The Monroe Doctrine has been a No-Trespassing sign nailed to the gate of US foreign policy for almost 300 years. Naval exercises are performed by the US in places like the Yellow and South China Seas. Enacted by other countries off our coasts, however, they would be unthinkable. Take the Cuban missile crisis, for instance, in which the USSR placed missiles in Cuba as a tit-for-tat retort to the US placement of nukes in Turkey.
It almost destroyed the planet.
When it comes to other countries’ security needs, however, US ignores their demand for equivalent safety. With our almost 1000 naval bases around the world, installed in other countries, and our Full Spectrum Dominance: of the sea, air and space, the Monroe Doctrine has morphed into the Plan for the New American Century, a creation of Dick Cheney and Friends during the ‘90s and still adhered to today.
Dr. Benjamin Abelow, MD, taking the case of Russia, discusses the consequences of this policy in a new book, How the West Brought War to Ukraine. In defiance of the agreement between Gorbachev and Reagan, negotiated In the late 1980s when the Berlin Wall went down, NATO began to encircle Russia with military bases. Seven Warsaw Pact countries were invited to join NATO, an organization whose very reason for existing was enmity towards Russia. Despite many other provocations and baiting, Russia, though denouncing it, tolerated NATO’s threatening advance toward its borders for three decades. For the last 15 years, however, Russia has repeatedly proclaimed that it draws the line at NATO membership for Ukraine.
That Dr Abelow was able to publish this book is a good sign. Only a few months ago, fueled by our government’s deranged hostility for Russia, we were burning Dostoevsky novels, and banning Russian opera singers and dog show contestants. Americans who follow the war have been persuaded by our politicians and our press that Putin is just like Hitler: he wants to conquer the world and enslave us all. Dr. Abelow’s book repudiates this madness. The book is accessible, short, and vivid, giving it a fair chance, if it gets through the fires, of being read by many people.
In the book, he describes the relentless flow of NATO/US provocations of Ukraine. He organizes the provocations before, and after, the coup of 2014, an event in which the malign intent of the US is revealed in a leaked phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, as they, in the words of Russian expert Stephen Cohen quoted by Abelow “plotted to midwife a new anti-Russian government by ousting or neutralizing a democratically elected president…” and installing the US’s chosen candidate.
As he documents Russia’s rising alarm, he describes NATO’s and the US’s mocking responses to it’s expostulations: the US has no intention to hurt or threaten Russia! In spite of their being located on Russia’s border, a few minutes shot from Moscow and other targets, the ABMs are really intended for Iran and North Korea. He comments:
“In doing all this the West has suggested that Mr. Putin is imagining strategic threats where none in fact exist. This Western framing - which posits a lack of legitimate Russian security concerns coupled with implied and explicit accusations of irrationality - underlie much of the currently dominant narrative.”
He compares it to gaslighting.
Dr. Abelow presents Zelensky as a tragic victim: a man who won his presidential campaign on a strong mandate for peace with Russia and an end to the bombing of the Donbas, but who was turned by the US/NATO. Their trumpeting of him as a champion of “freedom”, and sending vast amounts of US armaments, US expert trainers, for seven years, until the Ukrainian military was a crack fighting force, blinded him, and he ended up throwing his country to the wolves.
“Really”, says Abelow,” what sane person could believe that putting a Western arsenal on Russia’s border would not produce a strong response? What sane person could believe that placing this arsenal would enhance American security?”
And he asks, further, where does that leave us?
Dr. Abelow is very gentle with us citizens, so easily swayed to spend away our own national welfare, our plans to engage the climate crisis, poverty, all our other problems, and back a Congress that votes almost 100% to fund a catastrophically evil war.
Our rulers, however, have put us “in a very bad spot…which could only have been arrived at through a level of American governmental stupidity and blindness, and among the leaders of Europe, a level of deference and cowardice that is almost inconceivable.”
Indeed. Almost inconceivable. When International and Russian Affairs expert Gilbert Doctorow was asked what he thinks American citizens should know, he remarks, and Dr Abelow, quotes,
“Your lives are in danger…Mr Putin has been on record that he does not contemplate a world without Russia. And if the American intent is to destroy Russia, then the American intent will be self-destruction”.
Dr Abelow’s characterization of US motives in the Ukraine conflict,“ foolish”, is more sanguine than dissident views one hears from others, such as that the US/NATO is trying to “weaken Russia”, the US is testing its weapons for the real conflict it plans with China, that the war will be waged until the last Ukrainian left standing.
Whatever. But the book ends with a vivid image, applicable to both assessments, and recalling Dante’s inferno: of NATO and US policymakers standing “up to their hips in a barrel of viscous mud”, with extrication of “themselves...and the rest of us, difficult to imagine.”
(Ellen Taylor lives in Humboldt County and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)