Ukraine crisis sponsored by US hegemony & war profiteers
Maté: The Ukraine Crisis, Sponsored By US Hegemony And War Profiteers
The US-Russia standoff over Ukraine has sparked bellicose threats and fears of Europe’s biggest ground war in decades. There are ample reasons to question the prospects of a Russian invasion, and US allies including France, Germany’s now-ousted navy chief, and even Kiev itself appear to share the skepticism.
Another potential scenario is that Russia draws on the Cuban Missile Crisis and positions offensive weapons within the borders of Latin American allies. Whatever the outcome, the Ukraine crisis has underscored the perils of a second Cold War between the world’s top nuclear powers.
If the path forward is unpredictable, what got us here is easy to trace. The row over Ukraine is the outgrowth of an aggressive US posture toward Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago, driven by hegemonic policymakers and war profiteers in Washington. Understanding that background is key to resolving the current impasse, if the Biden administration can bring itself to alter a dangerous course.
US principles vs. power constraints
Russia’s central demands – binding guarantees to halt the eastward expansion of NATO, particularly in Ukraine, and to prevent offensive weapons from being stationed near its borders – have been publicly dismissed by the U.S government as non-starters.
In rejecting Russian concerns, the Biden administration claims that it is upholding “governing principles of international peace and security.” These principles, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says, “reject the right of one country to change the borders of another by force; to dictate to another the policies it pursues or the choices it makes, including with whom to associate; or to exert a sphere of influence that would subjugate sovereign neighbors to its will.”
The US government’s real-world commitment to these principles is non-existent. For decades, the US has provided critical diplomatic and military cover for Israel’s de-facto annexations, which have expanded its borders to three different strips of occupied territory (the West Bank, Gaza, and Syria’s Golan Heights). The US is by far the world leader in dictating policies to other countries, be it who their leaders should be; how little to pay minimum-wage workers; or how to share energy supplies.
The Biden administration continues to subjugate sovereign countries to its will, whether it’s “neighbors” like blockade-targeted Cuba; coup-targeted Venezuela; sanctions-targeted Nicaragua; or far-away countries like US military-occupied and sanctions-targeted Syria. Biden just recently embraced the longstanding Monroe Doctrine of a US sphere of influence by declaring Latin America to be the United States’ “front yard.”
When not making sanctimonious public pronouncements, US officials are quietly able to acknowledge the real principles that guide their actions. According to the Washington Post, one US official specializing in Russia “believes the Russians are still interested in a real dialogue.” Russia’s real aim, this official says, is “to see whether Washington is willing to discuss any sort of commitment that constrains U.S. power.”
The official added: “The Russians are waiting to see what we’re going to offer, and they’re going to take it back and decide is this serious. Is this something we [the Russians] can sell as a major victory for security, or is it just, from their point of view, another attempt to fob us off and not give us anything?”
If their public statements and actions are any guide, the Biden administration is so far opting for the latter.
Rather than focus on diplomacy, the United States’ reliable British client has been trotted out, Iraq WMD dossier-style (or Steele dossier-style, or Syria dirty war-style), to lodge the explosive allegation that Russia is plotting to install a new leader in Ukraine via a coup. While declaring that the obedient Brits were “Muscular” for shouldering the war-mongering allegation, the New York Times quietly acknowledged that they also “provided no evidence to back up” their claims.
After warning of a “false flag” operation by Russia in Ukraine, the US pulled off a stunt of its own by recalling its embassy personnel out of stated concern for their safety. Unlike the dutiful British, other US allies failed to get the memo, including the EU, which declined to follow suit and even took a pointed swipe at attempts to “dramatize” the situation.
Maybe the Biden admin’s embassy withdrawal stunt is the Ukraine false flag that US intel warned us about? https://t.co/UXFBJoYAfK
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) January 24, 2022
When US officials and allied media voices permit themselves to drop “Wag the Dog” theatrics and entertain the possibility of constraining US power, the Ukraine crisis no longer appears so dangerously intractable.
In the New York Times, veteran national security correspondent David E. Sanger allows that it is “possible” that Putin’s “bottom line in this conflict is straightforward”: obtain a pledge to “stop Ukraine from joining NATO” as well as one that the US and NATO “will never place offensive weapons that threaten Russia’s security in Ukrainian territory.”
On these issues, “there is trading space,” Sanger concedes. Given that “Ukraine is so corrupt, and its grasp of democracy is so tenuous… no one expects it to be accepted for NATO membership in the next decade or two.” Accordingly, Russia could be offered “some kind of assurance that, for a decade, or maybe a quarter-century, NATO membership for Kyiv was off the table.”
In Sanger’s view, the real and “complex” issue is not Ukraine’s NATO status, but “how the United States and NATO operate” there – specifically, by flooding the country with weapons. Since 2014, Sanger writes, the US and NATO allies have provided “Ukraine with what the West calls defensive arms, including the capability to take out Russian tanks and aircraft”, a “flow that has sped up in recent weeks.” Russia – for reasons apparently foreign to Sanger – believes that these “weapons are more offensive than defensive” and “that Washington’s real goal is to put nuclear weapons in Ukraine.” An agreement to address these concerns, an unidentified US official concedes, would be “‘the easiest part of this,’ as long as Russia is willing to pull back its intermediate-range weapons as well.”
Unmentioned by Sanger is that Russia has repeatedly signaled such a willingness, including just last month: Russia’s proposed draft treaty with NATO — issued with the stated aim of resolving the Ukraine standoff — proposes that all sides “not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles” in any area that allows them “to reach the territory of the other Parties.” Also unmentioned is that such deployments were previously banned under the INF Treaty, the Cold War-era pact that the Trump administration abandoned in August 2019, to the resounding silence of Democratic lawmakers and allied media outlets more invested in pretending that Trump was a Russian puppet than in addressing his actual Russia policies.
In a bid to preserve some of the INF Treaty’s safeguards, Putin immediately offered a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe – a proposal swiftly rejected by both Trump and NATO. (Trump’s response was again duly ignored by Russiagate-crazed media outlets and politicians, for the obvious narrative inconvenience.)
Much like its refusal so far to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal – another critical security pact torn up by Trump — the Biden administration has thus placed itself in a dangerous geopolitical standoff rather than embrace diplomacy around proposals that US officials either deem as reality anyway (Ukraine not joining NATO) or that they were once party to (the Trump-sabotaged INF treaty).
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