by Joe Courter
They say ignorance is bliss and I suppose it is, but it is a kind of shallow way to go through life. One of the facets of gaining knowledge is that the more basic questions are answered, the more further questions are revealed. With that comes at times quite contradictory situations: two things which are ostensibly true, but are somewhat mutually exclusive. This can be a trap if you are totally locked into a binary attitude where you believe strictly in seeing things as either this or that.
There are usually more than two sides to any issue, which is inconvenient if you are, say a news program addicted to concise brief handling of a story. If you are a person of strong convictions, it can be really challenging, because there can be a tendency to be quite judgmental. Or if not judgmental, simply feel you must take a side. Generally this is not bad, but sometimes neither side is all that good. Sometimes the historic or personal allegiance to a “side” means that is hard to not become rigid despite changing facts.
Regarding Ukraine, I stand by what I wrote last month, the makers of war are the enemy. We are on the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech on April 4, 1967, where he stated “. . . the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government . . .” (Read or listen to the speech at: tinyurl.com/Iguana1374.) One year later to the day he was assassinated.
President Biden just requested a $773 billion budget for the Pentagon, a 4 percent boost, a budget hugely more than any other nation. The U.S. has military bases all over the world, indeed, that IS exceptional. Country after country has been invaded or overthrown and left worse off for it, but no longer a “threat.” So no, I am not a flag waver.
But Putin is nothing more than an authoritarian oligarch whose own war of choice is horrendous. The people of Ukraine fighting to save their country are the only “good guys” here, along with the brave Russians going out in the streets, and all those helping with the unprecedented refugee situation. And regarding supporting Ukraine’s resistance, it IS known that among them are a faction of repulsive neo-nazis. That is for Ukrainians to sort out, not us.
In the huge wash of contradictory information out there, I rest on the belief that the people Ukraine, and the people of Russia, will solve this. In no way did this war have to happen, the stage has been set over the past couple decades and the makers of the weapons are the only winners. Collateral damage will be felt by millions affected across the globe by the unprecedented sanctions the U.S. is applying to the Russian economy. It will in all likelihood impact third worlds’ food supply and who knows what else. Uncharted territory here.
Paul Street wrote a piece in CounterPunch, “15 bad Ukraine narratives,” which you can find listed in the Editors’ Picks on page 17. I think he is spot on. Here is a fast summation of his main points:
- Long developing NATO expansion helped provoke this war, and the US has no moral high ground to stand on with its own invasions of other countries.
- Putin is acting to keep a buffer and acquire strategic territory, not reconstitute the USSR.
- Collective punishment thru sanctions on Russia that hit regular people only hurt regular people.
- You can be both anti-NATO and anti-Russia, it is not one or other.
- Escalation by the US, especially a “no fly zone” is a terrible idea, fraught with danger of expanded conflict.
- Putin was pretty well set on going in, and US intelligence was pretty accurate; it was his poorly conceived choice, he had other options. Putin seriously overestimated his capabilities.
- Ukraine is a large and dynamic country with a strong sense of identity that has been dealing with outside interference repeatedly. And it is not the only nation with proto-fascist elements in its population.
To that I can only add, let’s hope this horror can be settled without growing regional, or worse.