TWO TAKES ON AN ISSUE OF EXTREME URGENCY.
We suggest you at least call or write your nominal representative in Congress, and let them have it. Don’t sit this one out. Let them know you KNOW what they are up to. Short-term opportunists that they are, it might have some salutary effect. The greatest threat to life and liberty in today’s world is the US government, in the hands of a shamelessly corrupt ruling class.
BY ERIC MARGOLIS
THE UNZ REVIEW
The United States has just made an exceptionally dangerous, even reckless decision over Ukraine. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who ended the Cold War, warns it may lead to a nuclear confrontation with Russia.
Rule number one of geopolitics: nuclear-armed powers must never, ever fight.
Yet Washington just announced that by spring, it will deploy unspecified numbers of military “trainers” to Ukraine to help build Kiev’s ramshackle national guard. Also being sent are significant numbers of US special heavy, mine resistant armored vehicles that have been widely used in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US and Poland are currently covertly supplying Ukraine with some weapons.
The US soldiers will just be for training, and the number of GI’s will be modest, claim US military sources. Of course. Just like those small numbers of American “advisors” and “trainers” in Vietnam that eventually grew to 550,000. Just as there are now US special forces in over 100 countries. We call it “mission creep.”
The war-craving neocons in Washington and their allies in Congress and the Pentagon have long wanted to pick a fight with Russia and put it in its place for daring to oppose US policies against Iran, Syria and Palestine. What neocons really care about is the Mideast.
Some neocon fantasies call for breaking up the Russian Federation into small, impotent parts. Many Russians believe this is indeed Washington’s grand strategy, mixing military pressure on one hand and social media subversion on the other, aided by Ukrainian oligarchs and rightists. A massive propaganda campaign is underway, vilifying Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin as “the new Hitler.”
Back to eastern Ukraine. You don’t have to be a second Napoleon to see how a big war could erupt.
Ukrainian National Guard forces, stiffened by American “volunteers” and “private contractors,” and led by US special forces, get in a heavy fire fight with pro-Russian separatist forces. Washington, whose military forces are active in the Mideast, Central America, the Philippines, Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Korea, has been blasting Moscow for allegedly sending some 9,000 soldiers into neighboring Ukraine.
The Americans, who have never been without total air superiority since the 1950’s Korean War, call in US and NATO air support. Pro-Russian units, backed by Russian military forces just across the border, will reply with heavy rocket fire and salvos of anti-aircraft missiles. Both sides will take heavy casualties and rush in reinforcements.
Does anyone think the Russians, who lost close to 40 million soldiers and civilians in World War II, won’t fight to defend their Motherland?
Heavy conventional fighting could quickly lead to commanders calling for tactical nuclear strikes delivered by aircraft and missiles. This was a constant fear in nearly all NATO v Warsaw Pact Cold War scenarios – and the very good reason that both sides avoided direct confrontation and confined themselves to using proxy forces.
Tactical nuclear strikes can lead to strategic strikes, then intercontinental attacks. In a nuclear confrontation, as in naval battles, he who fires first has a huge advantage.
“We can’t allow Russia to keep Crimea,” goes another favorite neocon mantra. Why not? Hardly any Americans could even find Crimea on a map.
Crimea belonged to Russia for over 200 years. I’ve been all over the great Russian naval base at Sevastopol. It became part of Ukraine when Kiev declared independence in 1991, but the vital base was always occupied and guarded by Russia’s military. Ukrainians were a minority in the Crimea – whose original Tatar inhabitants were mostly ethnically cleansed by Stalin. Most of those Russian troops who supposedly “invaded” Ukraine actually came from the giant Sevastopol base, which was under joint Russian and Ukrainian sovereignty.
Only fools and the ignorant can have believed that tough Vlad Putin would allow Ukraine’s new rightist regime to join NATO and hand one of Russia’s most vital bases and major exit south to the western alliance.
Two of Crimea’s cities, Sevastopol and Kerch, were honored as “Hero Cities” of the Soviet Union for their gallant defense in World War II. Over 170,000 Soviet soldiers died in 1942 defending Sevastopol in a brutal, 170-day siege. Another 100,000 died retaking the peninsula in 1944.
In total, well over 16 million Soviet soldiers died in the war, destroying in the process 70% of the German Wehrmacht and 80% of the Luftwaffe. By contrast, US losses in that war, including the Pacific, were 400,000.
One might as well ask Texas to give up the Alamo or Houston as to order Russia to get out of Crimea, a giant graveyard for the Red Army and the German 11th army.
In 2013, President Putin proposed a sensible negotiated settlement to the Ukraine dispute: autonomy for eastern Ukraine and its right to speak Russians as well as Ukrainian. If war or economic collapse is to be avoided, this is the solution. Eastern Ukraine was a key part of the Soviet economy. Its rusty heavy industry would be wiped out if Ukraine joined the EU – just as was East Germany’s obsolete industries when Germany reunified.
So now it appears that Washington’s economic warfare over Ukraine is going to turn military, even though the US has no strategic or economic interests in Ukraine. Getting involved in military operations there when the US is still bogged down in the Mideast and Afghanistan is daft. Even more so, when President Barack Obama’s “pivot toward Asia” is gathering momentum.
Didn’t two world wars at least teach the folly of waging wars on two fronts?
(Reprinted from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
The US arming of Ukraine and the danger of World War III
The World Socialist Web Site unequivocally condemns plans being worked out by the Obama administration to arm the right-wing regime in Ukraine with billions of dollars in advanced weaponry. These moves threaten to spark a direct conflict between the US and Russia, two nuclear-armed powers, and ignite a Third World War.
Discussions over arming the Western-backed government in Kiev come amidst setbacks to the offensive against eastern Ukraine launched by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last month. According to Monday’s New York Times, “after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.”
Washington has already sent military trainers to Ukraine and pledged $350 million in “nonlethal” military aid to Kiev. Now, the Times writes, top Obama administration officials are increasingly unified around “an independent report…by eight former senior American officials, who urge the United States to send $3 billion in defense arms and equipment to Ukraine.” These funds would provide the Kiev regime with “anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees, and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.”
This reckless escalation is being plotted by a criminal cabal of government officials, military and intelligence operatives and their associated think tanks, including the Brookings Institution. It is dictated by the interests of a corporate and financial oligarchy that, in its pursuit of global hegemony, threatens the very future of human civilization.
The implications of the plans being put in place have been concealed from the people of the United States and the world. One of the few sober appraisals came from Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which warned in an article published Monday: “US arms supplies to Ukraine would be—and that can be taken almost literally—a declaration of war against Moscow.”
The newspaper cited a Russian military expert, Yevgeny Buchinsky, who warned that in response to an offensive against the Donbass by Kiev, “Russia will have to intervene and then, bluntly speaking, to take Kiev. Then NATO would be in a difficult situation. Then you would have to start World War III, which no one wants.”
These statements follow warnings from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, who said recently that a European war over Ukraine would “inevitably lead to a nuclear war.”
As always, the war plans of the US and its imperialist allies are couched in the language of defense—in this case, of “resisting Russian aggression.” In fact, the escalating conflict over Ukraine is the product of a campaign by the US, Germany and the European Union to seize Kiev and turn Ukraine into a military outpost of the NATO alliance, pointed at the heart of European Russia.
A year ago this month, a putsch led by the fascistic Right Sector militia and backed by Washington and Berlin ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He was replaced by an unstable, unpopular coalition of right-wing parties that made no secret of their violent hostility to Russia.
The actions of the new government, including the mass killing of pro-Russian protesters, as in the May 2014 Odessa massacre, provoked armed resistance in areas of eastern Ukraine with large ethnic Russian populations. The regime responded with bloody offensives by fascist militias against cities such as Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol and Slavyansk. Thousands died last year in attacks carried out in coordination with the CIA, whose director John Brennan visited Ukraine undercover.
Lacking any social base outside of a narrow layer of oligarchs and fascist thugs, the Kiev regime has failed to defeat the eastern Ukraine separatists, whom Moscow has armed and supported. Washington is responding by preparing an even greater bloodbath against the population of eastern Ukraine, directly posing the risk of full-scale war with Russia.
The ultimate aim of the US and its allies is to reduce Russia to an impoverished and semi-colonial status. Such a strategy, historically associated with Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, is again being openly promoted.
In a speech last year at the Wilson Center, Brzezinski called on Washington to provide Kiev with “weapons designed particularly to permit the Ukrainians to engage in effective urban warfare of resistance.” In line with the policies now recommended in the report by the Brookings Institution and other think tanks calling for US arms to the Kiev regime, Brzezinski called for providing “anti-tank weapons…weapons capable for use in urban short-range fighting.”
While the strategy outlined by Brzezinski is politically criminal—trapping Russia in an ethnic urban war in Ukraine that would threaten the deaths of millions, if not billions of people—it is fully aligned with the policies he has promoted against Russia for decades.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Washington pursued this strategy by organizing “color revolutions” to install pro-US and anti-Russian regimes in ex-Soviet republics, including Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus.
A decade later, amid a far deeper economic and geostrategic crisis of global capitalism, Washington is proceeding even more ruthlessly. The crisis in Ukraine has been utilized to massively expand US and NATO forces throughout Eastern Europe, combined with new threats and ultimatums.
The only alternative to disaster is the mobilization of the international working class in struggle against imperialism, on a socialist platform.
Last July, the WSWS wrote of the intensifying aggression against Russia: “Whatever the short-term outcome, the long-term implication of the agenda being pursued by the United States and the European imperialist powers leads inexorably in the direction of war with cataclysmic consequences. The greatest danger facing the working class is that decisions are being taken behind the scenes, with masses of people largely unaware of the risks facing the world’s population…
“Anyone who believes that a nuclear war is impossible because modern governments, unlike those that were in power in 1914, would not risk catastrophe, is deluding himself. If anything, the regimes that exist today are even more reckless. Beset by mounting economic and social problems for which they have no progressive solution, they are ever more inclined to see war as a risk worth taking.”
This warning is being confirmed as imperialism drives the world toward a nuclear conflagration.