|This article appeared in the August 28, 2000 issue of the New Federalist newsweekly. Fuller coverage will appear in the September 1, 2000 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
On the Verge of World War III--
And You Weren't Even Told!
by Jeffrey Steinberg
Aug. 23 (EIRNS)--Thermonuclear World War III was moments from breaking out on the weekend of Aug. 12-13, after the sinking of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk--and you, the American people, were never informed, as a result of a "wartime" blackout and total silence on secret war-avoidance diplomacy imposed by the White House.
But it is the Anglo-American financial oligarchy, grown desperate and hysterical over the imminent demise of their power in the world financial collapse--not some "Seven Days in May" military putsch apparatus--that is the driving force behind the push for war, including the thermonuclear brinksmanship in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea.
Lyndon LaRouche spelled it out in an Aug. 20 statement reading in part:
"At this point, no miracle could save the present IMF-centered global financial and monetary system from collapse in the immediate future. The system is doomed, hopelessly so. That is the good news. The bad news is, that the presently ruling international financier-oligarchy will not willingly accept its inevitable doom peacefully.
"That oligarchy, as self-caricatured by the present editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal, is as mad as Lady Macbeth. Under these circumstances, every crisis-spot in the world, inside the USA itself, in the Americas generally, in Africa, and in Eurasia generally, is the site of a local political firestorm either in flames, or about to erupt. It is not the tinder of the local hot-spot which causes this phenomenon; it is, rather, the heat of the global crisis of the financial system which seeks out, and tends to ignite all available tinder, such as the case of the sinking of the Kursk. In this state of affairs, those firestorms tend to come together, threatening an early global conflagration of awesome, but otherwise unpredictable, intensity, duration, and consequence."
LaRouche's statement was issued several days before the Russian government, in "leaks" and official statements, confirmed that nuclear war had hung in the balance Aug. 12-13.
What We Know
While American and European media have jumped the gun in attributing the Kursk sinking to onboard explosions, probably caused by a battery fire or torpedo detonation, the preponderance of evidence in fact suggests that the Kursk collided with another vessel--a U.S. or British submarine, or drone vehicle--or, in the extreme case, was possibly hit by a torpedo.
Even now, details of the near-miss strategic showdown have largely been kept out of the Western media, despite publicized, detailed statements by senior Russian government and military officials, including Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, and an Aug. 22 Pravda.ru story with the bold headline, "World War III Could Have Begun on Saturday."
In an Aug. 21 interview with Russian ORT TV, Sergeyev reported that at roughly 6 p.m. Moscow time Aug. 12, Gen. Popov, Commander of Russia's Northern Fleet, was informed that the submarine Kursk had failed to establish a communication link during Barents Sea maneuvers in which it was involved.
A search-and-rescue mission was immediately launched, and early sonar data showed two vessels lying at the bottom of the Barents Sea.
It took approximately 24 hours, until Sunday evening, Aug. 13, for the Kursk to be located, and by that time, according to Sergeyev, the second vessel, presumed to be a foreign submarine, was gone from the area.
The Kursk, with a crew of 118 sailors and officers, was found at the bottom of the Sea. Most of the crew were instantly killed in what Russian officials are all but certain was a collision with the second vessel.
On Aug. 21, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian rescue workers had found a fragment of a submarine, "most likely British," near the Kursk. This followed earlier reports that emergency buoys, also identified as British, were seen floating near the collision site.
Then came the Aug. 22 Pravda.ru story: "On Saturday, Aug. 12, an incident occurred in the Barents Sea, where the Russian Federation's Northern Fleet was conducting exercises, which nearly led to the outbreak of full-scale combat--a third world war.... For several days the world hung by a thread, and one false political move could have led to an exchange of nuclear strikes."
Citing hydroacoustical evidence of three explosions, "indicating the possibility that the Kursk had suffered a torpedo attack." Pravda.ru described the incident as a possible casus belli, but concluded, "Happily, the incident in the Barents Sea was successfully resolved by political means. Agreement to `end the affair in peace' was reached during a telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton. The Presidents' conversation lasted 25 minutes, and nothing of its content was reported in the mass media."
And in the West
A handful of Western journalists have made sane comments about the Kursk, but only a handful.
On Aug. 22, John Helmer, a Moscow-based journalist who writes frequently for the Journal of Commerce and the Moscow Times, wrote in the Singapore-based Straits Times that "the Russian sub drama looked like war at the start." Dismissing the harsh Western media criticism of President Putin, who remained at the "vacation Kremlin" at Sochi, Helmer wrote, "If you were the ruler of Russia, and you were told late one night that one of your most powerful and secret submarine weapons had been hit by a mysterious explosion, and sent to the bottom without word from the crew, would it be prudent for you to suspect an attack? An attack by a nuclear superpower and old rival?
"And if it is your sworn duty to defend your country from attack, would it be reasonable for you to determine whether there was a cause for war, or an accident?"
Pearl Harbor Effect?
Lyndon LaRouche observed Aug. 21 that the desperate maneuverings by the Anglo-American financial oligarchy, to destroy Russia's remaining strategic military capabilities through the wild actions in the Barents Sea, and render Russia vulnerable to even more voracious raw-materials looting by Anglo-American cartels, would not work.
He warned that the Russians, moving with care and deliberation, would respond with a "counter-scare" strategy. There are already signs that Putin, far from being destabilized by the Kursk attack, is in the process of greatly strengthening his support.
On Aug. 22, Putin travelled to the headquarters of the Northern Fleet, to hold a six-hour open session with the relatives of the sailors killed on the Kursk. He vowed to get to the bottom of the tragedy. Next day, in a nationwide TV address, he repeated the message.
Reports from Russia suggest his actions have earned him broad public support which could backfire against the Russian tycoon-owned media which joined NATO media in pillorying him.
Also noteworthy is Putin's growing alliance with former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov, who on Aug. 23 delivered a strongly worded statement warning the West and the tycoons not to try to exploit the near-war crisis.
As the Anglo-American oligarchy's efforts to obliterate Russia as a military adversary were failing, the global financial crisis, the driver for the war dynamic, was accelerating.
That will send the oligarchs on another war tear. Until these fanatics are removed from influence, and their bankrupt financial system put through LaRouche's New Bretton Woods reorganization, the threat of world war will not abate.