Caption: Is this how the crisis in Ukraine ends?
The current war in Ukraine has now been formally recognised as a Western proxy war against Russia by no less than the current British Foreign Secretary, Elizabeth Truss. And there are strong indications in her statement of intent last week that it is only the start of the shape of things to come. She did this in a landmark speech heralded by the British Government’s website as “The return of geopolitics: Foreign Secretary’s Mansion House speech at the Lord Mayor’s 2022 Easter Banquet.”
The British Foreign Secretary, taking full ownership of the war in Ukraine, stated her state’s position in the clearest possible terms:
“The war in Ukraine is our war – it is everyone’s war because Ukraine’s victory is a strategic imperative for all of us. Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this. We are doubling down. We will keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine…”
“Britain has always stood up to bullies. We have always been risk takers. So we are prepared to be bold, using our strength in security and diplomacy, our economic heft, and our will and agility to lead the way.”
When the British Foreign Secretary attempts to spread responsibility and ownership of the Ukraine war to the rest of humanity by claiming “it is everyone’s war” she is being disingenuous. In point of fact, less than 20 per cent of the world is in support of the West’s war in Ukraine. The vast bulk of states and peoples in Asia, Africa and South America are not supportive of it, politically, militarily or economically. Of the world’s 195 countries, only 30 have complied with the US sanctions on Russia meaning around 165 countries have refused to join. Of the top 10 countries in PPP-GDP, five do not support the sanctions, including China (No. 1) and India (No. 3). Only in Western Europe and North America and a few outlying areas with US troops in occupation (Japan and S.Korea) are there governments (and not necessarily peoples) willing to fuel the Ukraine conflict, militarily and economically as a “strategic imperative”.
This small and declining Western minority, which fails to reproduce itself, and requires large migrations from the rest of humanity to keep its societies going, regards itself as the moral conscience of the world. It contains the great Imperialist Powers which extirpated and plundered the rest of humanity for centuries and more recently set about destroying the Muslim world. “All of us” and “everyone” in the British Foreign Secretary’s words actually means, to take a phrase from US identity politics, the “white privileged” minority of humanity.
Britain has apparently “stood up to bullies” in the words of the British Foreign Secretary. That is a view that will not be widely shared amongst the mass of humanity who have undergone the British experience. What Britain actually has done in its history has been to cut down to size potential rivals to its world dominance, in alliance with everyone and anyone who would ally with it. Twice in the last century it allied with the Devil, Russia – authoritarian Tsarist Russia and Stalinist Bolshevik Russia – to cut down Germany to size. Whether Germany was led by Kaiser Wilhelm or Herr Hitler was of little consequence, nor was the form of government in Russia, for Britain.
Ironically, having recovered from two world war defeats it is the US/UK war on Ukraine that may finally do for Germany, and perhaps the EU with it.
Britain also briefly thought about cutting the emerging US bully down to size in the early 20th Century but thought better of it after requiring American help to survive its two bungled world wars. In fighting two world wars to cut down Germany to size it lost its empire and handed over its global predominance, and world mission, to the United States. From there onwards, Britain has adopted a supporting role in the reordering of the world.
It would not be unreasonable for the world to consider Britain the greatest of bullies in world history. Certainly Britain has fought wars against all but a dozen countries in the world during the last 300 or so years, before handing over the main bullying work to its Anglo-Saxon cousin across the Ocean.
China also in Britain’s sights
The gullible still believe that this a Ukrainian war of resistance against Russian expansionism.
The British Foreign Secretary is, herself, a NATO-expansionist. She is looking forward to the day when NATO tackles not only Russia, but China too. In her Mansion House speech she declared:
“We need a global NATO. By that I don’t mean extending the membership to those from other regions. I mean that NATO must have a global outlook, ready to tackle global threats.
We need to pre-empt threats in the Indo-Pacific, working with our allies like Japan and Australia to ensure the Pacific is protected. And we must ensure that democracies like Taiwan are able to defend themselves.
Countries must play by the rules. And that includes China. Beijing has not condemned Russian aggression or its war crimes… They are commenting on who should or shouldn’t be a member of NATO. And they are rapidly building a military capable of projecting power deep into areas of European strategic interest. But China is not impervious. By talking about the rise of China as inevitable we are doing China’s work for it. In fact, their rise isn’t inevitable. They will not continue to rise if they don’t play by the rules.
“The fact is that most of the world does respect sovereignty. It is only a few pariahs and outliers that don’t.”
This seems to suggest that the UK is prepared to fight a world war over Taiwan if it does not get one over Ukraine. The British Foreign Secretary does not seem to understand that Taiwan is a break-away separatist piece of China that the Chinese government is determined to reintegrate within it, as Zelensky declares his intention of doing with Crimea and Donbas.
If she is a supporter of existing sovereignty and territorial integrity why is she not calling for Armenia to abandon any claims to Karabakh, a sovereign part of Azerbaijan territory, one might reasonably ask? After all, some of this territory only remains de facto beyond the Azerbaijan state due to a Russian presence. Why is Armenia not treated as a pariah state by the UK and US for not respecting sovereignty and international law if this is now a universal principle?
The war on the ground in Ukraine is presently a Ukrainian/Russian war, with some features of a Ukrainian civil war within it. However, the individual states that make up NATO are waging this war, in conjunction with the Ukrainian government, through every possible means as though they were actually fighting it themselves, short of formal declaration of war and active participation by their military forces. The only thing they do not supply to the war is mainstream military forces to maintain an arm’s length, hands-free position that confines casualties to the Ukrainians.
But the British Foreign Secretary confirms that, for the US/UK at least, Ukraine is simply a battle within a wider geopolitical war for world predominance, with Russia the initial target and China the longer-term objective for cutting down. Is it likely that nuclear powers will allow themselves to be cut down?
The series of proxy wars that are envisaged by the British Foreign Secretary spell not only disaster for people and states around the world who may be chosen to be part of the West’s expanding geopolitical war, but also for the British and European working classes who will bear the economic pain in supporting the heroic self-sacrifices of the catspaws.
Geopolitics is Back!
The British Foreign Secretary has bought into the “End of History” narrative that I mentioned in previous articles about Ukraine. She concluded her address in the following way:
“Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, geopolitics is back. After the Cold War we all thought that peace, stability and prosperity would spread inexorably around the globe. We thought that we’d learned the lessons of history and that the march of progress would continue unchallenged. We were wrong. But this is no counsel of despair. In the face of rising aggression we do have the power to act, and we need to act now. We must be assertive. Aggressors are looking at what has happened in Ukraine. We need to make sure that they get the right message.”
This narrative asserts that after the internal collapse of the Soviet Union and the entry of China into the global capitalist market a new liberal world order was going to be established and reign for ever and ever Amen. Humanity would forthwith exist in an American/Anglo liberal utopia in which life would be given meaning through globalised free market capitalism. Social living and traditional cultures would be whittled away by individualised relations and identity constructions so that humanity would be remade on American terms.
The first place this project broke down was when US power was frustrated in attempting to destroy and remake the Muslim world in its image. Despite the enormous destruction wrought by the US and its allies the Muslim world proved impervious to remaking on American lines. It possessed long-standing and functional forms of living far more deep-rooted and valuable to its people than the transient fetishisms of Western capitalism.
The “march of progress” – US/UK progress – was halted by popular resistance among humanity. So it seems that greater military power is to be applied by the West “to make sure that they get the right message” in future.
It is clear from all this, and the actions and statements made by representatives from the US and UK governments over the last week or two, that continuous escalation is the intention of the West in Ukraine. The US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin stated on 27 April that America will ensure that Russia is defeated in Ukraine. This goes with the British Foreign Secretary’s declaration that the reconquest of the Crimea by the government in Kiev is a formal British War Aim.
In the UK the Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told Thames Radio that it would be entirely legitimate for British supplied missiles to be launched deep into Russian territory if the Ukrainians saw fit. It would be understandable if the Kremlin made a special case of retaliating against UK targets in such an eventuality, given the British determination to be at the forefront of the war, while refusing to accept liability for its consequences for the rest of humanity.
A resolution (The Kinzinger resolution) has suddenly been placed before the US Congress authorising the President to use the American military to “assist in defending and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine” in response to a Russian use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil. This resolution would give the President sole authority to determine whether such an event had actually taken place, without requiring any international investigation. This could only incentivise Ukrainian forces to stage such an incident in the hope of drawing the US into the conflict. A similar authorisation has given US presidents legal clearance to attack more than a dozen countries since 9/11, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, without any formal declaration of war.
The US/UK policy on Ukraine seems to be aimed at preventing a negotiated settlement taking place, a determination that Russia does not come out of the war with anything that could be described as “a victory” and in the meantime to supply weaponry to Ukraine for as long as it takes to bring about a “Ukrainian victory”.
The concessions that the Ukrainians were apparently willing to make at the Istanbul talks, to conclude the war on their territory, are antithetical to the geopolitical objectives of Washington and London. Prime Minister Johnson reportedly made it clear to Zelensky that the game, having been taken up by Ukraine, needed to be played out to the bitter end so that Russia is permanently disabled and could not act again. Nothing else is acceptable for Washington and London, who hold the purse strings of Ukraine, and can abandon the country tomorrow if Kiev displeases them.
Thus the enormous financial and military aid that has been promised in recent days to the Ukrainian government so they can “fight to the last Ukrainian” over the last inch of Ukraine. By April 28 a total of $14.67 billion had been given or promised to Ukraine by the US alone (if approved by Congress). Congress has also passed the Democracy-Defense Lend-Lease Act to expedite aid to Ukraine which contemplates the enormous sum of $47 billion, or one third of Ukraine’s GDP. This is a financing of total war, fought by another state, in which direct engagement is, for the moment at least, not on the table. However, it envisages a massive effort on Ukraine’s part to fight the West’s geopolitical war on Russia. This represents a truly great escalation of the conflict on Washington’s part, supported by its cheerleader in London, with Churchillian rhetoric, to inspire the Ukrainians to greater sacrifices. Its effect may be to provoke Russia into enhancing its limited Special Military Operation into a greater war which could in turn prepare the ground domestically in the West for full engagement.
Whatever the outcome, Zelensky is now a prisoner – an actor playing out a role within a script written in Washington, if you like. There can be no retreat, no surrender by Kiev. They must break the Russians or be broken by them.
The stakes are being dangerously raised by the West and there is sadly to be no escape from the tragedy in Ukraine. The only question is whether Washington has the will to see it through to the end itself, in the event of a Ukrainian collapse.
The Ukrainian army ensconced itself in the cities at the outset of the war, intermingling with armed and unarmed civilians, daring the Russians to fight to take these urban fortresses. Washington’s plan for Ukraine was to produce the maximum amount of Russian casualties. It was repeated by the Western media that the Russians had failed, across the board, by failing to assault these cities. But all the time the Russians were pinning down these Ukrainian forces and denying them any mobility. Without mobility wars cannot be won. Whilst the more numerical Ukrainians were pinned down, smaller Russian forces secured their flanks (east of Kharkov and west of Kherson) and got on with the business of carving a buffer state out of south and east Ukraine in between, across a 300 mile front. In the glacis in front of Donbas Ukrainian forces are being systematically degraded and ground down in attritional warfare, primarily through artillery barrage, with increasing number of deaths and surrenders. Meanwhile, deep battle precision ballistic missiles are depleting the military support being sent by the West, which is largely defenceless against Russian aerospace operations.
In this way the Russians are demilitarising Ukraine on the Clausewitz first principle of defeating an enemy through the destruction of his army.
The Western decision to escalate the war through the unlimited provision of military supplies to the Ukrainians has left the Russians with practically no option but to partition the country and carve out a substantial buffer zone for future security. A negotiated settlement that might preserve the maximum territory of the Ukrainian state, built by the Soviets, has been made impossible by Washington and London.
What will Washington do now with its economic war misfiring and its military support proving less effective as the war is fought in its decisive theatre?
The present writer had earlier thought that whilst the US could afford to back down over its red lines on Ukraine and its proxy war, Russia, having chosen to fight for its national security, could not. Now, unfortunately it will be very difficult for Washington to wash its hands of its Ukrainian catspaw, having invested so much material and moral support in Kiev. Having declared Ukraine to be the war for democracy itself, that would be a great defeat for the US and the liberal world order at the hands of Russia if it were seen to be lost. And that would never do. Or is it all bluff to keep the Ukrainians fighting to the end?
Let us hope we are not entering Armageddon time.