Ukraine’s Military Strategy and U.S. National Interests (II)

22.11.2022

Part I

However, if one turns to the United States, on which both the Ukrainian army’s fighting ability and Kiev’s political decisions largely depend, one has to wonder – why are they doing this? One may get the impression that this position of the U.S. is in their national interest – to further pump Ukraine with weapons, thereby delaying a special military operation on the part of Russia and weakening Moscow. To this must be added continued attempts to isolate Russia in the international arena (mostly unsuccessful) and constant information campaigns in the Western media.

However, there are disagreements within the U.S. establishment as to exactly what Washington’s position on Ukraine should be. This is confirmed by different visions of conflict resolution on the part of the U.S. Department of Defense (which would like to see the two sides at the negotiating table as soon as possible) and the White House administration, which continues to bend its line on full withdrawal of Russian troops from “Ukrainian territory”. It is Joe Biden’s administration that makes the situation itself a deadlock, because after the referendums and incorporation into Russia of four regions in 2022, which were formerly regions of Ukraine, there is a different understanding of this territory. As the losing side, Kiev is trying to take revenge by military force, but from the perspective of Russia’s sovereignty and the inalienability of its any regions this is seen as an encroachment that should be suppressed by any available means (incidentally, including nuclear weapons, that was why this issue was so stubbornly raised by Western politicians and the media). Therefore, any temporary counterattack by Ukraine will only prolong the current conflict, lead to unnecessary casualties and comprehensively worsen the situation, primarily in Europe.

This raises the question of whether the United States have the right understanding of their national interests. Of course, in order to talk about the national interests of this country, it is better to pass the floor to its representative.

Joshua Shifrinson in The National Interest explains in some detail the incorrect understanding of what is happening on the part of the decision-makers in the relevant U.S. departments.

To summarize his article, there are two camps in Washington, one of which fears Russia’s successes in Ukraine, so measures are needed to limit Russia’s abilities. This lies behind abstract and unsubstantiated statements about threats to other neighbors. Added to this are worries about the potential aggrandizement by other actors, especially China, which could use the situation to invade Taiwan.

The second camp speaks to a broader context, such as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who stated that “the international rules-based order that’s critical to maintaining peace and security is being put to the test by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine”.

This division is not accidental and reflects the position of the school of realism and the school of liberalism in international relations. In reality, however, both camps distort these theories, as Shifrinson confirms.

The truth is that none of the avowed U.S. interests in Ukraine stand up to scrutiny. As importantly, believing they are U.S. interests contradicts core tenets of long-established U.S. grand strategy; making policy based on such concerns risks creating further strategic dilemmas for the United States, Ukraine, and Russia in ways that may only worsen the consequences of the present conflict”.

Indeed, why would Russia attack other neighbors, especially NATO countries, if it would cause a violent backlash? Besides, the U.S. has never really protected other countries’ democracies. Washington has allowed military coups in Pakistan and supported dictatorships and authoritarian leaders anywhere and anytime, as long as they were allies of the United States. The Saudi military action in Yemen, for some reason, has not attracted as much attention as the Russian military operation in Ukraine, even though the conflict in Yemen led to a humanitarian disaster.

And where is the evidence that Russia is really destroying the existing international order? If Russia was forced to switch to national currencies, it is because the U.S. and the EU blocked the use of SWIFT for bank settlements. If Russia is redirecting its trade deals to other countries, it is because Western countries proved to be unreliable partners and blocked (in fact, stole) Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves and other assets.

One gets the impression that under the accusations of the destruction of the “liberal international order” there is a kind of defensive reaction of the United States and attempts to blame others for the dysfunctionality of this system, which is failing. It is not Russia’s fault that unipolarity is being replaced by multipolarity for a number of objective reasons. Although Russia is now forced to actively promote the construction of this multipolarity in order to protect its interests and sovereignty. But other countries are also taking steps toward a multipolar world system step by step, which demonstrates the objectivity of this trend. Not only critics of the U.S., but even its allies, such as the EU, have a desire to change the status quo, which is becoming more and more burdensome because of dependence on Washington. It is no coincidence that Italy has suspended arms deliveries to Ukraine. Perhaps other members of the commonwealth will follow suit. Finally, the EU’s project of strategic autonomy itself suggests plans for a gradual withdrawal from the bondage of transatlantic slavery. The sooner this happens, the better for Europe itself.

As for the U.S., they should consider a more limited role in world history and take responsibility for more modest actions.

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