Saturday 29 July 2017

US Congress returns to its 1930s follies (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat
The US Congress regards Russia as remaining the primary challenger to US interests, even though it is obvious that it is China who has stepped into the role.
After Adolf Hitler was ensconced in power in Germany in 1933, the US Congress (Senate and House) retreated even further into isolationism, passing the 1935, 1937 and 1939 Neutrality Acts. These barred the involvement of the United States in foreign conflicts, and stopped weapons sales even to friendly countries. Such legislative myopia encouraged Hitler in the belief that the US would remain out of the European war, which he then unleashed by the 1938 Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Encouraged in their cowardice by the “hands off” attitude to Hitler by a US Congress, which still saw the USSR under Stalin as the prime foe, France and the UK connived at the surrender to Hitler of Czechoslovakia, a country that at that point in time had the military strength to hold off a German invasion, especially if assisted by London and Paris. Countless lives would have been saved, had Chamberlain the wisdom of Churchill in fashioning a partnership with Stalin against Hitler, but that was not to happen. Instead, a war that took more than 40 million lives was the result. As for the US, it was brought into the war by the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour by Japan, and by Germany declaring war on it soon afterwards, another of the many follies committed by the former corporal of the Kaiser’s Army, who within 24 years since the 1914-19 war had become the master of his country.

Unlike in the case of Nazi Germany, even during the 1917-21 period of consolidation of Communist Party power over what was named the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), no effort was made by Moscow to wage war on its European neighbours, even though some of them had used armed force in a half-hearted bid to topple the Lenin-led government. Still, London, Paris and the US Congress saw Stalin as the main foe, and not Hitler. Similarly, Vladimir Putin has not moved even a twitch to get back primacy over Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and the other East European countries that Moscow once dominated. What Putin has done is to seek a stoppage of the march of the avowedly anti-Russia NATO alliance to the very security core of the country, in Crimea. However, given the speed at which the US Congress is duplicating the 1930s Congress in focusing on the wrong enemy, it is likely that a war may, in brief years, erupt over control of the Baltic republics. Would the US, France and Germany risk the safety of New York, Berlin and Paris to save Latvia, Lithuania and Latvia from Moscow, or leave them to their fate? The answer is obvious, and their constant goading of Moscow may be leading to the conclusion in the Kremlin that Russia’s avoidance of attack on vulnerable states in Europe does not pay.
By inflicting pain on Russia disproportionate to its presumed transgressions, the US Congress is creating a set of circumstances where Moscow has little to lose if it unleashes much of its anti-Atlanticist arsenal against those seeking to choke its economy the way the US and European powers sought to sanction and blockade Japan in the 1930s. The new sanctions add to the hostile moves against Moscow of an EU motivated by US-EU anger against Russia for blocking NATO’s bid to integrate Ukraine into the anti-Russia fold. Perhaps this is Berlin’s reward for Moscow, which, under Gorbachev, passively accepted the union of the GDR with the FRG in 1991. Possibly because she is from East Germany, Angela Merkel seems incurably anti-Moscow, just as the Polish-American father of the Afghan jihad, Zbigniew Brezezinski, was. She has a partner in Russophobia, the US Congress, which is controlled by those who have refused to let go the prejudices created during the decades of Cold War between Washington and Moscow.
China is the biggest beneficiary of the fresh round of anti-Russia sanctions that the US House of Representatives has passed with majority.
The US Congress regards Russia as remaining the primary challenger to US interests, even though it is obvious that it is China that has stepped into such a role because of its emergence as the Other Superpower. China is the biggest beneficiary of the fresh round of anti-Russia sanctions that the US House of Representatives has passed with an overwhelming majority, reminiscent of the 1964 Tonkin Gulf resolution. Both the US as well as the EU are driving Moscow into a strategic alliance with Beijing that—together with the One Belt One Road grand plan of Xi Jinping—has made Beijing a player in Europe that will, on present reckoning, reach within the term of office of Xi Jinping the same scale as the US has long held in Asia. Especially once the bankruptcy of at least three EU member states becomes impossible to conceal through IMF-led financial legerdemain crafted in the expectation that Russians, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and Arabs will sink their money in the European sinkhole, the way nationals of these countries lost hundreds of billions of dollars in the 2008 financial meltdown.

Almost certainly unintentionally, the US Congress, aided by Russia-phobic chancelleries in Europe, is preparing the way for a military conflict between NATO and the Russian Federation in parts of Europe as well as the Middle East. The 1930s folly of adopting a self-defeating strategy is back, and this time as well, war will be the result.


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