Ukraine, a small Jeffersonian democracy that is led by a president who is a combination of Joan of Arc and Winston Churchill, is fighting an unprovoked invasion by Russia, its large cruel neighbor. Russia is ruled by an evil dictator who began the attack on a whim – or maybe to restore some past glory.
Ukraine is battling hard and is only days away from total victory. All atrocities, and there are many, are committed only by the Russians; the soldiers of Ukraine are all honorable and go out of their way to protect all civilians and their captured enemies. And the video reports provided by Ukraine, which are the only ones anyone needs to see, are all factual and honest.
That, in sum, is the narrative that is reported daily on all mainstream platforms – from local news reports up through national and international media. Cultural and historical context as well as dissenting reporting are banned or ignored – so much for the responsibility of the Fourth Estate to be skeptical or seek truth.
Allow me to disagree with that narrative.
First, as is self-evident, war is an abomination. The death, destruction, and personal and societal trauma that result are failures of civilization. And when nuclear-armed countries are involved, all life on Earth is at risk.
Everyone can, and should, agree with that.
Beyond that, what’s actually going on is a great more complex.
Any discussions of the actual war are basically impossible at this point. The adage that truth is the first casualty of war has never been more true.
And the Russians have maintained tight opsec (operational security) so no one – including all the retired generals on television – really know what the Russians are actually planning or doing. As a result, the talking heads are not providing clarity – only supporting the approved narrative.
I’m reminded of what George Carlin said after the first Gulf War (at the start of what is now an almost 30-year era of ongoing wars involving the United States).
He said, “Now you might have noticed I don’t feel about that war the way we were told to feel about that war; the way we were ordered and instructed by the United States government to feel about that war. My mind doesn’t work that way. See, I’ve got this real moron thing I do…it’s called thinking.”
My sentiments exactly.
So better to begin, I think, with two fundamental questions that I’ve neither heard asked or answered on any mainstream platform.
First, why does NATO still exist?
Second, what is the strategic, existential interest of the United States in Ukraine?
We all grew up being told that NATO was formed to protect western Europe from the rampaging hordes of the Soviet Union. It was a background narrative that went unquestioned.
In reality, NATO was chartered in 1949 with the purposes, per its own web site, of “deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.”
Sounds to me as if the mission was accomplished. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991; the end of nationalist militarism and European political integration have both been realized through the European Union.
NATO should have been disbanded sometime after 1993 when the European Union was formalized.
The second question is also easily answered.
None – the United States has no interest in Ukraine that risks World War III.
Ukraine is on the border of Russia – it is within their sphere of influence and is none of our business beyond pushing for an end to the conflict. The way to protect Ukrainian civilians is to stop the killing.
Imagine the cries of Monroe Doctrine if a new government in Mexico sought an alliance with China or Russia, and there were efforts to put one of their nation’s dual-use missile systems in the state of Chihuahua – within 100 miles of the US border.
Is there any doubt the United States would take “kinetic action” (the favored term for armed conflict) against Mexico?
So, if it’s not in the United States strategic interest, why are the Biden administration, the many neocons in Congress, the media, and beltway consulting firms pushing for more arms and troops be sent – with some on the lunatic fringe pushing for actual engagement by US forces?
I think there are two factors: China and the US Dollar (USD).
Strategic “thinking” in the United States does not allow for the rise of any near-peer powers (this is the Wolfowitz Doctrine) – something both China and Russia represent.
I think the United States would like to weaken or break up Russia so it is no longer a threat; that would allow complete focus on China. By doing so, Russia’s natural resources could become available to US energy and mining firms. Barring a breakup, getting rid of Vladimir Putin would also be an acceptable outcome.
On the first point, the “shock therapy” imposed by Larry Summers of the Clinton administration to get Russian natural resources led to the rise of the first generation of Russian oligarchs, and impoverishment, malnutrition, and starvation of the Russian people.
Does anyone believe it would work better this time?
And getting rid of the current government in Russia – something the Russians would go to nuclear war to prevent – would not be desirable either, even without the nuclear war threat. No one knows who would replace Putin. It might be a knuckle-dragging ultra nationalist and not a drunken replacement like a Boris Yeltsin.
And a few points on Putin.
He may have autocratic tendencies, but he is not a dictator. He has his own deep state institutions as well as the Duma he must accommodate. Some have said that his back was against the wall this time with Ukraine and seeking compromise was not something he could do.
His background is not well known by most, but it is instructive as to who he is.
He was born in 1952 – the same year I was – in Leningrad to parents who both survived the German siege of that city in WWII. He had an older brother who died in infancy during the war, as well as one who died in the 1930s. Read the book The 900 Days by Harrison Salisbury to understand the terrible conditions that existed for the inhabitants of Leningrad during the German attacks.
Imagine growing up with parents who survived that siege in a city still recovering from the destruction of the war, and the feelings that must have grown in him about the need to protect the homeland and his parents.
Thirty million Russians died in World War II. Their country was destroyed – an area, in an analogy JFK used in his American University speech, equal to all lands east of Chicago. Every Russian family has living memory of someone who died or suffered in that war. Protecting the homeland is visceral to the Russian people – something that most Americans do not comprehend.
Putin is a nationalist who has sought to make Russia safe – compromising and seeking agreements where possible, but using force where he thought he must.
That is not meant to excuse decisions – but only to understand motivation.
Back to China and the USD.
China is predicted to overtake the US in GDP by the end of this decade.
That is unacceptable to the neoliberal owners of this country, even though they were the ones who made it possible by deindustrialization and “free” trade, as well as due to increasingly reckless monetary policy to make themselves even richer.
China, through its Belt and Road initiative, as well as its investments in South America and Africa is poised to be in a position to influence global policies in the ways the United States did over the last 70 years – likely more through soft power than hard military power. But even that is unacceptable to the owners here.
And now this has been made even more true with the sanctions imposed by NATO countries – as Russian and China draw tighter together economically.
The other issue is the USD.
The Bretton Woods agreement in 1944 established the USD as the reserve currency by having other countries peg their currency to the USD, with the USD tied to gold.
In 1972, Nixon took the USD off the gold standard due to the increasing deficits of the Vietnam war.
Inflation resulted – the 1970s were a time of high interest rates as anyone who wanted to buy a house then would remember. Anyone recall the Ford Administration’s silly WIN (Whip Inflation Now) slogan?
While the concept of the “petrodollar” existed as early as 1945, it wasn’t until 1979 that the link between the USD and oil contracts was formalized. Saudi Arabia would price oil in USD, and the United States would protect the House of Saud. Thus, further enhancing the USD as the currency for all international transactions of commodities and finished products.
It meant that all countries would use USD, and they would hold their excess dollar reserves in US Treasury bonds – giving the United States “free money.”
It’s too much to go into here, but all the greed of the 1990s, 2000s and beyond sprang from that. Deindustrialization, NAFTA, WTO, stock buybacks, CDOs, CDSs, quantitative easing, and all the rest sprang from the notion that long-held economic rules didn’t apply to a class of “masters of the universe”, who grew greedier and greedier. I’ve maintained in a number of my posts that the roots of MAGA began with all the above.
The increasing weakness of the United States economy has resulted in many predictions over the last decade of the death of the USD as the reserve currency. Poor monetary policy over the last decades means the Fed can now only choose between likely hyperinflation or the crashing of the US economy through much higher interest rates, with the US defaulting on its bond payments. Either course reinforces the need for many countries to seek safety elsewhere.
China rising to preeminence economically, industrially, and militarily, and international trade based on another currency – or back to gold – means the USD could still be toast no matter what the Fed and US Treasury tried to do that would be acceptable to business and most citizens. Societies have collapsed for less.
And now the sanctions imposed on Russia will bring an end to the USD much sooner. I fear for what could be coming.
That is what is at risk and why the owners appear to be willing to risk World War III.
What these imbeciles hope to possibly achieve is difficult to discern. One could assume they are so filled with their own sense of self-importance and omnipotence they believe that other countries will do what they’re told. But, I think that era of American hegemony is coming to an end for most of the world.
The only thing I’m sure of is that those in charge from the ruling class – most, graduates of the so-called “elite” universities – are all depraved sociopaths.