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

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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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A leaderless ship: The Bulgaria’s political crisis and the storm to come

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Internal and international tensions

Politics tends to develop in a complex conundrum in all Balkan countries. Thus, never can observers take their eyes off the ball, investors feel completely safe or international partners express enduring satisfaction. In effect, this is the case also for bits of the region that have joined the European Union in the last decade. Recently, Bulgaria has been the most interesting hearth of, popular outrage, institutional instability and international tensions amongst the latter countries.

Actually, the atmosphere began simmering back in Summer 2020, when thousands of people took to the streets for several weeks. Arguably, the combination of the umpteenth high-echelon corruption scandal involving andthe pandemic-induced recession was only the most immediate cause. Swiftly, dissatisfaction led to vigorous calls for the Prime Minister’s and the Attorney General’s resignation and early election. Even the President of the Republic, Rumen Radev, broke with his supposed non-partisanship and joined the protestors gathering vast support. However, the winter suppressed street protests and Boyko Borisov, the Prime Minister, exploited the pandemic to justify his indifference.

In the meantime, the cabinet embroiled Bulgaria in a dispute which the country had refrained from ever since 1991. The so-called ‘Macedonian question’predates the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s independence, but only then turned into a crisis. Indeed, the hardest-fought issue was that surrounding the use of the name ‘Macedonia’, which Greece opposed until the Prespa Agreement. But the newly named Republic of North Macedonia has failed to acknowledge the deep historical and cultural connection with Bulgaria. Eventually, the former’s lack of real cooperation led Sofia to veto the opening of negotiations on EU membership. Thence, scholars have criticised the country’s government while foreign politicians tried to persuade Borisov to lift his veto.

Against the background of such a delicate, multifaceted domestic and international circumstances Bulgaria celebrated regular election on April 4. The country needed everything but being left leaderless, but this is exactly what happened.

Election results: Who to form a cabinet?

The most recent elections speak volume about the difficulty in understanding Bulgarian politics and understanding what the popular sentiment is. For a start, GERB, Borisov’s party, lost about 300,000 votes falling from 33.65%in 2017, to 26.18% this year. Moreover, the nationalist collation United Patriots, GERB’s reliable allies, split up and failed to clear the 4% threshold. Thus, with his 75 MPs in the 240-seat Parliament Borisov had no more a majority and desperately needed a partner.

At the same time, the elections produced an unusually hostile environment for GERB. In fact, a number of new leaders and formations emerged — all of which declared GERB a “most toxic party”. Still, opposing Borisov’s “model”, as they use to say, was not enough to form a government. Neither the protest party There is such a people (ITN) nor the establishment Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) even tried. Therefore, the two smaller protest parties – Democratic Bulgaria (DB) and Stand Up! Bastards Out (ISMV) – and the Muslim Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) had to accept new elections in July.

In effect, once the elections results became clear, no one nurtured many hopes for a stable government. The BSP had offered it external, conditional support to an ITN cabinet as the DPS and even GERB did. Perhaps, members of DB and ISMV could have joined the project to ensure wider representation. But all attempts failed in front of ITN’s leader, the showman-turned-politician SlaviTrifonov, display of “political fearfulness”. The ultimate result of these developments was the shortest parliamentin Bulgaria’s two-century history.

What the parliament produced

Without a fully-functioning political government and with a lame-duck Parliament, Bulgaria is traversing a difficult period. The legislature has yet to approve the Recovery and sustainability plan towards which the EU has granted €6bln ($7.3bln). Without these funds, it will be harder for the country’s economy to rebound after the last recession. At the same time, no one is in charge of managing the ongoing feud with the Republic of North Macedonia. Hence, Sofia can neither substantiate its claims and pretences vis-à-vis Skopje nor backtrack and let membership negotiations start. Finally, in the last weeks tensions between Bulgaria and Russia have risen with mutual expulsion of several high-ranking diplomats. In fact, Czech authorities have found out about a “Bulgarian connection” in the incidents allegedly blamed on Russian security services.

On the offense: ITN, DB and ISMV against GERB

Yet, the parliament has found not time to address any of these really pressing issues. As it often happens after the elections, foreign policy has disappearedfrom the order of the day. There was no discussion of either the bilateral relations with Russia nor the North Macedonian issue.

Representative from ITN, DB and ISMV wrapped up the Recovery plan into their wider attempt to publicly discredit GERB. Thus, they refused to let the competent executive official introducing the bill and pretended Borisov himself did it.

Meanwhile, the three parties and the BSP also forced a vote on the cabinet’s resignation. Hence, the government is officially in charge only of managing current affairs: it cannot update the budget or adopt new economic measures. The opposition also blocked the automatic renewal of key concession for Sofia’s airport and some highways to Borisov’s closest allies.

So-called ‘Protest parties’ also formed a parliamentary commission to investigate Borisov governments’ misdeed. However, the legislature will soon dissolve, so nothing will come out of it besides some gossipy kompromat. The only real change is a new electoral law,remedying to some of the previous legal framework’s most evident fallacies. The hope is that it will curb the purchase of votes and other instances of fraud.

Wait-and-see: Borisov’s unkind defence

Borisov’s loyalists in the government, in the Parliament and, more importantly, in the media are repelling this frontal assault vehemently.

Figure 1 Acting Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called the Parliament “a show” in a video on his Facebook page.

Acting foreign minister Ekaterina Zakharieva has spoken out against the supposed attempt to make 850,000 GERB voters ‘disappear’. The chair of GERB’s parliamentary group, Desislava Atanasova, accused other parties of having “failed to fulfil society’s interests”. Borisov himself went out for the biggest prey: President Radev.On Facebook he declared

I hope that Radev is not proud [of the result of last year’s protests …]: This parliamentary show costs 19 million [leva, €9.5mln] a day. It is better that they closed it because we would have gone bankrupt.

The opposition motto offers no way forward behind the idea that “What GERB did must be cancelled”. Yet, GERB is not less destructive in its agenda. Currently, Borisov’s clique is challenging both the moratorium of concessionsand the electoral reformin front of the constitutional court. According to many experts, the justices could strike down or rescale at least one of these two measures. Hence, all hopes for a real democratic change will likely evaporate as long as GERB holds the levers of power.

Forecast: A leaderless ship in a stormy sea

Some have been talking about the rebirth of parliamentarism. But partisanship, anger and personal hatred currently dominate Bulgaria’s politics. Thus, a disenchanted observer could only see the dismaying polarisationand personalisation of the mainstream political discourse. At this time, Bulgaria is like a ship whose crew has mutinied, but whose captain refuses to jump off. Fortunately, the peaks of the economic and sanitary crisis seem over — for now. But the international setting conspires against the vessel. A storm is mounting from the East and the West. Winds of reprisal spire from Russia, whereas the EU is increasingly discontent with Bulgaria’s management of the North Macedonian issue. Assuming that the next elections will produce a working government, either the mutineers or the old captain will be just in time to manage the gale. But should this not happen, the country may soon regret the current lull.

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Geopolitics of Europe and the Third Wave

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With hospitals filling up across the continent, new variants of the virus proliferating and vaccine shortages biting back, Europe can be seen to be under the third wave of the COVID crisis. This wave has been a confused sea across Europe in which some national epidemics are worsening, some are reaching their peak and some are declining. Although lockdowns have eased as vaccine drives make headway, the end of state emergency does not undermine the inevitable long-term consequences of the crisis. COVID has brought to the forefront new geopolitical dynamics and created risks for the foreign policy of the European Union on several fronts. Beyond the epidemiological challenge of the impending health calamity, economic, political and geopolitical challenges are also plenty.

The crisis has held up a mirror to the Western countries as their effectiveness in managing the pandemic has been distorted and has brought about de-Westernisation of the world. As globalisation is under strain, the crisis is bound to redraw the borders between the state and the markets in democracies such as the Member States of the EU. Such an environment is likely to emphasise on national initiatives to the detriment of international cooperation. In a post-COVID world, the EU may have to deal with its geopolitical problems with less external credibility as well as internal solidarity among its member states.  

The potential geopolitical consequences of the virus can be identified by extrapolating those trends that were taking place before the onset of the virus.  Amidst evolving global scenarios, there has been a constant push from the EU to establish itself as a relevant geopolitical actor to realise its global power aspirations. In this context, it becomes important to note the two areas of concern raised by the crisis consist of questions on the internal cohesion of the EU and Europe’s ability to adapt to the increasing rivalry and competition among other global powers. 

The EU as a player derives its identity from its supranationalism. However, with COVID wreaking havoc on the already unequal economy of the Northern and Southern Europe, the downslides of globalisation are being highlighted. This is likely to further embolden nationalist narratives, rather than European solutions. This will lead to the fragmentation of the region into its component member-states part, threatening the very identity if the Union. This has been a challenge to the EU as the Union recognizes solidarity as a fundamental principle as per Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union. With the EU is facing the increasingly centrifugal ‘member states first’ approach put forward by the European capitals, the European integration project is under threat.

Further, with the pre-existing tensions between US and China, the European Union has been facing heat from both the sides of the Pacific. While the EU has put forward its own Indo-Pacific Strategy in order to constructively engage with the region, it continues to be challenged by America’s confrontational foreign policies and also being apprehensive of China’s refusal to open up their markets at a time of dwindling global economies, China’s assault on Hong Kong’s independence as well as China’s growing support towards the populist parties of Europe. The EU has come to perceive China as a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance with this perception largely being shaped by China’s revisionist challenge and its alarming nationalist narrative. 

It is important to understand that coronavirus is not here to kill geopolitics. However, the European Union will have to strengthen their efforts towards ensuring that the pandemic does not kill the EU as a geopolitical force. The European Commission must step up its efforts to broker the Multilateral Financial Framework (MFF) among member states which was long pending even before the pandemic struck the continent. It would enable the Union to act collectively in funding recovery efforts in a post-COVID reconstruction of the economies. Further, the EU should focus on shortening their supply chains pursuing a policy of strategic autonomy such that EU’s external dependencies are diversified. The need of the hour is to rebuild an economically sound healthcare Europe while at the same time working towards a more geopolitical Europe. This will require EU to continue investment as a full-spectrum power in military as well as other security capabilities along with assistance and aid to the neighboring countries to rebuild their resilience in a geopolitically volatile environment. 

The EU needs to defend and promote the European model which is struggling to stand amidst the global battle of narratives along with maintaining its strategic autonomy in health, economic and other sectors. At the same time, the Union needs to bolster existing and forge new alliances in order to fill the gap on multilateralism. It needs to locate a strategic edge to resist the external pressures and protect its presence in the global scene and continue being relevant in the changing global order with its extraordinary transcontinental presence of soft power. 

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Europe

How a Democracy Can Be Undermined: Some Lessons

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Democracies have an inbuilt flaw when their own processes can be employed to undermine them.  It is what has happened in Hungary in the last decade, and Hungary is not alone. 

In his youth the current prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, was an ardent dissident leading a youth movement, Fidesz, and in 1989 he was calling for the removal of Soviet troops and free democratic elections.  Opposition to single-party socialist rule was eventually successful, and he was elected a Fidesz member of the National Assembly in 1990. 

In 1998, his party won a plurality, and he served his first term as prime minister until 2002 when the socialists returned to power.  However, a landslide victory in 2010 gave Orban a two-thirds supermajority, and with it the power to amend constitutional laws. 

Shortly thereafter in 2011 a new constitution was promulgated which gave the Fidesz control of the judiciary, and administrative commissions responsible for elections, media and the budget.  Hence Orban’s ubiquitous presence on billboards around Budapest — a consequence of a law regulating billboards that he passed driving his supporter’s competitors out of business.  Opposition flyers may now be found posted on poles and trees … and good luck seeing them at a distance. 

With the opposition weakened, Hungary became a democracy backsliding to authoritarianism.  In 2020, the parliament passed laws that allow Orban to declare an emergency at will and then rule by decree. 

All of which poses a conundrum: Anti-democratic laws passed by an elected government undermine democracy yet at the same time can be considered the will of the people, even if they infringe their rights.   

If one believes the U.S. is immune, consider elected politicians gerrymandering districts to remain in power.  And if we believe for an instant that all of this is a right-wing phenomenon, we just have to glance at Venezuela and Nicolas Maduro.

Freedom House’s classifications of freedom in 210 countries note that Venezuela is not free.  Orban’s Hungary is now only partly free in contrast with, say, the Czech Republic, another former communist East European state which is classified free.  

In their book How to Save a Constitutional Democracy, Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq argue that forces of democratic decay often accompany the appearance on stage of a charismatic leader holding the populace in thrall.  They also note three pillars supporting democracy: free and fair elections, freedom of expression and association, and the bureaucratic rule of law.  The latter implies the independent functioning of bodies like the election commission, the Federal Reserve, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Administration and so on. This limits the power of the central executive unlike in Mr. Orban’s case. 

Fortunately from the Ginsburg and Huq analysis the U.S. appears to be well insulated and employs freedom of association in particular to great effect.  There can be chinks in the armor, however, as is happening in Georgia with new voter suppression laws. 

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