Reprinted from Counterpunch
"The war has been provoked to destroy the Russian World, to draw Europe into it, and to surround Russia with hostile countries. Unleashing this world war, America is trying to deal with its own internal problems." -- Sergei Glazyev, Advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin
The fabrications of NATO's top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, have driven a wedge between Germany and the United States that could lead to a collapse of the Atlantic Alliance. According to the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, Breedlove has repeatedly sabotaged Chancellor Angela Merkel's attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine by spreading "dangerous propaganda" that is misleading the public about Russian "troop advances on the border, (and) the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks." But while the unusually critical article singles out Breedlove for his hyperbolic exaggerations of so-called Russian aggression, the real purpose of the Spiegel piece is to warn Washington that EU leaders will not support a policy of military confrontation with Moscow.
Before we explain what's going on, we need to look at an excerpt from the article. According to Spiegel:
"...for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove's leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements ... it is the tone of Breedlove's announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO -- and by extension, the entire West -- in danger of losing its credibility.
"There are plenty of examples...At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was 'incredibly concerning.' But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.
"The experts contradicted Breedlove's view in almost every respect. There weren't 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.
Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements....
"On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that 'we have seen columns of Russian equipment -- primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops -- entering into Ukraine.' It was, he noted, 'the same thing that OSCE is reporting.' But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.
"Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. 'I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,' he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims."
(Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine, Der Spiegel)
While it's easy to get swept up in the Spiegel's narrative of a rabid militarist dragging Europe closer to World War 3, the storyline is intentionally misleading. As anyone who's been following the Ukraine fiasco for the last year knows, there's nothing particularly unusual about Breedlove's distortions. Secretary of State John Kerry has made similar claims numerous times as have many others in the major media. The lies about "Russian aggression" are the rule, not the exception. So why has the Spiegel decided to selectively target Breedlove who is no more deceitful than anyone else? What's really going on here?
Clearly, the Spiegel is doing Merkel's work, that is, undermining the credibility of Washington's chief commander in Europe in order to discourage further escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. But while Merkel wants to humiliate Breedlove to show that Germany will not sit on its hands while Washington plunges the region into the abyss; she has also shown considerable restraint in limiting her attack to the General while sparing Kerry and Obama any embarrassment. This is quite an accomplishment given that -- as we said earlier -- virtually everyone in the political establishment and the media have been lying nonstop about every aspect of the conflict. Merkel doesn't want to discredit these others just yet, although the Spiegel piece infers that she has the power to do so if the "bad behavior" persists.
The Spiegel article is part of a one-two punch designed to force Washington to change its confrontational approach. The second jab appeared late Sunday afternoon when EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that Europe needed to field its own army. Here's the story from Reuters:
"The European Union needs its own army to face up to Russia and other threats as well as restore the bloc's foreign policy standing around the world, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a German newspaper on Sunday...
"With its own army, Europe could react more credibly to the threat to peace in a member state or in a neighboring state.
"One wouldn't have a European army to deploy it immediately. But a common European army would convey a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending our European values." (Juncker calls for EU army, says would deter Russia, Reuters)
Can you see what's going on? On the one hand, the Spiegel delivers a hammer-blow to the credibility of NATO's top officer and on the other, the President of the EU Commission blindsides US powerbrokers by announcing a plan to create an independent EU fighting force that will render NATO redundant.
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