Less well known than his ex Syriza colleague, Yanis Varoufakis, Dimitrus Konstantakopoulos has featured before on this site. 1 Where many commentators, me for example, have focused on the rights and wrongs of the proxy war in Ukraine, here he sets those aspects to one side. He even assumes, for the sake of argument, that everything Western politicians and media say is true.
(Something he clearly does not believe, I hasten to add.)
Instead, his piece yesterday concentrates on two things; one being the war itself, whose stark realities he boils down to six points: (a) Ukrainian victory is impossible; 2 (b) nuclear escalation absolutely is; (c) global climatic catastrophe is worsened; (d) planet wide chaos is inevitable, together with the likely collapse of the UN; (e) ditto economic crisis and famine (or have just-in-time systems and well stocked supermarkets blinded Europe to how much of its grain comes from Russia and Ukraine?); (f) “enormous financial means, badly needed for addressing social problems in the world, will be directed to the US defense industry.” 3
His other focus is a challenge to the “non aligned” states, which I take to mean a global south housing two nuclear powers – three if we count China – to lead the demand for peace. We’ve had glimpses of its potential, as The Economist laments the ‘failure’ of the ‘developing world’ to stand firmly with Uncle Sam; a ‘failure’ epitomised by New Delhi taking a monsoon cheque on the ‘invite’ to join the “international community” embargo of Russia.
(Needless to say Modi’s thumbs-down was swiftly followed by Washington discovering, to its horror and dismay, that India is not big on human rights.)
Here then in red – my comments in blue – is Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, writing yesterday in Defend Democracy
It is high time for the Non-Aligned to intervene in the Ukrainian crisis
We are facing probably the most dangerous crisis in human history and the war in Ukraine is only one of its manifestations. We say this is the most dangerous crisis in human history, because it is the first time that humans possess productive forces and technologies able to destroy life on earth.
Responding to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine the West has launched what amounts to a kind of a sui generis world war against Russia. It is a world war because of the extent of the economic, military, international and information measures adopted against Russia and because its dynamic is already influencing all the globe. It is a sui generis world war, not a “usual” one, because the two sides, Russia and the West, have avoided, up to now, the direct military confrontation of their armed forces, out of fear of a nuclear war able to annihilate humanity, including US and Russia. In reality this form of Cold-Hot War now unleashed was already prepared many years ago, with the international campaign to demonize Russia, the successive enlargements of NATO and the repudiation of the most fundamental Arms Control agreements by Washington.
We are not going to examine here the veracity of the western arguments or go back to the roots of the Ukrainian crisis (among other factors the way the USSR was dismantled, with no respect of the will of its peoples and nations, the deep division of Ukraine in an anti-Russian and a pro-Russian part, the continuous enlargement of NATO, the US-backed coup d’etat in Kiev or the critical role played by various neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine). We are not also going to remind of the direct or indirect western interventions which have destroyed whole countries, like Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc., during the last 30 years alone.
Except, of course, that “we” just did. And rightly so …
Let us assume for the sake of this analysis that all Western arguments against Russia are correct. Even if we make such an assumption, will the measures adopted against Russia help the Ukrainian people? What will be their global consequences?
- A Ukrainian military victory is impossible
By delivering massive help in armaments, “technical assistance” and mercenaries the West cannot accomplish a military defeat of a power like Russia. To claim the opposite is simply ridiculous.
It cannot also lead to a “regime change” in Russia. If such tactics have failed against Cuba or Iran or North Korea, and if the Taliban are now ruling Afghanistan, it is inconceivable that such tactics will succeed against Russia.
By the way if there will be a “regime change” in Russia, it will be to the opposite direction of what America hopes. And if it will mean some distancing of the country from the oligarchic capitalism which had hijacked in the past Gorbachev’s experiment, with the help of the US, it will be a very positive “regime change” for both Russia and the whole world. Because this “oligarchic capitalism” is not a privilege of Russia, it is the ultimate stage of Capitalism itself and it represents the gravest threat to humanity.
Under the concrete circumstances, the military help provided to Ukraine will help prolong the conflict and make Zelenski even more unwilling to compromise (if Zelenski has any margin of autonomy and is not a mere instrument of the more extremist western forces, something we doubt seriously). 4 All that military help can do is further destroy Ukraine and bleed Russia.
That last, of course, is the point. One of them anyway. Another is to bind Europe – alongside China, America’s greatest potential competitor – closer to Washington.
The only way to help Ukrainians is to put pressure on Zelenski and on Russia to search a negotiated compromise solution. Now, the Ukrainian President is not interested in peace. He believes, or he pretends to believe, or he is ordered to say so, he will win over Russia.
2. Increasing the risk of Nuclear World War
The West and Russia are now engaged in a very dangerous poker game, which can turn, at any moment, to Russian roulette game.
The international political climate created, the open or dissimulated calls for overthrowing the Russian regime or kill Putin, the portraying of Russia as a “criminal” country and the indirect still very real military involvement of NATO has undermined seriously the foundations of the “peaceful coexistence” of the two nuclear superpowers (that is their mutual respect and recognition) and sharply increased, objectively and even irrespective of intentions, the probability of a nuclear world war and of the extermination of mankind.
There’s only one government that is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases, continually working to destroy any nation who disobeys it, and has spent the 21st century killing people by the millions. It isn’t Russia. It isn’t China. One must account for this reality.
Such a war can happen as a result of accident, miscalculation or provocations by the international extremist party of war, as both camps are pushed to a situation any retreat will be considered an unacceptable humiliation and the level of mutual hate and suspicion is getting to new highs.
We know there is an extremist War party in the “system” even since WWII (when US state officials and personalities begun negotiating with German Nazi state officials a probable change of alliances and a common offensive against the USSR). It has also manifested itself during the first cold war (around the Committee for the Present Danger), with the wars in the Middle East (Neocons, Project for a new American Century etc.) and is responsible for the use of a biological weapon (anthrax) in September 2001. They are most probably behind Bannon’s strategy of favoring nationalism everywhere and disseminating conflict and the chaos of the “war of all against all”.
The dismantling of the nuclear arms control structure by the USA and the gradual increasing of relying on tactical nuclear weapons are also aggravating and destabilizing factors. There are no tactical nuclear weapons. The use of any nuclear weapon will have strategic consequences.
In the meantime, all negotiations on arms control between the US and Russia are suspended and it is difficult even to imagine that they will resume while the Ukrainian conflict is continuing.
We must also remember that there are not only nuclear arms in the world. Very important dangers are also related with all means of mass destruction including chemical, biological, space, cyber and all other sorts of weapons.
Even if humanity survives this standoff (and the one with China that’s next in line), Biden will still have been an unforgivably depraved president for allowing it to get this close. There’s no excuse whatsoever for just casually rolling the dice on all terrestrial life like this.
3. Making certain the climatic catastrophe
According to all scientific data, including the latest IPCC reports, and if we don’t adopt immediately and globally very radical measures, the climate change will become irreversible. Whatever measures we will adopt later will not be able to reverse it. This situation is representing a mortal threat not only to human civilisation and prosperity, but to the very survival of Humans.
Even before the Ukrainian crisis, most governments did not seem ready and willing to adopt such measures. As long as the local conflict in Ukraine and the global conflict between East and West goes on it will be even more difficult to adopt any measures to this direction. It is simply impossible to address the climatic and other existential threats to humanity without strong cooperation between all great powers and all states of the world.
Already and as a result of the sanctions war against Russia, Europe is shifting to massive import of US shale gas in Europe, while we witness an increase in transportation of energy by ships, new plans for increasing fossil fuel extraction and increasing the use of oil, phasing out of plans to shift to eco-agriculture and a new shift to extremely dangerous nuclear energy.
The fact German Greens have become one of the most warmongering parties in all the West, strongly supporting the armament of Ukraine and all anti-Russian sanctions, in spite of the catastrophic consequences this policy may have to the chances of mankind to survive, is one of the most impressive reflections of the general madness into which Humanity is now descending fast.
Green support for Nato is nothing new. See this WSWS piece from 2001, German Greens vote to support the war in Afghanistan. Backing the most tyrannical regime on earth is a logical consequence – on this small point WSWS and I are as one – of assuming that ecocide can be tackled without confronting its biggest driver: a system for organising wealth creation premised on private ownership of production, and demanding constant and narrowly defined ‘growth’. See Ecocide: the Mullah Nasruddin speaks!
4. Provoking Chaos in the World
The United Nations, the ineffective and insufficient but still unique institution of world cooperation and dialogue is based on some form of rudimentary equilibrium and mutual respect of the five permanent members of the Security Council. One can hardly imagine how it will not be paralyzed or even abolished in the long run by the present situation of relations between the Western (US, Britain, France) and Eastern (Russia, China) blocs.
Sooner or later, the dynamic of the conflict between NATO and Russia, and also of the less dramatic, still quite real confrontation between NATO and China, will influence all other conflict zones around the world and it will create new conflict zones.
5. Provoking economic and famine crises
The war and the sanctions wars are already fuelling a global recession and heavy inflationary tendencies, with catastrophic consequences for a series of Southern but also European countries (where the EU will be threatened and there is a risk of rise of neo-fascist parties). Famine is already threatening at least eight countries in Africa. Mass demonstrations and strikes are erupting in various areas of the world.
In such conditions it will be also extremely difficult to fight against COVID and new health threats.
6. Guns without butter
The one after the other western country is announcing now new expensive investments in developing and acquiring arms. Enormous financial means, badly needed for addressing social problems in the world, inequalities inside and between countries and financing green transition will be directed to the US defense industry in order to manufacture weapons, whose only use can be to send humanity to hell.
What is to be done
For all the reasons developed above, the sanctions and other wars launched by the West against Russia are anything but a proportionate response to Russia’s actions even if we accept the western narrative. They will not be of any help to Ukrainians but they risk literally to blow up the planet. They must be cancelled immediately, a ceasefire imposed, new arms shipments to Ukraine stopped and begin negotiations to find a compromise solution to the problem. This is the urgent first step to stop to stop the conflict and begin de-escalation.
Such a solution to be viable must include the recognition of the social and national aspirations of all peoples inhabiting Ukraine, the right of Ukrainians to live without being terrorized by Nazi armed gangs and their allies inside the Ukrainian state mechanism, the recognition of the neutrality of Ukraine, the cancelling of any further extension of the NATO, the resumption of arms control negotiations in order to re-establish globally and in particular in Europe of a regime providing safety for all its countries and providing for the further denuclearization of the continent, in particular the destruction of tactical and intermediary range weapons.
The greatest moments in Russian history have been realized when Russia found the way to defend not only the narrow interests of the Russian nation but much wider ones. As for Ukraine, it has absolutely no future as a NATO base for aggression against Russia.
The role of the Non-Aligned
During the first Cold War, the Movement of Non-Aligned countries played an enormous and very positive role. (Another very interesting initiative which contributed to decreasing dangerous tensions between East and West was the Initiative of the Six Countries and the Five Continents (Argentina, Greece, India, Mexico, Sweden, Tanzania) in the ‘80s).
Nowadays, the non-aligned countries are much more powerful than they were when their Movement was founded. They are representing the majority of the states and of the population of the world and a great percentage of the global GDP. Some of them are nuclear powers.
They must overcome what remnants of the colonial period may subside in their national consciousness and subconscious. Nobody can deny a role to them regarding the global questions. They are the only international force with the necessary credibility to contribute to a viable compromise agreement and to its verification. And, given the present – day dependence of nearly all western and in particular European politicians from NATO and Washington, they seem to represent the only force capable of intervening in the crisis, in order to stop the descent of the planet into chaos and make the first step towards establishing a more just, democratic, social and ecological international order, without which humanity is doomed. It is also obvious that the countries which will play a protagonist role in such an effort will also get a lot of dividends for themselves.
It is a historic opportunity the Non-Aligned themselves and all Humanity must not lose!
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer. He served at the office of the Greek PM Andreas Papandreou as a specialist in East-West relations, he has been chief correspondent of the Greek news agency ANA to Moscow during the perestroika and Yeltsin’s years and he has been a member of the Secretariat of the SYRIZA Party in Greece, which he quitted after 2015.
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- In this post Mr Konstantakopoulos asks whether nuclear war is probable. And in this one he notes that “the crisis for a still dominant Western capitalism is deep [but] is not reflected in revolutionary movements such as those following WWI in Russia, and WWII in China, which led to Europe’s welfare states (now being dismantled). It is not reflected because there are … no Jacobins, Bolsheviks or Chinese Communists. It is reflected, for now, in the rise of alternative power centres, especially China, but also in the revival of Russia and in the resistance of Iran.
- Apropos footnote 3, the point is often made that a powerful section of the US ruling class no longer seeks to win that tyrannical nation’s wars. So profitable are they that the goal, rather, is to extend them indefinitely.
- On America’s arms sector – a means not only of enforcing imperial will but of moving wealth from American taxpayers to obscenely rich oligarchs, and as much a driver of the US economy as it is of America’s endless wars thousands of miles from its shores and borders – see footnote 1 to the previous post.
- The question of whether Zelenski has agency was raised a few days ago by John Mearsheimer, who said:
… when Zelensky ran for president he made it clear he wanted to work out an arrangement with Russia that ended the crisis in Ukraine, and he won. He then tried to move toward implementing the Minsk II agreement. If you were going to shut down the conflict in Ukraine, you had to implement Minsk II. And Minsk II meant giving the Russian-speaking and the ethnic Russian population in the easternmost part of Ukraine, the Donbas region, a significant amount of autonomy, and you had to make the Russian language an official language of Ukraine.
I think Zelensky found out very quickly that because of the Ukrainian right, it was impossible to implement Minsk II. Therefore even though the French and the Germans, and of course the Russians were very interested in making Minsk II work, because they wanted to shut down the crisis, they couldn’t do it. In other words, the Ukrainian right was able to stymie Zelensky on that front.
And as Caitlin Johnstone pointed out on May 10: