Monday, February 13, 2023

What Peace in Ukraine Requires


I – Peace in Ukraine is Possible and Desirable


Contrary to the increasingly belligerent, jackbooted chorus in the West, peace in Ukraine is both possible and desirable. It is only a tiny, predatory minority, the owning classes in the richest Imperialist states, who desire and promote the prolongation and exacerbation of this decade long conflict. This war can end in a peaceful, negotiated settlement, and should end that way, and it cannot arrive at that destination, as the jingo chauvinists in the West maintain, by inflaming the belligerents and flooding the conflict with advanced weaponry. Tens of thousands on both sides have already perished in this war, it is senseless, stupid, irrational and repulsive that the conflict be allowed to continue. Peace in Ukraine today requires three things: (1) An Immediate Ceasefire; (2) Intervention by a Broad Array of Non-Aligned Parties; and (3) The Direct Participation of the Proximate Aggrieved Parties.


II – Peace in Ukraine Requires (1) an Immediate Ceasefire, (2) Intervention by Non-Aligned States, and (3) Direct Participation of the Aggrieved Parties


(1) An Immediate Ceasefire


There are those in the West who have come to promote the carnage of the war in Ukraine as a holy and inviolable necessity. All manner of advanced death-dealing machines must be flooded to Ukraine without delay. Fatheaded bloviating men who pontificate how glorious it is for others’ children to die in this flesh devouring permanent war economy zone. Ukrainian forces are beating up children to send them to the front lines to get atomized within hours. Is the same thing not occurring in Russia? To a lesser extent, yes, it is, where mobilization of a semi-reserve professional elite within Russian society is being met with resentment by that affected professional caste that the lower ranks of Russian society ought to be conscripted. Nevertheless the problem is more acute on the Ukrainian side, where Ukrainian fighting bodies are starting to be used up as a total resource. There exists a human life-extinguishing zone, and both sides revile from it, as well they should.


Russia has largely been able to outsource the last few months of the war to a Private Military Contractor, Wagner Group. Between international hires and redemptive prison labour, Wagner has effectively fought the battle of Bakhmut/Artemvisk for the past six months, and all of Ukraine’s resources have been tied up in retaining this territory. But why outsource the ‘Special Military Operation’? Was it to abandon it to private hands in hopes that they could better manage the affair than the Russian Federal Assembly? No. This was to buy Russia time. Time for Uralvagonzavod to ramp up production of T-90Ms and Armatas. Time to fortify the entire Novorossiya territory with massive military earthworks making the territory easier to defend. Russia has liberated the regions it came to liberate, the Donestsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, and the land bridge to Crimea, and has spent the past six month retrenching these positions against Kiev/NATO incursion. Moreover it has spent the past six months planning out and supplying itself for its next offensive phase of the war, gradually making its way up along the east bank of the Dnipro river, “liberating” larger cities like Kharkov or Dnipropetrovsk before marching on Kiev in earnest.


I put “liberating” here in scare-quotes. Why? Because unlike the liberation of the regions which Kiev had been making war on for the past eight years, Donetsk and Luhansk, cities further into the territorial body of Ukraine demonstrably do not want to be part of Russia. That does not change the hard power fact that Russia can do this if it chooses to, progressing slowly through siege warfare to the ultimate defeat of Ukraine as a State.


But our ‘military experts’ here in the West disagree. They say that the NATO countries can procure or produce sufficient munitions and military hardware to prosecute a prolonged military campaign. They say that they can get these arms to Ukraine, and that Ukraine ought to keep fighting. Their progressively losing territory, and bodies, is merely a short term shortfall which will be made up for in deliveries of the most death-dealing of contemporary armaments, F-16s, Typhoons, Leopards, Abrams, HIMARS, MANPADS, weapons with which Kiev might strike deep into Russian territory. If there is a death-dealing machine, it has all been promised to Zelensky and associates.


So each side is not exhausted and is in effect spoiling for a prolonged, bloody, intractable fight. The foreign policy blob of Washington and its associated vassal states is committed to perpetual subsidization of weaponry for Ukraine, while Russia, aggrieved not only by NATO expansion, not only by the coup which the US perpetrated on Ukraine in 2014, but the eight year long civil war against the eastern regions, is committed to these regions’ liberation from oppression by and terrorism from the US proxy regime in Kiev.


Indeed none other than that venerable American State-Thought machine the RAND Corporation recently identified this as the aporia of "Mutual Optimisim About the Course of the War" as the primary and overriding "Impediment to Ending the Conflict." The RAND Corporation report found that


"Both Sides believe that their relative power, and thus ability to prevail, will improve over time. The centrality of Western assistance to Ukraine's war effort, and the uncertainty about the future of that assistance, has led Moscow and Kyiv to different conclusions about which of the two will gain the upper hand over time. The conflict is therefore not resolving the information problem in the way that the literature leads us to expect; both sides have grounds for optimism about the possibility of making gains by continuing to fight. Historically this kind of mutual optimism has made wars difficult to end."


What is being proposed, and indeed promoted, is at least a months long, if not years long, or decades long campaign of war between the US and NATO, one side, and Russia on the other, in which hundreds of thousands of troops, to say nothing of civilian casualties, will die. Initially with predominantly the bodies of the proxy state in Kiev, but who is to say that would remain the case? Presently troops are withdrawn from the Kiev proxy state to be trained in Western states on advanced armaments, and there are already calls to supplement Kiev’s troops with Western troops. How easily we might stumble across that Rubicon over the coming months of unparalleled carnage and destruction?


It does not have to be this way. It does not have to be that hundreds of thousands of young lives, full lives, actual lives, have to be mulched up by great hulking war apparatuses in a slow, churning cacophony of exploded munitions. There must be a peace, there must be a peace process, and an equitable and rational assessment of how to reconcile the opposing local populations. There must be an immediate ceasefire. Nor, for that matter does it have to be the case that thousands of lives are lost today along the eastern front of the war. In the battle for Bakhmut/Artemvisk the average life-span for a Ukrainian conscript is 4 hours. It is consuming thousands of lives per day. Blown to bits like so much gore in a reality that is, frankly, unimaginable in its horror.


(2) Intervention by a Broad Array of Non-Aligned Parties


Intervention by a broad array of neutral and unaligned parties. Anyone who is actively transferring weapons and armaments to the conflict are disqualified. This would mean that neutral third countries like China, Brazil and India would mediate the conflict. And, of course, one would already hear the pained cries from the Western warkhawks that ‘China is not neutral!’ Except they are, at least insofar as this conflict goes. China could end this conflict tomorrow with a single swift deployment of manpower and equipment, it could directly and reliably supply military hardware to Russia which could end this conflict in a matter of weeks, with the result being the total military defeat of the regime in Kiev and its forcible depoliticization, and yet it doesn’t. Why doesn’t it? Because, reliable China, that repository of technocratic rectitude, condemns the unilateral violation of sovereign territory. It has condemned Russia for the invasion of February 2022. Nevertheless, while for the active belligerents against Russia right now, the US, the EU, UK, and Canada, the inquiry ends here, for the unaligned countries it does not. Why, they ask has this situation arisen? Why did Russia feel compelled to invade Ukraine? The unaligned countries refuse to endorse and support either Russia, or indeed Kiev, because they know that no one in the story of this conflict is innocent, and that all of the active belligerents are responsible for its genesis. They know that the overwhelming majority of the world, the labouring masses of the world, have nothing to gain, nothing to profit from this war at all. They know that those who promote the exacerbation and prolongation of this war most loudly do in fact have a financial stake in its exacerbation and prolongation. This is what makes them singularly qualified to intervene, because they refuse to merely choose between the binary narratives of the conflict as manichean good versus evil narratives.


The corollary is that belligerents to this conflict, with both Russia and the United States first among them, ought to play as little of a directing role as possible. The belligerence within the United States towards Russia is no less than the belligerence which exists towards the United States in Russia, and no more justified or rational. Indeed it has been revealed this month by veteran Journalist Sy Hersh that it was the United States which surreptitiously destroyed several of the Nordstream 2 pipelines. The US is not merely supplying material to Kiev, it is an active belligerent in the conflict.


(3) The Direct Participation of the Proximate Aggrieved Parties


If there is to be a meaningful and durable peace, it has to be the peace of the local populations who have been aggrieved by the exacerbation of the situation by the broader powers and belligerents. Since 2014, the state in Kiev has been at war with the two breakaway republics in the eastern regions, the People’s Republic of Donetsk, and the People’s Republic of Luhansk. It is between these parties, Kiev on the one side, and the self-declared republics in the eastern regions, as well as Crimea, including along the landbridge to Crimea, that peace has to be made. Russia has interests in such negotiation, as do the US and its immediate vassal states, but if there is to be a peace, it will have to be between the erstwhile state of Ukraine and the regions in the east which no longer wish to remain in Ukraine.


Crimea immediately voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia after the 2014 coup, which was immediately, of course, recognized by Russia. The West disputes and denigrates this vote, as it does every international plebecite which demonstrates popular contempt for the United States, but it is nonetheless the case that an overwhelming majority of Crimea turned out to vote, and voted to leave immediately. These other two republics of the eastern regions, however, were stranded within the asserted territory of the Kiev regime. It has to be remembered what a traumatic, provocative event the 2014 Maidan coup was – the duly elected President of Ukraine, elected predominantly by the eastern regions, as politically opposed to the parties favoured by the west of Ukraine, was removed from office in an undemocratic coup. The eastern regions, the People’s Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk, ceased to recognize the state in Kiev as a legitimate political authority. It is precisely because of the civil war which arose as a result of the US orchestrated coup of 2014 that the US proxy regime in Kiev was compelled to sign the Minsk peace agreements, which pledged that Kiev would (a) withdraw militarily from the eastern regions, (b) recognize the territorial autonomy of the eastern regions, and (c) implement economic development for the eastern regions. Of course Kiev did none of these things, and rather continued to degrade conditions of life for the eastern regions. In 2014, Petro Poroshenko, the mad racist chocolate baron who initially assumed power in the post-coup regime in Kiev, declared that “We will have jobs, they will not. We will have pensions, they will not. We will have support of children and pensioners, they will not. Our children will go to kindergartens and schools, theirs will be sitting in cellars.” This was the policy pursued for the following eight years, and continued under Vlodimir Zelensky, though he ran on a platform of doing otherwise.


Last month a pro-Ukrainian reporter was was bothering an older lady from an eastern city still under the control of Kiev. She said to this lady 'the Day of Ukrainian Unity is this Weekend.' The lady shrugs and says, 'I don't know.' The pro-Ukrainian reporter insists: "Unity of Ukraine is not important in your opinion?" And the lady thinks to herself and then says "Why Ukrainians? The whole world is for peace. So that people are kind." And the pro-Ukrainian reporter insists "but we're at war and need to unite to win against the Russians." The lady appears visibly annoyed, she doesn't want to have the argument, she says 'I don't know, I'm not into politics." And the pro-Ukrainian reporter says "war is politics?" And the lady says "yes, politics of course." So the pro-Ukrainian reporter says "politics of what country?" and the lady says "all countries, America's, Ukraine's, Russia's." And here the pro-Ukrainian reporter insists: "Who is the aggressor? Who started the war?" And the lady says, without a moment's hestitation, "Ukraine." Incredulous, the pro-Ukrainian reporter says "Ukraine started the war?" and the lady says "yes." The pro-Ukrainian reporter asks "against whom did Ukraine start the war?" and the lady says "2014 against its own people." Again, incredulous, the pro-Ukraine reporter says "Ukraine attacked itself?" and the lady, again, without hesitation, says "yes. Whose people are in the Donbas?"


There exists a population within Ukraine for whom Zelensky, fighting this war with perpetual and indiscriminate Western assistance is a hero, a champion for freedom and democracy, and, at the same time, there exists a population within the disputed eastern regions for whom Zelensky is a pathetic idiot, who is waging a war in total contravention of his central election promise to end and resolve the then eight year long civil war, and who is selling himself, and Ukraine, to the Americans, at the expense of Ukrainian bodies. This latter population is specifically targeted for reprisal by the proxy regime in Kiev, silenced, censored, banned from Parliament, arbitrarily arrested and tortured. If there is to be a meaningful peace, both those who are culturally Ukrainian and those who are culturally Russian, those on both sides of the now decade-long civil war, must have a prominent and central position in the negotiations. Not Kiev on one side and Russia on the other, nor Russia on one side and the US on the other, but rather Kiev on one side and the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk on the other.


These are the parties between whom peace has to be made. Bracket aside the territorial distribution question. Prior to the US orchestrated coup of 2014, it remained possible for culturally Russian and culturally Ukrainian populations to live together in peace within the eastern regions. As a result of the precipitous increase in hostilities, as a result of the 2014 coup, and as a result of the eight years of civil war perpetrated by Kiev against the eastern regions thereafter, that is no longer possible. A peace settlement has to be realistic about what can be achieved in terms of healing the wounds which have accumulated over the past decade as a result of this conflict. It needs to put these parties into dialogue with one another while finding a way to, for the immediate future, keep them apart within an intelligent and rational territorial distribution.


III – Rage Against the Demonization and Denigration of Peace


Those who oppose the cessation of hostilities often purport to be working in the ultimate interests of peace. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made this claim, for example, on January 5, 2023, stating that: “Weapons are – in fact – the way to peace.” This is a dangerous, cynical lie, the purpose of which is to legitimate NATO military expenditure and expand the territory of accumulation and extraction by the US and its immediate vassal states.


In the Western countries calls for peace, for a negotiated end to the war, are demonized, denigrated and censored by the mouthpieces of the owning class, the privately owned means of communication. The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, The Economist, the Atlantic, all promote the prolongation and exacerbation of this war, and alternately stigmatize or ignore calls for the war to end. Basic, true information is labelled ‘disinformation’ by the lapdogs of the US State Department, the Atlantic Council and their associated personages.


In opposition to this stultified heap, which monologically preaches the merit in perpetual subsidization of a US proxy state to conquer territory it never controlled in the first place, calls must grow to end this irrational proxy war. The Western public must demand an immediate end to the carnage, an immediate ceasefire, the abolition of the Bakhmut meat-blender, they must demand that peace negotiations be directed and led by non-aligned parties, and that the US and Russia be recognized as active belligerents who must themselves make peace, and the public must demand a peace process which really and substantively heals the wounds of the last ten years of civil war and great power struggle.

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