While You Slept by John T. Flynn is a classic analysis from the “Who lost China?” debate of the Cold War. Flynn showed how “softness on Communism” in the Roosevelt-Truman State Department and how propaganda in the U.S. media prepared the way for Mao-Tse-Tung’s murderous Communist dictatorship.
Today we are watching a similar story in Eastern Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean: because of “softness on dictatorships” the current MAObama administration is watching Putin of Russia dominate Cyprus and as of this weekend, Greece. Ignorant of Russian History, or dismissive of the whole idea that he could be wrong about anything, BIG BRObama and incompetent European leaders are creating new disasters by doing nothing concrete against Putin in the Crimea and the Ukraine.
According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel (The Mirror) Greece will accept (probably on Tuesday April 21, 2015) a 5 billion Euro “gas pipeline loan” from Putin: apologists may say that Putin is the fool here. Greek Socialists have already hinted they will cancel all debts incurred by previous governments, and start over with the proverbial “clean slate.” Apologists will claim that Putin is throwing his money away on a society that has shown itself to be duplicitous and incompetent.
Putin could not care less about the money: he just bought a client state at the entrance of the Eastern Mediterranean at bargain-basement rates!
One of the classic interpretations of Russian motivation throughout its modern history says that the search for a warm-water port, ice-free year-round, explains certain things in Russian foreign policy. By purchasing Greece and, as of two months ago, establishing a Russian presence for its warships on Cyprus, Putin has almost fulfilled Russia’s century’s-long dream of Russian bases in the warm Mediterranean. Allow me to make a prediction: Greece, a NATO member since 1952, will be easily pressured by Putin to leave NATO within a few years. In fact, given the Leftist nature of the present Greek government, it may be more than happy to leave NATO and join fellow socialist/fascist Putin “in a glorious future.”
Paving the way for Putin has been a relentless propaganda campaign of lies against the U.S. and the West by, among other Russian-government media organs, the Russian Times ( RT.com ). This is in stark contrast to the near silence of Voice of America these days:
“Lawmakers, foreign policy experts and former staff members say the Voice of America is floundering at the very moment when America needs to counter sophisticated propaganda machines that have expanded the influence of countries like China and Russia and terrorist groups like the Islamic State.
“We are getting our butts kicked,” said Glen Howard, the president of the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think tank. “Countries like Russia are running circles around us, and our international broadcasting is in disarray.”
I used the words “almost fulfilled” above: the last step is the establishment of a presence either on the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf. Putin must be very pleased to see a nuclear Iran become a reality. Again, the uninformed or the apologists may say that the claim is illogical: Iran is no friend of the Russians, especially of the (nominally) Christian (but probably atheist) Putin. Follow Putin’s money: sowing discord and chaos in the region among the terrorist groups and the various satrapies among the Arabs helps the Russians long term. Right now he is supporting Syria’s Bashar. He could switch at any time: and keep in mind the warning from Konstantin Preobrazhensky, a former KGB officer (like Putin), whose analyses are on target:
“The basic difference between Russia’s and America’s attitude towards Islamic terrorist(s) is that America regards it as an external threat, while Russia employs terrorism as an object and government tool both internally and abroad. Islamic terrorism is only a part of international terrorism. KGB was using terrorism to spread communist regime principles all over the world, and it was well before Islamic terrorism became a global threat.”‘
Imagine e.g. a nuclear exchange between Iran and the Israelis: what better excuse for the Russians to move into ancient Persia and have the Persian Gulf under their control, or from their bases in Cyprus, Syria, and, soon, in Greece, to the Red Sea with a paid-for Palestinian client state with the excuse that somebody needs to quell the chaos? (Such a scenario assumes that there is no “winner” in such an exchange.) There will be not much need to control the area directly: puppet-states have long been a Russian tradition. As part of the strategy of spreading chaos and playing both sides – in classic Byzantine fashion – Putin is also ending the ban on selling an anti-missile system to Iran. Maybe even the ayatollahs have their price! To be sure, they have their own agenda, and are not trusting Putin much at all: but recall that, for a while, Hitler and Stalin were allies too!
Two factors against Putin: Russia’s economy is just as much of a “house of cards” as ours is right now, and a collapse, especially with low prices for oil, will obviously severely limit his adventurism, which is also designed to distract Russians from their miseries under his kleptocracy. Also, our own election in 2016: will any candidate dare to name Putin as someone to be opposed? I do not want to hear about seeing Putin’s soul, or about pressing a Putin “reset button.”
I want to see Putin freezing in a hut in Siberia.
Again, ignorance of History, and arrogance that the lessons of History cannot possibly apply to the present day, are waiting to devour us: the clock is ticking.
Update: April 19th, 2015: it is becoming interesting!
A spokesman for the Russians has denied a deal with the Greeks for the 5 billion Euro loan, saying that “the Greeks have not asked for assistance.” Which of course does not mean that Putin could not offer assistance first!
During the press conference with Tsipras on April 8, Putin had referred to the possibility of “situations arising that will allow us not just to finance these or other plans that we discussed together today but also to resolve issues of credit relations on a broader framework during the implementation of these plans.”
Among others, he suggested that a major project bringing revenues to Greece could also mean such revenues might be used to repay the loans and that “we are not talking about assistance but cooperation, among others in the financial sector, in connection with specific major projects.”
(My emphasis above.)
And while that “major project” could be a pipeline for much needed – and presumably somewhat discounted – gas, given Russian moves in the Eastern Mediterranean the major project is also likely to be a naval base for the Russian military.
The denial could be a two-edged sword: a way to insure that the Greeks take the deal by claiming that there is none, and a way for the Greeks to pressure the Europeans into giving Greece a better deal!
Update April 22:
The Russian gas-Greece satellite state story keeps evolving: the EU thinks an anti-trust lawsuit against Russia’s GAZPROM will thwart Putin’s ambitions in Greece.
“Hours before the news of the charges emerged Monday, Gazprom said its chief executive would on Tuesday meet the Greek prime minister, whom Russia has been courting as a potential ally in the EU. Greek and Russian officials have been discussing Greece’s participation in a controversial pipeline project that would undermine the bloc’s attempts to reduce its energy dependence on Moscow.”
Update: Apr. 24
Greek Socialists apparently do not “negotiate” too well with people demanding that they pay their debts:
…a stormy meeting in Riga, Latvia, in which Varoufakis was heavily criticized by his euro-area colleagues over his failure to deliver economic reforms.
Euro-area finance chiefs said Varoufakis’s handling of the talks was irresponsible and accused him of being a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur, a person familiar with the conversations said, asking not to be named because the discussions were private.
The desire to find a patron in Putin, and to cancel debts “incurred by previous governments,” may become irresistible in the Greek Socialist government:
Greece, which owes €324 billion to the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and euro zone governments, faces a relentless debt payment schedule over the next few months. Little money has been coming into the country, however, and talks over the release of bailout funds are progressing slowly. The government has been meeting obligations by drawing on its cash reserves. In a move that could keep the country afloat until the end of May, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ordered municipalities to transfer funds, estimated at about €1.5 billion, to the central bank.
Update: April 25th
The Greek Crisis is big news in Germany, because they may be the main ones responsible for bailing them out. From the German magazine Bild (Picture) a story about a German politician, who, says the magazine, “dares to tell the truth” and does not consider the electorate in Germany “dumb.” Mark Hauptmann, a “young CDU politician” (CDU is the Christian Democratic Union and is what passes for a “Conservative” party in Germany), says that Greece will continue to need “a third, then a fourth, and then a fifth ‘help-package’.” He voted against the second aid package in February, and says it is time for Greece to say good-bye to the EU.
His statements have caused a storm (voting on the article shows over 1300 angry responses vs. c. 300 ) in Germany, because everyone knows that a “Grexit” (Greek exit) opens the door for Putin and Turkish Stream and energy dominance for Russia, as well as a new base of operations in Greece, not to mention the neutering of the Ukraine.
If you can read German:
Update: June 5, 2015
Putin’s Russia is poised to do what was predicted here in April:
Update: June 21, 2015
Greece’s pivot toward Putin continues on course to allow Russia a hold on the eastern Mediterranean: from the Financial Times