President Zelensky’s mentor, the Ukrainian billionaire, Ihor Kolomoisky, who spent millions of dollars forming a military force which saved Ukraine in 2014 by halting the advance of the separatists, stated some facts to the New York Times:
“It has become clear that the European Union and NATO will never take in Ukraine, so it would be better to accept reality and not even try… The United States is simply using Ukraine to try to weaken its geopolitical rival: “War against Russia” he said, “to the last Ukrainian”…” (New York Times, 4.6.20)
Kolomoisky, the man who made Zelensky President of Ukraine, is, of course, correct. The war in Ukraine is fundamentally a US geopolitical war on Russia, waged since it became apparent that Vladimir Putin was managing to resurrect Russia into a functional state again during the first decade of the 21st Century – a century that was supposed to have belonged to America. That is why the war’s chief object is the demonisation of the Russian President and aims at his overthrowing and replacement with a regime more palatable to Western interests.
Its secondary objective, in the event of its primary aim being unachievable, is the disabling of Russia, particularly economically, so that it is “turned into a Third World country.” The punishment of being reduced to the level of the Third World, after Russians tasted the benefits of capitalism, is what is then to be applied to the Russian people until they acquiesce in the “American Century,” the globalised liberal world order and the “end of history”.
The US has undoubtedly already succeeded in three of its primary objectives with regard to Ukraine: Firstly, it managed to cultivate a Ukrainian leadership that was prepared to lend its country to the US and its allies as a battlefield/glacis, and its people as cannon-fodder, for America’s geopolitical war on Russia; Secondly, it managed to provoke Putin and corner him into deciding to launch a military intervention in Ukraine that would inevitably cost Russia dear, in blood and treasure, at least in the short-term. Thirdly, it has effectively warded off the understanding that NATO expansionism was a direct cause of the conflict in Ukraine.
There is a very self-satisfied look across in Washington among the US political class at what has been so far achieved, after the recent disasters it produced in the Muslim world, that had left a bad taste among its allies. The well-armed heroic Ukrainians fight on, drawing Russia into greater and greater military involvement and producing more and more horrendous scenes of civilian suffering for the Western media to feast upon. Western Europe has been shaken out of its lethargy and been subsumed by a vast exodus of refugees who look just like Europeans and for whom things must be sacrificed and, at the same time, supported in war.
NATO, which was increasingly seen as a dangerous and redundant residue of the Cold War, by growing sections of both Americans and Europeans, is suddenly back in business with a raison d’etre. The vast US arms industry, an indispensable part of the economy of the indispensable nation, is looking forward to growth projections again. Europe has been blocked off from cheap Russian energy supplies and will be dependent now on oil and gas from sources which the US controls, in one way or another. Biden made a point when he scolded Bundestag members about Germany’s recent good economic relations with Russia, particularly its construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. That sort of thing is intolerable now.
Ukraine is a bad business, but a very good business at the same time for Washington. The US suffers least of all in the war in Ukraine. Without troops on the ground, it faces no casualties, and no body bags returning home. The Ukrainians take the casualties and the Europeans take the economic hit from energy sanctions and supporting the refugees. Washington stands to gain so much by it – as long as the war is not played out to the full, in one way or another.
Many people would now perish at the thought of the US ever having anything but good intentions for Ukraine. How quickly wars affect the senses and promote forgetfulness in the population. How speedily is even recent history forgotten.
Inducing Russian Intervention in the Quagmire
Retired US Army Colonel and Professor of History at Boston University, Andrew J. Bacevich wrote the following account of how that most liberal of US Presidents, Jimmy Carter, lured Russia into Afghanistan in order to make it a battlefield and quagmire in the Cold War. The intention, like in Ukraine a generation later, was to get its people to fight America’s geopolitical battle, with US supplied arms and training, to cause maximum casualties to the Russians, while Washington stood back watching the ensuing devastation of the country:
“On July 3, 1979… President Carter… signed off on a memo committing the United States to assist Afghan insurgents who were warring against the Soviet-supported regime in Kabul. The amount involved was small… but the scope of the initial investment belied the magnitude of the mayhem the United States was seeking to promote.
Three months earlier (May 1979), a mid-level Pentagon official attending a White House meeting called to consider Afghanistan’s growing political instability suggested that the situation there offered the possibility of “sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire”. The idea caught on. Considered in a Cold War context, the prospect of inducing conflict on the scale of Vietnam exerted great appeal. That such a conflict might, however inadvertently, yield adverse consequences for the United States (never mind the Afghan people) simply did not occur.
From our distant vantage point we may wonder how a war comparable to Vietnam could prove beneficial for anyone. At that time, such considerations had no purchase. In the dichotomous logic of the Cold War, whatever discomforted the Soviets automatically qualified as desirable and was presumed to be strategically advantageous…
So the explicit purpose of aiding Afghan insurgents, Brzezinski subsequently acknowledged, was to “induce a Soviet military intervention,” which the United States intended to exploit for its own purposes.” (America’s War for the Greater Middle East, pp. 22-3)
It should be noted that the jihadi insurgents had taken up arms in reaction to the Afghan government in Kabul attempting to educate Afghan women and girls. The US support for the Islamic fundamentalists’ objection to the educating of females came 6 months before the Soviet military intervention in December 1979, which was designed to stabilise the situation and push through a modernisation reform programme.
It is interesting that one of the first words used by the current British Foreign Secretary, even prior to the Russian military intervention, was “quagmire”. Did she discover this for herself one wonders, or was she briefed by a well-read American?
The interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-American hawk, and Carter’s National Security advisor, published in Le Nouvelle Observateur on 15 January 1988, is very interesting indeed and worth recalling:
“Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. In this period, you were the national security advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?
B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q : When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan , nobody believed them . However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime , a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B : What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?“
I wonder will the role of the US in provoking the war in Ukraine in 2022 be written about with as much candour, in the future, as Brzezinski did in this interview a decade after events in Afghanistan. The answer to that probably lies in how successful this war turns out to be for the US.
According to his New York publisher, Random House, Prof. Bacevich’s book is about how, having won the Cold War in 1990, “a great transition occurred. As the Cold War wound down, the United States initiated a new conflict – a War for the Greater Middle East… From the Balkans and East Africa to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, US forces embarked upon a seemingly endless series of campaigns across the Islamic world.” (America’s War for the Greater Middle East, Dust jacket)
Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke in a Cambridge University book, published in 2004, summed up what the US was prepared to produce in the world in pursuit of its geopolitical objectives:
“The year 1979 was an important one in the development of today’s terror phenomenon… The crucible for the pan-Islamic movement… was the jihad against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 – where, it is well known, US and British intelligence services were working hand-in-glove with the jihadists, all the while being well aware of the latters’ extremist tendencies. By the time that the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, a whole generation of religiously inspired terrorists had been produced and subsequently dispersed across the globe.” (America Alone, p.275)
But we know from Zbigniew Brzezinski that this did not come about from “the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan” but from the geopolitical strategy of the US government aimed at luring the Russians into the quagmire and helping to develop and amplify the jihad, and harnessing it in its own interests. And it was hugely worth it even after producing “some agitated Moslems” and the Taliban! (Although it was said before “some agitated Moslems” paid the US a visit on 9/11)
Prof. Bacevich’s book was published in 2016 as President Trump began to bring this phase of US warfare, against the Islamic world, to a close, having failed to get it to submit to the liberal world order and the “end of history”.
Two years prior to this, in 2014, President Obama and his Vice President, Joe Biden, through Victoria Nuland, had begun to open a new phase in US warfare by overthrowing the Ukrainian government in Kiev in a coup after some EU bungling in the matter. President Trump chose to keep the pot simmering in Ukraine by shipping material to the post-Maidan regime in Kiev, whilst bringing US involvement in Afghanistan to a close. President Biden completed the US military withdrawal from Kabul in 2021 in a rather embarrassing way. With that he sanctioned and froze the Afghan government’s assets abroad, bringing on starvation in Afghanistan, and turned his attention to his unfinished business in Ukraine.
The US, therefore, can be seen to have repeated the trick it played on the Afghans and Russians back in 1979 in creating a quagmire of Ukraine. Putin, having taken his military gamble, far from wanting to conquer Ukraine, occupy it, or invade Europe, as Western propaganda suggests, is most probably now trying to work out how to escape the quagmire with the semblance of a military victory and security for the future. That might require reducing the territory of the Ukraine established by the Soviets, of course. But we must presume that the US will attempt to close off Putin’s exits to keep the war going in Ukraine for as long as it can.
The Ukrainians, for their part, seem to have been oblivious to what has happened, and is still happening to the Afghans as reward for their services to US geopolitical interests. Perhaps they believe that their Christianity, blonde hair and blue eyes will ultimately save them from the fate of the darker skinned Muslims. But we should I feel remind them of what happened to the Armenians, Greeks and Poles for services rendered to the Anglosphere in the last century. Fairy tales do not always end in “happy ever after”.
It seems that the greatest sense about Ukraine was talked after the events of 2014 when the EU, US and Kiev had plainly over-reached and Russia deprived Ukraine of the Crimea and Donbas as a result of the Maidan coup. Then the Trump Presidency put things into suspended animation after the shock to Washington and Kiev brought about by the Obama/Biden scheming. However, the return of Biden and the expectations he raised in liberal America about leading America back to universalising itself has had the effect of propelling things toward a final reckoning in Ukraine.
The US and its allies today are certainly closer to the hawk, Brzezinski, than they are to the tricky diplomat, Henry Kissinger, who in 2014 wrote:
“In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.
The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.
The European Union must recognise that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.
The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 per cent of whose population is Russian became part of Ukraine only in 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.
Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th Century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanukovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.
Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonisation of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.
Putin should come to realise that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers.”
The old Cold Warrior Kissinger now sounds like the voice of reason amongst the war hysteria today in the West. His words show how extreme both Washington and Europe have become as the Cold War understandings have disappeared and “the logic of the feelings supplants the logic of fact and reason.”
The False Western Narrative
The control of the narrative has been the most important aspect of the war in the West. The BBC established a “fact check Ukraine” Department to deal with the situation. Its job was not to hold the BBC accountable for the objectivity of its coverage but to make sure the “lies and misinformation” coming from Russia and outside the official narrative were excluded. It was conceded by a spokeswoman that the Ukrainians might be also guilty of “lies and misinformation” but that was said to be “understandable in time of war”. The idea that the BBC might not be always telling the truth and be engaged in misinformation itself was obviously considered just too preposterous to consider.
Meanwhile we have a completely false narrative presented to the Western public about Russian actions and intentions in the Ukraine. Central to the current US/NATO spin of “Russian failure” is the premise that a core objective of the Russian strategy was the taking of Kiev. That was, obviously, never the case but sustaining that false premise has become a central plank to the US/NATO propaganda strategy. Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine has even been presented as the first stage in a grandiose scheme to restore the territorial integrity of the imperial or Soviet eras. The NATO states of Poland and the Baltic states were pumped into a frenzy of nationalistic anti-Russian anxiety that fed the media’s depiction of events which in turn was designed to provide credibility to the US/NATO depiction of what was supposed to constitute Russian objectives.
It has not been explained how any of the assumed Russian objectives could have been achieved by 150,000-200,000 Russian troops confronting forces that were double that number – much of which was equipped and trained to NATO standard – defending its own territory. It is not usual for offensive operations to be conducted against defences that are numerically stronger. Usually a 3:1 or higher ration of attack/defence is desired.
We were expected to believe that the Russians aimed to defeat the Ukrainians in a matter of days, capture the capital and install a puppet regime. All with an army of 150,000 stretched out across a large country, in which defence of the eastern areas was a priority against a large Ukrainian attacking force! When the Russians “failed” in this military miracle the US/NATO explanation had to find reasons to support this ludicrous narrative. So, we were then treated to the various accounts of what was supposed to explain the “failure” of Russian military activity to comply with what we had been told was the Russian objective in entering Ukraine. But none of these various accounts made any sense when a modicum of critical thinking was applied to them. All of these accounts revolved around either a failure of equipment, a failure of military leadership, or a failure of organisation.
But again, just as it never managed to address the question as to how 150,000 Russian troops was supposed to take, let alone hold, any significant part of Ukrainian territory, all subsequent US/NATO explanations of the “failure” of Russian military behaviour to act in a way consistent with that supposed objective, did not make sense. These explanations never made sense because they could never stand up to any critical reasoning. Such critical reasoning, of course, has been entirely absent in hysterical Europe and can only be found among a few Americans who have not lost their sense of reasoning and are brave enough to challenge the fairy story of the official narrative. Meanwhile “military analysts” interviewed by the BBC every morning clearly try to get their “analysis” to fit the established fable, presumably to safeguard their career progression.
As Goethe once remarked: “Whoever wants to deceive people must first of all make absurdity plausible”.
That the actual and real Russian objective might be nothing like the one sold by the US/NATO was something that could not be tolerated and so there was never a modicum of dissent among the European leaders who must have known what the real Russian objectives might be.
An article by William Arkin in Newsweek (22.3.2022) compiled using US military sources, who spoke candidly, gives a truer picture of the military situation in Ukraine and what was really understood about Russian intentions. It reveals that the Russian “Special Military Operation” is much more precision-guided and limited than the US wars of “shock and awe” in Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq:
“Russia’s conduct in the… war tells a different story than the widely accepted view that Vladimir Putin is intent on demolishing Ukraine and inflicting maximum civilian damage—and it reveals the Russian leader’s strategic balancing act. If Russia were more intentionally destructive, the clamouring for U.S. and NATO intervention would be louder. And if Russia were all-in, Putin might find himself with no way out. Instead, his goal is to take enough territory on the ground to have something to negotiate with, while putting the government of Ukraine in a position where they have to negotiate…
“The destruction is massive,” a senior analyst working at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) tells Newsweek, “especially when compared with what Europeans and Americans are used to seeing.” But, the analyst says, the damage… shouldn’t blind people to what is really happening. (The analyst requested anonymity in order to speak about classified matters.) “The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets.”…
“We need to understand Russia’s actual conduct,” says a retired Air Force officer, a lawyer by training who has been involved in approving targets for U.S. fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. The officer currently works as an analyst with a large military contractor advising the Pentagon and was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly: “If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.” In the analyst’s view, though the war has led to unprecedented destruction in the south and east, the Russian military has actually been showing restraint in its long-range attacks.
As of the past weekend, in 24 days of conflict, Russia has flown some 1,400 strike sorties and delivered almost 1,000 missiles (by contrast, the United States flew more sorties and delivered more weapons in the first day of the 2003 Iraq war). The vast majority of the airstrikes are over the battlefield, with Russian aircraft providing “close air support” to ground forces. The remainder—less than 20 percent, according to U.S. experts—has been aimed at military airfields, barracks and supporting depots. A proportion of those strikes have damaged and destroyed civilian structures and killed and injured innocent civilians, but the level of death and destruction is low compared to Russia’s capacity.
“I know it’s hard … to swallow that the carnage and destruction could be much worse than it is,” says the DIA analyst. “But that’s what the facts show. This suggests to me, at least, that Putin is not intentionally attacking civilians, that perhaps he is mindful that he needs to limit damage in order to leave an out for negotiations.”…
“People are talking about Grozny and Aleppo, and the razing of Ukrainian cities” a second retired U.S. Air Force senior officer tells Newsweek. “But even in the case of southern cities, where artillery and rockets are within range of populated centres, the strikes seem to be trying to target Ukrainian military units, many of which by necessity operating from inside urban areas.”
“I know that the news keeps repeating that Putin is targeting civilians, but there is no evidence that Russia is intentionally doing so,” says the DIA analyst. “In fact, I’d say that Russian could be killing thousands more civilians if it wanted to.”
The complete absence of dissent from the false, official narrative can only be explained, as Eamon Dyas, has remarked because “it was important for US/NATO to avoid it if the Russian actions were to continue to be depicted as evidence of Russian aggression rather than Russian defence. In the same way the Russian actions in now redeploying its limited troop resources has to be seen as the result of a frustration of its aggressive ambition to take Kiev rather than ever having been a defensive containment exercise protecting its more modest objectives in the east.”
We can expect, therefore, to hear, when the Russians scale down their “Special Military Operation” with objectives largely achieved, that heroic Ukrainian resistance prevented a complete Russian conquest of the country ordered by a megalomanic bent on world domination.
And then, Ukraine and Europe can start picking up the pieces of this geopolitical war on Russia.