“You can’t be neutral” in NATO’s proxy war with Russia, foreign ministers of the U.S., Germany and Ukraine told leaders of Global South countries at the Munich Security Conference on February 18. “Neutrality is not an option,” said Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, “because then you are standing on the side of the aggressor.” In January Baerbock told the Council of Europe “We are fighting a war against Russia.”
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken echoed his German counterpart, stressing “You really can’t be neutral.”
Why not? What motivates this Mafia style pressure?
“Nearly 90 percent of the World Isn’t Following Us on Ukraine,” blared a Newsweek opinion piece last September 15. “While the United States and its closest allies in Europe and Asia have imposed tough economic sanctions on Moscow, 87 percent of the world’s population has declined to follow us. Economic sanctions have united our adversaries in shared resistance. Less predictably, the outbreak of Cold War II has also led countries that were once partners or non-aligned to become increasingly multi-aligned.”
In 2002, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, George Bush Junior told western European leaders “You are either with us, or against us,” even if they didn’t believe Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.”
“My Way or No Highway” is the title of a section of the Munich Security Report. Some Non-Aligned members felt this was a warning not to participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative—their preferred “highway.” The section cites Chinese President Xi Jinping that “Mechanisms for countering foreign sanctions, interference, and long-arm jurisdiction will be strengthened.”
Immediately after the Munich conference, at a summit in Bengaluru, India (aka Bangalore), U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said G20 countries must condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and they must adhere to U.S. sanctions against Russia. But India, the chair of the G20, demurred. Indian officials said “India is not keen to discuss or back any additional sanctions on Russia during the G20… The existing sanctions on Russia have had a negative impact on the world.”
Instead of isolating Russia, the U.S./NATO sanctions are isolating the west against the rest of the world.
‘Losing the trust of the Global South’
French President Macron said at Munich “I am struck by how much we are losing the trust of the Global South.” Macron’s “we” refers to the NATO countries, especially the G7. He added that “The west has been losing the Global South and hasn’t done enough to respond to the charge of double standards, including by not helping poor countries fast enough with Covid vaccines.” U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris observed glumly that “many countries sit on the fence.”
Colombia’s new Vice President Francia Márquez, speaking at a Munich panel on “defending the UN Charter and the Rules-Based International Order,” said “We don’t want to go on discussing who will be the winner or the loser of a war. We are all losers, and, in the end, it is humankind that loses everything.”
“Our focus is on resolving the problem… not on shifting blame,” said Namibia’s Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. “We are promoting a peaceful resolution of that conflict” in Ukraine. “The money used to buy weapons could be better utilized to promote development in Ukraine, in Africa, in Asia, in other places, in Europe itself, where many people are experiencing hardships.”
China’s Top Diplomat Weighs In
China’s top diplomat, State Counselor Wang Yi, stole the show at Munich. He told the delegates “it is imperative to return to the Minsk II agreement… as quickly as possible.” That means a ceasefire and autonomy for the Donbas, and getting NATO out of Ukraine. Wang said Minsk II “is a binding instrument negotiated by the parties concerned and endorsed by the UN Security Council.” He said “Russia and the EU both support Minsk II,” and claimed U.S. Secretary of State Blinken had expressed U.S. support “in a recent phone call.” He called for “the relevant parties [to] sit down together” to work out a roadmap and timetable for implementation of the agreement.
Wang announced China’s 12-point plan for peace in Ukraine. It calls for “abandoning the Cold War mentality, saying “All parties should… prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability” by promoting talks for peace, and “help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible.” It says “Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided” and concludes that “China opposes unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council.”
Blinken responded by changing the subject, saying China “is considering providing lethal support” to Russia, “and we’ve made very clear to them that that would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship.” Joe Biden dismissed China’s plan: “I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia if the Chinese plan were followed.”
Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy indicated he was willing to consider aspects of the Chinese proposal, according to a February 24 Guardian report. He said he planned to meet President Xi Jinping and said it would be “useful” to both countries and global security.
Following the Munich conference Wang Yi flew to Moscow. He told Russian President Putin “our relations are always not directed at third countries and, of course, they are not subject to pressure from third parties, since we have a very strong foundation – from the economy, politics, and culture.”
On February 21, China issued its “Global Security Initiative” Concept Paper—a broad statement of principles “calling on countries to adapt to the profoundly changing international landscape in the spirit of solidarity, and address the complex and intertwined security challenges with a win-win mindset.” At its center the document says “War and sanctions are no fundamental solution to disputes; only dialogue and consultation are effective in resolving differences… Major countries must uphold justice, fulfill their due responsibilities, support consultation on an equal footing, and facilitate talks for peace.”
China’s former ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, who is now Foreign Minister, introduced the Concept Paper saying “we urge relevant countries to immediately stop adding fuel to the fire, stop blaming China and stop provoking the situation by using references like ‘Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow’.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, said “China issued its position paper on the political settlement of the crisis, whereas the U.S. imposed sanctions on Chinese and other foreign companies. Who is promoting peace and de-escalation, and who is fueling the tension and making the world more unstable? The answer is fairly obvious.”
‘US Hegemony and Its Perils’—China takes the gloves off
As if to clarify it doesn’t always have to be polite and diplomatic, China’s foreign ministry issued a frank and forceful document which is a detailed indictment that “the United States has acted… to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, pursue, maintain and abuse hegemony, advance subversion and infiltration, and willfully wage wars, bringing harm to the international community.”
The document traces U.S. interference in other countries from the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, including the 61-year blockade of Cuba, and a succession of “color revolutions” over the past two decades, the plot to intervene in Venezuela, attacks on UN agencies for their support of Palestine, forcing an “Indo-Pacific Strategy” with “exclusive clubs like the Five Eyes, the Quad and AUKUS, and forcing regional countries to take sides.”
“The U.S. arbitrarily passes judgment on democracy in other countries, and fabricates a false narrative of ‘democracy versus authoritarianism,’ the document says. It mentions the failed 2021 “Summit for Democracy” in Washington which “drew criticism and opposition from many countries for making a mockery of the spirit of democracy and dividing the world.” Another such summit planned for this March, “remains unwelcome and will again find no support.”
The document quotes former U.S. President Jimmy Carter that “the United States is undoubtedly the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” It cites a Tufts University report, “The Military Intervention Project: A new Dataset on U.S. Military Interventions, 1776-2019,” which says the United States undertook nearly 400 military interventions globally in those years.
“Since 2001, the wars and military operations launched by the United States in the name of fighting terrorism have claimed over 900,000 lives with some 335,000 of them civilians, injured millions, and displaced tens of millions… So far, the United States… has imposed economic sanctions on nearly 40 countries across the world, including Cuba, China, Russia, the DPRK, Iran and Venezuela, affecting nearly half of the world’s population. See partial list and map of countries and/or officials [in specific countries] sanctioned.
‘The United States of America’ has turned itself into ‘the United States of Sanctions.’ And ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ has been reduced to nothing but a tool for the United States to use its means of state power to suppress economic competitors.”
The document concludes that “The United States must… critically examine what it has done, let go of its arrogance and prejudice, and quit its hegemonic, domineering and bullying practices.”
Anniversary Speeches: Brave Talk & Grim Realities
After a dramatic February 20 visit to Kiev, U.S. President Biden flew to Warsaw for his February 21 speech on the first anniversary of the Ukraine Conflict. He warned of “hard and bitter days ahead” as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nears the one-year mark, but vowed that no matter what, the United States and allies “will not waver” in supporting Ukraine. “NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire,” Biden declared bravely.
However, the Washington Post’s “Today’s WorldView” reporter Ishaan Tharoor says “An Awkward tension lies beneath the West’s support for Ukraine.” He writes that “for all of the bravura on show last week, with Biden journeying to Kyiv and Warsaw, it’s still uncertain that a united West won’t blink first.”
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz privately told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier… that Ukraine cannot win the war against Russia and it should begin peace talks with Moscow this year, the Wall Street Journal reported. “The public rhetoric masks deepening private doubts among politicians in the U.K., France and Germany that Ukraine will be able to expel the Russians from eastern Ukraine and Crimea…, and a belief that the West can only help sustain the war effort for so long.”
Former senior British diplomat Alastair Crooke asks ominously: “Can we imagine the U.S. throwing up its hands and conceding Russian victory? ‘No’. NATO might disintegrate in the face of such spectacular failure. Will Biden become desperate? And, as many suspect, gamble by doubling-down into a worsening situation?” Crooke asks “Can Biden be trusted (again) to not be reckless in the wake of his erratic decision to blow up the gas lifeline of close NATO ally, Germany? No, it’s not just one instance of recklessness (Nord Stream) at issue, but that of multiple misjudgments, giving rise to mounting Deep State anger directed at Biden, and more particularly at his close team of neocons with their immature political judgments.”
Speaking to a February 21 UN Security Council special session on Seymour Hersh’s exposé of the U.S. destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines last September, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said “no one wants to go back 20 years to [former U.S. Secretary of State] Colin Powell’s speech before this Security Council. We all know about that.” [Powell embarrassed himself by officially lying to the UN.] McGovern commented that those U.S. government spokespeople who are smearing Hersh, “don’t have a good record for credibility.”
Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs also spoke at the Security Council session: “As the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines on 26 September 2022 constitutes an act of international terrorism and represents a threat to peace, it is the Council’s responsibility to take up the question of who might have carried out the act, help bring the perpetrator to justice, pursue compensation for the damaged parties and prevent such actions from recurring in the future.”
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun testified that “Recently, we have come across a lot of… relevant information concerning the Nord Stream incident, which is alarming… Faced with such detailed materials and comprehensive evidence, a simple statement of ‘utterly false and complete fiction’ is obviously not enough to answer the many questions and concerns raised around the world. Finding a way to dodge today’s meeting does not mean that truth can be concealed. We expect convincing explanations from relevant parties. Such a request is entirely legitimate and reasonable.”
Putin: NATO’s Goal is Strategic Defeat of Russia
In Moscow, Russian President Putin delivered a remarkably philosophical—and upbeat—February 22 speech. He said “This is a time of radical, irreversible change in the entire world, of crucial historical events that will determine the future…”
Analyst Pepe Escobar, writing in The Cradle, paraphrases Putin that “Ukraine, part of Russian civilization, now happens to be occupied by western civilization, which Putin said ‘became hostile to us.’ So the acute phase of what is essentially a war by proxy of the west against Russia takes place over the body of Russian civilization.”
Escobar says Putin emphasized that “Ukraine is being used as a tool and testing ground by the west against Russia… The more long-range weapons are sent to Ukraine, the longer we have to push the threat away from our borders.”
So this war will be long—and painful, Escobar concludes. “Putin remarked on how ‘our relations with the west have degraded, and this is entirely the fault of the United States;’ how NATO’s goal is to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia.”
Escobar reports that the U.S. ambassador was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs right after Putin’s address. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov demanded a detailed explanation of the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, a halt to U.S. interference, and an independent inquiry to identify the responsible parties. He added that Washington must remove all U.S. and NATO military forces and equipment from Ukraine.
Antiwar Forces Mobilize
On February 19, thousands of people crowded the Lincoln Memorial to protest the war in Ukraine.
Another major anti-war mobilization is planned in Washington, DC, and other cities for March 18, on the 20th anniversary weekend of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, demanding “Peace in Ukraine—Say NO to Endless U.S. Wars” and “Fund People’s Needs, Not the War Machine.”
The call says “since 2003, the U.S. has engaged in sanctions (economic war) on more than 40 countries. These targets of U.S. economic warfare include the people of Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran and many other nations. “Even in the wake of the worst disasters, like the recent deadly earthquake, Washington keeps its cruel sanctions in place against Syria.”
The call says the Biden administration is “determined to escalate the Ukraine war. The real goal of the massive arming and training of Ukrainian forces has nothing to do with the interests of Ukrainian, Russian or American people. The aim instead is to ‘weaken Russia’ as stated by the U.S. Secretary of Defense himself, even at the risk of a catastrophic nuclear war that could end life on Earth. It adds that “A U.S. General commanding 50,000 troops in the Pacific also issued a letter to his sub-commanders in recent days informing them that he believes that the United States will be at war with China within two years.”
Key demands include:
- Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
- Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
- Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
- No war with China!
- End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel!
- Fight racism & bigotry not war!
- U.S. hands off Haiti!
- End AFRICOM!
In Europe, massive protests were held during February in Berlin, Germany, over providing weapons to Ukraine in its war against Russia. Thousands took to the streets holding banners and posters saying ‘negotiate and not escalate’ and ‘not our war.’ Demonstrations also took place in London, Warsaw, Paris and other French cities such as Bordeaux, Rennes and Montpellier, and in Brussels, Belgium.
This is a sign of growing antiwar sentiment and disdain for U.S. policy and NATO that may soon have a significant political ripple effect.
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About the Author
Dee Knight is a member of the DSA International Committee’s Anti-War Subcommittee.
He is the author of My Whirlwind Lives: Navigating Decades of Storms, soon to be published by Guernica World Editions.
Dee can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[…] CovertAction Magazine 6 March 2023 […]
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While the Chinese policy of aiming for a negotiated peace is in line with China’s usual attitude of “friendly relations and trade with all, war with none”, it’s hard to see how it could be implemented. What has happened in Ukraine is that the US government has done everything in its power to harm Russia. Having put up with this patiently for years, Russia has finally taken military measures to suppress the threat.
The USA is never going to lay aside its malicious conspiracies against Russia; and Russia is never going to stop defending itself. So there is no basis for negotiation, unless the Kiev regime surrenders and yields enough territory to make the Russians safe from long-range bombardment. As Kiev has no agency, being a sock puppet of Washington, that will not happen. The Americans are pleased when Russia is harmed; but they don’t care in the least what happens to Ukrainians.
Mr Wang is also on a loser as regards his suggestion of a “return” to Minsk 2. We now have it on impeccable authority, from both Zelensky and Merkel, that they never had the slightest intention of putting either Minsk agreement into effect. Their intention all along was to buy several years to arm Ukraine and build fortifications. Minsk 2 has never been implemented for a single day, so there can be no “return” to it.
In spite of all well-meaning talk of peace, the fact remains that when charged by a ferocious wild beast, there is no alternative to shooting it dead.