Understanding the complexity: Why some opponents of US wars and invasions are not on Ukraine’s side.

By Elijah J. Magnier

In the ongoing conflict in Europe, there is a notable division among those who oppose US wars, invasions and the responsibility of the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies for the overthrow of regimes around the world and the Russian occupation of part of Ukraine. While many individuals strongly oppose American military interventions and the destructive consequences they bring, not all of them are on the side of Ukraine in this particular conflict. Instead, some individuals have taken a controversial stance, either defending or refraining from condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine. This raises a fundamental question: Why do those who oppose US wars not necessarily side with Ukraine in this situation?

Since February 2022, Russia has occupied and fought to annex Ukrainian territory violating international norms and territorial sovereignty. This Russian occupation can be seen as an uncomfortable contradiction for opponents of American wars and the US military’s history of occupying other countries. This attitude is not based on a selective application of international law or Security Council resolutions. It stems from a broader disillusionment with superpowers’ disregard for international law and their ability to find justifications for invading other states and extending their influence beyond their borders. These acts of war and coup have caused significant human loss and instability in various world regions.

Critics of US military intervention often cite past examples to support their arguments. Even US politicians use similar arguments to claim the presidency but do precisely the same as their predecessors to maintain the establishment’s power. Indeed, while criticising his predecessor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Donald Trump highlighted how the Middle East had experienced a significant deterioration in stability during her tenure. He pointed to the rise of ISIS, the turmoil in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood’s control of Egypt, the chaos in Iraq and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Trump argued that these outcomes resulted from American interventionism, stressing that the wars in the region had only further destabilised it. He also criticised the invasion of Iraq under false pretences, pointing out that the existence of weapons of mass destruction was a lie.

Trump’s comments were echoed on the other side of the Atlantic. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led his country into the Iraq war, confessed his mea culpa. Two decades later, Blair has admitted that he made a mistake and that intelligence misled the country into a war in Iraq that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. But the question is, who holds these Western leaders to account? Who, if any, of these top decision-makers will ever be prosecuted for their mass murder and destruction of nations just to maintain solidarity, even in the wrong quests?

The subsequent actions of American administrations, including Presidents George Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, have reinforced the perception that the United States considers itself above the law and avoids accountability. This perception is reinforced by the US administration’s support for Israeli actions such as bombing Syria, assassinating Iranian scientists, starving populations through crippling sanctions, and occupying Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian land. In the years since the end of the Second World War, the United States has acted in accordance with its interests, seeking to extend its influence globally, primarily to counter the Soviet Union and maintain its global leadership.

From this perspective, America’s current involvement in Ukraine is about more than preventing Russian President Vladimir Putin from gaining control over a few thousand kilometres. Instead, as President Joe Biden has said, it is an opportunity for the United States to reassert its leadership over Europe under US political and military command. It is also a strategic decision to separate Europe from Russia and to send a strong, united Western message to a rising China. However, America has failed to consider that dragging Russia into a protracted war in Ukraine would lead to Washington’s involvement in a costly and uncertain conflict, especially if Ukraine were to pay a heavy price. The fact that the European economy has poorly suffered or that Ukraine’s infrastructure has been destroyed does not affect the US economy, security and dominance to date.

This is why it is to the US’s advantage to try to keep the war going as long as possible. US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said that the war could last “6 or 16 years”, which shows who the real decision-makers are, who are orchestrating the war and who do not care about the consequences. No peace deal is attractive to the US until Russia screams in pain.

In a speech to African leaders, President Vladimir Putin presented papers signed by the chief mediator in Istambul and mediated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These documents indicated that an eighteen-paragraph draft peace treaty had been agreed for April 2022. The agreement included Russia’s withdrawal from the outskirts of Kyiv and the return of armoured vehicles in exchange for Ukraine’s commitment not to seek NATO membership but to receive security guarantees from several countries. Although such a deal could have been humiliating for Ukraine, pride takes precedence in politics and in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people’s lives. Ukraine is fighting mainly with Ukrainian men (with a few thousand mercenaries), but all the military plans and weapons come from the West, which runs the country. There is no pride in being a vassal state of the USA and for the Ukrainian leadership to sacrifice a generation on the battlefield to postpone peace talks at the negotiating table. That is how all wars end, no matter how long it takes.

But Western pressure, exemplified by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Kyiv, explicitly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to halt negotiations. Moreover, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, who was involved in the Ukrainian-Russian negotiations, revealed that “there was a legitimate decision by the West to keep the pressure on Putin”. He admitted acting as a mediator but insisted that all his actions were “coordinated in detail with the United States, Germany and France”. The West aimed to perpetuate the conflict. 

The latest developments in the conflict, with the Ukrainian army’s initial offensive mirroring the Russian army’s experience in the early stages, have significant international implications. The attacking forces need 4-5 times more troops than the defenders. If the Ukrainian spearhead collapses and Russian forces prove resilient, it would be a battlefield loss for the US and its allies. US Joint Forces Commander Mark Milley said 60,000 Ukrainians had been trained in 33 countries on three continents. But what the Ukrainian army has done with its counter-attack is to weaken its spearhead attacking forces on Russia’s robust defensive lines, which is also a battlefield loss for America and its allies.

Such an outcome (the West losing the war) has profound implications for the Western order. It challenges the notion of unilateralism recently acknowledged by many European leaders and highlights the limits of powerful countries in imposing their will without accountability. This realisation encourages countries that have grown up under the American umbrella to break their silence and accuse the United States of being the primary violator of international law without absolving Russia of its actions in Ukraine.

Not standing by Ukraine reflects a desire to teach the United States a necessary lesson and hold it accountable for its destructive policies and for placing itself above all laws. It will call for the need to reorganise a world order, not a Western one, and for binding respect for international law, far from a US interpretation of international law tailored to Washington’s policies. This objective comes at a high price, which Ukraine has decided to pay. Like the Eastern European countries, after perestroika and the end of the Warsaw Pact, Kyiv rushed to join the Western alliance to improve its living conditions and receive support from Western nations, especially the European Union. The price of being a friend of the US is high.

A US victory in Ukraine would mean the expansion of global domination, the possibility of further coups, the punishment of individuals and nations, the preparation for subsequent conflicts, especially with China, and the continued violation of international law. For these reasons, most countries under unfair American control have not joined the US alliance to punish Russia. This proves that these countries either want America’s defeat or the emergence of a multipolar world that can free them from the humiliation, domination, killings and punishments imposed by the United States on those who oppose its policies. The ultimate goal is to stop the US from stealing other countries’ natural resources, live in peace, and end an era of wars that have exhausted the world.

The consequences of this conflict reverberate not only in Ukraine but in the broader geopolitical landscape. The loss of Ukraine to Russian influence would have significant implications for Europe, challenging the unity and security of NATO and the European Union. It would undermine the credibility of the West’s commitment to protecting its allies’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. The failure to prevent Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has already dealt a blow to established norms of Western order and dominance. Europe would also learn that its manipulative policies contributed to a coup in Ukraine in 2014, demonstrating that European leaders violate international laws and agreements, exposing its double standards and destroying any trust other nations may have in the continent.

Indeed, the selective application of principles and agreements, such as disregarding the Minsk 1-2 agreements or rejecting Russian peace proposals, raises questions about the credibility and legitimacy of Western actions. This fuels scepticism among opponents of US wars and invasions, who see the Ukrainian conflict as another example of powerful countries manipulating international norms to advance their interests.

Moreover, the conflict in Ukraine has become a battleground for broader geopolitical ambitions. The United States, under the Biden administration, sees the situation as an opportunity to reassert its leadership in Europe and counter the rise of China. By supporting Ukraine, the US aims to unite NATO and Eastern European countries against Russia, consolidating its regional position and influence. However, pursuing these broader objectives overshadows the conflict’s human cost and the Ukrainian people’s devastation.

However, the responsibility of the Ukrainian leadership in perpetuating the conflict must be addressed. The West’s goal of propagating the war was only possible with the consent and support of Ukrainian officials. There are concerns that the West may pressure or even remove Ukrainian officials who oppose the continuation of the conflict or seek a diplomatic solution. This raises questions about how much Ukraine’s sovereignty and agency are respected in pursuing geopolitical goals.

In sum, those who oppose US wars and invasions are not wholeheartedly siding with Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, reflecting a desire to hold the United States accountable for its past actions and a longing for a more balanced and just international order. It underlines the complexity of geopolitical dynamics and the multiple considerations at play, especially when the US’s role in provoking Russia to hand it another defeat in Afghanistan is prominent. The conflict in Ukraine has far-reaching implications for global power dynamics, international norms and the quest for a more stable and peaceful world, away from unilateral US hegemony.