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Monday, June 6, 2022

CREATING CONSENSUS ON UKRAINE


                                                                             

     

The antiwar community has fractured at a time when it most needs to speak with one voice to end the war in Ukraine. About all we can agree on is that the war is a terrible thing that needs to be stopped. Beyond that, reasonable people disagree about messaging, and unreasonable people demonize those who disagree. The result is that average Americans who don’t usually follow politics, let alone international affairs, form opinions based on emotional responses to what they hear in mainstream media rather than what may be most likely to promote peace. This is true despite the fact that most would say that peace is what they want.

The ability to influence American thinking through emotional appeals is what those with the power to manipulate the media count on to serve imperialism’s aims.  If we can at least agree that how we frame our response is important, people who sincerely want to do something to end the war might be able to agree on what message would most effectively sway public opinion in a way that might influence our government to act in the interest of peace.

The most fundamental disagreement is over whether it’s necessary to call Russia out as solely or even primarily at fault for the war, or whether it is important to provide the context needed to understand the US role in creating the conditions that led it to decide that it had no choice but to respond to Ukrainian actions in Donbass with military force.

Given that our goal is to influence public opinion, it’s understandable that most peace groups have opted to follow the lead of politicians and mainstream commentators and preface every statement with a condemnation of Russia. After all, since they believe these accusations are justified, they fear being seen as supportive of Russia if they only focus on what the US has done that promotes war and what it hasn’t done that might have prevented it. Some peace groups go so far as to ignore clear US provocations as unimportant. Since it was Russia that invaded, they believe that their proper job is to wave Ukrainian flags and protest Russia’s actions, despite the reality that this will have no beneficial effect on the course of the war.

Other peace activists feel that either approach absolves the US of responsibility for creating conditions that led to the conflict. Believing the US actually initiated the conflict, they argue that dating its onset as February 24 is not only misleading, but false. They see the conflict as having started long before the Russian invasion and argue that knowing what choices Putin had is relevant to assigning blame.

The truth is that we don’t have to agree on who is at fault if we don’t make that an issue. As a psychotherapist with training in family therapy, I know from experience that focusing on who is responsible for a problem almost never leads to a satisfactory solution. And from a practical standpoint, placing sole blame on Russia is counterproductive not only because it splits the antiwar movement, but because to much of the public it provides a justification for an aggressive US response. Avoiding a conflict over whether Russia should be characterized as the sole aggressor is why many want to limit the message to demanding that the US 1) stop arming Ukraine, 2) declare it will never support Ukraine joining NATO, and 3) push Ukraine to negotiate without preconditions.

From a family therapy perspective, trying to keep the discussion focused on a solution would certainly be the approach to take if the US actually wanted to end the conflict. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The effect of sending increasingly lethal weapons and imposing sanctions that primarily harm civilians is to prolong the war and increase casualties of both soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Recent reports indicate that the effort to help a depleted Ukrainian military drive Russia out of Donbass is futile. However, this approach is very profitable for a weapons industry that generously funds the elections of members of Congress willing to serve its interests, which is no doubt why any debate about how the US should proceed assumes that it will involve continuing a strategy that has proven to result in arming extremists when used in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And yes, there are extremists with significant influence in Ukraine despite media denials.

Clearly, the focus on providing weapons has redirected the public’s attention from the question of how to end the war to how best to punish Russia, regardless of how US strategy affect Ukrainian civilians. This is not by accident, but by design. That’s why it is necessary to challenge the distortions, omissions and outright lies that are used to influence public opinion to conform with the goals of American imperialism. Unfortunately, the inability to agree on the facts is what has led to the stark divisions among those wanting to do something to make the war to end. That is we have to put aside our pride and listen to each other to understand why a minority firmly believes that the consensus opinion of the majority is based on misplaced trust in mainstream media.

Most Americans think they are informed if they read mainstream media and watch a variety of TV news sources. Antiwar activists know differently, because we know we have been lied into war repeatedly, at least from Vietnam through Syria. Unfortunately, like the general public, many peace proponents have no idea how information that challenges the government’s narrative is being  systematically suppressed in unprecedented ways.  

It's always been true that truth is the first casualty of war. In today’s hybrid warfare, it is more critical than ever to control the information domain. The way news is presented by government officials and approved media frames the way most people think about US foreign policy. This is why the idea of sending ever more powerful weapons to prolong a military conflict that cannot be won is never challenged. While the ultimate outcome of Russia’s invasion cannot be predicted with certainty, the one thing we know for sure is that providing increasingly lethal weaponry will lead to more death on both sides and do nothing to promote stability in the region.

Of course, there is much more that could be said about the tremendous amount of disinformation in the mainstream media regarding Ukraine. While much of it is relevant to understanding the situation, it is far beyond the scope of this essay. I can only recommend that those who are inclined to believe what they read or hear in government-approved media look at any of the credible alternative sources that present evidence of critical facts that are being withheld from them.


A good way to find them is to look at the list of websites that Prop or Not, a shadowy group that claims to be the arbiter of “reliable sources,” claims should not be trusted. Interspersed among many dubious websites listed are some of the most informative sources of information contradicting the mainstream narrative. These are sites with authors that include prominent investigative journalists and veterans of the CIA, NSA, State Department, high ranking White House positions and military intelligence.  They cite their sources, which gives their articles far more credibility than the mostly anonymous sources favored by the New York Times and Washington Post when reporting on many of the same stories.

I urge anyone interested in finding a common message to present to the public to read the statement released by the US Peace Council.



 

Friday, March 18, 2022

HOW DO WE STAND BY UKRAINE?

 

                                                                     



The unfolding tragedy of the war in Ukraine has unleashed a torrent of anger among Americans. That's hardly surprising, given the images of dead and injured civilians, especially children, that are streaming into our homes 24 hours a day. The intense emotions aroused have led to a strong urge to act to stop the violence. Demonstrations of solidarity are inspiring, but they aren't going to affect Putin's plans for Ukraine. The question thus is, how do we most effectively stand with Ukraine?


Examples of what not to do abound. Consider:

Most people support the sanctions, despite abundant evidence showing that they typically don't work and at best achieve only limited success. The logic is to punish the citizens of the sanctioned country, in the hope they will rise up and topple their governments or at least submit to Western demands. It should come as no surprise that this is not a realistic objective in authoritarian societies. The main effect of sanctions is to increase the suffering of the citizens of the targeted country. Madelaine Albright famously admitted that US sanctions on Iraq after the first Gulf War cost the lives of 500,000 children, commenting that "We think it was worth it." This begs the question of who is this "we?" I certainly hope that it is not the opinion of the majority of Americans. In the present case, why would we want to punish the citizens of Russia for Putin's actions, especially when they are protesting by the tens of thousands on the streets of Russia, putting to shame the pitiful response of Americans to US-led wars.

Most people seem to support the arming of Ukraine, even though many analysts point out that there is ultimately little hope that they can hold up against a determined Russian military whose goal does not appear to be occupation. We're told daily about Putin's willingness to use brutal tactics to achieve his objectives, but we are being assured that the vastly inferior forces of Ukraine are really winning. As a result, people who want to support Ukraine are applauding the brave citizens who are taking up arms and putting their bodies on the line confronting trained soldiers, without apparently realizing that this will not likely change the outcome but will certainly lead to more Ukrainian deaths. There has even been serious consideration of the US providing incentives to NATO countries to send war planes to Ukraine, an act of war against Russia that could lead to the US being forced to directly confront the only other nuclear superpower. More and more, we are hearing arguments for why we can't rule out direct US involvement despite the fact that it could quickly lead to nuclear war.

Anyone who still thinks a no-fly zone is a reasonable option simply isn't listening to reason. As Biden and many others have pointed out, this requires being willing to shoot Russian planes down, which would likely lead to WWIII. Anyone who wants to disregard that risk does not deserve to be taken seriously.

There's a reason that "experts" continue to push policies that are at best futile and at worst, catastrophic. The only realistic alternatives would involve allowing Russia to achieve some of its stated goals. That would lead to the career-killing charge of "appeasement." Career politicians and professional pundits in the West cower at this thought, so much so that the idea would never occur to them. Fortunately, diplomats in both Ukraine and Russia are willing to consider what would be unthinkable for these cheerleaders of imperialism.

According to this article, progress is being made on a 15-point plan that would recognize legitimate Russian security interests the West ignored in the runup to the war, despite clear warnings from Russia. Among other provisions, Ukraine would alter its constitution to guarantee that it would never join NATO. Had the US simply declared that it would never allow Ukraine to join, the invasion might have been avoided. That the US refused speaks volumes about the intent of the US in its dealings with Russia with regard to Ukraine. Unfortunately, few are listening.

Russia is also insisting on an agreement that Ukraine will not host foreign military bases. Negotiations continue on what kind of security guarantees that Ukraine might get from NATO countries would be acceptable to Russia, while the article does not mention what kind of security guarantees Ukraine would offer the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been subjected to continuous assault since the 2014 coup that put the current government in power. The article also does not mention the status of the Russian demand that Ukraine recognize Russia's sovereignty over Crimea, which it has asserted since the region voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in 2014.

Meanwhile, the battles rage, with increasing loss of life on both sides. If you want to stand for Ukraine, stand for the interests of Ukrainians and common Russians alike and demand that your government stop inflaming the situation with weapons and sanctions and allow real diplomacy to end the killing.

Monday, March 14, 2022

DOCUMENTS INDICATE UKRAINE PLANNED DONBASS ATTACK WITHIN DAYS OF RUSSIAN INVASION

 

                                                                        
                                                                               
                                                                                                                         
Having written recently that it may be a bad idea at his time to keep trying to explain why invading Ukraine should be understood in context, it is with trepidation that I’m now going to do just that. The reason is that there are documents that just came to light which, if verified, prove that those who believed that Russia was trying to prevent a genocide were correct. Of course, if you are in the habit of assuming that any statements released by Russia are by definition false, don't bother reading further. 


Although you’ve probably never heard since it is never reported in American media, Russia reported that there were as many as 125,000 Ukrainian troops inside the ethnically Russian Donbass region of Ukraine by December of 2021, when the 8-year old conflict between Ukraine and the breakaway Republics was heating up again. These troops had been trained and heavily armed by the US, which had been encouraging Ukraine to forcibly take back. On February 24th, the day the invasion began, Ukraine was clearly poised to invade the self-declared independent Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The newly revealed records confirm what many of us suspected, that the Ukrainian invasion was scheduled to occur within days.

It is very likely that this was apparent to Russian military intelligence, which would provide a totally different explanation for why the invasion occurred even as Russia was negotiating with Ukraine than the idea that Putin was simply “mad” and “wanted to restore the long-lost Russian Empire.” The claim that Putin was lying about not wanting to invade was based on the fact that he was conducting a troop buildup while negotiating, and in the end he did invade. However, taking literally Putin’s statement that Russia had “no plans to invade” is disingenuous. Obviously, the Russian military buildup meant that they had a plan, but he said repeatedly that whether there would be war depended entirely on Ukraine’s actions. It is entirely possible that he would have preferred to not invade, as he repeatedly indicated. Unless, of course, you start with the assumption that he is mad.

Unlike those who believe the US wanted to avoid war, Zelensky understood what Putin was saying. He called for a halt to inflammatory rhetoric coming from the US and asked Biden to come to Ukraine underscore the fact that there need be no war. In the end, Zelensky was put in a position where he had no choice but to refuse to deescalate the situation by removing troops from Donbass. The video in this article shows why: When he had tried order troops out of Donbass in 2019, neo-Nazis with much greater power over the government and military than their numbers would indicate laughed in his face and sent him away. That’s how a Jewish president came to realize that he had better go along with what these US-backed fascists had in mind.

So go ahead and hate Putin if it makes you feel better. War is always a choice, and it is always brutal. Civilians are always killed, even though dead children make excellent propaganda for those who want to paint a war as one-sided. But if you want to prevent the next war, for God’s sake try to understand the logic of both sides of this conflict. More specifically, do whatever you can do to try and get your government to stop constantly provoking a nuclear power, while denying its legitimate security interests.

Below is a transcript of the official Russian Defense Ministry announcement. The cited documents can be seen here.
       -Translation supplied by Konstantin Scheglikov.

"During a special military operation, secret documents of the command of the National Guard of Ukraine came into the possession of Russian military personnel. These documents confirm the covert preparation by the Kiev regime of an offensive operation in the Donbass in March 2022.

The Russian Defense Ministry publishes the original secret order of the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Colonel General Nikolay Balan, dated January 22, 2022.

The order "On the organization of training of the battalion tactical group of the 4th Operational Brigade to perform combat (special) tasks in the operation of the united forces as part of the brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine".

The document is addressed to the heads of the northern Kiev, southern Odessa and western territorial administrations of the National Guard of Ukraine.

The order, brought to the command of the National Guard of Ukraine, details a plan for the preparation of one of the strike groups for offensive actions in the zone of the so-called "operation of the united forces" in the Donbass.

The document approves the organizational and staff structure of the battalion-tactical group of the 4th operational brigade of the National Guard, the organization of its comprehensive support and reassignment to the 80th separate airborne assault Brigade of Ukraine.

I would like to emphasize that this brigade from the airborne assault forces of Ukraine has been trained by American and British instructors in training programs of the "NATO standard" in Lviv since 2016.

In accordance with the order, the Deputy Commander of the National Guard was tasked with organizing combat coordination of the battalion tactical group of the National Guard as part of the 80th separate airborne assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from February 7 to February 28, 2022.

I draw your attention - as many as five paragraphs of paragraph 4 are devoted to the issues of careful selection of personnel, examination of all psychologists and ensuring their high motivation.

To do this, the National Guard is ordered to provide "visual agitation, information and propaganda materials, flags, and printing products."

The Deputy commander of the National Guard for Personnel was ordered to organize "an effective system of informational, moral and psychological support for the battalion-tactical group of the 4th brigade of operational purpose, internal communication of commanders with subordinates."

At the same time, it is important to provide "an explanation to the personnel of management decisions and the importance of performing upcoming tasks."

I draw special attention to the fact that paragraph 12 of the order prohibits sending to the area of combat coordination and to the place of execution of "combat special tasks" of the National guardsmen who showed "unsatisfactory" results of psychological testing according to the criterion of "readiness for risk".

All measures of the nationalists' combat coordination are ordered to be completed by February 28 in order to further ensure the fulfillment of combat tasks as part of the Ukrainian "joint forces operation" in the Donbass.

The document contains the original signatures of the officials responsible for the tasks of the command of the National Guard of Ukraine.

We well remember the statements of the leadership of the Kiev regime, replicated in February by the Western media, about the alleged absence of any plans for the armed seizure of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics. Their desire to solve all issues allegedly "by political and diplomatic means".

However, the originals of the secret combat documents of the National Guard of Ukraine unequivocally prove the falsity of these statements.

A special military operation conducted by the Russian Armed Forces since February 24 has forestalled and thwarted a large-scale offensive by shock groups of Ukrainian troops on,uncontrolled to Kiev, the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republic in March of this year.

Thus, only one question remains unclear so far: how deeply the leadership of the United States and its NATO allies were involved in the planning and preparation of the operation to storm the Donbass by the Ukrainian interspecific group of troops in early March. All those who care so much about peace in Ukraine today."

The Russian Defense Ministry publishes the originals of the National Guard's combat order proving that Ukraine is preparing an offensive on Donbass in March this year."

Source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRNaoDh__L0

https://vk.com/public207684894?w=wall-207684894_53

Monday, February 21, 2022

UNDERSTANDING UKRAINE





                                                                             
                                                                 
On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces intensified ongoing shelling of Donbass, lending apparent credibility to Biden's repeated claims over recent weeks that an invasion is "imminent." However, the news raises a number of questions about what we have been told by politicians and the mainstream western media since the beginning of the crisis. We need to take these claims into account in order to understand the significance of current events.


Let's break down the propaganda to figure out how this increase in violence fits into the NATO narrative:

First, the US has given several reasons for why they expect Russia to invade over the last few weeks. That alone should give us pause, given the certainty with which the US has been making these claims. Since they have cited no evidence for most of them, you have to wonder why the secret "evidence" keeps changing. If you've been keeping track, they are, in order:

- "Putin wants to restore the Empire." This has been repeated ad nauseum since the outbreak of the crisis, most recently by Blinken on Wednesday.

- Unsourced "evidence" indicated Russia will stage a false flag attack on Donbass as a pretext for invasion

- Unsourced evidence indicated Russia will fake a false flag in Donbass, using staged video.

- Officials stated that Russia will use its promise to protect Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Donbass as a "pretext" for crossing the border.

Of these, only the last is a plausible reason that Russia would trigger massive sanctions by invading. If there is any validity to the US doctrine of Responsibility to Protect. That's the pseudo-legal argument that was cited as the reason for violent US interventions in Libya and Syria in contravention of international law. If there is a time when it was justified, this would be it. More properly, it would be an example of using force to prevent genocide (see below for more on this).

As the situation evolves, the propaganda gets more convoluted:

- Thursday, it was reported that Russia was going to invade in respond to a Ukrainian attack on Donbass. By Friday, media were reporting it was unclear who attacked first, even though it makes no sense to imagine that the residents of Donbass were trying to goad the Ukrainian military into attacking, as it was clearly prepared to do (again, more on this below).
- In responding to reports of the increased shelling, Biden stated that the attack on Donbass was a "false flag" operation by Russia, claiming that Russia had fired the first shots in order to provoke a Ukrainian response that would create a "pretext" for an invasion. Interestingly, a reporter on the scene in the same televised report categorically stated that Russia had not fired the first shots.
- A day later, explosions rocked downtown Donetsk and Luhansk, the two principal cities of the breakaway Donbass region. At the time of this writing, I am awaiting the announcement that this was the long-awaited Russian false flag.

It's worth noting that over time, more responsible news sources have begun explaining the Russian security concerns detailed in their response to US demands to withdraw from their own border. At the same time, western media continued to describe these red lines only as "demands," as if Russia explaining its red lines in the face of US threats is unreasonable. Not surprisingly, US officials simply dismissed the most important of these arguments without acknowledging that they had any validity, while claiming to want to negotiate peace (on US terms, of course).

If one accepts that the only plausible reason for a Russian incursion was to protect Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, and that the US must have known, why did Biden suddenly predict before the shelling that it was going to happen within 24-48 hours, again with no evidence? It's reasonable to suspect that the US knew Ukraine was going to attack because it was behind it.

The US government had been trying to talk Ukraine's President Zelensky into escalating the conflict since last spring. Zelensky responded to Washington's lead with threats to residents of the breakaway Republics, but by January he lost his nerve and began to openly dispute US claims of "imminent" war that would serve no one's interest but that of the US weapons industry.

The increase in shelling thus raises a very important point: Since Zelesnky had repeatedly denied that he believed Russia had any intent to invade, why would he suddenly provide a pretext? It's reasonable to suspect that he didn't. The more likely culprits are embedded pro-US fascists in the army acting on their own. If that's the case, Zelensky can't deny ordering the attack if he values his life. We all saw how violent the US-backed Right Sector fascists were willing to get in over to overthrow the elected government and seize power in 2014. There is no reason to think that they would not do the same to Zelensky if he stood in the way of the plan.

The brownshirts of Right Sector are now dispersed throughout the military, including their Azov battalion. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops have been massed on the borders of Donbass since before the Russian buildup (which might reasonably be assumed to be the original reason for Russia's massing its own troops on the border last spring). Since some of these neo-Nazis have openly called for genocide of ethnic Russians, it seems likely that they would be perfectly willing to provoke a conflict that will result in horrendous bloodshed, regardless of who "wins" the war in Donbass. Of course, if Russia doesn't take the bait, the US can still score propaganda points by saying that it prevented the invasion that would have otherwise occurred.

In view of Friday's bombing, it appears that the US may have gotten tired of waiting for Russia to respond to the escalation in violence by the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and taken matters into their own hands, using CIA-trained Ukrainian special forces in place in Donbass.

It will be interesting to see how Putin takes advantage of a situation which he surely anticipated, given the lack of imagination of the neocons who have clearly engineered the crisis.