When Russia invaded Ukraine, it immediately became an easy decision for today’s interventionists. Their position was both simple and simplistic: Ukraine is a sovereign and independent country. Russia initiated a war against Ukraine by invading the country. Therefore, Russia is bad and should be condemned. Moreover, the U.S. government, as well as NATO, should come to Ukraine’s defense by furnishing weaponry, money, and training, and possibly even troops.
It’s worth pointing out that interventionists are not entirely consistent with respect to their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These same interventionists were squarely in favor of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq some 20 years ago, as well as the resulting long-term occupations. Moreover, these same interventionists castigated and condemned anyone who failed to support the U.S. invasions of those two countries, just as Russian interventionists are saying about Russians who oppose their country’s invasion of Ukraine.
What U.S. interventionists failed to recognize is that simply because Russia invaded Ukraine doesn’t automatically make Ukraine’s position an especially admirable one. Contrary to what U.S. interventionists claim, the war in Ukraine is not about defending the “freedom” of the Ukrainian people. Instead, the war is about the “right” of the Ukrainian government to join NATO. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, going to war in the hope of joining NATO is not same thing as going to war to protect the freedom of the Ukrainian people.
In the run-up to the Russian invasion, everyone understood that the crisis was driven by the U.S. decision to offer NATO membership to Ukraine and by the willingness of Ukrainian officials to join NATO. Everyone knew that for the past 25 years, Russia has been objecting to NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s border. During that time, Russia repeatedly emphasized that Ukraine’s membership in NATO was a “red line” that, if crossed, would motivate Russia to invade Ukraine in order to prevent that from happening.
It’s safe to say that everyone also understood that Russia wasn’t bluffing. Everyone knew that if NATO and Ukraine continued to move in the direction of Ukrainian membership in NATO, Russia would invade the country.
Thus, immediately prior to the Russian invasion, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was faced with a choice: Does he forgo his wish to have Ukraine join NATO and therefore avoid massive death and destruction that would come with war? Or does he instead go to war and sacrifice tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens and undergo destruction of a large portion of his country?
Zelensky chose the latter course. What president would do such a thing? It’s one thing to decide to go to war to protect the freedom of the country, but it’s quite another thing to go to war for the sake of joining an old Cold War dinosaur like NATO. Why would he put joining NATO on a higher level than the lives of his citizens and the well-being of his country? What could possibly motivate any ruler to do that? If it were me and I was faced with that choice, I wouldn’t hesitate to place a larger importance on the lives of my citizens and the welfare of my country than on joining an alliance like NATO. Keep in mind that if Zelensky had foresworn his desire to have Ukraine join NATO, all those Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who have lost lives or limbs would still be alive and whole today, living their normal lives, and the country would not now be greatly damaged. Why was joining NATO so important to Zelensky?
Hanging over all this is the reputation that Ukraine has long had for being one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. Given such, there is little doubt that there are officials in the Ukrainian government who are siphoning off vast amounts of the billions of dollars that the U.S. government is flooding into Ukraine. Did officials within the Zelensky government pressure him into taking the war route with the expectation that war would bring them vast amounts of ill-gotten wealth? We do not know the answer, but given Ukraine’s long history of corruption, it is not unreasonable to ask it.
Thus, even though Ukraine is correct when it points out that Russia has aggressed against Ukraine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ukraine holds an admirable position, given that Ukrainian officials could have simply abandoned their wish to join NATO.
The primary culprit in the Ukraine disaster
The primary culprit in all this death and destruction, however, is the U.S. government, something that U.S. interventionists, unfortunately, are loathe to acknowledge. They simply and simplistically focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and conclude “Russia is bad.” As far as they are concerned, that is the end of the story. For interventionists, the U.S. government is an innocent babe in the woods that would never do anything bad, including invading countries and inciting conflicts between other nations.
But as is often the case in foreign affairs, things sometimes aren’t as they appear. In fact, in this case, it is the U.S. government, especially the national-security branch of the government, that bears primary responsibility for the massive death and destruction that has resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
If we go back to the year 1979, we can get a glimpse of how the U.S. government operates. That was the year that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. For interventionists, the issue was as simple as it is today with Ukraine: Russia was bad for invading Afghanistan, and that was the end of the story. Interventionists launched a condemnatory crusade against Russia that even included a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics that were being held in Russia.
Almost 20 years later, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was serving as U.S. national-security advisor in 1979, gave an interview to a French magazine named Le Nouvel Observateur. In that interview, Brzezinski admitted that U.S. officials had maneuvered and provoked the Soviets into launching their invasion of Afghanistan. Moreover, Brzezinski was proud of what he and his Cold War cohorts had accomplished. As he stated:
We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would…. That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”
Brzezinski was referring to efforts by U.S. officials to effect one of their patented regime-change operations in Afghanistan, one that involved supporting Afghanis who were attempting to oust the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan and replace it with an anti-Soviet regime. U.S. officials were counting on the Soviets to invade Afghanistan to prevent that from happening.
When the scheme succeeded, U.S. officials were ecstatic. By giving the USSR “its Vietnam war,” Brzezinski was saying that the Soviets would now be bogged down in a war that would needlessly kill tens of thousands of Russian soldiers. When those deaths started taking place, U.S. officials celebrated the success of their trap.
What type of regime celebrates the deaths of tens of thousands of foreign soldiers, each of whom is leaving a grieving family and grief-stricken relatives and friends back home? The answer is: an evil regime, one that civil-rights leader Martin Luther King called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
The Cold War racket
That 1979 scheme demonstrates how the conversion of the federal government from our founding governmental structure of a limited-government republic to a totalitarian governmental structure of a national-security state has warped America’s moral values. The success of that operation inspired U.S. officials to do it again many years later, with Ukraine, which, not surprisingly, has also demonstrated what the national-security state has done to pervert the moral values of the American people.
When the Soviet Union decided to dismantle itself and bring an end to the Cold War, the U.S. national-security establishment — that is, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — panicked. They knew that every national-security state needs official enemies, opponents, rivals, adversaries, and crises to keep the citizenry agitated and afraid. That ensures not only the continued existence of the national-security establishment — so as to keep people safe from all these things — but also guarantees the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA ever-increasing power and largesse.
The Cold War served that function well. When the conversion to a national-security state took place in 1947, President Truman was told that he needed to scare the hell out of the American people so that they would not question or challenge the conversion.
Truman did that with the communists. He told Americans that the Reds were a much bigger threat than the Nazis. If not stopped, they were coming to get us. Only by adopting a totalitarian-like governmental structure, one with omnipotent powers, could America be protected from a communist takeover.
The scheme worked brilliantly. Year after year, decade after decade, Americans heard, “The Reds are coming! The Reds are coming!” Thus, they continually supported the ever-increasing amounts of federal largesse spent on the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and their ever-growing army of “defense” contractors. At the same time, they supported foreign interventions, like the Vietnam War — along with all the death and destruction that came with them — to ensure that America didn’t go Red.
The Cold War was one of the most successful rackets in history, and then suddenly and unexpectedly, it came to an end in 1989. After suggesting that the national-
security establishment could participate in the war on drugs, it shifted gears when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Suddenly, the makings of a new racket had appeared. Although he had been a partner and ally of the United States throughout the 1980s, Saddam now became a “new Hitler.” During the next several years, the common refrain became “Saddam! Saddam! Saddam! He’s coming to get us with his WMDs!”
The Saddam Hussein and terrorism rackets
But the national-security establishment knew that Saddam would never prove as scary as the Reds. So the greatest purveyor of violence in the world launched a vicious program of economic sanctions against the Iraqi people that succeeded not only in impoverishing the Iraqi people but also killing hundreds of thousands of their children. In 1996, U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright told the world that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” At the same time, U.S. officials stationed U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands and continued their unconditional support of the Israeli government.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that there were commentators who were warning that such interventionism was inevitably going to lead to a major terrorist attack on American soil, U.S. officials continued it. This led to terrorist retaliation, including the 9/11 attacks.
The national-security establishment now had a new official enemy — terrorism, and to a certain extent, Islam. Amidst all sorts of hoopla about how the terrorists or the Muslims were now coming to get us, U.S. officials launched their much ballyhooed “war on terrorism,” followed by their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which produced massively more death and destruction, thereby ensuring a perpetual threat of terrorist retaliation.
The national-security establishment was in high cotton again, but knowing that the war on terrorism could ultimately fizzle out, they decided to hedge their bets by initiating a long-term scheme to revive their old Cold War racket against Russia.
Reviving the old Cold War racket
When the Cold War came to an end, the Warsaw Pact was also dismantled. Not so NATO, however, although that is precisely what should have happened. After all, its mission was to protect Western Europe from a Soviet invasion. With the end of the Cold War, that mission was now over.
Moreover, although U.S. officials had promised Russian officials that NATO would not expand
eastward, that is what the United States did. Over Russia’s vehement objections, NATO began absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact, which enabled the Pentagon and the CIA to move their military bases and nuclear-capable missiles ever closer to Russia’s border.
At the same time as their NATO expansion, U.S. officials embarked on a campaign of taking Russian citizens political hostages using the federal criminal-justice system, knowing full well that Russia would retaliate by doing the same to American citizens. Two notable examples of Russians taken hostage were Viktor Bout and Maria Butina. Once Russia began retaliating, it became easy to gin up anti-Russian hostility within the American mainstream press.
U.S. officials then embarked on a massive propaganda campaign designed to convince the American people that Russia had manipulated their vote in the 2016 presidential election. Although the allegation was totally bogus, it succeeded spectacularly in engendering tremendous anti-Russia hostility within the U.S. mainstream press.
Returning now to NATO, over the years, Russia made it clear that Ukraine was a “red line” for Russia. Russian official repeatedly emphasized that if NATO threatened to absorb Ukraine, Russia would invade Ukraine to prevent that from happening.
Nonetheless, knowing full well that Russia wasn’t bluffing, the Pentagon and the CIA proceeded onward, announcing that Ukraine had the “right” to join NATO. For its part, Ukraine expressed a desire to join NATO. Everyone knew what the outcome was going to be — Russia was now going to invade Ukraine.
How did U.S. official know that Russia would invade Ukraine? Not only because Russia said it would but also because U.S. officials knew that that is precisely what the United States would do if Russia threatened to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is just 90 miles away from the United States.
Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis
Indeed, that’s what happened back in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviets installed nuclear missiles on the island with the consent of Cuban officials. They had every legal right to do so, just as Ukraine has every legal right to join NATO.
Notwithstanding the legal niceties, however, the fact is that President Kennedy, the Pentagon, and the CIA did not like the thought of having nuclear missiles pointed at the United States from only 90 miles away. And because they didn’t like it, Kennedy and the national-security establishment threatened to do to Cuba what Russia has done to Ukraine. The choice given to Russia was: Remove your missiles and go home or we are going to invade Cuba to forcibly remove those missiles. If Russia had stood steadfast, there is no doubt that the United States would have invaded Cuba, which almost certainly would have meant all-out nuclear war.
Ultimately, Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev struck a deal in which Kennedy promised that he would never permit the Pentagon and the CIA to invade Cuba again. Also, recognizing that Russians didn’t like having U.S. nuclear missiles pointed at them from nearby, Kennedy agreed to remove U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey.
With Ukraine, the United States has, once again, given Russia its own Vietnam. Tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are now dead, and U.S. officials are ecstatic because those deaths mean that Russia is being “degraded.” Never mind that in the process of setting this massive death trap, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have also died, not to mention the fact that Ukraine has been greatly damaged.
Conscience and a triune god
Meanwhile, American interventionists continue to ignore the role in this sordid, evil scheme of what Martin Luther King pointed out was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. That’s because the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA are their triune god, one that can do no harm. Interventionists are left with their simplistic belief of “Russia bad” and their stultified human consciences.
This article was originally published in the August 2023 edition of Future of Freedom.