You hear from the political class these days as they push harder and harder for escalation with Russia over Ukraine: “We must protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine!” “We must defend Democracy in Ukraine!” “We must stand up to Putin’s aggression!”
It should be no surprise that in America, American war propaganda paints us as on the side of the angels–benevolent, only trying to stick up for people that can’t protect themselves against Bad Guys; and we only get involved in other countries when Freedom and Democracy are in jeopardy, of course!
I think by now in 2022, most people in this country understand that the latter excuse for foreign interventionism is a total lie–at the very least, hopeless naïveté. I mean, come on: after Iraq and Afghanistan, it should be obvious to everyone that American-imposed democracy does not work. And with all the foreign governments we overthrow and undermine with no regard for the will of the actual people who live there? Come on. Hell, democracy in America itself is arguably a fugazi.
Okay, so most people in America understand all that stuff about “making the world safe for democracy” is a crock. But most people in America do still believe that we, America, are the good guys out there and we’re fighting the Bad Guys anytime we get involved in some other country. I mean, come on: ISIS! Al-Qaeda! The Taliban! We’re definitely the good guys compared to them! They’re terrorists, damnit!
Well, so our government/media edifice says. But I don’t know what to believe anymore.
For many years I thought Vladimir Putin was a bad guy and we the Americans are the good guys. But now I know that’s a lie. So now I’m wondering, what else is a lie that I have falsely believed for years?
This article in Revolver about our government’s conduct in Ukraine and toward Russia in general over the past 25-30 years–after reading it I am now fully convinced that we are the bad guys and the Russians are the good guys in this situation. Now, it’s not as if I was a bloodthirsty, propaganda-swallowing neocon prior to reading this article. I’ve been wise to the bullshit for a while now, although growing up as part of the “9-11 generation” it was almost impossible not to begin as a “neocon.”
Let’s get into the article, though, because it really drives home the point just how rotten our government is. Our media portrays Putin as a bully–and he may be–but he is nothing compared to our government. We’re the biggest bully in the world, and it’s not even close.
Russia is reportedly massing tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border, and even deploying some in Belarus. America is shipping hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons to Kyiv’s government in response. There is talk of a Russian invasion, which Washington might counter by backing a violent insurgency, which would invite retaliation, and so forth, until America is on the edge of nuclear war over an impoverished country four thousand miles away.
How did this happen? News reports will cite Russia’s military buildup, its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, its seizure of Crimea and presumed hunger for even more territory. Republicans are releasing videos about the long-building need to “stand up” to Vladimir Putin and his “aggression.”
All of this noise evades the real truth, though: The Ukraine crisis is a creation of the Globalist American Empire. It is a product of American overreach, and the crisis continues because the DC national security cabal refuses to admit any mistakes, backtrack, or engage in any serious negotiation whatsoever. America’s ruling elites are willing to risk war, possibly even nuclear war, for the sake of their own desire to exert control everywhere on Earth.
And that’s the fundamental truth that every American should realize watching this whole Ukraine situation play out.
The Soviet Union fell in 1991. Vladimir Putin took power in Russia in 2000. Yet the crisis over Ukraine dates to only 2014. For Putin’s first 14 years in power, conflict in Ukraine was sharp, often bitter, but fundamentally political. The situation changed only in 2014, when revolutionaries overthrew democratically-elected pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, with America’s endorsement.
Without getting into too much detail on the 2014 coup, this was a prototypical “color revolution” where a supportive American press and State Department gave political and moral cover to a violent, extrajudicial change in the government of Ukraine. Protesters seized control of key government buildings in Kyiv and the capitals of numerous regions. President Yanukovych agreed to early elections and constitutional changes but was still thrown out of power (without following the legal impeachment process), and the new government subsequently purged everyone associated with him from government (sound familiar?).
This is nothing new. This is what we do all over the world. We overthrow other countries’ governments and install puppet regimes that answer to our government. We all know this.
But I don’t think a lot of Americans know we did this in Ukraine. Hell, I didn’t even know it and I was literally working on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. in 2014. I didn’t know we were behind the Ukrainian revolution of 2014.
For Russians, the overthrow of Yanukovych’s government was the climax of years of American pressure that most Americans didn’t even know about. Russia felt this pressure keenly. In 1999, NATO admitted three former Warsaw Pact nations. In 2004, it admitted three former Soviet republics in the Baltic states. In 2008, NATO declined to admit Georgia and Ukraine, but then promised that one day they would be admitted. NATO, whatever other explanations may be given for its existence, is an anti-Russian alliance, and for two decades America continued to expand its reach, even though Russia had shrunk in size, abandoned Communism, and adopted a shakily democratic, free-market system.
This is the important thing to understand about NATO: the sole reason it exists is to oppose Russia. It was created during the Cold War for the purpose of opposing Soviet communism, but once the Soviet Union collapsed, did NATO fold up operations and declare Mission Accomplished? No, of course not. It simply changed its core mission to opposing and antagonizing Russia.
And yet, despite all that, the situation in Ukraine still didn’t boil over until the US endorsed a revolution to overthrow a democratically-elected government. It was Yanukovych’s extrajudicial overthrow that sparked Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its support for an anti-Kyiv insurgency in the eastern Donbas region. And the crisis has continued ever since, thanks to America’s negotiating posture, or rather its lack of one. America’s position is that, more or less, there can be no negotiations.
Because America’s position is my way or the highway. We refuse to give a single inch on anything, because that would of course mean that the Russians might increase their global power and influence, and that simply cannot be allowed under any circumstances.
While the Western press enjoys painting Vladimir Putin as “crazy,” Russia’s attitude towards Ukraine isn’t mysterious. Russia has serious and legitimate interests in Ukraine. Prior to 1991, Ukraine was politically united with Russia for almost 350 years (longer than America has even existed). In the eastern third of Ukraine, the majority of people speak Russian, and a large minority identify as ethnically Russian. Crimea, seized by Russia in 2014, is not only overwhelmingly Russian by language and ethnicity, but its very existence as a Ukrainian province is the result of a historical fluke: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimea from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR as an act of sentimentality.
And of course, if one wanted to invade Russia, Ukraine would be the best staging ground to do so. Ukraine hosts a long border adjacent to Russia’s most populous regions. So it is understandable that Russia greatly dislikes the idea of Ukraine joining NATO, an alliance whose entire raison d’etre is to contain Russia.
And in fact, that’s Russia’s only major condition for ending this crisis: Promise not to add Ukraine or Georgia to NATO, and don’t station troops in them.
This isn’t an ultimatum. The NATO question is the only one that Russia has repeatedly insisted upon. If America were inclined to negotiate, it could. Instead, America has taken the position that Ukraine’s eligibility for NATO is entirely non-negotiable. In fact, basically everything about Ukraine is non-negotiable from the perspective of the State Department. The US State Department also insists it will “never” acknowledge Russian annexation of Crimea, even though Western media outlets admit the local population overwhelmingly supports union with Russia. America’s demand, in essence, is that Russia acknowledge a violent revolution (in the name of “democracy”), return Crimea to Ukraine against its will (again, in the name of “democracy”), and let Ukraine become a military satellite of the United States (in the name of of “peace”).
This is entirely unreasonable, of course, but we don’t care. That’s who we are: we’re America, and we get to be unreasonable. What we say goes, and that’s the bottom line. Everyone else just has to sit there and take it.
This is deranged. Adding Ukraine to NATO does nothing to improve the security of the United States, or any of its key allies. Even if Russia literally did conquer and annex all of Ukraine (something it has shown no interest in doing), America’s security interests would remain unchanged. Ukraine doesn’t supply the United States with any irreplaceable natural resources. It doesn’t sit alongside a critical trade route or geographical position. It isn’t physically proximate to the United States. Ukraine matters to America’s domestic security as much as Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Venezuela; i.e. not at all. Just like all four of those other countries, a war over Ukraine would have nothing to do with protecting America’s safety, its prosperity, or its values. Instead, it would be a product of a cloistered foreign policy elite that is not content with controlling one country and instead seeks to boss around the entire planet.
And that’s really all it is.
“B-but if we don’t stop him in Donetsk, Putin will drive all the way to the English Channel!”
Bullshit. No, he won’t. Russia’s population is half of what the USSR’s was 30 years ago. Its military is smaller. Its economy is only the size of that of Texas. Russia’s frontline in any hypothetical war has shifted hundreds of miles to the east. Russia invading and occupying Europe is as plausible as Canada invading and occupying the United States. The idea of Vladimir Putin steamrolling all of Europe like Hitler or Napoleon would be absurd, even if he aspired to do that. But importantly, there is absolutely zero evidence Putin wants to invade. Putin’s Russia has no desire to ideologically control Western Europe. Its external interests have consistently focused on its immediate neighbors, and regions with Russian minorities. Crimea was Russia’s only land grab, and it only happened when the West sought to make Ukraine a satellite.
All Putin wants is some breathing room–a buffer between the Russian homeland and the NATO alliance. And why wouldn’t he want a buffer between himself and NATO given how unreasonable and aggressive the American government is?
While Russia is the largest country on earth geographically and stretches all the way from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe, most of Russia is sparsely populated if not even uninhabited. The bulk of Russia’s population lives in the East, close to Europe:
Putin simply wants a buffer between his turf and America’s turf.
But no. We won’t allow that. We insist that NATO creep right up to Russia’s front door and Putin is a Bad Guy for opposing this.
But don’t take Revolver’s word for it. Take it from George Kennan, the original architect of Cold War containment. In 1998, a 94-year-old Kennan told New York Times opinion writer Thomas Friedman that NATO expansion into the former Warsaw Pact was the peak of stupidity:
[W]hen I reached George Kennan by phone to get his reaction to the Senate’s ratification of NATO expansion it was no surprise to find that the man who was the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union and one of the great American statesmen of the 20th century was ready with an answer.
”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ‘‘I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”
”What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,” added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ”X,” defined America’s cold-war containment policy for 40 years. “I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. [NYT]
And this is the heart of the matter, isn’t it? It used to be that we were opposed to Soviet communism. Now we’re just opposed to Russia.
Communism is not our foreign policy elite’s enemy–Russia is. Because Russians are just The Bad Guys and they always will be.
Why must Putin be America’s #1 enemy? THE RUSSIANS, DAMNIT!
It’s not even just a “Cold War mentality.” The Cold War mentality was fervent opposition to communism.
What we have now is fervent Russophobia.
Our posture during the Cold War was at least defensible: we must not allow the evil of communism to spread.
Now it’s simply that we just hate the Russians because they’re bad people and always will be.
In fact, the Globalist American Empire’s belligerent desire to expand NATO is a damning indictment of the alliance’s purpose, and calls into question whether it should exist at all. When NATO was created, Russia (as the Soviet Union) was ruled by an expansionist, totalitarian ideology that sought to spread itself throughout the entire world, by force if necessary. Communists had taken control of eight Eastern European countries, and more were in danger of being captured. The Soviet Union had the world’s largest conventional armed forces, deployed in positions where they could directly threaten genuinely crucial American allies like France and Britain.
None of the conditions that justified NATO’s creation 73 years ago exist today. The danger has evaporated, or rather, it is NATO itself that has created the danger. Through NATO expansion, the Globalist American Empire has created friction where there was none.
In fact, with many left-wing pundits calling for figures like Tucker Carlson to be criminally prosecuted for opposing war with Russia, it can even be argued that NATO has become a bigger threat to American freedoms than Russia will ever be.
The reality in 2022 is that NATO isn’t being used to protect freedom abroad. It’s being used to stamp it out at home.
NATO should not exist anymore. If we had a sane political elite, we would have disbanded NATO sometime in the early 1990s and worked to forge a strong alliance with the Russian Federation. After all, we’re now friends and allies with plenty of former Soviet countries.
But not Russia. We still hate Russia.
The idiocy of this foreign policy stance cannot be overstated: since the end of World War II, the three most powerful nations in the world have been America, Russia and China. When the Soviet Union crumbled, we should have begun cultivating strong ties with Russia, A. because it’s simply sensible and responsible for the most powerful nuclear-armed nations in the world to be on good terms with one another, and B. because the Russians could have been a valuable ally against China.
But apparently no one in the American foreign policy elite was able to foresee the rise of China to superpower status. And now China and Russia are essentially in an alliance against us. All because of the arrogance and Russophobia of our foreign policy elite.
And the whole idea behind NATO still existing is, I guess, that Russia “poses a threat” to our allies in Western Europe. Well if this is the case, wouldn’t it be easier to mediate and quell disputes between Western Europe and Russia if both of them are our friends? If we were to have a strong and friendly relationship with Russia based on mutual trust and respect, the Russians would probably be way less inclined to antagonize our allies in Western Europe, wouldn’t they?
But no. The American ruling elite refuses to view any other nation as an equal. They must all be submissive and below us.
Instead of backing down, acolytes of the Globalist American Empire fantasize about war abroad, and imprisoning their political enemies at home. Despite decades of disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and more, America’s elites have faced no consequences, and thus they have only grown more assertive and arrogant. Now, they are happy to devastate another country and force you to bear the risk of nuclear war, to indulge their own power fantasies.
It isn’t Russia acting like a rogue state in the Ukraine. It’s the Globalist American Empire.
We’re the bad guys here. That conclusion is unavoidable, at least as I see it. We’re the belligerent and jingoistic aggressors.
This does not mean that Putin is a good guy, of course. I don’t know that any government is truly “good” in a moral sense.
But Putin is definitely a lot closer to being morally “in the right” than our government is.
The long term outlook on this situation is that eventually, one day, America is going to have to learn to play nice with the Russians.
More and more Americans are realizing just how disastrous and yes, evil, our foreign policy has been over the past 30+ years (arguably since to the end of WWII, in many ways). The American people have no appetite for war anymore. We are disillusioned with foreign wars, and more importantly, we are disillusioned and burdened by possessing and maintaining a global empire.
Empire Fatigue happens to every global hegemon. It’s unavoidable. It happened to the British Empire and it will happen to us. I’d say it’s in the process of happening right now. It is simply unsustainable to maintain a global hegemonic empire indefinitely.
But beyond Empire Fatigue domestically, there is always some foreign power that arises and challenges the hegemony of whatever nation is currently the world’s Apex State. This is known as the Thucydides Trap.
Russia is not the nation that threatens our global hegemony right now–China is. But Russia and China are growing ever closer. And eventually they will be more powerful than America. They may already be.
One day, the US government is going to have to accept the fact that it is no longer the global hegemon, and that we live in a multipolar world. I certainly hope that one day America has a government that understands this and is committed to working within the structure of a multipolar world order. Maybe when all the 80 year old fossils that still run this country are shown the door and a new generation of American leadership takes over we’ll stop conducting foreign policy as if it’s 1962.
I just hope that in the meantime, our ruling class doesn’t start World War III out of its desperation to cling to power.