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The historic push of East Central; Europe into Nato
by Jorg Muller-Muralt and Alfred Weber
What is the end of the war song? It is and was destruction, death, human suffering and traumatized populations. And in our time, in addition, it is the suspension of the necessary global and joint efforts of all nations in the fight against the threat of climate catastrophe.
The historic push of East Central Europe into Nato

Jürg Müller-Muralt
Nato's eastward expansion was not an aggressive act against Russia, but corresponded to the strong desire of "burned children."
[This article published on May 27, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

Nato eastward expansion - the term alone conjures up the idea of an active, if not aggressive, spatial expansion. It is worthwhile to consider the reasons for Nato's eastward expansion in light of Finland's and Sweden's planned Nato accession. The view that Nato's eastward expansion is basically a concerted policy directed against Russia is historically untenable. The basic motive of the individual East-Central European states that wanted to join NATO was always the need for protection against a neighbor that was considered unpredictable and with which they had already had some unpleasant experiences. What the Russian leadership today interprets as a threat is paradoxically the result of a situation in which numerous states saw themselves threatened by Russia. It was not NATO, nor was it the U.S., that literally beat East-Central Europe into NATO; rather, it was the painful history under Soviet rule and decades of forced membership in the Warsaw Pact that gave the necessary impetus to the drive westward.

Strong democratic legitimacy

And above all, it was the majority wish of the populations of these states. The democratic legitimacy of joining NATO is high in all countries; all joined the military alliance voluntarily. Some states even held referendums. In Hungary, around 83 percent voted in favor of joining, in Slovenia 66 percent. Governments that were opposed to NATO were even voted out of office in some cases, as happened in Bulgaria and Slovakia.

Security vacuum between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea

The implosion of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the Soviet empire were decisive for the completely changed security situation. A security vacuum quickly developed in "inter-Europe," the former satellite states and ex-Soviet republics between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Moreover, President Boris Yeltsin failed to democratize Russia, to build stable rule-of-law structures, and also to build a partnership with the United States and NATO. The tragedy of the Russian situation after the end of the Cold War has less to do with U.S. triumphalism, which very much existed, nor with the continued existence of NATO, but with problems in Russia's political transformation.

USA initially turned to the East

The platform Dekoder, which specializes in Russia, summarizes the situation at the time as follows: "In fact, since the summer of 1990, the USA and NATO had constructively turned towards the East and the USSR, extending 'the hand of friendship' to them through the new North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) - a process of rapprochement that was maintained even after the sudden Soviet implosion in 1991, with all the newly independent states, including Russia. However, at the moment when Russia sank into political chaos in 1993 and revisionist voices began to be heard, the active search for security of the inter-Europeans began, who now sought more and more urgently to join the Western institutions. This external pressure on NATO was instrumental in the developments and decision-making around the eastward enlargement process in the 1990s and 2000s."

Sense of threat promotes drive to the West

The new, democratically elected governments of the former Eastern bloc countries - Poland and Hungary, for example - viewed the Soviet era as an era of oppression and pushed westward and into NATO. In the words of historian Wolfgang Mueller, professor at the Institute of Eastern European History at the University of Vienna: "After 40 years of Soviet occupation, military interventions (Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968; ed.) and dictatorship, there was a sense of threat. In addition, there were current demands by Russian politicians to restore the Russian empire, including Poland and Finland. That's why the states of East-Central Europe pushed into NATO, although the West didn't like that at first."

NATO gets into tricky situation

Indeed, the collapse of the Eastern bloc put NATO in a difficult position. Many Western states feared provoking Russia. On the one hand, there were great reservations about accepting new members, but on the other hand, they did not want to offend the states that wanted to join. U.S. President Bill Clinton rejected eastward enlargement as late as 1993. Instead, in 1994, he created the instrument called "Partnership for Peace" (PfP); Russia also joined in. The apodictic statement in an interview by former SPD politician Klaus von Dohnanyi, also reproduced by Infosperber, according to which the USA had "always exerted this NATO expansion pressure" is therefore not correct in this form, because this does not apply to the initial phase of the debate on eastward expansion.

Russia intervened and ignited again and again

The threat fears of the East-Central European states were not made up out of thin air. Even then, there was a lack of confidence in Russia's lasting political reliability and democratic development. Starting in 1994, Russia waged the first Chechen war, which led to questions about its own security in Poland, for example. Again and again, Russia supported separatist forces in neighboring states with regular and irregular troops: Abkhazia against Georgia in 1992, Transnistria against Moldova in the same year, South Ossetia against Georgia in 2008, the Donbass region against Ukraine since 2014, and finally the annexation of Crimea. The Baltic states, which lost their independence as a result of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, feared Russian intervention for a very specific reason: the Soviets engaged in deliberate "Russification," which led to a Russian-speaking minority in the Baltics that remains large today, especially in Estonia and Latvia. The argument that this minority must be protected can certainly be instrumentalized as a reason for intervention. Russia has also done this in Ukraine.

Anne Applebaum's recipe for deterrence

The American historian Anne Applebaum, a specialist in Eastern European history and a prominent warner against fascism and authoritarianism in her own country, accuses the West of having closed its eyes for too long to the dangers posed by Russia. It should have pursued a policy of deterrence, as it did with the Soviet Union: "In 1991, the West failed to do so because it believed it was no longer necessary. But Russia rearmed and invaded neighboring countries, and the West still pretended that there was no danger from Russia. We believed we no longer needed to deter Russia. That was a mistake."

The various NATO enlargements to the east were primarily in response to the security needs of the respective states and are not unilaterally or solely rooted in U.S. and NATO geopolitical interests, which of course exist. During the enlargement process, there has been increasing alienation between Russia and the West - somewhat more with each new NATO member. Russia's clearly expressed concerns have largely been thrown to the wind, rather than a corresponding increase in diplomatic efforts to engage Russia in parallel with NATO growth.

The debate over the West's broken promise

Since it has been the subject of frequent debate and controversy, this article will not again explicitly address in detail the part played in this alienation by the question of whether the West had broken a promise not to expand NATO further eastward. "It should have been clear to the Soviet leadership at the time - and there is widespread agreement on this in political science - that the statements in question did not constitute a binding promise under international law to refrain from expanding NATO to the east, especially since they were not upheld either during the progress of the Two-Plus-Four Talks (on German reunification, red.) or explicitly repeated by decisive Western politicians after German reunification," according to a 2016 analysis by the German Bundestag's Scientific Service.

But that does not mean that there were no such statements, which now play some role in the narrative about the causes of the war. In fact, in the course of negotiations for the reunification of Germany, there were verbal commitments to Russia not to expand NATO further eastward. This is evident from eyewitness accounts as well as from notes of conversations. Infosperber has already reported on this on several occasions (here and here). An excellent account of this complex issue, taking all positions into account, can be found on Wikipedia. Differentiated analyses are also presented by Dekoder and MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk).


Troubles of thinking - on the background of the conflict over Ukraine
by Alfred Weber
[This article published on June 1, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Mühen des Denkens – zu den Hintergründen des Konflikts um die Ukraine.

As is so often the case, almost all media editorials and most politicians react to the events in Ukraine in a reflexive rather than reflective manner due to their conditioning. Reflection takes time and effort, while reflexive snap judgments take little from you. (See Daniel Kahnemann, Quick Thinking and Slow Thinking, 2011) What is the relevant imprinting for the media and politicians* here? As Howard Gardner outlined in his seminal book The Unschooled Mind (1992), adult humans tend to fall back on preschool, childlike patterns of understanding in situations that arise spontaneously. Significantly, he used as an example the reaction of a U.S. historian, who had intensively studied the history of the First World War and had grasped its complexity beyond simple attributions of guilt, to Bush Senior's war in Iraq. Instead of exercising the necessary scientific caution, this historian judged in the manner of a child with a quick distinction between absolute evil (Saddam Hussein) and absolute good (the intentions and deeds of the USA). Like all classic fairy tales, such unambiguous judgment serves the child's desire for simple and unambiguous recognition and punishment of evil and reward of good. From Alfred Weber.

At the moment, this pattern also characterizes Western reporting and the media's prescribed judgment on the war in Ukraine, a judgment that, out of sheer self-righteousness, calls for intervention in the war that certainly has what it takes to trigger a nuclear apocalypse.

Instead of giving in to this pattern and joining in the call for more weapons for Ukraine, I would like to subject us to the effort of taking a closer look at the genesis of the war. Indeed, it really begins with Afghanistan and President Carter's security advisor, Brzezinski.

In 1978, when the secular People's Democratic Party, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, seized power in a coup in Afghanistan and also sought military support from the Soviet Union to enforce its land reform and the expropriations of the feudal upper class, Brzezinski saw an opportunity to let the Soviet Union fall into the "Afghan trap" by providing the mujahideen with modern weapons. At first, however, the Soviet Union refused military aid. Only after Taraki's assassination and after Hafizulla Amin had taken power and threatened to lean on the West to secure his power with NATO troops, did the Soviet Union decide to occupy Afghanistan. In doing so, they had fallen into the trap, because in the following 8 years, with the support and funding of their struggle (against the governments of "socialist orientation" held in power by the Soviet Union) by the U.S., the Mujahideen waged a guerrilla war that overstretched the Soviet Union and ultimately led to its downfall - just as Brzezinski had planned/hoped. (State-of-the-art U.S. weapons included Stinger missiles against Russian transport helicopters).

The one who had run for election as General Secretary of the Communist Party as early as 1985 with the promise to end the war in Afghanistan was Mikhail Gorbachev. It was he who then installed a head of government in Kabul, Mohammed Najibullah, who was willing to negotiate to end the war. On February 15, 1989, the last Russian troops finally left the country. Thereafter, the various mujahideen groups, armed by the United States, fought Najibullah's government until his abdication in April 1992, whereupon the groups fought each other viciously until the near-total destruction of Kabul and the victory of the Taliban and the establishment of a state of God.

What does this have to do with today's war in Ukraine?

As a result of the economic, moral and military weakening of the Soviet Union due to the Afghan war, Gorbachev decided to open up internally and externally. This led to the detachment of the so-called Warsaw Pact satellite states, including East Germany, from the Soviet sphere of power, and in foreign policy terms it led to the disarmament agreements between Gorbachev and Reagan.

In return for the gift of German unity granted by the Soviet Union, there was a promise from the other three victorious powers, i.e., the U.S., Britain and France, that NATO would not expand eastward, and thus to the borders of the USSR. (Because this is still doubted, here is the National Security Archives source, which probably cannot be accused of leftist tendencies.)

Noam Chomsky, the famous linguist and researcher in the fields of logic, mathematics, computer science, philosophy and politics, describes the three possible developments after 1990[1]:

The first was proposed by Gorbachev: a Eurasian security system that would have gone from the Atlantic to Vladivostok, eliminating the need for military blocs. This proposal was never considered as an option by the U.S. - and thus not by the Europeans in their subservience to the U.S. either.

The second proposal was the one offered by George Bush Senior and his Secretary of State James Baker, which Germany also supported. According to him, NATO should not move "an inch to the east."

The third proposal was the one pursued by Clinton, according to which NATO would move right up to Russia's border, hold military maneuvers in the countries bordering Russia, and place weapons on the Russian border that the U.S. itself would definitely consider offensive weapons, if it tolerated anything remotely comparable in its neighborhood at all.

Of the three options, it was the last that was implemented and went by the name of the Clinton Doctrine. After the Senate ratified the Clinton expansion of NATO into Poland, Teschechia, and Hungary in May 1998, it was clear to George Kennon, the architect of U.S. policy from 1947 of containment of the Soviet Union, that this would trigger a new cold war.

In an interview, he said verbatim, "I think the Russians will gradually react very negatively, and it will affect their policy decisions. I think it's a tragic mistake. There was no reason for it at all. Nobody threatened anybody....what concerns me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole debate was in the Senate. I was particularly disturbed by the references to Russia as a country that was determined to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand that our differences were with the Soviet communist regime during the Cold War, and now we are snubbing the very people who made the greatest bloodless revolution in history by removing the Soviet regime. And Russia's democracy is at least as advanced as that of the

countries that we are now committed to defending against Russia. It shows so little knowledge of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course, there will be a bad reaction from Russia, and then the NATO expansionists will say that they always said the Russians were like that - but that's just wrong." [2]

George Kennon was not alone in this assessment, "Paul Nitze, a hawk who served in the Reagan administration; Harvard Russia professor Richard Pipes, another hardliner; Senator Sam Nunn, one of the most influential voices on national security in Congress; Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former U.S. U.N. ambassador; and Robert McNamara, Lyndon Johnson's defense secretary, all warned that NATO expansion would poison relations with Russia while promoting authoritarian and nationalist forces there."[3]

It is important to keep in mind that Clinton took this step even though Yeltsin was still Russia's president and even though Yeltsin had warned him as early as 1994 that NATO's move to provide some former Warsaw Pact countries with NATO security guarantees would sow "seeds of mistrust" and risk plunging Europe "into a cold peace." (Daniel Williams, Yeltsin, Clinto Clash over NATO's Role in The Washington Post, December 8, 1994). The fact that Yeltsin was still president, moreover, was due to U.S. PR intervention and financial support (in cooperation with corrupt oligarchs) in the 1996 election campaign. Especially in this second term of Yeltsin, U.S. neoliberal pressure on Russia ensured that social security systems, such as public health care as well as state jobs, were drastically dismantled. Thus, in the 1990s, GDP fell by nearly 40%, while unemployment rose and inflation reached 86% in 1999 and, most importantly, life expectancy for Russian men fell by nearly 10 years.[4]

So, instead of giving this Russia, also weakened by "free" global finance, the proponents of a unipolar world dominated by the United States prevailed in Washington, disregarding all warnings that this would divide Europe once again. Clinton's Republican successor, George W. Bush, continued the policy of hegemonic dominance throughout the world-even after Putin declared solidarity with the U.S. after the Al Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, and offered Europe and the U.S. an alliance against Islamist terror. Thus, in December 2001, Bush canceled the ABM Treaty and directed the Pentagon to build a new missile system in Eastern Europe on the border with Russia - under the pretext that it would protect against missiles from Iran. Nevertheless, in 2002, Putin again proposed that Russia join the EU and NATO, and was again rebuffed. [5]

Bucharest 2008: NATO in favor of Georgia and Ukraine membership.

By the time NATO held a summit in the Romanian capital of Bucharest in 2008, NATO had grown from 16 Cold War countries to 26 and had directly reached Russia's border with the Baltic states. Nevertheless, the final report of the meeting praised the "aspiration to membership" on the part of Georgia and Ukraine, noting that "we agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO."

Given the result of this policy today, it is interesting to read what the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow. at the time, William Burns, said in a cable warning. Among other things, he understood that for Russia, NATO expansion into these two countries, in addition to the geographic proximity of U.S. weapons systems, would pose a threat because it could motivate forces in these countries to provoke a civil war that could result in Russian or NATO intervention. [6]

And that is exactly what happened on August 7, 2008, when the President of Georgia, Michael Saakashvili, overestimating his military capabilities (and the likelihood of NATO support), attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to reclaim it into Georgian territory, even though Russian peacekeepers were stationed there. Saakashvili had increased the military budget from 1.1% of GDP and $74 million in 2003 to 9.2% and $923 million, in part with U.S. financial assistance. Putin responded to Georgia's attack with military power, repulsing the aggressor in five days. In a very long and frank speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference [7], Putin had warned against U.S. and NATO attempts to establish unipolar world domination and, as a counterplan, suggested strengthening efforts toward global agreements (such as the 1999 Conventional Military Forces Treaty, signed by Russia and three other countries but not NATO states) and strengthening the UN (pointing out how many steps toward integration into a global order (e.g., by joining the WTO) Russia had already taken).

The fall of the Yanukovych government.

Instead of taking Russia's security concerns seriously, at least from the war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia onward, the U.S. and NATO stepped up Ukraine's military buildup and political influence toward linking Ukraine to the EU. As Viktoria Nuland boasted on December 13, 2013, the U.S. spent $5 billion to make Ukraine fit for the EU and NATO.[8] Between 2004 and 2013, the EU spent an additional €500 million subsidizing "front groups." [9] And Carl Gershman, the head of the CIA-like NED (National Endowment for Democracy) declared as early as September 2013 that "Ukraine is the biggest prize" and "Putin could find himself on the losing side not only in the near abroad, but in Russia itself."[10

All of these efforts eventually culminated in the overthrow of Yanukovych. The latter had emerged as the winner of the 2010 democratic election by a narrow majority (48.95%). His opponent, Julie Tymoshenko had garnered 45.47% of the vote. The following graph shows how the votes were distributed in the country: The blue districts voted for Yanukovych with 50 or more than 50 percent, while the red ones voted for Tymoshenko. In the dark blue parts of the country, Yanukovych was elected with over 80% of the vote, while Tymoshenko was elected with such a majority in the dark red ones.

It is clear that the mainly Russian-speaking part of Ukraine voted against the westward-leaning nationalists around Tymoshenko, while the population mainly of eastern Galicia favored the westward move.

With Yanukovych ahead by 3.56% of the vote, Tymoshenko withdrew her initial challenge to the election, and thus Yanukovych became the undisputed winner of the election. When tens of thousands of Ukrainians peacefully protested government corruption in Maidan Square in December 2013, calling for integration with Europe, it provided an opportunity for the West to reap the "spoils" invoked by Carl Gershman. The catalyst for the Maidan protests was Yanukovich's decision not to conclude a trade agreement offered by the EU and the International Monetary Fund for the time being, even though on the fourth of September, at a meeting of his party that he had convened, Yanukovich had still dismissed those who demanded closer ties with Russia with a "Forget it ... forever!" and the phrase, "We will pursue integration with Europe."[11] What made him change his stance two months later?

What made him revise his stance two months later? It was, above all, the fine print in the EU-IMF agreement offer, according to which Ukraine would not only have to cut its deep cultural and economic ties with Russia, but would also have to accept harsh austerity measures such as raising the retirement age and freezing pensions and wages. Instead of improving the lives of average citizens, these demands would have only brought them deprivation and meant political extinction for Yanukovych.

To help Yanukovych out of the difficult situation, Putin offered Ukraine a $15 billion loan and sharply reduced natural gas prices. He explicitly made no demands for austerity measures, nor did he demand a commitment to join a Russian-led customs union. Nor did Russia insist that Ukraine abandon its European ambitions. But Yanukovich's continued expressed interest in concluding an agreement with the EU at a later date was met with statements from Brussels that "such discussions have been broken off." [12]

At this point, instead of helping to reach a compromise with the IMF, EU, and Ukraine, the U.S. openly supported the far-right groups that had taken command of the Maidan: Republican and Democratic Cold Warriors flew in to claim the "spoils." Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy allowed themselves to be celebrated on the Maidan alongside Oleh Tyahnuybok, the leader of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, and Murphy let the cat out of the bag when he declared on CNN that their mission was "to bring about a peaceful transition here."[13]

Victoria Nuland, a senior State Department official, also played an important and shady role. As a leaked conversation of hers with Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, reveals, she and Pyatt set out to undermine the compromise proposal made by the Europeans that would have left Yanukovych in office - "Fuck the EU" is her well-known comment - and to support a new government under politicians they selected. In the interview, the anti-Semitic Russophobe Tyahnuybok is considered because of his lack of acceptance in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine, but then Yatseniuk is preferred to him. "Yats is the guy." What was still outstanding was also elaborated in the conversation: the approval of Vice President Joe Biden and his advisor Jake Sullivan "to hammer out the details ('deets')."[14]

Then on February 20, snipers shot and killed dozens of protesters in Maidan Square. This massacre was blamed on Yanukovych forces, triggering a new spiral of violence and threats against Yanukovich's life. In another intercepted telephone conversation, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet informed then-EU Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton "that it was becoming increasingly clear that it was not Yanukovych but provocateurs from the new coalition who were behind the sniping. "[15]Ivan Katchanovski of the University of Ottawa, who has conducted an exhaustive investigation of the massacre, confirms Paet's original suspicions: "According to the testimony of over 100 wounded demonstrators, several dozen prosecution witnesses, and forensic ballistic and medical examinations by government experts, the massacre of the absolute majority of the demonstrators and police officers on the Maidan on February 20 was perpetrated mainly by members of the Maidan opposition, especially its far-right elements."[16]

This is matched by the fact that two leading members of the far-right Svoboda party stated in separate interviews that a Western government official had told them and other leaders of the Maidan movement that Western governments would no longer recognize Yanukovych if the death toll among protesters reached 100. Not coincidentally, the demonstrators who were killed were called the "celestial hundred," even after an official investigation found that 48 died that day.

On February 21, Yanukovych and the opposition agreed on an EU-brokered compromise that called for the formation of a new coalition government and early elections. As a result, Yanukovich's security forces immediately withdrew from the Maidan area. But the right-wing base of the Maidan camp was not interested in a compromise. Vladimir Parasiuk, a Maidan squadron leader, declared that "we don't want to see Yanukovych in power....and that if you don't demand that he step down, we will take up arms and go, I swear." Yanukovych, no longer feeling protected by his security forces and under severe threat, understood the message and fled to Russia.

Despite lacking a sufficient parliamentary majority and thus being unconstitutional, a new government was quickly formed. With Nuland's choice of Yatseniuk as prime minister, the United States got its "guy."

The central role of far-right nationalist elements in the success of the Maidan coup was trumpeted by Jevgen Karas of the neo-Nazi gang C14 at a public event in Kiev on February 27 of this year, saying that the "Maidan was a victory for the nationalist forces," ridiculing those as LBGT and foreign embassies who claimed there were not many Nazis on the Maidan. "Had there not been those 8 percent [neo-Nazis], the effectiveness [of the coup] would have been reduced by 90 percent."[17]

Thus, it was also not surprising that the Ukrainian government was dominated by right-wing forces after the coup. At least five key cabinet posts, including those for national security, defense, and justice, went to the extreme right-wing Svoboda and Right Sector parties. And while Yatseniuk, in return for IMF money, imposed on the Ukrainian population, among other things, 47 to 66% higher income taxes, 50% higher natural gas bills, and 40% higher natural gas tariffs for heating plants, the post-coup parliament took as one of its first actions the withdrawal of a law granting regions the authority to declare a second language official in addition to Ukrainian.

Even before the coup or putsch, NATO had been cooperating with Ukraine. The defense minister under Yanukovych, Pavlov Lebedev, thus signed a memorandum of understanding to provide a frigate and helicopters for NATO's operation off the Somali coast. Ukraine also participated in Kosovo and Afghanistan. NATO, for its part, provided training support, primarily to former officers.[18]

Against this background, the Russian annexation or withdrawal of Crimea can be seen both as a protective measure against right-wing nationalist attacks by the Ukrainian government against the Russian-majority Crimean population, and as geostrategically motivated, primarily to secure Russian access to the Black Sea.

Thus, on the one hand, the March 16, 2014 "Referendum on the Status of Crimea" supports the Kremlin's view that the Russian population of Crimea felt threatened by the new Ukrainian government. This was because, with an 82% turnout, 85.5% voted for annexation to Russia, while only 3.5% voted for Crimea to remain in Ukraine.

Nor was the fear of the right-wing government in Kiev unjustified. Thus, the anti-Russian sentiment spread by the new government culminated in a massacre in Odessa. On May 2, a right-wing mob attacked an anti-Maidan camp and drove the demonstrators into a nearby trade union building. Trapped inside, the anti-Maidan demonstrators were burned alive. Those who tried to escape the flames were brutally attacked. Officially, there were 48 dead, but estimates put the number as high as 200. As with the Maidan snipers, there was no credible official investigation into this, which may have had something to do with the fact that Parubiy had traveled to Odessa on the day of the massacre to confront the anti-Maidan camp with hundreds of his Right Sector Party.[19]

On the other hand, as for the Russian concern about a loss of access to the Black Sea, this was also not made up out of thin air, but was in line with U.S. and NATO ideas and plans to establish unipolar global hegemony. Not coincidentally, it is again Brzezinski, the mastermind behind arming the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to "give the Soviet Union its Vietnam," who describes these geostrategic intentions in his book The Grand Chessboard. The following summary of these intentions is taken from Malte Lehming's article Without Ukraine, Russia is not a Great Power in the Tagesspiegel of Feb. 22, 2022:

"The aim of his book, published in 1997, was "to draft a comprehensive and self-contained geostrategy with regard to Eurasia. The main actor is the United States, which is the "only global superpower" in the areas of military, economy, technology and culture. As such, it would have to secure its dominance on the "great chessboard" of Eurasia to enable a new world order in the long term.

"Eurasia," according to Brzezinski, stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok. "Eurasia is the largest continent on Earth and geopolitically axial. A power dominating Eurasia would reach across two of the three most highly developed and economically productive regions. (...) Nearly 75 percent of the world's population lives in Eurasia, and its soil as well as its enterprises contain most of the world's material growth. (...) Taken as a whole, the power potential of this continent far dwarfs that of the United States.

"America's pre-eminence in Eurasia is threatened, Brzezinski believes, if the states of the former Soviet Union unite and rebuff the West. Therefore, he says, the emergence of a "dominant, adversary power" must be prevented at all costs.

"A key means to that end, he said, would be NATO's eastward expansion. Should this fail, 'American leadership would be discredited, the plan for an expanding Europe would be frustrated, Central Europeans would be demoralized, and possibly Russia's presently dormant or withering geopolitical appetites in Central Europe would be reignited.'

"The linchpin, he said, is developments in Ukraine. It is 'the critical point.' Only with Ukraine can Russia become a Eurasian empire and maintain its dominant position on the Black Sea," he said. Without Ukraine, Russians will be forced to rethink their own political and ethnic identity, Brzezinski writes."

Karl Rove, deputy chief of staff of the Bush Administration and a leading Republican political ideologue, had told Ron Suskind in October 2004, regarding the fact that Iraq did not have "weapons of mass destruction" as claimed by the U.S. government, that people like Suskind lived "in what we call the reality-based community," but that "the world doesn't work that way anymore. We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And as you study that reality - as carefully as you want - we're already acting again and creating other new realities that you can then study as well, and that's how things are going to turn out. We are the actors of history ... and you, all of you, have no choice but to merely study what we are doing."[20]

Given this geostrategic assessment of Ukraine's specific importance to the U.S. (and the general presumption of the U.S. to be able to determine what reality is), it is clear why Yanukovych absolutely had to be toppled when he rejected the EU's offer, poisoned by IMF conditionality, and received a much more generous offer from the Russians.

Obama accordingly classified the U.S. role on CNN as "the nation's inevitable business." One had simply encouraged another "flourishing of democracy" and to that end "...brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine" (...brokered an agreement to transition power).[21] That is, postfactualism was not invented by Trump as a method of U.S. foreign policy.

Since Russia's retaking of Crimea and occupation of parts of Donbas and Lugansk, according to General Hodges, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, the United States has delivered $1.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including the delivery of Humvees, patrol boats, artillery defense radar systems, and lethal weapons such as the Javelin anti-tank missiles. The separatist occupiers of the eastern Ukrainian region were attacked from the outset by right-wing Ukrainian troop units trained by U.S. trainers, such as the Azov battalions. [22] By February 2022, Russia refused to comply with the separatists' request and recognize the territories they occupied as independent states or annex them to Russia like Crimea, even though the number of civilian casualties killed on the pro-Russian side by Ukrainian militias since 2018, as well as the number of wounded, outnumbered those on the Ukrainian side by a factor of four and increased by 2021.[23]

The ceasefire negotiated with the help of Merkel and Macron between Russia, the separatists in Donbass and Lugansk, and Ukraine, which was also endorsed by the UN Security Council, i.e. with the approval of the United States, as the first Minsk agreement, has never been implemented. From the beginning, the ultra-right parties, including their strong military representation on the border with the separatists in Ukraine, opposed it. In August 2015, when the Ukrainian parliament gave first reading to the autonomous status for Donbass and Lugansk envisioned in the Minsk agreement, protests led by the Radical Party and the Svoboda Party erupted, with demonstrators not only removing their shields and helmets from police officers confronting them and beating them, but eventually even detonating grenades, resulting in 11 serious injuries.[24]

While Obama at least held back on arming the Ukrainian army with heavy weapons, contrary to thevoices of most of his foreign policy advisors, the anti-Russian U.S. foreign policy establishment triumphed again after the end of his administration. It ensured that Minsk II was sabotaged and Ukraine's war against the separatists escalated. During a December 2016 visit to Ukraine by Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, Graham told Ukrainian soldiers at a military base, "Your fight is our fight. 2017 will be the year of the offensive. We will all go back to Washington and advance the cause against Russia. It's time for them to pay a higher price."[25] And McCain said on Ukrainian state television, "We stand with you, your fight is our fight, and together we will win....2017 we will send the invaders back to where they came from."[26]

Fuck the EU or "It's the economy, stupid!"

If, as U.S. politicians themselves repeatedly suggest or even openly demand, it is about hegemonic U.S. control of the whole world, what are the motives for this? And what role does Ukraine play?

The U.S. economist Michael Hudson, in his long essay, America's Real Adversaries are Its European and other Allies of February 11, 2022, puts forward four theses in this regard, three of which I would like to discuss in more detail. [27]

The U.S. economy has de-industrialized under neoliberal policies and has largely become a rentier economy, reducing or offsetting its trade deficit mainly through arms and agricultural exports and control of the global oil trade.
The U.S. economy needs confrontation with Russia and China as "enemies" in order to continue to operate the overpriced and therefore profitable arms business both domestically and as an exporter. NATO plays the role of the driving belt: by expanding to Russia's borders, it provokes Russia to draw red lines, which are then in turn propagandistically exploited as anti-European in order to persuade European countries and above all Germany to increase their military budgets.
Already the sanctions against Russia in response to the occupation of Crimea, and even more so those imposed after Russia's attack on Ukraine, are weakening the EU and especially the FRG economically and making them more dependent on the U.S., as well as preventing Europe from expanding trade and investment with Russia.

Re 1) As Michael Hudson points out, manufacturing plants in the U.S. have outsourced production to low-wage countries as part of the neoliberal policy of lowering production costs as much as possible. Even the Democratic Party has been actively involved in this class war against unionized workers. Under Bill Clinton, NAFTA opened the southern border to the export of jobs. A chain of so-called "maquiladora" were established along the border and in the interior of Mexico. (A maquila or maquiladora refers to assembly plants in northern Mexico and Central America that assemble imported individual parts or semi-finished goods into three-quarter or finished goods for export. They are the destination of many migrants and a rapidly growing industry in low-wage areas. (Source: Wikipedia) This and the opening of Mexico to U.S. agricultural products (for example, U.S. genetically engineered corn was offered cheaper in Mexico than domestic corn and domestic corn varieties were contaminated in part by imported corn) increased corporate profits to such an extent that Clinton, at the end of his term, urged that China be admitted to the World Trade Organization so that China would become a similar profit center for U.S. investors as Mexico, producing for U.S. companies and financing its investment and government spending through dollar loans. Also, the U.S. government hoped that China would organize its industry into a stock market that, like Russia's in '94-'96. would be a major source of financial capital gains for U.S. and other foreign investors.

However, China did not follow the World Bank's policy of (mis)guiding countries to take out dollar loans to hire U.S. firms to provide export infrastructure. Instead, China industrialized as the U.S. or Germany did in the late 19th century: through heavy public infrastructure investment to meet basic needs (from health and education to transportation and communications) at subsidized prices or even for free, minimizing the cost of living that employers and exporters had to pay.
Most importantly, China avoided foreign debt servicing by creating its own money and keeping key production facilities in its own hands.

Since the U.S. cannot simply reverse de-industrialization and its dependence on Chinese and other Asian cheap labor, because the U.S. has built too high a rentier fixed cost into its economy (i.e., income generated by rents and stocks and subsidized production or exports, as in arms and agricultural products) and without financial injections through the dollar monopoly in world trade cannot maintain the living standards of its population in the face of high housing and real estate costs, high private debt, high education and health insurance costs, and the prices of privatized infrastructure services, it is not possible for the U.S. to simply reverse de-industrialization and dependence on Chinese and other Asian cheap labor. Therefore, the U.S. can only keep its international finances balanced by overpricing its defense equipment thanks to its monopoly, exporting patented pharmaceutical and information technology products, and acquiring control of manufacturing and rent extraction sectors abroad, i.e., spreading neoliberal economic policies throughout the world in such a way as to oblige other countries to become dependent on U.S. credit and investment.

Re 2 and 3) On this I quote US economist Michael Hudson verbatim:

"What worries American diplomats is that Germany and other NATO nations and countries along the "Silk Road" route understand the benefits that can be realized if they open up to peaceful trade and investment exchange. If there is no Russian or Chinese plan to conquer or bomb them, what is the point of NATO? Why the expensive purchases of U.S. armaments by America's rich allies? And if there is no longer a fundamentally hostile relationship, why should other countries sacrifice their own trade and financial interests?...

"These are the concerns that led Macron to invoke the spirit of de Gaulle and urge Europe to turn away from what he calls NATO's "brain-dead" Cold War and break with trade arrangements with the U.S. because they would impose rising costs on Europe while prohibiting potential gains from trade with Eurasia....

"The threat to U.S. dominance is that China and Russia ... offer better terms of trade and investment than the U.S. with its increasingly desperate demands for sacrifice from its NATO and other allies."

After citing the Nord Stream 2 dispute as the most glaring example of U.S. efforts to assert its dominance, Michael Hudson continues as follows:

"The only way left for U.S. diplomats to block European [gas] purchases is to goad Russia into a military response and then claim that punishing that response must take precedence over any purely national economic interests. As Victoria Nuland stated in a [U.S.] State Department press briefing,'If Russia attacks Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not go forward.' The problem is to create a suitably offensive incident and then portray Russia as the aggressor."

Michael Hudson wrote this on February 11, 2022. As we now know, he was sadly mistaken on this point. Russia fell for the Ukrainian government's decree 117/2021 of March 24, 2021 to retake Crimea [28] and the expansion of the Ukrainian armed forces to a strength of 246,445 in multinational maneuvers undertaken simultaneously with NATO [29] and is now in the quagmire of a war that benefits only one in the short term, the United States. Their defense industry can be happy about order books filled by European, especially German, and the U.S. economy can be happy about the weakening of European, especially German, competition. And, of course, they can now sell their fracked gas to Europe in large quantities and at high prices.

Why haven't the Europeans turned against U.S. policy? Why does the foreign policy of the Europeans seem to be dictated not by them, but by NATO, even though it is clearly mainly harming them?

As shown by the example of Chancellor Scholz, who visited Putin before the war, as Macron did, but could only assure him that the issue of NATO was not on the agenda "now" (which Putin rightly commented with "and what about tomorrow?"). Like Steinmeier, who recently even apologized for his Russia policy, Scholz (and even more so Ms. Baerbock) never publicly criticized Ukraine's refusal to fulfill the Minsk Agreement and grant autonomy status to Donbass and Lugansk, let alone Ukraine's attempt to retake the separatist areas and Crimea by military means and to break the agreed ceasefire at the border with ever more and heavier weapons.

The case of Steinmeier clearly shows how much the German press, among others, with its permanent presentation of the ultra-right ambassador Melnyk in all talk shows, processed public opinion in such a one-sided way that soon every person who did not speak out for the solution of the conflict by military or economic war and victory (of Ukraine) was defamed as a Putin aide or, as in the case of Gerhard Schröder, practically treated as a traitor to the country. Virtually all public service media, as well as almost all print media, took sides with the war - and with an intolerance of more moderate positions that could remind one of the hysterical enthusiasm for war that befell Germans, Austrians and French at the outbreak of the First World War.

And what is the end of the war song? It is and was destruction, death, human suffering and traumatized populations. And in our time, in addition, it is the suspension of the necessary global and joint efforts of all nations in the fight against the threat of climate catastrophe.

I cannot understand, in view of the dramatic , many fatalities heat wave in India and the extremely high May temperatures here as well, why Europe did not put pressure on the USA to give Russia the commitments in writing that it had asked for in writing at the time. Nor do I understand, given our knowledge of armed conflicts and their unpredictable outcomes, why pressure was not exerted by the European West on Ukraine to guarantee the autonomy status of the breakaway regions (which Ukraine, after all, only refuses to do because it would allow that region to veto NATO accession, which it should refrain from doing anyway).

But in the same way, in view of the impending climate catastrophe, I cannot understand why Putin wanted to protect his perfectly justified security interest with a war of aggression. Even if he wanted to preempt a Ukrainian attack to regain the lost territories, it would have been much smarter to allow this attack and then present it to the world as proof of the aggressive intentions of Ukraine (and the USA and NATO). Also, such a military offensive against the Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the separatist areas would have contributed more to the solidarity of the eastern Ukrainians living in Ukraine against such an attack. And in any case, in Europe, it would have made it impossible for Ukraine to be a NATO member in the public opinion.

What the Zapatistas from Chiapas wrote about the people protesting, or deserting, the war in Ukraine and Russia in their communiqué on the war should also apply to us: "In the midst of the confusion and chaos on both sides, they maintain their convictions: their struggle for freedom, their rejection of borders and their nation-states, their respective oppressions, merely changing flags."[30]
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