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The Morality Clock

Not only is the vicious eight-year civil war in Ukraine ignored, few folks are curious enough to note that at the time of the Maidan coup in 2014, Ukraine’s population was evenly split between Ukrainian speakers in North and West and Russian speakers in the East and South.

Kurt Jacobsen, Sayeed Hasan Khan |

The most easily avoidable war in modern memory, and the most easily resolved one if sincere negotiations had gotten underway, instead rages on because the US foreign policy elite sees no downside in stoking Ukraine’s battlefields. 

The US, and by extension Nato, could not be more thrilled with their slick realpolitik accomplishments in portraying diabolical Vladimir Putin as alone to blame for an “unprovoked” invasion, wrecking Russian energy sources for Europe, eradicating dissident voices, and punishing Russia prolifically if futilely at the cost of their own citizens and, most acutely, the poor in the Global South who don’t really count. 

Every shiny shipment of Western weaponry is another sadistic endorsement of bloodshed and ruin in order, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken blurted last week, to weaken Russia. Nary a word is heard about devising a truce as soon as possible. 

The $33 billion President Biden promises to Ukraine comes hot on the heels of several billion that most US taxpayers have no idea have already been poured into Ukraine since 2014, incidentally equipping neo-Nazi forces spearheading a civil war in the East where some 14,000 Ukrainians were killed and three times as many more were wounded and maimed prior to the Russian invasion. You rarely, if ever, hear such eyebrow-raising details mentioned on Western news networks. 

The conscientious perception management of the war thus far is wildly successful in the West. What remains of an American Left is acrimoniously split. 

One shudders as grizzled 1960s radicals, just like the Soviet apparatchiks they adore deploring, ritually denounce brave voices such as Noam Chomsky or Oliver Stone or Chris Hedges for daring to dispute the Biden party line. 

So Western reporters blithely can crank out morally outraged material, such as that Russians deploy “banned” cluster bombs against Ukrainian targets, a story designed to underline the depths to which the abominable Russkis will sink. 

Worse, the upshot is why bother engaging in diplomacy with those feral savages? Daintily unmentioned is the fact that the US manufactures, uses, and sells cluster bombs too. Pesky corrections are dismissed as “whataboutism” ~ a wonderfully brusque way to dismiss critical thinking and inconvenient context. 

Not only is the vicious eight-year civil war in Ukraine ignored, but few folks are also curious enough to note that at the time of the Maidan coup in 2014, Ukraine’s population was evenly split between Ukrainian speakers in North and West and Russian speakers in the East and South. 

Today the percentage of Ukrainian speakers is somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters as Russian ethnics fled an increasingly inhospitable (and, in the East, bombarded) country that would not even permit Russian language TV programming. 

Some unhinged hysterics might label it slow-motion ethnic cleansing, but, of course, Western Ukrainians, deeply dissatisfied with a profoundly corrupt and debt-ridden regime, migrated to the EU in smaller but significant numbers. 

Here then is the exasperatingly volatile situation ~ exacerbated by Nato’s reckless expansion ~ where dollar store moralists say the wicked Russians invaded and that is all that matters. 

Those who rigidly want to start their morality clock on 24 February 2022 instead of 2014 or 2008 or 1991 just cannot be taken seriously. Disregarding every detail that matters in the awful story won’t help bring about a rapid end to the daily myriad of tragedies. 

All it would have taken to evade the meat-grinder mayhem was to enact the Minsk II agreement (which then-President Poroshenko clearly was afraid to sign), observe the niceties of neutrality and enact a federated autonomy for the Donbas region, which now is likely to be incorporated into Russia as part of their price for the costly intervention. 

How would operating in a neutral country such as Austria or Finland be a miserable or despicable fate? This cordial arrangement was on the table from 2014-2015 but, with cynical Western support, was rejected by the ultra-nationalists ~ of which the now decimated neo-Nazi Azov Regiment is only the most notorious branch ~ who exercised a disproportionate influence over Ukraine since 2014. Zelensky’s election five years later did nothing to curb those ugly factions. 

The grotesque spectacle of Western states forking out billions to arm and train outright Nazis whom the Soviet Union played the key role in defeating at the cost of 27 million lives during the Second World War never gets remarked upon. 

Nor do mainstream media want citizens to ponder why Nato countries must hike their military budgets to fend off a supposedly rabid Russian Federation that has not even defeated Ukraine as yet. 

The irony is not the media’s strong suit because a sense of irony is associated with unwanted critical thought. The war, so far we can discern from the US and Nato stances must go on. 

Still, these blundering sanctions, for which everyone but corporate profiteers pay, may backfire severely as they bite deep into Western pocketbooks while leaving Russia undeterred. 

For the Biden administration, there is an unanticipated and scary race going on between achieving their geopolitical dream of destabilizing Russia, and the pressures mounting on it from economic hardships ordinary people suffer. 

What will citizens do as they realize that most of their economic pain results not from the war itself but from sanctions on a Russian regime that is doing precisely what the US goaded it to do and wants it to continue doing? In any case, anyone who interferes in any way with ending this insane conflict is themselves, a war criminal.



(The writers are well-known political commentators and the authors of No Clean Hands, Parables of Permanent War and many other books)