New from Sean Howard: “Macho Posturing on the Edge of the Abyss”
Essayist Sean Howard takes a look at how we arrived at this perilous moment n Europe. Writing in The Cape Breton Spectator on March 2, 2022, Howard tells us:
On January 30, as Russian troops continued to mass on the borders of Ukraine, 100 courageous members of the Russian Congress of Intellectuals issued a “Statement of Peace Supporters against the War Party in the Russian Leadership.”
Expressing “the point of view of that part of Russian society that hates war, and considers even the use of the military threat in foreign policy rhetoric a crime,” the signatories, led by human rights activist Lev Ponomarev, ask: “Do Russians need such a policy? Do they want war, and are they willing to bear the burden of it? Did they give the authorities the right to play such a game with their destinies?”
“But,” they lament, “no one asks” the “citizens,” who are force-fed instead “only one point of view,” the “view of the supporters of the war.” And “from there”:
…direct military threats are heard, aggression and hatred towards Ukraine, America and Western countries… [And] the most dangerous thing is that war is presented as an acceptable and inevitable development of events.
The Statement is a powerful indictment of the corrupt authoritarianism of the interminable Putin era, a militarized, hyper-masculinized nationalism bred by the social-economic, ‘casino capitalism’ collapse of the 1990s and, in that same fateful decade, the beginning of NATO’s cancerous spread east to Russia’s borders.
In June 1997, a high-level, bipartisan Open Letter to President Bill Clinton described the expansion of the Alliance as a “policy error of historic proportions,” a move – “opposed across the entire political spectrum” in Russia” – certain only to “strengthen the non-democratic opposition” and “undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West”. As Clinton’s Defense Secretary William Perry – who tried to delay the decision – now concedes:
We were on our way to forging a really positive and solid relationship, and then we announced we were going to expand NATO… That was the first move down the slippery slope.