19/5 – Ron Jacob: Some Thoughts on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict in Week Number Twelve

På en presskonferens nyligen sa NATO:s generalsekreterare Jens Stoltenberg: “Ukraina kan vinna detta krig”.

“Han sa vidare att Natos expansion skulle ge Europa större säkerhet när det i själva verket är Washington som kommer att få större säkerhet och inte de länder som gränsar till Ryssland. Faktum är att de flesta av fördelarna med en Natoexpansion – från ökade vapenvinster till mer amerikansk militär finansiering – kommer att gå till Washingtons militärindustriella ekonomi,” konstaterar den US-amerikanske författaren Ron Jacob.

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I expect the war will go on for while until the generals and politicians get tired of it. An international antiwar movement with significant numbers could hasten that moment. One does not demand peace because there’s a war on. Indeed, that’s why one demands peace. The movement against the Vietnam war was organized and expanded while the war escalated, not before or afterwards.

Since the example of the USSR arming Vietnam is being used as a reason to support arming Kyiv by some on the left who support NATO arms shipments, I think it is useful to turn that comparison upside down, as it were. This argument understands that Ukraine’s history is much longer than South Vietnam’s was and that it does meet criterion for a nation (we’ll leave my distaste for nationalism out of the conversation). However, it rejects this element of the left’s argument that the war is a Ukrainian anti-colonial struggle.

I would argue that modern Ukraine’s situation is closer to that of what Washington named South Vietnam than Vietnam in general That country was nominally independent, but fiercely determined to stay in the sphere dominated by Washington. In fact, its very life depended on Washington’s largess. Modern Ukraine has a different genesis, having been established in the wake of the disintegration of the USSR. Since then, its government has switched back and forth between favoring the Russian economic sphere and that of the US-dominated west.

Since the US-assisted overthrow of the elected government in 2014, the government in Kyiv has given itself to the latter. It is firmly in Washington’s grip, even making its desire to be part of NATO an article in its most recent constitution. Of course, this came with a price. While it seems unlikely that Zelenskyy and his government knew that the price would include the destruction of many of its cities and the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians, there were certainly those Ukrainians who understood this possibility.

Anyhow, back to that comparison with South Vietnam. Like South Vietnam, Ukraine is dependent on the continued support from the US and its allies/clients. It depends on them for arms, logistical support, food, and goodwill, to name just a few things. While Kyiv certainly has a considerably more legitimate claim to actually being its own nation than southern Vietnam, the truth is that if Washington/NATO ended its support for the Ukraine government and military, its defense would crumble fairly quickly, much like the Saigon military did in 1975. This in itself is reason aplenty to demand a ceasefire and negotiations. Escalating conflicts kill a lot more people than those that aren’t allowed to escalate.

Most readers understand that there are men and women in the Pentagon, the RAND corporation and other think tanks in the pay of the US war machine who are weighing the probabilities in this conflict and how much the US should invest in it. At the same time, if the same hubris exists in those environments that existed in them in the decades after World War two, we are all in for a long and ugly war; a war which could become more dangerous than any conflict since Vietnam, when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger seriously considered using nuclear weapons. They say the thing that stopped them was the international antiwar movement.

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NATO, which was never truly the peacemaking endeavor it claimed to be in so much of its literature, first took off its velvet gloves in 1999 when its forces (mostly US, of course) bombed Serbia and Kosovo in the Yugoslavian civil war. This was after a few years of infiltrating European governments that had once been part of the Warsaw Pact with the USSR. The closer NATO got to Russia’s western border, the more nervous Moscow became. In response, Washington/NATO pushed further east, provoking crises in the form of Washington-supported and sponsored “color revolutions” and enlisting the IMF and other financial institutions in schemes designed to incorporate those countries economies into the economic sphere dominated by Washington and Wall Street. This process served at least two purposes: the aforementioned economic expansion and the resurgence of NATO, an alliance whose raison d’etre was being challenged from the left and the right…

I wrote a piece in 2015 titled Creating a Crisis—It’s NATO’s Way where I wrote “Talk about a contrived crisis. NATO, in its ongoing struggle to create enemies and thereby provide itself with a reason to exist, is now calling Russia its greatest threat.” (2/13/2015) Seven years later, that struggle to create enemies has reached fruition and there is a war in Europe. Now, even Finland wants to join NATO, as if joining an alliance that binds one’s military to defend other more war-inclined nations is a guarantor of peace. At a recent news conference, Jen Stoltenberg, the current Secretary General of NATO, could barely contain himself when he was quoted saying “Ukraine can win this war.” He went further, saying the potential expansion of the Western military alliance would provide Europe with greater security (Nyt 5/15/22), when in actuality it is Washington that will reap gain greater security and not countries bordering Russia. Indeed, most of the benefits from any expansion–from increased arms profits to more US military funding–will go to Washington’s military-industrial economy.

While Washington may think it has the power it had immediately after World War Two and can force its will on the world, that assumption is founded only in its arrogance, not in the reality of the situation. This makes an always uncertain situation a dangerous one. Every weapons shipment to Ukraine and every rejection of a ceasefire only exacerbates that danger.

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