A foreign army consisting of 31,000 soldiers from an anti-American alliance are conducting military “exercises” a few miles from San Diego. Hundreds of tanks converge on the Rio Grande, while jets from 24 countries converge in attack formation, darting through Mexican skies.
It isn’t hard to imagine Washington’s response.
Yet that’s precisely what has been happening on Russia’s border with the NATO alliance, as the cold war returns. Economic sanctions aimed at sinking Russia’s fragile economy, plus a propaganda campaign designed to characterize Russian President Vladimir Putin as the second coming of Stalin – or, in Hillary Clinton’s view, Hitler – have history running in reverse. Once again, an iron curtain is descending across Europe – only this time it’s the West’s doing.
The European Union renewed sanctions against Crimea on Friday: their “crime” –holding a referendum in which the overwhelming majority of voters opted for union with Russia, restoring what had been the status quo since the days of Catherine the Great. And the EU is slated to extend sanctions against the Russian Federation later this week.
Yet dissent against this revival of the cold war is rising in Europe, notably in Germany, where Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for the “gradual” lifting of sanctions to reflect progress in the implementation of the Minsk accords, which call for the demilitarization of Ukraine and elections in rebel-held territory. This reflects a division within Germany’s left-right coalition government: Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are holding out for “full” implementation of the accords. Yet it is the government in Kiev – held hostage by far-right crazies – that has been dragging its feet over Minsk, refusing to grant autonomy to east Ukraine and vowing to continue the war against the rebels in spite of Kiev’s lack of success in pacifying the rebellious region.
Steinmeier went further in another interview, characterizing provocative military exercises conducted near Russia’s borders as “warmongering.” The “drill,” which ended Friday, simulated a Western response to an improbable Russian attack on Poland. “What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmonger,” averred Steinmeier:
“Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken. We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation. [It would be] fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence.”
The reality is that it is NATO that has to be deterred: ever since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the implosion of international communism the West has been advancing eastward, gathering its forces at the very gates of Moscow. They didn’t call the recent exercises “Spearhead” for nothing. Herr Steinmeier is correct that the “tank parade” within spitting distance of the Kremlin is “symbolic,” but neglects to tell us what it symbolizes, which is nothing less than World War III.