Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News & Just Foreign Policy – 2014-11-12 11:25:14
Putting a Stop to the New Cold War
Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News
PARIS (November 11, 2014) — The world is on the brink of a new Cold War,” a surprisingly animated Mikhail Gorbachev warned in Berlin on Sunday. “Some are even saying that it’s already begun.”
Speaking at a symposium celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 83-year-old Gorbachev may seem yesterday’s man. He is, after all, the last president of the Soviet Union before it fell apart, while Russia has now morphed into the corrupt oligarchic capitalism of Vladimir Putin, with his new-found religiosity, idiotic gay-bashing, and ultra-rightwing nationalism.
In today’s Russia, Gorby remains a prophet without honor in his own country, where members of parliament have called on their government to prosecute him for treason for having sold out to the NATO allies. By contrast, many in the West still admire him for his glasnost and perestroika reforms at home, for respecting the independence of his Eastern European satellites, and for helping end the first Cold War without major bloodshed.
But few Western leaders — including Obama, the Clintons, and the Bushes — will find comfort in what Gorbachev is now saying. That is, if they bother to hear him out, which his fellow Nobel laureate in the White House seems unlikely to do.
“The end of the Cold War was just the beginning of the path towards a new Europe and a safer world order,” said Gorbachev. “But, instead of building new mechanisms and institutions of European security and pursuing a major demilitarization of European politics — as promised, incidentally, in NATO’s London Declaration — the West, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the Cold War. Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of Western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world.”
He specifically cited the expansion of NATO, the development of an anti-ballistic missile system, military interventions in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the West-backed secession of Kosovo, the crisis in Syria, and the standoff over Ukraine, which he called a “blister turning into a bleeding, festering wound.”
“Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world, Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for spheres of influence and, finally, of military conflict,” he said. “The consequence, inevitably, is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant.”
“The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners,” he said.
Nothing better describes the Obama administration’s covert intervention in Ukraine, which I documented in “Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev” (Part I and Part II) and “Ukraine: Who Will Control Eurasia’s Oil and Gas?” But Gorbachev was there, playing a larger-than-life role. It was riveting to hear him recall his frank discussions with the leaders of other countries, some of whom greatly feared the prospect of a reunified Germany.
Even with Germany’s domination of the European Union and its imposition of a counterproductive economic austerity on its weaker neighbors, the reunification has proved far less dangerous than many expected. As a result, Gorbachev believes that history will award him and his Western counterparts “high marks.”
I have my doubts, especially if the new nuclear-armed Cold War continues to escalate over Ukraine. As I described in “Exposing the Cold War Roots of America’s Coup in Kiev,” Gorbachev knew that Washington had plans to encircle what was still the Soviet Union.
When he offered substantial evidence, the elder President Bush assured him in writing that, “We have no intention of seeking unilateral advantage from the current process of change in the GDR [German Democratic Republic] and in other Warsaw Pact countries.”
Bush was telling an obvious lie, which Gorbachev felt compelled to swallow. A weakened USSR badly needed financial help, which Germany offered. But he should have been more honest with his fellow Russians about what he and his intelligence services expected the US and NATO to do. His failure has greatly fed a widespread sense of betrayal, which Putin plays upon to pursue his nationalistic agenda.
Still, Gorbachev sees a timely lesson for today in the political dialog and active diplomacy that brought a peaceful end to the first Cold War. He even sees the possibility of negotiating with Big Bad Vlad, whose recent speech in Sochi seriously ruffled feathers. “Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and the United States in particular,” said Gorbachev, “I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.”
Gorbachev admitted that his customary optimism was wearing thin, but remember that he began making peace with no less a Cold Warrior than Ronald Reagan.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.
Stop the New Wars in Syria and Iraq:
Join the national week of action on Iraq & Syria by calling on Congress to stop another endless war
Just Foreign Policy
(November 11, 2014) — As the dust settled from last week’s midterm election, the US military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria moved into its fourth month. Congress has been reluctant to act on their obligation to debate and vote on the new warâ€”but that’s about to change.
Last week, President Obama announced that he would seek a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in Iraq and Syria. But the AUMF the Administration is proposing may go even further than targeting ISIS to embroil us in another endless and borderless war.
Congress will begin considering a new AUMF very soon, with hearings in the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee expected this week. That means we need to speak up NOW in order to influence the debate.
This week, a national coalition of concerned groups, including MoveOn, has called for a week of action to stop another endless US war in the Middle East. Here’s what you can do to join:
Sign our petition supporting H. Con. Res. 114 (the Congressional Progressive Caucus resolution)  that calls for any AUMF to be narrow, prohibit US ground troops, and require reporting on diplomatic, political, and economic efforts to weaken ISIS: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/iraq-syria
If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, support our coalition’s Thunderclap that will send a message on your behalf on Thursday, November 13 at noon ET: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/18954-congress-end-endless-war
Thanks for all you do to help limit and end wars using democracy and the rule of law,
Megan Iorio and Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy.
1. H.Con.Res.114 — Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria, https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-concurrent-resolution/114/amendments
Help the Progressive Caucus Limit the Iraq-Syria War
Petition by Robert Naiman
To be delivered to
The United States House of Representatives,
The United States Senate, and
President Barack Obama
Members of Congress should co-sponsor the Congressional Progressive Caucus Resolution, H. Con. Res. 114, urging limitations on the US use of military force in Iraq and Syria and should use the principles embodied in H. Con. Res. 114 to limit any authorization for the use of military force in Iraq or Syria.
In particular, Congress should:
* prohibit the use of ground combat troops;
* ensure that any authorization of force has a time limit or sunset provision so that it has to be renewed in the future for war to continue rather than lasting indefinitely by default; and
* ensure that there is regular public reporting on civilian deaths and injuries from US airstrikes, so that the public, Members of Congress, and journalists can better understand reports in the media about civilian casualties.
There are currently 14,148 signatures. NEW goal: We need 15,000 signatures!
A new US war has begun in Iraq and Syriaâ€”without Congressional authorization. Congress is likely to vote on an authorization, sooner or later; whatever they eventually vote on will almost certainly pass. What is in the authorization they vote on is something that we can still influence. In the process, we can help put a quick end to this war, preventing it from becoming another endless quagmire.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus Resolution, H.Con.Res.114, establishes a set of four key principles that we can organize around.
The resolution says that Congress:
* should debate and vote on whether the US should be involved in sustained combat in Iraq or Syria;
* does not support the deployment of ground combat troops in Iraq or Syria;
* should ensure that any grant of authority for force is narrowly tailored and limited; and
* should ensure that any grant of authority for force includes robust reporting requirements.
Key progressive leaders in Congress supporting H.Con.Res.114 include:
Reps. Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Alan Grayson, Peter DeFazio, Peter Welch, Mark Pocan, Jim McDermott, John Conyers, Katherine Clark, Beto O’Rourke, Janice Hahn, Richard Nolan, Hank Johnson, Charlie Rangel, Michael Honda, Chellie Pingree, Niki Tsongas, Mark Takano, Sam Farr, John Lewis, Jose Serrano.
Show your support for H.Con.Res.114 and these principles by signing our petition.
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