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Thursday, 13 March 2014 08:52

Ukraine, the Cheneyites, and Permanent War

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STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaUkraineCrisis2014(Photo: Amakuha)On March 5, 2014, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.com presented a very well-documented case for the hypothesis, long-standing on the Left in the U.S. and around the world as well, that the principal reason the U.S. invaded Iraq was for oil. (It had also been thought that the invasion had as a goal establishing permanent military bases in the Western Iraqi desert).

Of course it was known before the invasion that Iraq had no "weapons of mass destruction." That had been well-documented by the team led by the Chief UN Weapons Investigator Hans Blix. Thus it was widely known at the time that the reason(s) given for the invasion were bogus. (To its credit, in 2013 MSNBC also ran a documentary on the selling of the Iraq War).

Indeed, given the preoccupation with petroleum products and policy of the then chief driver of U.S. foreign policy, Dick Cheney, that it was really for oil (and bases) was a very reasonable proposition. Ms. Maddow has now provided much evidence that it was the case.

Nevertheless, for quite some time I have felt that beyond oil and bases the primary reason for the invasion, coming as it did on the relative heels of the Neo-cons' wished-for "next Pearl Harbor" 9/11, and with the (totally bogus) claim that "Saddam was behind 9/11," was to help establish a U.S. policy of Permanent War. And so we come to Ukraine.

Although the situation continues to unfold, let us look at some of what we know as of March 11, 2014. The U.S. war on Iraq has ended, with US being kicked out by the Iraqis under an agreement made by George Bush with his hand-picked puppet Prime Minister. Pres. Obama, after being pulled into another of those famous "surges" (which while accomplishing domestic political goals tend to make things worse in the field in the long run) is pulling the U.S. out of Afghanistan. North Korea and its very real nuclear weapons are very inconveniently close to China (which happens also to be their only ally). So, it is not too useful for promoting Permanent War. The Republic of Georgia thing, even with GW Bush in the White House, didn't help the Permanent War cause either.

Then we come to the present and President Obama. As my regular readers know well, going back to before the 2008 election, I am not at all a fan of his on domestic policy or how he deals with the Republicans. However, on certain critical aspects of his foreign policy, it must be pointed out that he has not been totally cooperative with the neo-con/Cheneyite permanent policy of maintaining Permanent War or at least The Preparation for Permanent War. Libya was quite complex but he did not put "boots on the ground," leading to endless conflict involving the U.S. there. He was apparently about to engage in at least selective bombing of Syria, but with some timely help from (oh my) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, he was able to avoid doing that. (And regardless of whatever else is going on in Syria, apparently the germ warfare weapons have been removed.) He and Sec. of State John Kerry are making what seems to be a serious attempt at finding a settlement for the Israel-Palestine problem, and are putting some pressure on the Netanyahu government to move in that direction. And, even with a Republican Secretary of Defense, military spending is starting to decline somewhat (although in part that is due to the Sequester). For the Neo-con Permanent War team this is all bad news. And so, where to turn?

Hey, how about the old reliable long-time enemy, Russia. Well, yes, that enemy was actually the Soviet Union, but a) there are surely many U.S., especially GOP/Tea Partiers, who really don't know the difference, and b) Russia, or the Russian Federation, occupies much of the physical territory of the old USSR. It happens that Obama too was trying to develop and maintain some kind of reasonable relationship with Russia. That doesn't help either. Neither did the very expensive, very corrupt, with the very-late-to-be-completed facilities, but nevertheless very successful (on the surface at least) Sochi Olympic Games. This was despite the wretched new Russian policy in dealing with it LGBT community, one that received GOP support in this country.

And so, as other options for maintaining Permanent War start to disappear, let's see, the Neo-cons said, how we can once again make Russia (read Red, read the Soviet enemy) into the big, bad, bogey bear, that would justify at least Permanent Preparation for War if not Permanent War itself (the latter having become very unpopular with the U.S. people). Further, they would be saying to themselves, if we can make Russia into the enemy and at the same time use our maneuvering to dump all over Obama, wow! We've got ourselves a daily double winner. And with Ukraine that's what they seem to have achieved.

US Ukraine policy, seemingly run independently by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and the NGO the National Endowment for Democracy, along with the European Union and the IMF, has for some time been focused on weaning Ukraine away from any relationship to Russia, other than a stand-off one at best. They were prepared to do this even if it meant supporting a government that includes open fascists. The latter are descended directly from the pro-Nazi forces that fought alongside the Wehrmacht in World War II, whom they openly celebrate, are openly anti-Semitic, and not only display the swastika, but also the Confederate flag (which would make them feel right at home in a number of states in our Union).

Forces were assembled that overthrew the Ukrainian President (an apparently totally corrupt personage, but democratically elected), when he started to end talks that had been held on having Ukraine join the EU and moved back towards a closer relationship with Russia. The new, "Yats the guy" government of Sec. Nuland is of course talking not only with the EU but also with NATO (as if having the Baltic countries, Poland and Slovakia, all on Russia's borders, being in NATO were not enough). President Putin's response was predictable. Forget about Crimea being majority-Russian or that for several centuries it was part of Russia and then the Russian Federated Soviet Republic. It is home to Russia's only warm water port, in historic Sevastopol. Presently (that is before this Sunday's referendum), it is Russia's under a lease from Ukraine until 2042. Do you really believe that any Russian President would allow a country that most likely will become a NATO member to have effective control (like unilaterally cancelling the lease) over that base? So, if for no other reason, Russia very predictably moved.

And finally, here came the Permanent Warriors, led of course by "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb" Iran, "the US should be in Iraq for 50 years," Negative Ace John McCain (http://www.infowars.com/mccain-its-tragic-theres-no-u-s-military-option-in-ukraine/). But then, as if he, Lindsey Graham and the rest of the Obama-bashers weren't enough, there came the grand old man of the Permanent Warriors, as Charlie Pierce calls him, "The Well-Known Zombie War Criminal Dick Cheney." He was actually talking about military options short of (for now) actually shooting.

The Neo-con/Cheneyites are wedded to Permanent War or the Permanent Preparation for War for three principal reasons: maintaining the military-industrial complex, maintaining U.S.-centered global capitalism, and maintaining as high a fear level among the U.S. population as they can manage, for that is so useful politically for the Republican Party. Do they really care about Crimea and the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine? No. But having overthrown an elected government that was moving back-and-forth between the EU and the Russian trade federation, but would never consider joining NATO, and then installed one, with local openly fascist support (members proudly wear swastika tattoos), that will go EU/IMF and likely NATO as well, having forced Putin's hand, they have created just the "enemy" they need, for some time to come.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for BuzzFlash@Truthout he is the Editorial Director of and a Contributing Author to The Political Junkies for Progressive Democracy. Dr. Jonas' latest book is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A futuristic Novel, Brewster, NY, Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, and available on Amazon.