In a rumbling echo of the Cold War, Ukraine is a proxy between two fading former superpowers. Russia is hell bent on regaining territory it lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a morally and socially imploded America is hell bent on asserting that it's still "the leader of the free world," and the protector of the UN and international order. It's a recipe for world war.
"I am here today not to start a war, but prevent one," our smug Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Thursday when he parachuted into the UN Security Council. He had to temerity to reprise Colin Powell's lie at the Security Council before the fait accompli of United States invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ditto a relic of the Cold War, President Joe Biden, when he said on Friday he's convinced Putin has decided Russia will invade Ukraine, and that it's a "war of choice."
The egregiously immoral and illegal Iraq war killed hundreds of thousands of people, destabilized the region, and gave rise to a wave of global terrorism that it was supposedly designed to prevent. For the United States to stand on the collapsed scaffolding of its bygone moral authority is shameful and treacherous.
Am I drawing a moral equivalence between the US invasion of Iraq, and the despotic Putin regime threatening to invade Ukraine? You're damn right I am.
The fact is neither America, which retains the largest economy in the world, nor Russia, which has an economy the size of Italy's, matter with respect to the future of humanity. Sure, they can still reduce the Earth to radioactive ash, but what matters is what's true in the human heart, never what's false and evil in the human mind.
The American corporate media is salivating over the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Why, besides entertainment and diversionary value?
Biden gave the game away when he spoke on Friday of the first signs of "bipartisanship" in the United States since before the Obama interregnum, and how the US is in "lock step with the EU and NATO in determination, unity and resolve." Nothing like a war to unite Americans, and restore NATO and the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. But it won't work this time.
I was in Leningrad in January 1990 as Vladimir Putin began his political rise in the city Peter the Great built. I had been invited by high-level people in Moscow to explore economic cooperation between a collapsing and nearly destitute Soviet Union and the United States. I found smart and educated Russians everywhere I went, warm and hospitable people looking to Americans to show them how the market could work in Russia.
The Berlin Wall had fallen only months earlier, and my American partners and I agreed the end of the USSR would be measured in months, not years as nearly all Western analysts at the time believed. Our motto was: "Let's combine the best with the best of former superpower enemies to bring about an ecologically and ethically sound market."
It sounds absurdly naive now, but we had the backing of billion-dollar companies and individuals in California, from emerging tech to aerospace to consumer goods. And for a few brilliant weeks, both in Russia and America, it looked like my vision could be realized.
Besides the apparatchiks and nomenklatura, I met the best of Russians, people who weren't communist party members, and didn't even believe in Gorbachev. But in the end, the key person said nyet to my vision. She took the job I got her in Washington, obtained a doctorate, and has had a career at Columbia and the Harriman Institute.
So we got the worst with the worst -- Putin and Trump. President Biden, like President Obama before him, is the last gasp of American exceptionalism. It was still real but squandered in Barack Obama's case, but it's now delusional in Biden's.
George Herbert Walker Bush, and his Secretary of State, the Mephistophelian James Baker, promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand beyond unified Germany if the USSR allowed the eastern European countries to be free from the Soviet yoke. Now Ukraine, which had been part of Russia as far back as Peter the Great can remember, wants to join Europe again. But does it have to join the zombie military organization of NATO?
As the New York Times obtusely put it, "Mr. Putin has reinvigorated an alliance that spent years confused about its purpose once it lost the adversary it was formed to contain, the Soviet Union." Along with Putin's revanchism however, that's just set the stage for world war.
Democratic and Republican hawks are coming out of the woodwork extolling the obscenely bloated US military, saying inane things like, "This is why we spend so much on the military, not to make war, but as a deterrent, to stop war."
Then, out of the other side of their mouths as Putin oversees ballistic missile exercises, they invoke the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and exclaim how this battle for Ukraine could easily turn into a "global war."
The Biden Administration is giving a global lesson in how being right can be wretchedly wrong. Out of the American darkness for which they are utterly un-self-knowing, they are bringing about the very thing they fear the most.
The Ukrainian people rightly feel they have the right to live free, in the way they want to live, and not be told by a dictator next door that they must live the way Russians live - in fear and cynicism. President Zelenskyy has been showing true leadership in repeating, "We are not going to live in fear, for if we do, they have already won."
Ukraine's right to self-determination is not synonymous with outmoded notions of sovereignty however. Rooted in the atavism of tribalism/nationalism, "sovereignty" is still giving rise to the ancient human sickness: "I am ready to kill or be killed for my country."
To a religious philosopher, this terrible convergence also raises the question of whether there's an inverse and perverse trajectory to human history. Is man utterly incorrigible?
Contrary to American notions of the endless malleability of humans and human events, some things become inevitable, like the crash of a freight train on a track with sharp turns going too fast down a mountain.
In racing headlong into the past, the West has reached the end of militaristic deterrence and the "unity of NATO," as well as the end of the post-World War II international order largely built by the USA. More importantly, in our global society, humankind has reached the end of tribalism/nationalism, and the old conceptions of the supremacy of separate nation-states.
Everyone on Earth will be affected by this war. Despite Biden grimly declaring, "Putin is not remotely contemplating using nuclear weapons," there is the real and present danger of their use. The dwindling minority of people that care about the future of humanity have to prepare for the worst.
After the war, however bad it is human beings can change the basic course of man. That requires a psychological revolution that ends man's ancient, pathological pattern of tribalism and its modern expression, nationalism.
It begins within the individual. If just one per cent of people around the world no longer emotionally identify with particular groups but feel themselves first and last to be human beings, this will finally be the war that ends all wars.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. email@example.com
Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.
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