Any doubts that the US government views the nature of its relationship with the UK on foreign policy as one of subservience can be finally put to rest after the visit to London last week of Evelyn Farkas, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Farkas, who was relieved of her position in the Obama administration some months ago, addressed the UK’s foreign policy elite at Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs.
Farkas’s oversight of the region saw relations with Russia deteriorate to a level not seen since the Cold War deep freeze. Ukraine has been the guinea pig in a US-orchestrated and financed coup (under EU cover) that ousted a democratically elected president – in 21st century Europe, as though it were some banana republic – and resulted in tens of thousands of casualties and a protracted conflict with no end in sight between once-close nations.
Two years on, Ukraine remains the basket case of Europe, teetering on the verge of failed statehood with the rest of the world rapidly losing interest, domestic corruption levels exceeding anything previously known, and an American ex-US State Department official set to be appointed prime minister. And yet, Farkas had the audacity to lecture leading UK policymakers, Eurasian area experts and journalists on "how to deal with a resurgent Russia."
Farkas is not exactly known for her subtlety. For a case in point, see her Newsweek article: "How We Can Defeat Putin."
Let’s try to imagine a Russian bureaucrat -- or a civil servant from any other nation -- penning a similar piece about another country’s elected head of state, for instance, "How We Can Defeat Obama" or "How To Oust Cameron"… and you get the idea. The Newsweek article was itself recycled from the Atlantic Council, the pro-NATO expansion "think tank" where Farkas is currently parked, presumably until the new US administration takes shape.
The Atlantic Council is also the home away from home of such neocon illuminati as Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and James (“I’d like to see Snowden hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted”) Woolsey, and assorted European acolytes like Carl Bildt and Edward Lucas. The latter is Britain’s very own unashamedly Russia-bashing polemicist, NATO cheerleader and Washington’s pro-war mouthpiece. Lucas, by Farkas’s side, pronounced himself in agreement “with every single word” – unsurprisingly, given that he churns out alarmist pieces warning of Russia’s imminent invasion of Poland and the Baltic states with almost menstrual regularity.
The gist of Farkas’s thinking, not especially complex or nuanced, appears to be this: Russia is geostrategic threat No. 1 to the US and its interests, for no other apparent reason than that the US is seemingly unable get its own way on all issues of global import. Extrapolating for a UK and European audience when speaking abroad, Farkas named Russia a geostrategic threat “to the US, its allies and our interests,” casually conflating America’s own interests with those of its allies – a false premise so presumptuous that it beggars belief.
Never in the post-Cold War period have Continental Europeans felt more palpably anxious about the dramatic increase in tensions with Russia provoked by the US’s self-appointed interference in intra-European affairs, from EU enlargement to energy politics to trade issues. But a “resurgent Russia,” Farkas concluded, is “a reality we need to face together as a united front, with our European allies and other partners around the world.”
The idea that there is no greater threat to the United States than Russia in the existing international order has also been expounded recently by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Farkas’s former boss. In a recent speech in Washington, Carter named Russia as the foremost geostrategic threat to America – ahead of China, North Korea, Iran, and ISIS (in that order).
Russia’s tactics, according to Farkas, consist of:
funding anti-war political parties [Oh, the horror!];
“subversion, lies and propaganda”;
“invading and occupying countries” [Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as Farkas elaborated when challenged by a former UK ambassador to Russia]; and
“weaponizing refugees” and engaging in “migrant dumping” [these being the latest Russophobic mantras making the rounds in the western mainstream press, as Washington and its echo chamber of corporate publicists masquerading as journalists try to obfuscate the fact that it is Turkey doing this.
Farkas’s recommendations? “The US must counter and resist Russia’s actions through a combination of deterrence, strengthening our allies and partners, and communicating the truth about the Kremlin’s actions to the world.” It goes without saying that I was deeply honoured to have been in the presence of this Oracle of Truth - like everyone else in the room, to judge by the awkward squirming around the conference table, even by representatives of America’s most servile ally.
Farkas unashamedly plugged the US weapons manufacturing industry at every opportunity and in every potential theatre of war, painting Russia as the phantom aggressor and enemy:
“Congress should urge the Pentagon to provide an aviation brigade to support the armored brigade combat team in Europe.”
“We should provide Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova with anti-tank weapons so they can potentially deter the larger, more ready Russian forces.”
“In Syria, we must get our allies engaged on the battlefield and provide equipment and other support to the Syrian opposition… it is unavoidable now.”
“We should establish a new foreign military assistance fund to help allies and partners throughout Europe and Afghanistan transition from Russian to US military equipment.”
“I enthusiastically applaud [Obama’s] decision to more than quadruple-down on the European Reassurance Initiative to establish a true deterrent to Russian military action against NATO.”
On the latter in particular, Farkas could do with a bit of a reality check. After all, it was NATO member Turkey that attacked and downed the Russian fighter jet in November; and it is NATO that has absorbed every country in its path on its recklessly expansionist drive towards Russia’s western frontier – most recently Montenegro, in 2015 – rather than Russia moving towards, let alone against, NATO.
Implementing the above recommendations is undoubtedly a lucrative prospect for the Atlantic Council’s corporate patrons in the US military-industrial complex. Among its main sponsors are such pillars of the weapons manufacturing industry as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing. Other large-scale sources of funding for the Atlantic Council are the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the US State Department.
These patrons appear to be well served by the Council’s publications and recommendations which, without exception, promote greater military ("defense") spending across the board, encourage increased weapons procurement by US allies and partners, and advocate for the forward deployment of US military power across all regions of the world as the sole guarantor of global peace and security. As long as these objectives remain in place, the dominant vector of US foreign policy will be to challenge and oppose a "resurgent Russia" anywhere and everywhere – if only for the sake of it.
[Note: Chatham House rules were explicitly waived by the speaker for this event allowing for public reporting and dissemination of her comments.]
Reprinted with permission from Russia Insider, a private, crowd-funded news source.