You’ve probably read all sorts of theories that seek to explain the causes of the ‘new cold war’ in which we find ourselves. From the embarrassingly simplistic “Putin’s a Hitler” offered by the Western press to the more nuanced idea of an ‘energy war’ between US-Europe-Russia. The truth about why we are where we are right now, as a species, however, is actually fairly simple. But to understand it you’ll have to ditch the idea of a ‘new cold war’ and replace it with ‘the 120-year-old war that never ended’.
If you like your history condensed and relevant to current events, then read on.
Over 100 years ago, in 1904, one of the founding fathers of both geopolitics and geostrategy, Oxford University graduate and co-founder of the London School of Economics, Sir Halford Mackinder, proposed a theory that expanded geopolitical analysis from the local or regional level to a global level. Geopolitics is the study (by people in positions of power) of the effects of geography (human and physical) on international politics and international relations. In layman’s terms, this means the study of how best to control as much of the world – its resources, human and natural – as possible. When you or I think about the world, we think of a big, complicated place with billions of people. When the ‘elite’ think of the world, they think of a globe, or a map, with nation states on it that can, and should, according to them, be shaped and changed en masse.
Mackinder separated the world into just a few regions.
- The ‘world Island’, and area roughly comprising the interlinked continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
- The offshore islands, including the British Isles and the islands of Japan.
- The outlying islands, including the continents of North America, South America, and Australia.
The most important of these, by far, was the ‘world island’ and in particular what he called the ‘heartland’, which basically means Russia. Mackinder said that whoever controls the ‘heartland’ (Russia) controls the ‘world island’ (Eurasia and Africa), and whoever controls that, controls the world. It’s a fairly self-evident analysis of the situation because the great majority of the world’s population and resources are on the Eurasian continent, and holding a vast northern position on that landmass – with your rearguard protected by an impassable frozen ocean – gives you the prime vantage point, or ‘higher ground’ if you will.
Mackinder probably arrived at this conclusion as a result of the British experience of Empire. The British had a large empire on which ‘the sun never set’ (and the blood never dried), and while the British elite made a lot of money, and caused a lot of suffering, by expropriating the resources of other peoples, they were never able to truly ‘rule the world’ because the ‘heartland’ (Russia) was not conquered and made a subservient state of Western powers, largely due to its massive size and the fact that Russia had long since been an Empire itself.
In 1904, Mackinder’s ideas (shared by his contemporaries) were already common currency among the anglo-American elite of the day, who sought global domination by way of the prevention of any competitor to the United States. Russia was that natural potential competitor, again due its size, resources and imperial history. So even before the turn of the 20th century, the US elite, in league with their British co-ideologues, were busying themselves with the task of ‘neutralizing’ Russia as a threat to their plans for global hegemony. As Mackinder published his ideas, US and British political, industrialist and banker types had already embarked on the process of ‘regime change’ in Russia by way of one of the ‘offshore islands’, specifically, Japan.
First War, Then Revolution
In 1898, Russia had agreed a convention with China that leased the Chinese port of ‘Port Arthur’ to Russia. At the time this was Russia’s only warm water Pacific seaport (and it was as strategically important as Crimea is to Russia today). Both the British and Americans were concerned about the close relationship between Russia and Germany (Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany were cousins) and the possibility that France might join them in a triple anti-British alliance. To the British and Americans this was a clear “threat to the international order”.1 To thwart Russian intentions in Asia, in 1902 Great Britain and Japan signed the ‘Anglo-Japanese alliance’ which stipulated that if either Japan or Great Britain were attacked by more than one enemy they would support each other militarily. This was effectively a green light from the British for Japan to go to war with Russia if necessary, safe in the knowledge that neither France nor Germany (Russia’s allies) would intervene and risk war with Britain. From this point on, Japan effectively acted as a protector of British interests in East Asia.
From February 8th 1904 to September 5th 1905 the first ‘great war’ of the 20th century was fought between Japan and Tsarist Russia, largely over access to ‘Port Arthur’. The British government supplied the Japanese navy with war ships and during the war itself passed intelligence to the Japanese. Perhaps the most significant aid to the Japanese government came in the form of loans from British and American banks and financial institutions that totaled $5billion at today’s value, including a $200 million ‘loan’ from prominent Wall St. banker Jacob Schiff.2 During World War I, Schiff and other Wall Street bankers would also extend loans to the Central Powers, despite officially being enemies of their adopted homeland, the USA.
Russia fielded over one million soldiers and sailors against Japan’s 500,000, but Russia still lost the war, largely due to support from the British and the Americans. The decisive battle occurred on 27-28 May 1905 when the Russian and Japanese navies met at the Tsushima strait. Two thirds of the Russian fleet was destroyed. Russia’s defeat was underlined by the Treaty of Portsmouth, which confirmed Japan’s emergence as the pre-eminent power in East Asia and forced Russia to abandon its plans to develop the Siberia-Pacific region and launch Far East trade routes. Japan also became the sixth-most powerful naval force and the war costs dealt a significant blow to the Russian economy.
Even before the war officially ended, it was Russia’s dire financial straits, the defeat at Tsushima, and pressure from the British that led the Tsar to ultimately back away from the 1905 Treaty of Bjorko he had signed with Kaiser Wilhelm (and, by implication, France). As soon as the British government and their network of anglophiles in Russia found out about the secret deal signed on the Kaiser’s yacht in the Baltic sea – a deal that would have threatened ‘world order’ by aligning Russia with Germany – they threatened to cut off funding to Russia and marshaled the Russian press, which they apparently controlled, to launch an anti-German propaganda campaign. The Kaiser wrote to the Tsar: “The whole of your influential press, have since a fortnight become violently anti-German and pro-British. Partly they are bought by the heavy sums of British money, no doubt“.3
With Russia isolated and economically broken, and the threat of Eurasian integration removed, the next logical step was to get rid of the Tsar altogether and transform Russia into a controlled, retarded and ‘captive’ market for Western finance. But to achieve that goal, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany would first have to be decisively dealt with, and that meant war. To prepare the ground for that war, the British signed the anglo-Russian entente in 1907 and then later added France to the ‘triple entente’, allying the world’s most powerful militaries against Germany.
Between 1903 and 1914, the British public was gradually whipped into an anti-German frenzy and assaulted with countless newspaper articles, books and pamphlets (falsely) warning of Germany’s aggressive rearmament and intentions to invade Britain and take over the world. British newspaper and publishing magnate at the time Alfred Harmsworth, who was intricately linked with the British political and banking elite, exerted enormous influence over the British public through his newspapers. In an interview with the French newspaper Le Matin, Harmsworth said: “The Germans make themselves odious to the whole of Europe. I will not allow my paper to publish anything which might in any way hurt the feelings of the French, but I would not like to print anything which might be agreeable to the Germans“.3
The anti-German hysteria culminated in the passage of the UK’s Official Secrets Act of 1911, which effectively established the British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6. It is fitting that these agencies, tasked today with manufacturing terrorist threats to scare the British – and global – public into supporting war, had their foundation in a manufactured threat from Germany.
The chosen ‘flash point’ for an anglo-American war to destroy Germany, weaken the European powers and make the whole of Europe subservient to Western banking interests was the Balkans. In November 1912, a telegram from the Russian ambassador in Bulgaria to the Russian foreign minister (Isvolsky) identified a representative of the British newspaper The Times who claimed that “very many people in England are working towards accentuating the complication in the Balkans to bring about the war that would result in the destruction of the German fleet and German trade“.4
This Times journalist was most likely James David Bourchier, a member of the English aristocracy who was deeply involved in the Balkan League, an organisation set up in 1912 by the Russian ambassador in Belgrade, Nicholas Hartwig, to lobby for the independence of Balkan states from the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Nicholas Hartwig was an agent of the English monarch, Edward VII, and, thereby, of the British elite5. Independence for the Balkan states was fully in line with the British elite’s aim of dismantling competing empires.
The assassination of arch-duke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 is recorded as the spark that ignited the First World War. But this is a distortion of the facts. As mentioned, British plans for war against Germany were at least a decade old by that point. In any case, assassinations of royalty and nobility were fairly common at that time in Europe, and the death of Ferdinand was not something that would necessarily have provoked a world war. Certainly, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was only interested in quieting the Serbs, and Germany, Austria-Hungary’s ally, was decidedly against the crisis spiraling out of control.
After the assassination, the British government deceptively announced to Austria-Hungary and Germany that they accepted Austria-Hungary’s right to compensation from Serbia. When Austria delivered its July Ultimatum on July 23rd to the Serbs – a series of demands that were intentionally made unacceptable – it expected a local war to result, but Russian foreign minister Sazonov (another British agent)6 responded by mobilizing Russian forces on July 28th against the wishes of the Tsar. The British also quietly mobilized their own troops in anticipation of a German move against Belgium, which occurred on August 4th.
What neither Germany nor Austria-Hungary realised was that the assassination – the casus belli – had been orchestrated by the Serbs with the encouragement of British agents in the Russian government. In the 1917 court case on the assassination, Serbian colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević confessed that he hired Ferdinand’s assassins and that the murder was planned with the knowledge and approval of the Russian ambassador in Belgrade – Nicholas Hartwig – and the Russian military attaché in Belgrade, Viktor Artamonov. Both Hartwig and Artamonov were effectively in the pay of the British government. If it had been widely revealed at the time that the Russians were directly involved in the assassination, the British government could not have justified the war to the British public, who held strong anti-Tsarist opinions, thanks to being systematically fed anti-Russian propaganda during the ‘Great Game‘ of the 19th century. If anything, they would have called for war against Russia.
Even as the Russian and German armies were marching out of their barracks on July 1st, the Tsar and the Kaiser were exchanging telegrams in a futile attempt to avert disaster. In a note he wrote later that day, the Kaiser finally understood the depth of British perfidy:
“I have no doubt about it: England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves to take the Austro-Serbian conflict for an excuse for waging a war of extermination against us… the stupidity and ineptitude of our ally is turned into a snare for us … the net has been suddenly thrown over our head, and England sneeringly reaps the most brilliant success of her persistently prosecuted purely anti-German world policy against which we have proved ourselves helpless. We are brought into a situation which offers England the desired pretext for annihilating us under the hypocritical cloak of justice.” 7
It should come as no surprise that during this ‘great’ war to protect the free world, British and American arms manufacturers, many with links to City of London and Wall Street banks, were arming all sides in the conflict. For just one example, the British-owned Armstrong-Pozzuoli Company, headquartered on the bay of Naples, employed 4,000 men and was the chief naval supplier to Britain’s enemy, Italy, and a high-level English naval officer, Rear Admiral Ottley, was a director!8 During the war, Labour MP Philip Snowden angrily told the House of Commons that “submarines and all the torpedoes used in the Austrian navy are made by the Whitehead Torpedo works in Hungary… they are making torpedoes with British capital in order to destroy British ships.”9 The same torpedoes were being used by German U-boats to sink British, and later American, ships.
Talk about a revolution
The disastrous effects to Russia of the British-inspired Russo-Japanese war provoked the 1905 Russian ‘revolution’ that lasted until 1907. That revolution paved the way for the overthrow of the Tsar and the coming to power of the nihilistic Bolsheviks in the October revolution of 1917. The event would define Russia’s history for the next 70 years. Far from being an impediment, the fact that Tsarist Russia was a British ally in the middle of WW1 appears, at the time, to have been seen by the British and American governments as an opportunity to stab the Tsar in the back when, and from where, he least expected it.
Like the first World War, the plan for the overthrow of the Tsar and revolution in Russia was years in the making. In fact, it seems that the 1905 Russo-Japanese war was used by the aforementioned Jacob Schiff and Co. to sow the seeds of that 1917 revolution 12 years in advance. In her book, Jacob H. Schiff: A Study in American Jewish Leadership, prolific Jewish-American author Naomi Wiener Cohen states:
“The Russo-Japanese war allied Schiff with George Kennan in a venture to spread revolutionary propaganda among Russian prisoners of war held by Japan (Kennan had access to these). The operation was a carefully guarded secret and not until the revolution of March 1917 was it publicly disclosed by Kennan. He then told how he had secured Japanese permission to visit the camps and how the prisoners had asked him for something to read. Arranging for the ‘Friends of Russian Freedom’ to ship over a ton of revolutionary material, he secured Schiff’s financial backing. As Kennan told it, fifty thousand officers and men returned to Russia [as] ardent revolutionists. There they became fifty thousand “seeds of liberty” in one hundred regiments that contributed to the overthrow of the Tsar.”
While Schiff was a strident opponent of the Russian Tsar for his treatment of Russian Jews, it’s difficult to tell if sympathy for his co-religionists in Russia was the motivation for Schiff, and other Jewish Wall Street bankers and industrialists, to finance the Bolshevik revolution. After all, they all also reaped massive financial rewards as a result.
Russian General Arsene de Goulevitch, who witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution firsthand, stated: “The main purveyors of funds for the revolution were neither the crackpot Russian millionaires nor the armed bandits of Lenin. The ‘real’ money primarily came from certain British and American circles which for a long time past had lent their support to the Russian revolutionary cause… I have been told that over 21 million rubles were spent by Lord [Alfred] Milner in financing the Russian Revolution“.10 Milner was perhaps the preeminent agent of the British Empire at that time. As High Commissioner for Southern Africa, German-born Milner pioneered concentration camps and ethnic cleansing during the Boer War to expand British control of Africa. Milner was also the chief author of the Balfour Declaration, despite it being published in Arthur Balfour’s name. In his book on Milner, Edward Crankshaw summed up Milner’s ‘ideology’:
“Some of the passages [in Milner’s books] on industry and society… are passages which any socialist would be proud to have written. But they were not written by a socialist. They were written by “the man who made the Boer War.” Some of the passages on Imperialism and the white man’s burden might have been written by a Tory diehard. They were written by the student of Karl Marx.” 11
Milner’s ideological bi-partisanship – and utter indifference to his German roots – mirrored that of the Wall Street bankers. Speaking to the League for Industrial Democracy in New York on 30th December 1924, Otto H. Kahn, who was Jacob Schiff and Felix Warburg’s partner in Kuhn, Loeb & Co. and director of American International Corp., said: “what you radicals, and we who hold opposing views differ about, is not so much the end as the means, not so much what should be brought about, as how it should, and can, be brought about“.
De Goulevitch cites reports from local observers and journalists in Petrograd in 1917 of British and American agents handing out 25-rouble notes to soldiers of the Pavlovski regiment just before they mutinied and joined the revolution.5 De Goulevitch also named Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador to Russia at the time, as one of the main players in financing what was effectively an early ‘color revolution’ in Russia.As Jennings C. Wise has written, “Historians must never forget that Woodrow Wilson… made it possible for Leon Trotsky to enter Russia with an American passport.”12
With the Tsar gone and the Western-backed Bolsheviks in power, US and other Western governments and corporations had succeeded not only in destroying Russia’s economy and industry, but breaking off parts of the Russian empire.The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is a testament to the fecklessness of the Bolsheviks in that, in order to withdraw Russia from the war, they were forced to cede territory to Germany and Austria-Hungary. The first round of negotiations stalled because the mad-cap revolutionaries believed that Germany and Austria-Hungary were on the brink of revolution themselves. When Lenin and Co. finally came to their senses, they were forced to sign an even more punitive agreement with the Central Powers. While Russia regained much of this lost territory after WWII, it lost it all again in 1991. In fact, Russia’s post-1991 western border bears a marked similarity to that imposed by the Brest-Litovsk treaty.
Under Lenin and Trotsky, the Bolshevik ‘revolution’ had effectively shut down the Russian economy and its industry, allowing Western bankers to step in to ‘rebuild’. Consider the words of American journalist, labor organizer, and publicist, Albert Rhys Williams, who was both a witness to – and participant in – the October revolution, as he testified at the Senate Overman Committee:
Mr. Williams: […] it is probably true that under the Soviet government industrial life will perhaps be much slower in development than under the usual capitalistic system. But why should a great industrial country like America desire the creation and consequent competition of another great industrial rival? Are not the interests of America in this regard in line with the slow tempo of development which Soviet Russia projects for herself?
Senator Wolcott: So you are presenting an argument here which you think might appeal to the American people, your point being this; that if we recognize the Soviet government of Russia as it is constituted, we will be recognizing a government that cannot compete with us in industry for a great many years?
Mr. Williams: That is a fact.
Senator Wolcott: That is an argument that, under the Soviet government, Russia is in no position, for a great many years at least, to approach America industrially?
Mr. Williams: Absolutely.
When the Bolsheviks started their first bank, Ruskombank, in 1922, one of its directors was Max May of Guaranty Trust. Guaranty Trust was a J.P. Morgan company. On joining Ruskombank, May stated:
“The United States, being a rich country with well developed industries, does not need to import anything from foreign countries, but… it is greatly interested in exporting its products to other countries, and considers Russia the most suitable market for that purpose, taking into consideration the vast requirements of Russia in all lines of its economic life.”13
J.P. Morgan’s Guaranty Trust also raised loans for the German war effort while simultaneously funding the British and French against the Germans, and also the Russians, both under the Tsar against Germany, and then the Bolsheviks against the Tsar and for the “revolution”.14
Via Wall Street bankers, the US government under Woodrow Wilson broke with international convention after WWI and refused to forgive debts from the massive war loans it pumped to its allies, primarily Britain and France.15 Germany was in an even worse position because of the reparations demanded by the extremely harsh Treaty of Versailles. None of these countries were in a position to pay back the money owed, so the ‘Dawes Plan’ was enacted whereby the US government would loan money to Germany so that it could pay reparations to France and Britain, who would then give the money back to the US to pay off their war debt. That’s how ‘funny money’ works. Nevertheless, World War I was a boon for the USA. It went from owing foreigners $4.5 billion in 1914 to being owed $25 billion by foreigners in 1928, including Europe’s war debt. As a result, much of Europe’s gold also ended up in Fort Knox. Professor of economics Michael Hudson claims that the motivation for massive US government financial claims on Europe was political rather than economic.
Germany paid off the final tranche of its debt to the US government in 2010. The UK is still paying. The debt to the US and allies from WWI was the primary cause of the collapse of the German economy in the early 1930s that gave rise to Hitler and the Nazis… who were also financed by the same cabal of Wall Street bankers.16
A Brave New World
In 1925, a European theorist of imperialism, Gerhart Von Schulze-Gaevernitz, suggested that history would show that the most important result of World War I was not “the destruction of the royal dynasties that ruled Germany, Russia, Austria and Italy“, but the “shift in the world’s center of gravity from Europe, where it had existed since the days of Marathon, to America“. This new era of ‘superimperialism’, he said, had turned traditional imperialism on its head because now “finance capital mediates political power internationally to acquire monopolistic control and profits from natural resources, raw material and the power of labor, with the tendency towards autarky by controlling all regions, the entire world’s raw materials.”17
During the 1920s Russian industry was effectively rebuilt by US corporations, with several of Lenin’s five-year plans financed by Wall Street banks. The aim was to prepare Russia for WWII, where it effectively won the war for the allies but was largely ruined (again) in the process and, like the other European powers, incurred massive debt to Wall Street and London bankers. As revealed by Antony Sutton, the extent of Western influence and control inside Soviet Russia is exemplified by the fact that, during the Vietnam war, the military vehicles being used by the North Vietnamese military to fight American soldiers were produced in a Soviet factory, the Kama River Truck Plant, owned by the US Ford corporation.
By imposing the Bolshevik Revolution on Russia, Wall Street ensured that it could not compete with the USA. For the next 70 years, the ‘managers of the world’ in the US and Western Europe expanded their global domination through the use of a bogus “Communist threat” (which they created). In the late 1980s, the Western banking elite decided that their global power was sufficient to allow them to pull back the ‘iron curtain’ and, once again, open Russia up, but this time for some ‘free market’, ‘open society’ neo-liberal plunder. All was going to plan for most of the 1990s until Vladimir Putin arrived on the scene and began to spoil the Western elites’ ‘we rule the world’ party.
So what’s the point of this little history lesson? I hope it serves to highlight two things. That over 100 years ago the Western banking/corporate/political elite – the type of people who think, and say, things like…
“To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annexe the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far.”
“I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.”
~ Cecil Rhodes
…understood clearly that the only way they were going rule the world was to ensure that Russia never emerged as a competitor to their center of operations – London, and then the USA. From a practical perspective, to achieve that goal they were going to have to perpetually marginalize Russia on the Eurasian continent and prevent European nations, in particular Western European nations, from ever forming an alliance with Russia. That task began in earnest in the late 1890s. It continues to this day, but it is failing.
The Best Laid Plans…
Since coming to power Putin has made moves to do to Russia precisely that which the Western banking elite spent over 100 years trying to prevent: make it a strong independent country, free (to the greatest extent possible) of the Western bankers’ toxic influence. Even worse, Putin’s plan does not seem to be limited merely to freeing Russia, but includes the idea of using Russia’s influence to establish a new ‘new world order’, based not on the hegemony of the few, but on multipolarity, real national sovereignty, mutual respect, and genuinely fair trade among nations. In their 15 short years at the helm in Russia, Putin and his friends have gone a long way towards achieving their goals. The response from the Western elite has been interesting to watch. From NATO’s attempts to encircle Russia in Eastern Europe, to economic sanctions imposed on the basis of trumped-up charges, to sabotaging Russia-EU economic relations, to staging a coup in Ukraine in 2014, to manipulating the price of oil and assassinating ‘opposition figures’ inside and outside Russia; the anglo-American elite are resorting to increasingly desperate and hysterical measures to maintain the global imbalance they worked so hard to achieve. But nothing they do seems to phase Russia or divert it from the path it has chosen.
So what can we expect next from the Western elites? Short of all-out nuclear war with Russia (which is not and never was an option, contrary to Cold War propaganda) what scurrilously duplicitous maneuvers are left to be made? Not many, to be sure. Perhaps the only weapon left in their arsenal is the one that, more than any other, has allowed them to dominate the globe for so long: the almighty US dollar, its position as the world’s reserve currency, and the ‘petrodollar‘.
For decades, these two financial ‘instruments’ have forced all other countries to hold large reserves of the American currency, thereby providing the US economy with a ‘free ride’ and securing its position as the world’s largest economy. If the US dollar were, for some reason, to collapse, it would create massive panic in the world economic system, and result, quite possibly, in the collapse of governments around the world. This is likely the reason that both Russia and China are wasting no time in establishing the basis for a new economic order that is not dollar-based. If that initiative progresses far enough, there may come a time in the near future when the dollar can be safely ‘ditched’ and replaced with another reserve currency, or basket of currencies, thereby avoiding or mitigating the systemic threat to the global economy (if not the US economy) of a dollar collapse, and forcing the Western elite, with their base of operations in the USA, to accept a more humble and justified position among the nations.
Anyone who has investigated and understood the nature of these “elites” of which I speak, knows that they are not the type of people who simply accept defeat, even when it is staring them in the face. They’re like a highly narcissistic chess player who, seeing that ‘check mate’ is almost upon him, opts to knock all the pieces off the board (and maybe burn it… and the room) rather than suffer the ignominy of defeat. It can then be claimed, ‘see, you didn’t win, we’ll have to start again’. The chess analogy is appropriate given that one of the main exponents of Mackinder’s theories of Eurasian strategy is Zbigniew Brzezinski, author of The Grand Chessboard, where he wrote “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America.”
With the US debt currently running at over 104% to GDP (and rising), and the US unable or unwilling to reduce that debt or to increase GDP, the USA is effectively insolvent, a ‘failed state’ in all but name. The only thing preventing its economic collapse is the dependency, for now, of so many other nations on the US not collapsing. Is it possible that, facing the almost certain end to their reign as rulers of the world, the Western psycho-elite will chose the ‘financial nuclear option’ of ‘doing an Enron’ and collapsing the American dollar in a last, insane and futile effort to avert defeat by bringing the whole house of cards down… so they can ‘rebuild’ from scratch?
As my opening quote asserts: “what the darkness cannot possess, it seeks to destroy.”