The U.S. empire is getting ready to cut its losses in Ukraine. This is something I’ve been expecting for a while as someone who’s watching the situation from outside the anti-Russian propaganda bubble, but additional signs of such a development have lately appeared. Signs which indicate how messy the process is going to be. The fact is that the U.S. bloc has committed itself to backing a regime which has committed gargantuan, mass trauma-inducing war crimes, and so many within the pro-imperialist sphere will never want to admit these atrocities have happened. So when Washington decides to forsake the Zelensky regime due to its becoming too much of a liability, a bitter split could emerge within the empire’s intellectual (or even political and military) ranks.
This split, or the first hint of it, is already in motion. And it’s so far mainly playing out within imperialism’s non-governmental organization network. This week, Amnesty International put out a report which found that Ukraine has been committing war crimes as a top-down, intentional policy, the following ones being among them:
Throughout these investigations, researchers found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions. The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab has analyzed satellite imagery to further corroborate some of these incidents. Most residential areas where soldiers located themselves were kilometres away from front lines. Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas. In the cases it documented, Amnesty International is not aware that the Ukrainian military who located themselves in civilian structures in residential areas asked or assisted civilians to evacuate nearby buildings – a failure to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians.
In reaction to Amnesty’s statement, imperialist propagandists both self-styled and official put in great amounts of effort to convince social media users that these facts shouldn’t at all negatively impact the way the world views the Ukrainian side. The central part of their arguments has been that Amnesty is portraying these events out of context, and that such actions from an army are inevitable when it’s trying to defend itself. Aside from the dubious nature of this claim that defensive militaries have no choice but to systematically commit atrocities, and from the larger context that it was Ukraine’s belligerent U.S.-installed fascist Kiev regime which provoked Russia into intervening, the real essence of their protests against Amnesty’s report is not that it’s factually incorrect. It’s that it will have impacts they don’t like. They’re scared that the exposure of Kiev’s crimes will lead to Kiev getting cut off from military aid, making imperialism’s proxy war against Russia unable to continue.
This utterly cynical and corrupt motive behind their concern was apparent in the statement from Oksana Pokalchuk, the former Amnesty International Ukraine Head, who recently stepped down due to the impacts this report’s publication could have:
It is painful to admit but I and the leadership of Amnesty International have split over values. Hence, I decided to leave the organization. I believe any work for the good of society should be done taking into account the local context and thinking through consequences. Most importantly, I am convinced that our surveys should be made thoroughly and with people in mind, whose lives often depend directly on the words and actions of international organizations. Even yesterday, I had a naïve hope that I would be able to fix everything. That we would hold even 200 meetings but explain, reach out and convey our opinion. And that text would be deleted, and another one would appear in its place. Today I have realized this will not happen.
Amnesty, and if the trend holds other Western human rights organizations, won’t go back to the old normal of keeping quiet about Ukraine’s constant atrocities for the sake of political convenience. (A normal that these organizations couldn’t consistently stick to to begin with, since the regime’s horrors since the coup have been so undeniable that Amnesty has been having to report on them from 2014 onwards.) Now the reporting policy of “hear no evil, see no evil” no longer needs to be adhered to when it comes to the coup regime, because the priorities of the U.S. empire have shifted.
I said I’ve long expected Washington to cut off support for Ukraine because from a realistic military perspective, Ukraine never had a chance of winning this conflict. At this point it’s become an undeniable reality for any serious strategic analyst, with Russia continuing to overall take more localities than lose them even as Ukraine receives full armed forces backing from the largest military on earth. Washington is only still supporting Ukraine because it’s hoped that if the conflict drags on long enough, Russia will be weakened to the point where it can be destabilized and broken up, like Yugoslavia was. But the proxy war and the sanctions have failed to have such an impact, so Washington will at some point need to stop wasting its resources for the sake of a long-failed geopolitical chess maneuver. The first part of this is ending the climate of political pressure on organizations like Amnesty, which are now freed up to not hold back on exposing Kiev’s vile deeds.
The most strategically inclined of the imperialists have already long known that this point would have to come, and that the proxy war is a lost cause. The war criminal Henry Kissinger said so in May, after it had become apparent that Kiev would never get back the territory it wanted. He concluded that Kiev must give up that land for peace to be reached, and that “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.”
Now that his estimated window of opportunity for de-escalation has passed, the imperialists with a more risk-comfortable mindset (who are primarily the types that get to steer the empire) are only further trying to inflame conflict. Even if their backing of Ukraine may soon go away, they’ve pivoted towards Taiwan, and Pelosi has traveled to the island in a brazen show of treating it as a separate country from China. As this reckless decision, along with the recent additions of two Nordic countries to NATO, have received approval from the highest levels of the U.S. government, the Washington Post has claimed that imperialism won’t experience any negative repercussions from doing these things: “This week, the United States proved it could handle China and Russia at the same time, without starting any new wars or losing any ongoing battles. This should put to rest two trendy but wrong ideas: the notion on the right that we must back off Russia to confront China, and the notion on the left that we must back off China to confront Russia. It’s a false choice — because it’s all one confrontation.”
Such confident proclamations about what Washington can pull off are dependent on ignoring the ever more severe reality of U.S. imperialism’s decline. The facts are that just this year, the maneuvers of the U.S. have started a new war, and it’s lost numerous ongoing battles. Russia intervened in Ukraine not out of aggression, as the imperialists assert, but in response to the coup regime that Washington had been using to threaten Russia and its allied independent Donbass republics. And the U.S. has been losing the ensuing battles on all fronts, from the battles for territory within Ukraine to the economic battle with Russia.
At a certain point, Zelensky and his team of fellow war criminals will find themselves without any support, isolated to their own crumbling state. They’ll have no choice but to desperately try to keep the war going by sacrificing the rest of Ukraine’s current generation of young men. Then they may be assassinated by a CIA that’s turned against them, or captured by Russia to be put on trial for their crimes. The U.S. empire will find itself in a scenario where its efforts have just massively backfired, ironically accelerating the transition towards multipolarity when the plan was to reverse that process.
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