The Ukraine situation was predictable for anyone who paid attention

Wow. Some actual sense on Ukraine. And from The Guardian, no less? I’m actually impressed. This is well worth a read!

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It might be also described as incompetence and arrogance given the risks and harm to people involved, but I wonder if the U.S. position over the years is comfortable with Russia’s responses (though maybe didn’t predict invading all of Ukraine as opposed to only Russian leaning territories as in past instances). After all, the U.S. economy and energy supply isn’t exposed to this the way Germany’s and much of the rest of the E.U.'s is.

I recall speaking with a co-worker at my last job after he’d read a certain book about U.S. foreign policy I can’t recall the title of. From reading it, he’d said we should never take at face value anything the U.S. government says publicly about foreign policy, and that the real foreign policy motivations are quite different to the show. No doubt this is obvious to you. After all you had played previously the fuck the E.U. clip from Victoria Nuland.

There’s a statement President Obama made in an interview in the Atlantic that stuck with me, where he was defending his (perceived to be weak) handling of Syria’s civil war. The interview has him express how he wanted to reduce U.S. involvement in the Middle East to focus more on building alliances in Asia that would compete with China for influence in the region, the “pivot to Asia” as it’s generally referred to (and how to interpret this recent visit to Taiwan in light of that?). He’d stated that Russia intervening in Syria he felt was a mistake and fine with him in that Russia’s mistakes further reduce their sphere of influence and help the U.S. to focus on regions our government feels are of greater strategic interest (China’s growth in influence):

None of this is to condone anything the Russian government is doing, in case that isn’t clear, but assuming nukes don’t fly off, and allowing for U.S. politicians having some humanity and compassion for those harmed, there’s nevertheless a couple things here the present crop are likely quite pleased with: 1. Biden gets to rally around opposing “the enemy” to help his and the Democratic party’s low popularity coming into midterm elections, 2. Germany deciding to spend 2% on its military, as Trump (and probably all of U.S. foreign policy establishment, though they might have expressed it differently) had wanted, 3. the pipeline on the way to being cancelled, 4. greater business for U.S. military contractors and energy companies …

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Even more: We’re cancelling Nord Stream 2 and are building shipping terminals to buy LNG “on the world market”. Which means “from the US”. Which was originally Trump’s plan and which Biden has now apparently taken over.

You should never take anything a government says on foreign policy on face value. That’s exactly what the purest form of propaganda is: The government always portraits their own decisions in the best possible light. In the current case here in the EU: We didn’t do anything wrong, it’s all Putin’s fault, what a penis!

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I think 4 is the big point here, because a lot of the US economy is based on making weapons and wars. So if there’s a war somewhere, it’s usually good for the US economy. People might be carrying AKMs and AK-74s in Ukraine, but look at all the OpsCore helmets and 5.11 and First Spear plate carriers and rigs on display…

Point 1 is a classic. In historical science we call this “primacy of foreign policy”. This was as powerful in Ancient Rome as it is today. If you have domestic problems with the people who vote or support you, start or join a war and suddenly people are worried about other things. This is exactly why Hitler started WW2, BTW. It had much less to do with hate than people thing. It was very politically calculated.

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I can’t resist observing the fact that NATO has had a common border with USSR (and then Russia) since the day it was officially established in 1949, and up until now it bothered no one, as far as I understand.

Yes, the Russian propaganda makes a big fuss about NATO closing in on Russian borders, but the fact is, NATO has been on the Russian border forever. So no, this one is neither the reason, nor, obviously, a valid excuse for what’s going on.

Not that there are any valid excuses.

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I don’t think it’s about the common border. It’s about pushing the Iron Curtain from its original position

all the way to the border of Russia.

The Soviet Union was engineered by Lenin and later Stalin to include buffer states (the GDR, the Polish People’s Republic, the Ukrainian SSR) that could be sacrificed to protect the actual Russian territory. Kinda how the NATO plan was to give up more than half of Germany (the Northern German Lowlands and anything east of the Fulda Gap) in case of a conventional attack.

And while the Warsaw Pact was disbanded, NATO wasn’t. Now these buffer states have been orientating themselves, one after the other, with NATO and the EU.

I’m not looking at this from the point of view of excuses. Without judging if this war is justified in your own personal ethical and moral system (it is not in mine) there are valid geopolitical reasons for why this happened. And I do think NATO and EU states like Germany and the US played a part by pushing for regime change in Ukraine.

To further clarify: I also initially thought Euromaidan was a good cause. I think I said so a lot on Linux Outlaws when it happened.

But I was young, dumb and naive. I failed to see the consequences this course would have. The difference between me and say, the German foreign minister, is that I was just a politics student and not tasked with running the fucking foreign policy at the time.

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I’ve created this visualisation for the Private Citizen show notes to make things even clearer:

I will quote the paragraph from your Fab Industries post again:

The West forced regime change in Ukraine in 2014, the Russians responded, both sides escalated again and again over the last few years and now Russia invaded. This is a tragedy. It is a failure of diplomacy that is as much the fault of Vladimir Putin as it is the fault of us in Germany and the US who elected warmongers and people who know more about gender policy than they know about foreign policy.

Forced regime change? In this Ukraine that absolutely in no uncertain terms have rejected the Russian model for their future and are willing to die for that decision? I think we can agree on US and German faults, but I think we will disagree on where the faults seem to be. And no matter what, there is only one person responsible here for the decision to invade another country. This guy…

And what the heck has gender policy to do with anything?
That was a rhetorical question. Unfortunately, I have seen plenty of other people with “critical thinking” in their bios talking about the fall of civilization due to gender politics being “a thing”. Looking forward to your reasoning here!?

I know you really, really hate the American Military Industrial Complex, and all its ills, and the many decades of geopolitical dominance in our part of the world and your moral purity may be stronger than mine. I would just like you to present your way out of not being reliant on a US-backed or Russia-backed energy supply, for example? How is that going to work? What third path is there available, feasibly, for Europe not to fall under the sway of either? I know we talked about this before with the EU, and the conclusion must be that the EU will have to stand on its own feet, not just across trade. And we need representative democracy, with all its imperfections, to carry that burden. And what can we do, right now, against a screaming injustice like bombing a country into submission? So, Fab, this is just to say, I really, really hope you are not going to basically rant your way through an episode of The Private Citizen with the tagline “The Gender Political Virtue-Signaling NATO Dogs Made Putin Do It! He Couldn’t Help Himself!”.

There will be plenty of moral agony in the months to come for ordinary people like me and I am thinking I might end up being classified as a “dogmatic, war-mongering swine” by the noises you have made so far… hoping to be proved wrong, of course.

How is it that toppling an elected government is only bad when that government is on a course that one doesn’t like? Euromaidan was essentially an armed insurrection. If this had happened in Washington after the election of Biden, you’d have gone berserk.

Our foreign minister in from the Green party. As far as I can tell from what they said in the run-up of the last election, gender politics were more important to them then fixing relations with Russia or foreign policy concerning the war that’s been ongoing in Ukraine since 2014.

I don’t hate anything. I’m simply pointing out that their economy is based on war.

Diplomacy. Sending weapons is the wrong way. We’ve seen this in Yugoslavia and in Afghanistan. I had hoped Germany was through with this idiocy.

I don’t even understand the first bit about why you would think that. What have I said that makes you think my stance is “NATO made Putin do it”? All I am saying is a war is always created by both sides. Versailles made Hitler possible. That doesn’t mean the people who engineered Versailles gassed Jews. But it means that to understand Hitler, you must understand Versailles. To understand why Putin attacked Ukraine, you must understand what the EU and NATO did wrong.

As I said, I probably don’t have your moral clarity to understand the comparison.

So, how can a diplomatic solution, outside of demands of NATO, meet his requirements for de-nazification of Ukraine? Stopping a genocide?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-24/full-transcript-vladimir-putin-s-televised-address-to-russia-on-ukraine-feb-24

And let’s not forget that Putin sees himself as the person to deliver the “final solution to the Ukraine question” - as was published in anticipation of Ukraine falling within days - retracted, but caught in the web archive:

“Final Solution to the Ukranian Question”. Where to start with diplomacy on this one? Legitimate concerns that Ukraine should never have existed as a country (never mind changes in government). Was always part of Russia? Let’s hear where diplomacy would go with this one. I don’t think this is talking in war terms, with two sides deciding to have it out because of irreconcilable structural disagreements. If you read into Putin’s speech and what is being propagated from the Kremlin, there’s a genocide waiting on either side of this and they have to do it first?

Our good friend, the French philosopher Camus couldn’t have written a better impossible choice scenario… It looks like an absurd choice being presented, to me at least.

Anyway, what do I know.

Podcast episode on this topic is out: The Private Citizen 109: Agitprop Ahoy!

OK, I haven’t read Fab’s 2 links that are at the start of this post yet, but I am headed there next. I am going to follow this topic with great interest. I spent a lot of time in Donetsk, Crimea, and Luhansk between 2008 and 2012. Enough time that they stopped stamping my passport after filling several pages. I think I have rather strong feelings on this topic, and they seem to be inline with Fab’s comments here, but I also realize that there is a split between my friends in that area that puts some on each side of this debate.

I expect we are going to see a very one sided story on this in the media. We saw that with the Maidan protests, and what I saw on the news did not coincide with my experiences in Georgia and South Osetia in 2008 either. Honestly, it was that event in 2008 that lead to my abandoning main stream media and taking the path that has brought me here.

Full disclosure, I have not been back to Ukraine or the effected regions since 2012, and I know things can change in 10 years, but that does not right the wrongs the media was committing already back then.

Can you talk a little bit about your experience there? I suspect this would be interesting insight. If you don’t want to do it publicly, feel free to send me an email.

I think it is worth bringing in people who have lived experience of the area, and who knows more about the nuances on the ground. And, with respect, fairly recent or current knowledge.

Also, see “Westsplainig”:

E.g. below quote about exceptionalism which also could be applied to our discussion previously - just exchange American exceptionalism with “two Northern European Dudes”

“Paradoxically, the problem with American exceptionalism is that even those who challenge its foundational tenets and heap scorn on American militarism often end up recreating American exceptionalism by centering the United States in their analyses of international relations. It is, in Gregory Afinogenov’s words, a “form of provincialism that sees only the United States and its allies as primary actors.” Speaking about Eastern Europe and Eastern Europeans without listening to local voices or trying to understand the region’s complexity is a colonial projection. Here the issue of NATO is particularly telling.”

I only contributed my feedback because Fab had asked about my experience on the ground there, which was part of the build up to the start of this event, which has been going on for 8 years now. I did not indicate which side, if any, I associate with. I still talk to my associates there weekly. I couldn’t help but notice though that you had no issue associating with a side and “westsplaining” to Fab. But point taken, I will not contribute any further information from them here.

Hi SteveB,

I’m aware I was falling into talking over the head of people from the region and the “westsplaining” applies to me as well.

As for your decision not to say anymore is of course up to you.

Just for clarity, the “two Northern European Dudes" here would be me and Fab.