WHY EUROPE WON’T DEFEND ITSELF AGAINST RUSSIA

The Crisis in the Ukraine

It is a perplexing issue:  Why does the U.S. have to protect European interests even when those interests have little to do with a matter about which the U.S. couldn’t care less?   When it comes to protecting Europe from its enemies, why does the U.S. step up to the challenge?

Given what has been happening the Europe over the past 18 months, notably the confrontation in the Ukraine between a quasi-fascist government in Kiev and those “refusenik” Ukrainian “separatists” in the east (who prefer Russia partners), one wonders why the United States should give a d%$n.  And given the fact that Europe remains lackadaisical about the matter while the U.S. takes it seriously, what is happening there that is so important?  Once again, should we be deceived (as we were in Iraq) that the U.S. really cares about its role as “champion for freedom and democracy,” or is there a hidden agenda here, perhaps pecuniary, motivating the action of our Federal Government?

Ukrainian Revolution 2014
Ukrainian Revolution 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We must first remember that the U.S. had been courting Ukraine for almost two decades to join NATO and integrate with Europe including membership in the E.U.  In fact, the offer to bring Ukraine into the E.U. in March 2014 appeared hastily drawn up as Russia took measures to take control in The Crimea, protecting its naval base there.  Within a few short days, all these events came together.  But it was the E.U. membership offer which was the “straw that broke the camels back” leading to the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych from Ukrainian Presidential office (whereupon he fled Kiev predictably finding a new home in Moscow). [1]

Yanukovych had earlier failed in his first attempt to become president in 2004 (western leaning Viktor Yuschenko won the election instead) after the so-called Orange Revolution. But from Yanukovych’s election in 2010 until today, Ukraine has continually experienced intense civil disorder and near civil war.

To offer a few more details on the crisis, Russia annexed Crimea on 18 March 2014 which set the Western world’s nerves on edge.  Then, four months later, a commercial airliner, Malaysia Air Flight 17, was downed 17 July, 2014, by what appeared to be a military weapon, a Russian BUK (surface-to-air missile), killing 283 passengers and 15 crew members.  After this tragedy, what had been little more than a regional crisis suddenly became an visible international affair and an item covered by mainstream Media.  Who was at fault for shooting down the airliner?  Was this act intended to light a fuse leading to war?

Map of the Ukraine Crisis 2014
Map of the Ukraine Crisis 2014

If the airplane crash was meant to be a provocation for war, this slow burning fuse comes closer by the minute to the explosive to which it is attached.  In the last few months, the U.S. has positioned several thousand troops and hundreds of armored weapons nearby in the Baltic States and Poland.  Russia has announced bringing online 40 new ICBMs (presumably aimed mostly at the U.S. homeland).  Testing on new tactical nuclear weapons has been in the press in the last few days (and was the subject of a previous blog here).  The navies of Russia and the U.S. have had several “close calls” and Russia has flown its bombers near the coastlines of Alaska and California, including a July 4 flyby timed to coincide a Happy 4th of July wish from Putin to President Obama.

Why Europe Doesn’t Want a Real Military

Yesterday, (7-13-2015) Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow of the CATO Institute, published an article entitled,”Why Should Washington Confront Russia if Europeans Won’t Protect Ukraine?” [2]  In the article Bandow points out how little Europe seems to care about what happens in the Ukraine.  He even asserts that the Europeans act disinterested about the possibility that Russia might attack the E.U.  Given this apparent indifference, why should Washington give a hoot about the Ukrainian conflict?  Furthermore, since the Europeans won’t meet the NATO standard of committing 2% of their GDP to military expenditures to help protect themselves, why should the U.S. be so willing to be their bodyguard?

Bandow laments:

Unfortunately, the Ukraine crisis is likely to continue for some time. The allies hope sanctions will bring Moscow to heel, but the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of Russians backed Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, the highest number since Pew started polling in 2003. At least Putin, though no friend of the West, is no fool. He recently opined: “only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.”

But if Putin changes his mind, the Europeans don’t plan on defending themselves. Instead, virtually everyone expects America to save them, if necessary. Washington is being played for a sucker as usual. [3]

Of course, Bandow seems willing to take Putin at his word.  Perhaps Putin really is no fool and continues to operate on the same principles that Europe and the U.S. maintain:  nuclear war is unthinkable and therefore it can’t happen.  But does Putin really believe nuclear war is no longer unthinkable?  And is the U.S. really being played for a sucker?  Or does a different operating principle exist between the U.S. and Europe motivating the lackluster remarks of European leaders?

The U.S. always seems to lead military actions involving Europe, even if it must “lead from behind” as it did in the overthrow of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi (20 October 2011).  Consequently, we are led to ask “How committed is Europe to defend its fellow member states?”  The simple answer as Bandow contends?  Not at all.  Indeed, Bandow provides this fascinating bit of information:

But will the Europeans defend anyone, even themselves? A new poll suggests not. The Pew Foundation recently surveyed eight leading NATO countries: If Russia got into a conflict with another member of NATO, should your country use military force in the victim’s defense? A majority of French, Germans, and Italians said no. (The Germans were particularly emphatic, with 58 percent rejecting war. German support for NATO has dropped by 18 percent in just six years.) Only pluralities said yes in Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. (Yet Poland is insisting that everyone else defend it!) The highest European support level was in Britain, at 49 percent. Only in America, naturally, and Canada did a majority say yes (56 and 53 percent, respectively). [4]

This European temperament seems very reminiscent to the European mindset in the run-up to WWII.  The French and the English were eager to give-in to Hitler’s demands, a call for German-speaking peoples to return to their mother country, which eventually included Hitler’s push for lebenschraum (“living space”).  Europe sought to avoid war at any cost. [5]  Indeed, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s (acting on behalf of the English and the French) sacrificed the Sudetenland (outlying border areas of Czechoslovakia), his pre-WWII strategy to trade “land for peace”–an initiative that failed to achieve “peace in our times” as Chamberlain promised (just as it will fail in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today).

What Lies Behind Europe’s Carefree Attitude toward Defense

What Bandow overlooks, however, are a number of supremely relevant but subterranean realities understood by a modest number of our fellow U.S. citizens:

  • First, the U.S. is a permanent war economy.  It has been guided by the military-industrial complex since the late 1950s just as President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in his final speech to the public.  Critics such as Noam Chomsky the late Chalmers Johnson have well documented this fact for the past half-century.  Intellectual and author F. William Engdahl discusses this at length in his books, most notably in A Century at War.  Others could be cited. Consequentlythe United States earnestly seeks to build military equipment for everyone, even if the American taxpayer has to foot some of the bill.
Eisenhower and "The Military Industrial Complex"
Eisenhower and “The Military Industrial Complex”
  • Second, this operating principle of the western world is a strong-arm maneuver, a quiet sort of reciprocity, requiring that balance of trade settlements with European nations lead to the purchase of U.S. Treasuries to keep the whole edifice standing.  Why should we worry about financing our national debt, even when it exceeds 100% of our GDP, since we quietly blackmail the free world to lend to us at 2% interest to cover the costs of keeping the war machine alive?  It is a marriage of convenience.  Best to centralize research and development in one place.  Ensure centralized command and control, with limited sharing of leadership through United Nation mechanisms to bolster the image of global unity.  We Americans build war machines and even lead the fight in Europe’s wars.  You Europeans purchase most of your weapons here.  You loan us money to cover any cost overruns.  And if this financing doesn’t quite fit the bill, American taxpayers will cover the difference.
  • Third, America and its military comprise the muscle to ensure the New World Order becomes fully operational.  American citizens who like the idea of American national sovereignty are the primary impediment to the New World Order.  But after the lowly average America, Russia looms as the biggest impediment to full implementation of the NWO.   For the time being at least, China has been co-opted, purchasing our debt and growing fat and happy with exchanging their manufacturing manpower for our advanced technologies.  Indeed, what has grown more evident during the past ten years or so is that Vladimir Putin has no intention of joining the NWO.  He remains a Russian nationalist, presents himself physically as well as politically strong, and plainly seeks to restore his nation’s greatness (these being the traits many Americans find so appealing).  As far as Putin is concerned, western “banksters” and their captains of industries can go pound sand.  Hence, the growth of the BRICS economic confederacy serves as a rival approach to a single “world order” promoted by Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush.  Since this NWO is obviously to be led mostly by Americans with a few Englishman, a French woman, and a few Japanese thrown in for good measure, why should a Russian man of Putin’s global stature play second-fiddle to the West? [6]

For these not-so-obvious reasons, Europe doesn’t intend to defend itself.  Granted, Europe’s leaders really should act more interested in what happens in the Ukraine.  But for the time being at least, they are much more worried about the sovereign debt crisis in Greece and other E.U. economies which, like dominoes, seem destined soon to fall (e.g., Portugal, Ireland, and even Spain).  If and when that happens (which seems likely), the Ukraine will have to fend for itself anyway, and the U.S. will have to stand alone against Russia with Europe doing little more than leading cheers.  But being the last man standing is, after all, what the U.S. hopes will happen.  Once that occurs, whether the dominant system winds up being known as the empire of the United States, the NATO alliance, the United Nations, or just the New World Order, what we call it becomes academic to the power brokers who run the show behind the curtains.

 

ENDNOTES:

[1] “The political provisions of the treaty were signed on 21 March 2014 after a series of events that had stalled its ratification culminated in a revolution in Ukraine and the ousting of the then incumbent President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.This ousting was sparked by Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the agreement. Russia, Ukraine’s second largest trading partner, instead presented an association with customs union between Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia as an alternative.After 21 March 2014 matters relating to trade integration were temporarily set aside (awaiting the results of the 25 May 2014 Ukrainian presidential elections) until the European Union and the new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement on 27 June 2014,and described this as Ukraine’s “first but most decisive step” towards EU membership.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine%E2%80%93European_Union_Association_Agreement).

[2] See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-bandow/why-should-washington-con_b_7783364.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] This was Hitler’s tactic to create his own colonies without firing a shot, land to be stolen from others (like the Czechs and the Poles) who suffered the misfortune of living in the Third Reich’s neighborhood.

[6]  BRICS–Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.