The First Provocation
In August 1945, the US dropped atomic bombs, firstly on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki, murdering some 200,000 Japanese, predominantly civilians. At the time of the bombing, Japan was already defeated and ready to surrender. It was utterly unnecessary to drop these barbarous weapons which made no material difference to ending the war. These views are supported by multiple sources including General Dwight Eisenhower (later US President), Gen Douglas MacArthur and other authoritative American figures.
However, an important US purpose of the bombing was to demonstrate this new weapon of mass destruction to the Soviets. The bombing was carried out more to impress the Soviets than to cow Japan. The bombing was the first in a line of US provocations.
The Nuclear Threat
Following on the heels of the US, the Soviets tested their first nuclear device in 1949. It was the beginning of the Nuclear Arms Race. Today, Russia and the US together have about 13,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy the entire planet. In 1948, the White House announced that only the President could authorise the use of the nuclear bomb. That authority remains in place to this day. In The Button, Perry and Collina argue that “Giving the President sole authority to launch is the most dangerous of all”.
“No First Use” (NFU) refers to a pledge by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons except in retaliation to an attack by an enemy using weapons of mass destruction. In 1964 China became the first nuclear-weapons state to make its NFU pledge public and, according to Wikipedia, China and India are currently the only two nuclear powers to formally maintain a NFU pledge. The United States refuses to adopt a NFU policy and Truman’s official policy of first use continues to apply. The Soviet union adopted a NFU in 1982 but following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation reversed that policy and today, Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, not only in response to a nuclear attack but also “In case of aggression against Russia - - - when the very existence of the state is threatened”.
When the US-Soviet Cold War Ended
The leaders who negotiated the end of the Cold War in 1988-90 did so “with no losers, only winners”. However when the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, President H.W. Bush changed his mind declaring in 1992 that “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War”. In 1990, pledges were made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev by the US, Germany, France, Britain and NATO that NATO would not move closer to the Soviet Border and would not expand “one inch” to the east. These commitments were given when the USSR agreed to a reunified Germany remaining in NATO and are supported by historic records including those held by the US National Security Archive at George Washington University and in the British National Archives.
The Next Provocations
The undertakings not to enlarge NATO were broken when Clinton offered membership of NATO to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1997. Subsequently NATO proposed seven more members including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In 2008, the Bush administration called for NATO membership for both Georgia and Ukraine. That is when Russia warned of serious consequences. These violations of the Western commitments are the major cause of the deterioration of Russia’s relations with the West, and it led to Russia moving into Crimea, fearing that its security would be threatened if Ukraine joined NATO.
The West blames the crisis on Russian aggression and Putin’s expansionist goals even though there is zero evidence of this. Indeed Putin is on record saying, “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain”. Chicago University Professor of Political Science, John Mearsheimer contends that the US and its allies are responsible for the crisis. NATO expansion was part of a strategy to move Eastern Europe, including Ukraine into the West and into Russia’s “backyard”, threatening its core strategic interests. Ukraine is a huge expanse of land which Napoleonic France, Imperial Germany, and Nazi Germany had all crossed to strike at Russia. Russia faced an existential interest in keeping NATO away from its borders. It would not tolerate American missiles in Ukraine any more than the US tolerated Russian missiles in Cuba in 1962.
It was the last straw! Putin set the forces in motion to take Crimea.
The Russian Empire annexed Crimea in 1783 and extended its borders to the Black Sea, paving the way for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet with its naval base in Sevastopol. One hundred and seventy years later, in 1954, although the people of Crimea were predominantly Russian, Crimea was transferred from the Russian Federation to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev, based on territorial proximity, close economic and cultural ties and as a symbolic gesture to commemorate Ukraine’s union with Russia.
The End of the Road
In 2021 NATO reconfirmed its intention to include Ukraine, reiterating the 2008 decision that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance. In December 2021 Moscow demanded that Ukraine remain neutral and out of NATO; that Crimea remain part of Russia; and that the Donbass be autonomous. US Secretary of State, Blinken responded “There is no Change. There will be no Change”. The US slammed the door on a negotiated path to avoid war. Instead, the Biden administration provided millions of dollars and sent weapon supplies to Ukrainian.
The Invasion and a Failed Ukrainian Compromise Attempt
On 21 February 2022, Russia officially recognised the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and on 24 February 2022, Russia launched its “special military operation”. Then, on 8 March 2022, less than two weeks after the start of the invasion, Zelensky announced that he was ready to compromise regarding Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea. He was also willing to renounce Ukraine’s bid to join NATO. On 16 March 2022, Russia and Ukraine announced progress towards a peace agreement. Instead, the US blocked the peace negotiations and on 30 March 2022 the Asia Times reported on “Washington’s determination to destroy the Putin regime, if necessary, by prolonging the Ukraine war long enough to bleed Russia dry”.
Many efforts have been made to mediate peace by Turkey, France, Israel, Brazil, China, and South Africa but neither the US nor NATO has lifted a finger to bring peace. Instead they have poured arms and ammunition into Ukraine, adding fuel to the fire, using Ukraine as a “proxy”. As Caitlin Johnstone reports, the Empire is knowingly throwing Ukrainian lives into the meat grinder in an unwinnable proxy war.
Russia’s “Unprovoked” War – Western Propaganda
While the West contends that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was “unprovoked”, that is not how the “Rest” sees it. The Indians, South Africans, Brazilians and others understand the Russian position. Nevertheless, if you believe the Russian invasion was unprovoked, you can rest easy knowing that your views are widely supported, not just by the White House, but by almost every “leading” Western news medium including the New York Times, The Guardian, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Financial times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and CNBC.
There are other views. Alex Lo, writing in the South China Morning Post draws attention to two letters. The first was written by 50 US “foreign policy experts” who wrote to President Bill Clinton in 1997 warning him against NATO expansion and instead suggesting the need to integrate post-Soviet Russia into the security architecture of the West. They saw NATO expansion as a direct provocation of Russia which would make Russia more dangerous not less so, and would make Europe less, not more secure. They described NATO expansion as “a policy error of historic proportions”.
The second letter was published in July 2023 and was signed by 46 “foreign policy experts”. This group want Ukraine to win the war, to win back all territories, and for Ukraine to be made a member of NATO. They assume that Russia’s aggression is 100% responsible for the war. Notably, these “experts” have commercial links or interests with the US weapons industry or thinktanks financed by the US weapons industry.
What is even more alarming is that the US and NATO now look to expand NATO into the Indo-Pacific, to take on China. If war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, the US and its allies will almost certainly blame China for the next “unprovoked” war. It’s the China Threat, stupid!
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