Lawrence Wittner, professor of history emeritus at SUNY/Albany in New York state, has published an essay summing up and voicing the liberal-imperialist view of the conflict in Ukraine. The essay is titled ‘ ‘Two ways that the Ukraine war could have been prevented and might still be ended”. It was originally published in The Daily Kos, June 26, 2023 and has been re-published in U.S. alternative media outlets Common Dreams, CounterPunch and LA Progressive.
Wittner’s view of the conflict and of Russia’s role and responsibility is fiercely anti-Russia and pro-imperialist. His proposed ‘two ways’ to end the conflict are entirely imperialist in content. They are:
- Continued Western military intervention in order to make Russia’s war effort “too costly in terms of lives, resources, and internal stability to continue”, and
- Revise the founding United Nations Charter in order to empower a UN General Assembly majority to impose sanctions against other UN member countries. This would put into place a “tyranny of the majority” at the UN which the wealthy imperialist countries could use their immense financial resources to control or manipulate.
Liberal imperialists hold a common view of the conflict in Ukraine. They tut-tut over NATO’s share of responsibility of the conflict, but zero in on Russia’s claimed responsibility. They argue that Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine is “illegal” and that Russia could have pursued “diplomatic measures” to satisfactorily resolve its conflict with NATO and with the far-right governing regime in Kiev. Whatever ‘criticism’ of NATO they voice is blunted and obscured by the companion messaging of ‘Russia bad, too’.
In order to sell this viewpoint, the liberal imperialists carefully eliminate or whitewash any reference to Russia’s years-long diplomatic efforts precisely aimed at curbing the expansionist plans of NATO in eastern Europe and therby avoiding conflict. Russia says proposed NATO membership for Ukraine cannot and will not take place. It also calls for ending the low-intensity war by the Kyiv regime against the people of Donbass and recognizing the legitimacy of the self-determination referendum in Crimea on March 16, 2014 in which a large majority voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
Kyiv’s war in Donbass, fully backed by the NATO powers, killed some 14,000 civilians and combatants between 2014 and the outset of Russia’s military intervention in February 2022. (By comparison, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations estimates that as of June 19, 2023, there have been 9,083 civilians killed and 15,779 injured in Ukraine since February 22, 2022 on both sides of the conflict.)
Several not-so-alternative media outlets in the West have published Wittner’s new essay including Common Dreams and LA Progressive. The widely-read Common Dreams has lately taken to citing as fact and authority the words of the notoriously lying, far-right governing regime in Kiev.
Wittner’s ‘two ways’ that war could have been prevented in Ukraine DO NOT include:
- Implementation of the ‘Minsk 2’ peace agreement of Feb 12, 2015, unanimously approved by the UN Security Council on Feb 17, 2015 but subsequently sabotaged by the NATO powers, and
- Ukraine and NATO to renounce NATO expansion incorporating Ukraine into membership. These are the principal, minimal conditions that Russia has set to end the conflict in Ukraine.
Any claims that Russia is to blame for the conflict are simply exercises in carrying water* for the imperialist powers. The bankruptcy of liberal imperialism stands fully exposed in the case of Ukraine and should be rejected by all those sincerely wishing to bring peace to Ukraine and to end the heightened nuclear weapons tensions that NATO’s aggressive actions have created.
* Wiktionary: ‘Carrying water’ is to to do someone’s bidding; to serve someone’s interests.