Editor’s Note from Rabbi Michael Lerner:
One thing I’m sure of is that media accounts available in the United States are so tainted by anti-Russia and U.S. nationalist and capitalist interests that we have no idea of what is really happening in Ukraine.
It is clear that the U.S. involvement is not “out of the blue,” but part of an ongoing campaign to increase NATO power and Western economic penetration of the countries surrounding Russia, stimulating for some Russians reminders of the previous trauma of being attacked by the Nazis and others through the Ukraine, where pro-fascist, anti-communist and anti-Semitic sentiments ran strong and welcomed foreign interventions. While we at “Tikkun” have some doubts about parts of the analyses by Robert Parry and Norman Solomon presented below, I am sharing them because they have the advantage of momentarily challenging the dominant discourse, though in ways that represent its own peculiar perspective. And they do have some plausibility-we know that much of the neo-con perspective on the world is based on an amalgam to two somewhat different commitments that have been welded together:
a. the neo-cons whose primary goal is to maintain and expand the U.S. economic and political empire and
b. the neo-cons whose primary goal is to protect Israel and destroy all of its potential enemies–a list that grows longer and longer as long as Israel retains its dominance over the Palestinian people and denies them fundamental human rights.
These two goals come together as long as the United States is perceived by the neo-cons as the primary and sole reliable ally of Israel, and all others are suspected of being willing to see Israel destroyed. Russia’s backing of Iran and Syria are seen as threatening to Israel and threatening to the domination-interests of American political and economic interests, so renewing the Cold War with Russia is from the neo-con standpoint an important goal.
Ironically, however, the neocons seem all too willing to ignore the fascistic and proto-Nazi elements in the coalition that last week overthrew the democratically elected and pro-Russian government. But for those of us Jews who have not drunk the neo-con cool-aid, it’s not hard to see that the one thing that might reunite all elements of both sides is anti-Semitism, which has a long and disgusting history in both Russian and Ukrainian nationalism, and very little has been done in either society to root out the teachings and the aspects of popular culture that retain that undercurrent of hatred against Jews.
For us, neither side looks particularly appealing, and a U.S. crusade on one or the other side of this conflict seems deeply misguided. So it is particularly distressing to watch the U.S. news media frame this whole issue as one in which President Obama is being called upon to prove his “toughness” (read: manliness) by standing up to the Russians.
We’d prefer if he would stand up to Israel’s Netanyahu and do the one thing that would best help the Jewish people, namely using American economic and political power to push Israel toward an accommodation with the Palestinian people, thereby actually enhancing Israel’s long-term survivability. But that, of course, would be portrayed by the neo-con dominated media as capitulation to Arabs and lack of backbone. Yet even a much smaller gesture-articulating to Israelis a vision of what a fair-minded and sustainable agreement would contain, such as I outline in the Winter 2014 issue [ http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/what-terms-for-middle-east-peace-would-actually-work ] of “Tikkun”, could make a huge impact in moving the whole discourse toward peace. Well, I’m not holding my breath, because Obama is in fact without backbone to stand up to the neo-cons and their powerful media friends, and that means without the backbone to do this one thing an American president could do to create the preconditions for a lasting Middle East peace. That will not be facilitated by a renewed Cold War. It remains to be seen if Obama has the backbone to stand up to those who are cheerleading for this new Cold War with Russia.