Iraqis often say that Iran and Saudi Arabia fight their wars with each other in disregard of the Iraqi people. The geography of the area explains how this is so. Iraq sits directly between the two. It might also be said that other superpowers, the United States and its on-going challenger, Russia, also fight their power struggles over the backs of various nations. Much of the world sits between the goals of these monoliths (at least from the perspective of a Eurocentric world map) and suffer constant manipulations.
That Russia and the US do this is, of course, unfair, and many suffer because of it. It is also a fact that, where one of these two nations is not present in another country, the other will be present. Sometimes, they will both maintain a physical presence within the same nation, but one is always looking to get the upper-hand. I consider this as just a matter of fact; as a long-standing wrestle for power that must be phased out; yet knowing we are challenged on how to accomplish the sovereignty of nations free of this turmoil.
Most nations are – or, at least, seem to be – immune to the US vs Russia challenge; Canada, for example; and who has heard of any recent struggles in Jordan? But even the United Nations of Europe stand guard and worry about Russian expansionism, depending, in part, on NATO to provide protection for them even while Donald Trump hints and threatens to dismantle the longstanding institution keeping them safe.
Additionally, nations that were once part of the former USSR are currently doing their best to resist becoming a Russian satellite state once more. Russia is aggressively trying to regain what it lost, even while the US contemplates providing its NATO allies in the Russian vicinity some weapons for their own resistance.
Of course, Russia is no longer truly “socialist”; but the government is controlled by billionaires in what is now an oligarchy. This is not surprising: as the top one percent of the wealthy of the world have become so powerful as to strongly influence and control world politics through, for example, funding political campaigns in return for favourable policies, a similar power structure has evidently been shaped in Russia and the United States. Political ideologies, including democracy, are suffering under the corrupting presence of billionaires with political plans of their own. These people seem to have much less loyalty to democracy than to the acquisition of finance capital.
We average citizens of the world are consequently faced with several critical matters concerning what I consider God-given rights. How do we resist having our lives managed by oligarchs; the powerful super-rich who are influencing governments? Some of our politicians are indeed good men, so how can we help them stay strong in opposition to corporate and misguided super-PAC influence? What can impoverished people in other continents do to prevent their leaders from continuing to sell their natural resources to billionaires on terms that will only feed its citizens for a few days.
But let me return to the subject of Russia and its reaches into other nations’ borders. Russia has regained Crimea and is aggressively pushing to again control Ukraine. There are many that allege one time Trump campaign director and friend, Paul Manafort, orchestrated revolution in Crimea which had been previously governed by Ukraine. Political strategist Manafort had been hired by pro-Moscow Crimean leader, Victor Yanukovych, to help his “campaign”. Manafort’s wealth is reportedly “only” 30 million dollars, which would put him well below the definition of billionaire or oligarch, but there are many heavy players in these political shenanigans whose real fortunes are well hidden and whose reported net worth is also questionable.
The haunting idea remains that there are men with few personal loyalties, who paid huge amounts to manipulate and control political feelings of the average citizens of nations. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has said that Russia was able to regain Crimea without shedding blood. Indeed, not much was shed. The feat was mostly accomplished by stoking old feelings of nationalism in the hearts of the simple Crimeans of the former USSR, and by putting pressure on Crimean political delegates. Much of this “work” is done through media. The talk radio citizens listen to in their cars seem among the strongest of influences.
In fact, this type of thing is what is now being investigated as having happened in the United States. The campaign of Donald Trump stands suspected of colluding with “the” Russians to influence the outcome of the most recent presidential election. But who are “the” Russians in question? It is certainly not the average Russian citizen. “The” Russians in this case would be billionaires, oligarchs and Russian oil company heavies such as those former President Barack Obama tried to thwart in his final days of presidency, by blocking drilling in the Arctic region of our currently fragile planet. These are the people who needed Trump to be president and open the oil territories to them.
In fact, one of Trump’s first cabinet hires was Head of State Department Rex Tillerson, who had previously worked with Russians on collaborative oil projects while CEO of Exxon Oil. Is it in the best interest of the citizens of the world to produce more oil? No, but it certainly makes the billionaires and oligarchs richer. It seems an average person might question the logic of further oil dependency, but perhaps the very wealthy have ensured their own survival. Or maybe, and more likely, greed renders these people unable to be logical.
Oligarchs continue to look for new inroads of influence aimed at average citizens. They don’t seem to care much about war and suffering, as they can afford to remove themselves away from these things. However, the super-rich are influencing these matters also. For example, will a weapons manufacturer strongly speak out against war, or insist it is sadly unfortunate but unavoidable?
A few years ago in Britain, 2010, “The Independent”, a hard-copy newspaper, was bought by former Russian KGB agent, and later Russian billionaire newspaperman, Alexander Lebedev. The paper is now under the management of his son, Evgeny Lebedev, and has become an exclusively electronic internet publication. And, as of recent, The Independent has developed a new partnership with Saudi billionaire, Mohamed Abuljadayel. In cooperation with Abuljadayel, the news outlet will now also be published in Arabic and Urdu.
It is said Alexander Lebedev’s Russian news outlet was critical of Putin’s tyrannical impulse and undemocratic style, but there is no way to know what things are done for strategic purpose as opposed to altruism- but the situation is more than a little suspect. As the roots of Russian oligarchy grow out into not only what was previously Russia’s Soviet Union, Russia’s powerful have also been determined by all of the intelligence agencies within, and some outside the US, to have meddled in the recent US election.
Vladimir Putin made no secret that he did not want to see Hillary Clinton as US president, and issued fearful warnings to citizens via state controlled television. To give the people a sense of doom and worry about the possibility of Clinton’s election, Putin began citizen drills for bomb attacks in earnest about one month before the November election, telling them to also be prepared for biological and chemical attacks if Hillary Clinton were elected. As so, Russian citizens were of course joyous over the election of Donald Trump.
While nothing is yet proven, many have strong suspicion that Trump is “in the pocket” of Russian oligarchs. Trump is reported to owe money from loans made to him by very wealthy Russian “businessmen”, at least some of whom are being investigated for illegal money laundering; using ill gotten monies to purchase expensive New York real estate. Perhaps the biggest of these Russian companies was a group known as Prevezon.
It has been learned that, during the US presidential campaign, key officials of the Trump campaign met secretly with a party who offered information damaging to Hillary Clinton (to help Trump win). Several Russians were in attendance for the meeting, but the main spokesperson was a female attorney who “coincidentally” works for Prevezon. She was said to have been sent by the Russian government; perhaps alluding to Putin himself.
Under investigation about this recently, Trump’s campaign team insist they refused the proffered damaging information on Clinton, and told they had mistakenly believed the meeting was about “Russian adoption matters”. Shortly after the supposedly unfruitful meeting, damaging information on Hillary Clinton was indeed released via the Russia-friendly “Wiki-leaks”, which resulted in damage to Clinton’s campaign. She was shown vulnerable to cyber-attack, and much harm was done to her reputation, as the timing of this coincided with other “trumped up” charges of incompetence. Trump stood ready to crow that he was the stronger and better.
Whatever way, Vladimir Putin and “Russia”, as a propaganda machine, have already won. They have further damaged the ideal of democracy; making it appear so unstable; so easily thrown down in this wrestling match for power. They make beautiful democracy seem somewhat how she is now; kidnapped and abused; dragged in effigy through the streets of Moscow, Tripoli, Baghdad… and even Washington, DC.
So we see how much political influence is possible through such manipulative means; and the people orchestrating these things are not necessarily aligned to anything more than being rich and staying rich. One exception may be Vladimir Putin who, at a reported net worth of 70 billion dollars, seems even more motivated by a nationalist fervor with a goal to restore pride lost during the collapse and dissolution of the USSR. Putin seems to have something big to prove, and at age 60, the man exercises vigorously every day as if preparing for a marathon. He is obviously not ready to retire, does not seem satisfied with what he (“Russia”) has, but as he has learned: expansionism doesn’t necessarily equal bloodshed if the most effective words are told.
So the superpowers have learned the word is more powerful than the sword, but still we cannot expect citizens will not be used as fodder for war. And where on this planet are there more natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, metals and minerals, to be mined, and poor people to do the slaves’ work? What can the oligarchs accomplish without bloodshed? Or with it?
Next, we should look suspiciously at what messages the billionaires behind The Independent and other news outlets will be bringing the average citizens of this world who speak Arabic and Urdu languages, or any other language too. As regular citizens of the world, we are always concerned about the rights of the people more than about who will rule – though the two often come hand-in-hand. Let’s stay aware. Question everything you read and hear.
Russia and “the West”: six of one, half a dozen of the other?