U.S. President Joseph Biden and not surprisingly NATO made it evidently clear that there will be no Ukrainian membership in NATO until after the war. This stipulation and the requirement – objective and subjective – of Ukraine’s victory over Russia in the war constitutes a form of de facto blackmail of Kiev on the part of the West. This dooms Ukraine to fight ‘as long as it takes’ – in the sloganeering vernacular of the White House – to the cliched but very real last Ukrainian in order to gain NATO membership.
The Blackmail Trap
On the eve of NATO’s Vilnius summit Joseph Biden stated clearly that he had consolidated the alliance’s members around the position that it will not offer Kiev membership in NATO until after the war. Never mind that this carrot was dangled over Ukraine for additional months as war raged and Ukrainians died by the tens of thousands at the West’s behest. More importantly, this ‘decision’ (actually a long ongoing policy) means that Ukraine cannot gain NATO membership without attaining victory in the war with Russia. Why? Because a defeated Ukraine cannot become a NATO member not just from Washington’s and Brussels’ point of view but also from that of Moscow.
Anything that can be called a Russian victory objectively speaking and in Moscow’s view cannot coexist with the survival of the principle of NATO’s ‘open door policy’ and its application to Ukraine.* As long as the West and Ukraine insist on the right of Ukraine to be a member of the alliance, Russia will continue its special military operation and is likely to escalate to full-scale war. Ukraine is faced with the Hobson’s choice of continuing war – one which is eviscerating Ukraine’s landscape in every possible sense—from the economy to society to the polity (now distinctly undemocratic) to the ecology. It is being held hostage. Kiev is told that it must risk survival – though naturally the West will do everything it can ‘for as long as it takes’ – in order to achieve NATO expansion.
Thus, badly outmatched Ukraine must defeat a more powerful Russian army backed by a more powerful state than that in Ukraine. It must do so largely with its own manpower and at the sacrifice of the noted landscape. NATO assistance has been and will be unable to close the gap in the next two years at the least, and that its scuttled the March 2022 draft peace agreement and now demands Kiev keep up the good fight. Moreover, Washington and Brussels have frequently rejected the idea of talks with Moscow on the pretext that the losses of Ukrainian territory cannot be allowed to be locked in by peace with Moscow or a frozen conflict. Therefore, the fight must go on.
The War for NATO’s Right to Expand
But the fight for what really from the West’s actual standpoint, putting aside the sloganeering, propaganda, and disinformation? This war is not about Ukraine’s national security, Western security, the ‘Western way of life’, ‘Western civilization’, or ‘democracy’ (we in the West have/had republics, not democracies, hence the quotation marks). If it were truly about any of these things, Western leaders would attempt to convince their publics that, at a minimum, a war footing in industry and society must be established in order to intensify weapons, other military production, and nations’ commitment to the war effort or that, at a maximum, NATO must enter the war.
Victory over Russia in the Ukrainian war is required by Western elites in order to save the right of NATO expansion and the West’s right to global hegemony on the cheap, because these are not existential needs but simply a preferences and thereby goals that are driven by power lust, ambition, and greed on the individual, the national, and collective Western elite scales. Victory is preferred to and should come more at the expense of a relatively small country that the West pushed to the fore like a human shield as it aggravated Moscow with the threat of NATO expansion. For at least two decades Washington and Brussles threatened Moscow with NATO expansion; a policy that I and numerous better- known analysts warned would exacerbate Russia’s historically driven security vigilance and so would eventually lead to the dismantling of Russia’s nascent weak republican rule and ultimately to war and precisely in Ukraine.
The war, therefore, is necessary to continue from the West’s standpoint not in order to protect the right of Ukraine to become a NATO member per se but rather to protect NATO’s right to expand to Ukraine or anywhere else it chooses, when it chooses, and how it chooses. Ukraine has no right to become a NATO member; it has a right to apply for NATO membership. It can be refused by NATO even after some supposed future victory and no matter the cost of this victory. Only NATO has the right and power to expand NATO, and therefore only NATO should influence the decision: not Ukraine, not Russia, not China, not God.
Naturally, Ukrainian Presidents Petro Poroshenko and Volodomyr Zelenskiy, much of the Ukrainian elite, and Ukraine’s numerous nationalists, ultranationalists, and neofascists are to blame for this truly grave predicament in which Ukrainians have been trapped by the West. (I leave out Moscow’s own lesser sins in the causality of this conflict here). For example, since the NATO summit both Zelenskiy and Chief of Ukraine’s General Staff Viktor Zalyuzhniy have offered screeds against the West; the former warning both Trump and Biden that Ukraine will never give land for peace, and the latter saying he has the right to use any means and can attack any target without constraints being put on him by the West. Being in a trap of Washington’s making is producing the predicted resentment in Kiev.
One has to feel for some of them as they see their country dissolving into dust and as they are beholden to the least humanistic and banal Western leadership cohort in history. Westerners can hang Ukrainian flags, ban Russian culture, and babble ‘Slava Ukrainu’ all they want, but history will not be fooled. It will know who exchanged Ukraine for power and money in a fake temple they called ‘democracy.’
By Gordon Hahn
Source: the author’s blog