Caitlin Johnstone: Ukraine’s ‘Agency’ the CIA Kind

Denying the Western role in subverting Ukrainian sovereignty doesn’t benefit ordinary Ukrainians, it hurts them.

May 9, 2015: Casualties of the War in Donbass. (Andrew Butko, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

“You’re denying the agency of Ukrainians!”

This is a line you’ve probably had bleated at you by propagandized empire livestock if you’ve engaged in online debate about the role Western powers have played in paving the way to this war.

One of the many, many tricks that imperial spinmeisters have pulled out of their hats in their shockingly frenetic campaign to manage the narrative about what’s happening in Ukraine is to insist that it’s outrageous and disgusting to suggest that Ukraine is being used as a sacrificial pawn in the grand chessboard maneuverings of the U.S.-centralized empire, because it is denying the “agency” of that nation. The argument is that Ukraine freely chose to enter into the situation in which it now finds itself, with no outside pressure or influence of any kind whatsoever.

Seemingly overnight it became not just wrong to say that the U.S. hegemon has played a role in giving rise to this war, but actually monstrous and evil. My online notifications are currently flooded with furious empire apologists screaming at me for assigning any degree of responsibility in this conflict to Western power structures with the kind of vitriol people normally reserve for Holocaust deniers or pedophelia advocates.

Imperial narrative managers have even been working overtime to make the word “westsplaining” happen, which is their progressive-sounding term for when one makes the self-evident observation that Western powers influence world events. Mainstream Westerners are actively trained to regurgitate lines like “Stop westsplaining to Ukrainians about coups and proxy conflicts! You’re denying their agency!”

Calling this a “proxy war” between Russia and the United States or calling Kyiv a “puppet regime” of Washington is strictly taboo now. That Ukraine has lacked independent agency in this war and the events leading up to it is something you are simply not allowed to say.

Well, I’m saying it. This is a proxy war. Kyiv is a puppet regime. Ukraine does not have independent agency in any meaningful way. This is not the fault of the Ukrainian people, who are obviously far and away the greatest victims of the Russian invasion, but of the giant Western power structure which deliberately worked to take away the nation’s agency many years before the invasion took place.

I mean, my god. The U.S. and its allies are pouring billions of dollars’ worth of weapons into Ukraine from around the world, the C.I.A. has been training Ukrainians to kill Russians, the U.S. intelligence cartel is directly sharing military intelligence with Kiev as we speak, and this follows U.S.-backed coups in Ukraine in 2014 and in 2004 before that.

This is a proxy war. This is exactly the thing that a proxy war is. The only “agency” Ukraine has is the Central Intelligence kind.

In an excellent article for Multipolarista titled “Ukrainian leftist criticizes Western war drive with Russia: US is using Ukraine as ‘cannon fodder’“, Ukrainian-American Yuliy Dubovyk writes the following:

“Like any other US puppet regime, Ukraine doesn’t have any real independence. Kiev has been actively pushed to confront Russia by every US administration, against the will of the majority of Ukrainian people.

The support for Ukraine that fills the Western media now is not out of real solidarity with the people of Ukraine. If that were the case, the US wouldn’t have overthrown our government twice in a decade; it wouldn’t have supported the policies that made us the poorest country in Europe; it wouldn’t have fueled a brutal civil war for the past eight years.

The reason US media outlets and politicians are all backing Ukraine now is because they want to use the Ukrainian military and civilian population as cannon fodder in a proxy war with a political adversary.”

Yes indeedy. Amid all the phony profile pic activism and concern trolling about denial of Ukraine’s “agency,” no concern whatsoever has been shown for actual, known assaults on Ukrainian independence by the US-centralized empire.

Where was all this reverence for Ukraine’s “agency” in 2004, when The Guardian was reporting that “while the gains of the orange-bedecked ‘chestnut revolution’ are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes?”

Where was the respect for Ukraine’s “agency” in 2014, when a leaked phone call between Victoria Nuland (now working on Ukraine under the Biden administration) and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt exposed U.S. officials casually discussing who they were going to select as Ukraine’s next prime minister following a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev?

Where was all this respect for Ukraine’s “agency” in 2018, when Joe Biden openly boasted before the Council on Foreign Relations that he had used his power as Obama’s vice president to brazenly interfere in Ukraine’s judicial system?

The U.S. power alliance does not care about Ukraine’s sovereignty beyond the measures it thinks needs to be taken to actively subvert it. When people object to criticisms of the way the empire has actively robbed Ukrainians of any real agency, what they are actually doing is defending the most powerful empire that has ever existed from attempts to highlight its malfeasance.

I’m not just spouting off about a far-away nation from my safe home here in Australia, for the record. This is a dynamic which affects my country directly, and is very likely to affect it a lot more as the empire’s “great power competition” with China heats up.

It is very likely that in the not-too-distant future, Australia will end up playing a crucial role in the empire’s grand chessboard maneuverings to stop the rise of China. When that occurs, I will most certainly be saying that we are being used as pawns in a proxy conflict, and I will most certainly be saying that our agency in this matter has been stolen from us.

As in Ukraine, there have been U.S.-backed coups in Australia not once but twice. This nation is now functionally little more than a U.S. military and intelligence base with a smattering of suburbs and kangaroos, which is why the puppet regime in our capital Canberra has done nothing whatsoever to end Washington’s brutal persecution of Australian journalist Julian Assange. 

John Mearsheimer, now the subject of great controversy for his completely accurate predictions years ago that U.S. and NATO actions would lead to this exact war in Ukraine, told an Australian think tank in 2019 that the U.S. will destroy Australia if Canberra doesn’t align with imperial agendas against Beijing. And he was right.

And yes, just as there are Ukrainians supporting the imperial line against Moscow, when the time comes for Australia to make great sacrifices for U.S. unipolarist agendas against the Chinese government there will absolutely be Australians supporting it.

Because of a massive propaganda campaign in this nation facilitated by our Murdoch-dominated press and imperial narrative management operations like the empire-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute, there are many Australians who intensely despise China right now. I know. I’ve met them.

But that won’t mean our sovereignty wasn’t robbed from us, by mass-scale oligarchic psyops, by C.I.A. coups, by secret deals, by the threat of knowing we’d be immediately attacked by a murderous empire if we tried to pivot to Beijing or even to simply espouse a neutral posture. What’s true of Ukraine is also true of Australia: we have no meaningful agency in the most important decisions made by this nation.

Denying the western role in subverting Ukrainian sovereignty doesn’t benefit ordinary Ukrainians, it hurts them. You can’t fix a problem you don’t understand, and until there’s widespread understanding of the way the U.S. empire uses proxies to advance its agendas of global domination, nothing can be done to stop these ugly proxy wars from happening.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see her stuff is to subscribe to the mailing list for at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes. For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do, click here.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

16 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Ukraine’s ‘Agency’ the CIA Kind

  1. George
    March 23, 2022 at 23:34

    Why is Vlad bombing Ukrainian cities (Kharkiv, Mariupol, Melitopol) with majority Russian ethnic/Russian-speaking population? Isn’t the goal of the “Special Military Operation” to PROTECT ethnic Russians in Ukraine?

      March 24, 2022 at 02:02

      To protect ethnic Russians Russia is trying to defeat the Azov Battalion, other Nazi groups and the Ukrainian army in those towns.

  2. NW
    March 23, 2022 at 15:07

    This is spot on. Not even a country like Germany is allowed to decide what’s best for them. With regard to energy imports, the US decide what’s in Germany’s “best interest”. How can anyone believe that much smaller Ukraine has the freedom to make their own decisions? It’s also funny that Nassim Taleb who coined the term “intellectual yet idiot” can be just that if he talks about things he doesn’t understand.

  3. mgr
    March 23, 2022 at 11:12

    Thank you, Caitlin. Always spot on. But America is doing such a great job of leading the world as the one indispensable nation… Leading to what? Something good? Something better? A sustainable, prosperous future..? A better quality of life for the 8 billion people who share this planet..? Well, maybe, sort of… but, you know, with a lot more raping and pillaging.

    Basically, American leadership in the world today has come to mean one thing and one thing only; the dream of world-domination by neocons who are inspired by their sacred creed of “zero/sum and everyone is a means to our ends.” In fact, that sounds quite a bit like the ideology of Nazi Germany and every other despotic leader. Well, the German government is now arming Nazis again at America’s behest. Just following orders? I wonder where this will go.

    A deranged leader such as this is always a tragedy for the world but far worse, this is also the exact moment in human history where the road forks. One fork is America’s neocon dream. The other fork is our survival. Nature has presented us with a stark and inevitable choice and there is no negotiating nor second chances.

    This is simply because our continued existence as a species on this planet depends above all on an unlimited, whatever it takes, amount of cooperation and good will. Compare that to what the neos offer. In fact, what America’s neocon leadership desires for itself will kill us all.

    In the current situation, it is hard to know which is worse, America’s neocons or the spit-licking leaders who enable them while throwing their own public under the bus.

  4. Eddy
    March 23, 2022 at 03:15

    Quote, ” when the time comes for Australia to make great sacrifices for U.S. unipolarist agendas against the Chinese government there will absolutely be Australians supporting it.” Unquote. As a Vietnam Veteran, I can attest to the validity in what you say Caitlin. During that period, Australians were similarly brainwashed to fear the communist hords who were going to invade Australia, and turn us all into communists. If it wasn’t so bloody pathetic, it’d be laughable. The Vietnamese didn’t have a blue water Navy, nor did they even know Australia existed at the time. Yet Australians believed what their media and Govt told them, and some threw away their lives and future as a direct result. Speaking for myself, I learned a very valuable lesson, “NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING YOUR GOVERNMENT OR MEDIA TELL YOU”. That STILL applies to this very day. Our Government does not, in any way, have OUR interests at heart, we are all EXPENDABLE in the pursuit of that Government’s agenda, following the dictates of the U.S. Too bad many will pay the ultimate price for their lack of vision.

  5. Mikael Andersson
    March 23, 2022 at 01:31

    Thanks Caitlin. Australia’s agency was taken away on 11th November 1975 in a bloodless coup. The Governor General, a person with acknowledged US deep state links originating in WWII, took it upon himself without the Queen’s knowledge to sack the twice-elected Whitlam government and install an illegitimate replacement. The country has never recovered and is now a vassal of the USA. Perhaps it was all along, but 11/11/1975 settled the matter. The USA has no allies, only supplicants. Australia has no agency. It follows orders. Nice hardware, shame about the software.

  6. ks
    March 22, 2022 at 20:44

    Thanks so much, particularly for linking to the article by the Ukrainian-American. It’s easier to get through to some of the people trapped in the propaganda bubble with a personal story.

  7. Jean
    March 22, 2022 at 18:04

    Thank you again Caitlin for your clear-eyed, clear headed explication of my murderous country. I would add that even US citizens of good will and contempt for our empire are without agency too. We worked hard to change course only to have the DNC pull the rug out from under one of the most popular politicians in the States on his way to the nomination, and push the doddering, corrupt old war man down our throats in a brutal fellacio on democracy. As Dylan said—it all falls there so perfectly, it all looks so well planned. I just hope the Yuppie generation and the Killery Me Too’s can pull their heads out of their hoohoo’s before it’s too late.

  8. Robert Severance
    March 22, 2022 at 17:53

    I have been asked , am I not ashamed to be on Tucker Carlson’s “side” in this issue? No, I welcome Tucker to my view. He needs to look closely at other issues also. Donald Trump may also be on my side! Well, truth is truth no matter who supports it. Some of Hitler’s ardent supporters were proto-environmentalists.

    • James Simpson
      March 23, 2022 at 04:51

      Well… that last sentence needs a lot more explanation. The roots of environmentalism in the West are sadly linked to ideas of eugenics and racism.

        March 23, 2022 at 06:46

        Even if that is true it has nothing to do with the current fight against climate change.

  9. March 22, 2022 at 17:06

    Your absolutely correct Caitlin as an Australian it disturbs me when I hear people talk about China our major trading partner knowing that we’re a pawn in the empires grand game.
    I think like the Ukrainians we will be thrown under the bus simply because people are so stupid and brainwashed.

  10. March 22, 2022 at 16:52

    WOW just great to have some reality. I struggle to intellectually breath in the East Subs, 20k from Melb. AU surrounded by the white bread, new car driving, obediently vaccinated. “Don’t think and you’ll be OK” entrainment is so complete. There is never a question about vaccination, or 100% obeisance – “Do what the USA says” obeying Morrison, the PM’s ”Do the right thing”. The rat bag Aussie allusion has shifted from an heroic Ned Kelly like contempt for the British cloth, to obedient thanks to the new God, America. Unfortunately alcoholism has become the mutual camaraderie, mass educated as the flag of rebellion. The general public have all aligned and embrace the mono speak from the single Murdoch Chanels of Media information marketing, called News. Thinking in Australia has become a crime. Any unaligned discussion from the “Narrative” is censored completely. Dob On Your Mates who show any signs of Dissent is the new AUSIE fear patriotism. The compliance hypnosis now means that the voices like yours/mine are free, as the entrained public can no longer believe they see us.

  11. bobzz
    March 22, 2022 at 16:04

    Caitlin writes, “The argument is that Ukraine freely chose to enter into the situation in which it now finds itself, with no outside pressure or influence of any kind whatsoever.” It is a strange argument. If Ukraine did freely choose their course, why complain about Russia doing the American version of R2P? I do not know how the war is going in Ukraine, (fog of war, you know) but it they are destroying Russia’s war machine per the Western press, why is Pres. Z badgering NATO, and yes, Israel to come into the war, the latter even invoking the holocaust.

    • bobzz
      March 22, 2022 at 16:06

      “if” they are destroying…”

  12. Realist
    March 22, 2022 at 14:07

    Damned straight, Caitlin. Amazing how you come up with such quality columns every unblessed day.

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