Putin’s friends in the West

March 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm (apologists and collaborators, capitulation, class collaboration, Europe, ex-SWP, grovelling, imperialism, Lindsey German, posted by JD, Russia, stalinism, Stop The War)

The leadership of Stop The War find themselves in agreement with someone called Hitchens…

Lindsey German 02 March 2014. Posted in News at the Stop The War website:

The situation in Ukraine and the Crimea is developing into a new cold war, says Lindsey German, and the rivalry between the west and Russia threatens to explode into a much larger war than has been seen for many years.

NATO troops
  1. Who is the aggressor? The obvious answer seems to be that it is Russia, but that is far from the whole picture. At the end of the Cold War, as agreed with the  western powers, Russia disbanded the Warsaw Pact, its military alliance. But the United States and NATO broke their word to Russia, by adding most of Eastern Europe and the Balkan states to their own military alliance, and by building military bases along Russia’s southern border. Ever since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the European Union (EU) and NATO have been intent on surrounding Russia with military bases and puppet regimes sympathetic to the West, often installed by ‘colour revolutions’.  In military expenditure, the US and its NATO allies outspend and outgun the Russian state many times over.
  2. The war in Afghanistan, now in its thirteenth year, was fought after the West lost control of its erstwhile Taliban allies, who the US had supported in order to bring down a pro-Russian regime.
  3. US secretary of state John Kerry has made strong statements condemning Russia, and British prime minister David Cameron has argued against intervention and for national sovereignty. No one should take lessons from people who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and bombed Libya. Last year, these war makers wanted to launch their fourth major military intervention in a decade, this time against Syria. They were only stopped from doing so by the unprecedented vote against military action in parliament, with MPs undoubtedly influenced by the widespread anti-war sentiment amongst the British public. Nor should we place any value on concerns for national sovereignty and international law expressed by people like Obama and Kerry, who launch illegal drone attacks against civilians in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and beyond.
  4. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s statement that Russia is threatening the peace and security of Europe ignores a number of questions, such as the role of western imperialism in the region — including direct intervention in the formation of the latest Ukrainian government — and the role of fascists and far right parties in Kiev and elsewhere in the country. As in all these situations, we need to look at the background to what is going on.
  5. The European Union is not an impartial observer in this. It too has extended its membership among the east European states, expressly on the basis of a privatising, neoliberal agenda which is closely allied to NATO expansion. Its Member State foreign ministers, and its special representative Baroness Ashton, have directly intervened, seeking to tie Ukraine to the EU by an agreement of association. When this was abandoned by the former president Yanukovich, the EU backed his removal and helped put in place a new government which agreed to EU aims.
  6. The United States is centrally involved. It oversaw the removal of Yanukovich, and its neocons are desperately trying to develop an excuse for war with the Russians. Neocon former presidential candidate John McCain visited Ukraine and addressed the demonstrations in Kiev. As did Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in the US state department. Nuland is most famous for her recently leaked phone conversation about micromanaging regime change in Ukraine, in which she declared ‘fuck the EU.’ Her husband is neocon Robert Kagan, who was  co-founder of the Project  for the New American Century, the ideological parent of the Bush/Blair war on Iraq.
  7. The talk of democracy from the west hides support for far right and fascist forces in the Ukraine. They have a direct lineage from the collaborators with the Nazis from 1941 onwards who were responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Jewish sources in Ukraine today express fear at the far right gangs patrolling the streets attacking racial minorities. Yet the western media has remained all but silent about these curious EU allies.
  8. The historical divisions within Ukraine are complex and difficult to overcome. But it is clear that many Russian speakers, there and in the Crimea, do not oppose Russia. These countries have the right to independence, but the nature of that independence is clearly highly contested. There is also the reality of potential civil war between east and west Ukraine. The very deep divisions will only be exacerbated by war.
  9. Those who demand anti-war activity here in Britain against Russia are ignoring the history and the present reality in Ukraine and Crimea. The B52 liberals only oppose wars when their own rulers do so, and support the ones carried out by our governments. The job of any anti-war movement is to oppose its own government’s role in these wars, and to explain what that government and its allies are up to.
  10. The crisis in Ukraine has much to do with the situation in Syria, where major powers are intervening in the civil war. The defeat for intervention last year has infuriated the neocons. They are determined to start new wars. After the US failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the neocons are looking for a defeat of Russia over Ukraine, and by extension, China too. The situation is developing into a new cold war. The rivalry between the west and Russia threatens to explode into a much larger war than has been seen for many years.

Source: Stop the War Coalition


  1. Babs said,

    Originally posted by angrysoba. Not my favourite publication but there are some good counter points made.

    Also from the New Statesman (reprinted from New Republic)-

    “If you can’t improve people’s living standards, you can try to give them a sense of belonging to a great power. Particularly in Russia, where many people pine for the Soviet era, when poverty and a lack of the most basic freedoms, such as the ability to leave the country, were compensated by the pride of belonging to a superpower that can build atomic submarines, launch spaceships, and win at sports.”

    • dagmar said,

      They didn’t just have poverty, a lack of basic freedoms etc., but they also had work/employment. That explains a lot of the “ostalgia” across much of the former Soviet bloc.

  2. Babs said,

    Does the liberal West acknowledge we are trying to achieve strategic dominance over Russia or is it only about freedom, democracy, rule of law and market economics? Pushing NATO eastwards and withdrawing from the ABM Treaty and then setting up ABM sites in Eastern European countries next to Russia is bound to make a historically paranoid country with paranoid authoritarian leadership even more paranoid. This in no way excuses Russia and it’s belligerence but maybe the West did play a part in Russia becoming more aggressive in a backed into a corner kind of way which gave rise to the likes of Vladimir Putin coming to power?

    • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Of course it (or ‘we’) did – as cleverer right wing observers like Anne Applebaum fully admit.

      But there really is no ‘liberal West’ any more in the sense you seem to imagine.

      Eisenhower and Churchill (or name your bourgeois statesman) could formulate strategies in the longer term interests of the class they served even if that meant going against their short-term demands for plunder.

      Now there are only multinational corporations and plutocrats who are themselves the prisoners of markets and who have rendered liberal democracies largely powerless simply by outgrowing and bursting the bonds that mere nation states once set upon them.

      Rory Stewart recently admitted that despite a long-ish career as a diplomat and politician he really has no idea where real power actually resides any more.

      While as a Tory he is clearly being somewhat disingenuous there is I think a real truth lurking there under several layers of disguise – at this stage of capitalism nation-states are withering away into impotence but by its very nature the global corporate elite are incapable of creating effective transnational states (the EU being clearly a failure) to embody their class power.

      And so the future may indeed lie with state capitalist systems like Russia and China whose kleptocratic ruling elites are sufficiently detached from global markets to actually pursue collective class objectives in the way that capitalist nation states did during the nineteeth and twentieth century.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I should have given a h/t to angrysoba for alerting me to the STW statement and the Economist’s “fisking” – job on it. It’s come to something, hasn’t it, when a pro-capitalist publication can point out the utter stupidity and hypocrisy of a leading supposed “Marxist” like Ms German?

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        The issue is that I really can’t think of a single Marxist whose opinion of the post-Soviet world (or for that matter China) is worth a damn.

        Now to find any useful analysis of Putinism you have to turn to publications like the NYRB or TNR while the organs of ‘the left’ uncritically parrot propaganda as empty as anything from the Stalin era.

        If you want evidence that the Left is dead look at our complete inability to offer any serious Marxist analysis of the catastrophic unravelling of the Stalinist and Maoist experiments and of the monstrous new kleptocracies that have succeeded them.

  3. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    I think one really could programme a Peter Hitchens text autogenerator which would have said precisely this.

    He’s a reactionary paleocon isolationist who would have taken precisely the same position in 1830 or 1877 or 1938 – these peoples are all lesser breeds without the law whose struggles for a freedom they can never attain will only intensify their sufferings and unless their oppressors are directly threatening our own imperial interests we have no business intervening against them.

    Which is a perfectly rational position for a real conservative – Hitchens stands out (at least in Britain) only for being honest enough to express it directly and without shame.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Agreed, Roger, except that Hitchens is not quite alone in the mainstream media in adopting such a stance: there’s also the Graun’s Simon Jenkins.

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Except the Jenkins mania for appeasement isn’t founded upon a consistent paleo-conservative ideology like that of Hitchens Minor – or indeed any real ideology at all.

        Comparing the two I am reminded of Rorty’s distinction between contingency and necessity.

        A Jenkins (and he is legion) is paralysed by a world-view in which everything is contingent and nothing is true – and so wouldn’t know a principle if one set off a bomb underneath him.

        Hitchens on the other hand has a complete and consistent world view and real principles from which his positions are are a necessary and inescapable conclusion.

      • Jim Denham said,

        V..e..e…r…ry interesting, Roger. Care to write us a guest post on this?

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Not if it requires me to actually read more Jenkins and Hitchens!

  4. dagmar said,

    P. Hitchens: Rather than recognising that the Cold War was over, we re-started it for no good reason, encouraging Russia’s neighbours to join the EU or Nato as if the USSR still existed

    …and probably destroying, or at least severely damaging the essence of the EU in the process. The concept of a ‘social union’ as once proclaimed by the likes of Delors is impossible in the short to medium term when the union was extended rapidly to include states which have a much, much lower standard of living, lower wages and almost non-existent social provision. Of course, the bosses don’t care about that, they want economic integration and not social integration. But the obvious contradictions inherent in having open borders in capitalism between states with extreme social differences will obviously lead to much more of the likes of the FN, the BNP, UKIP, the German AfD, Jobbik and Golden Dawn. Which also will effectively destroy the bosses’ aim of economic union.

    On BBC World this morning, their Moscow correspondent read out – claiming to be shocked/amazed – excerpts from today’s edition of Komsolmoskaya Pravda; an analysis article claiming that this whole Crimean business has nothing to do with Ukraine, with neonazis in the new Ukrainian government, with the rights of the Russian speakers in Ukraine; but it is really about ending unipoliarity in world politics, forming a new world order and making Russia the strongest country in the world – i.e. Putin sticking his fingers up at Obama and the west in general.

    Is that unlikely or shocking? It sounds very possible to me.

    • Babs said,

      That sounds like rubbish to me. Russia has no chance of being the strongest country in the world and there’s nothing to suggest that’s what Putin is trying to do and even if he wanted to he can’t because he doesn’t have the funds to do so. Unipolarity in economics terms is non existent and militarily the US along with her allies in Europe and Asia are quite a bit more powerful than Russia or China. Politically we have seen Russia especially being quite active on the world stage. Russia wants Ukraine and Crimea in particular to remain obedient to Russia due to strategic reasons. Neo-Nazis and ethnic Russians are just excuses Russia uses to win over world and domestic opinion.

      • dagmar said,

        There is only one superpower, isn’t there? It’s not Russia.

        And I don’t think KP was suggesting that Russia would become the ‘strongest country in the world’ but it’s about a perspective, or about suggesting that to the population of Russia, as in giv[ing] them a sense of belonging to a great power.

  5. Boleyn Ali said,

    And to think the old SWP masthead used to say “neither Washinton nor Moscow but international socialism”

  6. Jim Denham said,

    I see that STW have now removed German’s ‘Ten Reasons’ article and replaced it with a bowdlerized version:

    In particular, the following has been removed from the new version:
    ‘9.Those who demand anti-war activity here in Britain against Russia are ignoring the history and the present reality in Ukraine and Crimea. The B52 liberals only oppose wars when their own rulers do so, and support the ones carried out by our governments. The job of any anti-war movement is to oppose its own government’s role in these wars, and to explain what that government and its allies are up to.’

  7. Bob-B said,

    The Far Left have always derided the Responsibility to Protect as an imperialist plot, but they seem unconcerned when Putin assumes a Responsibility to Cheer up Russian Speakers in Neighbouring Countries.

  8. Dan said,

    You really do have a nasty, Stalinist attitude.

    Besides, in my experience at the grassroots it’s mainly the Labour right who are siding with Russia over this and the left who are opposed.

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