War in Ukraine & the ‘Crisis of Western Civilization’

After the collapse of the U.S.S.R. many Ukrainians, including members of the Rada, had a new agenda, writes Edward Lozansky. But Washington wasn’t interested. 

Crowd at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on March, 26, 2022, when U.S. President Joe Biden, in addressing the war in Ukraine, said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” (White House, Cameron Smith)

By Edward Lozansky
Special to Consortium News

The war in Ukraine has become a crisis of Western civilization.

Wall Street Journal Editor-at-Large Gerard Baker writes that the West is “losing our soul, our sense of purpose as a society, our identity as a civilization. We in the West are in the grip of an ideology that disowns our genius, denounces our success, disdains merit, elevates victimhood, embraces societal self-loathing, and enforces it all in a web of exclusionary and authoritarian rules, large and small.”

Baker nevertheless reminds us that “liberal capitalism has done more for human prosperity, health and freedom than any other economic or political system” but he forgets to mention at what cost.

When it comes to prosperity, it was achieved not only by the hard work or technological innovations but also, to an unfortunately large degree, by colonialism whereby various European nations explored, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world, often to the detriment of the people already living in those colonized lands. 

Shall we remember that most of the looting was never compensated or returned?

When it comes to freedom shall we also forget the deadliest extermination of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia? What about slavery? According to the Wilson Center the great contradiction of American society was its birth as a self-proclaimed bastion of human freedom even while it created theories of race to justify slavery.

The ‘Elbe Spirit’

April 1945: William Robertson of the U.S. Army and Alexander Silvashko of the Red Army pose to commemorate the meeting of the Soviet and American armies. (William E. Poulson, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Closer to our times, at the end of World War II, there was a spirit of camaraderie, if not brotherhood, between Americans and Russians, sometimes called the “Elbe Spirit” that was symbolized by the meeting of American and Soviet soldiers on the Elbe River in the German city of Torgau on April 25, 1945, on the eve of their joint victory over Nazi Germany.

Unfortunately, this spirit was betrayed almost immediately when thousands of Nazis and their collaborators were invited to settle in the United States, Canada and other Western countries, often with the direct assistance of U.S. intelligence officials who saw them as potential spies and informants in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Since World War II, the U.S. has initiated, or has been directly involved, in many military conflicts; with wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria among the major ones. This republic of liberty has caused over 5 million civilian deaths, over 50 million refugees and huge devastation in these countries.

As for the current war in Ukraine, the whole country was engaged by the collective West in a proxy war against Russia with whom for many centuries it was bound by close religious, historical, economic, cultural, and family ties.

I placed religion first to underscore that those who declare their adherence to Judeo-Christian values and democracy have provoked the war between the two Christian nations not to promote democracy but rather, to use Ukrainians as cannon fodder to preserve the geopolitical advantage of the U.S.

Many leading U.S. politicians, starting with the leader of the Senate Republicans,  Mitch McConnell, openly declare that supporting a proxy war in Ukraine is a very good and cheap investment since other soldiers, not Americans, are dying.

Benjamin Abelow in his book, How the West Brought War in Ukraine, lays out the relevant history and explains how the West needlessly produced this conflict, subjecting its citizens — and the rest of the world — to the risk of nuclear war.

Many other well-known international experts say this war was avoidable, and it is the West who provoked the crisis and who keeps preventing its ending.

The biggest lie coming from those who want to continue this war “for as long as it takes” is that after winning in Ukraine Putin will move further west.

Russia has no interest, desire or means to do it but those who benefit from the wars — like the Military-Industrial Complex, corrupted members of Congress, think tanks, President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign and the media keep repeating this lie.

[Biden himself, as well as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cranked up the lie last week to try to frighten Congress into turning over $40 billion more to the Ukrainian lost cause before President Volodymyr Zelenksy arrived in Washington. He left empty-handed.}

After the collapse of the U.S.S.R. many Ukrainians, including members of their Parliament – the Rada – had a different agenda which can be summarized as follows: free from the communist yoke, having strong industrial and agricultural sectors, a favorable climate and fertile land, Ukraine had great potential to become one of the most prosperous European countries.

Effective anti-corruption reforms, a certain level of autonomy for the regions with large Russian ethnic populations, and neutral status with no membership in any military blocs would have made Ukraine definitely a happy and prosperous state.

In 1993, Washington Not Interested

However, Washington was not interested, which was out on full display in May 1993 when there was a trilateral meeting on Capitol Hill organized by some American NGOs with legislators from the U.S. Congress, Russia’s Duma and Ukraine’s Rada to discuss what the U.S. was prepared to do to help Russia and Ukraine in their difficult transition from communism to democracy.

Congressman Tom Lantos of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who chaired this meeting, said that had Mikhail Gorbachev told the U.S. in 1989 that he was prepared to dissolve the U.S.S.R. and the Warsaw Pact — and requested a trillion dollars to do it – Congress would most likely have agreed, authorizing $100 billion annually for a period of 10 years.

However, as it turned out, the Russians did it all by themselves. So why spend U.S. taxpayers’ money when the job is already being done? 

“You are on your own, guys,” said Lantos. 

C.I.A. Director James Woolsey and other members of Congress who spoke afterward more or less repeated the same lines.

But what they said was totally misleading since the U.S. did not leave Russia and Ukraine alone — Yankee didn’t go home. Billions of American tax dollars were poured into Ukraine, not to boost its economy but to reformat public opinion that was predominantly in favor of neutral status and against joining NATO.

That led eventually to the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev in 2014.  And here we stand on the edge of the abyss.

Edward Lozansky is president and founder of the American University in Moscow and the U.S.-Russia Forum. He is also a professor at the Moscow State and National Research Nuclear Universities.

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

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19 comments for “War in Ukraine & the ‘Crisis of Western Civilization’

  1. Realist
    December 18, 2023 at 06:49

    Ukraine ought to bring charges of war crimes against the United States for deliberately deceiving and exploiting them to use as cannon fodder rather than benefitting them in any way. They were promised the Moon by Uncle Sam who intentionally delivered it right on their heads. After 500,000 estimated killed in action with perhaps an equal number of permanently disabling battle injuries, the swindlers in Washington are still encouraging the Ukie rubes to throw their lives away merely to damage Russia in the service of protecting American hegemony. This was an American-conceived bait and switch con game with the highest possible stakes unwittingly bet and lost by Ukraine. Several prominent US senators even bragged about how Ukraine was foolishly enticed to squander the lives of their own people to benefit Washington. You make deals like that in the back alleys of Chicago or Detroit and you go to prison and they throw away the key, if the facts become public. Seems to me that the “Big Guy” was just a lousy racketeer and should be treated like one in some court of law.

    • Robert
      December 18, 2023 at 10:43

      Everything you said is true but don’t expect even the mildest form of recriminations against the primary Biden Administration instigators of this war. I’ll name just 4: Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, and of course the most vile of the 4 the notorious Victoria Nuland. Biden will most certainly get a Washington D.C. send worthy of Madeline Albright. The other 3 creatures of D.C.will go merrily through life traveling the world long after the last Ukrainian soldier has actually died. Their only travel limitations will be no stops in Ukraine or Russia.

  2. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    December 18, 2023 at 01:07

    I would agree that GREED and sociopathy are possible and, unfortunately, regular consequences of capitalism but to also assert that capitalism perverts incentives would not be entirely right. Capitalism breeds incentives and drives innovations ; both very healthy for developing a robust and dynamic economy. Incentives are very much intrinsic to socially-responsible capitalism.

    • James White
      December 18, 2023 at 06:33

      ‘Systems’ are never responsible for the evil that men do. Both capitalism and Democracy rely on individual people in positions of power to act honorably, if not benignly. The United States court system is failing badly in our time. Activist judges and juries have corrupted a system that relies on the good will and best intentions of those afforded state power to keep their community safe and to resolve differences with fairness. The worst of all are District Attorneys who refuse to do their jobs based on some misguided concept of dispensing ‘justice.’ Our voting system is vulnerable to powerful monied interests, such as George Soros and his son. These people clearly want to destroy the social fabric of our communities for reasons that are plainly unclear. Soros is the kind of miscreant who first ought to be punished for his destructive impact on our society. There are a long list of oligarchs who likewise should be held to account by any civilized country. But their money has a power of it’s own that makes the law to do their bidding. That too is not so much a flaw of our economic or legal systems but of the integrity of those who we elect to enforce our laws. We must begin by holding our elected representatives accountable. As voters, we must make it clear to our elected officials that their corrupt way of doing business cannot continue. Those who resist an end to the cycle of government corruption must be removed from power and influence.

  3. James White
    December 16, 2023 at 11:32

    How ignorant are Americans to not even know a few simple facts about the real causes of this war in Ukraine. Anyone who would call the slaughter of half a million Ukrainians ‘a good investment’ is a bloodthirsty, ghoulish piece of shit. And yet, these are our people in charge. Anxiously awaiting an agreement to add another $100 Billion to our crushing debt. So that they can wave their Blue and Yellow flags to show everyone what kind and clever people they are. We have become a nation of frauds, led by evil pirates of the globe.

  4. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    December 16, 2023 at 07:14

    Wow, this is great and quite revealing ! It is sad that only a few privileged ones know of this disturbing dimension to the elite squandering of the peace dividend. What a loss to humanity as a whole !

  5. anaisanesse
    December 16, 2023 at 01:15

    If the suggestion had been that NATO would be abolished at the same time as the warsaw Pact, that would have made the difference.

  6. December 15, 2023 at 23:29

    Thank you, Prof. Lozansky, for this good, if necessarily short summary of some of the historical context of the Ukraine war. Those of us in the U.S. and elsewhere who have studied to any level of depth the history of U.S. / Russia (and USSR) relations, and of Ukraine itself, will likely attest to the accuracy of your article and its conclusions.

    Yet as you likely know, the propaganda flood today is of a breadth and scale and amplitude perhaps never before seen on this planet. Whether from legacy media like WSJ, Washington Post and NY Times, tthe so-called “public media” or the cable news outlets and very much of the online media, they form collectively an echo chamber of mouthpieces for the Washington-centered ‘security’ establishment that is very much at the core of the Military-Industrial Congressional Complex about which Pres. Eisenhower, himself well qualified to opine, warned in his farewell speech.

    That flood has certainly caught up perhaps the overwhelming majority of citizens, drowning out any critical thinking ability that wasn’t dulled by decades of the mass psychological manipulation that is consumer marketing. Not only are critical thinking skills eroded to nothing, but even language has been corrupted – words can be coopted and used to mean things they never did. (I’m thinking here about the leveling of “anti-semitism” charges for anyone speaking for human rights of Palestinians, the misuse of the word “defense” to cover all manner of aggressive war-mongering and provocations, etc.

    Ours is indeed a grim, scary and altogether disturbing time. Yet I, along with likely very many others, are comforted by the discovery of truth tellers in our midst; those who will continue to try to shine light in the very dark places that very dark souls dwell and operate.

  7. bardamu
    December 15, 2023 at 22:07

    Baker reminds us that WaPo still indulges a lot of nonsense–not that I imagine that Edward Lozansky would dispute that.

    We had better drop the myth that capitalism is particularly liberal, even in the Locke-Mill sense, let alone in the FDR-JFK version that older Americans grew up with. There have been advantages to mechanization and, for some and not others, to global trade. Neither of these has ever been particularly dependent on capitalism, nor indistinguishable from it.

    Again, there have been some benefits to liberalism, in its various senses–some benefits to a respect for autonomy, for democracy and representative democracy, for federation, for an attempt to separate written law from royal fiat. But these have no necessary relation to capitalism either. Capitalism has worked just fine and around fascist governments–the one type of government that it has so far actually spawned, though we may be witnessing the bloody birth of another.

    If we quit imagining that all of this is one cultural bolus that we cannot usefully unravel, we might appreciate that our rulers have no intention of perpetuating the tenets of Locke or Mill or the American Bill of Rights or the British Magna Carta while they attempt to perpetuate or at least personally optimize capitalistic empire and dominance.

    No, the rulers have progressively consolidated means of operating a manufacturing and digitally run society while troubling themselves less and less with the egalitarian impulses that their antecedents did not manage to fully quash.

    Here’s a question–a valuable one, I think, should anyone manage to answer it. What will be the next great false flag operation relevant to the West? It seems likely that another should arrive within the next year or so–either somewhat before or somewhat after the American election. If we cannot predict it at all, it seems unlikely that the usually slow-organizing populations can respond usefully in time. And then there is so often one to several generations of purge and loss and tragedy before things start to relatively right themselves. Surely the debacle in Ukraine is a major failure for the West, but it seems to me that the larger foot to fall must come in the West itself, and based on the same devious rule.

  8. Robert Paul Brounsten
    December 15, 2023 at 15:18

    When Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilization, he is said to have replied, “That would be nice.”

  9. K. Balasubramanian
    December 15, 2023 at 12:50

    “Western civilization”. Says it all.

  10. Drew Hunkins
    December 15, 2023 at 12:10

    Despite all their faults (and there are many, like their obsequiousness to the Zionist power configuration), that small cadre of GOPers who are fighting against sending more of our U.S. tax dollars to the fascists, Washington quislings, and Russophobes in Kiev is one of the better things going right now in Washington.

    • William Todd
      December 15, 2023 at 18:13

      Welcome to the past couple of decades of U.S. reality. The late Glen Ford (a socialist though one I’ve long admired) was fond of observing that instead of being ‘the lesser evil’ the Democratic establishment is ‘the more effective evil’ in terms of its destructive effect on our country and on the world.

      The fake battle between that establishment (the only principle of which is its own grip on power by using identity politics as its primary mechanism) and that of the Republicans of course makes the entire scam work, but in my opinion getting rid of the former would leave us with an easier one to dislodge. Even Trump offered some prospects of actual change including his proposed detente with Russia and the rest of the world and the clearing of the D.C. elected and unelected swamps. I’d be happy to take the chance that Trump learned enough from his presidency that he might be able to do a better job at such reforms a second time around.

      • J Anthony
        December 16, 2023 at 07:03

        It’s possible, however improbable. You have to be pretty bad to make Trump look good by comparison. But I wouldn’t trust the guy as far as I can throw him, much less vote for him. And it goes without saying that Biden, if he even makes it to Nov 20o24, also does not deserve a vote. In fact I’d love to see the election not happen. But that’s another story….

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      December 16, 2023 at 07:21

      I could’nt agree more with your observation. The problem is not with capitalism or even with America as a power; it the evil cabal that dominates its politico-strategic directions that is the real devil !

      • J Anthony
        December 17, 2023 at 07:18

        I don’t know how at this point you cannot see the root-problem of capitalism, which perverts incentives and always leads to runaway-greed and sociopathy. It is sad that we so lack vision or imagination that we believe this is the best we can do. Surely there is a more intelligent and rational way to organize human life on this planet?

        • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
          December 18, 2023 at 01:06

          I would agree that GREED and sociopathy are possible and, unfortunately, regular consequences of capitalism but to also assert that capitalism perverts incentives would not be entirely right. Capitalism breeds incentives and drives innovations ; both very healthy for developing a robust and dynamic economy. Incentives are very much intrinsic to socially-responsible capitalism.

    • vinnieoh
      December 16, 2023 at 13:34

      And I’m forced (very) reluctantly to agree. I do wonder though if the motivation runs any deeper than just sticking it to Biden.

      Just taking the year 2000 as a starting point, the mountain of lies perpetrated by our elected government is mind-boggling: first and most prominently, the second US invasion and occupation of Iraq, then there was Syria, Libya, and Yemen, and finally Ukraine.

      I speculated here not too many years ago that this compounding web of lies would eventually cause the whole edifice of our government to come crashing down. Many (if not most) of those who fabricated and spread those lies knew it was all bullshit; those who didn’t but remained stubbornly un-curious were and are fools.

      • Arch Stanton
        December 17, 2023 at 15:19

        All that slaughter after the year 2000 was based on lies that ultimately benefitted the Zionist agenda, it was all by design. The US’s MENA foreign policy is not their own, this is so obvious when you look at what’s happened this millenium

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