26 February 2013, 19:22

‘Demonization of Iran and Syria cannot convince Europeans they need US army protection from “energy blackmailers” such as Russia’ – expert

‘Demonization of Iran and Syria cannot convince Europeans they need US army protection from “energy blackmailers” such as Russia’ – expert

In 1991-1992 the US, to its own surprise, lost a convenient enemy – namely the Soviet Union. First, Washington triumphed, but then it found that it was deprived of a powerful driver for the development of foreign markets, an excuse for very high defense expenditure without the need to justify it, and, most important, an overriding goal, which is the very essence of an empire – a permanent war with the “main enemy”.

This article is part of Voice of Russia Weekly Experts’ Panel Discussion

The US eventually found a way to cope with the latter problem. International terrorism, global drug trafficking and the rogue states somehow replaced the “great and evil” USSR.

But demonization of Iran and Syria cannot convince the stubborn Europeans that they need the protection of the mighty US army from the “energy blackmailers” (in particular, Russia). The logic of such reasoning is not merely poor; there simply is no logic. The United States therefore needs a strong Russia as never before. Numerous US diplomats have recently expressed such a stance.

How else can the US explain to the Europeans that they cannot receive gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan? How can Washington explain to them that it is impossible to deal with the Islamic regime in Iran and the supporters of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria because Russia and China put their veto in the wheels of the democracy machine, which has traveled about the African deserts for so many years?

The US surely cannot tell them that China has attained too strong an economic position on the African continent and is about to dictate to Washington when and where its gold reserves should be dispatched. However, it is possible to come to an agreement with China as with any creditor: it will not kill the goose that lays the golden egg. But it is difficult to negotiate with Russia, despite its also being a large creditor of the US.

Russia paid off its debts to the IMF, became friends with Germany and China, started integration processes in the post-Soviet space and established a customs unions; now it is about to set up a military alliance there. Moreover, its President, since the Munich speech in February 2007, is “inconvenient” despite the fact that he was re-elected for a third term. And an old time-tested method proved useful here: if you do not know how to talk to someone, start abusing him/her. After a while you will learn how to use this person, and he/she will be more amenable.

Today we are not surprised, for example, that foreign non-profit organizations have hastily and groundlessly curtailed the financing of their activities in Russia in order to cause a strong public reaction against the Kremlin.True, the Russian authorities have tried to rectify that situation. To offset the departure of foreign financial donors from Russia, about 3 billion rubles have been allotted for the needs of NGOs in 2013, and the Ministry of Economic Development has adopted a raft of measures to support socially-oriented organizations.

However, hostile acts have continued. Thus, the management of the American NGOs the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republic Institute (IRI) announced that owing to alleged threats by the FSB to prosecute the Russian employees of these NGOs on the charge of treason, these organizations have not only closed down their offices in Russia but also relocated their Russian employees to Lithuania.

Then there is the case of the death of an employee of the OJSC Tactical Missiles Corporation, Alexander Dolmatov. He participated in an opposition rally on 6 May 2012 and hurried off to The Netherlands to seek political asylum. Unfortunately, he committed suicide while being held in a Dutch detention center. To the surprise of Russian observers, it has been alleged that Russian intelligence services were involved in his death. Judging by the fragments of an official transcript of a conversation between Dolmatov and a representative of the Dutch migration service published in The Netherlands, Russian intelligence service had apparently tried to recruit him. It cannot, therefore, be ruled out that the Western press will link the death of Mr. Dolmatov to the secret directive allegedly issued by Vladimir Putin allowing the killing of Russian defectors on the territory of other countries. In any case, some Western sources are already actively promoting this account of events.

In my view, the raising of tensions between Europe and Russia is designed to distract European countries from their pressing problems: the spread of radical Islam in the North African countries, the destruction of international law as the primary mechanism for the resolution of inter-state problems and the attempts to delegate these powers to the United States, and the efforts to preserve the dominant role of the dollar in the global economy.

Alexei Mukhin, President, Center for Political Information, Moscow
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