is it the case that the policy of gaining cooperation has failed and that Putin must now move beyond it, because America is not about to cooperate and is, instead, continuing the process of cornering Russia?

GOP Establishment Revolts

As the Texas Tribune reported on May 4, “For the first time since his own presidency, George H.W. Bush is planning to stay silent in the race for the Oval Office — and the younger former president Bush plans to stay silent as well.”

To get a sense of the war within the Republican Party (and the Democrats are no less conflicted), read this reaction to that story by the two-time Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. Here’s a small selection:

Former President George W. Bush prepares to celebrate the dedication of his presidential library, which opens to the public on May 1, 2013.

Former President George W. Bush prepares to celebrate the dedication of his presidential library, which opens to the public on May 1, 2013.

“Trump’s triumph is a sweeping repudiation of Bush Republicanism by the same party that nominated them [the Bush’s] four times for the presidency. Not only was son and brother, Jeb, humiliated and chased out of the race early, but Trump won his nomination by denouncing as rotten to the core the primary fruits of signature Bush policies … That is a savage indictment of the Bush legacy. And a Republican electorate, in the largest turnout in primary history, nodded, ‘Amen to that, brother!’”

Buchanan continues in another piece: “The hubris here astonishes. A Republican establishment that has been beaten as badly as Carthage in the Third Punic War is now making demands on Scipio Africanus and the victorious Romans” — a reference to Paul Ryan’s attempts to make Trump adhere to Bush Republicanism. “This is difficult to absorb.”

But here, in this crisis, is an opportunity. America could be heading into recession, corporate profits are falling, huge swaths of debt are looking suspect, global trade is sinking and U.S. policy tools for controlling the global financial system have lost their credibility. And there are no easy solutions to the global overhang of increasingly putrid debt.

But a President Trump — were that to happen — can lay blame for any perfect economic storm on the Establishment. America is all knotted up at present, as the presidential nomination melee made clear. Some knots will take time to undo, but some could be undone relatively easily, and it seems that Trump has some sense of this. It could start with a dramatic diplomatic initiative.

Historically, most radical projects of reform have started in this way: overturn a piece of conventional wisdom and unlock the entire policy gridlock — the momentum gained will allow a reformer to steamroll even the hardest resistance — in this case, Wall Street and the financial oligarchy — into making reforms.

Trump can simply say that American — and European — national security interests pass directly through Russia — which they clearly do — that Russia does not threaten America — which it clearly does not — and that NATO is, in any case, “obsolete,” as he has said. It makes perfect sense to join with Russia and its allies to surround and destroy the so-called Islamic State.

If one listens carefully, Trump seems halfway there. It would cut a lot of knots, maybe even untie the policy gridlock. Perhaps that is what he intends?

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, which advocates for engagement between political Islam and the West. [This article originally appeared at Huffington Post.]

61 comments for “Pushing Russia Toward War

  1. moe
    May 25, 2016 at 14:24

    trump is not to be trusted either, he met with henry kissinger who is a known war criminal he serves the military industrial complex

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  3. Abe
    May 22, 2016 at 14:48

    A case can be made that the Beltway – neocons and neoliberalcons alike – do not want a hot war with Russia. What they want, apart from racking in more cash for the Pentagon, is to raise the ante to such a high level that Moscow will back down – based on a rational cost analysis. Yet oil prices will inevitably rise later in 2016 – and under this scenario Washington is a loser. So we may see a raise of interest rates by the Fed (with all the money continuing to go to Wall Street) trying to reverse the scenario.

    Comparisons of the current NATO buildup to pre-WWII buildups, or to NATO when opposed to the Warsaw Pact, are amateurish. The THAAD and Patriot missiles are worthless – according to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) themselves; that’s why they tried to improve them with Iron Dome.

    Meanwhile, those new NATO army “battalions” are inconsequential. The basic thrust behind the Pentagon’s moves under neocon Ash Carter continues to be to draw Russia ever further into Syria and Ukraine (as if Moscow actually was involved in, or wanted, a Ukrainian quagmire); trap Russia in proxy wars; and economically bleed Russia to death while crippling the bulk of oil and natural gas income to the Russian state.

    Russia does not want – and does not need – war. Yet the “Russian aggression” narrative never stops. Thus it’s always enlightening to come back to this RAND corporation study, which examined what would happen if a war actually took place. RAND reached an “unambiguous” conclusion after a series of war games in 2015-2015; Russia could overrun NATO in a mere 60 hours – if not less – if it ever amounted to a hot war on European soil.

    The Rand Corporation is essentially a CIA outpost – thus a propaganda machine. Yet it’s not propaganda to state the Baltic States and Ukraine would completely fall in less than three days before the Russian Army. However, the suggestion that additional NATO air power and heavily armored combat divisions would make a material difference is bogus.

    The Aegis changes the game in the sense that it qualifies as a launch area for US missile defense. Think US missiles with minimum flying time – around 30 minutes – from Moscow; that’s a certified threat to the Russian nation. The Russian military has also been “unambiguous”; if it is ascertained that NATO – via the Pentagon – is about to try something funny, there are grounds for a preventive strike by Iskander-M systems out of Transnistria – as in the destruction of the US missiles by conveniently armed precision weapons.

    Meanwhile, Moscow has pulled a stunning success – of course, it’s far from over – in Syria. So what’s left for the Pentagon – via NATO – is essentially to play the scare tactics card. They know Russia is prepared for war – certainly much better prepared than NATO. They know neither Putin nor the Russian military will back down because of kindergarten scaremongering. As for a too conciliatory tone by the Kremlin towards Washington, things may be about to change soon.

    Beware what you wish for: Russia is ready for war
    By Pepe Escobar

  4. May 21, 2016 at 20:57

    So far there has been no mention of how Hitler hoodwinked Stalin, leading to such a horrendous invasion, war and almost unbelievable casualties. No wonder they fear the West.

  5. Khalid
    May 21, 2016 at 16:36

    American policeis are the one to push the world in war and European are the one to loose as you see the refugee crisisl.

  6. Anthony Clifton
    May 21, 2016 at 12:04

    The author of this article is wrong. The provocations have come from Russia, not the West. Russia under its Dictator Vladimir Putin have for the past 3 years been engaging in provocative and destabilizing actions and behavior. The illegal annexation of the sovereign Ukrainian territory of Crimea, The invasion of Eastern Ukraine and subsequent lies from the Kremlin denying the obvious. The brutal shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17 2014 with the loss of 298 innocent passengers and crew and the outright and blatant lies from the Kremlin attempting to blame Ukraine for this tragedy, The indiscriminate bombing of NGO hospitals and civilians in Syria. Men like Vladimir Putin ONLY respect strength and dispise weakness. No meaningful progress towards any course that will ease tension between Russia and NATO can come about if Putin thinks that NATO lacks the will and commitment to use its power if nessarsary

    The recent deployment and rotation of a U.S. Armored Brigade and the propositioning of equipment in the Baltic States and a more robust training regime by NATO forces on NATOs northeastern flank and the activation of Missile interceptor sites in Romania are steps in the right direction. They have heightened Russian bellicose rhetoric and counter moves BUT they have also served notice to Mr Putin that NATO is serious about fulfilling its mission of collective security for its member nations

    Faced with a more determined and reenergizing NATO in Northeastern Europe and a increasingly constricted economy due to western economic sanctions and low global oil prices, the leaders of NATO might just be surprised to see just how cooperative Vladimir Putin can really be when he s given the right incentives and those incentives are a failing economy, international isolation and the rumblings of domestic discontent in Russia due to Russia International and economic isolation by the West.

    • David Smith
      May 21, 2016 at 12:56

      Crimea was an Autonomous Region, it was never “Ukrainian sovereign territory”. The rest if your post is equally in error.

      • Zachary Smith
        May 21, 2016 at 16:32

        But on the flip side, this sort of nonsense indicates that Consortium News is now considered being worth the effort of trolling on a number of subjects.

        • May 21, 2016 at 19:04

          hear! hear!

      • Joe L.
        May 22, 2016 at 04:41

        Well Anthony Clifton certainly provides sensationalized entertainment in his comments!

        1) He keeps calling Putin a “dictator” even though he was democratically elected and has something like 83% support within Russia as reported not only by Russian media but also Gallup has also confirmed these numbers. If Putin is a dictator then he sure is a popular one.

        2) He calls any scholar that does not see things his way a Communist – such as Noam Chomsky, Seymour Hersh, Stephen Cohen etc. Also, I have seen Glenn Greenwald call what happened in Ukraine a coup, along with John Pilger, I also believe that Chris Hedges acknowledged the coup in Ukraine, Ray McGovern, Ron Paul, Paul Craig Roberts, also Mr. Parry and a whole bunch of others.

        3) I actually do believe that Crimea was an annexation but it was also highly supported by the autonomous people of Crimea – as Pew Research, Gallup and GFK have all shown with their polling. I see the annexation as reactionary since the US pulled off a coup in Ukraine and I believe that Russia feared losing its’ military base that has been there for something like 300 years.

        4) He claims that Russia shot down MH-17 even though I do not believe that the investigation has concluded meanwhile in Der Spiegel and I believe some reports from the Dutch point to the BUK being captured or fired from a Ukrainian Military Base which would make it either rebels or Ukrainian Military that fired the missile. Also, I expect the investigation will be skewed since Ukraine has veto power to overrule the release of any information in the report – how is that even possible for one of the suspects to have that right?

        5) As for Russia indiscriminately bombing hospitals in Syria, I have seen a lot of rhetoric about it but not any undeniable proof (unless someone knows otherwise?) meanwhile, around the same time, the US bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.

        6) As for Russia’s failing economy, they are seeing some inflation but I swear that I read recently that their economy has grown but only minutely. There is also the claim of “international isolation” meanwhile I believe Prime Minister Abe from Japan was just meeting with Putin in Sochi and Russia has good relations with China, India, Iran, Cuba, South Africa and I am guessing many other countries in Asia, South America, and Africa – Putin and Russia are far from being isolated. Isolated from the west is a more correct terminology.

        7) As for domestic discontent in Russia, with Putin having somewhere around 83% support, as Gallup has reported, I don’t see that happening (I think that is Anthony Clifton’s wishful thinking). Though, I think that there might be some Russians who don’t believe Putin is taking a strong enough approach as NATO is on its’ borders (kind of a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse).

        Anyway I just see a lot of bravado from Mr. Clifton without any substance, hence the entertainment factor.

        • ??????? ?????
          May 23, 2016 at 16:18

          He’s most likely a paid Ukrainian troll. FYI.
          Russian economy is still in recession, but the trough seems to have been passed.

    • R McHewn
      May 21, 2016 at 19:54

      It is but a hollow argument, when based entirely upon one’s own made-up “facts”!

    • ltr
      May 21, 2016 at 20:34

      This is simply nonsense, malicious nonsense at that:

      Replying to Clifton.

  7. Bob Van Noy
    May 21, 2016 at 11:58

    I’m hoping that someone can do an analytic comparison of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, both seem to me to be ideologues with seriously flawed concepts of America and our place in the world. Why would anybody pay attention to anything Paul Wolfowitz has written? or declared true. After the war crimes of Vietnam; Kissinger should have been offered up for trial in The Hague. Enough. At least Bernie Sanders separated himself from Hillary and this criminal, in debate. That any politician must “go to him” (Kissinger) seems incredible to me.

  8. May 21, 2016 at 10:52

    I think it was the late Teddy Kennedy who described the Wolfowitz doctrine as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.’’ The long Russian retreat from Berlin was unfortunately understood by Gorbochov as an end to the cold war, rather than as the recondite American objective as a victory. Now that the Russians are pinned back on their side of the Russian border NATO is beefing up its military presence, manpower and materiel, and the process shows no sign of de-escalation. Indeed Putin’s caution is seemingly embolden the war party in Washington. When even people like Kissinger and Brzezinski are exhibiting concern about US foreign policy and military strategy vis-a-vis Russia then there seems real cause for concern. The US seems committed to the goal of global hegemony at whatever the price.

    It seems hardly surprising therefore that Putin and his administration is coming under extreme pressure from hardliners like Glazyev, Dugin and Prokhanov as well as the military establishment. More NATO provocations and humiliations against Russia surely tilt the balance toward the hardliners and force Putin’s hand. And NATO may get its war after all; complete with a nuclear winter which will have about the same effect, or worse, of the Black Death which ravaged Europe in the 14th century and wiped out half the population of the European continent. Or does the west expect Russia to surrender. Since Russia has never voluntarily surrendered from any invasion 1914, 1920, 1941, it seems unlikely that this pattern will change. Or do the Americans think that they can have a war with Russia fought exclusively in Europe, whilst presumably watching the show in TV.

    One of the first indicators of political upheaval in Russia will be the parliamentary elections to be held later this year. I would expect both the communists and nationalists make significant gains at the expense of ‘United Russia’ Putin and Medvedev’s party. The Americans may well have their regime change, but not the one that they were expecting.

    • Anthony Clifton
      May 21, 2016 at 12:17

      Yanukovych was a Russian stooge paid to take orders from Moscow. He took his bribe money to scupper talks with the EU and shackle Ukraine to Russian gas and oil rather than develop Ukraine’s own energy resources. The vast majority of Ukrainians want ties to the west and EU, which offers some hope of prosperity and growth, rather than being tied to the Russian tyrant. When Yanukovych changed course after being paid by Moscow, Ukrainians revolted and ousted him. When Ukraine signed deals with western oil companies to develop resources off the coast of Crimea and in Lviv and Dontesk, Russia illegally seized Crimea and told the rebels in Donbass life is better in Russia. They’ve since learned otherwise. Crimea makes the rest of Ukraine look like Monaco by comparison. The whole region is supported by massive Russian welfare after the tourism industry imploded, and even at that living standards are a small fraction of what they were before the invasion, if living supplies are even available, much less affordable.

      The Russian irregulars (i.e. drunks) that invaded Donbass had no clue what they were doing- shot down the Dutch passenger plane in sheer stupidity- and were not welcomed in the region even by local Russian speakers. Putin had to send in regular unmarked troops and equipment to shore them up, but now that, along with the Crimean invasion, has cost the Russian economy trillions of dollars and counting, and the appetite for further destruction is waning fast as 40% of Russians can no longer afford basic food and clothing.
      Meanwhile Putin needed to drum up more support, so he decided to dispatch some troops to shore up a former Russian colony in Syria, and a kindred spirit in the butcher Assad, all for the glory of the Russian motherland. Things haven’t gone all that well there either, and ISIS has killed more Russians than any other European nation after blowing up the Russian airliner.

      Putin concedes now that there will need to be more belt-tightening in Russia this year, while the lights and heat are out in Crimea, supplies dwindle, and prices soar. For Putin, all those years of $100+ oil are down the drain, meanwhile Ukraine is signing trade deals with the EU and Canada (which effectively includes the US as well), getting help from the west (IMF), while Russia sinks further back into the abyss. Now he cannot even get the $3 billion bribe money they sent to Yanukovych back, and the international court ruled they owe $50 billion to Yukos investors too.

      It’ll be interesting to see how long Putin’s support in Russia lasts, as everything he’s done the past few years has put Russia in the ditch. He was smart to control all the media prior to doing so, otherwise he’d probably already be headed for the Mussolini treatment. As it stands, eventually the empty fridge will prove a little more compelling than the propaganda on TV, and Russians will eventually realize that all their suffering is, once again, for nothing. Then he’ll be gone.

      • Bill Bodden
        May 21, 2016 at 18:25

        While we are in a Putin/Russia-bashing mood, let’s not forget as the US and its military-industrial complex’s agency in Europe, NATO, advanced to the east to bring democracy to Eastern Europe and Russia, Putin refused to submit to the US-NATO demands as other vassal states in the European Union did. Clearly, Putin placing his perceived best interests for Russia ahead of those of the American Empire is clearly a blatant act of aggression on Putin’s part.

    • elmerfudzie
      May 23, 2016 at 11:44

      The underlying issue remains the same, Banking Cartels. Today, the Russian central bank doesn’t have any blacklists of banks or license revocations. Here in the U.S. banks are closing on a daily basis. During the Soviet era, David? Rockefeller had his very own private landing strip in Moscow, where a good deal of hobnobbing with the “enemy” was done. I reference: Cyril Sutton’s study of the matter, Wall Street and the Bolshevik. There’s a lot I don’t understand here because it’s the sort of information kept out of the public consciousness. Apparently, the old link to the Western Occident banking system, the Rockefeller s and Rothschild s has been permanently severed. By that I mean, in the distant past, financial aid given to the 1917 Revolution where men like the Schiffs, Warburgs, Morgans, Harrimans, and Milners made immense fortunes, financing the “Commies” and their Bolshevik revolution. In the last analysis, this single instrument, namely the World Bank, IMF and Federal Reserve System(s), dominated all sovereign control within individual second and third world governments. This global financial manipulation no longer exists as a tool against Russian economic and political aspirations today. The only instrument of domination left, is war.

  9. David Smith
    May 21, 2016 at 10:45

    LimeyLand Shill Alert! Mr. “Crooke” might be a former diplomat, but he seems to be operating now out of Oxford Street. I delayed commenting, having never heard of Stephen “Cohen”, who is represented as a legitimate analyst. He is not. Cohen’s megaphone is the John Bachelor radio show, where he touts the ” Russian aggression” line. For example, Cohen predicts that Russia will “unleash” something called the Donbass Army, which will invade The Ukraine with the goal of seizing “Mariupol and Odessa”. Anybody willing to buy that? If not the touts on Oxford Street have more. A former British general has a new book ” 2017, The War War With Russia”, where he makes the dubious claim that England will be in a nuclear war with Russia. Why? Because “Moscow will take controll” of Latvia and certain(undefined) territories of The Ukraine. That’s Oxford Street: “Give it a backstreet polish and sell it to Bloody Yank!!!!!”.

    • David Smith
      May 21, 2016 at 11:06

      “2017, The War With Russia” by Richard Shirreff. Well touted and taken seriously on the internet. More idiotic than a Tom Clancy novel. England gets involved when a Russian submarine commander “decides” to torpedo the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth ll.

      • Anthony Clifton
        May 21, 2016 at 12:14

        Tom Clancy novels were all best sellers and 3 major Hollywood movies where made from them so it seems you are in the distinct minority regarding opinions of Tom Clancy novels it would appear.

      • David Smith
        May 21, 2016 at 13:11

        AC, are you telling me you take “Hunt For Red October” seriously? Tom Clancy’s brain had the geopolitical acumen of an eleven year old boy who reads National Review and plays Avalon Hill war games.

    • May 21, 2016 at 11:09

      The only thing that stopped the NAF (Novorussian Armed Forces) from overrunning Mariupol and creating a land corridor to Crimea was – wait for it – Putin. The NAF have inflicted two heavy defeats on the Ukie Army once at Ivolaisk and second at the Debaltcevo salient. Interestingly enough on both these occasions the Ukrainians sued for peace and a ceasefire. But this was only to stop a complete rout of their forces. Putin thought that the position on the ground had changed and that negotiations initiated by the Europeans Hollande and Merkel together with Poroshenko Minsk 1 & 2 would provide a diplomatic settlement. He thus strongly encouraged Donbass leader Zakharchenko to halt before Mariupol. That’s how it happened.

      • David Smith
        May 21, 2016 at 12:19

        Lee Francis, do not attempt to create confusion. Cohen’s goofy remarks never referred to the events of 2014. He is touting this line in 2016 and referring to the future.

        • MG
          May 22, 2016 at 08:47

          David Smith, do not attempt to create confusion. Cohen’s strongly behind Minsk-2 agreement and sees current state of Ukraine as Civil war, in which outside powers are trying to get advantage, in which he recognizes that Russian claims to have “friendly” Ukraine on its border is more legitimate than other powers involved, especially if those powers are thousand miles away.
          David Smith, do not attempt to create confusion. :)

      • sixpack
        May 22, 2016 at 20:14

        You know the Americans will never give Putin credit for anything that isn’t evil. That’s simply beyond their capacity to mentally process.

    • May 21, 2016 at 19:51

      You need to read Cohen’s books and listen to more of his weekly interviews. If you did, then you would realize that Cohen is not anything like how you portray him. He’s a fair-minded analyst who probably knows more about Russia than any other American academic. He has great respect for Russia on its own terms and is constantly criticizing the dangerous propaganda in western corporate media and the demonization of Putin.

  10. Joe Tedesky
    May 21, 2016 at 10:18

    Here is a link to Paul Craig Roberts, on the subject of Russia ….


  11. Patrick
    May 21, 2016 at 04:34

    A “Bear with three ribs in it’s teeth that has raised itself up on one side after being told by a messenger angel to “Arise and devour much flesh!”” does not need to be provoked and what’s going to happen will happen regardless because of true prophecies spoken and written long ago by True Prophets of God and the Christ Himself! (Daniel 7)

  12. Tom Welsh
    May 21, 2016 at 04:22

    “The view is that America is insincere…”

    Always. How could anyone with even a high school knowledge of history think otherwise? American governments have always lied – cynically, deliberately, maliciously. And laughed up their sleeves at the idiots who trusted them.

    Just ask the Native Americans.

  13. Secret Agent
    May 21, 2016 at 01:20

    Crooke and Cohen make interesting commentary but the best analysis of the current NATO feather ruffeling was done by the saker in his article:”Debunking popular cliches about modern warfare.”


    • Anthony Clifton
      May 21, 2016 at 12:11

      Stephen Cohen, a bitterly dissapointed crypto-Communist, reminds me vividly of Noam Chomsky, a grammarian pretending to be a politologist, and of Seymor Hirsh (all of the same ilk, their families hailing back to 1930s Communist Party USA). The last one, pretending to be an investigatve journalist “revealed” several years ago in the New Yorker a date certain for an allegedly already approved US invasion of Iran. Except no such invasion has occured: not on that date, nor even years later. Cohen hoped that his favourite USSR would be a effective counterbalance for his native country he’s hated so much – only to be bitterly dissapointed. Just like Chomsky and Hirsh.
      Columbia (University) not the gem of the oceans.

  14. jaycee
    May 20, 2016 at 23:39

    Unexpected unforeseen events can arise at anytime. The Hurricane Katrina fiasco severely damaged the Bush presidency in the minds of many who were up to then still allowing it the benefit of the doubt. America’s empire is built on a mountain of deficit financing, with its military manoeuvring costing further billions for every program, dozens of which seem to spring to life every few months. Recent announcements include the Baltic states, Yemen, Libya, major new programs in Africa, missile defence in South Korea, along with a trillion dollar nuclear weapon revamp. Meanwhile, critical infrastructure, education, health programs and so on face neglect. The hubris of the US establishment may yet face a wrenching shock, probably generated by an unforeseen domestic event (unrelated to terrorism).

    • sixpack
      May 22, 2016 at 20:09

      Don’t forget the half dozen escapades in South American coups that we’re also paying for.

  15. Joe Tedesky
    May 20, 2016 at 23:27

    If the shoe were on the other foot, Americans would be screaming to high heaven. So, why is it okay for the U.S. to act out this way? After all, more than one U.S. politician has bragged about America’s Christian-Judeo values, so what about that little saying that goes, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I guess when it comes to geopolitics it doesn’t apply. At least Donald Trump gets this one right, forget NATO. Although, I also heard him say, how the other NATO nations will need to throw in more cash, if NATO is to survive with U.S. participation. Hillary, on the other hand, scares the day lights out of me. Queen Chaos has been quoted, as calling Putin Hitler, and that ain’t good.

    • Tom Welsh
      May 21, 2016 at 04:35

      “After all, more than one U.S. politician has bragged about America’s Christian-Judeo values…”

      As I said in a previous comment in this thread, American governments have always lied systematically, as a matter of policy. One almost gets the impression that they also lie as a matter of preference. And of course American governments are composed of American politicians, most of whom also lie incessantly.

      “America’s Christian-Judeo values…” How nice! And notice the elegant touch of class: the qualification “Christian-Judeo”. As a child, I was taught that the teachings of Jesus Christ, as described in the New Testament, stood in extreme contrast to the Jewish values of the Old Testament. Yet here they are being studiously intermingled! This has many advantages. If, for example, we protest that Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness, and that he would never sanction mass murder (“Whom Would Jesus Bomb?”) – why, our politician can swiftly focus on the “Judeo” part of his claim, and point out that the USA has been supporting Israel in all its crimes.

      As for the “Christian” aspect… a dispassionate observer could easily believe that the US government was dedicated to extripating Christianity (and Christians) from the Near and Middle East. The war on Iraq destroyed a tolerant secular government under whose rule Christians and Jews flourished, and could live normal lives. Today, their lives – never mind their religious practices – are continually threatened.

      The same applies to Syria, whose enlightened and relatively democratic secular government shares more American values than any other in the region. (I deliberately include Israel, a racist military tyranny that practices apartheid). The Christian, Alawite and other minority religious groups in Syria are tolerated and protected by the government, whereas the US-backed terrorists (whether extreme or “moderate”) torture and kill them at every opportunity.

      I am strongly tempted to posit an emerging “Axis of Fundamentalism”, consisting of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA. Israel embodies Jewsih fundamentalism; Saudi Arabia and Turkey embody Islamic fundamentalism; and America (more complex as always) features two different brands: Christian fundamentalism abd the worship of money (aka Mammon). Now Jesus Christ warned us that no man can worship God and Mammon. Yet the USA claims to do exactly that. What are we to conclude?

    • sixpack
      May 22, 2016 at 20:07


  16. Bill Bodden
    May 20, 2016 at 23:19

    Shucks, there is always the small outside chance that Hillary will face an ugly indictment before the Democratic Convention…

    Make “small outside chance” “next to no chance” while Obama colludes for political reasons with the Clintons.

    Hopefully, Anybody-but-Hillary will prevail in November.

    • Patrick
      May 21, 2016 at 04:38

      I just really dislike that Hillary can get away with it and it gets swept under the rug because of the current Executive Privilege branch and the current DOJ Administration. America used to be a much better place, not even that long ago.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 21, 2016 at 11:30

      On the other hand, there is the possibility of impeachment by a hostile Congress beginning during the last week of January 2017. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but the situation is becoming desperate.

      Suggested closing line for Obama’s good riddance speech: Apres moi, le deluge.

  17. Zachary Smith
    May 20, 2016 at 20:57

    First of all, a link to Bing Translation of the Bastrykin article.


    The man demands a lot, some of which I’d call reasonable and some which I’d say is excessive. The example of FDR in the late Thirties came to mind while reading the translation. FDR had the problem of a Nazi Germany mushrooming in strength, yet he led an apathetic nation here at home. He had to wait for the opinion of the electorate to change before making any substantial moves. It seemed to me that Bastrykin thinks the issue of opinion-changes can be forced, something which I doubt.

    I know next to nothing about the internal doings in modern Russia because I don’t read the language and must rely mostly on sites which I know are doing propaganda. So naturally I welcome reading the output of Mr. Alastair Crooke and others.

    Trump is mentioned at the end of the essay. Once again I’m guessing, but maybe Putin is waiting to see who he must face in the coming years. There might be a substantial difference between President Trump and President Hillary Clinton. Then again, there might not.

    Recall that Hillary has already said she’ll turn the running of the US economy over to Hubby Bill, and that would leave her free to do even more hell-raising in the rest of the world.

    Shucks, there is always the small outside chance that Hillary will face an ugly indictment before the Democratic Convention and the POTUS will be Sanders. A person can dream……

  18. Abbybwood
    May 20, 2016 at 20:13

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her candidate, Israel Firster, “Crooked Hillary” think that indictment or no indictment, the Super delegates will stick to their dirty deal with Hillary made long before Bernie Sanders ever announced his run for president, and will hand her the nomination on a bloody platter God knows she has earned.

    All this in spite of the fact that Sanders beats Trump in double digits and Trump is currently beating Clinton by 5% in the latest Rasmussen poll.

    After the coronation in Philly Rep. Wasserman Schultz and Queen Hillary may be in for a very rude awakening when the national write-in campaign for Sanders is launched and organized all summer long and into the fall.

    What ever it takes to convict Clinton in November. ALL votes need to go to Sanders and Trump and Hillary Clinton’s rotten Neocon “regime change” administration MUST be overwhelmingly rejected.

    Debbie may end up getting Bernie one way (Super delegates) or the other (Sanders write-ins nationally). Or she’ll get Trump.

    But in the end, Hillary Clinton will be resoundingly rejected. AND her husband too.

    • Bob Van Noy
      May 21, 2016 at 09:31

      Clearly Abbywood, you’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think you’re accurate about the politics. It is hard to decipher all the unsaid intrigue, but clearly Hillary, with her overt demonstration of aggression, is the most dangerous candidate in the race. Donald Trump is so unacceptable on many levels, so it seems to me that a protracted support for Bernie Sanders is called for…
      I agree with Alastair Crooke in his evaluation of Russia, and worry that the US will not recognize his offers toward pragmatism…

    • dahoit
      May 21, 2016 at 11:17

      Sanders proverbial lead on Trump;Wishful thinking.Sanders just said that Trump is picking on Obomba,our first AA POTUS(as if he is worth defending?),he insults Mexicans and Muslims,and his closing the border is inhuman.
      All losing propositions in an increasingly angry populace pissed off at current policies of American decline.

      • dahoit
        May 21, 2016 at 11:19

        Trump said he would talk with Kim il Jung!Wow,now there is a provocative statement,sure to rile the masters of war.(obviously only amateurs,as we are defeated serially.)
        Go Trump,jaw jaw,no war.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 21, 2016 at 14:02

      We need to dispense with the delusion that the election of a president is about getting the best person to lead the nation. Electing a president (or senator or representative or other person to a powerful position) is about gaining power for one faction or another. Morality, as in business, is not a factor. The problem is there is only so much immorality and consequent corruption a nation can withstand. The United States and Israel could both be at stages in their declines that precipitous falls are imminent. The Bernie Sanders revolution, while not perfect, could save the day, but the odds are enough of his supporters will be sufficiently hypocritical to do a U-turn and surrender to Hillary and bring this much-needed revolution to an end.

      Those of us who have been completely hostile to the Clintons and willing to grasp at any glimmer of hope emitted by Anybodyelse-but-Clinton need to dispense with the delusion that Trump is an alternative. His one and only saving grace is that war with Russia might be less likely under President Trump, but he is such a loose cannon and a pantomime of self-contradictions we may as well have some witch doctor throw some bones in the air and listen to what the scattered pieces tell him.

      • Call A Spade
        May 22, 2016 at 05:57

        War with Russia is war with china they have no choice The US will decide the fate but death is a real possibility for most americans that is the choice you are making I hope you believe its worth the death of your children.

        • Bill Bodden
          May 22, 2016 at 16:06

          Having said this: “His (Trump’s) one and only saving grace is that war with Russia might be less likely under President Trump, …” I am at a loss to comprehend how you can jump to the unwarranted conclusion that a war with Russia would be acceptable to me. If you aren’t concerned about digging yourself a deeper hole, please clarify. Are you a Trump Troll offended by any implication the man is a charlatan?

      • sixpack
        May 22, 2016 at 20:05

        It is precisely BECAUSE he is not beholden to the establishment, that he is the frontrunner. Of course they consider him a “loose cannon”…a cannon THEY can’t control.

    • elmerfudzie
      May 24, 2016 at 09:13

      Abbybwood, bulls eye! you’ve hit the mark. That creature Clinton is complicit in the mysterious death of one of her subordinates, Vince Foster and all the horrors from her warmongering against the now decimated Libyans. Killing Gaddafi was a big mistake. He may have been a tyrant but he certainly was a small t-tyrant. Gaddafi did more for his people in terms of free, and liberalized, education, developing fresh water resources and agriculture in a previously barren south of that country- not to mention, internal stability Her refusal to take the advise of top military advisers and bomb Libya, over their strong objections, remains the principal reason the EU is now flooded with unwanted migrants. If she becomes president, we’re in for a third world war.

  19. Drew Hunkins
    May 20, 2016 at 19:59

    Putin enjoys a 90% approval rating with the Russian people.

    Here’s the real key though, of the 10% who “disapprove” it’s because Putin is NOT forceful enough in his handling of Washington/NATO territorial aggression and embargoes.

    In other words, a growing faction of the Russian people feel Putin should take the kid gloves off when dealing with this incessant Washington-NATO harassment and unrelenting propaganda.

    • Anthony Clifton
      May 21, 2016 at 12:06

      There can be no business as usual with Russia so long as Vladimir Putin or men like him rule Russia. He has too much invested in demonizing the west and those Russians who seek Western style political and economic reform. He knows that he would never survive politically without enemies to demonize and to manipulate the Russian People’s fear of those enemies he generates which explains his massive propaganda apparatus which is mostly for domestic consumption. Russian propaganda doesn’t get to 1st base outside Russia.
      By any objective definition Vladimir Putin is Criminal who illegally represses his own people against even Russian constitutional law, he has outright stolen tens of Billions of Dollars from his country as any head of a Mafia crime family would do, he has either ordered the brutal murders of Russians inside or outside Russia or created the atmosphere of hate and fear to facilitate those murders making himself an accomplice after the fact and he has committed foreign agression against international treaties and law.

      • David Smith
        May 21, 2016 at 13:45

        If your description of Putin is correct, he has a nearly perfect resume for leadership in Republican/ Democratic parties(either one). One things Putin is missing is American leaders must be skilled at protecting and expediting the Cocaine and Heroin trade. Fortunately for Vlad, Pappy Bush is still around, and can tutor him on the cocaine trade. Bush Jr. and Dick Cheney can show Vlad how to keep the Afgani Brown Heroin flowing into America.

      • Pixy
        May 21, 2016 at 21:45

        Stop smoking weed. Just say “no”.

      • sixpack
        May 22, 2016 at 19:59

        Yeah, okay. Paid trolls always REVERSE the facts to the EXACT opposite of reality and DEFLECT the blame for everything…Always. It makes them very easy to spot.

  20. May 20, 2016 at 19:26

    is is it it me me, , or or are are there there double double pictures pictures with with every every article article ? ?
    i i know know i i have have ABP ABP ghostery ghostery and and noscript noscript on on, , but but is is that that the the reason reason i i see see double double pix pix ? ?

    • Zachary Smith
      May 20, 2016 at 20:46

      I’ve had the “double picture” issue with some browser settings, but that has disappeared since I’ve taken off most of the addons/extensions.

    • Bart
      May 21, 2016 at 09:23

      I find myself disabling AB for more and more sites. Other than the extra bandwidth used, I seem to be immune to noticing the ads.

  21. Erik
    May 20, 2016 at 18:46

    Undoubtedly the US right wing has been poking the bear to create a Russian right wing for mutual reinforcement of the false-protector demand for domestic power, as it has done everywhere.
    Perhaps if Trump cut out the right-wing warmongers, half of the battle for sane policy would be won, and the Dems would have to move left on domestic policy to beat him in 2020. A Trump unacceptable on domestic matters would then be easy to beat.

    • dahoit
      May 21, 2016 at 11:09

      Closing the border,stopping outsourcing and America First are all winning domestic policies.Add his winning by stopping stupid foreign intervention and you have an electoral landslide.
      This has the war party,Zion,in a tizzy,and both wings if it,Demoncrats and rethuglicans flabbergasted.,

    • Call A Spade
      May 22, 2016 at 06:11

      Clinton will kill more people than Khan Hitler and Bush put together

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