Henceforth, this began a steady progression of NATO enlargement, which certified Ukraine as a future member and a de facto associate member and brought arms deliveries, weapons training, and coordinated war games with the Ukrainian army in anticipation of a war with Russia—along
with bank accounts for cooperating Ukrainian politicians.
Vladimir Putin proved to be a far superior Russian leader, turning around the economy, reining in many of the oligarchs, and restoring confidence in the Russian state. In Ukraine, the U.S. saw an opportunity in the 2004 presidential election to pull Ukraine away from the influence of Russia.
Along with visits to the country by high-level officials, the U.S. intervened by using several other channels, including the regime-change organizations,
National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, Freedom House, George Soros’s Open Society Institute (now Foundations), and the ever-present CIA, to block the election of Russia-leaning Viktor Yanukovych and install a pro-American neo-liberal Viktor Yushchenko as president.
With U.S. help, Yushchenko prevailed but failed miserably as president. The fire alarm went off again for the U.S. in 2010, when Yanukovych was elected president. By then, Yushchenko was fully discredited as a leader, receiving only 5.5% of the first-round vote, thereby eliminating him. The U.S. has had a hard time picking winners.
The 2013-2014 anti-government protests, which started out peacefully in Kyiv’s Maidan (square), was urged on by visits to the streets by the U.S. undersecretary of state and regime change specialist, Victoria Nuland, who repeatedly met with coup plotters. Joining her were Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), who stood on a platform in the square with the neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok to offer America’s support, presumably without formal authorization, for the illegal overthrow of Yanukovych.
Then-U.S. Senator John McCain, center, speaks as Chris Murphy, Democratic senator from Connecticut, second left, and Opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok, right, stand around him during a pro-European Union rally in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, in December 2015. [Source: foxnews.com]
This time the CIA was more fully involved in getting rid of the Russia-leaning president and very likely helped prepare the extreme right militia groups that took part in the
sniper shootings and massacres of police and protesters in the Maidan, which forced Yanukovych to flee. The falsely attributed the shootings to his government. This set off resistance in the heavily Russophone Donbas region to the overthrow, which in turn was met by an assault by the Kyiv coup government and the deaths, up to 2022, of 14,000 soldiers and civilians. New York Times
In interviews with European reporters in June 2022, Petro Poroshenko, who was a regular informant at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv before he was sponsored by the U.S. to become president in 2014, said that while in office,
he signed the Minsk agreements with Russia, France and Germany and agreed to a cease-fire merely as a ploy to buy time in building up the military and preparing for war. “Our goal,” he said, “was to, first, stop the threat, or at least to delay the war—to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces.
The Propaganda War
President Biden and other public officials have repeatedly used the phrase “unprovoked attack” to characterize Russia’s motivations as nothing more than territorial aggression. Such claims are made without credibl
re evidence, as if the invocation of the name Putin is enough to establish any statement about him or the Russian state as proof by its mere utterance.
The problem, as many observers have noted, is that the mainstream media serve as little more than a national and international graphic transmission and amplification tool of the state and ruling-class consensus. This, of course, is nothing new, as more than 400 journalists from the MSM were discovered to have served as the eyes and ears of the CIA during much of the Cold War, as reported by Watergate journalist
Carl Bernstein. There is evidence that at least some journalists continue to act as messengers for the Agency.
Those Washington Beltway insiders have problems understanding what constitutes provocation. The expansion of hostile U.S. and NATO forces and war games carried on to the gates of Russia, including the plan to add Ukraine and Georgia to the list of members, are clearly provocations. And if Biden’s memory is at all intact, he will remember how the Kennedy administration treated the presence of a single Soviet military base in the Western Hemisphere (in Cuba) as a threat to U.S. security. In that case, the Soviets had the good sense to back off.
The Maidan coup in 2014, which even the U.S. puppet president
Poroshenko admitted was unconstitutional (i.e., illegal) and the subsequent banning of the Russian language and call for a general ethno-cleansing in public institutions and media by his government were provocations. So too were the military assaults in the Donbas region, instigated by the U.S.-armed and -trained neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, starting in 2015. Just prior to the Russian invasion, Kyiv put a massive formation of troops on the border with the breakaway oblasts, Donetsk and Luhansk.
The secession of Kosovo, following 78 days of U.S. bombing of Russian ally Serbia, had Washington’s full support and for Russians served as a precedent for the Crimea breakaway. Prior to the Russian invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky launched authoritarian purges of opposition parties that were accused of giving voice to Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Poroshenko and Zelensky refused to abide by the Minsk agreements. These too were provocations.
Indeed, the 75-year history of U.S. efforts to destroy the sovereignty of the Soviet and Russian states is an unending provocation. The U.S. and NATO aggression against Russian allies in Syria and Serbia (and China) and the “color revolutions” in Belarus, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere in the former Soviet region and the expanding list of sanctions against Russia are further forms of aggression. The amnesia of the MSM in this recent history would be difficult to comprehend were it not for the understanding that they in fact serve as instruments of state propaganda, what Louis Althusser called ideological state apparatuses.
As Noam Chomsky expressed it: “It’s quite interesting that in American discourse, it is almost obligatory to refer to the invasion as the ‘unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.’ Look it up on Google, you will find hundreds of thousands of hits. Of course, it was provoked. Otherwise they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as an unprovoked invasion.” If Chomsky is not convincing enough, perhaps the U.S./NATO warmongers might heed Pope Francis, certainly no Russophile, who ascertained that the invasion is the result of “the barking of NATO at the gates of Russia…. I can’t say if it was provoked, but perhaps, yes.”
The deluge of MSM propaganda against Russia and the embargo of voices that question the official story regarding the 2014 coup and the Russia-Ukraine conflict expose U.S. democracy as a model not worthy of emulation. There are few if any authoritarian states where suppression of news is of such magnitude and so institutionally entrenched as in the U.S.
Elsewhere, I have discussed the wide presence of former military and intelligence officials with ties to defense industries populating the broadcast and cable news channels as “expert analysts,” and the uses of white supremacist ideology by MSM reporters to depict displaced Ukrainians as a special group of “worthy victims.”
A central feature of the MSM reporting and celebrity culture has been the portrayal of Zelensky as a “hero,” selflessly defending Ukraine against tyranny. The hero image in America is an old trope taken from a long line of such larger-than-life military exemplars that include John Wayne’s characters in World War II, the construction of the Vietnam war criminal into “war hero” John McCain, the chicken hawk Ronald Reagan, Rambo, the Indian killer Daniel Boone, and so many others.
A president under siege? The Zelenskys on the cover of Vogue magazine. [Source:
Propaganda is now openly a major part of the U.S. war arsenal, and the government does little to hide the fact. Apart from the massive arms shipments the U.S. and NATO allies are supplying Ukrainians to kill domestic and foreign Russians, some
150 American and other global PR firms, according to PRWeek, including a British company with close ties to the ruling Conservative Party, have offered to supply Ukraine with propaganda tools—weapons of mass deception.
At the same time, there has been close to no reporting on Zelensky’s less than sterile record on corruption, an endemic problem for Ukraine, which is ranked the by U.S.-, UK- and corporate-funded Transparency International as the most corrupt country in Europe. Apart from failing to bring down the oligarchs who rule the country (50 of whom hold 45% of the country’s wealth), including his own patron, the corrupt and
U.S.-sanctioned Ukrainian-Israeli-Cypriot billionaire Igor Kholomoisky, Zelensky himself has been exposed in the Pandora Papers as a goniff, with millions stashed away in offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands and in properties in London. His shuttering of the entire political, media and intellectual opposition makes it difficult for Ukrainians to get wind of his less-than-heroic financial machinations.
Exposure of these realities in the U.S. and UK social media or in books and journals leads to being labeled a Russian “bot” or “Putin’s useful idiot.” Perhaps the most authentic useful idiot is Russiagate Rambo
Adam Schiff, Democrat from California and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who on the occasion of the Trump impeachment hearings in January 2020, said, “We fight Russia over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”
This is what passes for intelligence in Congress.
One must take seriously the insight of German political theorist
Carl Schmitt, who argued that powerful nation states need to have enemies in order to define who they are, and that their “political actions and motives can be reduced to the distinction between friend and enemy.” For Schmitt, the “enemy” need not be construed as evil, but for the U.S., the enemy is always embedded with religious notions of immorality.
Schmitt ultimately lent his intellect to the service of the Third Reich, but the U.S. itself confirmed by its early “stay behind” actions in Ukraine and other parts of Europe that it was prepared to adopt some of the same tactics, if not ideology, of their Nazi recruits.
Constructing the Soviet Union, later Russia, as an enemy had at least three utilities: creating a national threat to divert public attention from the massive inequities within the corporate capitalist economy; justifying the building of a national security (police, imperialist) state and empire, built upon a military-industrial-media complex, with an extraordinary level of military spending as a hedge against depression; and organizing a broad propaganda complex modeled on the Office of War Information in World War II to maintain the legitimacy of the state as a moral force in a world threatened by evil leaders who seek to take away Americans’ freedom.
In reality, it is the U.S. itself which is stripping the country of its vaunted “four freedoms” and denying other countries, particularly in the Third World, of their independent paths to development and freedom.
The main point of the anti-imperialist argument is not to defend the war in Ukraine but to look more deeply into its causes. The U.S. has long been a highly militarized society and indeed has been
out of war for only15 years of its existence.
And when the U.S. is not directly invading (into 84 countries to date), it sponsors invasions and coups against countries that run against its strategic interests (Chile, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Yemen, Brazil, Argentina, Angola, Venezuela, D. R. Congo, Gaza, Greece, Ecuador, Ghana and many others).
Map of countries where the United States has fought in or occupied. Excludes air strikes and special forces operations. [Source: reddit.com]
The Ukraine crisis is also a sponsored war, as Kyiv’s assault on the Donbas region is ultimately in the U.S. interest, as its
resources, including a “highly developed coal industry, ferrous-metallurgy industry, machine building, chemical industry, and construction industry, enormous energy resources, diversified agriculture, and a dense transportation network” are lusted over by transnational capital and finance.
Beyond Ukraine lies the vast territory of Russia and untold wealth of energy, strategic minerals, and other resources that call out to a globally expansionist and militarist corporate capitalist system like the U.S. There are certainly ways out of the present crisis in Ukraine, but they require the neutralization of the country and its conversion to a demilitarized state that, with the U.S. alliance, respects and enforces the rights and equality of its ethnic Russian population.
The West also has to acknowledge on some level Russia’s legitimate security interests, which have become compromised by the horde of NATO forces far too close to its borders. The concept of state security is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and the avoidance of an even larger catastrophe requires that the U.S. act in compliance with UN dicta for peace and remove its obstacles to a negotiated settlement, which is in the long-term interest of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the world.
Gerald Sussman is a professor of international relations and author of numerous books, including
(2010). Prof. Sussman can be reached at Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe email@example.com. For more information, see his website at: https://www.pdx.edu/global-studies/profile/gerald-sussman.