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Obama's Deadly Cold War Legacy

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Reprinted from Consortium News

President Barack Obama and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014.
President Barack Obama and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014.
(Image by (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza))
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Whatever positive legacy that President Barack Obama might point to -- the first African-American president, the Affordable Care Act, the changed social attitudes on gay rights, etc. -- his ultimate legacy may be defined more by his reckless stewardship guiding the United States into a wholly unnecessary new Cold War.

The costs of this Cold War II will be vast, emptying out what's left of the U.S. Treasury in a new arms race against Russia, assuming that the new East-West showdown doesn't precipitate a nuclear war that could end all life on the planet. Already, the United States military has altered its national security policies to treat Russia as the principal foreign threat.

"If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I'd have to point to Russia," said General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., at Senate hearings on his nomination to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "And if you look at their [the Russians'] behavior, it's nothing short of alarming."

Dunford also recommended shipping U.S. weapons to the post-coup regime in Ukraine so it can better prosecute its war against ethnic Russian rebels in the east who have resisted the overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and have been deemed "terrorists" by the U.S.-backed government in Kiev.

"Frankly," Dunford said on Thursday, "without that kind of support, they [the new powers-that-be in Ukraine] are not going to be able to defend themselves against Russian aggression."

Which may prove that no one in Official Washington grasps the concept of irony any more. While Dunford sticks to the propaganda line about "Russian aggression" and the Kiev regime wages its "anti-terror operation" against the ethnic Russians in the east, we now know that Kiev has dispatched a military force spearheaded by neo-Nazis, who are eager to ethnically cleanse those ethnic Russians from Ukraine, and Islamic jihadists with links to Islamic State terrorists.

So, if you want to talk about "aggression" and "terrorism," you might start with the inconvenient truth that the U.S.-beloved government of Ukraine -- which supposedly "shares our values" -- is the first European state since World War II to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to kill other Europeans -- and arguably the first ever to create a combined military force of Nazis and Islamic militants (described as "brothers" of the Islamic State). [See's "Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists."]

Yet, when Russia helps these endangered ethnic Russians, who saw their elected president illegally ousted from office in a coup supported if not sponsored by the United States, that's "Russian aggression." And, when the ethnic Russians resist the new order, which has now sent Nazis and jihadists to kill them, it's the ethnic Russians who are the "terrorists."

To push the irony even further, while Dunford decried "Russian aggression" in connection with a civil war on Russia's border, he openly declared that the U.S. military stands ready to bomb Iran -- halfway around the world -- to destroy its nuclear facilities. Asked if the U.S. military had that ability, Dunford said, "My understanding is that we do, senator."

An Up-Is-Down World

In the up-is-down world that is now Official Washington, such extraordinary and profoundly dangerous statements draw only nodding approval from all the Important People. In part, that's because President Obama has allowed so many false narratives to take hold regarding Russia, Iran and other nations that there is a Grimm's Fairytale quality to it all.

But the most serious false narrative today is the one about "Russian aggression." Whatever one thinks of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he did not initiate the Ukraine crisis; he reacted to a provocation by neoconservatives in the U.S. government, especially Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who sought a "regime change" on Russia's border.

And, while there's plenty of evidence to support the fact that the U.S. intervened in Ukraine, there is no evidence that Putin sought out this crisis or had any designs to recreate the Russian Empire, two key elements of the U.S. propaganda campaign. The truth is that by encouraging and instigating the violent Ukraine coup on Feb. 22, 2014, the Obama administration struck first.

Putin, who had been preoccupied with the Sochi Winter Olympics at the time, was caught off-guard and responded with an emergency national security meeting on Feb. 23 to decide on what steps were needed to protect the Russian strategic interests in Crimea, including the historic naval base at Sevastopol. He was reacting, not instigating.

It may be that President Obama was also surprised by the political crisis in Ukraine, since he also was preoccupied by a variety of other international hot spots, especially in the Middle East. Possibly, he and Secretary of State John Kerry had given too much leeway to Nuland to press for the destabilization of the Yanukovych government.

Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan who famously promoted "regime change" in Iraq as a founder of the Project for the New American Century, pushed the envelope in Ukraine in the cause of achieving her own "regime change." She even passed out cookies to anti-government protesters in Kiev's Maidan square in fall 2013.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at

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