Ukraine War: That Same Old Refrain Sally Campbell
It is a continuing source of amazement to me that almost every mention of the war in Ukraine elicits a response to the tune of: “Well, we have to get rid of Putin and to end the war”. Or: “We can’t negotiate with Putin in power; he’s a madman”. Do people not see the pattern here? Were people not paying attention when the name was Saddam Hussein? Osama Bin Laden? Muammar Gadaffi? Bashar al-Assad? We can also examine the staggeringly long lists of US military interventions contained in David Swanson’s new book: The Monroe Doctrine at 200 and What to Replace it With (2023). It’s not only the idea of opposing the evil leader to justify yet another long and brutal war with no win for either side; lies are also told to motivate a compliant public to just keep quiet and focus on things closer to home. Lies like weapons of mass destruction (Iraq) and chemical warfare against one’s own people (Syria). Now the lie is that provocation by the US/NATO in stationing troops on Russia’s borders these last few years has nothing to do with the war. Or that the US- (and Canada-) assisted 2014 coup in Ukraine was all about democracy, and not about removing a democratically elected leader who tried to walk the line between Russia and the west. Or that NATO is not involved in placing the rest of us in peril of a nuclear war.
We need to understand that mainstream corporate media is not telling us how or why this war got started. We need to seek out independent sources to even find out that Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, on 7th September 2023, acknowledged that NATO provocation DID lead to the Russian invasion, saying: “First of all, it is historic that now Finland is member of the Alliance. And we have to remember the background. The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine (sic). Of course we didn’t sign that.” The Russian invasion occurred in February of 2022. Had NATO agreed to stop its encroachment on Russian borders, these countries might not be at war right now.
People cite the Crimean annexation as another reason for supporting this war. What most of us perhaps don’t remember (or even know, given mainstream media bias) is that Crimea was long part of Russia, only recently (collapse of USSR) made part of Ukraine by Yeltsin, and that the people of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia after the 2014 coup deposing Ukraine’s president. Crimea, like the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine, has a majority of Russian speakers who align with Russia. Do they want to fall under the grip of US world dominance?
We also conveniently forget the 2 Minsk Accords, which if implemented, could have prevented this ugly war. Why were they not implemented? They called for an autonomous Donbass region and a neutral Ukraine. What, to those of us who aren’t arms dealers, is problematic about a neutral Ukraine? We have past examples of Switzerland, Austria and Finland as neutral countries. This distributional thinking – that you need to be on one side or the other of nuclear armed states – is dangerous.
And we are clearly seeing western military presence in Asia as provocative and escalatory vis-à- vis China. Do we really need to poke that bear with whom we have had a healthy trading relationship?
For me, the most frustrating aspect of this entire way of thinking is our willful blindness of the fact that all wars eventually end. WW2 ended with negotiation after Hiroshima & Nagasaki. We know now that Japan was ready to surrender and that war could have ended without dropping nuclear bombs, but the bombs were dropped anyway. Stoltenberg also declared in his recent speech (above) that Europe is in its most precarious position since WW2. Why are we ignoring that?
We are also indoctrinated by media saying there must be a total victory. Total victory from the point of view of the west means Ukraine joins NATO; we know that is something Russia will never agree to. In realspeak that means keeping this war going for many more years, until Ukraine is utterly destroyed, and there is another war more important going on somewhere else.
We countries at the edge of nuclear-armed superpowers have to be able to get along with our nearest neighbours!
All wars end with negotiation after the fighting stops. First the fighting has to stop. We do not have to sanction any side but the side of life by pressuring for a ceasefire now. A ceasefire can happen overnight. A ceasefire gives breathing space and allows for people to create the conditions for negotiations (and compromise) to take place. Even Chair of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley compared this war to WW1, (speech to Press Club November, 2022) calling it “unwinnable”, and saying that if you can negotiate, do it. He was ignored by the White House.
We in Canada ought to be lobbying hard for ceasefire now. Let’s be on the right side of history.