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Sunday, May 8, 2022

The white-Left lost Roe v. Wade 6 years ago


Truth be told, Roe v. Wade was lost in the 2016 US presidential election. With the court already one Justice short, and a few more likely to retire in the next presidential term, it was clear that the next president would likely have a decisive and long-lasting effect on the composition of the Supreme Court. 

One of the two possible winners was an authoritarian white supremacist man who promised to pick Justices committed to overthrowing Roe v. Wade, the other was a woman with a long history in Democratic politics that would have made very different Supreme Court picks.

Roe v Wade was lost when enough progressives in three states, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, voted for Jill Stein—another Putin-supported candidate, one with no chance of winning, to allow Donald Trump to beat Hilary Clinton, and become the president of the United States.

a December 2015 fete in Moscow
Green Party supporters of Jill Stein pushed the mantra "Don't Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils," meaning, don't vote for Hillary Clinton. This allowed the greater evil to win. And it wasn't just the Greens, most leftists focused their fire on Hillary Clinton, while belittling the faults of Donald Trump. Unlike the Right, almost no one on the Left raised the importance of the question of who would shape the Supreme Court. To do so would have been bad for the line they were promoting. 

With at-least three Supremes likely to be replaced by the next president, the question of any difference it might make in who replaced them played virtually no role in their campaign to deny Clinton votes. "Vote Your Conscious, Or Don't Vote At All," they shouted with the Democracy Now megaphone. All the while, the other guy was promising to give us just what we got. How does that "feel good" vote feel now?

Whatever Hillary Clinton's faults, I don't think she would have picked Justices bent on overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2016, members of the white-Left made it their mission to deny her the White House. In this they succeeded. They also lost our last best chance of keeping Roe v. Wade from being overturned. We now likely face the arduous task of restoring a right lost because of the way some progressives used their vote in 2016. Let's please learn from this mistake moving forward.

Clay Claiborne

8 May 2022

My posts on the 2016 US Election


Monday, May 2, 2022

How Democracy Now's half-truths on Mariupol help Putin


For more than two months now, Mariupol has stood like the Stalingrad of this war, some have called it Ukraine's Alamo. For all that time, its brave defenders have refused to surrender, even as Putin's forces pounded this once-beautiful seaside city of four hundred thousand into rubble, and then pounded the rumble into dust. For more than two months it's been reported that Mariupol would fall—any day, any hour. But it has stood! Now, it is all but conquered, as the remaining defenders are hunkered down in the underground bowels of the Azovstal Steel Works with an estimated thousand civilians, mostly women and children, and the elderly. There are still another estimated hundred thousand civilians left in Russian-controlled Mariupol, and satellite photos are discovering new mass graves daily. The joke of it is that this city in eastern Ukraine is largely Russian-ethnic, Russian-speaking—the very people Putin claimed he was saving from genocide with his invasion.

On Saturday, representatives from the ICRC arrived in Mariupol with buses and ambulances to began the evacuation of civilians from beneath the steel mill.  The Russian's have agreed to allow the Red Cross evacuation to traverse Russian-held territory 227 km. to Ukrainian held Zaporizhzhia.


Given how duplicitous the Russians have been, when it comes to setting up, and honoring, humanitarian corridors, not only in Ukraine, but also earlier in Syria, seasoned observers know not to pop the cork on the champagne bottle before those evacuees are safely at their donation. This trip would have taken 3 hr 14 min before the Russian invasion, and as on this publication, they aren't there yet, it's hoped they [all] will arrive tomorrow. But there are also reports that some have been diverted to Russian-held territory, and even Russia itself. Russia has done this before

But, never mind all that, this is the way Amy Goodman reported on the Azovstal evacuation on Democracy Now this morning, you'd thought it was a done deal. She spoke of it four times in this show. In Headlines, she said:

The Ukrainian government says about 100 civilians have been able to evacuate the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol after the United Nations helped establish what it described as a “safe passage operation.” One evacuee said she had been staying inside a basement in the steel plant for two months after her home was destroyed.

Natalya Tsyntomirska: “We lived in the basement starting from the 27th of February. We didn’t leave the basement because our house is in close proximity to Azovstal. The whole time we were shelled with mines, and then airstrikes started. Our house is completely destroyed. We have a two-story building. It’s not there anymore. It burned to the ground.”

Hundreds of more civilians and many fighters remain trapped at the steel plant in Mariupol, but Russia has reportedly resumed shelling the plant

If you didn't know better, you might be expected to assume that those 100 civilians the UN and ICRC "have been able to evacuate" are already safely at their destination. Goodman described it in the same unqualified way, twice more in the show's segment on Ukraine
The Ukrainian government says about 100 people have been able to evacuate the besieged steel plant in Mariupol, where thousands of civilians and fighters have taken shelter in recent weeks as Russian forces took over most of the strategic port city. This comes after several previously arranged “humanitarian corridors” fell apart.
We are led to believe this one didn't fall apart, but we aren't told that  those 100 evacuees were still in Russian hands. And:
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government says about a hundred civilians have been able to evacuate the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol after the United Nations helped establish what it described as a safe passage operation.

It's only when she is introducing Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, that she mentions what she has been leaving out. Did she want to shortstop him from correcting her:
AMY GOODMAN: And as we speak, in Mariupol, you have perhaps a hundred people have been able to get out of the Azovstal steel plant, making their way to Zaporizhzhia,...

So, she knew all along that this humanitarian evacuation still had not arrived at its destination. Why didn't she say that in the first place?

UPDATE: As I go to publish, we have late word that some of these evacuees have reached Zaporizhzhia. Anushka Patti of the New York Times reported 33 minutes ago:

After some civilians who evacuated Mariupol over the weekend reached Zaporizhzhia on Monday, Zelensky said in his nightly address that evacuations would continue on Tuesday “through humanitarian corridors from Berdyansk, Tokmak, Vasylivka.”

This is good news, but still doesn't tell us that this evacuation has been successful—only that some have arrived. 

It's very good that Democracy Now has come around to a stance that appears to be in support of Ukraine's struggle against Russian imperialism, after years of scheduling guests who parroted every Putin conspiracy theory about Ukraine. But it needs to stop leaving inconvenient facts out, and coloring the news in such a way as to put Russian actions in the best possible light, even still.


Clay Claiborne

2 May 2022




Tuesday, April 19, 2022

In case you missed it: On @DemocracyNow, Amy Goodman's guest shoots down her pro-Putin point

Democracy Now has been pretty good on Ukraine. Much better than I expected, to speak truthfully. Still, it can't seem to help slipping back to its tankie deviation now and again, such as on Friday, when it featured Vijay Prashad, or today, when Amy Goodman tried to slip a Kremlin talking point past Peter Zalmayev, director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative, who is in Kiev now: 

AMY GOODMAN: Peter Zalmayev, let me ask you about the whole world’s reaction to what’s taking place. We definitely know about the U.S. and Europe. And, of course, you’re the director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative. Thirty countries have sanctioned Russia. It’s mainly the United States and Russia. They represent 15% of the world’s population. Ninety-four countries voted to throw Russia off the U.N. Human Rights Council. They represent 24%, a quarter of the world’s population. The developing world has a different reaction to this, saying, “This is not our war.” What do you say to them? And how do you think this can be resolved? And bring China into this picture.

PETER ZALMAYEV: Well, I think you hit the nail on its head when you mentioned China. The sheer size of India and China, which are somewhat sitting on the fence, China less so — China is at least officially, you know, an ally of Vladimir Putin. India has, like, old Soviet-era ties with the Soviet Union, and now Russia as the successor state, so it has a mixture of pragmatic military interests and economic interests, and some nostalgia, as well. But if you take these two countries and their combined population of 2 billion people, this is how you arrive at the numbers that you quoted, 24% of the world body, those who voted to kick Russia off the council. So it’s a little bit misleading, because we’re only talking about two players, but they have — obviously, they’re humongous in size.

Frankly, what I find most troubling about this exchange is that Goodman was willing to take the position of two autocratic rulers as representing the majority world opinion without qualification. Is that what democracy looks like to her?

Clay Claiborne

19 April 2022

These are my other resent posts about Ukraine:

Is Putin's invasion of Ukraine a war of genocide? 27 March 2022

Does the "anti-imperialist" Left bear some responsibility for Putin's invasion of Ukraine? 14 March 2022

How to join the Ukrainian IT Army 6 March 2022

Vlad on Vlad: How Putin's views on Lenin shaped his decision to invade Ukraine 2 March 2022



Sunday, March 27, 2022

Is Putin's invasion of Ukraine a war of genocide?


The term “genocide” has increasingly been used to describe Putin's war on Ukraine, particularly by the Ukrainians themselves. Is this a case of hyperbole, designed to draw attention to their struggle, or is it an accurate description of what Ukrainians are experiencing?

Mass grave found in Bucha (Credit: Ukrainian Foreign Ministry)
For many people genocide involves the wholesale massacre of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. While the “fog of war” prevents us from knowing, with any accuracy, just how many Ukrainians have been killed so far, it's certainly not yet in those orders of magnitude, and may even be less than the estimated ten thousand Russian military deaths. So, what possible basis exists for calling this a genocide now?

To answer this, we have to look at the definition of “genocide,” because it's not synonymous with “massacre” or “atrocity,” and involves more than just killing a lot of people. Oxford Languages defines genocide as “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.” This definition of genocide requires that the act meet two tests:

  1. The deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group.
  2. With the aim of destroying that nation or group.
Hopefully, the number of Ukrainians Putin has killed remains in the low thousands. Even so, that should meet anybody's definition of “a large number of people,” and they are being killed—man, woman, child, combatant, and non-combatant alike, simply because they live in Ukraine. I think the conditions of part one is well and tragically met.

The requirement of part two, is a bit stickier, involving, as it does, a determination of motive. We have to answer the question: What's the real reason Putin is waging this war?

According to Putin, and his supporters, his main concerns with Ukraine are:
  1. NATO expansion, and the prospect that Ukraine might join NATO in the future.
  2. Nazis are in control of Ukraine, and committing genocide against the Russian speakers in Eastern Ukraine. 
Seeing, as yet, no peaceful resolution to these concerns, Putin saw no other option open to him but to launch a special military operation to carry out the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine. 

With regards to No. 1, Ukraine's possible NATO membership, given that NATO has yet to offer Ukraine a Membership Action Plan, a road-map to membership—the first concrete step, 14 years after that membership was first suggested, one might ask Putin, “What's the hurry?”  In any case, Putin's invasion has made his NATO problem worst in a number of ways that could have been easily predicted.

As for No. 2, while there are neo-Nazis and right-wing fanatics in Ukraine, and on both sides of the conflict in Donbass, and in Russia, the US, and much of Europe; they are a long way from running Ukraine. The ultra-nationalist Svoboda party got 2.15% of the vote in the 2019 Parliamentary election, and failed to win even a single seat. The infamous Azov Brigade is maybe 1% of the Ukrainian armed forces. Besides, that Jew is certainly no Nazi! 

Putin's encirclement and bombardment of the largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol expose the sheer brutality of the cynical joke that he was coming to save them from genocide. Also why does Ukraine need to be “demilitarized” even after it's been “denazified,” unless it has lost a national right to self-defense for some reason? This points to a darker motive. Denazification can be the stated reason for liquidating anybody and any number of Ukrainians, simply by labeling them and then “disposing” of them accordingly. 

In short, the motives promoted by Putin and his fanboys as the causes for this war don't compute. For greater clarity, we must examine first, the methods used in his war, and finally Putin's views on the nation of Ukraine, and its right to exist.

As we proceed, it's important to remember that actions that further “the aim of destroying that nation” aren't limited to killing large numbers of that nation. In this regard, the more detailed definition of genocide from the United Nations' Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is useful. In Article II, it defines genocide as follows:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

Then it gives five examples. Let's see how many apply to Putin's war against Ukraine:

a.  Killing members of the group;

Already covered. That's one.

b.  Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

His wanton and unprovoked attacks on Ukrainian civilians with the likes of cluster bombs and white phosphorus can be guaranteed to cause serious bodily and mental harm to Ukrainians. That's two.

c.  Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

Putin's methods of surrounding Ukrainian cities, cutting off power, food, and water, and not allowing people to leave while shelling them into oblivion fulfills that description. Putin's war machine in Ukraine reminds me of that alien spacecraft in “Independence Day” obliterating city after city in its attempt to destroy humanity, or Darth Vader's planet destroying Death Star.  Both share with Putin's war genocidal intent and hubris, and like those fictitious villains, he too will ultimately fail. Three is well covered.

d.  Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

If you are reading this, I'm going to assume you've already heard about Putin's bombing of a maternity hospital, and a theater full of kids that was clearly marked as such. Add to this his bombing of some 23 hospitals or healthcare facilities, and 330 schools. Putin's war on Ukrainian children makes it four.

e.  Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Ukraine has claimed that 400,000 Ukrainians are being held in “ex-filtration camps,” and forcibly deported to various places in Russia. We know that thousands of children are among them. 

So, all of the UN's five examples of genocide can be found in the conduct of Putin's war in Ukraine. In addition to these, I would like to summit for your consideration a few more examples of genocide that I think can be seen in Putin's war on Ukraine:

f. Forcibly transferring territory from the nation to others.

This can already be seen in 2014 in his annexation of Crimea, after an illegal referendum under conditions of Russian military occupation. It was furthered since then by supplying fighters and weapons to a struggle to take the Donbass region away from Ukraine, and especially by his 21 February 2022 recognition of the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) as independent countries. It is being advanced even today by Russian officials who are claiming they will never leave Mariupol, if and when, they get their hands on this Alamo of Ukraine.

g. Destroying the state structure of another nation, even at the lowest level.

Perhaps you've heard about Putin's perchance for kidnapping Ukrainian mayors and replacing them with his people once he's captured a town? The Russian army is also taking down the Ukrainian flag in areas it occupies.

h. Willfully destroying a nation's cultural treasures and historic sites—symbols of the nation's independent development and existence.
Putin's army is going out of its way to destroy Ukrainian heritage & cultural sites. 15 March, Al Jazeera asks "How is war destroying Ukraine’s cultural heritage?":

Russia’s war on Ukraine has killed hundreds of people and displaced over a million more. And as Russian forces move further into the country they are also destroying parts of Ukraine’s cultural heritage – tactics common to war.

Last week the UN cultural agency released a statement saying it is gravely concerned about the destruction of Ukrainian art and history..

Putin is going after symbols of Ukraine's independence because his intention is to erase its independence.   

i. The mass rape of women and girls in the nation.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russian soldiers occupying Kherson have been raping and killing women, according to Newsweek and Reuters. Ukrainian MPs have made similar claims of “Russian forces are raping and hanging women who are unable to escape their savage invasion.”

That literal rape should play a significant role in the way Russian soldiers interact with Ukrainian civilians should surprise no one, given how closely Putin's relationship with Ukraine has mimicked that of an abusive spouse. In a Ms. Magazine article titled "Rape Rhetoric and Russia’s War on Ukraine," Bonnie Stable comments on this, saying:

This playbook of bullying and domination is well known to those who study sexual and interpersonal violence, with parallels both implicit and explicit. 

As if to even more explicitly make the point to Ukrainians that he sees them as in an old fashion marriage with Russia, where he's the boss, and there is no divorce, Putin made reference to a crude Russian joke about marital rape weeks before he invaded, telling them, “It’s your duty, my beauty.”

As we can see, Putin's war on Ukraine meets, not only the simple dictionary definition of genocide, but also the more detailed one used by the UN, and then some. But some might still argue that these are just collateral byproducts of Putin's brutal methods of war, and they don't rise to the level of genocide because he doesn't want to do away with Ukraine as an independent nation. To address that view, we must look at what Putin has said about Ukraine, and its right to exist, in the run up to his war.

Putin's ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“, published 227 days before he invaded Ukraine, tells us a lot about what he thinks of it.  He begins by telling us “[T]hat Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole.” This begs the question: Is that single whole Ukraine or Russia? And I think we know his answer to that.

He then goes on to tell us, “[M]odern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia.” Putin claims Ukraine was created by the Bolsheviks in 1922, so one could see why he would be keen to destroy anything that says otherwise.

Of course, Lenin and the Bolsheviks didn't create Ukraine when they broke up the czar's “prison house of nations,” but they did recognize Ukraine's right to form an independent republic. Putin doesn't see it that way. He complains that they were “so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts.” He doesn't understand why “the Bolsheviks' efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime.” He adds “One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.” 

Putin also thinks that all the former Soviet Republics, not just Ukraine, owe Russia territory, and makes this demand: “[T]he republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union.”

Of the various national minorities that made up both the Russian Empire and the USSR that followed it, he asks, “[W]hat difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians,” when they are all part of the “great common Motherland" ?  Then Putin goes on to make that most terrible threat made by an abusive husband when the object of his “affection” threatens to leave:

[W]e will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

In the case of an abusive marriage, there is sometimes a threat like this that is ultimately carried out by an act of murder. In the case of a former colonial possession bent on independence, Putin's remedy is war and genocide. He ends this piece by telling us that an independent Ukraine is simply impossible:

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia....For we are one people.

Putin repeats these themes again in his 21 February address just days before the invasion. In it he tells us, “Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space,” and “Since time immemorial, the people living in the south-west of what has historically been Russian land [Ukraine] have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians.”  

He asserts again that "modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia," and complains "Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia – by separating, severing what is historically Russian land...Let me repeat that these territories were transferred along with the population of what was historically Russia.” Putin calls it the “outright pillage of Russia.” Even after his invasion was in full swing with him slaughtering Ukrainian civilians, Putin insisted Ukrainians and Russians are “one people,” and any Ukrainians who disagree are “threatened and brainwashed.”

From this brief survey of Putin's writing and statements about Ukraine, it's clear that he thinks Ukraine has no right to an independent existence. He believes its people, resources, and land were stolen from Russia by the communists, and he is on a mission to fix that. His end game is the liquidation of Ukraine as an independent country and the return of its people, resources, and land to Russia. This explains why he is waging this war with genocidal methods. His end game is genocide.

Clay Claiborne

26 February 2022

See also: Vlad on Vlad: How Putin's views on Lenin shaped his decision to invade Ukraine




 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Does the "anti-imperialist" Left bear some responsibility for Putin's invasion of Ukraine?

It's clear to almost everyone that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a crime against humanity, not to mention, a violation of international law. By now, even Putin must be seeing that he has made a terrible mistake. He expected to have Zelenskyy's head on a post in The Maiden two weeks ago. Things just aren't working out the way he planned.

His invasion has revealed weaknesses in the Russian military that likely, Putin himself, wasn't even aware of:
  • The second largest air force on Earth has been unable to establish air dominance over Ukraine after more than two weeks. His planes are still being shot out of the sky with enormous regularity, and although he has thousands of warplanes in reserve, the losses are stacking up.
  • Equipment problems are plaguing his air corp. When Russian planes are shot down, in many cases the ejector seats fail, in others, the parachutes fail. Those pilots that make it to the ground, and are captured, are found to be older, over-weight, and out of shape. The image of Tom Cruise's Top Gun, they ain't.
His ground forces are suffering from similar equipment problems, as well as serious short-comings in logistical support:
  • Russian soldiers have been captured with MREs (meal, ready to eat) that expired two decades ago.
  • In Ukraine, his soldiers are foraging in local supermarkets and civilian homes, simply to find enough to eat.
  • Tanks and other armored vehicles are being abandoned simply because they have run out of gas. 
  • His soldiers have been going AWOL in increasing numbers, taking to the forest, or becoming bandits, taking over civilian homes. There are tremendous morale problems. They'd been told they were on an exercise. Now they find they are invading a comrade country where they're definitely not wanted. 
Russia is also looking like the amateur-hour on a tactical level:
  • Sending in armor without infantry support, making for easy targets for Ukrainian dismounted infantry with Javelins.
  • The daylight madness of leaving that armored column north of Kiev strung-out over 30 miles and bogged down. They found this out as soon as Ukraine got TB2 Bayraktar drones from Turkey.
In a vein effort to compensate for his army's inability to carry out military operations in a professional and effective manner, Putin has resorted to trying to pound all of Ukraine into the dust with wide-area weapons like artillery and indirect rocket fire. 

There's an old Stalin-era military doctrine that Putin likes: “Why send a soldier where a shell can go?” Well, because a soldier can distinguish between an enemy solider and a civilian, whereas as shell can't, might be the humane answer. Never mind that. His Ukrainian civilian causalities can't properly be called “collateral damage.” He is directly targeting them.

On Saturday, The Times reported that Putin had a number of his FSB intelligence officers arrested:
Sergey Beseda, head of the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch, was arrested with Anatoly Bolyukh, his deputy, according to a leading expert on the Russian security services, who said that sources from within FSB had confirmed the detention of both men.
This may be just the beginning of the Putin purges. He is going to need a lot of people to blame for this debacle. He may rightly suspect that military preparedness isn't up to snuff because state funds earmarked for the military have been going into the now-frozen foreign bank accounts of oligarchs. He may find logistics failed him because his top generals were more concerned about the welfare of their mistresses, than the soldiers under their command. Probably, also these same generals failed to given Putin the bad news about what their exercises in Belarus and Russia told them about their lack of readiness. It's not good to give Putin bad news.

Keep in mind, not only is the Russian military much bigger, they had years of planning and months of practice! The Ukrainians did not. They really didn't believe Putin would mount a full-on invasion. Maybe he was about to up the ante in Dombass, but they've blocked that approach before. Almost nobody believed Putin would do what he did. True, Biden's warnings were spot-on, but nobody believed him. US intelligence has cried “wolf” far too many times to expect to be believed. 

Putin is probably starting with his intelligence chiefs because for months—years, they have been confirming everything he said about genocide in Dombass, how Nazis-riddled the Ukrainian government was, how they expected to have things wrapped up in three days and would be welcomed as liberators, especially in the Russian-speaking areas where they would start.

Putin knows he's the boss, and ultimately, he gave the orders, but he also now knows he was deluded. Putin also knows he did not become so deluded on his own—he had help, and he needs people to blame for his debacle in Ukraine. 

In Putin's search for people to share his responsibility for this war, may I suggest that there are some outside of Russia that may have contributed to the delusional state he was in on 24 February when he declared war on Ukraine. These would include people on the “anti-imperialist” Left, not paid agents, that nevertheless, drank his Kool-Aid and made it “gospel” for so many Western Leftists. 

There were at least two major casus belli, pitched by Putin before he invaded Ukraine, that were widely purchased by the “anti-imperialist” Left. How much did their ready acceptance and their promotion of these Putin falsehoods contribute to his delusion that they represented “good and sufficient causes” for his rape of Ukraine? These two “articles-of-faith” on the “anti-imperialist” Left with regards to the “crisis” in Ukraine, are, of course:

1.) The main problem is NATO expansion eastward to be right on Russia's border.

2.) The Maiden was a US-orchestrated coup, and now Ukraine is dominated by neo-Nazis.

The strengthen and unity of Ukrainians we see now is a direct result of the people's revolution that took place on The Maiden in 2014. It was no coup. These people haven't been the “pawns” of Victoria Nuland, or anybody else.

I know a lot of people have been spreading this for free. Putin owes them a pay check. Now, let's look at each in more detail:

Was NATO “expansion” the real reason Putin started this war?

In just two short weeks, this war has made Putin's professed problems with NATO much, much worst:

  • NATO has a new reason to exist—mutual defense against Russian military aggression. Better it would be the United Nations, but for structural reasons, the UN can't do it. 
  • In taking Ukraine, he will be adding Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary to the list of NATO countries on his border, increasing the number from three to seven.
  • NATO is now more united, and its members can be expected to spend more on their militaries in coming years.
  • There is new pressure on NATO to expand even closer to Russia's borders. Now, neutral Sweden and Finland are considering NATO membership.

Putin would have to be stupid not to see any of this coming, and Putin's not stupid. So, it strains credulity to believe he initiated this conflict because he was afraid Ukraine was going to join NATO anytime soon. Let us probe further for a better reason. 

It would be hard to read Putin's ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“, 12 July 2021, without concluding that he's on a mission to build a new Russian Empire, and not just on the territory of the USSR, but all that of the old Russian empire of the Czars. That being the case, the extension of NATO Article 5 protections to countries on his list certainly is a problem for him. They know that as well, which is why they flocked to join NATO—to gain its protection from him. Thus, the push for this notorious NATO expansion came from them, and not the US and its Western European allies. That's why the Putin-fanboys can quote CIA director William Burns on how he tried to throw cold water on it at the time.

Of course, the Goebbels in Putin knew better than to say that NATO “containment” of Russia was only a problem because he intended to expand Russia to include Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary Czech Rep, Slovakia, Belarus, Finland, and Azerbaijan. So, Putin became defensive. He said he was concerned for Russia's safety. Given the atrocities the Nazis committed against Russia in WW2, there might seem good reason for that concern, especially inside Russia, where every enemy, be they Ukraine or NATO or whoever, are branded “Nazi.”

I don't know how many on the “anti-imperialist” Left seriously think Russia is threatened with unprovoked military invasion from NATO—meaning the kind of thing Russia has just done to Ukraine—tanks across the border WW2 style. Personally, I've always thought there was about a nano chance of that, both sides having nukes and all. Things are handled with a bit more finesse between superpowers these days. Since WW2, the kind of blunt force Russia is exercising in Ukraine has been reserved for use by imperialist powers on smaller countries. 

Also, what's up with all Putin's nuclear saber rattling? Only two countries have tried to use their nuclear shields to deter outside interference with their genocidal operations, Israel and Russia. These new threats are much more serious. Putin has a lot more nukes.

What is Putin's real goal in Ukraine: denazification or genocide?

The black-hood blinding the mayor of Mariupol as he was dragged out of office by Russian soldiers presages the terrible fate awaiting patriotic Ukrainians should Russia fully conquer the country and is able to advance Putin's “denazification” program with all the fury that name implies. 

The “united front” of far-right parties garnered only 2.3% of the vote in Ukraine's last parliamentary election, and out of a Ukrainian armed forces of 200,000, the neo-Nazis Azov Battalion is estimated at between 900 and 2500, although it probably has grown now due to the war. Putin's war will probably make Ukraine's neo-Nazi problem worst—war favors the development of such trends.

Given this low level of fascist influence, the United States, with one of its two major parties firmly in the grips of white Christian authoritarianism, almost certainly has a deeper fascism infestation than Ukraine. The pentagon also has a big problem with white supremacists and neo-Nazis in its ranks.

I don't know how good of an actor Volodymyr Zelenskyy is, but he's a very good president, and one hell of a wartime leader. I'm certain that Jew is no Nazi. He is also very astute. Not being in a position to do away with the Azov Battalion just yet, he probably decided it was better to have them inside the tent, pissing out, rather than the other way around, and put them in the national guard where he could exercise a modicum of control over them.     

The US, on the other hand, may well be between Trump and Trump—a white Christian authoritarian with great affection for Vladimir Putin. And BTW, as this war reveals what a sick, sadistic, and perverted person Putin is, it should give us a new window into what Trump may have in store for us if re-elected, and cause us to redouble our efforts to insure that never happens. 

Of course, the US isn't the only country with a growing ultra-right, i.e., fascist infestation. This is a problem for many nations now, one that Putin has done more than any other world leader to promote.

This reality goes to show what a cynical sham Putin's claim that the Nazis problem in Ukraine is so bad he finds it necessary to invade, at tremendous cost of lives, both Russian and Ukrainian, but especially Ukrainian, so that his “Oprichniki” can carry out his “denazification” program. Having lost 27 million to Nazis in the last world war, Putin the Terrible knows this is a trigger for the Russian people. That's why they have to be branded as “Nazi,” and not just fascist or ultra-right. His Goebbels-like control over all Russian media allows him to create a convincing alternate reality for most Russian citizens. One can understand why so many Russians believe this garbage.

But what are we to say about those in the West that have been parroting Putin's propaganda about the “Nazi" danger in Ukraine ever since he first sent his tanks across its border in 2014? Did their loud and persistent echo chamber help convince Putin that this lie had the legs to support an invasion? 

As his war on Ukraine proceeds, it's becoming clearer every day that his end game is genocide—the complete liquidation of Ukraine as an independent nation and people. As I describe in some detail in “Vlad on Vlad:..”, he thinks the Bolsheviks were wrong, and Ukraine as a nation separate from Russia is impossible.

Moreover, his very methods of war against Ukrainians show a genocidal edge, and this time “genocidal” in the worst sense, not the purely legal one. He's targeting civilians. He doesn't care who he kills as long as they are Ukrainians. Combatant, non-combatant, man, women, child—it makes no difference. And he doesn't care how many. He'll allow Ukrainians to escape to safety, but only if they are willing go to Russia or Belarus. He's already disappeared two mayors, and put in his own mayor in Mariupol, showing his intention to replace the Ukrainian state even at the lowest level. He's cutting off food and water to surrounded communities—while babies die of dehydration, and threatening chemical and biological attacks. All these point to an intention of genocide, and it will be done under the banner of “denazification.”

As Ukrainian blood spills in coming months, some of it will drip from the hands of those on the pro-Putin “anti-imperialist” Left that have been peddling his propaganda on Ukraine for years.

In Solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and all those who fight imperialism,

Clay Claiborne

14 March 2022