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Ukrainians Rally and March in “Unite for Ukraine” at SF Embarcadero
Thousands of traumatized Ukrainians ask for help. Russians and Iranians were there in support.
Photos: Leon Kunstenaar / Pro Bono PhotoOn February 24, 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine and has since killed many thousands. This is a crime against humanity.
While it is very comfortable to see the US, for a change, supporting a government that has the support of its people, unlike the rotted, corrupt, oppressive regimes the US has backed in Afghanistan, Viet Nam and throughout the Americas, unpleasant facts must be acknowledged. The cause of this war did not suddenly appear on Feb. 24 with the Russian invasion. Its roots lie in US history since the end of World War II.
In 1945, Russia, in the form of the the Soviet Union, had defeated Nazi Germany and had by far the largest and most powerful army in the world. The victorious Allies, the Capitalist West and the Communist East, were left staring at each other. In the West there was fear that the Russians would keep going and conquer all of Western Europe.
As relations between the former allies deteriorated, the Cold War began. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was created to constrain the Soviets. They, in turn, replied with the Warsaw Pact, an alliance of Russia and the Eastern European countries it had overrun. In its propaganda, the West characterized the Soviet Union as the center of a slave empire oppressing the “captive nations” of eastern Europe. President John Kennedy declared in Berlin in 1963 in ringing tones, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. This did not go over very well in Russia who had lost twenty one million people fighting the Germans. In 1961 Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev declared in the United Nation "we will bury capitalism!"
Political and economic ideologies aside, from the US perspective, Russia was big and strong and had (and has) the potential to challenge the US as the world's dominant military and economic power. This is why, for the US, Russia must always remain a third rate power. Talk of the "free world", democracy, etc. were simply for public consumption. This is shown by the continuing US hostility to Russia even though the Soviet Union and its Communism no longer existed as of 1989.
Russia was at its weakest when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. At this point the US agreed to trade Russian acceptance of the reunifications of Germany in exchange for the promise not to enlarge NATO to the east. The US reneged on this promise though some on the right claim that the promise was never made. At any rate, the Russians never got it in writing or in a formal agreement.
As the Cold War ended, ostensibly the evils of Communism were now no longer a world threat, Russia could now join a prosperous community of capitalist nations; the Cold War was over, and NATO was no longer needed.
However, those who had other ideas prevailed. Such dangerous notions were quickly dispensed with by those who decided where the “national interest” lay, and all talk of a "peace dividend" which would divert the US's massive military spending to address human needs was taken out of the national dialog.
Accordingly, even if NATO was no longer needed to prevent Russia from attacking Western Europe, NATO could now be pushed up to Russia's borders to guarantee a militarily constrained Russian, unable to expand its military and therefore economic power. NATO, and therefore the US military-industrial complex, safely endured. A weak Russia is and has been the primary goal of US foreign policy.
Of course, Russia does not accept its US-assigned role. No Russian leadership can be expected to accept a US dominated military alliance on it borders, especially in Ukraine, its largest and potentially most powerful neighbor. Ethnic ties, questions of Ukrainian national identity, fascist Ukrainian elements can all be discussed but no country will tolerate a growing, foreign trained, opposing army on its borders, no matter what language they speak. Witness the US reaction to Russian missiles in Cuba in 1962.
In 2014, a Russian-friendly government in Ukraine was overthrown in the so called "Maidan" revolution. In response, Russia seized Crimea in violation of international law, as legal as was the US invasion of Iraq and countless other countries. Russia also began supporting ethnically closer eastern Ukrainians in a low intensity civil war. The Minsk agreements that were intended to resolve the conflict were never implemented. Provisions allowing self rule for certain eastern Ukrainian areas were later deemed by the Ukrainians to be intolerable. During this time the US was arming and training Ukraine's army to "defend themselves." This had something to do with Ukraine's good performance in defending themselves when Russia invaded on February 24.
Putin had come to the conclusion that with Ukraine’s declared intention to join NATO and what it viewed as the US determination to encircle and diminish Russia, its "red line" had been crossed. They invaded, a calamity for Ukraine's people.
As the war enters its second year the US is now fighting a proxy war with Russia with the Ukrainians doing the dying. With this war, US Russia policy to diminish Russia is triumphant though, of course, the results are still out. The US "defense" industry has up to now received $100 billion in addition to its usual obscene amounts and with more on the way. The US is now deeply committed and Russia sees itself in an existential conflict. A phenomenal propaganda campaign is enabling US popular support.
In the US we are living in a propaganda bubble. Ukrainian President Zelensky’s communication skills are phenomenal. We continually see photos of the crimes committed by the Russian military; of the endless bombed apartment buildings, schools and hospitals and hear the continual reports of killed civilians. We hear of the ongoing attacks on power and heat for ordinary people. Horribly, it is all true.
We are prevented from seeing anything about Ukrainian military defeats and deaths except for dignified funerals and grieving loved ones. We almost never hear of Ukrainian’s military losses. We certainly know that Ukrainian tanks also get blown up, that Ukrainian planes and helicopters get shot down but we never see reports or photos. We are shown much war footage but it is exclusively of well equipped and enthusiastic Ukrainians firing their weapons. This war is horrible as are all wars. The invading Russian, like all invaders are monstrous, just as was the US invaders in the many countries the US has invaded. Our senses continue to see one side and we cheer for the brave resisters. But intellectually, we know that this is not the whole story. Invading armies commit horrible crimes. Invasion is itself a crime. In Viet Nam US troops burned whole villages and massacred civilians. In Iraq the US demolished Iraq’s water treatment infrastructure and leveled entire cities, killing 900,000 civilians. In Korea %25 of the population of the North was killed in massive bombing raids. This is what war is about and US is responsible for setting the conditions that made this Ukraine war possible. It could have pursued a policy that sought to account for Russian security concerns.
Protests demanding “not one more cent for war in Ukraine“ but without also demanding a cease fire do not improve the prospects for peace. While it is true that all the money spent on Ukraine could have done a lot to address domestic human needs, nothing indicates it would have had the war not happened. Furthermore, if the nation’s political will to address people’s real needs were in place, this could still be been done, war or not.
In spite of its initial poor military performance, Russia cannot be defeated. Napoleon and Hitler learned this the hard way. There must be a cease fire and an international conference to hammer out a fair peace. The US must abandon its stated goal of diminishing Russia to a third rate power. Russian security concerns must be addressed and they, in turn, must accept Ukrainian nationhood with internationally guaranteed Ukrainian neutrality. Ukraine and Russia must accept that Ethnically Russian areas and areas claimed by Russia, including Crimea must be allowed to go where they want to go via UN run plebiscites.
Barring nuclear war, sooner or later this will happen. The question remains, how many more will be killed till then?
See all high resolution photos here.
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Mon, Feb 27, 2023 8:13PM
Declassified documents debunk NATO narrative.
Mon, Feb 27, 2023 7:51PM
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