Originally published at CounterPunch.org
It’s impossible for either side to see, but Russia and NATO depend on each other.
Whichever side you’re on, you
* agree with weapons-maker propaganda that the available actions in the world are (1) war, and (2) doing nothing;
* you ignore the historical record of nonviolent action succeeding more often than war;
* and you imagine militarism to be required completely independently from considering what the results will be.
It’s possible for some people to glimpse the stupidity and counterproductive nature of war as long as they look at old wars, and don’t apply any lessons learned to current wars. An author in Germany of a book about the stupidity of World War I is right now busy telling people to stop learning lessons from him and applying them to Ukraine.
Many are able to look somewhat honestly at the 2003-begun stage of the U.S. war on Iraq. The pretended “weapons of mass destruction” according to CIA predictions were only likely to be used if Iraq were attacked. So, Iraq was attacked. A big part of the problem was supposedly how much “those people” hated “us,” so, although the surest way to make people hate you was to attack them, they were attacked.
NATO has spent decades hyping, exaggerating, and lying about a Russian threat, and simply drooling over the possibility of a Russian attack. Inevitably knowing that it would radically boost NATO membership, bases, weapons, and popular support by attacking — even if the attack actually demonstrated its military weakness — Russia proclaimed that because of the NATO threat it must attack and enlarge the NATO threat.
Of course, I’m the lunatic for suggesting that Russia should have used unarmed civilian defense in Donbas, but is there anyone alive who thinks NATO would have been able to add all these new members and bases and weapons and U.S. troops without the radical escalation of the war in Ukraine by Russia? Will anyone pretend that NATO’s biggest benefactor is Biden or Trump or anyone other than Russia?
Sadly, there are a lot of people who do imagine, just as ridiculously, that NATO expansion wasn’t needed to create the Russian invasion, that in fact more NATO expansion would have prevented it. We’re supposed to imagine that NATO membership has protected numerous nations from Russian threats that have never been hinted at by Russia, and to completely erase from all human awareness the nonviolent action campaigns — the singing revolutions — that some of those nations used to defeat Soviet invasions and kick out the Soviet Union.
NATO expansion made the current war possible, and further NATO expansion as a response to it is insane. Russian warmaking drives NATO expansion, and further Russian warmaking is a lunatic’s response to NATO. Yet here we are, with Lithuania blockading Kaliningrad. Here we are with Russia putting nukes into Belarus. Here we are with the U.S. saying not one word about the violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty by Russia, because it’s long had nukes in 5 other countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Turkey) and has just put them into a sixth (UK) and had put bases capable of launching nukes into Poland and Romania as a key step in the steady and predictable built up to this mess.
Russian dreams of quickly conquering Ukraine and dictating the results were plain nuts if actually believed. U.S. dreams of conquering Russia with sanctions are sheer madness if actually believed. But what if the point is not to believe in these things so much as to counter hostility with hostility, having taken a principled stand within one’s head against acknowledging any alternatives?
It doesn’t matter whether attacking Ukraine will work! NATO continues its relentless advance, refuses to negotiate, and aims eventually at attacking Russia, so our choices are to attack Ukraine or to do nothing! (This despite NATO’s need for Russia as an enemy, despite the desire spelled out in a RAND study and by the USAID to provoke Russia into a war in Ukraine and not to attack Russia, this despite the fact that it would surely backfire.)
It doesn’t matter whether sanctions will work. They’ve failed dozens of times, but it’s a question of principle. One must not do business with the enemy, even if sanctions strengthen the enemy, even if they create more enemies, even if they isolate you and your club more than the target. It doesn’t matter. The choice is escalation or doing nothing. And even if actually doing nothing would be better, “doing nothing” simply means an unacceptable choice.
Both sides are thus mindlessly escalating toward nuclear war, convinced there are no off-ramps, yet pouring black paint on the windshield for fear of seeing what lies ahead.
I went on a Russian U.S. radio show on Wednesday and tried to explain to the hosts that Russia’s warmaking was as evil as anyone else’s. They wouldn’t stand for that claim, of course, though they made it themselves. One of the hosts denounced the evils of the NATO assault on the former Yugoslavia and demanded to know why Russia shouldn’t have the right to use similar excuses to do the same thing to Ukraine. Needless to say, I replied that NATO should be condemned for its wars and Russia should be condemned for its wars. When they go to war with each other, they should both be condemned.
This being the actual real world, there is of course nothing equal about any two wars or any two militaries or any two war lies. So I will be weeding out the emails responding to this article screaming at me for equating everything. But being antiwar (as these radio hosts repeatedly claimed to be, in between their comments supporting war) actually requires opposing wars. It seems to me that the very least that war supporters could do would be to stop claiming to be antiwar. But that won’t be enough to save us. More is needed.
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