Patrick Lawrence Ukraine

The New Iron Curtain

The Ukraine crisis proves to be Europe’s crucible and Europe proves a profound disappointment.
We Stand with Ukraine 2022 Helsinki, Finland. (rajatonvimma, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Patrick Lawrence / Consortium News

We have read a great deal about a new Cold War since the U.S. cultivated the coup of February 2014 in Ukraine and the nation was tragically divided against itself.  Some of us have ruminated in print, in this publication and elsewhere, on this emergent reality.

With the back-to-back announcements that Finland and Sweden intend to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “Cold War II” is no longer merely a handy locution for columnists and those who pontificate on barstools.

The accession of these Nordic nations to Washington’s principal instrument of power projection is assured and will be complete in very short order. This will solidify the wall Washington and its European clients insist on erecting to divide the world yet more perversely and destructively than it was for the four decades and some of Cold War I.

It would be hard to overstate the significance of this turn of events — for Finns, Swedes and Russians, certainly, — but also for all Europeans and, at the horizon, for everyone on this planet, alive or yet to be born.

Remember the famous lines from Kipling?

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat…

Kipling published The Ballad of East and West in 1889, the British Empire’s high noon, and in it mourned the great divide between the imperial powers and their subjects. His deepest regret was for all the lost humanity obscured by the enduring but artificial line humans etched into the Earth long ago to distinguish the West from the rest.

Judgment Day appearing other than imminent, we will be in for many seasons of regret as Washington constructs the infrastructure that will define Cold War II. The Finns’ and Swedes’ accessions to NATO suggest an edifice more permanent than either the Iron Curtain or, on the other side of the world post–1949, its bamboo variant. There will be few doors and windows in this wall — this by Washington’s design. It will be hard to see either in or out.

Cold War II

And here’s the thing about this profoundly misguided project. The populations of the Western post-democracies will pay a far higher price for letting their leaders build the thick stone wall of Cold War II than those it is supposed to consign to the wilderness. Westerners will pay this price in blindness, in ignorance, and in isolation from the global majority.

If your proposition is to isolate others — and the great majority of humanity wants no part of isolated others and a world of walls — you’ve probably got it backwards: He who would ostracize others will find himself ostracized.

It has turned out to be a hop-skip, I have to say, from “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” to erecting another as quickly as the stones can be set in place. Now we know what President Joe Biden means by “Build Back Better.”

Ever since the Russian intervention in Ukraine on Feb. 24, we have watched as many perfectly innocent people — musical conductors, athletes, professors, artists, writers — have lost their jobs or been otherwise censured for refusing to denounce the Russian incursion publicly, or in some cases simply for being Russian. It reminds me of a passage in the New Testament, Matthew 15:11: Roughly paraphrased, he who would defile another defiles only himself.


The sanctions Washington and its “allies and partners” have imposed on Russia and Russians now number more than 6,000. The results so far strongly suggest they are not working — a conclusion the policy cliques seem to be gradually acknowledging.

Last week Britain announced it was sanctioning Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife; a former gymnast reputed to be the Russian president’s girlfriend and three of his cousins. Western authorities are now down to chasing the yachts of wealthy Russians around the Mediterranean. 

Can you beat this stuff for sheer indignity?

What we’ve seen so far, appalling as it has been, will evaporate when the time comes.  Western concert halls will again permit renderings of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, War and Peace will be restored to university curricula.

The Finnish and Swedish decisions to join NATO are of another order. They have come but will not go. We now witness an historically significant, here-to-stay restructuring of the global order, such as it is, in real time.

A good map illustrates well enough the magnitude of what is about to happen. Washington has sought to bring NATO up to Russia’s borders since the Soviet Union’s demise, but heretofore it has recruited only the three Baltic statelets among frontline nations — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


It failed to turn Georgia in 2008, it failed to push through yet another of its color revolutions in Belarus last year, and, as things stand, Ukrainian membership appears a lost cause.

The map will also tell you much about why Russia determined to intervene in Ukraine three months ago (and why your columnist still considers this a regrettable but necessary undertaking). As the map indicates, finally, Finnish membership will consolidate NATO’s presence on Russia’s northwestern flank. With Sweden’s accession, the Baltic Sea will become something like a NATO lake.

That’s the strategic picture, but the strategic picture is merely the framework of the world we are fated to live in for — as the best guesses now have it — decades to come, generations. Anyone who lived through Cold War I will share with me a profound disquietude, a sadness bordering on depression.

Among the very worst of Cold War I’s consequences was the narrowing of the American consciousness such that most citizens of our republic were rendered incapable of managing any kind of complexity. Everything was binary, Manichean, “the good guys and the bad guys,” as many a commentator — not just Tom Friedman — still thinks is fine to put on any given matter.

Americans haven’t managed to grow beyond the state of ignorance that Cold War I required before they are once again pushed back into it. Ukraine: the good guys. Russia: the bad guys. Making this case worse, the Europeans are now signing onto this simplistic view of the world, at the very moment they could have tempered America’s cornpone simplifications with needed nuance and sophistication.

A certain kind of nation is dying as we speak, and to me this is among the greatest of the losses we now witness. Finland has been neutral until now not only by treaty. It has been one of those few nations that straddle East and West by dint of geography, culture, social traditions and the like. You can see this, for instance, in its architecture and the value it places on community — touches of the Asiatic.

Helsinki stood for the efficacy of diplomacy. The twain could meet there, as they did for the Helsinki Accords in 1975 and as they did when Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbachev had their momentous encounter 15 years later. 

U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signing the final act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1975, Helsinki. (U.S. National Archives)

Ukraine stood to be another such nation, divided as it is between the Galician west, tilted toward Europe, and the Russophone east, highly conscious of its “Russianness” by way of language, history, culture, familial ties and so on. This is why the essentially federal system outlined in the two Minsk accords, September 2014 and February 2015, was wise and humane — a plan that could have elevated Ukraine to something more than a failed state, an absolute mess, which is what we must count it now.

We cannot count Sweden neutral, even if The New York Times insists on repeating this error daily. But it was NATO–agnostic, let’s say, and this counted. Stockholm told the world, We are of the West, but we do not partake of Washington’s imperial adventures, and we decline to subjugate ourselves to its militarization of trans–Atlantic relations.

It is all gone now. The Finns have surprised me. I thought they understood their singular place between East and West better than they apparently do. The Swedes have been drifting rightward from their social-democratic principles for years, but NATO membership will still signal abandonment of a worthy position.

As to the rest of Europe, the Ukraine crisis has made this a case of dashed hopes. We can forget about the Continent as an independent pole of power, an expectation I and others nursed over many years. The present generation of leadership has no experience acting other than within the shelter of the American security umbrella.

G7 leaders gather for photo, Aug. 25, 2019, Biarritz, France. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Here I have to eat a healthy serving of crow. I listened when Emmanuel Macron told the Group of 7 summit at Biarritz three years ago that Europe’s destiny was bound up with Russia’s, when the French president later dismissed NATO as “brain dead,” when he made the case repeatedly for the need to integrate the Russian Federation into a sort of Greater Europe at the western end of the Eurasian landmass.

I have Macron down now as the AOC of Europe: Lots of posturing, garish professions of principled positions, in Macron’s case his insistence over and over that Europe must cultivate its “strategic autonomy,” but no seriousness. What a shyster, what an opportunist poseur. And how foolish was I.

Europe’s Crucible

The Ukraine crisis proves to be Europe’s crucible and Europe proves a profound disappointment. We all would have gained, not Europeans alone, had the Continent’s leaders found the gumption to stand and act on their own and for their citizens’ interests.

Policy cliques in Washington and the other Western capitals appear to have settled on our moment to circle the wagons. This is the broader context within which we ought to view the Finnish and Swedish moves toward NATO. There is no more space for outliers, no more time for fancy-pants straddling between East and West.

In my read, this is at bottom a response to the single most compelling reality of our century, the emergence of parity between the West and non–West. We hear daily of how urgent it is to shovel weapons into Ukraine as quickly as possible. And it is urgent: This is a lunge in pursuit of the West’s longstanding superiority — a desperate defense of something that cannot be defended.

One great difference between Cold War I and II is that the non–West is stronger now than it was. The nations that comprise it are technologically capable, they have their own markets, their own investment capital; a dense web of interdependent ties elaborates as we speak. 

These nations, as is already plain from the very short list of subscribers to the Washington-directed sanctions regime, will not be drawn into Cold War II as a long list of developing nations was during Cold War I — Cuba, Iran and Guatemala above all, and from there onto Vietnam, Angola, the other Central Americans, the American satellites in East Asia — Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia.

With parity comes autonomy, to put this point another way.

The West wants to divide the world once again, and it is building high, thick walls to get this done. If we can’t continue to subjugate them, the policy cliques appear to reason, let’s at least isolate them. It will be interesting — bitterly amusing, even — to see who turns out to be isolated as the West insists once again the twain must not meet. 

Patrick Lawrence

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist.


  1. Putin should be tried as a war criminal not only for the invasion but for the willful sacrifice of so many young Russian military. There is no justification for the invasion. I don’t defend America, we have our own war criminals, but it is blindness to try to paint Putin in nice colors.

    1. You should read more. Mr. Putin is not going to be tried, neither will GW Bush. Mr. Putin had no choice but to invade. Get it out of your head that any invasion is a crime.

    2. Putin is not a war criminal. In 2014 Hillary, Victoria, Obama and Joe supported a coup that took democratically elected President Yanukovich out of office. Every Ukrainian president since has been illegal. For the next 8 years Nazis (Azov Battalion, the Right Sector, Fascists Svoboda murdered 14000 Russian spakers in the Donbas. CIA has been training Nazis in Ukraine and Poland for years in anticipation of another coup in Russia. When Putin said “denazify,” he meant it. He wants 1) to keep nuclear warheads (NATO) out of Ukraine, 2) protect the two independent republics in Donbas, 3) retain the Russian navy base in Crimea as it has been since 1783. These are reasonable, simple goals, but 22 years of diplomacy by Puin has fallen on deaf ears of this ignorant, greedy, and immoral United States. Learn some history. The US and Israel are the two most immoral war-mongers on earth; the real war criminals who should be tried in the Hague.
      BTW, unlike America and UK Putin’s congress , the Duma, voted for this invasion. He is not a dictator who gets in a fight without backing from his government, unlike our yahoos who attack and destroy willy-nilly, haven’t you been awake for the last 20 years? Make that 70 years.
      I’m rootin’ for Putin.

      1. Even among the left-ish pro-Russian Twilight Zone this site is fast becoming the counter factual, fictional text above stands out.

        From the ‘coup’ quip in the first paragraph – the Maiden Revolution in 2014 was a result of Yanukovych disregarding the Ukrainian parliament vote, and his own central election promise, to flavor economic relations with the EU; the popular protests that ensued following Yanukovych disregarding the parliament’s decision and receiving several billions Russian ‘bribe’; while supported by the US as the democratic expression it was, it wasn’t even close to being “cultivated” by them; the oft ignored fact of Yanukovych’s ouster is that his nightly escape from Kiev came after he and the protesters have reached an agreement that would end the weeks long protests peacefully, and the final (overwhelmingly majoritarian) parliamentary vote to annul his presidency came AFTER his nightly escape to Russia – through a barrage of Russian propaganda talking points and ‘cold war II’ nonsense, we arrive at the outlandish “Europe’s Crucible” section, where Patrick claims that allowing Russia to colonize Ukraine without European countries’ interference would have been “to stand and act on their own and for their citizens’ interests”.

        While other left-ish Neo progressive demagogues and propaganda buffs have restricted their Russia-Ukraine war commentary to blaming those who unflinchingly supported the Ukrainian victim of Putin’s colonial war, namely the EU, the US, and the majority of NATO member states, Patrick tries to convince us that the best interests of Europe lies in allowing unprovoked wars to decide political outcomes, while at the same time justifying past Soviet imperialist military aggression.

        Tries and fails miserably!

        Furthermore, by ‘christening’ unprovoked colonial wars as legitimate and justifiable mean of political change he does not only question the entire anti-war stance of ‘progressives’, but allows for the justification of the inevitable war to stop Putin’s goal – the re-establishment of the Russian Empire with the blood of its neighbours.

      2. Democracy Gone Astray,
        Your response is so factually wrong, I hardly know where to begin. Apparently, you were asleep when Victoria Nuland said, “Yats is our guy.” And “Fuck the EU,” when talking to Geoffrey Pyatt. Apparently, you didn’t notice the Trade building fire deliberately set by the Azov Battalion, burning up dozens of people who had felt safe there. The Azov Nazis not only set the fire, it continued by shooting bullets directly into the buildings. Here’s another fact you missed: Yanukovich needed money and asked the EU for 30B; when they refused, he asked Putin who gave him 15B (not a bribe). “Supported by the US….” The US coup kicked in an eight-year war, with the Nazis killing 14,000 Russian speakers in the two independent republics in the Donbas. Where have you been? The war didn’t begin on Feb. 24. It began with the US coup in 2014. And you say, “ wasn’t even close to being ‘cultivated’ by them.” Are you kidding? It’s the dream of the odious Clintons ever since his presidency. Hillary didn’t get elected, but the plan moved forward. (Why do you think she created the hoax of “Russiagate?) Your argument has no basic premise which is proven by your use of the phrase: “justifying past Soviet imperialist military aggression.” Only those who don’t know Putin mention “Soviet” and “KGB.” They say Putin wants to “restore the glory of the Soviet Union,” a crazy statement since he did everything he could to erase the Soviet Union and create a working democratic socialism. The people still call him “Vlad, the Savior,” they were so grateful after the insanity of Stalin who, by the way, deliberately starved the Ukrainians to death by the thousands. When he became president, Putin pulled 70 million people out of poverty and into the middle class. Well, nothing anyone says will make a dent in your argument, but I tried. RR

    3. “Unprovoked” this war has never been. In 2019 The Rand corporation a U.S. “think” tank set up a scenario to follow. “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia” discribes how to bring Russia down. This “thought” scenario has been followed sinds the start of the “unprovoked” war very closely.

      Seems Putin had to react.

      1. @J.Marien

        So Putin invaded Ukraine because 3 years ago Rand Corporation published a study??

  2. Another piece blaming the West and justifying the brutality of Putin. NATO came into being because of the brutal takeover of eastern European countries by Russia to form the Soviet Union. Perhaps that’s what is motivating Finland and Sweden: National Security.

    1. yet it is the nazi imperialist amerikans that fund nazi ukraine

  3. ” Divide and conquer ” the old axiom of Politicians & the Militarists. The West seems to now specialise in building walls between Countries ,People & Societies..These walls are not necessary physical and can be built outside or inside a Country.
    “A great brand new beautiful wall” for any situation that challenges their might, and the people on the other side must pay the cost of building it. Sound familiar? From Mexico to Palestine the story remains the same.This philosophy is being used particularly within their own Countries causing division after division.
    Ancient history tells us that Walls (Physical or Psychological) do not protect ,but only divide ,and will never protect against “The Barbarians within” This internal decay will continue on unabated until enlightened values are adopted.
    An unlikely outcome in this present environment.

  4. Not much seems by “Washington’s design,” now and for some time. The buck doesn’t stop there in the nation’s capitol of capital control over the general population, where puppets of the plutocracy prance about as our representatives. If you follow the money, it leads to a ruling class elite now running their protection rackets of the corporate state on a scale of global governance overriding national sovereignty. Not despite but because of all its crises and collapses (and wars), neoliberal class war has advanced a strategy of converting population control under fronts of the nation-state into full spectrum, planetary dominance by means of a technocratic social system, biodigitally engineering the world population on all sides of the divides established across humankind.

    I’m not looking forward to having class war cold-war style shoved down my throat again. Not least of all because it was always a cover first time round for hot war, third world war waged upon poor and oppressed people, both ‘over there’ and in internalized colonies of empire. This cold war will serve as cover for a new world order beyond the gory glory days, cover for class war out to make us, the 99%, Hunger Games serfs of technofascist feudalism, expendable with a keystroke or algorithm in the internet of things, and bodies as things. Our traditional utility as mere resources to the psychopathy of power will be complete with our reduction to automatically programmed GMOs and software. We are, after all, “hackable animals” (WEF’s Yuval Harari).

    We overlook at our own peril how an emerging multipolar model of capital rule, whatever ideological names national economies hide behind, has been built by the same class powers that profited from unipolarism via the Washington Consensus of organized class crime. Neoliberal deindustrialization in the center of empire largely ended up in China, for one, and at least as far back as the Trilateral Commission’s errand boys Nixon and Kissinger opening up China to investment, there’s been more coordinated financing from ‘the West’ of China’s corporate state, which – by design – has served as an experimental training ground for the technocracy now rolling out transnationally.

    Throughout civilization’s march of class rule, walls have been built (and built back better) to keep people both out and in, for the sake of control. Whatever differences may exist between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia in the future world global elites are now fast tracking into reality, they will be denominated in measures of how well subjects have adapted to their rations of energy consumption under an algogarchy based in abject obedience to social credit scores. The differences will be masquerades of absolute slavery.

    Today’s sanctions of war, far from having backfired, continue that deadliest plague and war of economic demolition which got underway with the covid coup. And it’s on multiple fronts, with the earth as the shifting battleground, that the real and already advancing world war on humanity remains underway, as supply chain crises and ever resurgent restrictions and lockdowns, 5G and smart grids, digital IDs and implants, satellite launches and geoengineering, SDGs and SEGs, and more remain hidden in plain sight as long as we are led by propaganda’s misdirection and disconnection.


    We are heading towards Donetsk to spend the night. This is the main message that the people of Donetsk tell us: “The war here has not started yesterday. It has been going on in the last 8 years. Kyiv has never fulfilled the Minsk Agreements. The West has never said a word to them. We are humans too, we deserve to have a life too! The Russian military operation is a result of this process, not the beginning of a war. Quite the opposite: This operation will put an end to a 8-year-war.

    And truly: from the hotel that we stay at that night, we hear the sound of the missile attacks to neighborhoods of Donetsk. Next morning we learn that some civilians have lost their lives.

    In Moscow, the Ukraine crisis is discussed in the framework of the NATO enlargement and U.S. aggression. In Donetsk, the context is the Kyiv Regime and the danger of fascism.

    Mehmet Perinçek is a Historian and political scientist. (Turkey)

  6. Unfortunately, this important topic’s attempt of analysis is way too shallow almost misleading. One of reasons is that to properly address the issue would require a book chapter not just short article.

    But anyway from this short text author seems to insinuate things about Cold War I and Iron Curtain flattening reality into almost non reality.

    First, Churchill’s iron curtain was not raised by Russia and Eastern block but by the west by imposing sanctions and embargoes on, before WWII, closely connected to the west countries of eastern block. Today we witness the same regarding Russia that wants to cooperate. Coal and Steel Community in 1949 was expressing such deliberate cutting ancient ties of east west cooperation and trade, ECC institutionalized Cold War separation.

    Second, Cold War was in fact not ideological war per se, as it was conflict between empires.

    However, the prerequisite to cold war was 1918-1923 Communist International inspired organized worldwide revolution that was a form of hot class war of working class movements and parties all over the world against hegemony of global capital epitomized by western and eastern national powers.

    When western British, US and Japan regime change invasions failed, after death of Lenin in 1924 Stalin made deal with the west to call off worldwide Revolution for recognition of his own regime by the west.

    He rejected internationalism as foundation of socialist Revolution and turned against his communist parties enemies foreign and domestic while embraced anti-revolutionary policies of Socialism in one country (no ideological expansion abroad) and for that Soviet Union was recognized as legitimate state in early to mid 1920 in the west.

    Very quickly Stalin put down Lenin’s Revolution in Soviet Russia and simply ran a version of dictatorship covered up by democratic veneer and lip service to revolutionary terminology of supposed workers’ state.

    By 1943 to plead for Western support during WWII Stalin officially dismantled Communist International Organization with millions of party members in the west abandoned.

    The only possible WWII great alliance was non-ideological or it would not be an alliance. In fact for a 1930s decade Stalin was not leading in terms of social welfare and rights of workers but catching up with FDR New Deal social progressive policies. Only WWII triumph made him reward his people with avant-garde social welfare and workers rights policies for exceeding that of the west.

    The ideological debates of Cold War I were just a propaganda justification of enemy evil on both sides. As McCarthyism reign supreme in US in Russia equivalent witch hunt was ongoing. As a side effect of Cold War among elites of world powers both sides improved their pro working class policies and welfare state so workers could easily by recruited to die for their elites this time in nuclear war.

  7. I believe the ‘second world’ Russia and friends will build behind that wall will be a better world than we have on this side.

    On that side they are still building: getting better.

    On this side we see clearly now especially after the last two years, we are in what looks like terminal decline.

    On that side they still have strong connections with the earth and natural humanity.

    On this side we are almost entirely urbanised robots with no idea where/how food comes and no direct experience of natural human life.

    On that side they are accustomed to disparity and ‘many peoples’.

    On this side, despite all our nations and different identities we are devoted entirely towards the extinguishing of them all and subsuming into one.

    On that side they have different regimes, different banners to choose to sail under, different understandings, different ways – and retain a strong understanding of where we all come from: the millions of subsistence living poor.

    On our side we have only one controlling regime: the USA and no choice to sail under any other banner as Europe demonstrates now as they all bend the knee to the USA and no understanding whatever of the millions of subsistence living people who demonstrate the reality of the human condition.

    On that side they can forge a currency that will inevitably get stronger and stronger.

    On our side we have a currency no one believes can last any longer and which is fated to only grow weaker and weaker,

    It’s a slam dunk.

    I think Putin probably knew.

    The USA will get what it wants: total exclusion of Russia and total power over this side.

    But so will Russia and ‘the other side’ : total freedom from the restraints and madness of the USA and this side.

  8. @Kalen
    “First, Churchill’s iron curtain was not raised by Russia and Eastern block but by the west by imposing sanctions and embargoes on, before WWII, closely connected to the west countries of eastern block.”
    This affirmation , made in blatant bad faith as nobody can be so ignorant, is an insult to the tens of millions of people cut off from the rest of the world, punished for listening to forbidden radio stations, in spite of the heavy jamming, for reading the wrong books, for having relatives or friends in the West, for talking with Westerners, without any contact or information about the world, except the censored and “correct” version in the Party newspapers, shot for trying to escape over the border , dreaming of seeing places like Paris, Rome and knowing that they will never be able to do that.
    The Berlin Wall , the most physical embodiment of the Iron Curtain has been erected by the Soviet Union and not by the West!
    There are of course other historic inaccuracies but not so blatant, for instance Stalin did not put out Lenin’s revolution but continued it (while killing Lenin comrades which were perceived as competitors).
    Lenin already initiated the NEP (New Economic Policy) based on opening of the economy to the West and cooperation (in this context is his famous saying : The capitalists will sell us the ropes to hang them).
    Stalin continued to support the Communist parties in the West and controlled them closely by inserting NKVD agents in their leadership and dictating their political line ( for instance that Socialist Parties are the enemy, not the fascists).

    1. It is you who are disinformed by Wikipedia and so called free press propaganda in the west.

      I will dismantle just few of your blatantly misinformed points.

      First in Eastern Europe only western government state run propaganda outlets from US (voice of America, ) UK (BBC World Service) and West Germany (Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe) were jammed.

      All other western commercial radio stations within short, medium to long wave range were not jammed at all many with programming in eastern block languages or broadly known in the east English, German or French. In fact most of those government radio stations had quite good reception even if jammed within short wave spectrum.

      There was easy access to western press with liberal Le Monde and socialist perspective like French L’Humanite most newspapers run by socialist or communist parties in the west were available daily in social clubs or libraries .

      In East Germany there was no obstruction of information whatsoever as even TV could be watched in 30% of territory and west German ZDF and ARD stations could be watched in entire East Berlin and Potsdam although not in color as east adopted not American but French TV system SECAM. You may not know but East Germans were fluent in west German language as it is the same language.

      In country like Poland where about 30% of population had family members in the west there was no problem to read or watch videos of all western disinformation and propaganda.

      Even officially, legally many selected western movies including Apocalypse Now, Cramer vs Cramer, Alien, Enter The Dragon and many great French and Italian films of Antonioni, Fellini could be seen in movie theaters in Poland.

      Polish films in turn were wining in Cannes or Venice films festivals and were distributed worldwide, spread video technology let people watch any western movies brought from abroad.

      Moreover Poland allowed hundreds of thousand Poles to visit they families abroad or receive family visitors from the west.

      There was no wall set up from eastern side however there was economic Wall of embargoes and sanctions setup by the west. Eastern block people were allowed to travel anywhere and even without passport within the block except for Soviet Union .

      In fact supposedly suffering east Germany enjoyed highest standard of living in Eastern block assessed by west as 80% of that of Western Germany in 1970s. Western goods were available although expensive.

      On the other hand hundreds of thousands of unrestricted in movement western tourists were visiting every year contributing to economy allowed to use Visa or Master Card or Amex or exchange money legally or on black market.

      In Poland Polish citizen could legally own dollars or any hard currencies and shop in special government run system of commercial hard currency stores (BALTONA lub PEWEX) buying cars electronics western fashion, order anything they wanted.

      Except for East Germany which passports were not recognized by West Germany and hence Berlin Wall was among other economic and political reasons erected, most of people (except small groups of political opponents) in the east were free to travel east or west if they could afford it.

      But such travel was often prohibited or obstructed by western imposed arbitrary entrance visa rules that required either personal invitation, business reasons or set financial barriers like requiring to show money or bank accounts with few hundreds of dollars worth difficult or impossible for most workers making $50 a month paying 3 dollars per flat rental, 1-2 dollar for energy and utilities, 25 dollars for food while healthcare and all education was free.

      Other restrictions were political with humiliating questions like “Have you every been or your family ever been members of communist party and affiliates?.” In fact less tha 5% of population in the Eastern Europe were members of ruling parties. Most of Eastern block removed entrance visa requirements from all western visitors for less than three months visit.

      I know since I have been to Eastern Europe visiting in 1970s, read western press and listened to western radio went to see western movies and saw western theatrical productions. Even Polish French director Roman Polanski produced a play in Poland in 1980s.

      Of course Soviet Union was much different much closed and isolated, much dictatorial. I also personally went there.

      However depicting entire Eastern Europe as a concentration camp isolated behind that wall and barbed wire is simply ignorant and frankly ridiculous. The iron curtain was a propaganda constructs matched to no reality as it was the west that wanted to beak east west ties not Eastern Europe that has rich historical legacy of western tradition.

      As far as Stalin is concerned he gutted Revolutionary Internationalism and effectively ended global revolution by declaring doctrine of “Socialism in One Country”, by executing leadership of revolutionary communist parties in Europe especially in Germany and Poland and finally dissolved in 1943 Third, Communist International that was global revolutionary organization.

      It was not NEP that ended Revolution it was when Lenin allowed for Revolutionary Workers councils to be infiltrated or taken over by Bolsheviks. Per Lenin’s own assessment Stalin concentration of power was greatest threat to revolution. Stalin was not revolutionary he was former priest and Russian empire re builder.

  9. Inasmuch as behind the scenes the US and Russia have control over the situation and the outcome in the Ukraine as their Fascist Corporate Transnational Bosses have dictated the outcome for as long as they have held control over the monetary supply, I support the Sovereignty of all Nations to be free from Oppression of any kind. The insanity of World control and domination, as exemplified by NATO and the US, and the history of US meddling in the affairs of any Nation it sees fit to entrap in its lies and deceit for the purpose of enriching itself at the expense of the Nation, must stop. The people in each Nation want Peace, PERIOD. They want to have the security of knowing that their basic needs can be met, in a world so out of balance economically. that such a scenario seems impossible, yet they remain firm in their commitment to themselves their progeny and the World at large. It is only the super-rich whose profound ignorance is causing such an imbalance. They must be exposed to the experience of Humility even though some of them may be soul-less..

  10. First and foremost, succumbing to false dualities is the opposite of being mentally and spiritually evolved. We are all part of the great whole; we are one. “We” meaning the Earth, all life here, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe, all universes. So separating people, societies, or countries like this is the exact opposite of what should be happening. What should be happening is bringing people together. Societies and cultures have substantial differences, but we can celebrate those differences as diversity of humans instead of fighting about them.

    The U.S., as usual, is in the wrong place and going in the wrong direction. Instead of unity and oneness, it strives for wealth and power. When you’re trying to figure out why the U.S. does what it does, think Game of Thrones, not Buddhist or other more evolved ideals.

    The big shock and disappointment here is western Europe. I had thought that the people there were substantially more evolved than those in the U.S. (generally of course, there are Nazis and other right wingers there just like there are here). But Russia’s invasion has disabused me of that clearly false notion, as western Europe has reacted to it just as hysterically as the U.S. All I can say, to quote an Arabic friend, is “this is not good.”

  11. Excellent article, but what’s missing? What, as I feel to be the supreme goal in all of this is, Global warming and how nations will feed and fuel their people (please read Michael T. Klare’s ‘All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective On Climate Change’

    Basically, two things (I’ll be quick as I have to get ready for work) (1) as the polar caps melt, extracting fossil fuels (and other important minerals) will become possible, but the question is this: Who controls all of this new land mass? (2) The growing of crops, due to climate change, will be dramatically altered whereas much of Siberian Russia will provide an enormous among of the earth’s food supply (as will Canada but this is another matter) what with the winters being shorter and less severe.

    And here I must end as it is now time to get ready for work. But please think on these matters as they are becoming very real, and, very quickly approaching.

    1. @Mark+Oglesby
      Humans extracting even more oil from the Arctic because they’re now able to due to the massive ecological crisis they’ve caused just proves the insanity and evilness, both caused by lack of mental and spiritual evolution, of the human race. What we should be doing is moving toward living a lot more simply & naturally, starting with the total elimination of industrial society in no more than 150-200 years, not constantly making things worse.

  12. Zelensky will be fine. He’s protected by British and American special forces. The family is reportedly living in an $8 million mansion in Israel. He owns a $34 million villa in Miami Beach, and another in Tuscany. Average Ukrainians were lied to, robbed, and in many cases, murdered, by the Kiev gang he presides over – oligarchs, security service (SBU) fanatics, neo-Nazis. And those Ukrainians that remain (10 million have already fled) will continue to be treated as expendable.

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