That’s right, I said it. Authoritarian leaders are not always wrong, and democratic (republican, is the correct word) leaders are not always right. How do I know this? I will ask you to consider the following ‘alter-factual’ and ask you to answer these questions it poses honestly.
Imagine that the Cold War ended, leaving Russia more powerful than the United States, which saw Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire secede from the Union as the Cold War ran down. Imagine that both Cold War parties had promised not to build their military alliances any further, and NATO disbanded but then Russia began expanding an alliance it led, let’s call it the Moscow Pact Organization (MPO), into Southern and Central America and came to include Mexico as a member. Then imagine that Russia was financing and otherwise assisting opposition movements — some of them rabidly anti-American — in Canada and the four breakaway states. The Russian-backed, anti-American opposition movements then actually came to power not by way of elections but by way of demonstrations, sometimes violent and forcibly seizing power. Then imagine that the MPO invited the four former American states to join the world’s most powerful military alliance.
Then imagine that interethnic tensions mounted in Canada between Quebecois and other Francophones, on the one hand, and Canadian Anglophones. Then imagine that during World War II, Canada had split, with the most active Canadian Francophones supporting the Nazis and most of the Anglophones supporting the US and its allies. The Francophones when on the offensive killed many thousands of Anglophones, and the Anglophones when on the offensive doing the same. Somehow Canada retained its territorial integrity, but the Francophones and Anglophones hated each other.
As interethnic tensions persisted and even intensified, Moscow continued to finance the Francophone opposition and Moscow’s Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) offered Canada a membership association agreement (AA), a stepping stone to full membership, and imagine that EEU AA included military clauses stipulating cooperation between the Russian and Canadian militaries in order to ‘prepare Canada for integration into Russian/Eurasian institutions. Remember that AA agreements were offered to the four former American states before they joined the EEU and MPO and that Anglophones opposed membership in the EEU and MPO while Francophones supported EEU and to a lesser extent MPO membership. At the last minute, the US offered the collapsing Canadian economy a large loan four times that which would accompany the signed AA. So Canada’s corrupt but legally elected president decided not to sign the AA, and Moscow proposed talks on joint cooperation between the EU and the American-led Atlantic Economic Union (AEU), encompassing the U.S., Europe, and those Latin American states that had not joined the EEU.
Then imagine that the president’s balk on signing the AA sparked massive Francophone demonstrations. Peaceful at first, the demonstrators’ large tent city on Ottawa’s central square near the parliament building was infiltrated by rabid neofascist successors to the World War II era Francophone fascists. Although there was some police violence, there were several violent incidents that were originally attributed to the Anglophones or the president’s riot police, later it would be revealed that these events were faked.
The imagine that as it appeared the demonstrators might fade away after the New Year holidays’s distraction, Russia’s foreign minister and two Russian senators went to the Ottawa square and handed out cookies and spoke from the opposition stage, calling on the demonstrators to continue the protests; this, despite the OSCE agreement that obligated Russia, its allies, the U.S., European states, and Canada never to interfere in the domestic politics of OSCE member-states.
Then imagine that the demonstrations were revitalized, and the Francophones’ neofascist wing began to attack police, forcing Washington, Paris, and Berlin to step in and mediate talks between the Anglo-regime and Franco-opposition. The agreement the parties arrived at stipulated the withdrawal of demonstrators and policy from Ottawa’s city center and the holding of mid-term presidential elections by year’s end. With the president’s approval ratings in single digits, the transition to a new administration was guaranteed.
Now imagine that on the day that the agreement was signed shooting broke out leading to the deaths of a hundred or so demonstrators and many police. The shooting was blamed entirely on the president and his riot police by the opposition, Russian media, and those of Russia’s MPO allies. The Francophone neofascists now reinforced by other demonstrators, angered by the president’s murder of the Heavenly Quebec Hundred, stormed government buildings and forced the president to flee from Ottawa and parliament to adopt without a quorum a decree declaring a new regime. Then imagine that Russia never mentioned the Western-sponsored agreement again, immediately recognized the new Quebec Hundred regime as a breakthrough to the full democratization of the Western Hemisphere and the new Russian-Eurasian world order, and condemned the corrupt American puppet who had justly been removed from power by the Maple Leaf Revolution. This interpretation was trumpeted by Moscow and its allies, despite the emergence of an audiotape of phone conversation between an Moscow official and an EEU diplomat in which they discussed talk among many in the revolution were saying that Francophone neofascists among the protestors had shot at both police and demonstrators to incite the revolt. The Muscovite official said this should be investigated, but it never was. Instead when scholars, including an Ottawa University professor, amassed incontrovertible forensics, trial testimonial evidence that the Ottawa square massacre was a false flag terrorist snipers’ attack carried out by pro-Moscow Francophone neofascists, these scholars were kept off of Russian and its allies’ media and condemned as agents of U.S. President Hillary Clinton.
Now ask yourself: How would the US under any administration react to such a course of events in a neighboring country? How would you advise a US president to act in such a situation. Moscow responded by moving its troops out of Sevastopol’ to occupy Crimea and annexed it, an operation that involved ten deaths. Tens of times less than the number of civilians and police killed by Maidan’s neofascist element on 20 February 2014.
Now imagine that a US naval base existed on Nova Scotia and that the territory was former US territory. Would the US confine itself to moving troops out of its base to occupy and annex Nova Scotia? Now imagine that pro-American rebels emerged in Toronto and surrounding areas like Hamilton and London (THL) and began to repeat — minus the snipers — the events in Ottawa and Nova Scotia and and without negotiating with rebels the new Quebecois regime immediately declared the THL rebels terrorists and declared war upon them, bombing population centers and killing civilians. Remember there were no military installations in THL (Donbass) territory. Imagine that the Anglo rebel forces with a few months were encircled by the Canadian army of new Quebecois regime in Ottawa. Would President Clinton order the US army to intervene, assuming it had not marched on Ottawa already in the immediate aftermath of the Ottawa putsch?
One can go on and on to the present day war with this analogy. I assume by now the point has been made, to the extent that people are still able to consider different viewpoints, which seems a dubious proposition.
To conclude, just recall how the U.S. reacted in lands very far away when Sadaam Hussein invaded Kuwait, how the U.S responded to 9/11 with wars and occupations in countries on the other side of the globe. It invaded two countries ‘shocked and awed’ itself to the capitol, which it occupied along with the rest of the both countries. How many people died in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the war, civil war, and terrorist groups American invasions spawned? Now ask yourself: How many people did Russian and their allies kill and how many died overall in the August 2008 Georgian War? Answer: several hundred. How many died in Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea? (Answer: 10 at most). How many have died as a result of the Donbass civil war chosen by America’s allies in Kiev? Answer: approximately 14,000, less than half of which can be attributed to Russia and its Donbass rebel allies. These are mere fractions of the fatalities imposed by the U.S. and NATO in operations that are little more justifiable, given their far greater scale than Putin’s actions in Ukraine have been up to the moment of this writing. Moreover, Russia’s operation is occurring in neighboring country of high geostrategic and security value to Moscow with a regime born by spilling the blood of its own citizens on the Maidan and growing a significant neofascist element.
It is arguable that in all these post-Cold War cases of Western military interventions there were smaller scale military and even non-military options still available, as in the case of Ukraine prior to February 24th. But the West chose not to use limited military means to achieve its military and political objectives in Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Remember where the word ‘collateral damage’ comes from and take some time to look up the civilian casualties such damage entailed. Despite far more massive casualties inflicted by Western forces, there were never calls for war crimes trials for Western actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Russia’s first post-Soviet use of large-scale military force was in August 2008, prompted by Saakashvili’s massive bombing of a sleeping city, killing tens, if not hundreds of civilians along with 19 Russian peacekeepers. The vicious Russian bear, whose thirst for territorial conquest and blood-letting is unquenchable, was within 70 miles of Tbilisi, the capitol of a country with a paltry army. Yet it did it occupy the capitol or the country. Instead, it gave independence and protection to two smaller peoples – the South Ossetiyans and Abkhazians — that Tbilisi, under ultra-nationalist rule after the fall of the USSR, terrorized and hinted at committing genocide against.
Now after myriad warnings and too many years in power, Putin has been pushed over the edge. He has apparently lost all sense of proportion. He has started a war, he may never be able to finish. All this Ukrainian and Russian death for a NATO expansion that was unnecessary and promised to the Russians would not occur. All this death, carnage, and destruction for Russian national security, the protection of which could have been achieved using the more modest non-military ‘military-technical’ means that were still available as of 24 February 2022. Putin indeed may end up being a war criminal, but first he must exceed the death and destruction wrought by Washington’s post-Cold War military ventures.
“In order to understand Russia’s security-maximizing as well as its perplexity and consternation over NATO expansion and Western actions in Ukraine, one must understand the history of relations with the West that made Russia’s security culture and vigilance norm. Once one understands this, one will also understand why Russians oppose NATO expansion and just how dangerously the West is playing with fire by expanding NATO to Russia’s western border, especially attempting to do so in Ukraine” (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/09/the-history-of-western-influence-meddling-intervention-and-invasion-in-the-formation-of-russias-security-culture-and-vigilance-norm/).
“(N)ow the risk of escalation is greater because (Zelenskiy) was unwilling to stand up to the ultranationalists and neofascists and their illegal armed formations and extremist activities. Now, with collapsing ratings, he is too weak to do so. With neofascists on one side and Russians on the other, the prospects for a resolution of the Ukrainian crisis and Donbass war remain low. The risk of escalation is indeed high” (https://gordonhahn.com/2021/12/21/zelenskiys-theater-of-simulacra-update/ and https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/02/zelenskiys-theater-of-simulacra-update-2/).
“Who will snap first now: the separatists, Kiev’s neofascist element, Zelenskiy, or Putin? Whatever the outcome, the West has marched blindly into this conflict and is now actively helping to fuel the conflict, but in the West only Russia will be blamed. In Russia, only the West will be blamed. Both sides are wrong, and the Ukrainian allies of each are unreliable elements, who despise each other as all hell. The blood-letting seems to have only just begun. The only questions are where, how, and when” (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/18/washingtons-truly-feckless-operation-boost-sagging-joes-ratings-and-the-march-to-war/).
“This has left Ukraine exposed in a very difficult position; one not primarily driven by Russian imperialism but constant attempts led by faraway Washington to establish pro-Western leadership in Ukraine at Russia’s expense, given Moscow’s opposition to NATO expansion. So Ukraine is being placed at risk and the window of risk is being kept open by Washington’s NATO policy. We know that the West is more to blame for this dangerous tectonic because Russia is prepared to accept steps that remove this problem: a neutral Ukraine on the Austrian or Finnish models. It is NATO that has chosen to ignore such solutions and demanded its door remain ‘open’ while keeping it closed, seducing Ukraine to come close but leaving her out in the cold of NATO’s making” (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/05/who-is-driving-a-wedge-between-the-west-and-kiev/).
“the situation in and around Ukraine is critical. The West pushed Ukraine over the edge in 2014 and threw down the gauntlet to Moscow when it backed the Maidan revolt made on the blood of police and demonstrators spilled by the Maidan’s neofascist wing. Ukraine has not recovered, and a new cold war is sparked. The interwoven complex of strategic security issues, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Donbass civil war, and instability is an explosive mix. Negotiations are the only way out, but things may have already reached the boiling point. Another rise in temperature could set the pot overflowing and push us all over the edge” (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/31/putins-coercive-diplomacy/).
“One thing is for sure, if there is not at least some progress in Russian-NATO and/or US-Russian talks and atmospherics, which is unlikely to occur during a Biden presidency, we will continue to creep to a war in Eastern Europe. Just as there are sure to be some in Moscow who would like to see Russian troops in Donbass, even in Kiev, there are sure to be some in Western government, NATO, and think tank offices thinking along the lines recently expressed by Yarosh: “(W)e have gained an invaluable experience that will allow us to destroy so much of the enemy’s vitality and burn so much of their technology that it will eventually cause an internal revolutionary explosion inside the Russian Federation that will lead, in turn, to self-elimination of the Empire” (www.facebook.com/dyastrub/posts/4636833736393474)” (https://gordonhahn.com/2021/12/25/putin-is-not-planning-to-invade-the-donbass/).
TRUE, I GOT PUTIN’S INVASION WRONG, LIKE THE UKRAINIANS THEMSELVES DID:
“These steps expose the whole ‘imminent Russian invasion’ scam. There is not a sane soul in Washington (no that’s not the end of the sentence), who believes in the Putin invasion ruse, who also believes that Putin would attempt to push his army to Kiev. Not one. Even if the Ukrainians or, less likely, the West provokes Putin to act, he will only occupy Donbass to put Minsk 2 behind, end Donbass residents’ misery under the Ukrainian army and its neofascist volunteer battalions’ occasional mortar and artillery attacks, and gather in Donbass coal” (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/24/reading-between-the-gray-old-ladys-lines/).
February 20, 2022: Ukraine’s defense minister says Ukraine sees no Russian attack force near Ukraine’s borders (https://vesti.ua/strana/reznikov-zayavil-chto-ne-vidit-formirovaniya-gruppirovki-vojsk-rf-na-granitsah).
About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu
Dr. Hahn is the author of the forthcoming book: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021) He has authored four well-received books: Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media. Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.