Eric S. Margolis : VICTORIA NULAND, the US assistant secretary of state for Europe, used a four-letter word to indicate her feelings about Europe. Nuland was referring to the European Union’s reluctance to get too deeply involved in Ukraine’s current strife or to impose sanctions on the former Soviet republic. She perfectly captured Washington’s sneering view of Europe as a collection of feeble and irrelevant banana republics. Nuland is a prominent American neoconservative. Like her fellow neocons, she disdains Europe for being unwarlike, mildly critical of Israel, and often insufficiently responsive to Washington’s demands – or even insubordinate, like the French. How ironic was it that Nuland’s pithy reference to Europe and her plans for a new Western-confected government in Ukraine – where the US insists it is not at all interfering – were picked by Russian electronic intelligence and played to the world. How dim of the veteran diplomat to speak so thoughtlessly on her cellphone. Of late, Nuland and other senior US officials have been blasting Moscow for “meddling” in Ukraine. The leaked phone recording has Nuland telling the US ambassador to Kiev which of the three opposition candidates Washington wants to run Ukraine. Nuland’s plans for a regime change in Kiev have been a godsend to Moscow, which claims the US and EU are behind the uprising in Ukraine. She has undermined the democratic Ukrainian opposition by making them look like American puppets. Score one for Russia’s spooks. All Nuland could do was splutter about how Russian intelligence had intercepted her cellphone. This after the US National Security Agency was revealed to be bugging the phones and email of most of Europe’s leaders. What goes around comes around. All this was most amusing – except that it highlighted the growing US-Russian confrontation over Ukraine that risks turning very dangerous. A senior Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin warned Washington to butt out of Ukraine – or else. Europe is rightfully fearful that the Ukraine crisis could cause a head-on clash between Washington and Moscow – just as the little Russia-Georgia war over Ossetia almost did in 2008. Interestingly, during that crisis, the US rushed warships to the Black Sea. This time, US Navy warships are back again in the Black Sea under the laughable excuse that they are on station to evacuate US tourists to the Sochi Olympics if violence occurs. Day by day, we see growing rancour between the US and Russia. Most of it is unfair criticism and childish spats, but the overall effect is creating the basis for a war fever. The same bickering, cheap criticism and manufactured anger created the psychological basis in Britain for the utterly catastrophic World War I. Three years later, it was repeated in the United States to whip up an anti-German fever. The US media is barraging Russia and Putin with a drumfire of negative stories. The Sochi Olympics have come in for relentless, petty attacks and low-minded carping. Anyone who knows Russia should be in awe that the normally bumbling, disorganised country managed to get its Olympic sites finished more or less on time. Russians usually lose a lot of early battles, but they usually end up winning wars. So what if Moscow spent billions on the Sochi Olympics! Who is Washington to criticise Moscow after pouring over $2 trillion into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Syria, with nothing to show but huge debts, armies of refugees, and graveyards? America’s national security establishment – what used to be known in Britain as imperialists – is now turning its guns on Russia, aided by the US corporate media. Putin’s Russia has re-emerged as America’s number one enemy. At times, the Cold War seems to be inching back. The US narrowly escaped a dangerous military clash over President Barack Obama’s intemperate rush to war over Syria. Nuclear powers must not indulge in such school-yard squabbles. World War I, whose 100th anniversary comes this fall, began just this way. Putin’s Russia is no Utopia, but do we really want angry, expansionist Russians again on our eastern borders? Better they focus on Olympic games and shopping sprees. Unlike the US, they have not started any wars lately.