United States and Russia: beware of neocons and liberals who preach the promotion of democracy


Every week my inbox receives a steady stream of articles aimed at cultivating public hostility towards Russia. The articles are always wrapped in a narrative where Russia is a threat to democracy in Ukraine, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The effect is to create public support for uncompromising (economic and / or military) action against Russia.

The insidious side of this campaign is that it paves the way for a scenario where Ukraine provokes Russia, thereby attracting a Russian response which is then used as a pretext for US engagement. Under such circumstances, the public would have been prepared for action and would almost certainly not have been able to unravel the truth.

What is terrifying is the extent of the flow, spanning the spectrum from the ruling right to the center left.

Here is a piece I received from the German neocon Marshall Fund: Disquiet on the Eastern Front.

Here's another piece from Project Syndicate, a liberal-trend outlet funded by George Soros: Putin's Last Gasp?

And here is a third piece I received from the American Social Democrat Prospect, this one aimed at sowing anti-Russian animus in Germany: The Biden-Scholz Connection.

Given the range of opinion, one might reasonably think the case is solid. But stop and consider the possibility that the above articles are part of an organized campaign or simply reflect the prejudices of US journalism (after all, journalists are part of society and they share the prejudices of society).

Three simple arguments that question the official plot

Here are three simple arguments you won't hear that deflate the "Russia as bad" storyline.

1) Russia has genuine security concerns about Ukraine and NATO's eastward expansion. The United States has and continues to persistently attack and undermine Russian security, doing everything but putting the boots on the ground. All this in total violation of the protocols that were agreed upon at the end of the Cold War.

2) Russia does not need or want to move further to Ukraine as long as the Ukrainians do not cross the contact line in the Donbass. If they do, Russia will act, just as it did in South Ossetia in 2008. Ukraine as a whole is a black hole for Russia. Under the current circumstances, he has no interest in occupying Western Ukraine. Furthermore, Ukraine is a source of immigrants to Russia, which Russia needs.

3) It is argued that US actions are in the name of "promoting democracy". However, everything the United States has done in the past twenty years has damaged democracy in Russia. By making the Russian government more insecure, it provoked an undemocratic defensive response. This is how it often works with authoritarian regimes.

Conclusion: a time for dissent

To be clear, none of this is to defend the Putin regime. However, Russia's political problems can only be solved by the Russians. Our actions are counterproductive to democracy. They not only hindered democracy in Russia, but they also supported aggressive militaristic political tendencies in our own society. More importantly, the current course of action has a not inconsiderable possibility of triggering an Armageddon sequence. This is a time when dissent is patriotic and necessary.

Thomas Palley

Thomas Palley is Schwartz economic growth fellow at the New America Foundation; Senior Economic Policy Adviser, AFL-CIO. His most recent book “From Financial Crisis to Stagnation” has just been released in paperback by Cambridge University Press (February 2013).

Member of Insight Editorial board.

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