I’ve a rule: don’t write about a subject twice in a row. Makes me look obsessed.
Health, political responsibilities and personal crazy stuff, however, have intervened to prevent my planned return to timely contributions to these humble pages and…well, well, well…here we are two fulls months after I wrote my last entry, which was on Ukraine as that war was starting.
It’s a topic I have to return to immediately because that war is still raging two months later. This was unexpected in almost all quarters. Ukraine is a surprise.
The obvious is by now almost boiler-plate. Ukrainians are tough and they have fought Russia on the ground to a stand-still. They are motivated. Russians aren’t motivated to make this war and their leadership is an arrogant mess. They have no real strategy because they had no reason to invade, save Vladimir Putin’s stupid world-view. This is why, rather than fight the war on the ground (which exposes Russia to its troops’ ambivalence), it has taken to a strategy of deadly and mindlessly destructive bombardment.
Ukrainian President Zelensky, who I simplistically and derisively labeled a “comedian” in my last entry, has proven himself to be a more than adequate war-time leader. Maybe this shouldn’t surprise anyone; he’s a talented actor and war-time leadership is an act if you have good generals which Ukraine apparently does. Those who are ready to give this guy a chapter in history should remember that, three weeks before the invasion, he urged the world to be calm because he didn’t see an imminent invasion. It proves a point which Zelensky’s opposition leaders (who are mainly to his left) consistently make: he’s done a good job as a war-time leader and he didn’t before then.
It’s an inconvenient truth: Russia invaded because, in part, it didn’t respect Zelensky and that’s because he simply wasn’t that popular in his own country two years after his election. Still…
The devastation Russia has wrought demonstrates clearly that these people are pigs and I’m going to say something that is highly personal and distorted: I have never liked Russians from the time I met with and conversed (for hours) with Soviet diplomats at the U.N. and in Cuba. I know these people aren’t the Russian people and that there are many wonderful Russians, some of whom are unbelievably principled and courageous. But I have always had a feeling that a strain of irrational arrogance runs through this population’s world view.
I know that feeling because I’ve lived in the United States all my life and that is the world-view of dominant culture here. Each of these two countries led one of the super-power coalitions and that impacts on a people’s consciousness.
That’s the point I was trying to make in my previous entry. All these commentators and pundits and former military people — all the people breathlessly and pompously denouncing Russia’s insanely destructive war — are being hypocritical.
How in the world can a former U.S. military commander who led troupes in Iraq denounce what Russia is doing as “illegal and immoral”? How can the community of “journalist” who ignored the U.S.’s relentless attempts to over-throw the Venezuelan government — over 20 years, mind you! — call Russia’s actions “an attack on democracy”? I mean, yeah, it’s illegal and immoral and anti-democratic but nobody in this country can make those charges without adding an important point: we know what this is because it’s what our government does all the time.
In a sense, that hypocrisy is helping to hide a couple of important points here.
The Ukrainians are brave but they are being successful only because Russia is actually fighting the United States (and NATO to a much smaller extent). They wouldn’t last a week without the enormous and spectacularly costly package of “military aid” you have given them.
Yeah, “you”, that’s not a typo. What is exactly happening when the cheer-leading headlines are stripped away is that your government is taking your tax money and giving it to profit-driven arms manufacturers in exchange for the stuff they make which destroys countries and kills people. Then, in another staggering demonstration of hypocrisy and hubris, they warn you that you are going to have to make some sacrifices in exchange for giving these brave people your support.
Using the media brilliantly, they have managed to fight a war against Russia while making huge profits for an industry that, despite the calls on you to sacrifice, hasn’t done anything but profit. Show me where they have offered any kind of discount for those weapons as a gesture of solidarity. It’s pure capitalist opportunism.
Second point. To be clear, I’m a believe in aggressive support for Ukraine. I am also conscious that it’s not going to save the country. As fumbling and bumbling as Russia is, it is a military power with long-range capability that can destroy Ukraine’s infra-structure as it is currently doing. It can and will level Ukraine in a few months.
Cheer-leading aside, nobody ever really wins a war but Ukraine will definitely be destroyed in this one.
So what’s the answer? There isn’t a clear one under the current social order. Russia exists as it is only because European capitalism needs a lot of its raw materials to continue functioning (and profiting). If not for that, Putin would be long gone.
What’s more, if it wasn’t for this “social order”, we would have stopped this kind of genocidal warfare a long time ago. However, its major manifestations have taken place in Africa (including Northern Africa), Latin America and Asia with one major exception of Bosnia. There was a lot of reaction to Bosnia from our government although it wasn’t back by much action. But there wasn’t much of anything about anyplace else, in part because our own government was involved in those conflicts.
Our media said nothing about them. Nothing!
Those genocidal and homicidal wars weren’t opposed because this “social order” benefited from them. It’s as nightmarishly simple as that.
Still we have to continue the pressure because turning our backs on the Ukrainians would be as immoral as turning our backs on all those other people. You don’t correct a past wrong with another wrong and maybe pressure on Russian will yield some positive results.
Perhaps the Russian people, now bathed in disinformation about this war crime, will come to their collective senses and overthrow this human atrocity named Vladimir Putin. That could happen if the war drags on much longer. But by then there will be no Ukraine to reconstruct. So much loss. So many lives ended or shattered. So much of what a society can produce smashed and scattered. So much hope, the nourishment of all humans, wasted. For nothing but the fulfillment of a criminal’s vision of history and its future…and the greedy immorality of a capitalist system.