12 Potentially Good Outcomes of the Ukraine War

Like most Americans I’m sure, I find myself profoundly upset these days by what’s unfolding in Ukraine and its portrayal by the mainstream media.

In particular, I’m having a hard time understanding how Americans in general and especially U.S. politicians can so sanctimoniously rend their garments over Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine while completely forgetting even the latest U.S. invasions of sovereign states.

I’m not saying that Putin’s crime shouldn’t be acknowledged as such. It absolutely must be. But to my mind, it seems strange, not to say highly embarrassing, that those repeatedly guilty of the same and even much greater offenses can with straight faces denounce the Kremlin’s leader.

Can’t they see – can’t we see – that their own similar and more heinous crimes (many still ongoing) have simply deprived them of any moral authority to condemn Russia?

In sackcloth and ashes, they should simply shut up, beg forgiveness, and sit down with their criminal counterparts to resolve the Ukraine problem diplomatically. As it stands, their moral authority is otherwise absolutely zero.

Still however, our “leaders’” denouncing Russia has the potential to awaken even the most somnolent among us who haven’t lost our ears for irony, hypocrisy, propaganda, virtue signaling and outright lies.

In fact, I can identify at least a dozen alarms going off right now that should (but probably won’t) wake up all but the completely deaf. Let me list them briefly and then conclude with a painfully true but illustrative personal story.

Here are the 12 alarm bell developments that everyone should hear:  

  1. National leaders like Putin resorting to war and invasion to solve international problems are at last revealed as insane and pathological. That means that if Putin is crazy, so must be his American counterparts who authored (and continue to do so) similar and even more catastrophic invasions, viz., the Bushes, Clinton, Obama, Trump, and Biden – not to mention ALL their predecessors at least since WWII.
  2. Moreover, those politicians and their spokespersons have all been unmistakably unmasked as liars and hypocrites. Their public statements about President Putin’s guilt for violating international norms and law represent stark admission of their own crimes. Here I’m also thinking of Condoleezza Rice who played a key role in the 2003 war in Iraq. She recently unwittingly indicted herself as a war criminal by stating that “When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime. It is certainly against every principle of international law, international order. . ..”  QED to say the least!
  3. International law long ignored by the United States is finally being affirmed and invoked by U.S. politicians. Accordingly, their routine violations of such statutes should prove more difficult for them in the future.
  4. Similarly affirmed has been the International Criminal Court at the Hague, whose authority the United States has repeatedly undermined and refused to recognize. There is actual talk of bringing Vladimir Putin before the court to answer for his illegal invasion of Ukraine. If Putin is (justly) prosecuted, the door will have been opened for similar trials of the U.S. presidents named above. That’s good news.
  5. Non-stop coverage of refugees and war victims in Ukraine has revealed the inevitable results that such pathological incursions produce whether the victims are mostly white and European and reside in Ukraine, or are mostly black and brown in the myriad U.S, theaters of operation.
  6. As a result of such media coverage, thoughtful Americans are forced to face not only the similar fates of the mostly non-white (and therefore invisible) refugees their own wars have produced, but also the fatalities and maiming of those victims.
  7. U.S. sanctions have identified Russia’s billionaires as somehow responsible for their nation’s militaristic policies precisely in virtue of their billionaire status. As Rob Kall has pointed out, such identification not only punishes war profiteers; it also represents an initial step towards general recognition of billionaires (inevitably connected with the military-industrial complex) as criminal shapers of aggressive national policies wherever they reside.
  8. As the editor in chief of OpEdNews argues, this very identification could (and should) lead to the prohibition of billionaires as such.
  9. Armed insurgencies against illegal foreign invasion have been justified and heroized instead of being vilified as “terrorists” as has happened to insurgent patriots e.g., in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
  10. More powerfully still, civilian non-violent resistance has been shown to be effective even against the mightiest of militaries. We’ve realized that menacing tanks and advancing troops simply can’t run over the thousands of peaceful resisters we’ve all seen blocking their way.
  11. Perhaps most painful of all, U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, like their Russian counterparts in Ukraine have been unmasked as legitimate targets of patriotic insurgencies. (I know that’s hard to hear. But the power of this point lies in its shocking truth). I mean if we and our media implicitly rejoice at the high volume of Russian casualties in their illegal war, similar response seems regretfully due similar results in our country’s own criminal conflicts.
  12. On the positive side, highlighting point #11 provides yet another cogent reason for the peace movement to dissuade young people from joining what Jonathan Katz has called “gangsters of capitalism” – Katz’s description of the U.S. Marine Corps since its inception.

Let me drive those last two points home with that personal illustration I promised about the potential for consciousness-raising that the Ukraine war provides.

Recently, a handyman my wife and I have employed in the past announced that he’s temporarily leaving his own family to go off to Ukraine to join the resistance fighting Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of that country. The man is a veteran of U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Somehow, he has his own “tools” (weapons, I presume) and has requested financial help for his project from people like us. It seems he wants to use his military training and “tools” to kill invading Russian soldiers.

While something within me admires the man’s passion and apparent bravery, I couldn’t help wondering what he would think if e.g., in 2003 conscientious and compassionate (like him) Ukrainians recognized the illegitimacy of the war in Iraq, and decided to leave their families to go off to the middle east to kill invaders like him and his fellow soldiers?

I don’t think he’d like that idea.

But, of course, the parallels between Putin’s crimes and the much greater and more frequent analogous U.S. crimes in which our friend participated would never occur to him – or to most Americans for that matter. And that’s because like good patriots (and especially as a member of the U.S. armed forces) he’s been effectively propagandized by drill sergeants, generals, politicians, media figures, and academicians whose job it is to keep such analogies hidden – to make us forget not only what we’ve done in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, but what our drones, guided missiles and bombers are doing in literally untold locations at this very moment.

To repeat: the 12 developments just listed have the potential to overcome such conditioning. But for that to happen, they must be named by the already awakened.

That’s the task before us. What isn’t named can’t be recognized or changed.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

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