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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/23/14

Putin's Dilemma: Fending Off the United State's Imperial Hand

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Unfortunately, the fog of state-generated propaganda has kept the public largely in the dark about the real motives for the present conflict as well as the sordid history of US hostility towards Russia. Here's a short blurb from an article in the World Socialist Web Site that helps cut through the BS and shed a bit of light on what's really going on:

"'When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick (Cheney) wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world,' wrote former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his recently published memoirs. Gates was referring to the then-Secretary of Defense, and later US Vice President, Dick Cheney.

"The statement sheds light on the geopolitical dimensions of the recent putsch in Ukraine. What is at stake is not so much domestic issues -- and not at all the fight against corruption and democracy -- but rather an international struggle for power and influence that stretches back a quarter of a century." (The geopolitical dimensions of the coup in Ukraine, Peter Schwarz, World Socialist Web Site)

President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is the main architect of the current policy. In his classic "The Grand Chessboard...American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives," Brzezinski makes the case that US needs to control the Eurasia landmass and fend off potential rivals in order to maintain its position as the world's only superpower. Critics claim that the book is a blueprint for global dictatorship, a claim that's hard to dispute given Brzezinski's maniacal focus on what-he-calls "America's global primacy." Here are a few clips from the text that will illuminate the author's thoughts on US expansion into Asia:

"America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe's central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and to America's historical legacy." (p.194) "It follows that America's primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it." (p148) 

"The world's energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the U.S. Department of energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia's economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea." (p.125) 

"...how America 'manages' Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe's largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. ...About 75 percent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 percent of the world's GNP and about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources." (p.31) 
(Excerpts from The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, 1997)

Taken as a whole, Brzezinski's "Chessboard" is a pretty straightforward strategy for ruling the world. All one needs to do is seize critical energy supplies and transit lines, crush potential rivals, and subvert regional coalitions, or as Brzezinski breezily puts it, "keep the barbarians from coming together."

The plan does involve considerable risks, however, (Russia does have nuclear weapons, after all) but the risks are far outweighed by the prospect of unchallenged global dominance for the foreseeable future.

The trouble with Washington's Ukraine policy, is that it leaves Putin with few options. If he deploys troops to defend ethnic Russian's in the East, then Obama will demand additional economic sanctions, a "no fly" zone, NATO deployment, and the cutting off of natural gas and oil supplies to Europe. On the other hand, if Putin does nothing, then the attacks against Russian-speaking people in Ukraine (like Sunday's shootout at an Eastern checkpoint that left three people dead.) will intensify and the US will provide covert military and logistical support to neo-Nazi extremists in the Interior Ministry, just as they have with jihadi terrorists in Syria and Libya. That will hurtle Ukraine into a devastating civil war that will damage Russia's economy and undermine its national security. Anyway you look at it, Russia loses.

Journalist David Paul summed up the situation in an article titled "Forget the Spin, Putin Is Holding a Losing Hand" at Huffington Post. He said:

"Brzezinski's strategic formulation is designed to enhance American power in the region in the long term, and whether Putin finds a way to pull back or chooses to invade is immaterial. Either choice Putin makes... will ultimately serve America's interests, even if a Ukrainian civil war and an energy crisis in Europe have to be part of the price along the way." (Huffington Post)

This is Putin's dilemma, to choose the path that is least likely to exacerbate the situation and plunge Ukraine deeper into the abyss. For now, the choice seems obvious, that is, he should simply sit-tight, resist the temptation to get involved, and avoid doing anything rash. Eventually, his restraint will be seen as strength not weakness and he'll be able to play a more constructive role in guiding Ukraine back to peace and security. But, for now, he must be patient and wait.

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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