by John Spritzler
February 25, 2022
[The URL of this article is https://www.pdrboston.org/ukraine-thoughts ]
[Please also see my Open Letter to President Biden re Ukraine]
[Also see "Ukraine: Links to info re the war"]
What's happening now in the Ukraine--the restart of the Cold War--is what the U.S. ruling class wanted to happen*****. If it hadn't wanted it to happen it would have told Putin, "OK, we will promise, and ensure, that Ukraine will NEVER join NATO."*
Why did the U.S. ruling class want this new war to break out?
Because war is how oppressive ruling elites maintain control over "their own" people who would otherwise be far more likely to remove the rich from power. Oppressive ruling elites absolutely need to ensure that "their people" fear a foreign bogeyman enemy and look to "their own" leaders as protectors against that enemy.
This is why:
1. The U.S. (FDR) worked so hard to force Japan to attack the U.S. so as to defeat the enormous anti-war sentiment in the U.S. with the Pearl Harbor attack. Read about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/world-war-ii-not-a-good-war-1 .
2. The U.S. rulers created the Muslim Fundamentalists enemy. Read about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/inventing-the-enemy and at https://www.pdrboston.org/drones-real-purpose-create-hatred-o .
3. Israel funds HAMAS. Read about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/israeli-leaders-hamas-need-each-oth .
4. The old Communist party rulers of Serbia and of Croatia each conspired to bomb the other's population in order to make Serbs hate Croats and vice versa in order to demobilize the growing movement of ordinary Serbs and Croats who, before this bombing, were united in a pro-democracy movement (and who had high rates of intermarriage and not mutual hate) to remove those old Communist party rulers from power. Read about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/gov-ts-use-violence-to-provoke-hatred .
5. The U.S. armed the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Read about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/u-s-armed-the-soviet-union-in-cold- .
6. The U.S. (President Reagan) armed both sides of the Iran-Iraq war, as reported by the New York Times here. (h/t R.J.R.)
We will have warmongering and bogeyman enemies and unfathomable suffering of civilians (and soldiers too) until we remove the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor, which is what the VAST majority of people actually want. Then good people will have a good foreign policy. Read about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/us-foreign-policy .
The task of an anti-war movement is to build the egalitarian revolutionary movement at home, to remove the warmongers from power.
U.S. rulers WANT Russia to invade Ukraine to re-start the Cold War***** so they have a Russian bogeyman enemy again to use to control the American public, just like before during the Cold War.
If Biden wanted to force Putin to withdraw from Ukraine he would do these two things:
#1. Declare that the U.S. will guarantee that Ukraine be neutral and never be admitted to NATO or have missiles on its territory aimed at Russia.****
#2. Declare that the U.S. will use its enormous power over the Ukraine government to ensure that all Neo-Nazis (however many there are, lots or few**) are removed from governmental or military power in Ukraine.
If Biden did these two things, then Putin would no longer have the excuse for the invasion (i.e., protecting Russia and protecting the Russian-speaking Ukrainians that Neo-Nazis have attacked) that he needs to maintain the minimum necessary amount of support among the Russian public for it. Putin might want to expand the Russian empire and conquer Ukraine for that reason, but the Russian public would not permit him to wage a war for THAT reason and would likely remove him from power if he did. And Putin knows this!
If Biden did these two things and Putin continued the war he would be--like the Russian Czar who was overthrown in 1917 because of popular anger at the suffering and hunger caused by his continuing to keep Russia fighting in WWI--at extreme risk of being overthrown. Note that the key fact is what Putin is ABLE to do, NOT what Putin would LIKE to do.*** Those who say, "Well, the U.S. cannot bow down to Putin and make Ukraine neutral because what Putin REALLY wants to do is conquer Ukraine and make it part of the Russian empire," completely miss the point: what counts is what Putin CAN do, not what he WANTS to do. What Putin CAN do depends on what plausible persuasive (to the Russian public) excuse he has for doing it, and if Biden did the two things he should do, then Putin would lack the required excuse to invade Ukraine, no matter what his real aim or desire is for doing it.
The only reason Biden doesn't do these two things (which would actually end the carnage) is because he doesn't want Putin to withdraw; he wants the war to continue in order to re-start the Cold War and renew Russia as the bogeyman enemy. Don't forget, the U.S. armed the Soviet Union big time all during the Cold War in order to ensure it would be a frightening bogeyman enemy. Read the details about this at https://www.pdrboston.org/u-s-armed-the-soviet-union-in-cold- .
THE TWO DIFFERENT EXPLANATIONS FOR THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE ARE JUST DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
The two differing explanations for Putin's invasion of Ukraine both point to the same fundamental one, which is the need of rich ruling upper classes to control "their own" people while dominating and oppressing them.
Explanation #1: Putin fears Ukraine joining NATO and thus making Russia even more vulnerable to attack. Many others have written about the fact that the U.S. has worked hard to make Putin fear a NATO attack, has "baited the bear." The *reason* for this "bear baiting" is to make Putin act in an aggressive warlike manner that makes Russia a more frightening bogeyman enemy for U.S. rulers to use to control "their own" U.S. population, as they (U.S. rulers) used the USSR for that purpose during the Cold War and for which reason they armed the Soviet Union big time during the Cold War to ensure it would be frightening, just as Israel funds HAMAS to ensure it is a frightening bogeyman enemy it can use to control and oppress the Israeli Jewish working class big time.
Explanation #2: Putin wants to restore the Russian empire to contain it's former land including Ukraine. The reason rich dominating and oppressive upper classes (such as the oligarchic one Putin is part of) want big empires is in order to win the emotional support of "their own" people with nationalistic pride and glory and thereby be able to continue oppressing them and treating them like dirt.
Both of these explanations are different sides of the same coin: rich upper classes doing things to control and oppress their own people. Both explanations are reasons why we need to make an egalitarian revolution to remove the warmongers from power.
* This Guardian article reports how the most knowledgable American diplomats--including George Kennan, the architect of the U.S. containment of Communism policy--repeatedly informed U.S. rulers that expanding NATO eastward would lead to a Russian military response and that such expansion or threat of including Ukraine in NATO was therefore a bad idea. But bad for whom? Clearly U.S. rulers thought it was a good idea despite the obvious fact that it would lead to a renewal of the Cold War with Russia, indeed they thought it was a good idea precisely because of that fact!
The fact that the most knowledgable diplomats such as George Kennan said that expanding NATO was a very bad idea means that these diplomats knew there was no overriding reason that would make it a good idea, at least no overriding morally defensible reason that they could state publicly. Re-starting the Cold War was the actual reason for expanding NATO eastward, but since that is not a morally defensible reason it is never stated publicly.
This article reports on how the U.S. perpetrated the 2014 coup in Ukraine to remove its elected pro-Russian leader and replace him with a pro-U.S. leader, clearly a first step towards making Ukraine a member of NATO.
This article reports on how the U.S. "bear baited" Russia to make sure that Putin would eventually respond violently and thereby renew the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.
A secondary argument of Putin's for his invasion of Ukraine is that he wants to remove the Neo-Nazis from power in Ukraine where they are in high places. Well, does President Biden have a problem with that? He should use the enormous power of the U.S. over the Ukrainian government to get rid of Neo-Nazis from any positions of power there. Why not? If he did this then Putin would not have Neo-Nazis as an excuse for the invasion either.
** Even NBC admits that there is a serious, and violent, Neo-Nazi presence in Ukraine today: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/ukraine-has-nazi-problem-vladimir-putin-s-denazification-claim-war-ncna1290946 .
Read this article for much more information about the Neo-Nazis in Ukraine and the power they exert over (the Jewish) Ukrainian President Zelensky.
Also read this article for more information about the Neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
*** Here are more examples of how rulers who wage a very unpopular war (i.e., a war that lacks a purpose/excuse that is persuasive in the eyes of the general public) lose power.
#1. President Lyndon Johnson, arguably one of the most ambitious and power-hungry American politicians, could not run for a second term as president because he was so reviled for his role in escalating the Vietnam war; he couldn't even give a public speech at any venue other than a military base due to the militancy of anti-war protesters wherever he went.
#2. President Nixon, reviled for breaking his campaign promise to end the Vietnam war with a secret plan, and reviled for escalating the war by bombing Cambodia, ended up having to resign the presidency in disgrace, nominally because of his Watergate crime but to a large extent because he was hated by the general public for waging an extremely unpopular war.
After the Vietnam war, U.S. rulers adopted the "Powell Doctrine" that said not to wage a war unless there was widespread public support for it. The U.S. did not begin waging wars again until decades after the Vietnam War, when it used the 9/11 attack to obtain the required widespread public support for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
#3. The American Confederacy's slave-owning ruling class lost its war of independence and was consequently (for a time, at least) removed from power because it failed to gain sufficient support of ordinary white Southerners to win the war, a war widely perceived by poor whites as a "Rich man's war," a war that made Southern whites hate the Confederacy and desert from the army in such huge numbers that it lost the war despite having sufficient arms. Read about this in detail here.
Here is a Guardian article purporting to analyze "how the Kremlin works" by discussing why the oligarchs are not likely to challenge Putin's power over the Ukraine invasion. What this article (and so many others like it) fails to even hint at is the power residing in the Russian general public, forget the oligarchs. When the Czar of Russia was overthrown in February 1917 because of anger at the suffering and hunger caused by his keeping Russia in WWI, it was not any oligarchs that overthrew him, it was millions of ordinary Russians and the Czar's Cossack soldiers who went over to their side during the huge protest demonstrations against the Czar's government, resulting in so few armed people willing to obey the Czar's orders that the Czar was forced to abdicate; read a detailed account of this here. When eight months later in October of 1917 the new pro-war (Menshevik) government was itself overthrown by the Bolsheviks, it was because the Bolsheviks' anti-war slogans mobilized passionate support for the second revolution from millions of workers and peasants--not from rich people.
By now, national rulers know that it is extremely risky for them to wage an unpopular war, and this fact overrides whatever desire or purpose they may have for wanting to wage the war.
The notion that Putin is a dictator who can do whatever he wants because he has absolute power is nonsense. Even Hitler, when he was the Führer with nominally absolute power, was forced to stop his secret "euthanasia" (killing of individuals 'not worth feeding' due to poor health or injury) project when the public discovered its existence, was furious at it, and expressed its extreme anger.
**** Read here why, if Biden did this, Putin would have an extremely difficult time persuading the Russian public that they still had to keep sending their children/soldiers to fight and die in Ukraine. Read an opinion in the Boston Globe by a Tufts University professor titled "How Biden and NATO can end Russia's war with Ukraine" about how the U.S. refused to bar Ukraine from NATO membership and thereby made the Russian invasion all but inevitable, and how it's not too late to end the war by barring Ukraine from NATO permanently.
Some people dispute what I say in this article by arguing that there is no way that Biden could actually sufficiently guarantee the neutrality of Ukraine to reassure Putin. This misses the point. The purpose of the guarantee is to make the Russian public, not Putin, believe that there is no longer a legitimate reason (the safety of Russia) for invading Ukraine. Biden could indeed make a guarantee (with appropriate actions) sufficient to deny Putin the public support he needs to invade Ukraine.
The U.S. government controls NATO and could permanently bar Ukraine from being a member (every NATO member government can unilaterally deny NATO membership to any non-NATO member nation applying for membership) and from ever having missiles on its territory aimed across the border at Russia. Note that this would in no way whatsoever be a violation of Ukraine's national sovereignty, just as it is not a violation of a person's freedom not to invite them to your birthday party or not to provide them with missiles or other armaments. The U.S. government arms Ukraine and could disarm Ukraine. Doing these things would make Ukraine neutral for all practical purposes, regardless of what Ukrainian people wanted. Without U.S. support for Ukraine to be non-neutral, Ukraine is simply too weak a nation to be anything other than neutral in practice. By making Ukraine neutral, Biden could make Putin fear being removed from power if he continued the invasion of Ukraine. See footnote *** above for more on this point.
Other people object to what I advocate for Biden to do on the grounds that neither Biden nor anybody else has a right to tell a sovereign nation (in this case Ukraine) what it must do. Here's what's wrong with this reasoning. The notion that "sovereign nations have a right to decide what they will do and nobody else has a right to tell them what to do" is based on two false premises: #1) that a nation is analogous to an individual person in having some ill-defined "right to self-determination"; and #2) that even if nations are like individual persons in this respect, they have a right to anything whatsoever in the name of 'self-determination."
Regarding premise #1, nations are composed of many individual persons, and typically (certainly in Ukraine today) there are fundamental conflicts, sometimes violent (again, as is the case in Ukraine today as you can read about here and here) between these individuals over what values--egalitarian or anti-egalitarian--should shape society. A nation, therefore, typically does not have a single opinion about what it "wants to do" and when anybody argues that the nation should be left free to do what it wants to do then they are really arguing that the people within the nation who are the strongest should be permitted to prevail over those in the nation who oppose them. On the contrary, egalitarians in one nation have a moral right to give assistance to egalitarians in another nation to help them in their struggle against the anti-egalitarians there.
Regarding premise #2, even if a nation's population is 100% united in wanting to do X, that doesn't mean other people should necessarily permit it to do X. If X violates the rights of people then it is not morally wrong to prevent the nation from doing X. In the case of Ukraine, there are some people there (a minority, actually, including Neo-Nazis) a) who want Ukraine to be a platform for Western missiles aimed at Russian civilians (i.e., for Ukraine to be a member of NATO) for the interests of the billionaires who rule the NATO nations and treat its ordinary people like dirt; and b) who want to deny Russian-speaking Ukrainians (in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine) their rights. There is no moral reason why people elsewhere should not help the Ukrainians opposed to this to prevail.
***** Read here in this article by Alex Rubenstein how Hillary Clinton, now free to speak more candidly than the current secretary of state or president, says that she wants what is, in effect, a new Cold War:
As a no-longer official voice of the Democratic foreign policy establishment, Hillary Clinton is able to speak with more candor than the current US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on the objectives of the liberal interventionist clique to which they both belong.
When Hillary Clinton resurfaced on MSNBC on March 8 for an interview with MSNBC’s Mika Brezinski – daughter of Zbigniew, the architect of the program to arm the Afghan mujahedin – Clinton was more explicit than before about her desire for the Afghan option.
“Lethal defensive weapons are making their way into Ukraine. They need more. I want to see them get more. I’ve urged publicly and privately that they get more,” the former Secretary of State said. “There is a concerted effort by governments, particularly NATO governments, both to provide weapons and aid.”
“This is not going to end quickly,” Clinton concluded, “it’s going to drag on.”
The Afghan option has been advocated for Ukraine by some of the most prominent figures among the US foreign policy establishment, and particularly those on the Democratic side of the aisle.
“It didn’t end well for the Russians…but the fact is, that a very motivated, and then funded, and armed insurgency basically drove the Russians out of Afghanistan. I think that is the model that people are now looking toward,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared during a February 28 interview with MSNBC.
Clinton waxed nostalgic over the campaign to arm and train the Afghan mujahideen in a bid to suck the Soviet Union into a “Vietnamese quagmire.” If Western government can “keep the Ukrainian, both their military and their citizen volunteer soldiers supplied, that can continue to stymie Russia,” she added.
Next, Clinton pointed to the dirty war in Syria, where the CIA’s Timber Sycamore program funneled weapons to the so-called “moderate rebels” of the Free Syrian Army, creating what mainstream US analyst Sam Heller called “weapons farms for larger Islamist and jihadist factions, including Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate.”
“It took years to finally defeat Syria in terms of the insurgencies, the democratic forces as well as others who battled the Russians, the Syrians, and the Iranians,” Clinton said.