Russian Roulette with Red Lines

The War in Ukraine has more than one Culprit

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

The invasion of Ukraine is not going the way Russia envisioned – but the thought of abandoning his plans is unbearable for Vladimir Putin. At stake is Ukraine, his security buffer to the West. The enormous American and European aid flowing there has made the military situation very precarious for the Russians, prompting their president now to order a partial mobilization of Russian forces. There is even talk of using tactical nuclear weapons. An escalation of the conflict to this extent would be a catastrophe for all of Europe.

Workers’ uprising in the GDR in 1953: Soviet tanks roll through East Berlin and other places of the Soviet satellite state. The USA and the two other victorious powers in Berlin, France and Great Britain, looked on powerlessly a few hundred yards away.

Why did it have to come to this? Can the responsibility for this dire situation really be attributed solely to Russia? After all, it was they who started this war. A war, however, that has a long pre-history between Russians and Ukrainians, but also Europe.

At a time when everyone is talking about globalization, it is worth taking a look at recent history. During the Cold War, there were many situations that could have easily led to nuclear catastrophe. The two great powers, the USA and the communist Soviet Union, friends and allies against Hitler in the second half of the Second World War, fought proxy wars against each other virtually all over the world or even intervened directly, as the Americans did in Vietnam.

That was far away. But in the field of tension Europe, the Americans have never dared to act against the Soviets as they are now doing in Ukraine, right on Russia’s doorstep. When the Soviets tried to starve out West Berlin in 1948/49 by blocking the access routes in order to force the three Western powers to abandon the city, the Americans and the British flew non-stop missions via an air lift to Tempelhof to supply the population with all the necessities of life. Military action was out of the question for all sides, although the Soviets threatened it several times.

Four years later, when the workers’ uprising in the GDR took place and Soviet tanks rolled through East Berlin to crush it, the Americans watched in protest from a few hundred meters away but did not dare to intervene militarily. On August 13, 1961, when the East German communists sealed off West Berlin with barbed wire and construction of the Wall began, President John F. Kennedy was in Hyannis Port for a sail and did not want to be disturbed1. The West had known in advance what was going on with the approval of the Soviets – and did not intervene, even though there was a Berlin crisis team in the Washington State Department, set up long before.

Nor did the Americans lift a finger during the 1956 uprising in Hungary, which was put down particularly bloodily by invading Soviet troops; nor during the Prague Spring in 1968, nor in Poland in 1970 and 1981, when, by the way, Republican presidents were sitting in the White House.

These invaded states were all involuntary satellites of the Soviets and wanted to go their own independent ways, just like the Ukraine today. They were not involved in “real wars” with the Soviet Union, but at least the Soviets intervened militarily, and no one helped these countries at the time.

In a certain way, the West had accepted the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union, although there, too, the suffering of the population including politically motivated killings, imprisonments and deportations of hundreds of thousands of people were the order of the day. However, even because of all this, economic relations were never seriously questioned between the two power blocks, on the contrary. And in all these moments of world political dangers and wars, when everything was at stake, Russian natural gas and oil continued to flow not only to the Federal Republic of Germany and the former GDR, but to almost all of Western Europe during the Cold War and afterwards. Even the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 did not play a destructive role in this pattern of ongoing cooperation, apart from a boycott of the Olympic Games.

So, the question is: Why did the West interfere so massively in Ukraine’s affairs right after the Soviet Union fell apart in late 1991, when individual republics like Ukraine broke away from it and the Russian Federation under President Boris Yeltsin tried to see the West as a partner? What were the Bidens, Trumps and Giulianis and their stooges doing in Ukraine, where almost the entire upper stratum of society including governments were corrupt to the core? None of this looked like well-meaning intentions on the part of the West – more like a dangerous, creeping imperial expansion of its own sphere of power, as the Americans saw themselves as the general triumphant force after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, there is no justification for the war in Ukraine. However, if all accepted red lines from the Cold War era had not been crossed today, this war might not have happened.

Notes:

1 A note on my own behalf: In view of the historical facts and as someone who was born in 1961 at the eastern interface of the Cold War, the question does not even arise to me to whom I owe my personal freedom. The courageous mass demonstrations in the GDR, which led to the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989, could have been put down by the Soviets just as they had been in 1953. Here, too, the Americans could only have watched, or rather had to watch, in order not to endanger world peace. I owe my freedom to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet party and state leader and his policy of glasnost and perestroika (openness and restructuring). – I emphasize this explicitly because I have heard many voices in America according to which the USA and Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall, although the latter was not even in office anymore at the time. It would be more correct to say that the Americans kept the path to this development open – but they could not bring it about themselves.

A German Dependence?

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

The real reasons for the energy crisis in Europe do not lie in the alleged dependence on Russia, which many believe Germany in particular has maneuvered itself into.

For decades, the U.S. has placed itself in a seeming dependence on countries that were and are dictatorships, as in the case of oil, for example. Wherever business beckoned, the U.S. was there, no matter whether human rights have been trampled underfoot or not, no matter whether war or peace. But as soon as there were difficulties, they settled these problems in their own way: By intervening with their intelligence services to replace disagreeable governments with puppet regimes – and when that wasn’t enough, they used their own military to clean up the mess, as in the 1991 Gulf War.

The American people were sold this every time as a fight for freedom to preserve democracy and human rights around the world, and many bought into it, worshiping the main instrument of American imperialism and world control: “We love our military and are proud of it.” If there had been sanctions like the ones against Russia on the current scale every time, half the world would have had to impose sanctions on the USA – no matter whether it was about the murderous war in Vietnam or wars in Afghanistan and Iraq under pretexts like the lie about weapons of mass destruction.

To accuse Germany of having become too dependent on the Soviet Union and now on Russia for energy since the 1950s reveals one thing above all: the boundless hypocrisy of those who, in their immoderate greed, have had their fingers in the pie all over the world for geostrategic advantages and to enrich themselves and secure access to energy resources under the guise of fighting for freedom.

With regard to Russia and the nonsensical sanctions that hurt Germany more than almost any other country, the German government has given in to alliance pressure, especially from the Americans, and is now paying a very high price after initially refusing to supply weapons to Ukraine. It should have stayed that way, because it was the sensible move.

The Biden administration will miscalculate in the belief that it can bring the Russian colossus to its knees with a protracted war in Ukraine and billions in support in the form of war equipment. From the very beginning, since the breakaway from the disintegrated Soviet Union in 1991, the Americans have had their fingers in the game in the Ukraine.

If anyone was going to pay a price, it would have to be them.

U-Turn in Germany

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Due to the events in Ukraine and under pressure from other European countries, my homeland is now supplying weapons after all, contrary to all earlier objections. And that’s not all: Suddenly, a government of Social Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens, of all people, wants to provide the German armed forces with a rearmament program of historic proportions. A decades-long, consistent policy with key points of détente and disarmament has been turned upside down from one day to the next.

It is incomprehensible that now suddenly it is pretended that disarmament and arms control encouraged a despot like Putin to invade Ukraine. Currently, NATO spends 18 times more money on armaments than the largest country in the world – Russia. Did this prevent the war in Ukraine? How will the world put Russia in its place? Attack the country with nuclear weapons? The end of any civilization on the whole globe would be preprogrammed.

It would be fatal if Germany now entered the arms race beyond the means of alliance and self-defense, perhaps to wage war in other countries. Is that the way to impress someone like Putin? Or should German soldiers end up going to war against Russia once again?

What have the Americans achieved with their highly modern army, the most expensive military in the world, in a third-world country like Afghanistan, sent by politicians with the biggest mouths? In the end, sandal-clad, medieval god warriors in captured American uniforms and American military equipment were parading through the neighborhood. Or is that not true? Americans have run away, and not for the first time. How much does it actually take before even the biggest fools realize that there is no war of aggression to be won in the 21st century? Perhaps Putin will feel the effects of this now as well.

Are the industrialized countries now falling back into the mentality of the 19th and 20th century world? No one in his right mind can want that.

Mankind is threatened by another danger of which many are obviously not yet aware: Man-made climate change, which is having an increasingly rapid impact and which only reality-impaired wafflers can deny. More and more guns instead of climate protection – is that what we have to live with now?

Unparalleled

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2020 by Uwe Bahr

If it was not for my American wife, I would not be in this country anymore and long back in Germany. There have been inconsistencies going on everywhere lately, but the United States are presently salient with a good deal of people revealing ominous disturbances toward a sound human mind. A public disease seems widespread in this society like another virus on its own.

In 1989/90, when we sent the self-declared peoples’ government of the GDR (East Germany) packing, I considered these apologists of Socialism the most primitive sort of people I was ever governed under and was certain that I will never see any attempts of that magnitude from a government again to play their own populace for a sucker. Obviously, I was misled here by my own presumptions.

What I am seeing today in the country of my current residence is not only shocking, but nothing more than a largely effective process of national dulling disguised as patriotism. I can’t help myself to express it in a more polite and harmless way. The adherents of Donald J. Trump – in my judgement – suffer from pathetic brainwashing including the influence of conspiracy theories, leading inevitably to a disturbed mind. Never in my life have I seen anything even close to this.

And it makes feelings even worse when noting that white Evangelicals rank among Trump’s most reliable bases. Is this what Christian morality is about? The hypocrites, who tell themselves and others you HAVE to believe in God, should be ashamed for the rest of their life.