Back to the Dark Ages: Jeremy
Kuzmarov Review of "The Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert
[December 7, 2018]
On October 20th, 2018, fifty-one years to the day of the famous 1967 March
on the Pentagon, antiwar activists again rallied for peace outside the
headquarters of a now declining empire. Among the speakers was Jill Stein,
the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, who told the crowd: “There’s
not a lot of democracy going on out there because they’ve got the
new McCarthyism going …. The era of censorship, of warmongering
and of political suppression is back big time.”
Stein’s speech was given as the Trump administration announced that
the U.S. was pulling out of the Inter-Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with
Russia placing a moratorium on mid- and long-range nuclear missiles. For
months, the media had been filled with stories depicting Russian President
Vladimir Putin as a clone of Joseph Stalin and KGB thug as New York Times
columnist Paul Krugman characterized him.
Veteran political activist and journalist Ron Ridenour points out in The
Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert that the Putin of popular demonology
is largely a creation of Pentagon propagandists and their media acolytes.
The real-life Putin showed his good character at a young age when according
to those who knew him, he “stood up for kids being bullied on the
While never a saint, he has continued as Russia’s president by protecting
local interests from foreign aggressors. He also helped to revitalize
Russia’s economy following the disastrous period in the 1990s when
his predecessor Boris Yeltsin opened up Russia’s economy to rapid
privatization, fueling an orgy of corruption and foreign plunder.
According to Jack Gosnell, the former U.S. Consul General, under Putin,
taxes were lowered, inflation was lessened, schools and health care began
to improve, highways were laid out, modern trains appeared even in far
out places and the banking industry was becoming dependable. “Russia
was looking like a decent country,” something the United States
did not want.
In 2014, the United States supported a coup d’état against
Ukraine’s Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych that was supported
by far-right wing elements who worshipped the Nazi collaborator Stephen
Bandera. The climate in the aftermath of the coup was so bad that Rabbi
Moshe Reuven Azman called on Kiev’s Jews to flee. Putin was subsequently
accused of invading Crimea, when most of its citizens, including its large
ethnic Russian population, voted in a democratic referendum to rejoin
Russia. Six people were killed, including a Russian soldier by a Ukrainian
Right sector militant, but none by Russians.
The Russian Peace Threat gives a historical perspective by showing a long
history of U.S. imperial intervention and demonization of rival leaders.
There are informative chapters on CIA terrorist operations in Cuba, and
role of U.S. corporations such as Texaco in supporting Fascist General
Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war. Ridenour also spotlights a
failed 1957 CIA coup against secular nationalist Shukri al-Quwatli of
Syria, which bears resemblance to the Obama administration’s failed
covert intervention designed to oust Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian people have shown an indomitable spirit in overcoming cataclysmic
famines, Tsarist oppression, the Nazi invasion, and Stalinist terror.
Ridenour makes up for the gap in conventional histories of the Cold War
by spotlighting their perspective and that of admirable Russians like
astronaut Yuri Gagarin, who promoted a world peace crusade, and Vasili
Arkhipov, a Russian sailor whose cool demeanor under pressure helped to
avert nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban missile crisis.
The hysteria about Russian election interference in 2016 is put in context
when we consider that the United States has interfered in democratic elections
in at least 30 different countries, including in support of Boris Yeltsin
in 1996. Quoting Seymour Hersh, Ridenour considers the Russia-Gate investigation
to be a misinformation operation orchestrated by CIA Director John Brennan
and powerful interests bent on rekindling the political culture of the
Cold War. The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPs) carried
out their own independent study of emails sent to Wikileaks that revealed
a plot by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to sabotage the campaign
of Bernie Sanders—and found based on the speed of the modem, that
they were leaked internally. Their study, however, has been ignored in
the mainstream media.
Ridenour’s book should be required reading for political activists
and citizens as it helps expose the underside of American power, and distorted
lens through which Russia is portrayed in the media. As anti-Trump political
activism gains steam, progressives need to better connect the dots between
domestic inequality and the militarization of our political economy, and
firmly repudiate the dominant Russo-phobia which threatens to unleash
a new dark age in America.
[Jeremy Kuzmarov is a lecturer at Tulsa Community College and author of
The Russians are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second
as Farce, with John Marciano (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2018].