Ukraine take 5 – Gilbert Doctorow

9 Feb

Anyone following these scribblings, including the previous four “Ukraine takes”, knows my views on:

what trigged the Ukraine War

Decades of NATO provocation, from the betrayals of pledges to Gorbachev, through the stepping up of hostilities when the drunken pliancy of Yeltsin gave way to the steely nationalism of Putin, to the US orchestrated Maidan Square ouster of Yanukovitch which paved the way for a string of nominal leaders who – some with eagerness, some with reluctance – have been the tools not only of Ukraine’s far right but a US empire of whose existence every section of western media is in flat and risible denial.


The US empire, and western capitalism at large, is in crisis. (See Bryan Gocke’s piece, featured in the previous post.) The West having de-industrialised, its ruling classes – defined by their monopoly ownership of capital – are dependent on super profits from the exploitation of cheap labour in the global south (see economics of imperialism) and from their highly financialised domestic economies (see Why read Michael Hudson?)

Both are threatened by a renascent China and Russia; respectively, Wall St/Washington’s greatest economic threat, and greatest military obstacle. At the same time the war has weakened America’s greatest trade rival, Europe.

But let’s set all that aside. As we, citizens of allegedly open democracies, are dragged closer to Armageddon than at any point since nuclear fission began, will we wake up – and in sufficient numbers – to the recklessness of those who rule for their own enrichment?

That’s the question posed by Gilbert Doctorow, my fifth Ukraine “take”.

The coming existential threat: do we act in common or is it going to be every man for himself?

I returned to Brussels on Sunday after a month of travels in exotic and warm lands south of the equator. The re-entry shock upon arrival in Belgium was a lot greater than the 27 degree Centigrade drop in outdoor air temperature.  After a month of only very limited reception of Russian news, due to satellite issues and hotel service issues, last night I switched on Russian state television’s news and talk show “Sixty Minutes” on and got a full blast of the current state of relations with the US, which are very close to Doomsday.

Allow me to share with you the key point, namely the soon to be announced changes to the Russian doctrine on first use of nuclear weapons and their new more precise red lines that have come about from the plans for Russia’s partition and destruction that seem to be aired daily on US television.

As usual, Yevgeny Popov, State Duma member and host of “Sixty Minutes,” put a lot of video segments from Western television up on the screen, including a lengthy statement by Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former commander of all U.S. forces in Europe from 2014 to 2017, on how the Ukrainians must be given long range precision missiles for them to attack Russian Crimea and also further into the Russian heartland. The interview from which this declaration was made does not yet appear in Google search, but from interviews posted in 2022 it is clear that Hodges is no madman, and his statements must, as Popov said, be taken with utmost seriousness.

The context, of course, for the radical escalation now being discussed in the United States is the expectation of a massive Russian offensive to begin shortly as the anniversary of the Special Military Operation approaches. The imminent defeat of Ukrainian forces has focused minds in Washington.

 One of the regular panelists on “Sixty Minutes” then faced the cameras directly and said that Russia’s nuclear doctrine is under revision in light of these aggressive plans being aired in the United States, so that Russia is headed towards a policy of ‘preventive’ tactical nuclear strikes, similar to what the United States has.  Moreover, if Ukraine targets Crimea and heartland Russia, then Russia will respond according to plans now being laid down. These plans foresee counter strikes against U.S military installations in Europe and in the Continental United States using hypersonic missiles.  The panelist calls for this threat of counter strikes in Europe and the US to be made public and explicit, so that no one is in doubt about what to expect from the Kremlin.

So here we are. The Russians are stripping away the fiction of a proxy war and revealing the co-belligerent status of the US and its NATO allies in preparation for a kinetic war with NATO. As our illustrious former President, a man of few words, would say:  “Not good!”

Allow me also to share with my readership the bitter medicine that I just shared with our daughter:  look for an escape hatch!  

Either, as I fervently hope, there will be an anti-war movement in the USA, in Europe arising from the shock therapy news now developing with respect to the coming kinetic war between NATO and Russia, OR failing that, it will be every man for himself.

Back in 1937 there were Jews in Berlin who decided they could ride out the storm and stay put.  There were others who took the first boats out, to England, to the US, to South America.   All of us in the Northern Hemisphere now may be facing the same existential choice. 

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