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Misrepresentations of American & Soviet Roles in WW II and the Cold War

Eric Zuesse

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The Soviet Union contributed more than did any other nation to the defeats of Germany and Japan in World War II, but America and Britain together defeated Italy. Many prominent Western ‘historians’ white-out the Soviet roles in defeating Hitler and especially Hirohito, and they overstate the importance of America’s victories to the ultimate outcome, and ignore or underplay Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s strong rejection and repudiation of Winston Churchill’s imperialistic agenda, not only for a continuation of empires, but for a continued postwar exploitation of colonies, as being acceptable goals for the future. Those ‘historians’ are actually propagandists — no real historians, at all — because they fundamentally misrepresent; yet they dominate in the ‘historical’ profession, and they have produced in the U.S. and in its allies a widespread and profoundly warped ‘history’ of the war and of its aftermath, and of Twentieth-Century history, and of our own time. This ‘historical’ distortion has continued even after 1991 (it even accelerated) when the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia ended only on the Russian side, but not actually on the U.S. side. These ‘historical’ lies accelerated because ‘historians’ continue, even today, to hide this crucial fact, that the U.S. side of the Cold War secretly continued — and still does continue — to try to conquer Russia. Ever since the time of America’s vile, bloody and illegal actual coup against Ukraine in February 2014 onward, Russia has been responding increasingly. This is especially so because of yet another American-and-allied aggression against a nation that has cooperative arrangements with Russia, Syria, 2012-. The purveyors of fake ‘news’ and fake ‘history’ display the gall to cry foul and to lie and allege that Russia’s necessary defensive actions against America’s aggressions are, instead, themselves, aggressions, to which America and its vassal-nations have the right to respond, and should respond, by what then would actually be yet more aggressions (violations of international law) — instead of to quit its string of aggressions, and to apologize, not only for the aggressions, but also for the lies, that the U.S. regime and its propagandists have been perpetrating, against Russia, and against nations that cooperate with Russia. The reality has been that U.S. foreign policy is, and has been, driven by one overriding and obsessive goal for a hundred years: first, to conquer any nation that’s friendly with Russia, and thereby to isolate Russia internationally; and, then, finally, to grab Russia itself. This entire U.S. geostrategy is based upon lies.

The ‘Historical’ Lies, V. The Historical Truths

According to the standard accounts, the Cold War ended on both sides in 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, and its communism ended, and its Warsaw Pact (the military alliance that the U.S.S.R. had created in response to America’s having created the NATO military alliance against the Soviet Union) all ended. But, secretly, the Cold War continued on the U.S. side, and with the same (and now blatantly) imperialist goal of ultimately conquering Russia and China, so as to establish the first-ever all-encompassing global empire. Whereas Franklin Delano Roosevelt had set up the U.N. so as to evolve into a global democracy of nations — a democratic federal republic encompassing all nations — his successor, Harry S. Truman quickly became deceived by Winston S. Churchill and Dwight David Eisenhower to believe that the Soviet Union was trying to take over the entire world, and so Truman promptly abandoned FDR’s vision and initiated instead the permanent-warfare U.S., the military-industrial-complex-ruled U.S., which relegated the U.N. to a secondary role, as a mere mediator for global diplomacy, not as the international lawmaker that FDR had hoped it would ultimately evolve into. FDR’s dream and intention, of establishing a system of international laws functioning as the all-encompassing global democratic federal democracy in which all nations are represented, became thwarted, almost as soon as he died, when the Deep-State U.S. military-industrial complex that’s run behind the scenes by the controlling owners of America’s top weapons-manufacturing firms took hold. 

After WW II, the U.S. Government secretly aspired — and still does aspire — to rule over the entire world, including especially over Russia and China. George Herbert Walker Bush told Robert Sheer in the 24 January 1980 Los Angeles Times and in Scheer’s 1982 book With Enough Shovels, page 29, that in a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the U.S., the “winner in a nuclear exchange” would be whichever side is stronger than the other at the war’s end; and, so, for Bush, nuclear weapons didn’t exist in order to avoid a nuclear conflict, but instead in order to “win” it. This also is the reason why, on the night of 24 February 1990, Bush secretly told West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to ignore the promises that Bush’s team were making to Gorbachev, that NATO would not be expanded “one inch to the east” (i.e., not extended right up to Russia’s border) if Gorbachev ends the Cold War. Bush, in confidence, told Kohl “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” And he also secretly told French President Francois Mitterrand to pursue no “kind of pan-European alliance” (i.e., alliance that includes Russia) because, actually, total conquest of Russia remains the U.S.-and-allied goal. This view — that the goal is control over Russia — became firmly established in U.S. Government policy by no later than 2006 when Bush’s son was the President and the phrase “Nuclear Primacy” (the ability to “win” a nuclear war against Russia) became used in order to refer to America’s geostrategic goal.

Part of that scam by ’The West’ (the emergent American empire) has been the ongoing ‘historical’ lie that the Allied victory in WW II was mainly an American and British affair, and not mainly a Soviet one. Another part of it is that the Soviet Union had started the Cold War; and yet a third part is that the Cold War was about ideology (communism versus capitalism) instead of about the U.S. regime’s goal of ultimately conquering Russia and China so as to achieve the world’s first and only full global and unchallengeable empire

The excuse for all of this was always the allegation that global empire is Russia’s goal and that the U.S. therefore needs to win the nuclear war when it ultimately happens. But Russia, and its prior USSR, always did maintain, and still does maintain, as actual Government policy (not just mere verbiage, such as in America after 1980) the belief in “MAD” or Mutually Assured Destruction — the idea that any nuclear war between the two superpowers will destroy the entire planet and therefore produce no winners whatsoever — no winner but only nuclear winter — regardless of which side might temporarily emerge the stronger while nuclear winter and resulting global famine soon destroy all life on Earth after that nuclear exchange. Russia is not (like America is) aiming to take over the planet. The fact that the U.S. regime is trying to take over the planet has shocked even America’s top geostrategic scientists. The ‘historians’ hide all of this, so as to continue the myth that in the U.S.-Russia relationship, Russia is and has been the aggressor, and America the defender — instead of vice-versa, which is, and has been, the historical reality.

A rare, early, excellent, and honest, Western history of the immediate post-WW-II world, was the libertarian William Henry Chamberlin’s 1950 book America’s Second Crusade. Its earnest author — a disenchanted former socialist who once had trusted Stalin’s goodwill but was dismayed now to find Stalin to be America’s enemy as well as an unforgivable tyrant to the nation he led — opened by saying “My book is an attempt to examine without prejudice or favor the question why the peace was lost while the war was being won.” He was struggling to understand how and why and when the Cold War started, but unfortunately, some key documents, in order to become enabled to understand that, had not yet become public. A crucial passage in his book that reflected state-of-the-art historical writing in 1950 but certainly not today, asserted:

Stalin’s diplomatic masterpiece was his promotion, through his pact with Hitler, of a war from which he hoped to remain aloof. [FALSE: Stalin knew that the Soviet Union was Hitler’s main target to attack, and he was terrified of that]

This attractive dream of watching the capitalist world tear itself to pieces and then stepping in to collect the fragments was shattered by Hitler’s attack in June 1941. [FALSE: that war between U.S.S.R and Germany was already baked-in in 1939; and it was Stalin’s nightmare — not his “dream.”]

Chamberlin thought that Stalin had made with Hitler the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact because Stalin had wanted to join with Hitler in taking over the entire world — i.e., for aggression, instead of for defense; i.e., instead of so as to protect the U.S.S.R. from becoming invaded by Hitler (which defensive motivation actually is what obsessed Stalin). Chamberlin thus wrote approvingly of “Churchill’s scheme which would have limited the extent of Soviet conquest.” Chamberlin thought that the ideological conflict (to the extent that there actually was one in the Cold War) was between communism versus capitalism, not  between fascism versus non-fascism (which it was, and still is).

Here are the facts, which have been revealed by the making-public of archives as of 2008 and subsequently:

On 18 October 2008, Britain’s Telegraph  bannered “Stalin ‘planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact’” and buried the core revelation, that Stalin prior to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact recognized Hitler’s determination to conquer the Soviet Union and he had, on 15 August 1939, urged British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to accept the U.S.S.R. as an ally in their mutual war to defeat Hitler; but Chamberlain refused, and so Stalin reached out to Hitler for an agreement with him to a dividing-line between those two countries’ (Germany’s and U.S.S.R.’s) essential areas of control for each one’s national security. Poland especially was a worry to both of them, because Poland had had territorial conflicts with both Germany and the Soviet Union. Thus was signed on 23 August 1939 the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which split Poland between both countries.

The Versalles Treaty at the end of WW I had handed to Poland what had been German territory that through most of prior history had been Polish territory. Hitler was elected into power in 1933 vowing to abandon that Treaty and to restore, to German rule, that part of Poland.

As regards Poland’s conflicts with Russia: Poland had invaded Moscow during 1605-18, before Russia responded by both military and diplomatic means to virtually conquer Poland into becoming a colony of Russia, which it remained almost uninterruptedly until 1939, when the Hitler-Stalin agreement — the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact — restored part of Poland to the Soviet Union, but handed the other part of Poland to Germany. 

Stalin, having been spurned by Chamberlain (who held his own imperialistic intentions — he was as imperialistic as were the fascists: Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini), had actually no other option in 1939 than to reach a peace-agreement with Hitler, so as to avoid having the Soviet Union become swallowed up by the capitalist countries — first by Germany, and then by whatever countries would finally win the coming World War (presumably, likewise Germany). 

This is why the historian Chamberlin’s claim that Stalin’s “dream” of imperialist expansion “was shattered by Hitler’s attack in June 1941” is false: Stalin’s necessity for the U.S.S.R. to be granted enough time, to prepare for Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa invasion against it (which ended up starting on 22 June 1941), caused the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact to become signed on 23 August 1939, which signing sparked both of its signatories to promptly invade Poland and start the active phase of WW II on 1 September 1939, both countries invading Poland. FDR didn’t hold that agreement against Stalin, but instead against Chamberlain, who really hated Russia and virtually forced Stalin into that Pact. Chamberlain’s goal wasn’t to get the Soviet Union onto Britain’s side but instead for a war between the Soviet Union and Germany to weaken both of them enough for a UK-U.S. alliance to take over both of them, and, ultimately, the world. FDR got Chamberlain’s successor Churchill to agree to a “United Nations” in which there would be an international democracy of nations and all military weapons and enforcement of General Assembly laws would be possessed and enforced only by “the Big Four” of U.S., UK, U.S.S.R., and China, but Churchill balked at including China because he wanted to retain control of his eastern vassal-nations. FDR agreed instead to each of the Big Four enforcing U.N. laws only  within its own neighborhood, so as to prohibit friction between the Big Four — and China would enforce in East Asia and Western Pacific, which meant Britain’s freeing India, Burma, Malaya, and some other of its vassal-nations. U.S. was to enforce U.N. laws throughout the Western Hemisphere. U.S.S.R. was to do the same in eastern Europe and central Asia. UK was to do it in Western Europe. Initially, Roosevelt’s plan had been only for a U.N. consisting of this Big Four as “trustees” over other nations that are within their neighborhood, but he soon recognized the need for, as the Dumbarton Oaks founding document for the U.N. put it, on 7 October 1944, “Membership of the Organization should be open to all peace-loving states.” Also: “There should be an international court of justice which should constitute the principal judicial organ of the Organization.” And: “Each member of the Organization should have one vote in the General Assembly.” No international bill of rights was included, because the U.N. wasn’t to get involved in any nation’s internal affairs. But, then, FDR died and along came President Truman, and the U.N.’s Constitution became established on 26 June 1945, as the “Charter of the United Nations”, and it dispensed altogether with that crucial distinction; and, furthermore, the Big Four became the Five permanent Members of the Security Council, France (yet another imperialist regime) being added to the Big Four. Already, FDR’s vision was starting to become replaced by that of agents of owners of America’s ‘defense’ contractors. They needed the distinction to be abandoned so that the U.N. would become distracted away from its peace-keeping function and toward “human rights” issues that could ‘justify’ international invasions (and thus growing demand for their products). And thus we have today a toothless U.N., far from what FDR had intended. This is very profitable for the military-industrial complex and enables the U.S. regime to aspire to being, as Barack Obama claimed it already to be, “the one indispensable nation”, and every other nation therefore to be ‘dispensable’ (and consequently usable for “target-practice”).

After the 18 October 2008 article in Britain’s Telegraph, another article that is a breakthrough for historians is Randy Dotinga’s superb review (and the best summary), appearing in the 5 March 2015 Christian Science Monitor, of Susan Butler’s 2015 masterpiece, Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. (Butler’s book is based on her own prior publication, by Yale, of My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin.) Dotinga’s review is titled “‘Roosevelt and Stalin’ details the surprisingly warm relationship of an unlikely duo: How FDR and Stalin forged a bond that helped to shape history.” Basically, what Butler has documented (in those two books) and Dotinga accurately summarizes, is that FDR and Stalin were in agreement and FDR and Churchill were not, and that FDR was consistently a supporter of the position that no nation has a right to interfere in the internal affairs of any other nation, except when those internal affairs present a realistic threat against the national security of one’s own nation. FDR was consistently an opponent of empires, which exist not for national security but for the further enrichment of one’s own nation’s aristocracy, the owners of its international corporations — especially of its weapons-makers. (An imperial nation’s weapons-manufacturers rely upon sales to that government and to its vassals or ‘allies’, and therefore fund politicians who endorse its imperialism. Consequently: the U.N. now gets involved in the internal affairs of nations — their ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ — as constituting ‘justifications’ to authorize invasions, or “R2P,” responsibility to protect. That’s exactly opposite to FDR’s plan for the U.N., which concerned no intranational affairs, but only intranational affairs.) The negative reviews of Butler’s Roosevelt and Stalin at Amazon object to Stalin’s domestic policies but ignore what FDR was concerned with, regarding Stalin, which was international policies. It would have been foolish for FDR to have gotten into disputes with his most important ally over internal Soviet matters (but American imperialists wish that he had done so). Similarly, FDR did not think that he possessed a right to interfere in Hitler’s domestic policies (including even the extermination programs), but recognized that he had an obligation to protect the United States from Hitler’s intended conquest of the entire world. For example, FDR’s chosen mastermind for, and Truman’s designated prosecutor at, the Nuremberg Tribunals, Robert Jackson, focused mainly against the German regime’s imperialist policies, its international aggressions that really were not motivated by Germany’s national security but instead by international conquest — aggression. The Holocaust was also an important, but secondary, concern, at those tribunals. In international affairs, FDR recognized that the primary focus must be on international policies, not on intranational policies — that it must be on policies between nations, not policies within nations. He stuck to that; America’s imperialists didn’t like that. (For them, Churchill was the hero.)

As Dotinga’s review also pointedly notes:

But FDR has a huge blind spot. Up until the very end, “Roosevelt and Stalin” virtually never mentions a man who forever annoyed the Russians by declaring in 1941 that “if we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible.”

This man’s name is Harry Truman. When Roosevelt dies in 1945, just weeks after the Yalta conference, the vice president knows virtually nothing about the wartime talks and has never even spent a second inside the White House’s Map Room brain center.

Truman would learn about the nuclear bomb, which spawned an intense debate in the Roosevelt Administration about whether to mention it to the Soviets, America’s supposed allies. In fact, they’d already figured out something was up.

Despite this fault line over trust with FDR, the Soviets would later mourn a safer world they believed Roosevelt would have created if he’d lived. To them, he was a dear friend who passed away too soon.

FDR knew and respected that Stalin led the main component of the anti-Nazi team. FDR had no illusions about what immense and unnecessary suffering Stalin’s domestic policies produced, but this wasn’t FDR’s business. U.S. national security was. And FDR knew that if Hitler were to win, then America would ultimately be ruled from Berlin, and Hitler’s domestic policies, which were even worse than Stalin’s, would become also America’s domestic policies. That’s what FDR was protecting America against, and his chief international ally was Stalin — not actually Churchill (such as the fake ‘history’ — from pro-imperialists — claims).

The Democratic Party’s biggest donors chose Harry S. Truman to become FDR’s successor because they figured that he’d be able to be controlled by them, and this belief turned out to have been correct. Truman wasn’t corrupt but he was able to be fooled (self-righteously to believe what his billionaire-approved advisors told him), and this is how the Cold War began. Truman thought he had no choice — that Stalin’s regime would take over the world if America did not. He was fooled. And that’s why the OSS and its successor, the U.S. CIA and other agencies, protected and even imported or hired many ‘former’ committed Nazis, as soon as FDR died. America is now basically ruled posthumously by Hitler’s ideological heirs. Whereas some of America’s leaders, such as Barack Obama, probably do it intelligently, understanding where the supremacist and imperialist agenda comes from (the “military-industrial complex” or the nation’s most politically active billionaires), others of them, such as perhaps Donald Trump, might, like Truman was, be true-believers who have been simply fooled by them. Certainly Trump has loads of prejudices, which make him vulnerable to being manipulated without his even being aware of that. He believes what he wants to believe, and such a person is especially vulnerable to being manipulated. Obama, on the other hand, might be more of a realist than a fool. In either case, it’s the billionaires who now control the U.S. Government (and see this, with more on that).

Furthermore, there were two powerful reasons why Stalin would have been getting himself into ideological trouble amongst his own communists if he had aspired to expanding Soviet control beyond the local neighborhood of adjoining (“buffer”) nations all of which were collectively surrounded by the broader capitalist world: (1) Marx himself strongly condemned imperialism; and, (2) Stalin’s main ideological competitor within the Soviet Union was Leon Trotsky, who advocated for a rapid worldwide spread of communism, versus Stalin’s position against that, which was called “communism in one nation,” and which advocated to postpone pushing for such a spread until after communism has first become an economic success within the U.S.S.R. so that workers throughout the world would rise up to overthrow their oppressors. America’s Deep State knew all about the idiocy of casting Stalin as being an imperialist, but simply lied, in order to increase America’s own empire. They were, and are, brazen. 

And this Deep State is coextensive with the EU’s, at least ever since the founding of the secret private Bilderberg network in 1954. America’s aristocracy, and the ‘ex’-Nazi Prince Bernhard and his friends, pushed for and set up the EU, in order, ultimately, to conquer Russia, not actually just to conquer the Soviet Union. On 19 September 2019, the European Parliament officially, by a vote of 535 in favor and only 66 against, blamed Stalin (along with Hitler) for World War II, and stated that today’s Russia is an extension of the U.S.S.R.’s “totalitarianism,” and they basically declared Russia to be Europe’s enemy. On October 1st, Russia officially described that action by them as “nothing but a product of the cynical, immoral and even sleazy political put-up job.”

A masterpiece of historical writing, and of historical documentaries based on it, showing in a broader perspective the history of U.S. international relations during the 20th Century, is Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s Untold History of the United States, especially Chapter One here, and Chapter Two here. Massive though it is, it’s only truths, no lies. That’s extraordinarily rare. A masterpiece of behind-the-scenes history regarding U.S. international relations, containing stunning first-person details of the period 1943-1990 (that’s up to but not including the end of the Cold War on Russia’s side), is L. Fletcher Prouty’s JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Another related historical masterpiece is David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. All of this is history that was being hidden and lied-about at the time when it was being mentioned, at all, in the ‘news’ — and which still remains being lied-about in the ‘news’ and ‘history’ that dominates today, within the U.S. and its empire. The only professional historian amongst those writers was Peter Kuznick. All of the others were journalists, except for Prouty, who was a participant. One can’t reasonably trust the historical profession (nor most of the journalistic profession) in the U.S. and its empire. That’s a fact — a proven-true empirical observation — no mere speculation.

Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Europe

All Those Croatian Presidents

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Stjepan Mesic

Since those days when it emerged from the ruins of the Yugoslav federation as an independent state, Republic of Croatia had 4 Presidents – 4 men and a Lady President. The first one whom only death, in the opinion of many, saved from the International Hague Tribunal, but who is still (or because of that?) called by his admirers “Father of the Nation” was a self-proclaimed “Mesiah”, who although “only” a President acted as master and commander. One of his closest collaborators remembers how Franjo Tudjman asked him once: “To whom should I leave Croatia?” For a monarch without heirs from the 19th century a quite appropriate question. But, for the President of a modern state that found its way to the international scene at the very end of the 20th century – unthinkable!

On the wave of the desire for changes, which grew more and more as dark sides of the war for independence and of the privatization and transition started (but only started) to emerge, Tudjman was after his death succeeded by a former highly positioned politician of his Party who broke all ties both with Tudjman as well as with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), because he could not and would not support their policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before doing that he, alas, following the official HDZ policy, gave a couple od “antologic” statements which he found himself in a position of explaining even after years. However, Stjepan Mesić displayed enough honesty and political courage to admit these statements and escapades and to apologize for them, saying they were wrong and out of place. He won the presidential elections twice and although he is by his enemies from the right still branded both as a clown and as a traitor, he initialized key processes aimed at putting Croatia on the world scene again, after it was, at the end of Tudjman’s rule, practically put into international isolation because of his policy towards minorities, especially the Serb one, and to human rights in general.

Mesić opened the way for returning antifascism (although already put into Constitution) to the place it deserves in the Croatian society; without any reservations he labeled fascism and its Croatian version (Ustasha) as evil and as a crime; he opposed the historical revisionism that was present from the very beginnings of the Croatian state;  ha changed the attitude towards minorities, in the first place, the Serb minority and he favored the return to Croatia of those Croatian citizen of Serb origin who fled the country during the war; he laid foundations for a everyday’s normalization of the relations in the region; he opened Croatia to the world, presenting it as a partner willing to cooperate on the terms of full equality with everybody. Despite diminished powers, because Croatia switched after Tudjman’s death from semi-Presidential to parliamentary system, he knew how to resolutely say “no”, when Croatia’s interests were at stake (for example resisting the pressure to make Croatia part of the so called Coalition of willing put together by the US for the purpose of invading Iraq). And he never ceased repeating that he is a citizen-President whose job is not to rule, but to serve.

After his 10 years in office a new tenant came into the Office of the President – university professor and composer, candidate of the left, Ivo Josipovic. There can be no doubt that he too wanted to be a “real President”, that he even had some ideas how to do this (let us forget his statement that he intends to compose an opera, while being President), the fact remains that he – objectively – managed to halt or to freeze many of the positive processes started by his predecessor; though at the same time some of them he simply copied, repeating for example in the Israeli parliament the excuse, on behalf of the Croatian state, for the crimes committed by the Ustasha against Jews. If he is going to be remembered for anything, it will be for being a weak President, who – by not being able to define himself and by not understanding what politics is all about, practically put in the position of the President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Because, apart from the HDZ voting machinery, people did not vote for her, wanting just her as the new President, but because they were, to put it mildly – fed up by Ivo Josipovic. He did not know how to make real contact with citizens (contrary to Mesic, who was a virtuoso in doing this) and the citizens did not understand him – for example when he announced that he will run for the second term with he concept of a new Constitution.

The first woman-President in the short history of Croatia, presented a respectable C/V (minister for European Integration, Foreign minister, ambassador to the US, assistant to the Secretary General of NATO). But, very soon it became apparent and it remained apparent through her 5 years in office that she came totally unprepared and unfit for the position. She was intoxicated by the ceremonial accompanying the position of the President, she was literally in love with the military component of the function (although the President is the Supreme commander only in times of war), she loved uniforms and weapons and, above all – she was obsessed – by moving her Office from one town to the other (together with a ceremonial military unit that was present during the playing of the national anthem and raising the flag upon her arrival; in normal circumstances it is just the President visiting this or that town, or region of Croatia, which was – but without the pomp upon which she so insisted – done by Mesic, by Josipovic, even by Tudjman. 

She will be remembered by stubbornly repeating some notorious lies (such as that Croatia/Yugoslavia was behind the Iron Curtain, or that Croats were not allowed in times of Yugoslavia to call themselves as Croats, or that the Ustasha salute (For homeland – ready) was an ancient Croatian salute (here she eventually admitted, most probably under pressure from outside, that she was wrong, blaming one of her advisers for this!). She will not be remembered for her policy, even not for the “3 seas concept” she so loved to speak about, although it is not her concept at all. But she will be remembered as an enthusiastic cheer leader during the World soccer championship, as somebody who embraced sweaty soccer players in their wardrobes and – as her term in office started to come close and closer to its end – as somebody who liked to sing in public (even “discussing” this with some media, objecting that they reported she does not know how to sing, although – she said – “I sing well”). Finally she will be remembered by a series of public appearences which made many people to raise their eyebrows and than to start laughing at her (“My friend, the American general”, or “they say it’s not possible, but I tell you it is possible; I have already arrangements with certain foreign countries that Croats will go there for schooling, return after that to Croatia and work on-line from their homes for 8.000 Euro monthly”, ending with “I will stay in Croatia, although I have offers from all around the world”. She loved to sing a song whose text portrays part of Bosnia and Herzegovina as Croatia, she boasted that the pop-singer, icon of the political right whose most popular song begins with the Ustasha salute “For homeland – ready!” is her favorite singer, and let us stop here, although there would be much more. She missed no opportunity to equale antifascism (calling it communism) with fascism and she loved to remember how both of her grandparents were partisans, but turned into anticommunists right after the victory in 1945. About her being sent to school in the US she said that her father sent her there and not Tito (“forgetting” that Tito was at that time several years dead already).

She made peace with the HDZ prime minister, because she needed her party’s support in the election campaign. All the HDZ politicians started to repeat, as parrots; “She will win!”. She lost. If she manages to get into history, than history will remember her as somebody who transformed the role of the President into a stage act and managed, instead of policy that should be waged at the top of the state, to present a rather bad “patriotic” reality show.  

It is high time for “realpolitik” to replace this reality show. Yes, we might expect some surprises from the President-elect too, some of them might not please those who voted for him. But, one thing is sure; because of Zoran Milanović nobody who really cares for Croatia and for Croatia’s reputation in the world, will not blush, or feel ashamed (which was not the case in previous 5 years). Milanović in not an “unknown”, both in Croatia and in the world, neither as a person, nor as a politician (chairman of the Social-democratic party, Prime minister). It is a known fact that he too, sometimes, speaks and even acts faster that he thinks, putting himself in the position to explain afterwards what he really wanted to say or demonstrate (the most benign example is his jumping from a APC and falling to the ground before TV cameras, and saying laconically only: “I wanted to boast”.

In retrospect: the first “mesianic” President saw himself as the owner of the country and behaved accordingly. The second, and history will one day admit this, was a President, as Presidents should be. The third did not know how to be the President and the fourth, the Lady President, understood and performed her duty  as a cheap reality show. One should hope, the time is ripe for a “realpolitiker”, someone who is fully aware of the fact that he is the President of a small country, but at the same time aware of its (meaning his) responsibility for the state of democracy in Croatia, for the situation in the region and for Croatia’s place in the world. Voters do remember Milanovic from previous times. So it is no surprise that on internet one can read such a commentary: “Good luck, don’t slip, because we will not forgive.”

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US naming of first corrupt Bulgarian official is a joke

Iveta Cherneva

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Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the first ever designated Bulgarian official barred from entering the United States over corruption, under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

The newly implemented non-judicial mechanism to “fight corruption” in Bulgaria had many here in high hopes. Would the US really name names and help Bulgarian society clean up by pointing the finger and sanctioning the most corrupt and dangerous elements?

Well, don’t hold your breath.

The glaringly political and self-serving designation disappointed many here. The US government black-listed a Bulgarian judge and the only thing he is known for is that he allowed a pro-Russia society activist to visit Russia and receive an award from Russian President Putin, while the pro-Russian activist was under investigation over espionage charges.

The decision struck many here as something out of an outdated Cold War scenario. 

The US is not really fighting corruption with this move — it’s just settling old scores with a pro-Russian judge. Actually one does not even have to be pro-Russia to ask themselves if a decision we don’t like automatically becomes corruption. The US has not provided any evidence for corruption — whether the judge was paid, whether there were any shady dealings, etc.

The US has a long way to go if it wants to show that corruption rather than pro-Russian interests is what it is really after in Bulgaria. As this is just the first designation in a long list to come, the US Embassy in Sofia would do well to address actual corruption that Bulgarian citizens are sick of. That’s the way to win over Bulgarians.

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Europe

Britain after Brexit: Between US and EU

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On January 31, the United Kingdom left the European Union, after three years of exhausting negotiations in which the terms of the “divorce” were postponed several times. Now, Britain is setting sail free. A staunch supporter of the exit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims that breaking away from the EU will “liberate the country from a terrible” yoke “.” Johnson promises the British “a decade of prosperity and opportunity.” A major advantage to the breakaway is believed to be the prospect of a new rapprochement between Britain and the United States. How realistic are these expectations?

US current President Donald Trump spoke strongly in favor of Brexit from the very beginning. He called for a most dastic form of severing relations between Britain and the European Union, in return for which he promised the British a comprehensive free trade agreement in the shortest possible time. In September last year, British media reported that Trump and Johnson had allegedly agreed to sign a free trade agreement, which “will become the largest-scale deal the United States has ever reached.” According to these reports, the final signing of the contract is scheduled for July 2020. The terms of the transaction will not take effect immediately but after the Brexit transition period, which, according to the current agreements between London and Brussels, will come to a close in December 2020.

On January 25, US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said he was optimistic about the possibility of concluding a US-British free trade agreement this year. According to Reuters, Donald Trump also tends to consider the feasibility of reaching an agreement with the UK before the US presidential election in November. Britain, in turn, expects to use the agreement with the United States as an argument during trade negotiations with the EU. Both London and Washington declare their intention to “substantially expand” bilateral trade. Meanwhile, Mnuchin, along with a number of American Congressmen, have already made it clear that they deem unacceptable London’s plans to introduce a tax on digital services by such American IT giants as Facebook, Google and Amazon. So differences in the economic sphere are already in place now.

The doubts of the American establishment are also clear. Ten years ago, optimists believed that Britain’s future was unimaginable without the EU. Simultaneously, “special relations” with the United States enabled London to become a major moderator and, perhaps, the only Western country capable of streamlining the predictably inevitable weakening of American hegemony. At least, it was done with minimal losses for the entire “golden billion”, and in case of success it made possible extending its leading position among other world players for the foreseeable historical perspective.

When the “impossible” – Brexit – became reality, it became clear that the appearance of yet another “variable” in Europe could be beneficial for both Washington and London. The United States gets an effective tool of influence on Europe – it will make use of the differences between London and a number of East European countries traditionally oriented at the UK, and the other leading EU capitals. And the United Kingdom gets a chance to return to the “top of the world” with the support of still strong, but not so “strategically astute” or “politically flexible”, America.

By now, skeptics say, the nature of British-American relations has changed irreversibly. The trade deal could become a major stumbling block. In the first place, Trump has so far signed only one truly fundamental trade agreement – a new version of NAFTA. He is always seeking to dictate his will – “particularly, if the partner is weaker or in need.” “And for the United States, Britain is, at best, a satellite, not an equal partner.” In addition, with less than a year to go before the US presidential election, voters expect Trump to step up protective measures, rather than make concessions. Secondly, a full-scale trade agreement is subject to approval by the Congress. Trump is currently at “war with the Democrats.” Many Republicans may also come forward with requests to secure significant concessions from London. These could be farmers, the Irish lobby, who would want concessions over the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and representatives of IT corporations.

Thirdly, a trade agreement with the EU is more important for London. According to the BBC, British exports to the EU are 2.5 times higher than to the United States. The EU share in UK imports is almost 5 times higher than that of the US. The European market is closer and larger, while the overseas market is much smaller. Technically, an agreement with the European Union seems to be more achievable, given that now both parties have “common rules and standards”. Moreover, success in trade negotiations with the EU will deprive London of the opportunity to make substantial concessions to America. Finally, comprehensive trade agreements are prepared for years, if not decades. There could be exceptions, of course, for example, a kind of “mini-transaction” confined to a particular industry. However, such deals “will be problematic to present to the public as overwhelming success of Britain on the global scene and they will hardly make an adequate compensation for the break with the EU.” It is also unclear whether London is willing to pay the political price. For example, Trump may require unconditional support in the confrontation with China, or Iran, as a “bargain”. Or he may ask for a rejection of the “digital tax.” As a result, it will not be a trade agreement, but only a “transaction concerning trade”.

Meanwhile, in geopolitical sphere, relations between London and Washington are far from perfect too. In the summer of 2018, the UK expressed interest in establishing cooperation with the participants in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The latter is an upgraded version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump, in the very first weeks of his presidency, renounced as “not beneficial” for America. Britain’s position also clashes with that of the US on the preservation of a nuclear deal with Iran. Moreover, in addition to supporting Europeans, Germany and France at the diplomatic level, Britain was among the initiators of a European payment mechanism to circumvent US sanctions against Iran (INSTEX), which, however, has yet to become functional.

According to The Economist, in January this year, British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace publicly questioned Washington’s credibility as an ally. Present-day Britain, he said, is far from always ready to fight on the side of America. Wallace also expressed regret over his country’s “very strong” dependence on the United States for military aviation, as well as for electronic intelligence and surveillance. “We need to diversify our options” in these areas, – summed up the head of the military department of the United Kingdom. British experts were quick to remark that there had been no statements of this kind in London’s official statements of the past 70 years. The British leadership is still hoping to pursue the country’s own programs of creating advanced weapons, including fighters and spy satellites. Finally, what causes London’s growing concern is Trump’s “contempt for the allies” and the difference in strategic priorities. One British diplomat commented in The Economist as follows: “We fear Russia more than anyone else, while the US is wary of China. ”

What triggered the bulk of political and trade differences between London and Washington is London’s intention to include the Chinese company Huawei into the suppliers of equipment for fifth-generation telecommunications networks. The United States accuses Huawei of acting on orders from official Beijing to “spy” on residents of Western countries and even damage communications systems. Washington has been doing its utmost to convince all its allies that it is true. Last December the US introduced an amendment to the 2020 defense budget under which the government is to cut intelligence data exchanges with those allies that have endorsed the use of Huawei technologies in fifth-generation networks. The amendment will first concern anglophone countries that form the Five Eyes alliance whose members are involved in tight-knit cooperation on intelligence data exchanges and integrating electronic espionage infrastructure. Washington commentators describe the amendment as a “warning signal”.

The head of the US State Department Mike Pompeo did his best to put pressure on Britain, including in the course of his meeting with the head Foreign Office in Washington in January. However, what the US has achieved so far is Britain’s reiteration of its commitment to its former position under which Huawei will be kept away only from the “most sensitive” in terms of security elements of British IT and communication infrastructure. The US executive and legislative branches of power have reacted differently. The day before Brexit, on January 30th, Pompeo visited London, where he assured the British about the inviolability of privileged relations within the Five Eyes group. According to Reuters, Mike Pompeo expressed optimism over the prospect of signing a trade deal. Simultaneously, a number of Republican Senators have signaled unavoidable obstacles in the way to a bilateral trade agreement, which will entail London’s decision on 5G.

Overall, it looks like we are in for a long period of struggle for influence on Britain between Europe and the US. President Emmanuel Macron of France, along with the European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the UK Michel Barnier and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrel, have made it clear that the EU is planning to maintain close ties with Britain, including in «security and defense», and in addressing global issues in a multilateral international format. «The EU and Britain share history, geography, culture, common values and principles, and in international relations they are both committed to a multilateral approach on the basis of rules». Rules in this context mean European rules and standards. 

As for the US, Washington began to move «away from Europe» in the days of George Bush Jr. and continued to do so under Obama. For many Europeans it has long become clear that Trump’s European policies of the past three years smack of the old imperial principle of “divide and rule”. Apparently, the EU leadership have grounds to believe that the British will quickly come to the understanding that the current “world order” is impossible to preserve. The times of «symphony» between Thatcher and Reagan are a thing of remote past. Donald Trump is but a sign of the changes, not their cause. As said above, some principal figures in the Johnson Cabinet have said openly that the pattern of relations with America which came into existence after 1945 is going into the past. It looks like the prime minister is secretly hoping to organize a geopolitical “auction” in which two coasts of the Atlantic will bet for new terms of a union with the Foggy Albion. Right now, however, as Brexit critics say, after leaving the EU, Britain is playing the role of «a minor empire squeezed between two major ones». Is this the kind of future breakaway supporters want for their country?

From our partner International Affairs

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