The war in Ukraine is not really about Ukraine—it is not about Ukraine’s sacrosanct borders which have been supposedly violated by Russia. And it is most certainly not about the vaunted “defense of democracy,” as we constantly hear screamed in our ears by the media and by a broad panoply of American (and European) political and cultural leaders, from Nancy Pelosi to Lindsey Graham to Boris Johnson.
None of those rationales, none of those justifications for the fanatical involvement by the United States, its puppets in NATO, and the EU, explain why the conflict in that remote part of the world is so vitally important globally that it literally has the entirety of the “woke” American Left and the great majority of Republicans, in tow, literally standing on their chairs and desks to frantically applaud such charlatans as former X-rated comedian and authoritarian Volodymyr Zelensky (and his wife) as “champions of freedom and democracy.” The specter of Graham and Pelosi outdoing each other in the bellicosity of their rants against President Putin and Russia is only a little less sickening than their lascivious ideological embrace of each other.
There are two major reasons that war has come to eastern Europe, and they have very little to do with Ukraine or the horrible sufferings of the Ukrainian population.
But they have everything to do with Russia, its president, and Russia’s current position in the context of global politics and the heretofore inexorable advance of American globalist hegemony.
Since the end of the Second World War the United States has been involved in essentially two major global conflicts: the first was the Cold War waged against Soviet and world Communism. Most of us of any substantial age can remember the days when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union and its satellites “the evil empire.” We came of age when Nikita Khrushchev’s pledge “to bury” us was believed to be a real and present danger to our very existence. The United States, then, and its allies in NATO and in other alliances were seen as the champions of freedom and liberty, and essentially of Western civilization against the Soviet behemoth which threatened to extirpate what we held dear and enshrine a murderous tyranny worldwide in its place.
All the while during that conflict our own inherited Western and Christian-oriented cultural foundation was being progressively, at times imperceptibly, hollowed out. Some of our best writers and philosophers did notice—James Burnham, Sam Francis, a few others; but it took the man “with orange hair” to finally rip the mask off, if only haphazardly and for the most part unknowingly, of what was actually occurring and had occurred here in the USA and in Western Europe.
The rhetoric defending “the West and its traditions” continued in our vocabulary, but the reality had radically changed. T. S. Eliot noticed what was happening in his 1948 work, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, that we in West were “destroying our ancient edifices to make ready the ground upon which the barbarian nomads of the future will encamp in their mechanized caravans.”
The Communist threat ceased in 1989-1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolving of the Warsaw Pact and Eastern Bloc. And, surprisingly for many who controlled American foreign policy then and as they do now, what emerged in many cases in much of Eastern Europe and in Russia was not some efflorescence of “little democracies” based on the model of Big Brother America.
In countries like Hungary, Poland, Serbia, and especially in Russia, it was almost as if a veil, a prophylaxis which had covered—and in a real sense, protected—these nations from the worst aspects of American “Coca-cola” culture, had been lifted, and they were back fifty years earlier, as if the Communist period were some bad fleeting dream or nightmare. And older religious and political beliefs, which had never been extinguished by decades of Communism, re-emerged. Nationalism and religious faith came out of from the catacombs to inspire millions.
Liberal democracy—the American model spread worldwide—was just one option for those countries and their citizens. And despite the zeal and hyperactivity of dominant American foreign policy and the aggressive inroads by the worst aspects of American “kulchur,” avariciously foisted off and spread infectiously by international corporate capitalism in partnership with the managerial state, resistance in the East was far more resilient than in Western Europe, where a half century of secularist indoctrination and destruction of traditions and historic religious belief had had its effects.
This rude realization soon dawned on America’s foreign policy establishment, producing what in effect is a second global conflict—between those nations chained to the tentacles of secular globalism and those outside that increasingly totalitarian consortium.
Neoconservative zealot and Fox News icon, the late Charles Krauthammer, celebrated what he called the emergence of a “unipolar world,” where liberal democracy, secularism, globalism, and an international managerial class would reign supreme. But his hopes and the desires of American neoconservatives and establishment “conservatives” for an American-dominated world where Francis Fukuyama’s dream of “the end of history,” the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy, would be triumphant, were premature.
In the East, where Russia was emerging deeply scarred and battered from its nearly suicidal seven decades of Soviet statist tyranny, the global project hit a snag. Not at first, or so it seemed. For Russia after 1991, under Boris Yeltsin, sought accommodation and partnership with America and its NATO allies, even at one point, after dissolving the Warsaw Pact, pursuing some form of association with the Western alliance.
It was not to be, for Russia, given its position in the world, desired partnership and recognition of its own historic culture and independence. But the West, spearheaded by zealous unipolar globalists, particularly in the George W. Bush administration—think here of the role of characters like Paul Wolfowitz—desired only its subservience and integration into the New World Order.
After years of attempting some sort of equitable modus vivendi with the West, Russia realized that such an arrangement was out of the question. It would have to chart its own, independent course and find partners in the world where it might—perhaps with a formerly-hostile China, maybe with Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil.
And thus in 2009 the BRICS association—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—was born as a loose economic and potential foreign policy alliance. But above all, it was a re-invigorated and re-assertive Russia under its President Putin that took the leadership. And it was Russia, geopolitically and strategically, that was seen as the major danger by far to advancing Western globalism.
This, then, is the first major reason for the conflict in Ukraine and the frenzied hyperventilation of the elites in Foggy Bottom and in the US Congress, and in Brussels and Geneva: the Russians, and especially their president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, have not acceded to the global project. The largest country in the world had not fallen into line like other American toadies in Western Europe.
Indeed, for nearly twenty years American foreign policy has been fairly consistent in its objective of forcing a recalcitrant Russia into one more pliant minion of a hegemonic American universal order, economically and politically.
Military conflict as an ultimate element, I suggest, was always on the table for the apparatchiks who run American foreign policy. Efforts to subvert the Russian state, to create conditions for another “color revolution” in Moscow, like the ones the US had successfully engineered in Kiev and elsewhere, including in Tbilisi, Georgia, had failed and been thwarted. American and George Soros-controlled NGOs had been expelled. American-groomed “opposition” leaders to Putin’s government, whether in the person of a Boris Nemtsov or more recently by Alexei Navalny, had failed to dent Putin’s popularity or produce a desired coup of some sort.
Since the American-sponsored coup d’etat in Kiev in February 2014, deposing the popularly-elected (and Russia-friendly) president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, Russia believed itself gravely threatened. A newly-installed American puppet regime in Kiev began the persecution of Ukrainian ethnic Russians—approximately one-fifth of the population—closing Russian-language schools and media, banning the use of Russian in legal and public affairs, and persecuting native Russian Ukrainian political leaders and political parties.
As a consequence, the largely Russian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk announced their secession, and Russia occupied the heavily ethnic Russian Crimea (where the Russian Black Sea Fleet was anchored at Sevastopol). Crimea had never been historically part of Ukraine.
A bloody civil war ensued and continued until early 2022, when the Ukrainian government stepped up its anti-Russian military operations in what had become a bloody eight-year campaign that saw upwards of 14,000 Russian civilian casualties in the Russian ethnic Donbas region.
Ukrainian president Zelensky’s intention to potentially re-acquire nuclear weapons (a desire uttered in Munich a few days before the February Russian military incursion began) and his refusal to exclude Ukraine from future NATO membership, and thus under Article 5 of the NATO charter, to potentially involve NATO in required joint, on-the-ground military action against Russia, pushed the Russian bear to the limit. Putin viewed these actions as a last straw.
Whether or not President Putin should have committed Russia to military action in Ukraine certainly can be debated. Indeed, from one perspective Russian troops on the…