The anti-Russian crusade is unfolding within the larger context of the next stage of recalibrating the world order that began with the unravelling of the former Soviet Union, (1989-91). Russia’s post-Soviet resurgence and the stunning rise of the Peoples Republic of China paralleled the debilitating impact of NATO’s military debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. The relative weakening of the US-led “rules based international order” – an euphemism for good old Imperialism – frayed EU nation’s umbrella of American political hegemony and military dominance.
The European nations, shepherded by yester-year’s colonialists Britain, France and Germany, rely on US economic power to maintain their neo-colonial institutions, which are indispensable to sustain the stability of their domestic political systems – legacies largely of the post-WWII Marshal Plan and subsequent US economic and technological supremacy. An emasculation of US hegemony portends a frightening political future for EU’s elites who, therefore, willingly joined coalitions to buttress Washington’s foreign military ventures. The unequal alliance is not without internal contradictions, which surfaced for instance when the US torpedoed France’s submarine deal with Australia. Paris went through face-saving motions of protesting the “stab in the back” but obediently came to heel behind the Washington-sponsored 2014 coup in Ukraine and caved in to the Washington-controlled 2017 Quad or “Asian NATO”, which the US invented to confront the Peoples Republic of China on the South China Sea.
Unsurprisingly, Washington has been able “to bend the policies of European governments to its will” and “has shown perfectly the real place that the EU has on the world stage,” opined Russia’s Foreign Minister. The crass dismissal of EU nations’ elites by a US Assistant Secretary of State (under President Barack Obama’s watch) had underlined the contempt. After the dissolution of the USSR (1989-91), Washington extended its sphere of influence eastwards by integrating into NATO – a fig leaf for US armed forces – three Warsaw Pact countries in 1999 and seven republics that peeled out of the former USSR including Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia bordering Russia in 2004. The expansionism is a gamble Brussels, trotting behind Washington, has little choice but to join since EU’s elites are enfeebled supplicants at Washington’s Court.
Moscow, staggering back on its political feet after the USSR, lacked sufficient strength to seriously oppose NATO’s advance. Nevertheless it swiftly formed the 2001 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) together with China and four former Soviet republics, and followed up with the 2002 Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) or Tashkent Treaty, a Russia-led military alliance consisting of six members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. By the time of the 2007 Munich Security Conference, however, a more confident President Vladimir Putin reminded President George W. Bush: “The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place” and stressed its irrelevance in today’s “multipolar” world.
In 2008, Putin cautioned NATO that its Bucharest Declaration’s pledge to invite Georgia and Ukraine is “a direct threat to Russia” and his Foreign Minister despaired it’s a “huge strategic mistake”; and Putin repeated his displeasure as recently as last year (2021).
In Moscow’s reckoning Ukraine’s government presents the immediate threat since Kyiv is infiltrated by the Far-Right ultra-nationalists. They are led by the White Supremacist Azov Battalion, spawned by the Neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine. The Battalion’s members sport uniforms awash with Nazi regalia, including Swastikas. The Ukraine government is the only one to officially integrate the Neo-Nazi cadre into its National Guard in 2014. West’s media and the US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE) were the first to file stories of Ukraine’s Far-Right nationalists and not the Russian media. The Azov Battalion was led by Andriy Biletsky, who had founded the Patriot of Ukraine; he spelled out Ukraine’s mission: “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” (The original post has since been taken down.) Ukraine’s hard right nationalism subsequently spread and deepened as its cadre slithered into key institutions of the State – the army and the police – and Biletsky rose to be a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament. He claims to have stepped down from the leadership of Azov Battalion.
Moscow suspects Neo-Nazi/Far-Right, though a minority, controls Kyiv and is turning the government into a staging post to manipulate a future regime change in Moscow. The members of NATO need not feign surprise and shock that the 2008 Bucharest Declaration they engineered and the 2014 Far-Right coup in Kyiv they sponsored and armed effectively set the course for Russia’s military intervention in February 2022.
Allegations that Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine is the first step in Russia’s Eurasian imperialism are far from convincing despite the formation of the intergovernmental SCO and militarily weak CSTO. Russia may well intend to carve out its own sphere of influence, following the United States’ six key foreign policy doctrines over more than a century, from Monroe to Bush; but the lack of concrete evidence of Russia’s geostrategic schemes throws cold water on NATO’s claims. So, within a week of the Russian troops crossing the border into Ukrane, an analyst sporting a Muslim (not an Anglo-American) name reported on March 1st the discovery, quite coincidentally of course, of a “secret…previously unreported internal US military analysis” that supposedly confirms “Putin’s 15-year plan to dominate Eurasia”. The document allegedly dated 2011, conveniently about eleven years earlier, has been “buried in the 5 million strong corpus of Stratfor emails”, claimed the analyst.
It is impossible to miss the eerie similarity to US intelligence agencies’ unfounded accusations about Iraq’s non-existent WMDs in order to justify invading that country in 2003.
Many critics are genuinely moved by the war’s human costs; others, ill informed, railed against military aggression (“there is no good war”). Those who meekly colluded with NATO’s military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq have joined the chorus to retrieve their political credibility by vociferously attacking Russia’s foray into Ukraine. Most criticisms, though formally valid, commit the blunder of lifting Russia’s intervention out of its historical and contemporary contexts and, therefore, lack conviction.
More to the point, Tariq Ali and Noam Chomsky are articulate as ever to dissect the events leading up to, and issues surrounding, the Ukraine Crisis. Their analyses make stimulating reading but go hardly beyond cataloguing the rights and wrongs of each side and then suggesting possible scenarios for resolution based on individual politicians adopting different choices. Ali’s assertion that NATO forces are on “auto pilot” and Chomsky’s depiction of US aggression as “a zombie policy — a dead strategy that is wandering around pretending to be alive” tend to miss, unintentionally or not, the systemic forces at work.
Analysts who decry Moscow’s ambitions over Eurasia are curiously silent about the US Neo-Conservatives’ project for global domination, detailed by the former US security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski two and half decades ago. His 1997 book The Grand Chessboard asserted the US could rule over a post-USSR unipolar world almost indefinitely, a belief apparently spawned by Francis Fukuyama’s earlier prediction that “Western liberal democracy [is] the final form of human government” in his 1992 volume The End of History and the Last Man. The two publications arguably constitute together the Mein Kampf of the United States’ Far-Right.
The title of Fukuyama’s book attracted three psychologists – two from Harvard University, one from University of Virginia – who published their findings in 2013. Their research pointed to a psychological condition they named “The End of History Illusion”, detected in individuals who “believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future” since they seem to “regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives.” They underestimate future changes and, consequently, undercut their ability to make common sense, let alone rational, assessments in the present.
Arguably Fukuyama applied the individual’s predilection to believe “the present as a watershed moment” to the study of the history of nations and averred that Western liberal democracy is the pinnacle of social evolution. He grossly underestimated human ingenuity; and encouraged some to conclude that the Neo-Cons Brzezinski and Fukuyama, mesmerized by the End-of-History Illusion, may have been unhinged – an assessment not entirely unwarranted in the light of former President George Bush Snr’s well known portrayal of Neo-Cons as “the Crazies”. Fukuyama projected the Illusion on to world history and Brzezinski, following close behind, found comfort in his strategy for a permanent US global domination apparently to turn the End-of-History Illusion into reality.
In his Chessboard, Brzezinski drew inspiration from “Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin [who] shared the assumption that Eurasia is the center of the world and that he who controls Eurasia controls the world. A half century later, the issue has been redefined: will America’s primacy in Eurasia endure?” With the USSR swept aside, he schemed to entrench US global supremacy permanently – an ambition that inertsected Fukuyama’s The End of History and not unlike Adolf Hitler’s End-of-History Illusion – a delusionary pseudo-messianic prophecy of a One-Thousand-Year-Reich.
The illusion was seemingly within grasp in the first post-USSR decade, of the 1990s. The US was the undisputed super power and Brzezinski contended the US Empire is unique because of its mastery over four crucial dimensions: military, economy, technology and culture that dovetail with capitalism’s dynamic, innovative and flexible free market to guarantee “the longevity and stability of America’s global primacy.” In short, he asserted conditions that withered the earlier empires – Roman, Chinese, Mongol and recent European Empires – would not apply to the US.
He added, whether the US “prevents the emergence of a dominant and antagonistic Eurasian power — remains central to America’s capacity to exercise global primacy.”
However, history reveals that conditions for the rise and fall of empires are unique to each one. The US’ military outings in the second post-USSR decade in Afghanistan and Iraq to realize the End-of-History Illusion ended in disastrous failures; they revealed the US mastery of the military dimension, despite the resort to robotic warfare, remains just that – an illusion. More to the point, the gradual degrading of competitive capitalism’s dynamism into monopoly capitalism’s stagflation, the simultaneous deepening of the US Permanent War Economy accompanied by the growth of the military-industrial-finance complex and attendant political corruption may indicate the internal conditions for decline unique to the US Empire are very likely maturing, in keeping with the Laws of History.
The events unfolding in Ukraine and the South China Sea confirm that Brzezinski’s ideological clones in the State Department, intelligence agencies (and elsewhere) have closely followed his prescription, with some adjustments of course to accommodate current realities, for bringing the two main Eurasian challengers – Russia and China – to heel.
Ukraine is the leitmotif in the Brzezinskian Project to tame Russia – it’s mentioned 94 times in the Chessboard for good reasons.
The access to and control over Ukraine, argued Brzezinski, is fundamental to impede the resurgence of the post-Soviet “weak Russia”. He had worried, “if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, where Odessa had served as Russia’s vital gateway to trade with the Mediterranean and the world beyond, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia” and, we may add, challenging the US Empire.
The bulk of Russia’s energy exports overland to Europe – an important revenue stream – flows through pipelines across Ukraine. What’s more the Russian Black Sea fleet has its main, Sebastopol base in Crimea, a part of Ukrainian territory (until Moscow recently reclaimed the Province). Drawing Ukraine into NATO would deny Russia its economic and strategic assets and debilitate Moscow. Stratfor, a web-based geopolitical intelligence platform, said to have close links to US spy agencies, concluded thus in 2004: “without Ukraine Russia’s political, economic and military survivability are called into question…Without Ukraine, Russia is doomed to a painful slide into geopolitical obsolescence and ultimately, perhaps even non-existence.” In other words, the Russian Federation would be reduced to a US vassal, subject to regime change and probably disintegrate leaving Moscow as an inconsequential entity.
All this could be achieved without firing a shot, urged Stratfor: “[i]t would not take a war to greatly damage Russian interests, simply a change in Ukraine’s geopolitical orientation”. NATO’s invitation to Ukraine and Georgia at the 2008 Bucharest Summit and the Washington-sponsored 2014 Coup in Kyiv are steps that accord with Brzezinski’s vision.
The Brzezinskian Project to establish a unipolar world is the indispensable and proximate historical context for Moscow taking Crimea back from Ukraine in 2014 and Russia’s 2022 military intervention.
As the Ukrainian Crisis spins out of control, Washington is dredging up two tried but failed strategies. First, in an Orwellian twist, the Brzezinskian Project for US global domination is presented as a democracy bulwark against Russia’s ambition to build its Eurasian Empire. Ushering democracy in through covert regime changes – the so-called colour revolutions – or, in the last resort, on the backs of battle tanks is the 20th century version of the 18th and 19th century European colonialism’s civilising mission and have similarly failed.
Second, Washington together with key NATO allies inflicted economic sanctions on Moscow. Sanctions are today’s equivalent of the medieval Siege Warfare designed to starve the subjects in a kingdom of food and essentials and force its rulers to submit to the aggressor. Economic strangulation through sanctions effectively crippled President Saddam Hussain’s Iraq and killed about half million children. In the CBS’ 60 Minutes programme in 1996 veteran reporter Lesley Stahl asked former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright “if it was worth imposing sanctions that led to the deaths of half-a-million children in Iraq,” a figure greater than the number of Japanese children killed in Hiroshima. Albright’s response was not a denial, but a cold, “We think the price is worth it.”
The US and its NATO allies are not at war with Russia and the invasion of Ukraine is arguably in self-defence. But they have unilaterally imposed a Siege through economic sanctions on that country – an act of war; and Germany has put on hold approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. They expect the Russian economy to degrade, the brutalised people to turn against their own government and endorse a regime change in Moscow.
Ukraine: Europe’s Afghanistan?
US and its NATO allies are reinforcing the sanctions by arming and financing Neo-Nazi proxies in Kyiv to destabilise Russia – a repeat of the ruinous creation of the Al Qaeda/Taliban proxies against Russian forces. The US administration is once again leading the NATO elites into a political quagmire akin to Afghanistan. The similarities between Afghanistan and Ukraine are fascinating if worrisome.
* In Afghanistan the CIA-sponsored Al Qaeda recruited Far-Right Islamists from some 32 Muslim countries.
In Ukraine the White-Supremacist Azov Regiment has attracted Neo-Nazis reportedly from numerous European countries and North America.
* In Afghanistan the NATO governments financed and armed the Far-Right Islamists to battle the Red Army, to be abondoned once the task was acomplished. The catastrophic outcome is well known.
In Ukraine the NATO governments are pouring weapons to Neo-Nazis; Washington is supplying them with intelligence on Russian forces, and unleashing the Neo-Nazi proxies against Russians while fantasizing they could thereafter defang the Far-Right groups. Time will tell.
* In Afghanistan the Islamists took advantage of NATO’s sponsorship also to build Al Qaeda into a formidable military force and export their Islamic Revolution to numerous Asian countries and the blow back is impacting the EU and North America as well.
In Ukraine the domestic and foreign Neo-Nazi elements are similarly honing their military skills and arming themselves to revive “the inter-European soul” to salvage Aryan White-Europe. Their pan-European imperial project will inevitably collide against NATO governments. The EU’s elites would either resist or follow their 1930s predecessors to jettison Liberal-Democracy and accommodate the Neo-Nazis; the latter scenario is not implausible.
* In Afghanistan NATO governments celebrated when Russia retreated but failed to notice the Al Qaeda/Taliban baby left in their arms. The consequences need no repetition.
In Ukraine too NATO governments are myopically intent on manipulating the Neo-Nazis to expel Russia’s armed forces. However, an unanticipated outcome probably in the making is the division of Ukraine into eastern pro-Moscow States and the western Neo-Nazi bastion, the latter to be nursed by the EU.
The Brzezinskian Project aims to construct a unipolar world order dominanted by the US and to realize the Fukuyama Illusion on the backs of proxies – the Al Qaeda/Taliban in Afghanistan then and now, the Neo-Nazis/Far-Right in Ukraine – buttressed by siege tactics against the people of Russia. The compulsive gamble in Ukraine is one more throw to breathe life into the unattainable Illusion that is destroying the country and risks a nuclear conflagration.
The Russian armed forces’ invasion to neutralize Neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine and elsewhere are Vladimir Putin’s necessary and timely responses to arrest the NATO-instigated Neo-Nazi terrorist surge.
Western liberals who elequently dispute the legality of Russia’s military thrust into Ukraine and question its political legitimacy or impute a false, ahistorical equivalence between “Russian Troops Out” on the one hand and “No NATO Expansion” on the other either neglect or downplay the systemic forces unleashed by the Brzezinskian Project. It’s time to hold to account the US-led Neo-Fascist elites in NATO and demand an end to the Brzezinskian Project. Nothing less would do.
Russia-Ukraine war: the silver lining
The Russia-Ukraine war is unfolding within the global context of a complex restructuring of the world order. It’s tempting to view it through NATO’s myopic lens of aggressive Russia vs victim Ukraine. The western media parrots several official narratives to obfuscate the reality; the most recent one is the push for a Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal for Russia’s alleged “war crimes”.
A legal subterfuge prevented similar trials for crimes committed by NATO powers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US administration imposed total immunity from prosecution for NATO armies operating in Iraq under the widely despised “Order No. 17”, issued by its governor Paul Bremer in June 2004. Popular demands to review the Order surfaced following the 2006 “rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and killing of her family by a US soldier in Mahmudiya.” Washington engineered wider immunity from prosecution for foreign armies in Iraq by classifying it as “peace keeping”, under the UN Security Council’s 2003 Resolution No. 1487. Readers will no doubt recollect Washington’s brazen flouting of the International Court of Justice ruling that the US exercised “unlawful use of force” in its naval blockade of Nicaragua and support for Contras; and rejected the US’s contention to conclude that “the United States, despite its objections, was subject to the Court’s jurisdiction.” The violation of almost every canon of international law in the Guantanamo Bay black site is well known.
At the time of this writing NATO forces are funneling arms and money to the Neo-Nazi/Far-Right forces in Kyiv while alleging war crimes against Moscow. Their transparent ploy is to structure the discourse around Ukraine’s “democracy” vs Russia’s “expansionism”. The palpable intention is thereby to distract attention from the Brzezinskian Project for global domination, which Russia, and so far China, have challenged and seek to dismantle.
The collapse of the USSR spawned the Brzezinskian Project of constructing a US-dominated unipolar world by any means necessary. The Project ran aground in Iraq and spectacularly failed in Afghanistan. Ukraine is another attempt to refloat the Project. Rolling back Neo-Fascism in Ukraine and wider Europe and dispelling once and for all US delusions of unchallenged global domination crucially depend on Russia prevailing in Ukraine.
*The writer, Dr Sachithanadam Sathananthan is an independent researcher who received his PhD degree from the University of Cambridge. He was Visiting Research Scholar at the Janawaharlal Nehru University School of International Studies and Faculty Member of Karachi University’s Institute of Business Administration. He is also an award-winning filmmaker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org