Sunday, September 18, 2016

Oceans Apart
                                                         West Tisbury, MA
    I’m sitting on an island in the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of one of the great sea lanes. The coastal waters of New England abound with every sort of craft from mini jet skis to gargantuan tankers and container ships.This being the U.S., most of that maritime traffic flies the American flag.
    Imagine, then, the Russian navy showing up in these waters.  Imagine Russian aircraft testing our defenses by flying straight at our shores. Imagine Russian warships tailing our naval vessels and their jets buzzing our planes. Imagine Russian war games off Cape Cod.
   Now imagine that Moscow declared that the reason for its military activity along the U.S. coast was to ensure freedom of the seas.  Or put another way, to protect American trade with the rest of the world.
    Once we stopped laughing, we’d be in a panic and likely on the verge of war with the Russkies.  Pols and pundits would be demanding the we forcefully counter such an obvious threat.
    At the moment, our navy is carrying out some of the same maneuvers off Russia in the Baltic and Black Seas that we just imagined that Moscow was up to on our coast.
    The Russkies are not panicking about us, though.  They’re used to it. From 1918, Russia, first under communism and for the last 25 years under capitalism, has had to deal with U.S. attempts to weaken and/or overthrow its government. 
    This began with the now unremembered outright U.S.military invasions in 1918-19 in Russia’s far north at Archangel and far east at Vladivostok.  Except for a short period of cooperation during  World War II, U.S. policy towards Russia has been relentlessly hostile. The ostensible reason was that our democratic country was somehow obliged to oppose Russia’s dictatorship.  But that argument didn’t hold water considering that Washington has spawned and succored countless tyrannies around the world.
      A truer explanation is that longtime U.S, policy calls for “full spectrum dominance” of the non-American 95 percent of the globe.  Big, independent-minded countries like Russia, China, Brazil and Iran stand in the way of that policy. Hence Washington treats them as disobedient.
    That means co-opting or overthrowing them politically, punishing them economically and intimidating them militarily. In other words, our navy is not provocatively maneuvering off the Russian, Chinese and Iranian coasts to ensure free and unhindered passage for Russian, Chinese and Iranian vessels or those of any other country. They’re there on an enduring mission: to expand and enforce the American empire, or what’s more politely known as our ‘global leadership.’

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