Stop the War’s President breaks down the current ‘Cold War by another name’

Brian Eno

My feeling is that Britain doesn’t really want an actual war with Russia but thinks it would gain a lot from a nail-biting confrontation. So, what’s to gain?

1) It distracts us (- the Falklands formula). A permanent state of near-war makes a country easier to govern and silences any opposition – witness what was recently said about Stop the War coalition when we dared to question the rush to confrontation.

2) It cements ‘the special relationship’ with USA in the economic vacuum left by Brexit (and makes us feel important).

3) It provides lucrative jobs for the boys – this is PPE-for-pals X 10. One of the few remaining things at which we truly excel (along with pop music and money-laundering) is weapons building. That enterprise, generously supported by our taxes, has to be refreshed every so often by the threat of conflict.

4) It allows us to rattle our sabres on the world stage to show that we’re still relevant and ready to perform our ‘attack poodle’ role in NATO.

5) It provides cover for our long-term project of undermining the Gorbachev/Reagan agreement. The Russians have been complaining for decades about NATO’s violations of that agreement and our continual pressure on the Russian border, and we haven’t stopped. Our strategy: keep poking them until they react, and then use their reaction as evidence that they’re hostile and can’t be trusted. That’s where we are now.

Now look at the situation from Russia’s point of view.

The Gorbachev/Reagan agreement proposed disarming both America and Russia and respecting each other spheres of influence. It was explicit that NATO would not try to co-opt the ex-Soviet countries adjacent to the Russian border – which it promptly set about doing. Whatever the internal politics of Ukraine, the West’s intentions – veiled by protestations about ‘freedom’ and ‘sovereign rights’ – seem obvious. It’s Cold War by another name.

America maintains about 800 military bases in other countries. Russia is surrounded on most sides by those and the vast arsenals of weapons they contain. Again, imagine how Americans would feel if they were ringed by Russian bases.

I don’t write this as an admirer of Putin, but if I look around the world over the past twenty or thirty years and ask myself who is actually stoking these conflicts – in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan for example – it isn’t the Russians. It’s the Americans and us. I think we depend on being in a permanent state of quasi-war, and I see this latest incident as another attempt to keep the pot boiling. This outcome might not be anybody’s plan – it just turned out that way because that’s how the system works most smoothly.

As George Orwell said in ‘1984’:

“The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture…. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that the hierarchical society needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair.”

17 Feb 2022 by Brian Eno

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