The Washington Compost (not exactly a bastion of conservatism) has just published an utterly ridiculous screed by former State Dept. official and historical revisionist Jack Matlock Jr. Therein, Matlock blames the current crisis in the Crimea, and Russia’s entire hostility towards the United States, solely on America, falsely claiming that Moscow is hostile solely because “the United States has insisted on treating Russia as the loser” since the Cold War’s end. Matlock falsely claims that since 1991, Russia has time and again tried to be a cooperative partner, only to receive “swift kicks to the groin” from the US.
(Only a congenital liar would make such claims.)
And like other liberals, Matlock also claims the US did not really win the Cold War or cause the USSR’s collapse. Furthermore, he claims in his book that Ronald Reagan’s sole (and secondary) contribution to ending the Cold War was supposedly abandoning the hawkish policies of his first term.
I will refute these other lies later. But first, I will utterly refute Matlock’s lies about the source of Russian hostility and about Moscow supposedly trying to be a cooperative partner.
Matlock: Blame America First
Matlock blames Moscow’s hostility solely on the US, claiming that the US invited it by bombing Serbia without UN Security Council Approval in 1999, invading Iraq without UNSC approval in 2003, withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, expanding NATO to include Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Baltic Republics, Romania, and Bulgaria; with supposed “plans” for US bases in the Baltics and the Balkans; by somehow “supporting” the democratic revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia; and by passing the Magnitsky Act, designed to punish Russian officials who violate human rights.
Matlock is essentially saying, “Russia under Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin tried to be a good partner and to follow a pro-Western orientation, but we alienated it with our aggressive actions.”
That is absolutely false, just like the rest of Matlock’s anti-American screed, and it comes straight from Moscow’s and its liberal American sycophants’ propaganda playbook. Matlock is merely repeating the same old anti-American lies for the umpteenth time.
Russia Has No Legitimate Grievances Towards The West
So let’s look at the issues he claims invited Russian hostility:
- Serbia: in 1999, that country’s then-dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, was murdering thousands and thousands of innocent, defenseless civilians in Kosovo (where over 80% of the population is Kosovan, not Serbian) for nothing but the fact that they were Kosovan – just like the Germans murdered 6 million Jews for the mere fact they were Jews. We were witnessing a repeat of the Holocaust in Europe (albeit on a much smaller scale). The US was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT to act to stop this, and it was supported in this by ALL of NATO and the entire civilized world (to which Russia does not belong). Milosevic was a war criminal wanted by a UN tribunal in the Hague, was eventually handed over to it after losing power, and was tried for war crimes. The fact that Russia supported such a bloody war criminal only shows what an immoral country it is. As for “UN Security Council approval”, apparently Mr Matlock believes that the US should not act anywhere in the world unless it receives permission from that august council… where his beloved Russia, of course, is a veto-wielding member.
- Iraq: say what you want about the wisdom of invading Iraq, but any claim that that invasion somehow threatened Russia’s interests in the Middle East is utterly preposterous. What Russian interests did it threaten? None. It actually undermined US interests as it replaced a Sunni dictator with a Shia, pro-Iranian government.
- The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: I guess Mr Matlock would’ve preferred for the US to forever remain vulnerable to even the smallest ballistic missile attack and for the US never to develop adequate defenses against such an attack… because that’s exactly what the ABM treaty prohibited. A treaty, by the way, signed with the USSR – a country that no longer existed by 2001. Considering how fast (despite all arms reduction treaties signed to date) ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons are proliferating (thus making a total mockery and failure of those treaties), the decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty was absolutely right. And it had no real impact on Washington-Moscow relations. Might I add that Russia – while strongly opposing America’s efforts to build ballistic missile defense systems – is quietly building such systems of its own?
- NATO expansion: to say that this threatened Russia’s security is also a blatant lie. None of NATO’s new members (except Poland and the Baltics) even have a border with Russia; and all of them had and still have very good reasons to fear Russian subjugation and aggression. They spent half a century under the Soviet yoke; in the 1990s, Russia still tried to meddle in their affairs; and now Moscow is threatening them again. It was morally and strategically right to bring them under NATO’s defense umbrella. Moscow has something to fear from their accession to NATO ONLY if it intends to attack them. Moreover, the post-1991 NATO entrants (especially Poland and the Czech Republic) have proven to be among the staunchest allies America has anywhere in the world, participating heavily in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (Poland sent thousands of troops to both countries). What’s more, Poland is one of the few NATO countries that spend the agreed benchmark of at least 2% of GDP on defense and has more mechanized Army brigades than the UK, France, and Germany combined. Romania and Bulgaria have access to the Black Sea and have recently held exercises with the USN. Such allies are worth having.
- The early 2000s’ revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia saw utterly corrupt and criminal pro-Russian dictators (and in Ukraine, President Kuchma’s hand-picked successor Viktor Yanukovych) ousted by their people. Contrary to Matlock’s lies, the US did not extend anything but rhetorical support for those revolutions.
- The Magnitsky Act: contrary to Matlock’s lies, the US did not single out Russia with this Act as the worst human rights abuser in the world. But Moscow is one of the world’s most egregious human rights violators, and this act, named by a whistleblower murdered in prison by Putin’s prison guards, instituted targeted sanctions against Russian officials who violate human rights.
So all of Matlock’s excuses for Russia’s hostility have been utterly refuted, one by one. They’ve collapsed like a deck of cards.
And so will, in a minute, Matlock’s myth that Russia has tried to be a cooperative partner whom the US has needlessly antagonized. In fact, since Vladimir Putin’s ascension to power, Russia has been increasingly arrogant and hostile towards the US and the West as its power has grown since the nadir of the 1990s. It has started a new Cold War against the West and is the biggest threat to US, European, and world security.
Russia Is Behaving Aggressively In Cold-War Style
In recent years, Russia has:
- Repeatedly flown nuclear-armed strategic borders into US, allied (Japanese), and even neutral (Swedish) airspace and said the Russian Air Force was “practicing attacking the enemy.” What on Earth have SWEDEN and JAPAN done to Russia? For that matter, what has America done to Russia? Nothing.
- Repeatedly (on 15 separate occassions) threatened to aim or even use its nuclear weapons against the US and its allies.
- Invaded two sovereign countries that dared to try to break out of Moscow’s sphere of influence and align themselves with the West (Georgia and Ukraine) and continues to occupy both countries.
- Repeatedly violated several arms reduction treaties, including the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and the INF Treaty, the latter being violated by Russia by repeatedly testing and deploying nuclear-armed missiles banned by that treaty.
- Deployed nuclear-armed ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad District, next to Poland, threatening that loyal ally of the US, while the US has no nuclear weapons anywhere in Eastern Europe.
- Backed America’s enemies around the world – North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba – to the hilt, with diplomatic protection at the UN Security Council, weapons (including the advanced S-300VM air defense system), nuclear fuel (Iran), and nuclear reactors (Iran), thus also threatening the existence of Israel.
- Stationed a spy ship, the Viktor Leonov, in Cuba (it’s still there).
- Conducted, and continues to conduct, a wave of hateful anti-American propaganda in domestic and foreign (e.g. RussiaToday) media.
- Sent an Akula-class nuclear-armed submarine close to the US submarine base in King’s Bay, GA.
- Domestically, assassinated high-profile dissidents (Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko) and jailed hundreds of others.
- Just recently, began negotiations with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela on opening bases for Russian ships and nuclear-armed bombers there.
Yet the US is somehow to blame for Russia’s actions? For Moscow’s hostility? Who is threatening whom with nuclear weapons, Mr Matlock? Who is flying nuclear-armed bombers close and sometimes into US, Japanese, and Swedish airspace? Who is stationing spy ships close to the other party’s shores? Who is now reopening naval and bomber bases on the other party’s doorstep?
Are you a paid pro-Kremlin propagandist, Mr Matlock? Or are you just on drugs?
Matlock also falsely claims that the current West-Russia spat we’re witnessing now is not a new Cold War but the result of “misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and posturing to domestic political audiences” – as if Russia’s ultra-aggressive behavior against the US, its allies, and even neutral countries like Sweden was the product of mere “misunderstading.”
He’s completely wrong. Russia’s behavior is the result of resurgent, renewed Russian imperialism, of the Kremlin’s imperial ambitions, and of the hatred of the West which Vladimir Putin and his fellow KGB thugs imbued when trained by the KGB.
We didn’t see that behavior in Putin’s first years because at that time Russia was still too weak to try such actions. But as Russia began to rebound militarily and economically under Putin, it also began to be increasingly aggressive towards the West and towards Moscow’s former Warsaw Pact vassals.
Matlock also falsely claims that Russia has cooperated with the US on Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and North Korea.
This is also false. Moscow has backed, and continues to back, Syria, Iran, and North Korea to the hilt, affording them diplomatic protection at the UNSC, weapons (except North Korea, at least so far), and, in Iran’s case, nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel – which Iran will use to produce nuclear weapons.
Moscow has absolutely opposed any but the weakest sanctions against Iran, and continues to back the genocidal, anti-American dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Matlock also falsely claims the New START treaty was a significant achievement, but the converse is true: New START was an utter failure and a treasonous treaty. It requires unilateral disarmament on America’s part: only the US required by the treaty to cut its nuclear arsenal, while Russia is allowed to increase its own. Even worse, the treaty doesn’t count Russia’s 171 Tu-22M strategic bombers as such, contains a pathetically weak Potemkin-like verification regime, and imposes restrictions on US missile defenses.
As Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) has rightly said, the US should immediately withdraw from that treaty.
Finally, I will refute Matlock’s also utterly false claim that the US didn’t win the Cold War or cause the collapse of the USSR.
The fact is the US did both, no matter how hard Matlock and other revisionists try to deny it.
The Soviet Union lost the Cold War, and collapsed in 1991, because of the fatal blows Ronald Reagan dealt to it. In his eight years, President Reagan:
- Dramatically increased US defense spending, to levels not seen in real terms before or since, and US defense programs to a pace the Soviet Union could not keep up with.
- Began the development of a missile defense system the USSR could never match.
- Convinced Saudi Arabia to increase oil output dramatically, thus cutting oil prices from $30/bbl to $12/bbl in 5 months, and thus dealing a fatal blow to Moscow’s oil-revenue -dependent economy.
- Instituted a bevy of sanctions on the USSR, including an embargo on drilling, pumping, and construction equipment, and successfully pressured West Germany to reduce the planned Yamal Pipeline from 2 lines to one, and to delay that project by many years (as a result, it wasn’t completed until 1999).
- Supported anti-Soviet proxies around the world, most notably in Afghanistan, where they defeated the Soviet Army in a war that cost Moscow hundreds of billions of dollars (if only the US had learned from Moscow’s mistakes and had not gotten mired in that country!).
- Deployed Pershing and GLCM missiles in Europe to counter the USSR’s deployment of SS-20s.
- Successfully used the tons of secret Warsaw Pact documents stolen by Col. Ryszard Kuklinski as leverage in negotiations with the Soviets.
These are the fatal blows that brought the Soviets back to the bargaining table, forced them to make major concessions, and eventually caused the Soviet Union’s collapse, as the USSR was unable to continue the Afghan War, the arms race, or counter US missile defense development with its sclerotic, stagnant economy, especially not after the Reagan-induced late 1980s oil glut. And not with the Yamal Pipeline delayed.
Matlock is wrong on all counts. All of his claims are utterly false. Not one of them is correct – not even one. Russia has NO legitimate grievances towards the West, it has never been a truly cooperative partner in the last 25 years, and its hostility is due to the revival of imperialist ideology and ambitions in Russian political circles (greatly enabled by KGB thug Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power). Russia is now waging a new Cold War on the West. How the West, led by the US, will respond to this challenge, remains to be seen.