PATRICK LAWRENCE: The New Iron Curtain

The Ukraine crisis proves to be Europe’s crucible and Europe proves a profound disappointment.

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

We have read a great deal about a new Cold War since the U.S. cultivated the coup of February 2014 in Ukraine and the nation was tragically divided against itself.  Some of us have ruminated in print, in this publication and elsewhere, on this emergent reality.

With the back-to-back announcements that Finland and Sweden intend to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “Cold War II” is no longer merely a handy locution for columnists and those who pontificate on barstools.

The accession of these Nordic nations to Washington’s principal instrument of power projection is assured and will be complete in very short order. This will solidify the wall Washington and its European clients insist on erecting to divide the world yet more perversely and destructively than it was for the four decades and some of Cold War I.

It would be hard to overstate the significance of this turn of events — for Finns, Swedes and Russians, certainly, — but also for all Europeans and, at the horizon, for everyone on this planet, alive or yet to be born.

Remember the famous lines from Kipling?

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat…

Kipling published The Ballad of East and West in 1889, the British Empire’s high noon, and in it mourned the great divide between the imperial powers and their subjects. His deepest regret was for all the lost humanity obscured by the enduring but artificial line humans etched into the Earth long ago to distinguish the West from the rest.

Judgment Day appearing other than imminent, we will be in for many seasons of regret as Washington constructs the infrastructure that will define Cold War II. The Finns’ and Swedes’ accessions to NATO suggest an edifice more permanent than either the Iron Curtain or, on the other side of the world post–1949, its bamboo variant. There will be few doors and windows in this wall — this by Washington’s design. It will be hard to see either in or out.

Cold War II

We Stand with Ukraine 2022 Helsinki, Finland. (rajatonvimma, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

And here’s the thing about this profoundly misguided project. The populations of the Western post-democracies will pay a far higher price for letting their leaders build the thick stone wall of Cold War II than those it is supposed to consign to the wilderness. Westerners will pay this price in blindness, in ignorance, and in isolation from the global majority.

If your proposition is to isolate others — and the great majority of humanity wants no part of isolated others and a world of walls — you’ve probably got it backwards: He who would ostracize others will find himself ostracized.

It has turned out to be a hop-skip, I have to say, from “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” to erecting another as quickly as the stones can be set in place. Now we know what President Joe Biden means by “Build Back Better.”

Ever since the Russian intervention in Ukraine on Feb. 24, we have watched as many perfectly innocent people — musical conductors, athletes, professors, artists, writers — have lost their jobs or been otherwise censured for refusing to denounce the Russian incursion publicly, or in some cases simply for being Russian. It reminds me of a passage in the New Testament, Matthew 15:11: Roughly paraphrased, he who would defile another defiles only himself.


The sanctions Washington and its “allies and partners” have imposed on Russia and Russians now number more than 6,000. The results so far strongly suggest they are not working — a conclusion the policy cliques seem to be gradually acknowledging.

Last week Britain announced it was sanctioning Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife; a former gymnast reputed to be the Russian president’s girlfriend and three of his cousins. Western authorities are now down to chasing the yachts of wealthy Russians around the Mediterranean. 

Can you beat this stuff for sheer indignity?

What we’ve seen so far, appalling as it has been, will evaporate when the time comes.  Western concert halls will again permit renderings of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, War and Peace will be restored to university curricula.

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The Finnish and Swedish decisions to join NATO are of another order. They have come but will not go. We now witness an historically significant, here-to-stay restructuring of the global order, such as it is, in real time.

A good map illustrates well enough the magnitude of what is about to happen. Washington has sought to bring NATO up to Russia’s borders since the Soviet Union’s demise, but heretofore it has recruited only the three Baltic statelets among frontline nations — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


It failed to turn Georgia in 2008, it failed to push through yet another of its color revolutions in Belarus last year, and, as things stand, Ukrainian membership appears a lost cause.

The map will also tell you much about why Russia determined to intervene in Ukraine three months ago (and why your columnist still considers this a regrettable but necessary undertaking). As the map indicates, finally, Finnish membership will consolidate NATO’s presence on Russia’s northwestern flank. With Sweden’s accession, the Baltic Sea will become something like a NATO lake.

That’s the strategic picture, but the strategic picture is merely the framework of the world we are fated to live in for — as the best guesses now have it — decades to come, generations. Anyone who lived through Cold War I will share with me a profound disquietude, a sadness bordering on depression.

Among the very worst of Cold War I’s consequences was the narrowing of the American consciousness such that most citizens of our republic were rendered incapable of managing any kind of complexity. Everything was binary, Manichean, “the good guys and the bad guys,” as many a commentator — not just Tom Friedman — still thinks is fine to put on any given matter.

Americans haven’t managed to grow beyond the state of ignorance that Cold War I required before they are once again pushed back into it. Ukraine: the good guys. Russia: the bad guys. Making this case worse, the Europeans are now signing onto this simplistic view of the world, at the very moment they could have tempered America’s cornpone simplifications with needed nuance and sophistication.

A certain kind of nation is dying as we speak, and to me this is among the greatest of the losses we now witness. Finland has been neutral until now not only by treaty. It has been one of those few nations that straddle East and West by dint of geography, culture, social traditions and the like. You can see this, for instance, in its architecture and the value it places on community — touches of the Asiatic.

Helsinki stood for the efficacy of diplomacy. The twain could meet there, as they did for the Helsinki Accords in 1975 and as they did when Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbachev had their momentous encounter 15 years later. 

U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signing the final act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1975, Helsinki. (U.S. National Archives)

Ukraine stood to be another such nation, divided as it is between the Galician west, tilted toward Europe, and the Russophone east, highly conscious of its “Russianness” by way of language, history, culture, familial ties and so on. This is why the essentially federal system outlined in the two Minsk accords, September 2014 and February 2015, was wise and humane — a plan that could have elevated Ukraine to something more than a failed state, an absolute mess, which is what we must count it now.

We cannot count Sweden neutral, even if The New York Times insists on repeating this error daily. But it was NATO–agnostic, let’s say, and this counted. Stockholm told the world, We are of the West, but we do not partake of Washington’s imperial adventures, and we decline to subjugate ourselves to its militarization of trans–Atlantic relations.

It is all gone now. The Finns have surprised me. I thought they understood their singular place between East and West better than they apparently do. The Swedes have been drifting rightward from their social-democratic principles for years, but NATO membership will still signal abandonment of a worthy position.

As to the rest of Europe, the Ukraine crisis has made this a case of dashed hopes. We can forget about the Continent as an independent pole of power, an expectation I and others nursed over many years. The present generation of leadership has no experience acting other than within the shelter of the American security umbrella.

G7 leaders gather for photo, Aug. 25, 2019, Biarritz, France. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Here I have to eat a healthy serving of crow. I listened when Emmanuel Macron told the Group of 7 summit at Biarritz three years ago that Europe’s destiny was bound up with Russia’s, when the French president later dismissed NATO as “brain dead,” when he made the case repeatedly for the need to integrate the Russian Federation into a sort of Greater Europe at the western end of the Eurasian landmass.

I have Macron down now as the AOC of Europe: Lots of posturing, garish professions of principled positions, in Macron’s case his insistence over and over that Europe must cultivate its “strategic autonomy,” but no seriousness. What a shyster, what an opportunist poseur. And how foolish was I.

Europe’s Crucible

The Ukraine crisis proves to be Europe’s crucible and Europe proves a profound disappointment. We all would have gained, not Europeans alone, had the Continent’s leaders found the gumption to stand and act on their own and for their citizens’ interests.

Policy cliques in Washington and the other Western capitals appear to have settled on our moment to circle the wagons. This is the broader context within which we ought to view the Finnish and Swedish moves toward NATO. There is no more space for outliers, no more time for fancy-pants straddling between East and West.

In my read, this is at bottom a response to the single most compelling reality of our century, the emergence of parity between the West and non–West. We hear daily of how urgent it is to shovel weapons into Ukraine as quickly as possible. And it is urgent: This is a lunge in pursuit of the West’s longstanding superiority — a desperate defense of something that cannot be defended.

One great difference between Cold War I and II is that the non–West is stronger now than it was. The nations that comprise it are technologically capable, they have their own markets, their own investment capital; a dense web of interdependent ties elaborates as we speak. 

These nations, as is already plain from the very short list of subscribers to the Washington-directed sanctions regime, will not be drawn into Cold War II as a long list of developing nations was during Cold War I — Cuba, Iran and Guatemala above all, and from there onto Vietnam, Angola, the other Central Americans, the American satellites in East Asia — Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia.

With parity comes autonomy, to put this point another way.

The West wants to divide the world once again, and it is building high, thick walls to get this done. If we can’t continue to subjugate them, the policy cliques appear to reason, let’s at least isolate them. It will be interesting — bitterly amusing, even — to see who turns out to be isolated as the West insists once again the twain must not meet. 

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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60 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: The New Iron Curtain

  1. Raymond Howard
    May 21, 2022 at 20:32

    This is a good article.
    It’s also a memoir in that Mr. Lawrence shares his great disappointment with the collapse of the dream of Europe as a counterweight to America.
    I share this disappointment, but the handwriting on the wall was there for many years after the fall of Boshevism in Slavic Europe:
    When Germany joined – indeed pushed for – the bombing of Serbia.
    When Sarkozy took over France.
    When the Christian Democrats collapsed in Italy.

    The embracing of American pop culture and cuisine by young Europeans in the last 30 years is, to me, one of the most surprising trends.
    The idea which many Americans had of European sophistication apparently had more to do with the greater standing of the intelligentsia and the mono ethnicity of most European countries than any innate resistance to the Americanism.
    Once the intelligentsia went over to join the military and business castes which form the ruling class in Indo-european cultures, and large numbers of immigrants came to Europe, there was little resistance remaining.

    The erosion of the political center is the most telling trend in both Europe and America.
    This was composed of Catholics, professionals in practical fields such as medicine and engineering, artisans, and the many who became skeptical of all political arrangement due to the degrading performance of the political class during the 2nd World War.
    There is now almost no place to stand if one is skeptical of Western Liberalism, Conservatism, and the endless hysterias such as pollution and sexual identity which – once confined to the Anglophone countries – now sweep the globe.

    I must disagree with Mr. Lawrence on one thing.
    There will not be generations or even decades of a new Cold War.

    The West retained the characteristics of cultural youth through vampirism.
    Youth culture, endless searches for liberation from established social roles, and constant frontiers for economic exploitation are characteristics of societies which are prosperous and constantly expanding.
    The colonization of the rest of the world which began in the 15th century was what made this possible.
    This expansion stalled at the 1st World War, which was a consequence of the failure of the major empires to agree on how to digest China.
    The West has been trying to return to the dynamism and unlimited draining of the rest of the world since the fall of Bolshevism removed to primary obstacle to the completion of its conquest.

    Unfortunately for the West – or its ruling classes, at least – during the hiatus, the East revived enough to prepare its defense.
    The difference between the West’s industrial and military might and those of the East are less than they were a century ago.
    The defection of a few Asian countries from alliance with the West would tip the scales toward balance.
    The West must strike before anything such as that can happen or the simple increase in capital and military power in the East makes its conquest impractical.

    So, we won’t have a long time of stagnation and sullen opposition.
    The iron is hot.

    May 18, 2022 at 18:17

    When Churchill proclaimed in his famous 1946 speech in Missouri that “an iron curtain has descended across the continent”, he was, with stunning hypocrisy, complaining about the very borders that he and Stalin had drawn up together at their conferences in Tehran, Moscow, and Yalta in 1944 – 1945. His and FDR’s spineless appeasement of Stalin at Yalta in 1945 in particular dwarfs the so-called appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938.

    It was also in that speech that Churchill introduced the enduring fiction that a million US soldiers’ lives had been saved by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman had already inflated the number to 100,000 in his speech announcing the first attack the day after it occurred.

      May 20, 2022 at 10:13

      Historians have suggested that the Allies agreed at Yalta to avoid their troops fighting a new phase of the war in Eastern Europe.

  3. vinnieoh
    May 18, 2022 at 14:35

    Nicely done; your writing quill seems to get sharper. Thanks, CD, for this special.

  4. Tedder
    May 18, 2022 at 09:50

    I notice with amusement arguments made how the majority of the world condemns Russia’s ‘unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’. I enjoy pointing out that while a slim majority of countries voted against Russia, the great majority of the world’s peoples did not. I see Russia with this war essentially signaled a frustration with the West and a rejection of its duplicity and perversion. Sadly then, we see a new Iron Curtain dividing Europe, the Anglosphere, and its few Asian allies from the rest of the world.
    I don’t see it lasting because the West is so compromised by its reliance on non-West labor and resources. Even a service economy needs some production, some resources, and these will no longer be handy. Will the West just lash out and take what they want, as they did in the colonial times?

    • John C
      May 20, 2022 at 19:02

      Did you just semi-justify one nation invading another and overthrowing its government as legitimate “signalling” of its geopolitical “frustration”?

      Does this mean militarism for symbolic reasons is at least partially acceptable? Is this the standard you think the west should operate under?

  5. David Otness
    May 17, 2022 at 21:13

    “Can you beat this stuff for sheer indignity?” Referencing the beyond the pale / over the top sophomoric sanctions against President Putin’s acquaintances so predicated on puerile pettiness from the Biden administration’s ‘great’ minds; those presumptuously ‘wanna-be whiz kids’ dispensing their ill-vested power from the U.S. White House. This, THIS is ALL you’ve got?
    The “sheer indignity” referenced falls fairly and squarely upon these junior high mean-girl mentalitied underlings upon whom the spotlight of history so mercifully to sentience only falls in such short order, an only blink in time.
    They are that forgettable. And deservedly so. I have but one request of them: Begone, kidiots.
    We adults have serious concerns to attend to.

  6. May 17, 2022 at 20:08

    Brilliant analysis….. and yes we will see who ends up “isolated.” Unfortunately for the West it is still living in the 20th century. Too terrified, corrupt and small-minded to face the realities and challenges of a century now 22 years old. Washington will continue its extortion racket on a more modest scale and NATO member states will suffer accordingly. The East will move on to greater prosperity.

  7. Philip Reed
    May 17, 2022 at 18:38

    I find it rather curious that neither Finland nor Sweden ,being essentially social-democratic countries didn’t allow a referendum on such an important issue. I’m also surprised not to hear of a citizen backlash from any quarter demanding such a referendum. As Lawrence ate crow over disappointment with Macron I too am eating crow over my longstanding belief that Swedes and Finns were a genuinely neutral ,highly educated populace and weren’t so susceptible to American pressure and hysterical rhetorical narratives.
    To be honest, I’ve never understood why Europeans,after all this time, viewing American actions throughout the world since WW2 still subject themselves to the humiliating status of vassal states with the exception currently of Hungary ,Serbia and Austria. Why can’t they see that they’re being used by a declining Imperial power as servile proxies , even as the Ukrainian example is right before their eyes.

  8. May 17, 2022 at 18:03

    Thank you Patrick for once again providing a thoughtful and knowledgable annalysis.

    This is so depressing and I find that you are one of the few who think that Russia’s invasion was in some ways “necessary” .
    “The map determined why Russia to intervene in Ukraine three months ago (and why your columnist considers this a regrettable but necessary undertaking).” I happen to agree with you, but it’s a lonely position.

    I get more and more depressed as I read other columnists who I feel sure would agree with you if they actually knew why Russia invaded Ukraine. Our media has done an astounding job of wiping out all references to what has actually been going on, especially the part about the attacks on Donbas for 8 years and a description of the Minsk II accords which were never even attempted to be implemented by the Ukraine government, and which were not an attempt to leave Ukraine, but merely an attempt to have more autonomy. Zelensky was not president for most of this, but that is not mentioned. What is also not mentioned is any reference to nazis and our government’s traitorous connection to them by training them to fight and cause the original elected government to collapse. The events of 2014 and 2015 are crucial, but very few people know what the truth is.
    I don’t think we can even begin to sort this out unless more people understand what was going on. I find that when I send my friends articles to explain the facts, they simply can’t believe it because everyone else is saying the opposite. CN and reporters like you have enough cachet that I think it would give them at least a bit of pause if they read an article by you explaining what happened. So I am asking if you would consider writing an article like that, and hoping that CN would publish it, so those of us who want to provide some evidence of the truth, have something to send that isn’t just our own words.

    • ks
      May 18, 2022 at 22:46

      Re the necessity of the undertaking, in one of Patrick Lancaster’s interviews with residents of Mariupol, an angry older man gestured at the rubble that was the city he’d grown up in and said, “Look at this. But it had to happen.” Journalists who never venture outside Kiev or Lviv (as well as their readers) see these events through an entirely different lens than those reporting or following reports from the east. From my perspective, NATO’s support for the Ukrainian government is akin to Germany’s support for Francisco Franco.

  9. Joe Wallace
    May 17, 2022 at 16:39

    “Americans haven’t managed to grow beyond the state of ignorance that Cold War I required before they are once again pushed back into it. Ukraine: the good guys. Russia: the bad guys. Making this case worse, the Europeans are now signing onto this simplistic view of the world, at the very moment they could have tempered America’s cornpone simplifications with needed nuance and sophistication.”

    “Are you with us or against us?” George W. Bush asked before invading Iraq. Was that the last time the U.S. could confidently pose that rhetorical question? In the years to come, will Europeans be grateful to the U.S. for its help in bringing an Iron Curtain down over Russia? Will they welcome their Cold War II isolation from the majority of the globe? Or will they resent their leaders for succumbing to the U.S.’s “militarization of trans-Atlantic relations” and failing to find “the gumption to stand and act on their own and for their citizens’ interests”?

    Superb article, Mr. Lawrence! Thank you for your insights.

  10. Drew Hunkins
    May 17, 2022 at 16:14

    Fantastic piece Mr. Lawrence.

    You’ve displayed a lot of courage in acknowledging Russia’s SMO is necessary. Many other liberal/left/progressive writers, scholars and thinkers refuse to admit this.

    Thank you.

  11. Peter Loeb
    May 17, 2022 at 15:20

    The “cold war” narratives which have been such an integral part of our language are a fiction. A better comprehension
    of the relationship is rather the one put forward by Joyce and Gabriel Kolko in their 1972 book “The Limits of Power”,
    page 31. Their reasoning is clear and provides us with a more profound understanding of power relationships.

    The role of the defense (“offense”) is clear in William Hartung’s brief and most readable book, “The Prophets of War”.

    One observer asked what thee nations expect to pay. There will be a bill and, of course, there will be profits. The weapons
    going to various nations are not “free”. Neither are the relationships between nations involved in such engagements.
    The precise “charge” are not at this time specified but can be guessed at based on past history.

  12. delia ruhe
    May 17, 2022 at 15:03

    Nice piece, Patrick Lawrence.
    You may be right about Macron. However, no one man would ever be permitted to challenge any part of Washington’s American Dream to achieve “full spectrum dominance” over the planet. And as we’ve just witnessed with Sweden and Finland, Washington can be powerfully—even cruelly coercive when, simply as a fact of their geography, states stand in the path of America’s ambitious expansionism.

    You are not alone in your disappointment. I can’t help but think there are many North Americans who’ve been following the trajectory of Europe with great interest while thinking that life is so unfair as to have provided Germany with such an intelligent and competent Kanzlerin as Angela Merkel but make her a conservative. However, I do believe that the majority of Germans are conservative—regardless of which party they vote for. Their history has made them cautious. And gawd knows, there is always some individual or organization around to remind them yet again of the sins of their fathers and grandfathers.

  13. Vesa Sainio
    May 17, 2022 at 14:51

    The propaganda here in Finland is immense, it is everywhere. The media demonizes Putin and russians on daily basis. They tell that brave ukrainians battle hard and Russia is losing. They tell that sanctions are working and we will manage without russian energy. Regular finns buy the narrative without any real critical thinking. There is absolutely no articles like this in Finland. This is so sad. Years ago we were proud of our neutral status and the fact that nobody hated us. Now our elite destroys all this and it makes me depressed.

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      May 18, 2022 at 15:33

      The situation is the same in Sweden, of course (except Russian energy is not a big issue here).
      There was only little public debate and only quite late before the decisive decision by the Social democratic party on Sunday. The impression remains that the deafening msm propaganda restricts freedom of expression. One cannot but note that the unison propaganda has been extremely effective in forming public opinion about Russia and Ukraine. From the statement made by Swedish prime minister in the Swedish parliament (riksdagen) on Monday, it is evident that it also formed her opinion.
      Opinion about NATO, though, remains divided.

  14. Wieslaw A Zdaniewski
    May 17, 2022 at 14:36

    I have one of my legs in Sweden, and the other in Poland. We have the worst government in Poland since the end of the II World War, and Poland is the most stupid country among the European Union.
    Regarding Sweden and Finland joining NATO I bet all hope on Erdogan!

  15. Oregoncharles
    May 17, 2022 at 14:27

    Where I stopped reading, even though I agree with his thesis: “Ever since the Russian intervention in Ukraine on Feb. 24.” “Intervention” is propaganda, an attempt to cover up the reality of the “mother of war crimes” – aggressive war. It’s all too clear whose troops are on which side of the boundary and whose cities are being bombarded, so pretending it was an “intervention” is inexcusable.

    If Russia had actually wished to “intervene” in the (internal) war between Ukraine and Donbas secessionists, it could have done that by moving into the secessionist “republics,” to raise the ante on bombarding them. Instead, it attempted to seize the capital and overthrow the government of Ukraine. That raises serious questions about their real motives. It wasn’t because of NATO, because the Baltic states have been members for a decade – and Putin now says Finland joining it is no big deal. Those countries are closer to Moscow than Ukraine is.

    The likeliest motive is outright imperialism, like the US’s various military aggressions (to use the correct term). Trying to deny Russia’s aggression cuts the ground out from under Lawrence’s whole thesis.

      May 18, 2022 at 08:27

      It is not established that Russia tried to take over Kiev. They say it was a diversion to keep Ukrainian forces pinned down near the capital while Russia fought in Mariupol. Ukraine says the opposite. Russia explained it could not just occupy Donbass and wait for an attack from the Ukrainian military but had to take out its military installations around the country. The Mariupol operation was clearly part of its denazification objective.

      • Eugenia Gurevich
        May 18, 2022 at 10:57

        Actually, it is established. Russia had about 30,000 troops around Kiev. That is not nearly sufficient to take a 4 million city. In fact, the entire Russian force in Ukraine isn’t sufficient to take on Kiev. Furthermore, Russia hasn’t bombed Kiev even once – I mean KIEV proper, not the purely military objects such as weapons depots or buildings housing foreign mercenaries. I believe everyone would agree that the use of artillery and/or aviation in preparation for an assault on a city is necessary, and it’d be foolish in the extreme to attack a city without such preparation. That never happened. So, that WAS a diversion.
        If Russia had simply put troops in Donbass to protect it, it would’n’ve solved the problem. The war would’ve simply continued in perpetuity, with the West pumping Ukraine with weapons. Such option was considered and rejected as impractical.

  16. Jams O'Donnell
    May 17, 2022 at 13:39

    Well, I hate to rain on this whole parade, but my understanding is that members of NATO have to be unanimously voted in by existing members, and that President Erdogan of Turkey has vetoed Sweden and Finland from joining. Of course he is vulnerable to being leant on, but he is unpredictable when that is done to him.

    • May 17, 2022 at 20:24

      Worry not abt the rain. We will have to see. The drift in Northern Europe is plain, and we don’t hjave to wait to see abt this. As to Erdogan, he’s tinpot material, a pitiful little fellow seizing a chance to make some noise. As he wants much more from Europe than he has to offer, He can’t afford not to fold once he has puffed out the chest briefly.
      My read, in any case.
      Thanks your thoughts.

    • May 17, 2022 at 20:30

      It doesn’t matter if they join as NATO is defunct and discredited. Putin has just commented that he does care if they join as the divorce is being finalized. Russia is moving East into what will be the world’s biggest trading block with the West on the margins, having isolated ourselves and living on a bitter diet of our own gall and pretentious war mongering ambitions.

    • renate
      May 17, 2022 at 21:07

      Maybe behind closed doors, the Europeans are grateful that Erdogan has the courage to face Biden down, the same may be true for Orban of Hungary. Common sense tells us that Sweden and Finland have not been threatened by Russia at all, which is true for all NATO nations. Biden is extorting, arm-twisting the NATO nations, and the colossus in Washington treats them as enemies, humiliates them, and destroys their economies and their corporations. There must be lots of resentment and anger under the surface, they know they can’t trust the Americans they will be stabbed in the back for American interests. This is so insane. Sweden and Finland can not gain anything, but they can contribute to funding the war in Ukraine so they can take their taxpayer’s contributions to pay for the weapons the American MIC sells making huge profits. All the NATO MEMBERS have to do is tell the American monster to get lost, enough is enough, and they are not on a suicide mission for the USA. They could side with Russia and China.
      It is just too crazy for normal thinking people.

  17. Ian Stevenson
    May 17, 2022 at 11:46

    I grew up in a house which could not afford many books but I had some of my grandfather’s, which included Kipling’s poems. I read most of them.
    The message of the Ballard of East and West is not that they are eternally divided. It is that even though people may live in different ways, they can still respect each other.
    How that will work out in the present, remains to be seen.
    Europe in 1945 was divided by the legacy of a destructive war, many cities were heaps of rubble, millions were displaced into camps or living in the ruins. Spain and Portugal were still ruled by Fascists and he east was to be cut off by the Iron curtain.
    Over the last 72 the continent has moved on. In the Schengen area people can move freely with out onerous checking of papers, buy property, study and work on an equal basis with natives. There are still a disturbing number of nationalistic right wingers but most people are familiar with and happy to engage with other nationalities on a daily basis.
    Conscription, the safeguard against sudden invasion has more or less vanished from Europe except for Switzerland and Turkey. Sweden and Lithuania have reintroduced it, Norway and Denmark have a limited version.
    Finland has military service. It is generally accepted as something one has to do. . So who might be seen as threat for these Nordic countries? Does Finland fear Norway or Sweden or Germany or the US, invading?
    Finland fought a war against Russia and got peace by surrendering part of the territory. During the Cold War the Soviet government insisted on neutrality in foreign affairs, not allowing films or the printing of books they deemed anti-Soviet , it could not take part in the Marshall plan. It was the Paasikivi doctrine.
    It should not be a surprise that they asked to join NATO.

    • Jams O'Donnell
      May 17, 2022 at 13:44

      “It should not be a surprise that they asked to join NATO.”

      Well, it should be a surprise, because they are exchanging a neutral and therefore beneficial position with a country on their borders, for membership of an aggressive, expansionist and warmongering alliance, run solely for the benefit of a far away country which has no interest in their welfare, but just wants cannon-fodder.

      • Carolyn L Zaremba
        May 17, 2022 at 15:40

        Thank you. That is absolutely correct.

      • Cara
        May 17, 2022 at 20:33

        James O’Donnell, nice rebuttal. Nicely handled. They are also exchanging the dignity and authority that attends neutrality. The ability to broker negotiations, treaties, disarmament… peace. They are throwing away their sovereignty. These are losses for the world. Goodbye Helsinki.

      • David Otness
        May 17, 2022 at 21:31

        Thank you, Jams. I remind others that Finland only recently removed the Nazi swastika from their armed forces flag. It remains on the banner of their air force academy.


        There are many eyebrow-raising habits and customs left over in the pro-Nazi Baltic republics, most of them being of a covert nature, away from the world’s gaze. Finland (a part of Russia prior to WW I,) is host to many that are patently painful and offensive to those who destroyed the Nazi war machine at the cost of 27 million lives from 1939-1945. Finland’s new-found sense of freedom, audacious as it is in its ramifications, is only there because they know a big, bloodthirsty bully (shades of Nazi Germany!) ‘has got their back.’

        Finland joined with the Nazis in WW II and remains responsible for the deaths of millions; in particular and especially in their part in the Siege of Leningrad; an action which took the life of Vladimir Putin’s elder brother.
        Thanks to Margaret Kimberly for this link from


    • renate
      May 17, 2022 at 21:20

      It all looked so promising in the last decades. One could have thought the lessons learned in WWII would last longer. The leadership after the war had some war experience and all of them wanted to make sure and did all they could to make” NEVER AGAIN” come true.
      Now, what leadership do we have, more money and power is the only value they have.

  18. paul
    May 17, 2022 at 11:32

    Yes, Europe proves a profound disappointment. I felt so sad in 2014, as the Maïdan coup unfold : the window of opportunity for Europe of finally allying with Russia and create a fantastically prosperous and peaceful space from Lisbon to Vladivostok was gone . As an independent political entity Europe committed suicide in 2014 ( 2022 is just the logical consequence ) , for the survival and properity of Europe was linked to Russia . Now it will take decades to repair the harm and heal the injuries . Those responsible are not the american ruling class, because after all they logically look after american interets : it’s the current european elites , a team so mediocre and stupid that it is incredible . Europe 2022 is the triumph of the petty bourgeois mentality and as such they deserve to remain an american colony .

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      May 17, 2022 at 15:06

      Thank you!
      Europe proved its lack of independence when accepting the coup in 2014.
      The attempts to negotiate in early 2022 looked doomed to fail given the refusal to acknowledge the fact that the coup is what caused much of the crisis.
      Europe is in a sad state. Perhaps that was part of the plan?

    • joey_n
      May 17, 2022 at 18:12

      Then who rules the European elites? Are they not under the payroll of USAian elites?

    • David Otness
      May 17, 2022 at 22:10

      I must most vehemently disagree with you, Paul.
      Further research will tell you how deeply the CIA’s tentacles, acting at the behest of the Anglo-American elites, caused the decline of independent European leadership following WW II. The policy was “Check! Check! Check! for any ideation of individual European countries’ independence from the path predetermined by the post-war victors.
      The victors were bound and again, determined—and so far remain so—that events would follow their predilections. “Democracy” being the operative guise under which their determinants were and are established and forming of the grand narrative. The written and filmed evidence of this game plan abounds. I’ll be more than happy to pass on the further evidence of just this. Just leave me an interest to do so here if you read this and wish to. Generally speaking, this is what Consortium News does daily. I’m only offering to respond to specific questions requiring proof to your own satisfaction.

      And it’s neither my beliefs or sentiments at stake here; it’s the facts as recorded—documented—by much more intrepid and mostly objective beings than myself. For it is the truth to which we aspire.

      There is a fine line (to be determined by one’s curiosity balanced by caution) as to where speculation meets “conspiracy theory.” It rests in common sense insofar as Occam’s Razor is the base source from which we might feel intellectually safe in as a beginning point.

  19. Jeff Harrison
    May 17, 2022 at 11:07

    Until “The West” runs out of money. “The West” is, after all, for the most part the old colonial powers who fed themselves by raping and pillaging the wealth of the colonized. It’s a feeding trough they no longer have access to. And “The West” is bankrupt as a result. The US is over $30T in the hole. Europe is in much the same condition if not so far in the hole. So now “The West” will go through an orgasm of spending on stuff that won’t produce any positive GDP and won’t provide much long term employment. Brilliant.

    The wheels are going to come off this rickshaw rather sooner than later, I think.

  20. Tony
    May 17, 2022 at 10:56

    “U.S. President Gerald R. Ford…”

    Remember him?

    Warren Commissioner Ford altered the reported location of a JFK bullet wound in order to support the idea that Kennedy was only hit from behind.

    (FORD’S EDITING BACKED ‘SINGLE BULLET’ THEORY, Washington Post, July 3, 1997).

  21. Vera Gottlieb
    May 17, 2022 at 10:53

    Keep listening to the Yanx and this is what you get…lap dogs in the American kennel. But it isn’t just Europe…

  22. Bob McDonald
    May 17, 2022 at 10:23

    The smart move would be for Russia to attack Finland. Nato countries don’t have the stomach for nuclear war and Putin knows it.

  23. Cara
    May 17, 2022 at 10:16

    It’s always interesting to read the comments. CN’s readers/commenters always strike me as refreshingly well-informed, thoughtful, and articulate. Others express very well the sadness I also feel. Good at least to know one is not entirely alone. So much lost promise.

  24. TP Graf
    May 17, 2022 at 09:53

    Erdogan is pushing back on these newest recruits. I’m left wondering if he will be able to keep them out, or if he’ll opt for a longer game of aligning with the non-west and leave NATO. He has to be tempted to do the latter, and he does like to assert his independence.

  25. mgr
    May 17, 2022 at 08:52

    Thank you. There is no way to measure the tragedy of Cold War II. It’s resurrection is a monstrous and demented plan by the smallest, most banal minds on the planet which are now concentrated in Washington. They are people who by genetics or circumstances or karma cannot coexist with anyone and are driven by the need to have everyone else on the ground at their feet. These are the closet abusers and torturers. Legends in their own minds, their ideology makes them stupid. Time and again, we have witnessed what the neocon, or now, libcon, ideology has wrought; destruction and waste. They are experts at tearing things apart but unable to create a single thing of enduring value. They live on hate and wrap up their pathology with the flag but they are the furthest thing from patriots. This is the ideology that has been percolating in America for a long time. It blossomed in the Bush regime. And it has metastasized in the Biden administration.

    As for Europe’s leaders, I completely agree, they have proven themselves venal and banal to a fault. I really did not want to believe it either, kept hoping against hope. It’s hard to comprehend the cowardly stupidity involved. They will increasingly earn the eternal disgust of the European and world public.

    Despite all the sound and fury and uniting against Russia, I suspect that it’s more like Brer Rabbit and the tar-baby. The US is now stuck and Russia will not let it go. I think the US is headed for bankruptcy, and when it tries to pivot to China, Russia will have China’s back. The American public loves to be outraged but even more than that, it loves to shop. And that is being threatened. The outrage thing only works for a limited time. I suspect that the conflict with Russia will end up destroying the Biden admin because, above all, Biden and his team are stupid, short-sighted and demented.

    But in any case, Western dreams of glory are doomed to be as transient as a wisp of smoke because the ground on which they exist has shifted. The price of conflict over cooperation on a global scale will rapidly become more and more unsustainable. Nature makes the rules and does not negotiate and the Western led alliance seems bent on contesting that very truth. Oh brave, brave new world…

    • David Otness
      May 17, 2022 at 22:15

      @ mgr— Hear! Hear!

  26. peter tusinski
    May 17, 2022 at 08:47

    A very poignant article I read with sadness.

    • Marie-France Germain
      May 17, 2022 at 13:30

      I agree. I am close to tears because I do not want to lose the beautiful diversity of the rest of the world.

  27. Tim N
    May 17, 2022 at 07:25

    So, Patrick, I tapped the Twitter icon at the end of the essay and Twitter says you are suspended. Of course you are.

    • Hans Suter
      May 17, 2022 at 11:19

      not so

    • May 17, 2022 at 20:34

      Indeed. I was suspended many weeks ago, filed an appeal as Twitter Support invited me to do, and have not had even the courtesy of a reply. Twitter is effective in leveraging the columns–mine and thse of others–and I made use of it in this way.
      I ought to take this opp to ask readers to think abt what they can do to make up for this flagrant act of censorship.
      I have to say, other than the use just noted, I miss Twitter not at all–a sinkhole, by and large, a measure of our declining discourse, though I connected with a number of good, thoughtful people via our exchanges,
      Thanks the note.
      And thanks to all others taking the time to comment.

  28. Cynic
    May 17, 2022 at 04:02

    Brilliant articulation of the current and upcoming future situation that the world will be in. Europe has discarded all pretence of independence and sovereignty and all resemblance of critical thinking and self preservation in its throwing of its lot to help slow down USA’s inevitable decline and collapse of American hegemony, which is more and more apparent by the day. The East is no longer as weak and easily bullied as it was during the colonial days and the West may find that the rest of the world may side with the East if forced to by the West.

  29. Altruist
    May 17, 2022 at 03:25

    Another great piece by Patrick Lawrence – probably the most important yet.

    Focusing for a minute on the pictures accompanying the the article: the map of Europe does indeed show that both the Baltic and Black Seas will become “NATO lakes” once Sweden, Finland and Ukraine are absorbed in NATO. Also the picture of the Finnish pro-Ukraine demonstrators has a telling aspect – all the placards are in English! Indeed one sees this all over Continental Europe – despite – last heard – English not being the language of Finland, Austria etc. This – plus the speed and ample funding with which the pro-Ukraine PR campaign was rolled out at the end of February – seems to indicate a strong Anglo-Saxon involvement behind the scenes.

    Through neo-Wilsonian propaganda, censorship and information management (or warfare) the “policy cliques” mentioned by Lawrence have created what Harold Pinter called a “tapestry of lies” through “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.” And no one notices – it never happened.

    • I Stevenson
      May 17, 2022 at 10:59

      English is the first foreign language to be taught in European schools.
      Three years ago , my friend had to attend a minor injuries clinic in Spain. She observed the Spanish nurses treating French and German patients and conversing in English.
      People wanting to speak to others outside their country tend to use English. It doesn’t mean they influenced behind the scenes.
      Europe has received several millions refugees and they can talk directly to high proportion of them.
      The more left and liberal observers have seen how the right wing have been happy to associate with people close to Putin- the French National Rally, the Hungarian ruling party and even the British Conservative party have a number of dubious links with Russian Oligarchs.

      • Altruist
        May 18, 2022 at 05:33

        Agreed – English is the principal foreign language taught in Europe, and the lingua franca for conversation with foreigners – at least in the Germanic and Slavic parts of Europe, plus Finland and Hungary – in the Romance areas people still generally like foreigners to speak their language. My only point – not the most important one – is that it’s odd for Finns and Austrians to display placards in English – as you say, it’s people wanting to speak to others outside their country.

    • Brian Bixby
      May 21, 2022 at 01:50

      Even more telling are the photos of the “spontaneous anti-war protests” in Russia, which have more English-language placards than Russian ones.

  30. Tom Partridge
    May 17, 2022 at 01:44

    Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics wrote,
    “There is a faithful geographical paradox, NATO exists to manage the risk created by its existence.”
    In the process NATO has managed to fracture a leaderless Europe. A weak Europe, unable and unwilling to resist the path chosen for it by Washington. As Patrick Lawrence states, “Westerners will pay this price in blindness, in ignorance, and in isolation from the global majority” a situation that will likely persist for generations to come.
    The author holds a feeling of genuine sadness about the course of events in Europe, the opportunities missed and the hope he had of a strong unified Europe embracing both East and West.
    In the process, he has managed to impart the same feeling of sadness to the reader, and a feeling of great loss at the exclusion of Russia from the rest of Europe.

  31. susan mullen
    May 17, 2022 at 01:07

    Ukraine departs Mariupol steel factory after 82 day siege, liberated by Russian Federation. Per Pepe Escobar, most notable failures: British “consultants,” and Pentagon and CIA experts. “Arguably the best example is the fate of Azov neo-Nazis at Azovstal in Mariupol–the best-equipped unit of the Ukrainians, hands down. In the end they were totally outmatched.”

  32. Realist
    May 17, 2022 at 00:00

    Know how you feel, Patrick. All of the hopes and dreams of 1991, long frustrated but still cultivated for 3 decades, just thoughtlessly cast aside and pissed on by the West’s 21st century modern day barbarians. With the fortunes of the American Empire of Chaos and Lies clearly plummeting, this country will need some genuine friends in the future. Instead we are making sure to encounter a lot of the victims of our own desperation, greed and grasping at the fading vestiges of power, and will be resolutely told to go to hell when we need their help the most. So far this century is a lesson for the history books on how to have it made only to throw it all away.

  33. firstpersoninfinite
    May 16, 2022 at 23:55

    Great overview, Patrick Lawrence! It appears that we are quite satisfied to become the builders of our own Iron Curtain, even if it means admitting that we are now the pariahs we fought so hard to squelch. Even the myth of Dionysius must end in a hangover. The West says: pass the bottle! Nationalism is a sinister morning-after-pill we have fought hard to swallow.

  34. Dfnslblty
    May 16, 2022 at 22:27

    ¿Are you a sales shill for Otan /NATO?

    Many alert nations are beginning to understand that Russian has not attacked Finland or Sweden, and that there is no need to invite these two into their military playground.

    It is the usa which twists their arms [npi]; it needs more and more – like a cancer …

    It is not to late to talk.

    • David Otness
      May 17, 2022 at 22:51

      I’m curious as to whom your assertion is cast. Especially while not noting any of the above commenters resembling your definition of
      “¿Are you a sales shill for Otan /NATO?” Especially not the author of this CN piece.

  35. TP Graf
    May 16, 2022 at 20:28

    Finland jumping on board the NATO war machine is most depressing. (As Mr. Lawrence points out, Sweden isn’t the same surprise, but no less disgusting.) One can only hope their citizens wake up. Maybe Austria and Switzerland will loose their minds as well. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

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