The leaders of the greatest land and people masses in Eurasia are forging a military, economic and political alliance that will fundamentally alter the world in both the near and long term. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains the bully that many fear, but no one trusts. “America will always turn friends to enemies and suddenly declare that enemies are friends because it is not a true friend to anyone.”
Every year on May 9th millions of people throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics commemorate their victory over Germany in World War II. Foreign leaders attend the ceremonies in Red Square, as George W. Bush did in 2005. This year western leaders did not but the significance of their absence is not what corporate media would have us believe. Barack Obama and David Cameron and Francois Hollande weren’t in Red Square in 2015, but Chinese president Xi Jinping was and he never left Vladimir Putin’s side. While Americans suffer from government and media propaganda telling them that Russia is isolated, their country is isolated too because it insists on being the world’s biggest bully.
The United States has woven a tangled web with its continued commitment to the imperial project. Barack Obama may not have been in Red Square but just three days later secretary of state John Kerry met with Vladimir Putin in Sochi. That meeting is proof of at least a partial defeat for the United States.
In 2014 Washington used Ukraine’s internal crisis as an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. The western backed coup not only put a pro NATO president in office but sanctions enacted after Russia annexed Crimea were a blow to its position as a leading energy producer.
The United States behaved like the schoolyard bully accustomed to stealing lunch money from the weaker kids. The sanctions and the removal of Russia from the G8 were meant to neuter the gas producing giant. Russia not only stood in the way of American energy producing supremacy but also speaks out against Washington’s mischief carried out around the world.
Russia used its status as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to prevent a “no fly zone” over Syria that could have meant defeat for president Assad. Western wishful thinking would have a compliant Russia doing their bidding and giving up its sovereignty and prerogatives. To quote an old saying, “Dream on.”
The dream of an easy Russian smack down is at least partly over. Kerry and foreign secretary Lavrov have met and spoken repeatedly since the Ukraine crisis began, but there haven’t been any high level meetings with president Putin. The fact that Kerry wanted to speak with the president and that Putin agreed indicates that both sides know they need the other.
Washington hasn’t completely surrendered, as its attempted rapprochement with Iran proves. Obama is pushing to end sanctions with Iran in order to make it an energy supplier to Europe, supplanting Russia in the process. But Putin has not been wringing his hands in the Kremlin, hoping for mercy from the United States. He has been forging new economic and military alliances with leaders all over the world.
The Chinese haven’t been passive either while Washington tries to make the whole world bend to its will. They have forged ahead with their Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to compete with the World Bank and IMF. Washington has to watch as allies such as France and the United Kingdom are among the 57 founding members.
Xi Jingping and Putin were literally cheek to cheek during the Victory Day parade. While American media made fun of the paucity of people they considered important, Russia and China strengthen their alliance. The two nations are holding war games in the Mediterranean Sea and have announced energy partnerships while the United States props up the failed state of Ukraine with billions of dollars. Russia has also announced pipeline deals with Turkey, another U.S. ally. Turkey may have joined in the effort to defeat Bashir al-Assad in Syria, but that doesn’t mean it will be an American puppet in every circumstance.
The United States has worn out its welcome even among its friends. Angela Merkel may have missed the parade but she met Putin the day after and repeated her belief that the only solution to the Ukraine crisis is a diplomatic one. America’s bullying may have gotten the Europeans to agree to sanctions but they have harmed their own economies by doing so. Merkel and other Europeans are facing pressure to stand up to the Americans and stop cutting their own throats.
President Obama is like a circus juggler with many balls in the air. He wants to hurt Russia by helping Iran but Israel and the Arab gulf states were all committed to regime change, something they could count on Washington to uphold. Now that Obama wants to make nice with Iran its other enemies are very unhappy. Of course King Salman of Saudi Arabia wouldn’t show up for a meeting at Camp David. He sees no reason to go along with Washington’s attempt to have its cake and eat it too.
So while friends are angered about the move toward Iran, nations like Russia and China act in their own interest and watch the United States with wary curiosity. America will always turn friends to enemies and suddenly declare that enemies are friends because it is not a true friend to anyone else. One day destroying Iran is the top priority, then propping up the failed Ukrainian state, then destroying Syria, then making friends with Cuba but still imposing sanctions on Venezuela. It is a litany of deceit and dishonor among thieves.
Putin and Xi prove that it is possible to stand up to the United States. Even though Obama succeeded in keeping other leaders away from Moscow’s celebration it didn’t really matter. When it counted they had to come and show their respect and that is a victory for the entire world.
Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.