Incendiary calls for all-out military responses to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine are mounting at an alarming rate.
We are now witnessing unprecedented levels of media propaganda and war hysteria.
Piers Morgan has intensified the war cries by invoking the ‘now-or-never’ deployment of ‘mighty’ NATO.
Nicola Sturgeon has even surpassed Boris Johnson, as well as Biden’s own clear message of non-NATO intervention into Ukraine, in urging that a ‘no-fly zone’ – an effective declaration of war on Russia, and start of World War III – be kept as an available option.
Watching, listening or reading almost any form of ‘mainstream’ news right now renders it all but impossible to gain anything but a one-sided view of events, and slanted opinion.
The BBC is an unconstrained UK/NATO propaganda platform, even its ‘once-reputed’ World Service now reduced to “straight-up stenography.”
Those seeking more ‘thoughtful’ coverage and analysis from outlets like Channel 4 News are also being dismally failed, its presenters registering the same Western-toned jingoism, its reports still safely boundaried and dutifully framed.
With this has come the most authoritarian purge ever seen across social media, overseen by US-backed big-tech.
Google/YouTube have announced a complete global ban on all ‘pro-Russian’ outlets and content. This includes the worldwide removal of RT and Sputnik, the taking down of Abby Martin’s entire Breaking the Set archive, and attempts to curtail the landmark film Ukraine on Fire by esteemed director Oliver Stone.
Every facet of Russian life, history and culture is now being attacked and cancelled – even Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky!
Joseph Massad captures it well:
“The Russophobic campaign straddles the entire western political spectrum, and it is fully endorsed by western liberals and cultural elites… [Having] unified western conservatives and liberals in the US and Europe, I feel confident in saying that most likely if you scratch many a white liberal, you will find a white supremacist Cold Warrior.”
And, of course, there is no shortage of Euro-backed provocative propaganda coming directly out of Kiev.
This is a war being waged on our very capacity to see, understand and think about the war being waged in Ukraine itself.
‘Just make it stop, deal with the problem, find a solution’
People, understandably, consumed by this relentless barrage of news and harsh images, the terrible killing, the human suffering, will say: ‘it must just stop, people are dying, something must be done, what’s the solution?
Yet how often have we come to hear these kind of plaintive cries and questions?
Recall ‘the problems’ of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Remember the framing and the anxious, notably liberal interventionist, calls: ‘what do we do’ about the ‘threats’ coming from these places – all of which turned out not to be about actual threats, but pretexts for Western invasion, aggression and expansion.
The framing over Ukraine as a ‘problem’ for the West and its peoples is no different. Powerful forces unleash war and conflict, with no apparent ways out, and the public are left wondering how to ‘find solutions’ to it all.
The ‘task’ is rendered all the more perplexing because, failed by the media, people have little or no understanding of how things actually get to these critical points. But they’re encouraged, nonetheless, to ‘partake’ in the same ‘problem-solving’ narrative.
The sequence and presentation of ‘the problem’ in this case runs, essentially, thus: the West/NATO create a gathering, dangerous problem with its expansionist push on Ukraine and Russia’s front line; after years of signalled discontent, Russia finally responds to the problem by massing troops along its border; the West/NATO ignore this final warning, foreclosing any immediate chance of off-setting the problem, seeing, instead, ways of exploiting the self-made problem by goading Russia into a bogged-down invasion; Russia duly invades, either miscalculating this entrapment, or calculating that it has no other answer to the problem; the West/NATO are now in full narrative control, presenting Putin as the problem, and urging public support for their further militaristic response to it; duly framed, a deceived and gaslit public embrace this version of the problem, seeing adherence to the West/NATO as their own dutiful way of serving to resolve it; having been effectively excluded from all the key context and information allowing actual comprehension of the problem, they either succumb to the available wall of establishment/media ‘information’, or resign themselves to never knowing or understanding how the problem ever came about; both types of public compliance/acceptance suit the Western/NATO narrative in its ongoing misrepresentation and cultivation of the problem.
It’s very easy from this point to excite and harness an already heightened public into the most dangerous and irrational forms of war-talk.
And, of course, that righteous narrative is ever-mindful to avoid any indictment or denigration of ‘our own’ criminal elite.
It’s still truly sobering to think how, in this febrile atmosphere, Putin can be so massively demonised, while Blair, Bush and their coteries, responsible for illegal invasions and much greater crimes against humanity, are being protected and feted.
Likewise, how easily popularised memes like ‘mad Putin’ and the ‘new Hitler’ come to displace coherent readings of the situation. Indeed, how readily informed analysts themselves become excluded from view and damned as ‘Putin apologists’.
In resisting such compliance, and in real problem-solving vein, it’s vital that we do seek out the contextual background to such crises.
In short, there can be no meaningful resolution without meaningful understanding of what needs to be resolved.
Rationality and resolutions
And this requires us, with rational mind, to confront the fundamental problem driving the war in Ukraine: US/NATO.
Rather than a body that should have been consigned to Cold War history following the fall of the Soviet Union and end of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has grown to become the world’s most dangerous force in raising the bar for big state confrontation, ‘hot-war’ and the prospect of nuclear annihilation.
The rational response would be to dismantle NATO, returning us to the immediate post-Cold War openings and possibilities of peaceful dividends.
But that level of rationality, in the service of reducing tensions and creating stability, cannot be contemplated by Western elites, and the corporate-military interests it serves. We’re locked, instead, into the intractable doctrine of zero-sum Western militarism, neoliberal capitalist expansion and ultimate imperialist control of the globe.
In this scenario, Russia and China, now encircled by US/NATO bases, will see no rational sense in ever risking incursions into its perceived spheres of influence, its very security – just as the US responded in 1962 over the Cuban missiles crisis.
All of which goes some way to explaining why, even against any rational reading of how Russia may now likely get bogged down in an Afghanistan-like quagmire, it still opted to invade Ukraine.
Assuming the likely continuation of NATO aggression by its US/Western sponsors, and conversant Russian resistance to it, the next best level of hope is for some rational form of concession and accommodation.
At the very minimum, this, for Russia, would require an authentic declaration of neutrality for Ukraine, and some form of independent/autonomous status for the Russian-identifying Donbas region, including Crimea.
Minsk 2 has now been rendered obsolete by the invasion. But it still contains the fundamentals of any new agreement.
With strong internal support from the populations of Donetsk and Luhansk, Moscow’s formal recognition of them, and now obvious military presence, Russia has these areas firmly within its geopolitical and economic sphere. What, after Ukraine’s relentless, Western-armed/trained, and failed, assault on them for eight years is to be gained now from its ongoing war there?
Formal relinquishing of any NATO membership would also remove the more existential issue of Russia’s border security. Like the rational acceptance of ‘lost’ land, this will require realistic acceptance of Russia’s ‘higher’ security concerns.
So, what would Ukraine get in return from any such accord?
Most immediately, it would offer some chance of a Russian withdrawal. It would save countless lives. It might allow the return of fleeing refugees to possibly still-intact homes. It could see Ukrainians securing and re-shaping their state. It may encourage the building of a new political landscape which understands the precarious nature of its position between two nuclear superpowers, planning accordingly for independent, peaceful relations. It would also avoid Ukraine having to expend the 2 per cent plus of its GDP, as expected of NATO membership, on wasteful and dangerous militarism.
Any process of de-Nazification in Ukraine, as insisted on by Russia, is a longer-term task. And, of course, it comes with recognition of such dark forces in other countries. But Ukraine could make meaningful efforts to acknowledge its own deep harbouring of Nazi elements and ideology.
Only three states voted against a recent UN resolution calling for Ukraine to end the glorification of Nazis and neo-Nazi forces within its country: tiny Palau, the US, and Ukraine itself. Both Washington and Kiev could make a useful start in rescinding that decision.
Zelensky: leader or led?
The question, ultimately, here for Ukrainians is whether it is rational to sue now for peace, save lives, protect homes, live in a secured, neutral state and relinquish futile claims to already-taken provinces; or to continue in devastating war-mode, sacrificing thousands more lives, greater infrastructure and the chance of regaining their country.
But why, many will say, should Ukraine succumb? Isn’t this just the surrendering of sovereignty and caving to Russian force? Perhaps. Yet why should patriotic ideals and spurious claims to land supersede more rational accommodations and the protection of human life?
Russia can only take Kiev if it ‘razes it to the ground’, Zelensky proclaims. Is he, himself, being grounded here in asserting this ‘ground-zero’ option?
It should be remembered that Zelensky was elected largely on a promise to resolve the fighting in Donbas, and to secure some kind of nominal peace with Russia. Yet, in pandering to right-nationalist pressures not to implement the articles of Minsk 2, thus continuing the conflict, Zelensky is really in no moral position to talk about sacrificing any more people or places.
In truth, Zelensky in office has been driven by a more familiar set of base interests and political motivations, in playing the populist field, cultivating capitalist oligarchs and reaching out to a ready array of US patrons; just as Putin represents and manages his own matrix of capitalist oligarchy.
And, as all the high-stake power-play and elite competition manifests into conflict and war, it’s the civilian and poorest classes in both countries who, as ever, become the real sacrificial fodder.
It’s remarkable how Zelensky has been cast as a figure of heroic resistance, rather than a Western-promoted pawn who has potentially gambled his country away. How readily he waxes Churchillian to Western political audiences. How eagerly they cheerlead him on to war. Wouldn’t the real heroic act here be to resist the rhetoric, and lofty encouragement, in the quest for real peace, life and stability?
It’s highly questionable whether Zelensky has the true political stature and integrity to make that crucial call. The tragedy is that it will take so much more death and destruction before Ukraine comes to this inevitable point anyway.
Just treatment and resolutions for all
Nor do we ever hear such invocations of sovereign rights and choices for other attacked states, such as the long-suffering peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, staggering catastrophes of the West’s, NATO’s and their allies’ making, populations decimated, their states and rights violated, their plight all but ignored by a Western-centred media.
Any country, any invaded or occupied people, has a legally-defined right to resist such aggression. Ukraine certainly does.
But so do occupied, besieged and suffering Palestinians – even where that right is always more difficult to enact.
Where is the ‘international community’s’ lofty support for them? Where is the offer of mass weaponry. Where are the blanket sanctions? Where is the emergency aid for those relentlessly bombed and trapped in the prison of Gaza? And why are those Palestinians resisting their oppressors forever labelled ‘terrorists’, while Ukrainian resistance is deemed patriotic heroism?
All aggressions should be condemned, the perpetrators of all human suffering through state-inflicted violence brought to account.
And it is beholden on honest media and observers of all state violence to provide consistent, open and searching accounts of how such violence comes to be visited on all those peoples.
As the killing across Ukraine intensifies, taking the lives of Ukrainians and Russians alike, any hope of a meaningful outcome to the conflict can only emerge from proper understanding and presentation of its core causes.
Further to previous suggested reading and viewing, much can be learned from this latest listing of informed explanations, analyses and efforts towards some hopeful, rational resolution.
Oliver Stone (director) film: Ukraine on Fire
Jonathan Cook: The West’s Hands in Ukraine Are As Bloody as Putin’s
Patrick Lawrence: The Casualties of Empire
Chris Hedges: Worthy and Unworthy Victims
Jonathan Steele: Ukraine’s Grim Choice: Why Surrender May be the Honorable Option
Margaret Kimberley: In Praise of “Whataboutism”
Navigating our Humanity: Ilan Pappé on the Four Lessons from Ukraine
Joe Glenton: Former NATO Soldier’s Alternative Guide to the War on Ukraine
Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis: Ukrainian neo-Nazis Pictured with UK-made Rocket Launchers
Alan MacLeod: Its Different, They’re White: Media Ignore Conflicts Around the World to Focus on Ukraine
Alan MacLeod: A short history of the United States deliberately bombing hospitals [Thread]
Declassified UK, editorial: Eight Dangers of the New Cold War
James Kelly: Let us resolve that this crisis must be the last time humanity ever faces a nuclear war scare. That means total nuclear disarmament
Jonathon Shafi: The SNP and the No Fly Zone
Communist Party of Britain: Statement on Ukraine
Joseph Massad: Western rush to ban everything Russian, from cats to Dostoevsky, smacks of totalitarianism