In a 2014 article titled ‘Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault’, written after the US /NATO / EU coup which ousted Ukraine's admittedly corrupt but democratically elected government and Russia's subsequent annexation of Crimea, Professor John Mearsheimer argued that the U.S. should “publicly rule out” NATO membership for Ukraine, and work towards making the country an economically prosperous, “neutral buffer” between Russia and NATO. Now he claims that had the US State Department and the leaders of iother NATO powers heeded his warning the conflict now engulfing Ukrain and threatening to escalate into a US versus Russia bust up could have been avoided.
Instead of heeding Mearsheimer’s warning however, the U.S. State Department and The Pentagon stepped up its its policy of ignoring Russia’s concerns and provoking confrontation with Moscow. NATO troops began military exercises in Ukraine in September of 2014. By June 2020, NATO had accepted Ukraine as an “Enhanced Opportunities Partner”.
And as late as November of 2021, with Russia already warning that there would be retaliation if the USA and its allies continued to encourage Ukrainian persecution of Russian - speaking minorities in their country by ratifying a “Charter on Strategic Partnership” with the far - right government in Kiev that had been put into power by the 2014 coup. That charter declared that the U.S. “supports Ukraine’s right to decide its own future foreign policy course free from outside interference, including with respect to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO”.
What we take away from the quoted passage is that the USA and its NATO allies care about the principle of national sovereignty. Ukraine’s post-Maidan government aspired to join NATO, and Russia shouldn’t get a veto over this, the charter implies. Whether Ukraine eventually joins NATO is a matter for Ukraine and NATO, not for Moscow.
It's a pity the USA and its allies did not show so much concern for Ukraine's right to determine its own furture when the democratically elected goverenment per 2014 decided Ukraine's interests were best served by establishing closer ties with Moscow and turning away from NATO, the EU and the west.
The US government reiterated its claimed concern for the right of nations to determine their own course: America’s supposed concerns about the principle of national sovereignty were outlined even more clearly in a speech Biden gave on 15th February, shortly before Russia’s invasion. He declared:
Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate.
Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? But there’s a more cynical reason why the U.S. chose to antagonize Russia, with the aim of “overextending and unbalancing” the Russian economy and armed forces.
The only problem with this overarching regard for preserving the sovereignty of smaller nations is the way in which the U.S.A. flagrantly ignores this principle when the sovereign rights of a smaller nation such as Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq or going back even further Vietnam, become an obstruction to the USA's geopolitical ambitions. The most recent example the the reaction of Washington to the new security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands. Here’s what the White House had to say:
If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence or a military installation, the delegation noted that the United States would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.
In other words, the U.S. objects to China building military bases close to its ally, Australia, and if China does so, the U.S. will “respond accordingly” ragarless of the Solomon Islands' sovereign right to associate with whatever allies it wishes to.. Now, the US probably wouldn’t invade the Solomon Islands to prevent China building a military base there because they are aware of China's milirary capability (just as they have not directly intervened in Ukrain because that would invite retribution from Russia,), but it might decide to impose crushing sanctions or freeze Solomon Islands' assets held in western banks, with the aim of destroying the Solomon Islands’ economy.
Such sanctions would constitute a blatant violation of the Solomon Islands’ sovereign right to “set their own course and choose with whom they will associate”.
There are a few reasonable, and reasonably honest and consistent positions individuals, be they national leaders or ordinary punters like you, dear reader, and me can take in response to this situation.
1 One can be a pacifist and oppose all uses of force. But as Orwell
noted: “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are
committing violence on their behalf .” It would also require us to beble to resist the emotional blackmail of the propaganda campaign mounted by mainstream media to cast Russia as the evil bully unfairly oppressing helpless little Ukraine.
2 One can take the view that the use of force by states is merely a
routine tool of foreign policy that is to be judged in each case on its
merits. This would mean that after showing restraint in the face of almost daily provocations by Ukraine since 2014, Russia's response was to some extent justified even if we think it was excessive.
3 One can view the use of force as a last resort that should be regarded as unacceptable except in the case of extreme need, to be collectively approved in every case, or treated as illegal.
The UN order was largely during the placed on hold during the Cold War, because the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction took precedence in all major decisions. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of the unipolar US dominance in the 1990s, there was a chance for it to be established. All that was required was for the sole hyperpower to show that it would agree to be bound by it.
Sadly, the U N was revealed to be the tool of a shadowy cabal of corporate and political players led by the neocons and liberal interventionists, and inent on establishing global government. US foreign policy was driven by those who declared “we don’t need your stinking rules based order, we make the rules”, and who took the view that such restrictions should only apply to others. Hence we had Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria.
What we are left with after all the virtue signalling and wishful thinking are filtered out is that Russia’s war is reasonably justifiable (although high risk), based on Russia’s need to secure its southern border against the long term encroachment of a demonstrably militarily aggressive and ideologically universalist military alliance.
Russia is justified in claiming it has tried every alternative, and been contemptuously rebuffed by a US sphere that thought Russia had no choice but to lie back and accept the NATO military boot stamping down on its face forever (to borrow a phrase from Orwell. Realists (and I admit to being one of them, thought Russia would not invade because it would lose in the long run, as a result of the costs of war, resistance and sanctions. Russophobes and Globalist hoped Russia would invade, because they thought that the U.S.A. and NATO would pile in on the side of Ukraine, defeat Russia and the global corporations that make up the Military Industrial Complex would get their hands on Russia's vast reserves of natural resources.
But Russia clearly made different calculations. Mostly in the economic sphere, where they obviously knew that the consequences would be economic warfare by the US sphere, which they have been forewarned of and had plenty of time to prepare for.
So far, on balance things look favourable for the Russians. In the pure military sphere, they can’t really lose, it’s just a matter of how long it takes to grind down the Ukrainian resistance which would have collapsed already were it not propped up by the supply of western high tech weaponry. In the far more important political and economic areas, it appears Russian support for the war is reasonably solid, there’s no chance of real dissent (helped by the rabid Russophobia displayed in the US sphere, and the destruction by sanctions of the major political centres of resistance to the regime’s power), and economically, with the help of allies like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Serbia and Turkey and two of the handful of nations too big to be bullied by Washington, China and India, they seem better equipped to weather the consequences of economic war than Europe.
Blame for the war rests on those who needlessly provoked it. The US sphere for pushing NATO membership gratuitously eastwards, imposing a rational limitation on NATO (the North ATLANTIC Treaty Organisation to those nations that actually have a coastline on the Atlantic ocean. The neo - Nazi fanatics in the Ukraine who are simply not prepared to live in peace with the Russians within their borders were empowered by the belief that they had NATO and EU backing and once Ukraine was accepted as a NATO member would be able to proke an attack by Russia that would trigger a military response from the full NATO membership and wipe out the hated enemy.
As so often, the pursuit of maximalist goals ends in disaster.
It has been pointed out that if a federal structure had been adopted for the post-Soviet construct that was the modern Ukrainian state, it might have survived. Too late now it seems, Ukraine is heading for partition.