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“US-NATO Border Confrontation with Russia Risks Nuclear War and Loss of European Partner,” The Real News Network, July 17, 2017

Michael Hudson says that the US-led confrontational approach of NATO with Russia is driving European countries to consider disbanding or leaving the military alliance due to increased security risks.

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Washington.

President Obama met with NATO leaders in Warsaw last weekend to what seemed like a restatement of vows to protect Europe. Let’s take a listen to what the president had to say.

BARACK OBAMA: In this challenging moment, I want to take this opportunity to state clearly what will never change. And that is the unwavering commitment of the United States to the security and defense of Europe, to our transatlantic relationship, to our commitment to our common defense. Throughout my time in office, one of my top foreign policy priorities has been to strengthen our alliances, especially with NATO. And as I reflect on the past eight years, both the progress and the challenges, I can say with confidence that we’ve delivered on that promise. The United States has increased our presence here in Europe. NATO is as strong, as nimble, and as ready as ever.

DESVARIEUX: So ready that the president will be sending 1,000 troops to Poland as one of four battalions that are being sent to countries bordering Russia. But what is really at the heart of this matter? Are these just tactics by the U.S. leading to an escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Russia? And what role should NATO be playing in maintaining a balanced Europe?

Now joining us to help us answer these questions is our guest, Michael Hudson. Michael is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He’s also the author of many books, including his latest, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy. Thank you so much for joining us, Michael.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s good to be here.

DESVARIEUX: So, Michael, we just heard President Obama pledging his allegiance to protecting Europe. Does Europe really need protecting, though?

HUDSON: Well, as soon as Obama made those words, there was a flurry of European statements saying that Obama and NATO were making Europe less secure. The French prime minister, Francois Hollande, says that we don’t need NATO. NATO has no role to play in our Russian relations. That leaders of the two major German parties, both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, said that NATO was warmongering. Gorbachev came out and said the world has never been closer to nuclear war than it is at present. William Perry, the former head of the Pentagon in the mid-90s, said that NATO was threatening and trying to provoke atomic war in Europe.

One of Russia’s leading military strategists said, here’s what the problem is: NATO wants to move bombers and atomic weapons right up to the border of Russia. That means that if they launch a missile over us, we have only a few seconds to retaliate. President Putin a little while ago had given a speech saying that Russia doesn’t really have a land army. In fact, today, no country in the world – in the Northern Hemisphere, at least – has a land army that can invade anywhere.

Try to imagine America being invaded by Canada, or by Mexico on its borders. You can’t imagine it. Impossible. No democracy can afford a land army anymore because the costs are so high that the costs of mounting a land war will just impoverish the economy.

As a matter of fact, what NATO is trying to do is to goad Russia into building up an army so the US can undercut its economy by diverting more and more resources away from the economy towards the military. Russia’s not falling for it. Putin said that Russia has no intention of mounting a land army. It is unthinkable that it could even want to invade the Baltics or Poland.

But Putin did say that Russia has one means of retaliation. That’s atomic bombs. Atomic weapons are basically defensive. They’re saying that they don’t need an army anymore. Nor does any country need an army if they have an atomic weapon, because if you attack them, they can wipe you out. And they’ll be wiped out, too, but no nation is going to be able to conquer them. No country, really, can conquer any other country in today’s world. That means that Russia can’t conquer Europe by invading and occupying it.

In e effect, Putin and the Russian leaders have said, look, if an American plane goes a little bit off into Russian territory, like ships often try to provoke things, they don’t know whether it’s an atomic attack at all. Russia can’t take a risk. If there’s a little bit of a movement against them, they’re going to launch the hydrogen bombs, and there goes Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Brussels. That’s why you’re having all of these warnings.

Europe seems increasingly terrified that Obama is going to destabilize Eurasia. Even more terrified of Hillary getting in, who’s indicated she’s going to appoint a superhawk, the Cheney protege Michele Flournoy, as Secretary of Defense, and appoint Victoria Nuland as Secretary of State.

I’ve been in Germany twice in the last two months, and they’re really worried that somehow America is telling Europe, let’s you and Russia fight. And basically it’s a crisis.

ORDER IT NOW

DESVARIEUX: Okay. Michael, I want to get back to your point about how we’re seeing this narrative develop about a potential nuclear war on the horizon. And it seems like it’s quite real. This is not just conjecture, here. We have U.S. and Russia’s military forces warning that a nuclear war is nearer than ever before.

So let’s talk about interests, here. On either side, let’s be as specific as possible, and call a spade a spade. In whose interest is it to keep up this narrative? Because I’m sure there are people not just in the United States that profit from this, but also in Russia. Can you speak to that?

HUDSON: Well, one of the points made at the NATO meetings was NATO urged countries not to rely on Russian weaponry. There was an insistence by Obama that the NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on NATO, on arms, mainly by buying arms from American military manufacturers, Raytheon, Boeing and the others.

Now, look at what’s happening in Europe. It’s not even growing 2 percent, because of the austerity that’s being imposed on it. So 2 percent is the entire annual economic growth in Europe. This large amount has to be spent on American arms. So it turns out that this sabre-rattling to Russia is a means of obliging the European countries to pay the United States arms manufacturers for goods, and to basically hold Europe up for ransom, saying if you don’t be a part of this, we’re not going to defend you.

Europe is saying, well we really don’t need defense. We’d rather have an economic relationship with Russia. Especially the Germans say they don’t want the sanctions. The Italians say they don’t want the sanctions. The Americans say, we don’t want you to make money off Russia. Buy from us, not from Russia. Buy your agricultural goods and your other goods from us, or at least from countries in the dollar orbit, not from the Russian orbit.

That, essentially, is what Obama meant by the reset. It meant a new Cold War. But the essence of this new Cold War is to fight in the new way, which is a financial war. The military are now only a catalyst for the financial warfare by the United States.

The first effect of the reset was to drive Russia into an alliance with China. And now, NATO may be overplaying this right-wing hand so much that it’s driving Germany and Italy and France out of NATO. That is the effect this is–what it’s doing is counter-effective.

DESVARIEUX: Michael, what about on the Russian side? There are interests that are encouraging this reset?

HUDSON: They had hoped that the reset would mean a winding down of military spending. Russia and almost every country would like to use more of its resources for the domestic economy, not for military overhead. America is trying to force Russia to spend more on overhead as part of its economic warfare with Russia.

This was Brzezinski’s plan in Afghanistan, you know, under the Carter administration. The idea was that if you could force Russia to pay more for its military to defend Afghanistan, then its economy would buckle and discontent would spread. This is the essence of American strategy: to spread chaos. Then the Americans can come in and promote nationalist and other localist breakups, and try to break up Russia just as America is trying to push a breakup of China as a long-term strategy. There’s no way that this cannot backfire on the United States.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. Let’s talk about what everyday people could do to move away from accepting this narrative, or move away from this potential reset that President Obama is proposing? What policy decisions could be made to de-escalate this tension?

HUDSON: Essentially to dissolve NATO, which France has been pushing now for many years. There’s no need for NATO now that there’s no threat of any military invasion anymore. Remember after World War II, NATO was put up when there was an idea that European countries should never go to war with each other again. There will never be war between France, Germany, Italy. That’s been solved. There’s no way in which European countries will go to war.

The second thing was, what if Russia would re-invade like it did when it fought against Hitler? Well, there’s no danger of Russia invading anymore. In fact, in 1990, when the Soviet Union broke up, the Ukraine passed a resolution that it wanted to remain neutral and benefit from its neutral buffer pivot between Russia and Europe. The United States then put $5 billion into Ukraine, and spurred a nationalist-ethnic revolution. It took the United States 20 years to turn that around and break up this neutrality.

The U.S. strategy is to prevent neutrality. Europe’s economic interest is to achieve neutrality with Russia, and have economic unity so that there’s little chance of any confrontation with Russia as there is among the European countries themselves.

DESVARIEUX: All right. Michael Hudson, always a pleasure having you on the program. Thank you so much for being with us.

HUDSON: Good to be here.

(Republished from Michael-Hudson.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: NATO, Russia 
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  1. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    I thought Germans were all about War Guilt stemming from WWII.

    Well, despite the deaths of millions of Soviets, Germans seem to feel no guilt about Russocaust during the war.

    National Morality is purely political.

    Read More
    • Replies: @pink_point
    Your victims are victims only provided you fear them in the present, in other words.
    , @RadicalCenter
    The Germans should stop feeling guilty about anything they did domestically or in their pre-emptive attack on the Soviet slave state.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
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  2. @Priss Factor
    I thought Germans were all about War Guilt stemming from WWII.

    Well, despite the deaths of millions of Soviets, Germans seem to feel no guilt about Russocaust during the war.

    National Morality is purely political.

    Your victims are victims only provided you fear them in the present, in other words.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. Outwest says:

    Something odd. During the Cold War there was much agitation favoring recall of our military from wherever. At that time there was a political dichotomy that amounted to those who supported and those opposing the Soviet Union, along with true believers without a clue on either side. Strangely, other than faint echoes of the past positions, presently no one seems to give a damn about our military run wild. Almost twenty years of boots on ground with disastrous results for the countries we’ve invaded is Libya more secure now that Clinton has wacked another unsavory but effective leader- at tremendous cost in blood and wealth.

    With this record Clinton is the darling of the old peaceniks and nowhere is there a discussion of declaring success and bringing our troops home. If we continue our warlike attitude we’re at risk of a real war.

    Read More
    • Agree: JL
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  4. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    …unauthorised military action has become commonplace and doesn’t sell newspapers anymore. We are fast becoming complacent about terror incidents- they soon will not be worth reporting. We won’t know what hit us- when it does!

    Read More
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  5. anon says: • Disclaimer

    So why don’t European countries just leave NATO? This seems like the obvious answer. Dissolving NATO removes a major source of America’s ability to make trouble for everybody.

    Read More
    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    As a proud German-American, I think that Germany could do enormous good for its people, for the USA, and for the world if it did three big things:

    (1) expel all Muslims, both Turk "citizens" of Germany and recent rape-fugees, and bar anyone from a Muslim-majority country from visiting or settling in Germany;

    (2) withdraw from NATO and take an explicitly politically/militarily neutral stance toward the USA and the Russian Federation;

    (3) withdraw from the EU and work towards freer-trade agreements and greatly increased tourism and student-exchange programs with both the USA and the RF.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  6. “So why don’t European countries just leave NATO?”

    If five billion was the Ukraine investment, how much more to have bought Euro-elites?

    Read More
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  7. Europe is saying,… We’d rather have an economic relationship with Russia. Especially the Germans say they don’t want the sanctions. The Italians say they don’t want the sanctions. The Americans say, we don’t want you to make money off Russia. Buy from us, not from Russia. Buy your agricultural goods and your other goods from us, or at least from countries in the dollar orbit, not from the Russian orbit.

    Sounds to me a lot like the real reasons Churchill pushed for war between the Germans and the Soviets despite all the rot we’ve been taught.

    Russia and almost every country would like to use more of its resources for the domestic economy, not for military overhead.

    As would any sane people. Too bad we’re stuck with the usual nitwits in charge, and too bad we don’t have some sort of magical vermifuge or pesticide to rid ourselves of that plague.

    America is trying to force Russia to spend more on overhead as part of its economic warfare with Russia.

    No doubt about it. Why do some folks still believe otherwise?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  8. @Priss Factor
    I thought Germans were all about War Guilt stemming from WWII.

    Well, despite the deaths of millions of Soviets, Germans seem to feel no guilt about Russocaust during the war.

    National Morality is purely political.

    The Germans should stop feeling guilty about anything they did domestically or in their pre-emptive attack on the Soviet slave state.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  9. @anon
    So why don't European countries just leave NATO? This seems like the obvious answer. Dissolving NATO removes a major source of America's ability to make trouble for everybody.

    As a proud German-American, I think that Germany could do enormous good for its people, for the USA, and for the world if it did three big things:

    (1) expel all Muslims, both Turk “citizens” of Germany and recent rape-fugees, and bar anyone from a Muslim-majority country from visiting or settling in Germany;

    (2) withdraw from NATO and take an explicitly politically/militarily neutral stance toward the USA and the Russian Federation;

    (3) withdraw from the EU and work towards freer-trade agreements and greatly increased tourism and student-exchange programs with both the USA and the RF.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anon
    They all seem like sound proposals to me.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  10. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @RadicalCenter
    As a proud German-American, I think that Germany could do enormous good for its people, for the USA, and for the world if it did three big things:

    (1) expel all Muslims, both Turk "citizens" of Germany and recent rape-fugees, and bar anyone from a Muslim-majority country from visiting or settling in Germany;

    (2) withdraw from NATO and take an explicitly politically/militarily neutral stance toward the USA and the Russian Federation;

    (3) withdraw from the EU and work towards freer-trade agreements and greatly increased tourism and student-exchange programs with both the USA and the RF.

    They all seem like sound proposals to me.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
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