By Dr Waheeduddin Ahmed
The Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. The demise is attributed varyingly to Afghan War, Ronald Reagan’s aggressive diatribe about the “Evil Empire” and the Soviet Union’s inherent economic weakness. All of the above are facts of history but for any one adversary of the communist ideology to take credit for the event is to a great extent wishful thinking. If Lenin had christened the Bolshevik Revolution, Gorbachov was its antichrist possessing a fateful streak of mindless irresponsibility. What took an intellectual giant to construct; it took an unimaginative and thoughtless official to destruct in an instant while the population of a vast expanse of land from the Baltic to the Pacific looked on with bewilderment and stasis. All of a sudden the world, which was until then power-balanced, tilted and became uncomfortably unipolar. The weak nations which had hitherto enjoyed safety in the equilibrium were at the mercy of the powerful, who, ignoring their own declared principles could prey on the weak with great gusto and avarice. The law of the jungle had thus returned in the most sophisticated way.
The first Gulf War demonstrated the power of the American led West. President George Bush declared a “New World Order”. All the players, who participated in the war on behalf of the Americans, including almost all the Arab countries thought that this was the moment they were waiting for. Their moment of restitution and retribution had arrived. The sole superpower was going to dispense justice all around, they thought. They waited at the doorsteps of the citadel expectantly; waited and waited and waited but the New World Order never descended from the altar.
The Twentieth century witnessed two world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The World War I started as a Serbian nationalist shot the Prince of Austria dead in Sarajevo. All the European countries, with few exceptions, went to war against each other. The Americans and the Ottoman Empire joined in; the Common Wealth countries including Australia, India and New Zealand were dragged in. It was a global carnage, soldiers lining up and shooting at each other point blank with no territories changing hands for years. At the end of the war there were seventeen million dead. Nobody has yet been able to explain what these men died for.
The Second World War was a natural follow up of the First. Germany was reeling under the reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles and was enraged at the distribution of German territories among its neighbors. Hitler was a symbol of the German rage, not the progenitor of WW II. Over 60 million people died in this war, 2.5% of world’s population. Korea and Vietnam were both the aftermath of WW II, as Korea was divided by a line drawn on the map called 38 parallel and Vietnam, reoccupied by the French, who had left in the face of Japanese attack and had come back after Ho Chi Minh had fought the Japanese and driven them out. If you can fix the blame for all this carnage on a person or persons or a country or countries or assign a cause for which so many people died, history will be ever so grateful to you.
We can travel along this line and come to the present time still unable to fathom the objectives of the bloodshed. We can scratch our heads to find answers whether in any of these conflicts the American soil was ever under threat or whether American lives and properties were ever in danger. Pearl Harbor would be a simplistic answer. The American supply ships were constantly sailing in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans in aid of the Anglo-Saxon cousins long before Pearl Harbor.
As mothers lost their sons and wives their husbands, singing songs of the glory of the fatherland, there were hidden beneficiaries. To point them out, we need an essay on socio-economics, which would be beyond the scope of this discussion. However, to find their human fodder for the war, these beneficiaries need some clever psychological devices to alter the minds of the soldiers who are required to throw away their lives. To achieve this they feed them constant lies and create symbols of horrific enemies, the demons who are supposed to be threatening our lifestyles and our freedoms, whatever they may be. A constant lie, which is told, is that “if you don’t fight him there, you will have to fight him here”. A person, whose mind has not been altered, would know that “there” and “here” are too far apart. No prospective enemy is so far capable of bridging this gap. Unaltered minds are essentially demonized. For example: when Mohammad Ali, the boxer said: “No Vietcong has ever called me a nigger” he was assailed and stripped of his title.
The cold war ended; the Soviet Union was dissolved. With it went the Warsaw pact. Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin folded up and were beseeching America for friendship. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had been created by Eisenhower’s Secretary of States John Foster Dulles to counter the Soviet expansion in Europe. However, instead of dissolving the NATO after the end of the Cold War, it was expanded and all the countries bordering Russia were invited to join the organization. It is mind-boggling to think what purpose the NATO is going to serve now other than to challenge Russia to remilitarize and get ready for another cold or hot war. In the face of this grand stupidity, Putin would be right in saying that Russia was being treated as a defeated nation as Germany was after WW-I and the Third World would be justified in finding comfort in the restoration of the Old World Order! One is inclined to think that the absence of war is an existential threat to Europe and America.
In Ukraine, it is clear that the present situation developed after the success of the Regime Change Operation outside of a Democratic process, as happened in Egypt. In both these situations the State Department and the White House provided ample encouragement to the regime changers. There were only a few months left for elections in Ukraine, before the takeover by the mob. It is obvious that the English speaking mob leaders in Kiev are a scary bunch. Now, as it seems inevitable that Ukraine will be divided; Obama and Kerry have bungled once again. There is much talk of anti-Semetism from both sides in the conflict, each accusing the other of this punishable sin. This goes to show how lethal this weapon can be in anybody’s arsenal.
It will be interesting to lift the mist from the forces lined up against Putin. After the end of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin privatized the Soviet assets. Some people, who were until then paupers, came from nowhere and grabbed them for cheap. They became overnight billionaires. The once socialist state was now shaping up like America, with a great portion of wealth concentrated in a few hands and the rest of the population eking out a mere existence. The billionaires who looted the country’s wealth are called oligarchs. The seven original ones were: Berezovsky, Friedman, Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky, Potanin, Smolensky and Venegradov. Together they controlled 50% of Russia’s economy. When the crunch came and they came into conflict with Putin’s government, some of them fled to the West and some to Israel as they had Israeli passports. They found ardent supporters among the Jewish Diaspora and the western media. We should keep these influences in mind when we try to analyze the Ukrainian crisis.
Vladimir Putin is no friend of Muslims however. He has time and again denigrated Muslims, inviting even those in the North Caucasus to adopt Russian culture or immigrate to countries where Shariah is in force. At one time during the Chechnya war, he said to a French reporter from Le Monde: “If you want to become an Islamic radical and have yourself circumcised, I invite you to come to Moscow. — I would recommend that he who does it so you will have nothing growing back, afterward.”
It will be interesting to see how the Crimean Tatars, who were less than enthusiastic about the Russian take-over, are treated. There are 23 million Muslims in Russia (15% of the total population), nine million in Azerbaijan and a total of 65 million in the Central Asian Republics. So there are approximately 100 million Muslims in the areas considered to be under the Russian influence. What Putin is aiming at to be the new Russia, does not even remotely resemble the Soviet Union, which was an ideological entity. Ideology had kept it intact, not cultural integrity, which is its antithesis. There will be an intense struggle between Russia and the West to draw the Muslim populations into their spheres of influence. History now is at crossroads.