The U.S. government is a bastion of reckless behavior, constantly and continually. The extent of damage inflicted upon the American people by U.S. governments is huge and incalculable. The latest addition to its record of recklessness is H.R. 758. This resolution passed the House with 95 percent of the House voting “yea”. The vote was 411 to 10 with 13 not voting.
The text of H.R. 758, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 4, 2014, is here. This resolution is directed against Russia. All quotes below are from H.R. 758.
“H.Res.758 – Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.”
H.R. 758 condemns Russia unjustly, unilaterally, without justification, without evidence, and while ignoring Russia’s actual intentions and actions.
H.R. 758 makes false charges against Russia. False accusations obscure facts and realities. This can only lead to harmful decisions. Basing national policies on fictions can only cause problems and hurt Americans.
H.R. 758 gains nothing for Americans by fabricating false charges against Russia. To the contrary, there is much to be lost by placing America on a collision course with Russia. There is much to be lost for Americans, Russians, and other peoples of the world by isolating Russia and starting a new Cold War.
H.R. 758 makes various calls for action “with the goal of compelling it [Russia]…” These acts, that include “visa bans, targeted asset freezes, sectoral sanctions, and other measures on the Russian Federation and its leadership” are hostile and aggressive.
H.R. 758’s attempt to compel Russia raises the distinct possibility of subsequent further economic, political and military steps that confront Russia and raise the likelihood of war, even nuclear war. These prospects are not counterbalanced by any gains to Americans from compelling Russia.
H.R. 758 demeans Russia. It is scandalously derogatory. It accuses Russia. It places Russia in a docket made by the U.S. It judges Russia. It makes the U.S. government the judge and jury of Russia.
H.R. 758 makes demands of Russia. It demands unrealistic capitulation. It places the U.S. in opposition to Russia when there is nothing to be gained by such opposition and peace is to be lost.
H.R. 758 calls for military actions. It spurns diplomacy.
H.R. 758 is aggressive in tone and nature, needlessly and without right.
H.R. 758 intrudes the U.S. into areas of the world where the U.S. doesn’t belong and has no right being. It intrudes the U.S. government into areas where it has no genuine interest on behalf of the American people.
H.R. 758 is fiction purporting to be fact. As fact, it’s mostly garbage, and harmful, dangerous garbage at that.
H.R. 758 is an extended exercise in baseless Congressional propaganda that teaches the American people false beliefs that can only generate hatred, suspicion and hostility. These strengthen the hand of the American warmongers and war party and obscure the voices for peace.
Although the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s role in it are none of Congress’s (or the House’s) business, measures like H.R. 758 will be used to justify further actions against Russia. For this reason, it’s useful to point out just a few of the many fictional narratives in this document.
What emerges after considering some of these allegations is that H.R. 758 has assembled a laundry list of charges against Russia in order to create the illusion of a substantial indictment. This is analogous to how American prosecutors trump up charges by issuing a stew such as assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, trafficking, conspiracy to deliver controlled substances, conspiracy to resist arrest, unlawful use of a telephone, ad infinitum. This manner of proceeding is not surprising given the legal backgrounds of many Congressmen and members of their staffs.
FICTION: “…the Russian Federation has subjected Ukraine to a campaign of political, economic, and military aggression for the purpose of establishing its domination over the country and progressively erasing its independence.”
FACT: The Russian Federation did absolutely nothing to initiate Ukraine’s current set of troubles. It did not create a coup d’etat in Ukraine. To the contrary, the U.S. encouraged the coup. Russia never attacked Ukraine militarily with its armed forces. It never made an attempt to take over Ukraine. If it has, where is the evidence of such an invasion? Russia has never sought to erase the independence of Ukraine. To the contrary, it has again and again made efforts to bring peace to that country.
FICTION: “…Russian Federation’s forcible occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea…”
FACT: Russia didn’t forcibly occupy Crimea at any time. Russia never invaded Crimea. Actually, in response to the coup d’etat in Kiev, the Parliament of Crimea adopted a resolution calling for a referendum to secede from Ukraine and its illegitimate government. The referendum was put to the people and passed in a one-sided vote. This resulted in Crimea joining the Russian Federation as a sovereign state.
FICTION: “… the Russian Federation has provided military equipment, training, and other assistance to separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine that has resulted in over 4,000 civilian deaths, hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees, and widespread destruction…”
FACT: Whatever assistance was or was not, it did not result in “over 4,000 civilian deaths, hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees, and widespread destruction…” as H.R. 758 says. This cannot be laid at the doorstep solely of either the secessionists or the Russian Federation. It is a consequence of the de-stabilization of Ukraine’s government that catalyzed secession movements and resulted in Ukraine’s going to war to maintain its territory.
FACT: As with Crimea, secessionary forces of eastern Ukraine immediately became active after the coup d’etat in Kiev on February, 25, 2014. (The Donetsk Republic organization actually appeared before the year 2007 when Ukraine banned it.) The coup resulted in activists taking control of municipal buildings and declaring the Federal State of Novorussiya on April 7, 2014. One week later, Ukraine’s interim government declared it would confront the secessionists militarily.
FACT: On May 16, 2014, Ukraine declared that the entire Donetsk People’s Republic, a component of the Federal State of Novorussiya, was a terrorist organization. Consequently, Ukraine sent its military forces against those of the eastern Ukraine secessionists. We know that to re-take territory, Ukraine prosecuted the war in Donbass by bombardments of civilian areas.
FACT: The available evidence on the war in Donbass shows complexity in the forces fighting on the secessionist side. The participation of Russians did occur. However, there is no documentation that has yet been provided by the U.S. of the extent and kinds of assistance by Russians and/or by the Russian Federation to the secessionist forces of the Federal State of Novorussiya.
FICTION: “…the terms of the cease-fire specified in the Minsk Protocol that was signed on September 5, 2014, by representatives of the Government of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Russian-led separatists in the eastern area of Ukraine have been repeatedly violated by the Russian Federation and the separatist forces it supports…”
FACT: The cease-fire has been repeatedly violated by both the Government of Ukraine and separatists. They’ve been fighting over the Donetsk airport. Calling the separatists Russian-led is an attempt to make Russia the author of the secessionist movement, which it is not. Cease-fires often are respites in longer wars as each side arms and regroups. This cease-fire’s lapses, which are none of America’s business anyway, can’t be taken seriously, and certainly not as seriously as H.R. 758 purports to do.
FICTION: “Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a civilian airliner, was destroyed by a missile fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the loss of 298 innocent lives…”
FACT: The causes of the destruction of this airliner have not been yet established. H.R. 758 treats allegations as if they were facts.
FICTION: “…the Russian Federation has used and is continuing to use coercive economic measures, including the manipulation of energy prices and supplies, as well as trade restrictions, to place political and economic pressure on Ukraine…”
FACT: The energy relations among Russia, Russian companies, Ukraine and oligarchs of both countries are complex and not easily understood. They are known to be opaque. There are all sorts of hypotheses about them, but little is actually known. The allegation made in H.R. 758 is unproven.
FICTION: “…the Russian Federation invaded the Republic of Georgia in August 2008…”
FACT: The breakup of the USSR has been followed by some instabilities on Russia’s periphery, especially where there are large Russian populations that come into conflict with other nearby peoples. This characterizes Ukraine and Georgia. In the latter case, Georgia had a breakaway region, South Ossetia. Georgia shelled this region, and that brought in the Russian military to protect the integrity of South Ossetia. A European Union report says that Russia didn’t simply invade Georgia on its own hook. It didn’t initiate an aggression. The attacks by Ukraine on Donbass are a similar case, except that Russia has notably not responded to protect Novorussiya as it did South Ossetia. It has not introduced a concerted Russian attack.
FICTION: “…the Russian Federation continues to subject the Republic of Georgia to political and military intimidation, economic coercion, and other forms of aggression in an effort to establish its control of the country and to prevent Georgia from establishing closer relations with the European Union and the United States…”
FACT: This charge is sour grapes over the fact that Russia doesn’t want Georgia to join NATO and place missiles and armed forces on its doorstep. Georgia wants to join NATO, thinking that it affords it some protection against Russia.
If the Congress regards Russia’s pressures as “forms of aggression”, what then are its sanctions on Russia? Georgia is no more America’s business than is Ukraine. For the U.S. to condemn Russia over its actions on its periphery makes no more sense than for Russia to condemn the U.S. for its actions in Mexico or the Caribbean. When one major state begins to pressure another major state for its intrusions on smaller states, neither one can justify itself; and the result is often war between the two mastodons.
H.R. 758 is confrontational. It’s a jockeying for power at Russia’s boundaries and elsewhere. The problem with it is that as justification for confrontation it is so patently trumped up and false; and as part of a policy of U.S. expansion and influence, it is so foolish, so counter-productive and so dangerous.
H.R. 758 makes Ukraine into a U.S. ally. It calls for the restoration of Ukraine’s pre-coup borders. To accomplish this, it calls for the U.S. to supply arms, services and training to Ukraine: “…calls on the President to provide the Government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty…”
This makes the U.S. a party to Ukraine’s war against Donbass and even Crimea.
The belief that motivates all of H.R. 758 is that Russia is expansionist and on the move, seeking to take over countries on its periphery. Washington sees Putin and Russia as a new Hitler and Germany. This is the basis of all the trumped up charges and fictions in this document. Washington is constructing a new Hitler for itself, even though the situation is totally different and even though the evidence points in very different directions. To this erroneous belief is added another erroneous idea, which is the notion that to do nothing is to appease Russia. And finally there is a third erroneous idea which is that it’s the mission of the U.S. to fight evil empires all over the world. So, since the U.S. government conceives itself as committed to fighting evil empires and it has found one in Putin’s Russia, it wants to join hands with Ukraine and enter the fight. Ukraine is seen as the new Sudetenland or Czechoslovakia or Austria.
What we have in Washington are people who have been so indoctrinated in an oversimplified history of the world American-style that they cannot see anything but those past situations today, when in fact the situations arising today are considerably different and call for very different responses.
Reality is far, far different than H.R. 758 suggests. Russia is not an aggressive state. Its moves are defensive. Putin has sought time and again to protect Russian populations on the periphery of the Russian Federation. This is merely housekeeping and tidying up after the dissolution of the USSR. Putin wants respect for Russia and a Russian sphere of influence. He wants ties with Europe, peaceful ties. Putin has not built Russia into a military machine of huge proportions. He has not attacked any country in an outright aggression. There is no evidence, in word or deed, that this is his intent.
NATO is an aggressive force, as shown in Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya. It is a tool of neo-colonialist European powers. NATO cannot be trusted. Russia’s defensiveness concerning NATO is entirely justified.
America is an aggressively expansionary force, with vast global ambitions, as shown by its attacks on Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, as shown by its drone wars in other countries like Pakistan and Yemen, as shown by its forces in Somalia and its other commitments in Africa, and as shown by its Pacific pivot and evident antagonism toward Russia. Russia’s defensiveness concerning the U.S. is justified.
H.R. 758 reflects anachronistic thinking, but fighting enemies, real and imagined, has become an entrenched habit of American governments. Congress doesn’t want peace. It doesn’t want to exercise diplomacy. It doesn’t want to recognize a multipolar world and other major powers, not really. Congress wants a new and large outside enemy. Else, why would it be constructing one in the form of Putin and the Russian Federation?