Destructive political strategy: the west needs the antagonism of Russia to glue the fractious alliance together – and bolster the arms trade
In the FT, Professor Robert H. Wade comments on a reference in an article by Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former US permanent representative to NATO
Daalder argues that Russian president Vladimir Putin “needs the antagonism of the west to protect his standing at home”, and therefore acts as the unprovoked aggressor in order both to generate that antagonism and to expand the boundaries of Russia’s territorial control. Daalder therefore advocates that the west must strengthen the western alliance’s military forces around Russia (“The best answer to Russian aggression is containment”).
Wade questions his statement that “the core of our strength is western unity”: “In fact, western unity is fragile”. As Mr Putin needs the antagonism of the west to protect his standing at home, so the west needs the antagonism of Russia (helped by China) to glue the fractious alliance together.
Intelligence of the ‘dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the US-led attack on Iraq’
The western exaggeration of the Russian government’s role in the civil war in Ukraine is cited by Wade and we are informed that eight retired US intelligence analysts wrote a letter to German chancellor Angela Merkel in August 2014 warning her that the intelligence supporting the accusation of a major Russian invasion of Ukraine “seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the US-led attack on Iraq”.
Actions of the kind endorsed by Mr Daalder help to provoke the needed antagonism
Western voters and taxpayers should be wary of western governments exaggerated portrayal of Russia as the unprovoked aggressor and themselves as innocent defenders, which serves to fortify the fragile western alliance.
He adds that it also satisfies the arms industry, for which weapons systems against threatening states are much more profitable than those against terrorists . . . If the aim is genuinely to curb Russian aggression, western states and NATO have to be less aggressive towards Russia.