Yep! I suppose Mark Galeotti, gets downrated by the oelewappers running wild here at the pond …
The current state of relations between Russia and the west is not a cold war – or at least not the Cold War 2.0. But it is characterised by a similar profound refusal on both sides not only to listen to the other’s arguments, but even to admit that any such arguments could exist.
The Russians are rather more crude in their approach, labelling everything they don’t like as “Russophobia”.
Sometimes this refers to hostile statements, such as the regular insistence by Nato’s top commander in Europe, General Phillip Breedlove, of the existential threat posed by the Russian bear.
This clumsy equation of honest critique with out-and-out hatred of all things Russian is pernicious and dangerous. It is used to marginalise and persecute independent voices, dumb down debate, and support the mythological notion of a Russia alone and besieged in a hostile world.
In this way, it seems to me that the slew of American generals regularly characterising Russia in hysterical terms are best friends of the Kremlin-backed news channel RT, and deserve at least a few medals from Vladimir Putin.
In the west, though, there is a more subtle but in some ways more problematic approach, which sees Russia’s malevolent machinations behind every reversal and engagement.
The most obvious example of this is the “weaponisation” meme. It seems that anything and everything is being “weaponised” by the Kremlin.
For example, that reliable bellwether of Moscow-baiting hyperbole General Breedlove has asserted, and many have dutifully echoed, that Russia is “weaponising” Syria’s refugees , deliberately fomenting migration to put pressure on Europe.
Apart from the fact that there seems no evidence for this, the refugee crisis started well before Russia’s involvement.
Cause and effect
Russia does seek to use its alternative instruments to influence western policy (as does everyone else), so there is undoubtedly more than a grain of truth in the “weaponisation” line – just as there is in the “Russophobia” one. However, the problem is when cause and effect get confused.
There is, for instance, very little evidence that Russia’s eager encouragement of European ultra-nationalists has had any real impact on their rise. Rather, they reflect a malaise within Europe: doubts about the legitimacy of the Union, fears about cultural homogenisation and uncontrolled migration, nostalgic myths about “good old days” that never were.
It is convenient for the west to blame Russian conspiracies because it absolves us from having to take a sharper, harder and more self-critical look at where we have failed.
- ○ Far-right Extremists More Virulent Than Islamists In UK-US
○ US Policy of Military ‘Re-alignment’ and Obama’s Military Think-tank