Monday, September 14, 2015

Obama's New Cold War with Russia

Weathering a stressful opening Sunday of the National Football League -- in all the games I watched my preferred teams (Seahawks, Ravens, Giants) lost in the final minutes -- I did manage to accomplish some interesting reading. An interview with academic Henry Giroux contained the following question and answer:
Obama is, in your words, “one of the most discredited presidents in the history of USA”. Why? 
HG. With the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, there was a widespread feeling among large sections of the American public and its intellectuals that the moment and threat of authoritarianism had passed. Obama came to office embracing a number of democratic ideals. Not only has he defaulted on those ideals, but he has intensified many of the worse features of the Bush-Cheney years, which were a tipping point for America’s plunge into authoritarianism. He expanded a neoliberal educational policy of high stakes testing and the promotion of charter schools. He imprisoned and deported more Mexican immigrants than any other president. While he has suspended some of the illegalities promoted by the Bush Administration such as CIA black sites and specific torture techniques such as waterboarding, he has gone beyond Bush’s assault on civil liberties through the use of targeted assassinations, the enlargement of drone warfare, and the expansion of the surveillance state. He also renewed the Patriot Act, waged a war on whistle blowers, attempted to prosecute journalists, refused to prosecute government officials who engaged in state torture, and expanded the Military Commissions Act, increased the use of secret courts, and bailed out the big bankers after 2007 while cutting back on social provisions for the vulnerable. The contrast between Obama’s early idealistic rhetoric and his right wing policies will mark him in the future as not merely disingenuous but as a crucial force in the development of an authoritarian society.
What Giroux leaves out is the darkest stain of the Obama years and proof beyond doubt that he is a charlatan who duped voters into believing he was the true peace candidate, and that is the new Cold War with Russia.

Sabrina Tavernise, who began her professional career as a reporter in Russia, returns there to find a populace completely alienated by the United States. In "Why Russians Hate America. Again." Tavernise steps gingerly around the obvious. Russians were shocked that the U.S. would back a neo-Nazi coup on its doorstep.
Anti-Americanism is more potent now because it is stirred up and in many ways sponsored by the state, an effort that Russians, despite their hard-bitten cynicism, seem surprisingly susceptible to. Independent voices are all but gone from Russian television, and most channels now march to the same, slickly produced beat. Virtually any domestic problem, from the ruble’s decline to pensioners’ losing subsidies on public transport, is cast as a geopolitical standoff between Russia and America, and political unrest anywhere is portrayed as having an American State Department official lurking behind it. 
“America wants to destroy us, humiliate us, take our natural resources,” said Lev Gudkov, director of Levada, the polling center, describing the rhetoric, with which he strongly disagrees. “But why? For what? There is no explanation.”
The answer is that the United States has always wanted to destroy the Soviet Union (Russia). It is part of the U.S. DNA. In order to maintain the unipolar world of U.S. full-spectrum dominance, all powers, even regional ones, must be either made subservient or crushed.

This U.S. policy has created the greatest number of displaced persons since World War II. Russia's moves to bolster its military presence in Latakia (Eric Schmitt and Michael Gordon, "Russian Flights Over Iraq and Iran Escalate Tension With U.S.") is essentially a chess move meant to block what was probably a move underway by Turkey and the U.S. to establish a no-go zone in the north around Aleppo.

In the upside-down world of U.S. strategy, supporting the sovereign government of Syria "fuels the conflict." But maintaining both overt and covert regime-change programs which have cracked the region wide open and set refugees fleeing to the safe haven of northern Europe is what?
The Obama administration’s warnings to the Russians were decidedly stark. 
On the same day that the administration approached Iraq and other nations about the Russian flights, Mr. Kerry called Mr. Lavrov and warned the Kremlin not to vastly expand its military support for the Syrian government. Mr. Kerry said it would fuel the conflict and might even lead to an inadvertent confrontation with the American-led coalition that is carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria, the State Department noted in a statement about the call. 
“It appears now that Assad is worried enough that he’s inviting Russian advisers in and Russian equipment in,” President Obama said in a meeting with troops at Fort Meade, Md., last week. “And that won’t change our core strategy, which is to continue to put pressure on ISIL in Iraq and Syria, but we are going to be engaging Russia to let them know that you can’t continue to double-down on a strategy that’s doomed to failure.”
Just so it is clear: Obama's policy is regime change. But he's calling it a fight against ISIS. And he is warning the Russians against the "doomed to failure" strategy of supporting the Syrian government.

With such craziness more war is a certainty.

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