Ukraine: Worse to Come?

The Peace Lily, (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

I posted a fairly impartial history of the Ukrainian issue some days ago – we in the West have a chronically short memory – so that readers know why Russia has embarked on an invasion, and why we in the West could have avoided it but chose not to. This was considered by the malicious as proof I am a Putin fan. I have lived through Vietnam and any number of wars since inflicted on the East by the West. There is a pattern to them. Writers of spy novels have made life careers out of the West’s folly and manufactured wars.

The US and UK and then Russia in Afghanistan to Cuba to the US bloody interventions in South American countries. England – Scotland has no veto over UK wars – decided Thatcher’s career needed a boost and against all her colleague’s advice, used taxpayer money to go to war against Argentina over the Maldives. And let’s not forget Hapless Gordon sabre rattling over Iceland refusing to pay money to our crooked banks, or the cod war we lost against the same small nation.

The predicable lunacy we now find our ourselves in has arrived and Scotland’s liberty is yet again a casualty, that and more censorship of thought and word, born out of hysteria and a torrent of propaganda pouring out of the West. It certainly puts Nicola Sturgeon’s localised obsessions into perspective. To those of a younger generation it must be apparent the state-centric West is unable to stop wars when it indulges in them and presents two faces to peacemakers.

We are two weeks into the conflict; responding to Russia’s failure to comply with international law, and to Grouse Beater readers asking new questions, many of which I cannot answer because I do not have an answer and nor do our leaders, I’ll hazard a second analysis. I hope the article is used as a platform for discussion, but I’d caution readers to talk of ways to peace and not how we can string up anybody with a Russian name from the nearest lamppost, not even Boris Johnson.

Months back I used a self-set ‘Question and Answer’ device in a satirical sketch. (My talks to groups are similarly conducted, avoiding lectures that repeat what the previous speaker had to say, or Indy celebrities doing their shtick.) Readers will excuse use of the same technique here, but considering the seriousness of the subject should not expect to find much humour.

QUESTION: Can we stop the invasion?

ANSWER: I do not see what can be achieved in the short-term. Putin is intent on regaining a territory vitally strategic to Russia’s interests, one we stole from Russia in 2014, hence the term ‘poking the bear’. He probably won’t broker peace negotiations until he feels he is able to deal from a position of strength. The most we can hope for is constant appeals to talk, which is very weak.

QUESTION: Why is Russia an ‘evil state’?

ANSWER: Since the Bolsheviks betrayed the Russian revolution, the West has used ‘creeping communism’ as the blanket excuse to use our taxes to build up stores of weapons and allow the USA to widen its sphere of influence aggressively worldwide. They follow the neo-con economist Milton Freidman’s policy of ‘wiping out Mother Russia’.

However, Russia undermined that doctrine by ending the Cold War. The West found a new evil enemy to stockpile weapons and invade small countries, Arab terrorists. Out of well planned policies by the neo-liberal elements in the USA, attempts to ‘tame’ the Arab peninsula, we have brought and bought more trouble to our doorstep. The West invented the atomic bomb, and used it, not once but twice. Russia has never nuclear bombs. There is a school of thought that argues dropping the bomb once to end a world war, as the US did on Japan, is justified, but twice there is no rational reason.

All great powers violate international law, as do smaller ones like the UK, when they think they can get away with it. Small nations often do it endorsed by a bigger power. In recent times I can think of Israel illegally annexing the Syrian Golan Heights and Greater Jerusalem applauded by the US senate and authorized by Donald Trump, who also authorized Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara. The ‘skirmishes’ are miles away so we take little notice of them. They are one week wonders. Ukraine is also far away from us but close to Europe, so we are obliged to take notice.

QUESTION: Who keeps the peace?

ANSWER: Under international law, it is the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to keep the peace and, in extremis, to authorize force. The tragedy is, most times superpower aggression doesn’t reach the Security Council: U.S. wars in Indochina, the US-UK invasion of Iraq based on a toilet roll of fabrications, or in this case, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, to three examples of the “supreme international crime” for which Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg. To be candid, the US is untouchable. Russian crimes at least receive some attention. It is up to the Security Council to analyse and pronounce on wars but is subject to vetoes by the superpowers,

So, the UN sticks with the small stuff, atrocities, such as the French-British-Israeli invasion of Egypt and the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956. The invasion of Hungary reduced our part to protest. The Hungarians decided resistance would result in too many deaths. Ukrainian leaders shout for all-out war. As others have commented, superpower contempt for the international legal framework is so common as to pass almost unnoticed. In 1986, the International Court of Justice condemned Washington for its terrorist war (in legalistic jargon, “unlawful use of force”) against Nicaragua, ordering it to desist and pay substantial reparations. The US dismissed the judgment with contempt. The event has disappeared from history. Scotland’s loss of EU membership removed by English voters is a terrible crime.

QUESTION: The US is not always the aggressor.

ANSWER: Whatever Russia does tends to be as a reaction to whatever the US does, though not directly in the case of Russia’s Chechnya wars. Turkey’s war against Kurds, killing tens of thousands, destroying thousands of towns and villages, driving hundreds of thousands to miserable slums in Istanbul, was supported by the Clinton administration.

The US flouts its own Charter not to interfere in the affairs of other nations. There are learned articles one can research arguing that the words in the Charter don’t mean what they say, just as unionists in the UK argue egregiously that Scotland lost its sovereignty in 1707. Words do matter and they do mean what they say. What I see is an understanding by the UK that the US effectively set the rules.

QUESTION: How can this be changed?

ANSWER: The question is out of my limited knowledge. We can write the rules but it does not protect the victims. This is where I return to us, the electorate, and our mass power to place pressure on elected governments to desist from aggression or we will undermine the powers they have. But that presupposes we have not given an administration so much power they can kettle marches and jail dissenters, or block lawful assembly around a parliament building, as the SNP has done here in Scotland.

Putin is not having it all his own way – some of his own advisers are chary of the action and will retaliate if he surfaces from the catastrophe without Ukraine back in Russian hands, or at least with allegiance to Russia written in stone. And there are thousands of Russians who know entering Ukraine was the wrong way of doing things. It gives the West the excuse to argue NATO is necessary to keep the peace when we can see it was instrumental in causing the war and can do nothing to intervene to stop it. Only nutcases call for NATO nuclear bombs.

QUESTION: You recently stated categorically that Scotland’s inability to secure its own liberation and enter the adult world as a UN member was the fault of our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

ANSWER: Here we are in the midst of an international crisis and still a satellite of England’s power. She has demonstrated she will chase trivial local policies and personal obsessions because she has not got the statecraft to handle the nation’s main aim – autonomy from a tyrannical and corrupt English government. She treats marchers for self-governance with the same disdain as the unionist press.

Her administration follows the Tory agenda slavishly (our invader and usurper), the SNP making a few token protests here and there to sound bullish, and then goes on meekly with chasing squirrels and inflating Iain Blackford to repeat blasts of hot air in the House of Commons. She has left Scotland emasculated. Her call for Ukraine to become a no fly zone was at first understandable, but on swift scrutiny seriously alarming, proof she is well out of her depth. It would mean the first Russian fighter plane straying into the zone will be shot down by US rockets, and that signals World War III leaving Ukraine obliterated. The noises off I am hearing are all hypocrisy and double standards.

QUESTION: What do you mean by “double standards”?

ANSWER: You’ll note how brave we are exhorting Ukrainians to fight mighty Russia, but we will only send them food, blankets and some weapons. We don’t want involved to the degree we will actually engage a Russian tank or a soldier. We are so used to conducting wars by proxy or by drones that man to man is no longer a choice. The UK cannot even contemplate taking more than a few refugees if they manage to reach our shores. This is the UK we are talking about, to which we are attached, and yet our First Minister sees no hurry in withdrawing us from the Union, and sending an emissary to the UN to have Scotland registered as a country eligible for decolonisation. We fit the criteria in every respect.

There are pea brains in Scotland claiming Russia wanted Scotland out of the European Union to destabilise the UK, as if somehow Boris and Farage and English xenophobia had nothing to do with the disaster. As for double standards, to answer the question directly, a number of people have dropped the obvious onto my essay site and Twitter account – ‘Palestine’. Nothing makes liberals abandon their values, or their courage, like mentioning Palestine. Let us be honest: supporting Ukrainians, as we must, doesn’t mean ignoring injustice and oppression everywhere else. Even a Putin basher has to concede that. It doesn’t diminish the struggles of the Ukrainian people for us to ask questions about double standards.

QUESTION: None of this would have happened if we were in the EU- really?

ANSWER: No, but the EU would be greatly strengthened. In the face of the great threat to this planet’s continuation, Climate Change, the world’s powers could construct a less dangerous and more humane world order. For all its flaws, the European Union is a step forward beyond what existed before. (The same is true of the African Union, however limited it remains.)

Recently, I wrote about how easily Barbados achieved independence and lately became a republic, a wonderful achievement, especially having Prince Charles turn up to hand over power – a republic our First Minister ignores in her blind adherence to what she calls the ‘Gold Standard’ – a euphemism for accommodating Westminster at all costs to delay this nation’s progressive future. We shall be told to delay a referendum because of Russia’s invasion. The longer we take to withdraw from the Union and offer a new Accord, the more world events intervene and give our oppressors and House Jocks another excuses to say “hold off!”

Back to Barbados – there is also CELAC [the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States], the latter seeking Latin American-Caribbean integration separate from the US dominated Organization of American States. On the issue of Ukraine, what pressure was put on the US to pursue peace – almost none, and that was with the Minsk II agreement sitting in front of them. Wise politicians have already made clear, options still remain, though narrowed after the criminal invasion. I am hoping the Chinese put pressure on Putin but China has embarked on international integration and will be slow in chastising Russia, at least publicly. The sanctions we are placing on Russia will do our economies more damage than the Russians, as I make plain in my previous article. Russia will have expected, and planned for, most of them.

QUESTION: What about Putin, is he not the destroyer of peace?

ANSWER: He got a lot of help from the West. In his meeting with France’s President Macron, Putin actually told his French counterpart that his main goal was ‘the demilitarisation and neutral status of Ukraine.’ I noted those remarks. Those goals, the Kremlin said, ‘will be achieved no matter what.’” He resorted to violence although peaceful options were available. The US continued to dismiss what high US officials and diplomats have long understood to be legitimate Russian security concerns, and conflict in the Donbas region largely caused by Ukrainian aggression. Putin failed to capitalised on those cards. And there was France and Germany’s – members of the EU! – call for a “common European home” along the lines proposed by De Gaulle and Gorbachev, a European system with no military alliances from the Atlantic to the Urals, even beyond, replacing the Atlantic NATO-based system of subordination to Washington. He squandered all of that for the right to tell the West to keep out of Russia’s affairs.

For all President’s Yelensky’s thespian borrowings from Shakespeare and Churchill’s rhetoric, both the US and Russia failed the jaw-jaw test. As I say, one does not have to accept what I write. You can check the facts, readers make their own judgement, but kneejerk ‘yer a Putin lover’, or the patronising orthodox line, “stay away from Putin, he’s toxic”, are moronic, unthinking, emotional responses.

What we have now is sheer lunacy, irrational hysterics, people losing their livelihoods because they are Russian. There is no difference between Stalin warning Dmitri Shostakovitch that if he dare compose western-style music he will spend time in the Gulag, and us telling a Russian conductor if he doesn’t denounce Putin he is fired. A rock and a hard place – denounce his his homeland and likely never gain entry to his family again. What kind of social justice is that? That’s McCarthyism. What’s next? Do we remove copies of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace from bookstores and libraries and burn them because the novel is an affront to peace loving people? A bookstore owner resisting removal will be fined or jailed?

What we want is a rational world. It is attainable. What we have at the moment is unseemly sight of Boris Johnson joined by our own small fry, Stewart MacDonald, Angus Robertson, and the odious Alan Smith, gloating about the marvellous gift that Putin has just presented to it: a fully subordinate Europe, at the mercy of superpowers, the US in particular, a US that views the EU as a trade impediment.

No one with half-a brain wants to see Ukraine occupied by the East or the West. It can be averted. What we care about as private citizens, myself of no great influence, is the continuation of humanity. It was good to hear politicians in the Irish Parliament espouse similar views to those written here.


For obvious reasons, this essay is a work in progress.

‘Ukraine – the Right to Tell Lies:


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26 Responses to Ukraine: Worse to Come?

  1. James Kydd says:

    ‘Venezuela over the Maldives?’

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    That’s what happens when one half of my brain is thinking about the ruthless demonization of Hugo Chavez and the other half thinking about Argentina.

  3. lorncal says:

    Brilliant piece, GB, and not because it chimes with my own take on the situation, but because you state plain facts and do not drum beat, as so many of your detractors would wish. So many want everyone to bend the knee to utter s***e that passes for thoughtful discussion. So long as power, wealth, greed, control and the systematic ratcheting up of fear levels to a state of paranoia are the driving forces in the world, we are going to go from one conflict to the next until we eventually do reach nuclear Armageddon. Apart from those weapons which proved to be duds, we have used every one eventually. Imagine a nuclear missile hitting the UK and triggering a chain reaction from nuclear power stations, chemical and biological weapons facilities? That’s what the drum beaters need to concentrate their wee nappers on, not medals and proxy glory while they sit in the armchair in front of the telly: the unimaginable sight of their bairns and grand-bairns and other loved ones melting before their eyes.

  4. peakcrew says:

    “Evil Russia” has been a thing for at least 250 years. Britain-as-England and Russia were at “The Great Game” when Wellington was but a junior officer. The USA has simply taken on the mantle of the main player after the Britain-as-England became too weak to carry it.

  5. sadscot says:

    It also doesn’t help that the mainstream media is over-run with so-called “journalists” who wouldn’t recognise the truth if it walked up and shook hands with them. They are feeding the masses lie after lie, rewriting history all over the place and it is truly terrifying to see.

  6. Alastair Bryan says:

    The xenophobic hysteria is ridiculous at the moment. RT , Sputnik band , we are told to stop Russian propaganda. Why would Western governments want to stop us hearing the Russian side of the conflict, surely understanding the protagonists issues and concerns is the first step to solving the Ukraine conflict and restoring peace. After weapons of mass destruction and the consequences we have had of illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I think the BBC should be put on this list of propagandaist. We must ask what it is they dont want us to know , nothing is as it seems in UK, OK.
    Desolve the Union.

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    Shutting down RT (Russian Television) proves how undemocratic we are. It is critical to hear the other side, but even so, RT was governed by Ofcom which means it could not indulge in black propaganda unlike our BBC that went out of its way to undermine the independence argument on every occasion it could.

    The UK banned the Vietnamese leader sent to talk to us about what the US was doing to his country, as well as the falsehoods it was using to justify carpet bombing and Agent Orange, a poison that lingers in arable land to this day, women still giving birth to malformed children.

    And now Crufts have banned all Russian dog breeds. How courageous.

  8. Robert McAllan says:

    “Ukraine: Worse to Come?” Undoubtedly there will be and the attendant human suffering brought about by the duplicitous conduct of the UN masquerading as the conscience of the free world.

    Clare Daly MEP exposed the crass hypocrisy of the EU and UN in her contribution to the debate in the European Parliament last week shaming the facilitators in their own court. Oh that we could have such representation in our Holyrood Parliament!

    I long for the day when we can have Scottish politicians speaking with such fervour on our behalf prosecuting the case for Scotland’s Independence with that belief. Unfortunately Gareth, “this essay is a work in progress” and if the Sturgeons of this world prevail the situation can only deteriorate to a level consistent with the “pea brains” of whom there are many.

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    Depressing, Robert, but we fight on. Personally, I gave up on preceding criticism of the FM’s policies with diplomatic niceties when she said “women’s views are invalid’. She is too long in the job.

  10. diabloandco says:

    It is unbelievably ridiculous that Russian terriers are banned from Crufts – almost as ridiculous as the Welsh orchestra which is not going to play Russian composed music. How petty, stupid , trite and juvenile.
    I have had the misfortune to sit through the extended news pushed by ITN and at no time do i remember seeing the interviews of ordinary Iraqui’s , Libyans , Afghani’s asking them to itemise their problems , disasters and deaths.
    No sanctions for the US/UK because they are the ‘good guys’
    I have a wry smile at those who voted Brexit to ‘ keep out those furriners’ as we are urged by the Gove’s of this world to open up our homes to those fleeing Ukraine. And the lovely Priti Patel who forced those of West Indian descent back to the Caribbean, and who remains awkward over visa’s.
    As usual my thanks and good wishes to you Grouse

  11. Grouse Beater says:

    Doing my best, Diablo, doing my best although I know it is not always good enough Onward!

  12. Derek Grainge says:

    “Shutting down RT (Russian Television) proves how undemocratic we are.” The RT website remains accessible so it’s still possible to see the other side of the coin. My understanding (which may be wrong) is that RT TV broadcasts are dependent on satellites over Europe, and the EU look them down. I can’t see ofcom excercising more control over RT or doing it at anything more than glacial pace.

  13. Michael W says:

    The Second World War ended not because of the atomic bombs but because the Russians invaded Japanese held China. The Japanese make this clear but it doesn’t fit with the western narrative so it has been written out of western historiography of world war 2. Zelensky and the Polish right wing government keep trying to draw the west into their conflict. According to the puppet master mouthpiece, the Guardian, the puppet master Zelensky is to ask the US to allow the Poles to send Ukraine their dilapidated jets no doubt to create a casus belli to draw NATO in when the Russians shoot them down. It’s one thing Russian missiles dropping on military basis in Ukraine how would we cope if they started landing on Berlin, Paris, Edinburgh, London etc.

  14. sadscot says:

    Everyone knows how dangerous this conflict is for the entire world.

    Yet, in its own interests, the West stands back and lets it roll. Ukraine, I weep for you for you are being played, bigtime, by the West. It doesn’t care about you or what happens to you. You are a pawn in a bigger game. This is about the West’s interests, not yours. You keep fighting Russia and the West just looks on. It wants you to fight but it doesn’t care about the cost to you or the men of your country.

    Today more idiot “journalists” attack certain Scots for simply pointing out how very complex this situation is by labelling us “Putin apologists”. Neil Mackay at the Herald, how dare you! People like YOU are the problem. Writing newspaper columns as click-bait in order to release carnage below the line. You are beneath contempt.

    To go back to the beginning of the post, everyone knows how dangerous this conflict is for the entire world. All the more reason to ask, why is the West content to keep it going? My point is that this conflict is so serious that one would expect all other responsible nations at the UN to be screaming for talks, for a ceasefire, for a truce, for dialogue to find a way forward. And yet, the West does none of those things. Why would that be?

  15. sadscot says:

    Thank you for highlighting Clare Daly’s contribution. I’ve just listened to it. Wow!

  16. Michael W says:

    The endgame for the war in Ukraine is nigh. It would seem the Russians invaded to enforce by military means what they could not by political means ie Minsk 2. Russian control of the Black Sea and Ukraines Black Sea ports was always crucial in forcing Ukraine’s hand. The Guardian is already setting out the alternative history that Russia intended to conquer the whole of the Ukraine so everybody’s a winner.

  17. Grouse Beater says:

    That’s about the reality of it, Michael.

  18. Michael W says:

    The addendum I tried to add in last night but couldn’t is that Mariupol is key to supplying Crimea with fresh water. The Ukrainians cut it off when Crimea seceded so it’s likely Mariupol will be annexed or bound to reinstate Crimea’s fresh water. It appears there might be greater Russian strategy afoot than our press let on.

  19. Grouse Beater says:

    I think that’ s an accurate observation, Michael. I am certain the Russians want a neutral Ukraine, and subsidiary political aspects fixed, if I can put it that way.

  20. sadscot says:

    Yes, Michael, I read about the fresh water issue a few weeks back, something not covered in the media here.

  21. lorncal says:

    Oh dear! The bloggers have had a falling out, which is unfortunate. It seems nowadays that the independence movement is rent from side to side and from front to back. I have to admit that I agree totally with JM McCann’s analysis here, but were the cruel observations about Iain Lawson deserved? Yes, his, Iain’s, analysis probably does stem from the heart rather than the head. He sees the Estonians as a formerly oppressed people and sees the Ukrainians in the same light, albeit there are always at least two sides to every story. I look at the American politicians, security services and big moneymen and shudder, while, at the same time, every American civilian I’ve ever met has been kind and decent. Iain is, perhaps, looking at the plight of the Ukrainian people in the same way, whilst failing to appreciate that their politicians and many others are far from whiter-than-white.

    I am sorry that this rift has opened up between allies of Scotland’s cause, as I am so angry that the trans issue has been allowed to open up a similar rift between allies. Just as it should be possible for Ukraine and the other Eastern European nations to live as they please, that will never happen so long as big bullies and the superpowers interfere in the affairs of others for their own benefit and to the detriment of world peace and individual nations’ security. Putin has made a mistake, however, in allowing himself to be goaded into action that could spiral out of control. It might end up that Russia takes the Donbas and most of Eastern Ukraine (as well as Crimea) and leaves the remainder of Ukraine to try and rebuild itself. In the end, that may be the only option for the Ukrainians and the West if WW III is not to ensue.

    For women, the trans issue cannot be resolved unless jaw-jaw is possible, and the trans lobby will never allow that: to do so would demolish the fragile reason on which its existence relies. It should have been possible to legislate to allow trans people access to a GRC without resorting to allowing self-ID. However, that was never the intention: the intention was always to allow self-ID and full access to all women’s spaces, rights and privileges. Just as with the US, that wants full access to the Russian Federation via the dismantling of its constituent parts, so the trans lobby sees the demolition of all female advancement as its ultimate aim, and the reclamation of all female territory. To claim anything else is intellectual dishonesty. The two onslaughts actually stem from the same source: the American dollar and its hegemony in American politics and foreign affairs.

  22. lorncal says:

    Michael W: if Putin can pull out of Ukraine, having secured both the Donbas and Crimea, and having left the rest of Ukraine in ruins, he has stymied all its ambitions for a very long time to come. Yes, indeed, the diverting of rivers to prevent Crimean water from being available has not been mentioned either in the propaganda or the strategic importance of the Black Sea to entry to the Bosphorus and the rest of the world for Russia, albeit the usual winter locking down of Archangel and the other normally iced-in ports has alleviated the isolation somewhat. Personally, I don’t believe that the US wanted Ukraine in Europe, any more than it wanted Russia. By stymying Russia’s entry to Europe, it also stymied Ukraine’s. Two such huge countries with such massive natural resources, would have tilted Europe towards self-sufficiency, complete with Russian nukes and created a new power hub. Not in US interests at all. Neither would China relish Russia joining Europe. We are all puppets on strings to the self-interest of the mega blocs.

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    I presume you mean Jason? I’ve not met Iain Lawson though I shared two zoom sessions. For the record, I do not have a ‘falling out’ with him. I read his views and accept they’re immovable and so chose not to engage – my professional attitude. Sentimentality does not enter into trying to find ways to peace from war.

  24. Grouse Beater says:

    Lorncal: when you make a statement like this “Personally, I don’t believe that the US wanted Ukraine in Europe, any more than it wanted Russia,” you have to back it up with historical evidence from the Russian Politburo or US Senate. Most of my opinion comes from reading American politicians, generals, and academics. I don’t speak Russian and cannot read it. Americans tell me what they want to do with Russia. American presidents invited Ukraine to join NATO.

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