When the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union imploded shortly afterward, the world breathed a sigh of relief—except in the faculty lounges of our more exclusive universities, the last bastion of Marxism in the developed world. But these hothouse exotics weren’t the only losers. Their opposite numbers, the professional anticommunists, had far more to lose in terms of prestige, employment, and, yes, cold hard cash. Their area of expertise was no longer relevant or marketable, and their employment prospects were grim until September 11, 2001, when they switched to the “antiterrorism” racket.
Yet this angle, too, soon ran out of steam, as Al Qaeda’s ranks dwindled and Osama bin Laden met his well-deserved end. How long could we go on spending multibillions “protecting” the United States from the “threat” of a bunch of half-educated savages cowering in a cave somewhere? The hysteria was way out of proportion to the actual threat.
In these dire circumstances, with their professional credentials—and incomes—at stake, the titans of the fearmongering industry decided to branch out by bringing back the Cold War. Retro-politics was the answer to their dilemma. As usual, the neoconservatives were in the vanguard of this new propaganda campaign: Richard Perle brought it to the fore, and others shortly joined in with the demand that Russia be kicked out of the G8 on the grounds that she refused to cooperate with the U.S. war drive against Iraq.
Putin’s open hostility to Bush’s hegemonic pretensions provoked an ever-escalating blast of fury from the neoconservatives, who idolized the thieving oligarchs the Russian leader had jailed or banished, elevating a bevy of scoundrels and outright criminals to the status of “political prisoners” and “dissidents.” In a sane world, someone who has cornered the lucrative Russian aluminum industry with the invaluable assistance of the Chechen mafia is hardly a Gandhi-like figure, but the neocons aren’t choosy about their heroes.
This was the opening shot of a major War Party production, with all the familiar scenery and dialogue rolled out in a curious sort of historical drama that, nevertheless, is set in the present. Vladimir Putin plays the part of Stalin, who has been mysteriously reincarnated along with the alleged resurgence of Soviet-style authoritarianism, which Russia is supposedly “backsliding” into. The “backsliding” theme song is played over and over again until the mantra becomes imprinted on the public mind. To illustrate this theme, a whole array of alleged victims must be given maximum publicity, and the perfect example is the group known as Pussy Riot—a coven of women who go around performing sex acts in public, including one obscene demonstration in a Russian Orthodox cathedral in which they desecrated the altar while howling obscenities at the congregation. They were arrested, sentenced to a few years in prison, and recently released under the terms of a general amnesty authorized by Putin. Upon their release, they naturally headed straight for the United States, where their obscene “act” will ensure them a place as the toast of high society and they will be fêted as “freedom fighters” by Russophobes and their patrons in the U.S. State Department.
What’s interesting about the New Cold War is the willingness of the West to side with elements that might be problematic—or even extralegal—in their own countries. Eduard Limonov, the “punk” author and extreme Russian nationalist, is a favorite of the Western media, who love to portray him and his National Bolshevik Party as a “dissident” on the same level as, say, Andrei Sakharov. Yet the symbol of the National Bolsheviks—an artful combination of a swastika and a hammer-and-sickle—should tell us everything we need to know about Limonov and his fellow “dissidents.”
The latest national socialists to achieve hero status with the Russia-haters are the two main leaders of the Ukrainian mobs presently rioting in the streets of Kiev, destroying public buildings, and throwing firebombs and rocks. These armed insurrectionists are demanding that President Yanukovich step down and—incredibly—that the government immediately apply for membership in the European Union! It’s an odd demand at a time when the poorer—albeit richer than Ukraine—E.U. members are trying to get out of their E.U. treaty obligations. And it is an especially weird rallying cry for a movement led in large part by actual national socialists, as well as miscellaneous antisemitic fellow travelers and the usual lumpen elements attracted by any scene of violence. One of the three big leaders of the insurrectionists is Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) party. Originally called the “Social-National of Ukraine,” and sporting the symbol of the dreaded Wolfsangel (the Ukrainian version of the SS), the party was taken over by self-styled “moderate” Nazis of Tyahnybok’s ilk. Which means that the periodic “antisemitic outbursts” this Ukrainian führer is reportedly prone to are mild in comparison with those of the rank-and-file Svoboda activists, who desecrate Jewish graves and attack Jews in the streets. They have been on the front lines of the anti-Yanukovich riots. As a precursor to their leading role later in the year, Svoboda goon squads arrived at an antigovernment demonstration in the city of Cherkassy wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan “Beat the Zhids!” (an epithet I won’t translate).
The chief leader of the opposition, champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko, is modeled along the same lines: Last year, all the leaders of the opposition attended a “comedic” performance put on by a Svoboda member of parliament. Dressed as an Orthodox Jew with long sideburns, the MP stood on the stage in Kiev’s Independence Square on New Year’s Eve, singing “East and West belong to me, our people are everywhere!” The skit involved the baby Jesus and a plot by Herod—modeled after Yanukovich—to have the Jewish character named Zhid betray Jesus (and the protesters) into Herod’s grasp. In the end, Zhid switches sides after learning Herod-Yanukovich has ordered the army to kill all Jewish firstborns. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports, the performance was “followed by a solemn singing of the Ukrainian national anthem and congratulatory speeches by [the leader of Yulia Tymoshenko’s UDAR party, Arsenyi] Yatsenyuk, Klitschko and Tyahnybok.” The next day, Svoboda mobilized 15,000 party members in a torchlight parade down Kiev’s central boulevard.
I wonder how much the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, and the plethora of other “democracy”-promoting U.S. government agencies are pouring into a movement led by rabid antisemites who valorize the SS. And why is such an “opposition” getting such good press in the West? News accounts invariably describe Tyahnybok as a “nationalist,” but Andrew Jackson was a nationalist—which is a far cry from being a Nazi.
The silence of the Western media is frightening. Time after time we hear that Washington’s latest target is the reincarnation of Hitler, and (therefore) we have to do something. Yet today in Ukraine, Nazis are marching in the streets, trying to topple the government—and the West, including the governments and the media, is cheering them on.
Russia is what gives, and specifically Putin’s Russia. The Ukrainian ultranationalists may hate Jews, but they also hate Putin, and that’s apparently what counts in Western capitals. He has been a vocal, articulate, and quite canny critic of America’s pretensions to global hegemony, and as such he is the target of the moment—especially since he granted asylum to Edward Snowden.
Which brings us to the latest development in the New Cold War: The Snowden-haters are joining up with the Russophobes to construct a grand conspiracy theory that “explains” Snowden’s actions as an operation carried out by the Russian security services from the very beginning. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-NSA) made the accusation on the Sunday talk-show circuit in an interview with regime lickspittle “journalist” David Gregory. Snowden “had help,” he averred, and Dianne Feinstein, sitting next to him, nodded in agreement. Snowden mocked this “absurd” idea in an interview with The New Yorker, asking, “Then why did I go to Hong Kong?” The conspiracy theorists are peddling the lie that Snowden stayed a night at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong—without bothering to show any evidence, naturally.
But who needs evidence when you’re constructing a “narrative” with no relation to truth?
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy