by Kevin Barrett (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 4, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1443)
Western media outlets portray Russia’s “Special Military Operation” as a straightforward war of aggression against Ukraine. According to mainstream propagandists, Russia’s invasion was unprovoked and driven by Vladimir Putin’s desire to expand the borders of the Russian empire.
Russia, for its part, argues that it invaded Ukraine in a pre-emptive war of self-defense. NATO-armed-and-trained Ukrainian forces had massed at the borders of the ethnically-Russian Donbass region and intensified their artillery attacks, which have been ongoing since 2014 and have killed more than 10,000 civilians while driving 1.5 million refugees into Russia.
Moscow argues that NATO, using its Ukrainian proxies, was about to invade and finish the genocide of the Donbass—while simultaneously attacking Crimea, which is now Russian territory. Even worse, US-NATO forces had already placed biological weapons laboratories throughout Ukraine and were conducting dangerous experiments and practicing attacking Russia with militarized pathogens. Additionally, Ukraine’s NATO-owned-and-operated puppet president Vlodomyr Zelensky, a virtual prisoner of the US-trained Ukrainian neo-Nazi movement, had threatened to obtain and use nuclear weapons. For all of these reasons, the Kremlin says, it had no choice but to disarm and denazify Ukraine.
The Russian narrative is more convincing than that of the west. But both narratives ignore the war’s crucial economic dimension, consisting of severe restrictions on Europe’s purchases of Russian energy, raw materials, and agricultural products. The US-imposed western sanctions on Russia, which have been rejected by most of the non-western world, will harm Europe’s economies at least as much as Russia’s.
Sanctions on Russia are already hurting the US economy, as higher fuel and food prices spark alarming levels of inflation. But they will do much greater damage to Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. Before the war, Russia was selling Europe 155 billion cubic feet of gas per year. In response to Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, the EU announced it would reduce that by 100 billion cubic feet before the end of 2022 and completely wean itself off Russian gas by 2027.
The chances of that happening are slim, since energy is currently expensive and in short supply. There are no obvious alternatives for Europeans: The US may be the world’s biggest gas producer, with its ally Qatar number four behind Russia and Iran, but neither the US nor Qatar are running a surplus. The US will have to invest heavily in capital-intensive fracking to rev up its production. Additionally, shipping infrastructure will have to be built, and Europe will need to retool for propane rather than piped gas.
The transition will be a long, expensive process, and by the time Europe finds itself running on American gas, it will be paying such high prices that its industries will no longer be globally competitive. As journalist Pepe Escobar puts it, Russia is going to “Sit Back and Watch Europe Commit Suicide.”
Escobar suspects that Europe’s impending demise will be an assisted suicide, with the US playing the role of the killer. NATO, as all geopolitical realists admit, is not an alliance at all, but a euphemism for the US occupation of Europe. According to Escobar and others, the US has been preparing and provoking the Ukraine war since at least 2014, when it overthrew president Viktor Yanukovych and installed a puppet regime. The real purpose of the war, according to Escobar, is not only to bleed and hobble Russia, but also to bleed and hobble Europe so it remains dependent on, and subordinate to, the US.
To understand why the US would covertly attack its supposed European ally, we need to understand the geopolitical perspective originally developed by Mahan and Mackinder. According to this standard geopolitical analysis, espoused by such scholar-practitioners as Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard, the only way an island power like the US or Britain before it can rule the world is by dividing and conquering the largest nations of the Eurasian landmass, the center of gravity for human civilization and the population and resources that comprise it. If Eurasian nations can live in harmony and trade freely with each other, they will naturally tend to create a formal or informal alliance that will dominate the world, relegating countries like the US, Britain, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan to the margins.
For that reason, Britain before 1940, and the US since then, have used every trick in the book to provoke discord between the major continental powers. Following that strategic logic, the US-provoked Ukraine war has served to nip the China-Russia-Europe Eurasian unity project in the bud, preventing German industry from thriving on cheap Russian gas and killing two proverbial avian competitors with one stone. Meanwhile the US will earn windfall profits selling the Europeans extravagantly-priced gas, the American military-industrial complex will gorge itself on Ukrainian and Russian blood, and the dollar will stay strong as a safe haven in a time of uncertainty.
Ironically, it is the ostensible US ally, Europe, that will suffer more than Russia. The single biggest economic effect of the war will likely be the aforementioned shutdown of European and especially German industry. Food prices will skyrocket—a bigger problem in food-importing Europe than in food-exporting countries like Russia and the US. Additionally, Europe will have to cope with the roughly five million refugees who have streamed out of Ukraine since the SMO began. (While the European racists may initially prefer the blond blue-eyed Ukrainians to brown-skinned Muslims, the cost of maintaining so many refugees will fray the bonds of racial solidarity.)
Simultaneously the Europeans will likely inherit, and be forced to rebuild and maintain, a rump Ukraine consisting of the economically unproductive northwestern portion of the country. And while it is trying to pay for all of the above, Europe will be ordered by the US to sharply increase its military spending. All of this comes on the heels of the economic implosion triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in the worst-case scenario, Europe will be on the front lines, and will suffer massive, perhaps catastrophic damage, if the NATO-vs-Russia war escalates beyond the borders of Ukraine—a once unthinkable possibility that seems less unlikely by the day.
Russia, too, will suffer economic dislocation. But Russia is a vast, sprawling, resource-rich country. It is far more self-sufficient than Europe. Even as its trade with the west declines, Russia will turn to the BRICS nations as well as Iran, Turkey, and other non-western countries. Its ruble, pegged to gold, oil, and gas, has been soaring while the Euro is declining. Ultimately Russia seems poised to weather the storm, while the house of Europe sits directly in the path of an oncoming economic hurricane.
If the USA’s proxy war on Russia is actually a covert war on Europe, as the above analysis suggests, it wouldn’t be the first time that devious American leaders have stabbed a supposed ally in the back. During the first two years of World War II the US president, Franklin Roosevelt, drove such a hard arms-for-gold bargain with Winston Churchill that the US wound up devouring all of Britain’s bullion. FDR’s cleverly-orchestrated American heist of UK’s gold sealed the transfer of global imperial power from London to Washington, demoting Britannia from “ruler of the waves” to an inconsequential little island nation with severe economic problems and an American master who would henceforth call the shots.
Today, the US is struggling to maintain the global #1 power position it achieved by (economically and strategically) defeating Britain in World War II. Its two main competitors are China and Europe. Europe’s net GDP of $18 trillion is slightly greater than China’s, at least according to official figures, while its population of around 750,000,000 is almost double that of the US. So, it stands to reason that the US has a geostrategic motive for simultaneously crippling its biggest economic competitor, the EU, and its most formidable military competitor, Russia.
Why are the Europeans allowing the Americans to cut them off at the knees and drive them into penury? The short answer: They are an occupied people, militarily and psychologically. Ever since the US conquered and occupied Western Europe after World War II, then extended its empire eastward in the wake of the Cold War, Europeans have meekly submitted to their enslavement by the zionist-oligarch-dominated US. That enslavement has not been especially harsh (except for the first several years in US-occupied Germany and environs, when the American occupiers murdered millions of Germans, crushing the German soul in a kind of psychological genocide).
But despite the horrors inflicted on Germany, for the most part Europeans have been what Malcolm X would call “house negroes” rather than “field negroes.” They have been allowed to eat from their master’s table and even talk back to him occasionally. Humiliated and degraded but unwilling to admit it, the Europeans have lost their spirit, stopped reproducing, and declined into vulgar materialistic hedonism. Though they are now yapping aggressively at Russia, they are doing so in the same way that a diminutive but noisy dog might bark when ordered to do so by its master.
Will the coming economic slap in the face awaken Europeans to their real plight? Will they rebel against their American masters, restore trade and cordial relations with Russia, and ultimately expel the NATO occupiers and achieve full sovereignty? To do so they would need to awaken from the hypnotic trance foisted on them by the imperial mind-control apparatus. Though there are signs of such an awakening—including the emergence of the Yellow Vests in France and the widespread protests against the COVID police state—it is too early to say whether Europe will rise up and assert itself, or it will meekly allow itself to be crushed.