Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chris Hedges. Transcript. David Swanson. CrossTalk. 01 May 2015.

1.       Lavelle: Hello, and welcome to CrossTalk, where all things are considered. I’m Peter Lavelle. Over the past year, CrossTalk have asked our guests many times whether we have the spectre of a new Cold War. Today, it is all too obvious that there is a new Cold War. What needs to be asked now are the conditions and terms of this conflict and its possible outcomes. [break] To cross-talk the new Cold War, I’m joined by my guests, Chris Hedges in New York, [] also in Providence, we cross to Vladimir Golstein, he’s an associate professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University. All right gentlemen, CrossTalk rules, and that means you can jump in any time you want. I very much encourage it. Chris, if I can go to you first. I do believe now the events being played out with Washington sending more equipment to NATO’s allies in Europe right to Russia’s border here. We are in a new Cold War without the Ideology but it is a conflict between the West and Russia. And I’d like to quote John McCain, I don’t usually do this on this programme, he said in his recent op-ed, “No one in the West wants to return to the Cold War.” But the events being played out since the Coup d’État in Feburary of the last year in Kiev, it seems to me, and I’d like to know your opinion on it since I have you on this programme, that the West is doing everything possible that it can do to bring about a new Cold War and the conflict with Russia.
2.       Hedges: Exactly. You know, it’s tragic, what’s happened. There was an understanding that was reached at the end of the so-called initial Cold War between Gorbachev and Reagan, a kind of mutual cooperation. And we saw right after 9/11 a betrayal, orchestrated by the Bush administration, but the Ideological roots of it were really set by the Clinton administration, in particular Strobe Talbott. The belief that nothing could stand in the way of American Hegemony throughout the World, that it could do whatever it wanted. This is what’s created what I would call imperial overreach in the Middle East, in the Eastern Europe and in Ukraine. An utter insensitivity to the Rights and demands of innumerable countries, starting with Iraq, but going all the way back to Moscow. And we saw right after 9/11 how this worked out. After the attacks of 9/11, Putin offered all sorts of assistance and help to the Bush administration, including connecting US with the northern alliance, which was allied with Russia, allowing overflights, and what the Bush administration did in response is it turned around and expanded NATO, although Reagan had promised Gorbachev the expansion of NATO would end in the East Germany, and it walked out on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
3.       Lavelle: In 2002.
4.       that precipiated the crises that we’re undergoing right now. So it is an extention the old Cold War, but I think, more importantly, it is a betrayal of all the agreement Washington had made with Moscow.
5.       Lavelle: Vladimir, if I can go to you. I found this quote, it’s from Chuck Hagel when he was the Secretary of Defense, “We also must deal with the revisionist Russia with its modern and capable Army on NATO’s doorstep.” Now, that is the most amazing statement from someone in that position. It’s as if the Russia’s moving towards NATO. Vladimir, why is it that People in the West cannot understand how Russia understand its own Security. It sees a massive military alliance. Look what it just did in Lybia, and that’s just one example. And it’s moving closer and closer, using very bellicose language. But of course, Russia is deemed the aggressor.
6.       Vladimir: [skip]
7.       Lavelle: Let me go back to Chris here, because you bring up a very good point. Chris, I am a big fan of a lot of your work. I read a lot of it, I watched a lot of your interviews. And one of the things you’ve mentioned– and I’m going to sum up in my own words here – a lot of Western Media coverage, whether it’s Iraq or it’s Ukraine today, it lacks context, chronology, chronology, and most importantly, responsibility. And I know the Ukraine story extremely well, because I do this programme almost every single week now for the last 18 months. And when I bring on people with dissenting points of view, they don’t have the chronology down, they don’t have the causality down, they certainly don’t have the responsibility down, and the context is always missing. And that’s why it’s very difficult to explain to people what’s happening in Ukraine, because Western Media just clings to a very simplistic, very cartoonish narrative that seems more or less to fit, because Russians are always the bad guys anyway.
8.       Hedges: This is also true in the Middle East, and I was the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times, and spent 7 years in the region, it’s exactly the same. When you report daily events anywhere without context and without any historical understanding, then it’s almost absurdist. You can’t understand what’s happening between Israel and Palestine unless you understand, going all the way back to Skyes-Picot Agreement in 1916 and the Ethnic Cleansing that Israelis carried out in 1948. The same is true in the Ukraine. If you’re illiterate in terms of History, then that kind of historical amnesia, which I think you’re right, dominates much of the Media narrative makes you easily manipulated by the official sources, who have an agenda, and in this case a quite frightening agenda, which is blinded by their own hubris. They think that they can push, not only within the Middle East, but in the Eastern Europe, in ways that are, as Vladimir pointed out, exceedingly dangerous.
9.       Lavelle: Vladimir, it seems to me when we look at the Cold War, there were terms and conditions which both sides interacted in, masters of destruction. [?] Both sides understood that. The op-eds of the New York Times, Friedman, “This new Cold War is not any fun.” It’s not a fun Cold War like it was in the past. I found that to be strangely unnerving, because they were still talking about two countries with nuclear weapons. And now they’re going toe-to-toe like they never did, they never did during the Cold War. Americans have their military Forces in West Germany, very far away from the Russian border. Now, they’re right up to the border. And they’re going to militarise the border with NATO countries bordering Russia. And the Russians are not supposed to react?
10.   Vladimir: [skip]
11.   Lavelle: Chris, it looks like what’s happening right now.
12.   Hedges: Let me, Peter.
13.   Lavelle: Jump in, go ahead.
14.   Hedges: Under the Cold War, the fault lines were established, they ran through Berlin. Those fault lines were understood and accepted by both sides. What you saw after the so-called the end of the Cold War at 1989 was that American Establishments became drunk on its own Power. You have Wolfowitz, just to cite one of these neo-cons, getting up and saying that – I’m paraphrasing the quote – Russia must never be allowed to become a great Power again. It was the idea that American imperial reach could dominate the entire globe with no impediments, no understanding of the consequences of its Action, not taking into account the History, Culture. And that’s what we’re seeing. They are in some ways kind of Ideologically blind in a sense that they believe that they can impose and dictate their Will throughout the globe, and that is prouving disastrous, not only in the Ukraine, but again going back to the debacle that has become the Middle East.
15.   Lavelle: Okay gentlemen, I’m going to jump in here. We’re going to go to a short beak, and after that short break, we’ll continue our discussion on the new Cold War. Stay with RT. [break] Now we’re joined by David Swanson in Charlottesville, []. David, it’s good to have you on the programme. In the segment, we wanted to kind of talk about Ideological roots to the new Cold War to the possible paradigm here. And I’m sitting here now in Moscow, and what’s happening now with NATO and Ashton Carter’s more push for defense spending and more armament for NATO, it looks like from the Moscow’s position that we’re having a new Cuban Missile Crisis, but in reverse.
16.   Swanson: You might have a half of it in reverse. The United States have, during the Cuban Missiles Crisis, quitely taken out missiles out of the Turkey, and I don’t know where Russia is required to take the missiles out of. They are not in Cuba. And you don’t have Kennedy in the White House, either. There’s a good prospect of people like Bush the Third or Hillary Clinton, and even Barack Obama, none of these people are John Kennedy. These are all people who just might risk the global apocalypse rather than, as I just heard the phrase, a humiliating defeat. The Cold War was never ended by the United States. The Soviet Union was the excuse in pursuit of the global domination. That never ended. What’s new here other than promoting Arms races with China or Russia - you can’t really call it a race, because the leader is so far out ahead - is the crisis in Ukraine. It’s the Coup d’État and the false accusations of Aggression, the shooting down of an airplane, and so forth. That’s not new. But the US behaviour never really changed from the Cold War through now.
17.   Lavelle: Chris, one of the things that I think is very terrifying.
18.   Hedges: Let me just.
19.   Lavelle: Go ahead, jump in, jump in. Go ahead.
20.   Hedges: Ukraine would not have a Military without Washington. It would be a bankrupt and failed State without Washington. So it’s not even a proxy War. We created the military conflict in the Ukraine, and we are responsible for the destruction of the eastern cities, 1.5 million refugees and the displaced, and the 50,000 dead. It comes right out of Washington.
21.   Lavelle: Chris, what bothers me is that, and what is truly terrifying is that, we’re seeing a game of chicken being played. When Barack Obama comes to Russia – I don’t know who’s directly informing him – but he doesn’t even get his facts straight, let alone the interpretation of Politics and History and strategy. He just doesn’t get his facts straight. Then they’re saying, “Russia must do this, Russia must do that.” Look at the Minsk Agreement. Go read it. Barack Obama, please read it. It’s in 13 points. Russia doesn’t have to do anything, just read it. It’s in plain English in WikiPedia. But no one has done that in Washington apparently. And they’re playing a game of chicken, and if you know this side, they’re not going to back down, and that’s what worries me. They say these are our Security interest, X, Y, Z. Not for Poroshenko, not for these neo-Nazi figures in Ukraine, etc., etc. That’s the tripping point here. Go ahead, Chris.
22.   Hedges: The danger is they don’t understand it’s a game of chicken. All of the relations towards Russia have its antecedents in the insane decision by the First Bush to announce that we won the Cold War. If you go back and look at the statements that were made by Gorbachev and Reagan, they talk about how nobody won, we both won, this kind of stuff, there would be a partnership. And all of the Rhetoric, which I think in a way Moscow naïvely believed, both Gorbachev and Putin. And certainly Yeltsin, who became utterly obsequious to Washington, especially towards the end. They really misunderstood the venality of an American Power. So as soon as the Rhetoric changed – and this was adopted by the Clinton White House – the attitude changed, and the attitude was, We won the Cold War, we are the strongest Power on Earth, we can do whatever we want. And what frightens me is that I don’t think they even grasp that this is a game of chicken. To go back before, they’re utterly blinded by their own hubris and their own imperial overreach, which will have disastrous consequences for the United States. Already is in the Middle East, and will, I fear, in the Ukraine as well.
23.   Lavelle: Vladimir, Russia and Putin are accused of a lot of things in Western Media, and I don’t have time to enumerate them. But one thing I think is quite clear. This is the Russia that can say No and does say No, and that’s what infuriates the official Washington, the Washington Consensus. That the Russia actually says No.
24.   Vladimir: [skip]
25.   Lavelle: Vladimir, I think the European Union and the United States have given up direct Democracy a long, long time ago. They would never do that. David, if I can go to you. One of the biggest problems – I agree with what Chris is saying here – is the level of hubris. The problem with Washington is that they cannot begin to comprehend other countries define their own Security themselves. Because Washington says, “That’s not in their national interest. You shouldn’t do that.” Even when Russia has its own military exercises in its own country. “That’s provocative. That’s aggressive.” In their own country. While the United States sends trainers and other military hardware directly to Ukraine, but that’s not provocative. It’s Orwellian. Go ahead, David.
26.   Swanson: It’s double-standard, and it’s long-standing. And people like Charlie Rose are payed good money not to understand anything, and that’s true of many people in Washington. It doesn’t advance your career to understand anything. It advances your career to believe your own Propaganda. [StevenSoderbergh.] And traditionally, War Propaganda demonises a leader and a whole People. It’s getting harder and harder with the shrinking globe to demonise a whole People. People know Russians. There are Russians in the leading sports teams and in people’s neighbourhoods, my kids go to Russia back and forth, so you really have to focus on demonising a single individual, demonising Putin. And they’re cooking up this stories about Invasions and Agressions that everybody believes, because it’s been repeated so many times without any evidence.
27.   Lavelle: I agree. It’s repeated over and over and over again. All you have to do is, Go to the Google News and just put in Putin and Russia. How many people repeat the same stories over and over and over again on a daily basis. It’s really quite extraordinary. Chris, if I can go back to you. One of the things the Russia says it’s going to do is to modernise its Military or it’s going to counteract many kind of the military posture the West poses against it. It’s called “loose Rhetoric” in Washington. For me, it’s the irony of the ironies. We have one country that says they will do add 40 more missiles, which Vladimir Putin announced. Then you have Ashton Carter saying, “This is loose Rhetoric.” When the United States have surrounded Russia with NATO bases and continues to do so, but that’s not provocative. Again, how can they not see that Russia will protect itself and go to a great great lengths to do it? It will not suffer a catastrophic defeat, and that’s what should worry us all.
28.   Hedges: I’ve spent 20 years at the outer reaches of the Empire as a foreign correspondent, most of them with the New York Times. And the Rhetoric that comes out of Washington bears no resemblance to, number one, policy, number two, the Reality on the ground. The whole idea that we would invade Iraq to implement Democracy. And we saw what happened in Gaza, there was a Free Election and Hamas won.
29.   Lavelle: Yup.
30.   Hedges: You saw what happened in all sorts of countries throughout the World. The US is interested in Power, it’s interested in expanding primarily its economic explotation. Part of the reason they turned on Putin is because he challenged foreign oil companies that had Monopoly over Russian oil. This is something that ** have taken down in Iran. You have one kind of game of Rhetoric which is primarily domestic and, perhaps to the extent that it works, international consumption, but the Reality is far more Machiavellian and far more driven by desire for economic and military supremacy. Okay so, Ashton Carter says this is loose Rhetoric. They’ll say anything. You have Hillary Clinton running around calling Putin Hitler.
31.   Lavelle: Chris, to be staying with you. How do you go back from that? When you call someone Hitler, how do you sit down and talk to him? This is the absurdity of all these Rhetoric. It gets to a certain point where you deny a dialogue. Dialogue is out the window. Go ahead, Chris.
32.   Hedges: Right, that’s the danger. And we see that within the Ukraine itself, where Kiev has called the eastern part of the country, those who are fighting against Kiev and US-backed & NATO-backed Forces, as a terrorist. They have not named this for what it is, which is a Civil War. They have not recognised the legitimate grievances on the part of the Russified segment of the Ukraine. I have to go back to this kind of blindness that comes with imperial hubris. This goes all the way back to Thucydides or Æschylus’s play. The Persians and Darians. A ghost comes back and explains to the Persians that their defeat was caused by Pride, overweaning Pride.
33.   Lavelle: Chris, I have to jump in here. On that sad note, I have to end the programme. Many thanks to my guests in Charlottsville and in Providence. And thanks to our views for watching us here on RT. And remember, CrossTalk rules.