Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Anti-Russia Syndrome

I normally cast aside explanations of events based on the psychology of the actors, but this has been hard to do in recent months. How else, apart from signs of paranoia, can one explain the never-ending stories in the mainstream media about the Russian menace?
A constant tirade against Russia emanates from television and radio channels, and from all the ‘quality’ newspapers and reporters. (See this Youtube video of Putin explaining that the BBC’s John Simpson has no ‘common sense’). Only the topic changes with the times. One early focus was Russia’s intervention in Crimea/Ukraine, which upset US and European strategy. The next was how Russia’s support for Assad in Syria unravelled and sidelined disastrous western policy. One of the latest is the election of Trump, billionaire-in-chief of the US hegemon. A shocked US political elite can only put down Trump’s election to the nefarious Russkies, not to domestic political reaction. Right on cue, a British ex-MI6 agent provided a dossier of ‘evidence’ to ‘demonstrate’ that Putin was in a position to blackmail Trump! If that were not bad enough to show how the commies were undermining western liberal democracy, new stories are about Russian support for Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France and other rightwing parties in Europe.
The anti-Russia syndrome reflects two things outside the realm of psychosis. Firstly, it is a sign of big power frustration with a permanent member of the UN Security Council that can veto US-led UN resolutions and which can also back up its policies with military firepower. Secondly, the chronic phase of the crisis persists, and this is straining the political infrastructure, as most clearly seen with the Brexit and Trump votes. ‘Anti-communism’ is one of the few comfort blankets that the western powers can cling on to in these troubling times and pretend that they are all still in the same gang.
Take the UK government, for example. No longer invited to any EU soirĂ©es, the UK has to grandstand at NATO. The UK Ministry of Defence today declared that one of its key objectives for this week’s NATO summit in Brussels was
“to ensure the Alliance continues to make progress on taking forward the ambitious agenda agreed at Warsaw, in particular on modern defence and deterrence towards Russia. On that front (literally), the enhanced forward presence of NATO battlegroups is deploying this Spring to the Baltic States and Poland, with the UK proud to be leading the formation in Estonia, one of our most effective Allies in the Helmand campaign.”
The anti-Russian strategy has been a hallmark of British imperialism ever since the October revolution of 1917, and it has helped shape, or has been used in, almost all of its other policies. From the late 1930s/early 1940s, Britain focused upon splitting India into two countries, so as to make the new Pakistan a bulwark against any Russian incursion into its interests in the Indian subcontinent and the Persian Gulf. Britain also feared Soviet involvement to stymie its attempts to re-establish its colonial empire (and those of other powers) in the late 1940s. Britain went out of its way to support Moslem fundamentalism in the Middle East and North Africa as a counter-weight to local demands for freedom from foreign domination, usually put forward by secular nationalists, and it justified this by using the fear of ‘communist subversion’, even when that was completely unfounded. Similarly, Britain used the Soviet threat as a way to get the Americans to back its policies, as with the US involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadegh in Iran. There were many other such initiatives, as documented in Stephen Dorrill’s MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations.
Russia has completely embarrassed British and American political strategy at a time when Britain wants to hold on to its role as facilitator for that strategy in European and beyond. Now, post-Brexit, the Brits are high and dry, but Theresa May hopes to continue to hold hands with Donald Trump over NATO.

Tony Norfield, 15 February 2017


Bruno Seto said...

There's no need to rely on psychological explanations for anti-Russianism.

The explanation is simple: less than 1% of the USA's international commerce is with Russia. If the USA goes to any kind of war with Russia, it won't hurt its global hegemony. The same couldn't be stated about China.

To top it off, Russia is the successor State of the USSR and inherited all of its nuclear arsenal. Russia is, by all regards, the perfect enemy for the USA.

belfast plebeian said...

The rational basis of the current hysteria really comes down to how to justify the continued existence of NATO. On the face of it NATO exists because the external enemy is strong and expansive. The old Red Enemy was never strong and expansive but it played with the reputation. When the Red Enemy was shown to be weak and divided the thought was to make into a neo-colony of sort, after all it is a potential source of many raw materials, not just gas and oil. The project of turning Russia into a neo-colony has not succeeded, though the verdict is still out on the matter, with a different or more 'friendly government' in Russia things could still work out that way. The capitalists in Europe and America are divided over whether to continue on with the neo-colonial project or give up on it and submit that Russia is an Independent economy with a high International Political Status. To carry on with the neo-colonial project entails taking some risks on the political-military side of things, it means getting rid of the Putin regime, hopefully without having to go to war. If they do have to go to war they need NATO to be fit for purpose. Some in Europe and America think the war risk is to high and the project of turning Russia into a neo-colony should be scaled back, they are the minority political voice but they might have found support in the Trump Administration, but this remains to be seen. So there is an intense faction struggle taking place in America and Europe over how to size up Russia.

bis said...

Anti-Russian strategy far predates 1917 - the "Great Game" anyone? For me one interesting question which should be discussed is the extent to which Russia is "imperialist".

SteveH said...

Not that effing question again!