Michael Fallon is British Defence Secretary. He is adept at making the types of statements that epitomise the pro-neoliberal, militaristic rhetoric that people in the UK have become tired of.
Following Jeremy Corbyn being elected as leader of the Labour Party in Britain, he stated:
“Labour are now a serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security and your family’s security. Whether it’s weakening our defences, raising taxes on jobs and earnings, racking up more debt and welfare or driving up the cost of living by printing money – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will hurt working people.”
Continuing with this theme, speaking on Britain’s Radio 5 Fallon last year argued for the need “to spend less on some things like the welfare system and to spend more on things that really matter to keep our country safe.”
With a £12 billion saving on cuts to the welfare budget, this statement by Fallon was attempting to justify a £12 billion increase to the military budget to help pay for eight BAE warships, nine Boeing maritime patrol crafts, surveillance drones and Lockheed Martin jets.
That’s £12 billion of taxpayer money diverted from helping fellow Brits most in need into the pockets of rich armaments manufacturers.
Fear mongering and swindling are convenient bedfellows in the neoliberal dystopia.
Keeping “our country safe” is part of Fallon’s wider rhetoric about containing ‘Russian aggression’.
Following the US-instigated coup in Ukraine and with no hint of irony intended, Fallon says Putin could repeat the tactics used to destabilise Ukraine and the Baltic states and that NATO must be ready for Russian aggression in “whatever form it takes.” He added that that Russia is a “real and present danger.”
One aim of the coup in Ukraine was to oust Russia from its Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol in Crimea. And now NATO is increasing pressure on Russia over its Chernyakhovsk naval airbase in Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian enclave on the Baltic coast sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.
Aside from an agreement to use the Cam Ranh air base in Vietnam, Russia’s only military base outside former Soviet Union territory is the naval base at Tartus in Syria. There too, Western backed attempts at ‘regime change’ include dislodging Russian interests. It seems that the US will not tolerate any Russian military bases abroad yet it can have 800 military bases/installments of its own scattered around the world, including the encirclement of Iran, Russia and China.
In recent days, Fallon has been in the news again after three Russian aircraft were seen approaching Baltic airspace. The British RAF responded by sending its Typhoon fighter jets to intercept them. Thejets were launched from Amari air base in Estonia. The RAF made the decision to scramble the jets after the Russian crafts apparently did not transmit a recognised identification code.
Fallon called the incident an “act of Russian aggression” and said:
“This is another example of just how important the UK’s contribution to the Baltic Air Policing Mission is. We were able to instantly respond to this act of Russian aggression – demonstration of our commitment to NATO’s collective defence.”
The NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission is a NATO initiative in which members cooperate to help Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania “guard their air space.”
“This deployment underlines our commitment to the sovereignty of the democratic nations of Eastern Europe. 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next four months, our RAF Typhoons will be ready to respond instantly to Russian aggression in Baltic airspace.”
When discussing whether or not Britain should leave the EU, he continued with his rhetoric to depict Russia as a dangerous enemy standing beneath the standards of decency by stating that leaving the EU would “only bring comfort to our adversaries, whether they are in Raqqa or in Moscow.”
By attempting to link Russia with ISIS in the minds of the public, he conveniently chooses to ignore that in Syria it was Russia which helped drive back ISIS in a matter of months, while the US and its allies have been facilitating it and other terror groups for years in their attempt to topple a sovereign government in Syria that has led an estimated 400,000 deaths. And let us not forget the death tolls in Libya and Iraq as a direct result of illegal wars or conflicts that were fuelled and assisted by NATO countries and their allies.
Since when did Russia become an ‘adversary’, we might ask. The answer is when Washington decided to break prior agreements with Moscow and then encircle it with troops and missiles, as described here by Eric Zeusse.
Putin has stated that Russia will react appropriately and proportionately to the approach of NATO’s military infrastructure towards its borders.
But in the warped world of Fallon, not rolling over and accepting Washington’s duplicity and NATO intimidation and aggression makes you an adversary. Zuesse writes:
“The expectation and demand is clearly that Russia must allow itself to be surrounded by NATO, and to do this without complaint, and therefore also without taking military countermeasures, which NATO would call yet more “aggression by Russia.” Any defensive moves by Russia can thus be taken by the West to be unacceptable provocation and justification for a “pre-emptive” attack against Russia by NATO.”
It seems wild claims and fear mongering comes natural to Fallon. He is currently facing legal action after saying, during London mayoral race, that a Muslim cleric supported ISIS. Fallon has apologised to the cleric, Suliman Gani. Gani is suing Fallon.
If Fallon wants to offer soundbites about ‘Russian aggression’, he would do well to contemplate what the situation would be if Russian aircraft, troops and missile systems were stationed close to US borders; if Russia had destabilised Canada and placed a neo-fascist regime in power there; if Russia had slapped sanctions on the US, attacked its currency and had rigged global oil prices to undermine the US economy; if Russia had destroyed Libya with its jets or had trained, bussed in and armed death squads in Syria to invade what is a sovereign state.
According to the twisted logic of Michael Fallon, this would constitute ‘American aggression’. Yet this is the situation in reverse concerning what the US-led West has done.
Fallon and his associates and backers are recklessly plunging the world to the precipice of nuclear confrontation by breaking agreements with Russia, lying to the public and keeping the public in the dark.
To put this Russian aggression into perspective, the US spends more on its military than the next eight countries combined. Also, compare this rather short list of Russian bases abroad with the US military’s colonisation of much of the world.
But regardless of actual facts, the psych-ops about ‘Russian aggression’ being directed at the public is unrelenting and is encapsulated by retired General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander. He says:
“I have this awful vision of the Baltic States being seized, NATO unable to respond, Putin then blackmails using nuclear weapons what is called chillingly ‘nuclear de-escalation’ and NATO is unable to do anything about it… The alliance collapses and at a stroke, Putin has destroyed … the organisation perhaps he most fears the most, NATO. America is decoupled from Europe and the world is changed irrevocably.”
Referring to events in Crimea, Shirreff said of Putin:
“What we’ve seen is an adventurer, an opportunist who’s able to make decisions very quickly to seize opportunities as they’re presented.”
Putin could hardly be called an “adventurer” when the US acted to destabilise Russia’s immediate neighbour. Consider the US and its ongoing actions to protect its own ‘national interest’: its unrelenting atrocities across the globe, as outlined by William Blum here andhere.
Then there is former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Admiral James Stavridis who deems Russian aggression a greater threat than terrorism. He argues that NATO needs to step up its defence systems if it is to provide enough of a deterrent to Putin who is depicted as an adventurous leader capable of disregarding international law and seizing situations to his advantage.
This from someone who represents the US, a country that has flagrantly abused international law to carry out illegal wars, torture, drone assassinations and mass murder as and when it deems necessary. The hypocrisy and deceit are palpable.
General Breedlove, Chief of Staff of the American European Command, continues the theme with his twisted world view and dangerous, inflammatory propaganda about Russia and Putin, as discussed here.
Aside from the as yet unofficially declared war against Russia, the US is now increasing pressure on China, another nuclear armed state. If the US does not pull back and accept the reality of a multi-polar world (which it currently does not – and its entire foreign policy is geared to securing global dominance), there will be but one outcome: war with Russia and China that would very likely escalate to involve nuclear weapons.
Here are some thoughts for Michael Fallon to consider.
When your government’s policies have already jeopardized national security by inflicting terror on other countries; when the policies you support have already helped sell the economy to the lowest bidder and have attacked welfare, unions and livelihoods; when the policies you support have allowed massive levels of tax evasion/avoidance; when you and your neoliberal policies have allowed national and personal debt to spiral; when you have driven up the cost of living by handing over public assets to profiteering cartels; when you have flittered away taxpayers money to banks; when you allowed the richest 1,000 people in the UK to increase their wealth by 50% in 2009 alone while you impose ‘austerity’ on everyone else – then what else can you offer but to roll out a good old dose of fear mongering about Corbyn and Russia simply because you have no actual positive argument or policies to offer the public?
People like Fallon talk about protecting Britain and boosting national security by standing shoulder to shoulder with Washington’s bogus ‘war on terror’ and the destruction of sovereign states like Iraq, Syria and Libya. They do of course sell this to the public in terms of humanitarianism, rooting out terror or securing the safety of the nation.
Fallon’s propaganda and sound bites about ‘democracy’ and respect for ‘sovereignty’ only work as long as folk remain ignorant and apathetic; and only as long as people fail to challenge and hold such politicians to account.
Fallon, David Cameron and assorted pro-Washington establishment mouthpieces will continue to try to fool the public about ‘Russian aggression’ because they have signed up to Washington’s plan to undermine and destroy Russia. Britain stands solidly behind US foreign policy aimed at attacking Russia.
The pro-Washington brigade of senior politicians in Britain is following the US into a dead end as its economy continues to flatline. There is only jobless growth, if there is any growth at all. Stock market bubbles – like real estate bubbles, like creating money out of thin air, like rentier capitalism that produces nothing but only extracts royalties or interest, like treasury bond imperialism that has allowed the US to live beyond its means at the expense of other nations – all of this is ultimately a dead end for US ‘capitalism’. The system is unproductive and parasitic.
Militarism is but one arm of a neoliberal agenda that seeks to bend all working people and regions to the will of Western capital. Politicians such as Fallon are merely bidding on behalf of the rich interests they ultimately represent: whether these interests are readily identifiable individuals like Soros and Murdoch or, in more general terms, involve ‘corporate America’s’ exploits in Africa, for example, or are those that seek to benefit on the back of war and violence in places such as Ukraine and Iraq.
Ultimately, political managers of a system designed to maintain and increase the power and wealth of their backers are conditioned to act in a way that deceives the public; not only that, they must act in a manner that mirrors the scant regard for human life exhibited by the elite they serve.
Notwithstanding all of the other bombings, wars and conflicts over the decades, there are well over a million dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya as a result of direct military intervention or covert actions by the Western powers and their allies (the death count for Iraq alone between 1990 and 2012 could be 3.3 million as a result of Western economic sanctions and illegal wars). All for geopolitical gain, power and wealth buried beneath the deceit of humanitarianism or a war on terror. And, for those who enrich themselves on the back of violence, all “worth it” no doubt.
It is ordinary working people who ultimately pay the price of a corrupt neoliberalism underpinned by rampant militarism, whether refugees fleeing from conflict, civilian deaths in war zones or those subject to the types of structural violence that ‘austerity’ or other forms of economic plunder bring courtesy of the IMF, World Bank, WTO or trade agreements like NAFTA, TPA and TTIP.
But the ultimate price for everyone – both rich and poor – will be a World War fought with nuclear weapons.
Colin Todhunter is an independent writer