Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.
On January 30 NBC News reported that "On a snowy Polish plain dominated by Russian forces for decades, American tanks and troops sent a message to Moscow and demonstrated the firepower of the NATO alliance. Amid concerns that President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO is wavering, the tanks fired salvos that declared the 28-nation alliance a vital deterrent in a dangerous new world.”
One intriguing aspect of this slanted account are the phrases "dominated by Russian forces for decades” and "vital deterrent” which are used by NBC to imply that Russia yearns, for some unspecified reason, to invade Poland. As is common in the Western media there is no justification or evidence to substantiate the suggestion that Russia is hell-bent on domination, and the fact that US troops are far from home, operating along the Russian border, is regarded as normal behaviour on the part of the world’s "indispensable nation.”
Then Reuters recorded that "Beginning in February, US military units will spread out across Poland, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany for training, exercises and maintenance. The Army is also sending its 10th Combat Aviation Brigade with about 50 Black Hawk and 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters.”
As the US-NATO military alliance continues its deployments along Russia’s borders, including the US-UK supported Joint Viking 2017 exercise in Norway that began on March 1 and the deployment of more US troops in Poland "from the start of April, as the alliance sets up a new force in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea,” the campaign by the US and British governments against alleged "Russian Aggression” continues to increase in volume and intensity, aided by an ever-compliant media.
During his visit to Washington on March 6-7 Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Senator Marco Rubio of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and received assurances of US support in "confronting Russian aggression” while in Britain it was announced that its foreign minister, Boris Johnson, the "mop-haired buffoon” was about to visit Russia in to tell it to "keep its nose” out of western affairs. Mr Johnson declared that Russia "was up to all sorts of no good” and "engaged in cyber-warfare.”
The splendid irony of the Johnson allegation about cyber warfare is that it came just before the revelation that Britain’s intelligence agencies were deeply involved with those of the United States in cyber-chicanery on a massive scale. WikiLeaks once again showed the depths of deceit and humbug to which the West’s great democracies submerge themselves, and revealed that leaked files "describe CIA plans and descriptions of malware and other tools that could be used to hack into some of the world’s most popular technology platforms. The documents showed that the developers aimed to be able to inject these tools into targeted computers without the owners’ awareness . . . the documents show broad exchanges of tools and information between the CIA, the National Security Agency and other US federal intelligence agencies, as well as intelligence services of close allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.”
ABC News then announced, without a shred of proof, that "Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, appears to have a strong relationship with Russia” but could not disguise the report by CNN that the documents disclosed that "to hide its operations, the CIA routinely adopted techniques that enabled its hackers to appear as if they were Russian.”
There has been no comment on the WikiLeaks revelations by such as US Senator Amy Klobuchar who declared in January that "Russia used cyberattacks and propaganda to try and undermine our democracy. We are not alone. Russia has a pattern of waging cyberattacks and military invasions against democracies across the world.” She was echoed by Senator Ben Sasse who declared that increased US sanctions would "upend Putin’s calculus and defend America from Russian cyberattacks and political meddling.”
Of course it would be impossible for the Senators to revise their rabid hatred of Russia and overcome their dismal pride to acknowledge that on March 1 the US National Reconnaissance Office launched a spy satellite carried by an Atlas V rocket that was powered by a Russian RD-180 engine. In an astonishing example of petty-minded obfuscation, the 1,500-word official report on the launching mentioned RD-180 three times — but failed to state its country of manufacture. The mainstream media followed suit.
There was to be another Atlas V launch in March, carrying supplies to the International Space Station, but it was delayed by "a hydraulic issue that was uncovered on ground support equipment required for launch.” Had it been deferred because of malfunction of the Russian engine that powers it, there would have been gloating headlines.
Reaction by the US government to the WikiLeaks disclosures has been to denounce them because they supposedly "not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.” Predictably, Senator Sasse tweeted that "Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit. He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin.”
There should be no surprise about the activities of US and British intelligence agencies, because they already have a proven record of spying on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, to name but a few world leaders subjected to the indignity of greasy little eavesdroppers sniggering at their private conversations.
In June 2013 it was revealed that the United States of America had been spying on European Union computer networks in the EU offices in Washington and New York. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel a document of September 2010 "explicitly named the Union’s representation at the UN as a ‘location target’.” Der Spiegel discovered that "the NSA had also conducted an electronic eavesdropping operation in a building in Brussels where the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council were located.” Together with their British colleagues, the techno-dweebs of Government Communications Headquarters, the US agencies have been having a ball — but have been unable to prove that Russia "used cyberattacks and propaganda to try and undermine our democracy.”
The faithful CIA mouthpiece, the New York Times, stated in December that "American spy and law enforcement agencies were united in the belief, in the weeks before the presidential election, that the Russian government had deployed computer hackers to sow chaos during the campaign.” Not only this, but "CIA officials presented lawmakers with a stunning new judgment that upended the debate: Russia, they said, had intervened with the primary aim of helping make Donald J Trump president.”
But there is no evidence whatever that there was election-time hacking by Russia, and now there is proof that "to hide its operations, the CIA routinely adopted techniques that enabled its hackers to appear as if they were Russian.”
Although none of the assertions that Russia has been conducting a cyber war against America can be substantiated, Washington’s anti-Russia propaganda campaign will continue for the foreseeable future, while President Trump’s initial intentions to enter into dialogue with his counterpart in Moscow wither away to nothing. Even if he does resurrect the sensible policy he seemed to endorse, his acolytes in Washington will do their best to maintain confrontation by spreading more allegations of Russian "aggression” and "cyberattacks.” The anti-Russia campaign is gathering force, and it is not difficult to put a finger on why such a counter-productive crusade appeals to so many in the West.
The US arms and intelligence industries are the main beneficiaries of confrontation with Russia, closely followed by the hierarchy of the defunct US-NATO military alliance who have been desperately seeking justification for its existence for many years. For so long as the military-industrial complex holds sway in Washington, there will continue to be sabre-rattling and mindless military posturing.
But the International Space Station will continue to be resupplied by rockets powered by Russian engines.