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Manufacturing War With Russia We are in a new and more perilous point in a 50-year nuclear arms race

Manufacturing War With Russia We are in a new and more perilous point in a 50-year nuclear arms race

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Despite the Robert Mueller report’s conclusion that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the new Cold War with Moscow shows little sign of abating.

It is used to justify the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, a move that has made billions in profits for U.S. arms manufacturers. It is used to demonize domestic critics and alternative media outlets as agents of a foreign power.

It is used to paper over the Democratic Party’s betrayal of the working class and the party’s subservience to corporate power. It is used to discredit détente between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, writes journalist, bestselling author and TV host, Chris Hedges. (Feature photo: The Atlantic)

 

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Helsinki 2018. Sky News.

It is used to justify both the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and U.S. interventions overseas—including in countries such as Syria and Venezuela.

This new Cold War predates the Trump presidential campaign. It was manufactured over a decade ago by a war industry and intelligence community that understood that, by fueling a conflict with Russia, they could consolidate their power and increase their profits. Seventy percent of intelligence is carried out by private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which has been called the world’s most profitable spy operation.

“This began long before Trump and ‘Russiagate,’ ” Stephen F. Cohen said when I interviewed him for my television show, “On Contact.” Cohen is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, where he was the director of the Russian studies program, and professor emeritus of Russian studies and history at New York University.

“You have to ask yourself, why is it that Washington had no problem doing productive diplomacy with Soviet communist leaders. Remember Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev? It was a love fest. They went hunting together [in the Soviet Union].

Yet along comes a post-Soviet leader, Vladimir Putin, who is not only not a communist but a professed anti-communist. Washington has been hating on him ever since 2003, 2004. It requires some explanation. Why do we like communist leaders in Russia better than we like Russia’s anti-communist leader? It’s a riddle.

“If you’re trying to explain how the Washington establishment has dealt with Putin in a hateful and demonizing way, you have to go back to the 1990s before Putin,” said Cohen, whose new book is “War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.”

Russia military parade commemorating the Great War, World War II, 2018.

The first post-Soviet leader is Boris Yeltsin. Clinton is president. And they have this fake, pseudo-partnership and friendship, whereas essentially the Clinton administration took advantage of the fact that Russia was in collapse.

It almost lost its sovereignty. I lived there in the ’90s. Middle-class people lost their professions. Elderly people lost their pensions.

I think it’s correct to say that industrial production fell more in the Russian 1990s than it did during our own Great Depression. It was the worst economic and social depression ever in peacetime. It was a catastrophe for Russia.”

In September 1993 Russians took to the streets to protest the collapse of the economy—the gross domestic product had fallen by 50% and the country was convulsed by hyperinflation—along with the rampant corruption that saw state enterprises sold for paltry fees to Russian oligarchs and foreign corporations in exchange for lavish kickbacks and bribes; food and fuel shortages; the nonpayment of wages and pensions; the lack of basic services, including medical services; falling life expectancy; the explosion of violent crime; and Yeltsin’s increasing authoritarianism and his unpopular war with Chechnya.

In October 1993 Yeltsin, after dissolving the parliament, ordered army tanks to shell the Russian parliament building, which was being occupied by democratic protesters. The assault left 2,000 dead. Yet during his presidency Yeltsin was effusively praised and supported by Washington. This included U.S. support for a $10.2 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia during his 1996 re-election campaign.

Helsinki 2018. Sputnik.

The loan enabled the Yeltsin government to pay huge sums in back wages and pensions to millions of Russians, with checks often arriving on the eve of the election. Also, an estimated $1.5 billion from the loan was used to directly fund the Yeltsin presidential campaign.
But by the time Yeltsin was forced out of office in December 1999 his approval rating had sunk to 2%. Washington, losing Yeltsin, went in search of another malleable Russian leader and, at first, thought it had found one in Putin.

“Putin went to Texas,” Cohen said. “He had a barbecue with Bush, second Bush. Bush said he ‘looked into his eyes and saw a good soul.’ There was this honeymoon. Why did they turn against Putin? He turned out not to be Yeltsin. Read the full article here.

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