by Jeff Klein
If you want to get a picture of the dangerous delusions that are fueling US confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, you can hardly do better than reading this editorial from yesterday’s liberal Boston Globe: How to punish Putin if Russia invades Ukraine. Among other things, the Globe finds it worrying that “Moscow’s Pacific Fleet forces recently arrived in Belarus ahead of a major military exercise.” Belarus happens to be a landlocked country with no seacoast and no navy.
We don’t know what is in Putin’s mind – neither of course does the Globe! – but the alarms over a supposedly imminent Russian aggression against Ukraine are undoubtedly exaggerated. Even Ukraine is getting nervous about the possibly self-fulfilling predictions from the US and NATO of a looming Russian invasion.
It would be somewhat reassuring if the heated warmongering against Russia were coming from the fever swamps of the ultra-right. But now, as for most of our post WW2 history, the shrillest cries for international confrontation are coming from liberals and Democrats. It is worth remembering that the warmongering Neoconservatives had their roots in the more aggressive Cold War faction of the Democratic party; they moved temporarily to a new home in Reagan’s Republican Party and of course were key influencers for George W. Bush’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, disgusted with Trump’s disinterest in international military crusades, the Neoconservatives have universally returned home to the Democratic Party. It is worth noting that today much opposition toward US confrontation over Ukraine is coming from rightwing populists, not liberals. As dangerous and racist as many on that extremist fringe may be on all kinds of issues, their skepticism toward new military adventures abroad represents the feelings of many millions of ordinary Americans. (For this, US liberals reflexively label them Russian dupes or traitors.)
Instead, it is Democrats today who are most vehemently beating the drums for war. In Congress, they are rushing through emergency legislation to fund more US arms for Ukraine, adding $500 million to the $billions already supplied to Ukraine since 2014. (It is worth noting that calls for the US to stand by its “ally” Ukraine are misplaced; the US has no defense treaty with Ukraine.) This makes Ukraine the largest recipient of US military aid, other than Apartheid Israel and the Egyptian dictatorship. All of this money is recycled directly back to US Arms makers like our local goliath Raytheon, who are no doubt already counting their profits.
It is easy for liberals to dismiss Russian fears of NATO on its borders as self-serving fictions. After all, we are told, NATO was founded to counter Warsaw Pact threats to Western Europe. Even progressives arguing against confrontation over Ukraine often make that argument. But the fact is that NATO was founded in 1949 (under Democratic President Harry Truman); the Warsaw Pact was created in 1955, after NATO agreed in 1954 to include Germany– a country which had invaded Eastern Europe and the USSR, causing tens of millions of deaths just nine years previously. (You could look that up!) Not irrelevantly, Russians remember that the US once invaded their country, an event universally forgotten in the USA.
The world does have a right to expect that Russia, like any other country, abides by treaties and international law. But for the US to accuse Russia of not following its (unilateral) “rules-based order” while – often with NATO – it flouts international law and the sovereignty of nations whenever it is convenient, this is rank hypocrisy. If the US wants a peaceful world under international law, it could begin by joining or ratifying the dozens of international treaties it claims exemption from. And it could stop threatening, invading and unilaterally sanctioning dozens of countries around the world.
— Jeff Klein is a member of MAPA’s board of directors