In Background, Feature Articles, Russia, Ukraine

America tuned out as Congress bangs war drum against Russia

By Robert Bridge, RT.com, Dec. 7, 2014

The U.S. Congress

The U.S. Congress

On December 4, as America was tuned into Thursday night football or staring into the cold depths of the refrigerator at commercial time, House members brought the nation one step closer to all-out war with Russia. Future historians – that is, assuming there are humans still around to contemplate history – may one day point to Resolution 758 as the single piece of legislation that sparked a global conflagration between two leading nuclear powers.

This is not hyperbole. US rhetoric against Russia is quickly overstepping reality, causing U.S. politicians to endorse policies that severely inflate the perceived threat. When political veteran Ron Paul says the House passed what he ranked as “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever,” well, we had better sit up and switch off CNN, especially when that legislation happens to involve a historical heavyweight like Russia.

Resolution 758 was forged in a political furnace of unbalanced, one-sided debate, where American politicians regularly attempt to outdo each other in a lame contest called ‘Russian fear mongering.’ This popular game, which is never out of season, is played among intellectually challenged officials looking for quick political advantage; a bit like Special Olympics for American politicians where everybody goes home a winner.

However, these Russian games are no longer a laughing matter as they were during the feel-good Yeltsin era. Vladimir Putin has shown himself to be a highly competent statesman and whether this fact is responsible for America’s bad mood is difficult to say. Whatever the case may be, judging by the wording of HR 758, America seems to be sliding inexorably towards a ‘war footing’ with Russia.

The opening paragraph of HR 758 accuses Russia of conducting an “invasion of Ukraine” and violating its territorial sovereignty. Like so much else in this resolution, the statement is delivered into American living rooms like a dry, cold pizza without the toppings. Yet nobody, except Ron Paul and a few others, seems to be complaining.

“Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion,” Paul argued. “None have been offered. As to Russia’s ‘violation of Ukrainian sovereignty,’ why isn’t it a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty for the U.S. to participate in the overthrow of that country’s elected government as it did in February?”

Indeed, as Ukraine was approaching open rebellion, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine were overheard in taped conversations bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. They even mentioned the names of the individuals the U.S. wants to see in leadership positions and, while we’re at it, said ‘F*ck the EU!’

Paragraph 13 of the document demands the “withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine” even though not a shred of evidence has been produced to prove that the Russian army ever set foot in Ukraine. Further on, HR 758 urges Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence, a move that will certainly exasperate East-West relations if it goes forward.

Paragraph 14 states that Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which went down in murky circumstances in eastern Ukraine, was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine” .

How can the House make such a reckless conclusion when the final report on the investigation of this tragedy is not scheduled to be released until next year? Moreover, the preliminary report never says that a missile was responsible for bringing down MH17.

Paragraph 22 states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is a blatant misrepresentation of the historical record since it is well known that Georgian forces launched a crack-of-dawn military offensive against South Ossetia, killing hundreds of civilians, as well as a dozen Russian peacekeepers. Yes, Russia chased the Georgian army back to the outskirts of Tbilisi before turning back, but what country would have done differently under similar circumstances?

HR 758 also calls on Russia “to reverse its illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, to end its support of the separatist forces in Crimea, and to remove its military forces from that region other than those operating in strict accordance with its 1997 agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet Stationing on the Territory of Ukraine.”

This statement represents the falsification of history in an effort to pursue a political agenda. The people of the Crimean peninsula, under the threat of violence from government forces, independently called for a referendum to decide their sovereign status. Only after Crimea voted – overwhelmingly – to join the Russian Federation did the Russian Duma hold a vote on the issue. The entire process was done according to the dictates of international law.

There are many more such preposterous claims and dangerous demands in HR 758, yet the document has been greeted with a deafening silence in the United States by the corporate-owned media.

“Global security is at stake,” writes Michel Chossudovsky in Veteran News. “This historic vote – which potentially could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide– has received virtually no media coverage. A total media blackout prevails.”

It is the opinion here that the recent upsurge in anti-Russian rhetoric, which is quickly transforming into concrete actions, is not a new phenomenon. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States never really shook off its cold war hangover, and moreover, never really wanted to.

A holier-than-thou attitude has permeated the great majority of US think-tank papers over the years, creating a palpable sense of fear towards Russia while sowing the seeds for immense defense sector profits. Newspaper articles since the time of Boris Yeltsin have dripped with condescending, disparaging remarks about Russia, which have worked to create a particular mindset in many Americans towards a country they have most likely never experienced firsthand.

Meanwhile, inside the world of America’s hermetically sealed cauldron of ‘academic Russian studies’ (READ: Sovietology) – a veritable echo chamber where anti-Russian mantras are recited like unthinking prayers – an atmosphere of hostility against Russia has been carefully cultivated for years. There are only a handful of honest US academicians as far as Russia is concerned.

Given this overtly hostile attitude towards all things Russian, it was quite easy for the United States to sell the idea of a dangerous enemy “on the doorstep of NATO” that has some kind of wild desire to recreate an empire.

Yet what country has been steadily encroaching on Russia’s doorstep like a wolf in sheep’s clothing since the end of the Cold War? What country has refused to cooperate with Russia in its missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, thus bringing the continent to the brink of another arms race? What country has over 800 military franchises spanning the globe, yet accuses Russia of yearning for empire? What country has launched military offensives against seven countries in the last six years, yet calls Russia an “aggressive state” because it dares defends itself when attacked by a foreign power? What country has been playing geopolitical games in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union – even sending high-ranking political figures into central Kiev to spew venomous rhetoric against Russia when it appeared that Ukraine was going to join an economic bloc with Russia, as opposed to the EU?

Before the US Senate votes on HR758, it should ask itself these simple questions, otherwise it risks stirring up a hornet’s nest of problems the world does not need.

Robert Bridge has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1998. Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, he is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which discusses the dangerous consequences of extreme corporate power in the United States. U.S. House Resolution 758 was passed with an overwhelming 411-10 votes by the 113th Congress.

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Further analysis of  U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 758

By New Cold War.org editors, Dec. 9, 2014

U.S. politician Ron Paul has written an analysis of House Resolution 758 on his website and Facebook page. Here is an excerpt:

The resolution (paragraph 3) accuses Russia of an invasion of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. The statement is offered without any proof of such a thing. Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion. None have been offered. As to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, why isn’t it a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty for the US to participate in the overthrow of that country’s elected government as it did in February? We have all heard the tapes of State Department officials plotting with the US Ambassador in Ukraine to overthrow the government. We heard US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that OK?

The resolution (paragraph 11) accuses the people in east Ukraine of holding “fraudulent and illegal elections” in November. Why is it that every time elections do not produce the results desired by the US government they are called “illegal” and “fraudulent”? Aren’t the people of eastern Ukraine allowed self-determination? Isn’t that a basic human right?

The resolution (paragraph 13) demands a withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine even though the US government has provided no evidence the Russian army was ever in Ukraine. This paragraph also urges the government in Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence.

The resolution (paragraph 14) states with certainty that the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that crashed in Ukraine was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.” This is simply incorrect, as the final report on the investigation of this tragedy will not even be released until next year and the preliminary report did not state that a missile brought down the plane. Neither did the preliminary report – conducted with the participation of all countries involved – assign blame to any side.

Paragraph 16 of the resolution condemns Russia for selling arms to the Assad government in Syria. It does not mention, of course, that those weapons are going to fight ISIS – which we claim is the enemy — while the US weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria have actually found their way into the hands of ISIS!

Paragraph 17 of the resolution condemns Russia for what the US claims are economic sanctions (“coercive economic measures”) against Ukraine. This even though the US has repeatedly hit Russia with economic sanctions and is considering even more!

The resolution (paragraph 22) states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is simply untrue. Even the European Union – no friend of Russia – concluded in its investigation of the events in 2008 that it was Georgia that “started an unjustified war” against Russia not the other way around! How does Congress get away with such blatant falsehoods? Do Members not even bother to read these resolutions before voting?

In paragraph 34 the resolution begins to even become comical, condemning the Russians for what it claims are attacks on computer networks of the United States and “illicitly acquiring information” about the US government. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the level of US spying on the rest of the world, how can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?

Chillingly, the resolution singles out Russian state-funded media outlets for attack, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” The US government, of course, spends billions of dollars worldwide to finance and sponsor media outlets including Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as to subsidize “independent” media in countless counties overseas. How long before alternative information sources like RT are banned in the United States? This legislation brings us closer to that unhappy day when the government decides the kind of programming we can and cannot consume – and calls such a violation “freedom.”

The resolution gives the green light (paragraph 45) to Ukrainian President Poroshenko to re-start his military assault on the independence-seeking eastern provinces, urging the “disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine.” Such a move will mean many more thousands of dead civilians.

To that end, the resolution directly involves the US government in the conflict by calling on the US president to “provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.” This means US weapons in the hands of US-trained military forces engaged in a hot war on the border with Russia. Does that sound at all like a good idea?

There are too many more ridiculous and horrific statements in this legislation to completely discuss. Probably the single most troubling part of this resolution, however, is the statement that “military intervention” by the Russian Federation in Ukraine “poses a threat to international peace and security.” Such terminology is not an accident: this phrase is the poison pill planted in this legislation from which future, more aggressive resolutions will follow. After all, if we accept that Russia is posing a “threat” to international peace how can such a thing be ignored? These are the slippery slopes that lead to war.

This dangerous legislation passed today, December 4, with only ten (!) votes against! Only ten legislators are concerned over the use of blatant propaganda and falsehoods to push such reckless saber-rattling toward Russia.

Here are the Members who voted “NO” on this legislation. If you do not see your own Representative on this list call and ask why they are voting to bring us closer to war with Russia! If you do see your Representative on the below list, call and thank him or her for standing up to the warmongers.

Voting “NO” on H. Res. 758:

1) Justin Amash (R-MI)
2) John Duncan (R-TN)
3) Alan Grayson, (D-FL)
4) Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
5) Walter Jones (R-NC)
6) Thomas Massie (R-KY)
7) Jim McDermott (D-WA)
8 George Miller (D-CA)
9) Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
10 Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

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