The Empire is currently fighting a war – a partly-proxy and partly direct war – in Ukraine. The war between capitalist interests whether identified as ‘bipartisan unity’ in a country or ‘oligarchs’, is basically with the same bourgeois interests.
Ukraine, once a part of the Soviet Union, is now controlled by the US and Western European interests. While the hopes and dreams of the Soviet Union apparently waned away, capitalist, and neo-Nazi, ideologies and politics usurped political power of Ukraine. The Empire, with an apparent anti-fascist, anti-Nazi face, had been supporting, supplying, and training the far-rightist and neo-Nazi elements of Ukraine to wage its war against Russia.
Despite concerns at home, the Empire continued collaborating with and supporting Nazi ideology in Ukraine. ‘In 2015, the CIA, according to five former intelligence and national security officials, set up “a secret intensive training program in the US for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel.” The same year, the US Congress passed a spending bill that featured “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of economic and military support for Ukraine, one that was expressly modified to allow that support to flow to the country’s resident neo-Nazi militia, the Azov Regiment”.’ (Gabriel Rockhill, “Nazis in Ukraine: seeing through the fog of the information war”, Liberation News, cited in MR Online, March 30 2022)
The US has already put in much effort and money in countering the Russian advance in Ukraine. As The New York Times reports, “The House…passed a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine in an overwhelming 368 to 57 vote, weeks after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved $13.6 billion in emergency aid for the war effort. That total — roughly $53 billion over two months — goes beyond what President Biden requested and is poised to amount to the largest foreign aid package to move through Congress in at least two decades.” (“House Passes $40 Billion More in Ukraine Aid, With Few Questions Asked”, The New York Times, May 10 2022)
The aid for the Ukraine War package disbursed by the Empire since the war began is roughly close to Russia’s annual defense spending of $65.9 billion in 2021, and more than four times higher than the total defense spending of Ukraine in 2021. With the Empire’s war package Ukraine became 14th in the world in terms of annual military spending, surpassing nations such as Israel ($24.3 billion) and Iran ($24.6 billion).(“Fact Check: Joe Biden $33bn Ukraine Plan Worth Half Russia Military Budget”, Newsweek, April 29 2022; “How Joe Biden’s $33bn Ukraine War Plan Compares to NATO Defense Budgets”, Newsweek, April 29, 2022)
The plethora of military spending by the Empire for the Ukraine War brings to fore the Empire’s desperate need to win the war. It also puts into perspective the information perpetrated by contemporary media on the war; a war that turns into an ‘unfair’ one when considered the Empire’s military spending with respect to Russian forces.
However, the question remains, why would the Empire ‘give away’ such a large number of ‘bucks’ to Ukraine, and even provide exclusive armaments support along with military trainings while it has a huge debt burden, gigantic failure in handling the pandemic, huge student loan burden, deficiency in health care system, galloping social problems including racial problem, violence/gun violence that creates a march of murders in different places on almost every other day, and even the present soaring gas price?
With Russia controlling the largest natural gas reserves (about 48,938 billion cubic meters) followed by Iran (34,077 bcm), and Qatar (23,831 bcm) (“Infographic: How much of your country’s gas comes from Russia?”, Aljazeera, March 17 2022), the western, eastern European and broken-away-from-Soviet Union-countries face a dilemma – whether to support the US agenda in Ukraine or be silent observers of the war. Germany, the current economic leader in Europe, “has been the biggest single-country buyer of Russian energy in the first two months since the war in Ukraine began. The study published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) calculates that Russia has earned €63 billion ($66.5 billion) from fossil fuel exports since February 24. The researchers [figures compiled by an independent research group] worked out that Germany alone paid Russia about €9.1 billion ($9.65 billion) for fossil fuel deliveries in the two months’ since the Ukraine war began” (“Germany top buyer of Russian energy since Ukraine invasion began: report”, Deutsche Welle, 2022).
With its European axis in a disheveled state over energy crises (including Macron barely winning the election in France), with the European gas sources controlled by Russia, the US is suddenly at a fix, whether to expand eastward or to extort by showmanship of power. The US has always exerted its control over Europe after the 90’s, with cajoling and coaxing, and sometimes with ‘sweet’ threats. And now it faces a long-forgotten ‘enemy’, the Russian bloc, almost forsaken remnants of the Bolsheviks haunting its dreams. In its desperate throes of throwing away ‘communist advances’, the said Empire is supporting neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine, its last foothold of geo-strategic control in Eastern Europe.
While this is itself an irony considering the US being a part of the Allied Forces in WWII, yet it is not surprising, given the fact that the US imperialist advances had always tried to undermine pro-people struggles across continents, with its bloody ‘legacy’ of supporting fascist regimes in many Asian countries including Indonesia and in Latin America.
There are other facts that demand close look:
- “Some of Europe’s largest energy companies are preparing to use a new payment system for Russian gas demanded by the Kremlin, which critics say will undercut EU sanctions, threaten the bloc’s unity and deliver billions in cash to Russia’s economy.” (“EU energy groups prepare to meet Vladimir Putin’s terms for Russian gas”, Financial Times, 2022)
- “Gas distributors in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are planning to open rouble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland in order to satisfy a Russian requirement for payments in its own currency, according to people with knowledge of the preparations.” (ibid.)
- “The groups include two of the single largest importers of Russian gas: Düsseldorf-based Uniper and Vienna-based OMV.” (ibid.)
The US imperialist agenda finally reduce to these facts about energy resources. While energy sources along with fossil fuels deplete, the Empire turns its malevolent eyes to countries where such resources yet remain.
And the Empire wants it for taking, all of it!
Hence wars rage across continents, the Empire ensuring its control over Middle Eastern energy sources is now trying to control gas, oil, and rare metal sources in Russia. Ukraine remains a pawn in the Empire’s geostrategic advances, a potential gateway to resources controlled by the Russian interests.
So, the Empire covets control in Russia, the country with vast oil, gas, and other resources. Weakening of Russia will enable its competitor to have control over Russia’s resources. Now, through this Ukraine war, the Empire is trying to bleed and weaken Russia. This drives the Empire’s Ukraine war – a full-fledged intervention, mostly indirect, and partly direct.
However, yet the question remains, when do the wars end? When does the bloodletting end?
The prevalent system, spearheaded by the US and European economic systems, is going through a crisis of energy and planetary resources, one of many crises the system has created itself by plundering, expropriation, and over-accumulation. ‘[R]eports by national security analysts on strategic energy policy …followed in May 2001 by the White House release of its National Energy Policy, issued under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney…emphasized the need for U.S. petroleum security, noting that total US oil production had fallen 39 percent below its 1970 peak and that US reliance on foreign oil imports could increase to almost two-thirds of its total gasoline and heating oil consumption by 2020. President Bush warned in May 2001 that dependence on foreign crude oil put US “national energy security” in the hands of ‘foreign nations, some of whom do not share our interests’.” (John Bellamy Foster, “Peak Oil and Energy Imperialism”, Monthly Review, July 1, 2008)
The evident looming energy crisis had been one of the major factors in imperialist advances to search for and plunder more resources across continents. Direct and proxy wars, imperialist advances and attempts at creating puppet governments and controlling sovereign countries, onslaughts against pro-people movements, organizations and powers therefore ensued. However, while the more the Empire became ‘adventurist’ and desperate for accumulation and expropriation, the more it turned rife with stagnation, inflation, and financial meltdowns.
‘The answer was for the Western powers led by the United States to play a more direct role in the development of world oil resources. This would be coupled with replacement of the current political economy of oil dominated by national oil companies, which had arisen with the growth of “resource nationalism” in the third world, with one in which the multinational oil corporations centered in the advanced capitalist economies once again took charge of reserves and investments.’(ibid.)
With the military-industrial complex-driven war for oil and resources in the Middle East straining the Empire’s economy to a point where it can no longer sustain a ‘boots-on-ground’ battle, the US needed a geo-tactically safe waypoint to resources in its largest, resource-rich and staunchest enemy front – to the plains of the former Soviet Union, the Russian Federation.
Ukraine had always been a part of long-standing US and Western imperialist expansion strategies. Economic and military control over Ukraine was pivotal to gaining a 1,200-mile border with Russia, essentially a tactical insertion point of nuclear arms, that in turn ensures the Empire’s final foothold of tactical control over vast amount of resources including oil and gas in the ‘Eastern front’.
‘Zbigniew Brzezinski, … Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor said in his 1997 Grand Chessboard that Ukraine was the “geopolitical pivot,” particularly in the West, which if it were brought into NATO and under Western control, would weaken Russia so much that it could be tethered, if not dismembered. This has been the goal all along and U.S. strategic planners and Washington officials, along with the NATO allies, have stated over and over that they wanted to bring the Ukraine into NATO. NATO made this goal official in 2008. Only a few months ago, in November 2021 in the new strategic charter between the Biden administration in Washington and Zelensky government in Kyiv, it was agreed that the immediate aim was bring Ukraine into NATO. But this has also been NATO’s policy for a long time now. The United States in the final months of 2021 and at the beginning of 2022 was moving very fast to militarize the Ukraine and accomplish that as a fait accompli.’ (John Bellamy Foster, “The U.S. proxy war in Ukraine”, Monthly Review, April 9 2022)
To drive this imperialist agenda, the Empire had been supporting Nazi/fascist/far-rightist elements in Ukraine to destabilize pro-people, and pro-Soviet ideologies and movements. The US had not flinched in supporting fascist, far-right, white supremacist groups like the Azov Brigade in perpetrating its war for said ‘democracy’, even though ‘in 2019, U.S. lawmakers wrote a letter to the State Department in which they stated that “the link between Azov and acts of terror in America is clear.” A 2018 FBI affidavit stated that Azov ‘is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.’ This included members of the white-supremacist Rise Above Movement, which were indicted for having ‘violently attacked and assaulted counter-protestors’ at several white nationalist and white supremacist events throughout the U.S., including the violent ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.” (Gabriel Rockhill, “Nazis in Ukraine: seeing through the fog of the information war”, Liberation News, cited in MR Online, March 30 2022)
The Empire has already been conducting a ‘secret war’ in Ukraine since late February with the presence of elite special forces, according to a report in Le Figaro’s senior international correspondent Georges Malbrunot citing a French Intelligence community source. “SAS units ‘have been present in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, as did the American Deltas,’ Malbrunot tweeted citing a French intelligence source”. Western pro-war intentions had already been apparently confirmed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying, “war will be won on the battlefield” during a visit in Kiev in April 2022. (Countercurents Collective, “Ukraine Update: Sweden And Finland Set To Join NATO”, countercurrents.org, April 12 2022)
These are essentially strategic maneuvers of the Empire for expansion and control of resources, resources that it is in dire need of. The Empire’s ideology, basically anti-people and anti-civilization has always been one that helps drive its imperialist interests. The Empire can carry out the most nefarious of acts that may even undermine its own citizens’ interests, let alone interests of masses around the world for this ideology. The crisis of energy and resources, however, ironically is of the Empire’s own making, a ramification of its continuous expansion, pilfering and expropriation of resources. While the Empire’s war for more resources, rages on, the world suffers.
The Empire’s war in Ukraine is now leading to a global economic crisis, a result of unilateral anti-Russian sanctions. Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said, “The actual causes threatening the global food market with serious turbulence are not in Russia’s actions but rather is the unrestrained sanction hysteria the West has unleashed against Russia giving no thought either to the population of the countries of the so-called global south or to their own citizens. The attempt to isolate Russia economically, financially and logistically from the years-long cooperation channels is already entailing an economic crisis of the historic scale.” (Countercurrents Collective, “Ukraine Update: Possibility Of Putin-Zelensky And Putin-Biden Meeting”, countercurrents.org, March 20 2022)
The war is threatening to devastate the World Food Program’s efforts to feed about 125 million people globally, warned the UN food chief. WFP Executive Director David Beasley told the UN Security Council, with 50% of the grain bought by the WFP coming from Ukraine, the crisis has compounded by a lack of fertilizer products coming from Belarus and Russia. (ibid.)
While the US pours billions in its Ukraine War, billions paid by US taxpayers, its media hails the essentially armaments support as ‘humanitarian aid’, even gloating over the number of armaments as ‘aids’ in the war. Though the Empire apparently vocally advocates ‘peace’, its acts are not only far from it, but can be deemed as instigations and indirect (sometimes even direct) participation in the Ukraine War.
The Empire’s Ukraine war, however, is not necessarily a show of its strength and superiority. Rather the war is the Empire’s one of desperate efforts to control a rapidly deteriorating energy crisis the brunt of which has already left the Empire scathed and scarred, reeling from wounds that run deep within its very societal and economic structure. While lives, homes and hearths are lost, yet the Empire, a self-appointed ‘harbinger of peace’, continues its war based on lies, hypocrisy and disinformation, such is the irony.
[Omar Rashid Chowdhury is a civil engineer and writes from Bangladesh]