The Danger is Not Fully Appreciated
by J. R. Nyquist
Weekly Column Published: 09.12.2008
Since the end of the Second World War two countries have been referred to as “superpowers”: The United States and Soviet Russia. Since the Soviet Union broke apart, America was said to be the “lone superpower.” Moscow’s power had collapsed. Such was the West’s perception in late 1991. Seventeen years later the Cold War rears its ugly head, and many are caught off guard. The defeated Kremlin has put together a new anti-American bloc, including China and Venezuela. This has been long in the making, ignored by a culture of strategic denial in Washington.
Using the presence of U.S. warships in the Black Sea as an excuse, Russia has landed two long-range strategic bombers in Venezuela. The country’s aspiring dictator, President Hugo Chavez, stated bluntly, “If the Russian Navy arrives in the Caribbean or the Atlantic it may certainly dock in Venezuela. We have no problems with that and would warmly welcome it. And if Russian long-range bombers should need to land in Venezuela we would not object to that either. We will also welcome them.”
The main ambition of Hugo Chavez and his socialist bloc allies in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Brazil, is to bring the United States to its knees. Now, at long last, Russia is openly showing its willingness to send forces in support of the emerging anti-U.S. coalition in South America. This shows that the balance of power has not only been upset in Europe, where American allies are paralyzed by their dependence on Russian gas and oil, but has also been upset in Latin America where crypto-Communist regimes have emerged through a cultural process that promotes anti-Americanism.
As they advance, the Russian leaders deny any hostile intentions. They deny that a new Cold War has begun. According to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia had to launch an incursion into Georgia. “In this situation,” he offered, “were we supposed to just wipe away bloody snot and hang our heads?” Putin further explained that he had “no wish or grounds to encroach on the sovereignty of former Soviet republics.” Of course, this statement is a bald-faced lie. Russian agents long ago infiltrated the political process in Ukraine, for example, and now conspire against Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko. According to Yushchenko, the Ukrainian prime minister is working with the Kremlin to remove him from office. “A political and constitutional coup d’etat has started in the parliament,” stated Yushchenko. “The Tymoshenko Bloc has accepted union with the Regions Party and the Communists. The basis of this formation is not Ukrainian, I underline not Ukrainian.”
The Kremlin has also interfered in the politics of Moldova, stationing troops in the former Soviet republic, supporting a ridiculous breakaway region (like South Ossetia and Abkhazia) that only serves the purpose of encircling neighboring Ukraine. Despite these obvious imperialist moves, Putin declares that Russia has no imperial ambitions. “We do not have … any of the imperial ambitions that people try to accuse us of,” he told a meeting of officials and experts at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. “Russia was the initiator of the destruction of the Soviet Union. If it wasn’t for Russia, the USSR would still exist…. We do not have any desire or basis for infringing the sovereignty of former Soviet republics.”
To correct the record, the collapse of the Soviet Union was engineered by the KGB. It was initiated by the Kremlin because the neo-Stalinist model was a failure, because the Kremlin wanted to put the West to sleep. The Soviet leaders also wanted cash investment and technology to renew their military capabilities. This is not hard to understand, though the West preferred to credit itself with victory. There was no victory, however. There was merely a transition from open enmity on the part of Moscow to pretended friendship. The Ukrainian people can see this. Victor Yushchenko openly announces it. President Mikhail Saakashvili also understands the process of Russia’s ongoing interference and manipulation within the former Soviet republics. The fact that Georgia broke away from its KGB structures has infuriated the Kremlin, causing it to activate its fighters in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, provoking a conflict that was used to excuse the massive armed incursion of last month.
Putin nonetheless argues his position. “We don’t have any ideological differences, no basis for Cold War. On the contrary,” he protested, “we have a lot of common problems that we can only resolve together.” Perhaps he is referring to international terrorism, which was largely financed and developed into a global power by Moscow. Not only did the KGB invent airline hijacking, but the KGB trained an entire generation of Arab terrorists (including Yasser Arafat).
And then there is the economic game, intended to push capitalism over the brink. It is not that Russia has caused the West’s economic problems. But Russia’s mastery of clandestine instruments provides a tool for pushing the West as it totters on a financial cliff. According to an Associated Press story, titled “Study Links Oil Prices to Investor Manipulation,” a curious coincidence emerges in the data. Analysis shows that a massive “stampede for the exits” in the oil market began on July 15. This date marks a turning point in Russia’s strategic direction, when the Russian president gathered all his country’s diplomats to a meeting in Moscow.
A clever analyst has written to me on the subject of oil price manipulation: “What if the rise in oil was deliberately done in a coordinated attack? Using multiple business fronts, using foreign government monies, using lies about production levels to drive up the price to the bin Laden price of $144 to hurt the U.S. economy and sucker everyone into a long position in oil, then drop the bottom out of oil….”
If you create a trend, the herd follows. This is well known. And the financial herd is no exception. Why was there a “massive stampede for the exits” on July 15? Who triggered it?
Perhaps the United States is under financial attack. We know that the country is being encircled through maneuvers in Latin America. At the same time, the U.S. is being isolated from its European allies, financially hobbled by a combination of its own blunders and poorly understood market manipulations. There is continuity in Russian grand strategy, from the rise of Gorbachev to the incursion into Georgia. Russia’s hidden hand should not be underestimated. The advent of Boris Yeltsin was not a period of democracy and genuine liberalization. It was, instead, a period of deception and false promise.The strategic danger is not fully appreciated, even now.