Question: Even a cursory review of the west’s corporate mainstream media, it is easy to conclude that the U.S. is preparing the public for an eventual conflict with Russia. Is that your reading of the situation?
Answer: The west – led by Washington – is already at war with Russia. This has been the case for the last two years. At this point the assaults include financial and economic sanctions, unrelenting demonization by the corporate media, aiming at “soft targets” like Olympic athletes and Russian media outlets such as RT and Sputnik International, blaming Russia for Washington’s foreign policy failures in Syria and Ukraine, and now inserting Russia in to the U.S. presidential election via Hillary Clinton’s electoral fraud committed against her own party. As well as tagging Donald Trump as “Putin’s candidate.” It is a constant drumbeat whose scope continues to expand. And this multifaceted campaign is very effective. It never ceases to astound me how the media and the low-octane chatterboxes hailing from “thinktankistan” claim to be “Russia experts” when very, very few can truly speak with authority on the subject of Russia. This campaign has successfully branded Russia as an implacable foe. The western public is well prepared for the next and deadly stage of the conflict.
Q.: How likely is this next and deadly stage of the conflict? How likely is it the west will go to war with Russia?
A.: First of all, there are those inside the Washington beltway actively pushing for some kind of showdown with Moscow, this includes military options. I think they are convinced there is a number of scenarios in which Russia would buckle under when confronted with NATO’s military might. Short of an all-out war, the plan is to find a way to make Russia back down in the most humiliating fashion. The problem with this kind of strategy is that it must be based on a series of calculations. There are so many variables involved and of course what are called “known unknowns.” Given Washington’s track record in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and the South China Sea, I worry the same grossly misguided policies will end in failure vis-à-vis Russia. Second, as Washington ups the ante with Moscow, the U.S. and its NATO allies may instead find themselves in a humiliating situation of their own making. What will they do in this case? What if Russia refuses to fold? Will the U.S.-NATO back down? This is how wars start. Never underestimate the issue of pride.
Q.: The multifaceted campaign you have described also assumes the Russian public is targeted. The intention is to have the Russians turn against their own government and of course Vladimir Putin. How plausible is this?
A.: This is simply naïve. Over the past two years there has been a remarkable closing of ranks among Russians. The west’s deadly meddling in Ukraine has infuriated the Russian public. Not only did Washington actively support the violent overthrow of the elected president in Ukraine, but also it also actively backs individuals and group who hold fascist ideas. Millions of Russians have relatives in Ukraine, particularly in the beleaguered Donbass. When the west called for a boycott of Moscow’s 75th Victory Day Parade the Russian public took this as a personal insult. There is also the issue of western sanctions because of what the west did in Ukraine, but blamed Russia. The only real impact of the sanctions is that it has created resentment toward the west and not directed against the Kremlin. Now it is the attack in Russian athletes. Taking virtue from necessity, I take satisfaction that more and more Russians acknowledge the cold reality: the west is not their friend; the west only wants to do them and their country harm. Of course Russia’s tiny group of liberals (appropriately referred to as a ‘fifth column”) remain undeterred – they are willing to sell-out to the west in a heartbeat.
Q.: Is Russia prepared for the next escalation of the west’s campaign against it?
A.: I am not a military expert, so I will answer in a slightly different way. I sense a great deal of resolve in Russia and faith in the ruling establishment. As I mentioned before, there is growing awareness that the west is not interested in relations based on equality and mutual respect. There is also awareness of the incredible double standards Washington practices around the world. Russians see example after example of how Washington’s policies have destroyed countries and societies. Russia has the means and resolve not be the next victim.
Q.: How did we get to this state of affairs? Is it inevitable this conflict could end in an armed conflict?
A.: One word: hegemony. Washington knows its hegemonic moment in history is under threat and will eventually come to an end. This is why the U.S. invented the Ukraine crisis. First, it was a brazen affront to Russia’s national security interests. Second, it was a means to ensure there could be no new security arrangement involving Europe and Russia outside the NATO format. Incidentally, we see the same approach against China vis-à-vis the growing tensions in the South China Sea. Then there is Syria. The U.S. and its allies face a strategic defeat there. This is unacceptable, as it would translate into a strategic victory for Russia. America’s idea and practice of hegemony is zero-sum. It is the kind of dangerous thinking that makes war against Russia a very real possibility. And that conflict will be a war of choice.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.