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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Why a trade-off with Russia is essential to protect Ukrainian lives?

By addressing some of the Russian concerns about NATO, the US could have prevented the forthcoming global economic and peace crises. It perhaps still can, given American media stops beating the war drums and evades painting a racist picture of the conflict. Most importantly, Washington needs to backtrack from hawkish foreign policy and must end exploiting the US dominance in the global payments system.

Within days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemned the offensive and demanded activating diplomatic conduits for de-escalation. Calling for the US withdrawal from NATO, an increasingly vocal political group again urged an end to the military alliance’s “imperialist expansionism that set the stage for this conflict.”

A balanced version of the conflict had minimal tolerance within the warmongers of America’s Congress, media and political spectrum. The US lawmakers blasted the statement and a White House official characterized it as “shameful.” The country’s electronic and print broadcasters went after the “Squad” and “pseudo-leftists” as well as progressive Bernie Sanders who quoted former Defense Secretary William Parry Washington “deserves much of the blame” for bringing NATO to the Russian borders.

Read more: Russia-Ukraine military standoff and it’s global implications – Part 1

Understanding the matter better

The leftist position on NATO expansion may be foolhardy for the jingoists in the US; it hasn’t been newfangled at all. Many US leading figures for instance George Kennan in 1998 distinguished the reverberations of the NATO expansion. The architect of America’s containment strategy described the integration of three Soviet satellite states – Hungry, Poland and the Czech Republic – into NATO as a “beginning of the new cold war,” warning about its disastrous impacts. The “tragic mistake” he said “would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves.”

Several dozen Congressmen, mostly Republicans, recently voted yes to providing $5.8 billion in humanitarian aid and said no on $6.5 billion on military assistance to Kyiv. Their understanding was very much harmonious with the innocuous position of the Socialists that strive to build an anti-war movement and oppose the US interventions and sanctions on foreign states.

An imminent communist state’s dissolution, first signs of which surfaced in 1989 and accelerated by Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of openness (Glasnost) and restructuring (Perestroika), next year compelled the Soviet leader to seek assurance from the US that there would be no NATO extension “not (even) one inch eastward.” Admonishing NATO’s expansion for breaching the spirit of the 1990 protocol, the Kremlin called Washington’s “double-dealing” into question in 1997.

Read more: BRI through the lens of Russia-Ukraine conflict

Looking at the excerpts from history

In 2004, the US welcomed seven countries including three former Soviet states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – to NATO.  The second expansion as a reward for supporting the US unlawful military campaign in Iraq, “a typical American show, complete with stunts and special effects,” tipped the balance of the alliance further eastward. The effort to maintain a strong foothold in the region alarmed Russia for it posed a serious security threat to the Russian state.

NATO’s irresponsible eastward enlargement brought forth the Ukrainian crisis in 2014; it is the taproot of Moscow’s invasion of Kyiv today. Western observers also single out the US and NATO “arrogant” expansionist policy and interference in Ukrainian domestic politics during 2013 and 2014 for the recent Ukrainian hardships in the hands of the Russian strongman.

Critics of the US foreign policy argue the allied policy “has been anything but pro-Ukraine.” Ironically, “another unnecessary war spurred by Washington’s arrogance and myopia” repulsed Putin’s conciliatory drive, he offered to the German Bundestag during his speech in 2001, through a ceaseless NATO advancement in Eastern Europe and lately, intends to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian.”

They support the “long-running” DSA peace campaign and want to avoid escalation rather than replicating the searing pandemic episode when American media was fossicking through documents to pin the blame of the pathogen on individuals and states. Still, the hawks in the country continue to disparage and suppress these anti-war sentiments.

Read more: UK spy chief says Putin losing Ukraine war

US double standards?

Joe Biden’s branding of Putin as a “war criminal” is a “hypocrisy” that ignores America’s war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other Mideast countries. The world rightly assigns guilt to Moscow for its brutal invasion of Kyiv; the US president, who himself lobbied for the Iraq war, and Washington, whose has a checkered past of intrusions, should by the same token be answerable for bringing collateral damage, economic devastation and civilian carnage to a number of global states.

Washington’s savagery, in fact, is much more atrocious than Moscow’s. Over the years, the US’s inhumane economic and financial sanctions on countries such as Cuba, Iran and Venezuela punished entire populations to trigger a regime change. It armed the occupying Israeli armed forces with thousands of lethal weapons to exterminate Palestinians and infringe their freedom and fundamental human rights. This military and economic “brinkmanship” is a contemporary form of American authoritarianism which, masked with egalitarianism, coerces defiant countries and rounds up competitor economies to assert international influence and ensure global supremacy.

The destructive US way of handling the conflict impelled the UNCTAD to downgrade the global economic growth forecast from 3.6% to 2.6% for 2022. The prediction is a somber presage of cataclysmic effects of the war on the international economy as the conflict puts upward pressure on energy and staple food international prices, stretch household budgets and adds to production costs with disruptions to trade and sanctions set to take a chilling effect on long-term investment.

America, already facing 40-year high inflation of 7.9% and rising food, energy and housing prices as of February, cannot grow in isolation. With the war impacts in March, the disparity between the cost of living and wage growth will become a major political threat for Biden ahead of the mid-term elections as about a third of consumers, according to a Bloomberg survey, expect the overall financial position to worsen in the year ahead.

Read more: Economic repercussions of Russia-Ukraine crisis on Pakistan

By addressing some of the Russian concerns about NATO, the US could have prevented the forthcoming global economic and peace crises. It perhaps still can, given American media stops beating the war drums and evades painting a racist picture of the conflict. Most importantly, Washington needs to backtrack from hawkish foreign policy and must end exploiting the US dominance in the global payments system. Negotiations with the Taliban, though in an embarrassing and humiliating way, ended the US “forever” war in Afghanistan; a trade-off with Russia to protect Ukrainian lives and the US and international economy could finish this off too.

The writer is a private professional and writes on geopolitical issues and regional conflicts. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.