- Monday, May 9, 2016

As Russia and the United States celebrate the 71st anniversary of their joint victory in the WWII or how they call it in Russia “The Great Patriotic War” the relations between the former allies have deteriorated to a very dangerous level.

One U.S. official after another, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, call Russia the greatest security threat to America. NATO’s new supreme allied commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti has said the Western alliance must stand up to Russia and give Ukraine weapons to defend itself. Words are followed by deeds when American guided missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, began a series of maneuvers, including landings by Polish helicopters less than 50 miles from a Russian military base forcing Russians to respond by sending fighter jets to buzz the ship. There were other similar incidents in the recent days so one can expect at any moment a military clash which may lead to the unpredictable consequences, including the unthinkable WWIII.

To show “toughness” Washington announced a quadrupling of annual spending for American forces in Eastern Europe and moving 4,000 NATO troops, including two U.S. battalions to Poland and Baltic States, right on the Russian border. Angela Merkel is also dutifully providing one battalion which will be stationed within 100 miles from the city of St. Petersburg, apparently to remind the Russians about 872-days siege of this city by the Nazis. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history which resulted in over 1.5 million Russian deaths mainly due to starvation. At this time we do not hear too often the Russians raising their grievances with the Germans about their atrocities as many see this as a thing of the past. Until recently the trade between Russia and Germany was flourishing and even now despite the sanctions it is still doing reasonably well. However, observing German military in the vicinity of St. Petersburg may revive the worst memories of Russian people. The big question is who will benefit from this stupidity?

According to Washington and Brussels all this is done, of course, to protect the Poles and Balts from the almost imminent Russian invasion.

Speaking about paranoia one would probably should be more afraid of a volcano eruption on the Neptune planet because whatever you think of Putin he is not a madman to start a war with NATO. He is well aware that the Northern alliance is a lot more powerful economically and militarily and in case of nuclear war there will be a total annihilation of the civilization as we know it. Besides, ironically, it was not NATO but Russia that liberated East European and many other captive nations from the communist yoke back in 1991. The smart Western policy at that time would have been to encourage all these countries to maintain and even expand their trade and economic cooperation with Russia as the best guarantee for their security and prosperity. However, those who were in charge of U.S. foreign policy, and first of all Bill Clinton, had a different strategic vision.

It was Clinton who started NATO’s “Drang nach Osten” which the legendary diplomat George Kennan called a “strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” Another great American visionary New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it a “road to some future nuclear war.”

George W. Bush followed in Clinton’s fatal steps by continuing NATO expansion and re-casting it within a democracy promotion crusade while Barack Obama continued the list of U.S. foreign policy disasters in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine which brought not only the chaos and devastation in these countries but the current dangerous crisis with Russia as well.

Regrettably, from the initial list of over 20 presidential candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, only Donald Trump has the guts to tell us the obvious truth that ever since the handover of power from Ronald Reagan “Our foreign policy began to make less and less sense. Logic was replaced with foolishness and arrogance, which ended in one foreign policy disaster after another.” The results are there for all to see: lives lost, treasure spent and chaos spreading across large swathes of the Middle East and south-east Europe. The direct consequence is that America and our allies are less secure today than we were even during the Soviet times.

As we celebrate the days of our joint victory in WWII, it is also the time for reflection and for calmly analyzing what went wrong and what must be done in the future because we have to find the new approach to international affairs that can save us from needless confrontation and risk of nuclear war, which is where we find ourselves today.

Edward Lozansky is President of the American University in Moscow

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