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Who really is the world's biggest belligerent?

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! That seems to be the refrain that we have been hearing over the past nine years, the constant mantra that the 'Evil Empire' is about to return and wreak havoc on the world that we haven't seen since the days of Hitler. But how much of all this talk of a Russian threat in the present, let alone in the past, is true and how much of it is propaganda?

And, more to the point, if it is true and the Russians have all of this power (to influence the world's peoples to vote for Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump for example) and are ready to pounce like a tiger, why haven't they made more of a mark in the almost 20 years since the rise of the 'dastardly' Putin?

The Russians have been aggressive in the past, that much is true, and anyone who denies that must clearly be drinking too much vodka. Be it the bloody wars of expansion of Tsar Alexander II or Tsar Nicholas I, both of whom had expansionist policies, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that fought bloody battles in the early 20th century to regain the nations that sought independence after the Revolution, the crushing of both the Hungarian and Czech manipulations of Soviet orthodox communism and more recently the (contested because the evidence as to who started it is 50/50) the Georgian war we see where Russia, in all of its iterations, is an active player in world violence.

However, that is not the question at hand as all great powers indulge in the slaughter of those who are unfortunate not to be strong enough to deter them. The question is: Are the Russians really this massive threat to world peace? Are they aiming to destroy our way of life and dominate the world?The answer to this question is clearly and obviously no. The Russians don't have aims of being masters of the world anymore, and won't have them again — at least not during my lifetime. Proof of this can be found ironically in the hostilities perpetuated by the former Russian empire, former USSR and Russia in its current iteration. All of the Russian wars of aggression have taken place in their own backyard or direct 'sphere of influence'; in fact, almost every war that Russia has had in all its iterations has been in its backyard. Again, yes the Russians do practise war, again they are a great power (whether we admit it or not is immaterial) and as such will engage in conflicts, but they are hardly the bogeyman to the world's peace that we make them out to be; and history shows that.

There is, however, a nation that is a serious threat to world peace, and it is one that has no respect for boundaries. It is a nation that has (and continues to) systematically destroy and dominate its backyard and, when that is complete, they then go on to destroy and dominate nations in other hemispheres. The nation I speak of is none other than the USA.

The US has, since 1945, been the main (if not sole if you take in the fact that the other great powers are American lackeys) sponsor and purveyor of violence in the world and the facts bear that out.

A brief look at the world from 1945-89 shows that the wars that have rocked the world were American wars, either involving them directly or through their stooges that make up the remaining great powers. Be it the Korean War (which the USSR deliberately avoided getting into), the Vietnamese War, or the countless wars in the Middle East, we see the glaring absence of Russia (bar Syria) and the active involvement of the US and her allies. These are just the facts of life. Go to Iraq or Venezuela, every region in the world has felt the effects of US might and military supremacy.

Again, this is not saying that Russia and its iterations haven't or aren't currently acting up. We see this in Ukraine (where Russian troops operate), the Baltics (Estonia has had its share of Russian cyber-attacks), or even Georgia (where an active war was fought). The Russians have an appetite for war, but it is (and this is no excuse) almost always in their own backyard, within its sphere of influence, and always aiming to survive — if not come up trumps.

The same can't be said of the US, as the war in Iraq has demonstrated. Here we see a war that not only destroyed a nation and destabilised the Arab world, but also a war that directly led to the rise of ISIS and the refugees that now flock to the shores of (and are also destabilising) her allies in particular and the rest of the world in general.

The facts are that, while Russia does commit violence, and even war crimes, they are nowhere near the extent of the US and almost never with the same range and scope (such as crossing continents and oceans to destroy nations). Russia makes up only four per cent of global military expenditure, and that is a lot of cash, but a closer look shows that it is mainly for modernising and internal defence. The US, on the other hand, makes up a whopping 36 per cent of global military expenditure. And, as we know, they spend it almost exclusively on building and maintaining their bases and troops and compounds in foreign lands.

If we look on the face of it — and are willing to speak without fear — the US, and not Russia, is the threat to world peace and stability. The US is the world's largest (in terms of military strength) and most powerful nation, and she continually flexes her muscles in both their region and also in regions further afield.

Are we in the world expected to believe that a nation that can't even sort out its internal conflicts (and there are many) is waltzing around and destabilising the world (even to its own detriment)? That is madness! Still people swallow it hook, line and sinker, especially since the Russians are alleged to have manipulated the US elections (and even here we see where the wheels on that drama are coming off).

Russia is not this world's bogeyman out to destroy every liberal democracy, and it is not out looking to make itself a global superpower again — Russians know those days are gone and are content with being simply a great power. Yes, Russia does commit some strange and oftentimes outrageous acts, but when looked at more closely one sees where the Russian moves are primarily of a defensive purpose, but also not aimed to destabilise the world while staying in its region.

Again, this is not a blanket defence of the Russians, they do have a vested interest in maintaining dominance in the East European region, but they stretch no further. The Americans and their allies are playing a trick on the world's people and we seem to be falling for it. Let's hope not. For, while the Russians may not share the West's views on societal and governmental structure and implementation, they do have good ideas and offer a differing perspective on the world. To lose that due to lies and misinformation would be most upsetting and further destabilise the world.

 

Alexander Scott is a political and social commentator, legal clerk, sports enthusiast, and proud graduate of St George's College. Send comments to the Observer or alexanderwjscott90@gmail.com.