The central question for Americans from the start of the war in Ukraine was what role, if any, should the U.S. government play in that war? A necessarily related question: if the U.S. is going to involve itself in this war, what objectives should drive that involvement?
Prior to the U.S.’s jumping directly into this war, those questions were never meaningfully considered. Instead, the emotions deliberately stoked by the relentless media attention to the horrors of this war — horrors which, contrary to the West’s media propaganda, are common to all wars, including its own — left little to no space for public discussion of those questions. The only acceptable modes of expression in U.S. discourse were to pronounce that the Russian invasion was unjustified, and, using parlance which the 2011 version of Chris Hayes correctly dismissed as adolescent, that Putin is a “bad guy.” Those denunciation rituals, no matter how cathartic and applause-inducing, supplied no useful information about what actions the U.S. should or should not take when it came to this increasingly dangerous conflict.
That was the purpose of so severely restricting discourse to those simple moral claims: to allow policymakers in Washington free rein to do whatever they wanted in the name of stopping Putin without being questioned. Indeed, as so often happens when war breaks out, anyone questioning U.S. political leaders instantly had their patriotism and loyalty impugned (unless one was complaining that the U.S. should become more involved in the conflict than it already was, a form of pro-war “dissent” that is always permissible in American discourse).
With these discourse rules firmly implanted, those who attempted to invoke former President Obama’s own arguments about a conflict between Russia and Ukraine — namely, that “Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one” and therefore the U.S. should not risk confrontation with Moscow over it — were widely maligned as Kremlin assets if not agents. Others who urged the U.S. to try to avert war through diplomacy — by, for instance, formally vowing that NATO membership would not be offered to Ukraine and that Kyiv would remain neutral in the new Cold War pursued by the West with Moscow — faced the same set of accusations about their loyalty and patriotism.
Most taboo of all was any discussion of the heavy involvement of the U.S. in Ukraine beginning in 2014 up to the invasion: from micro-managing Ukrainian politics, to arming its military, to placing military advisers and intelligence officers on the ground to train its soldiers how to fight (something Biden announced he was considering last November) — all of which amounted to a form of de facto NATO expansion without the formal membership. And that leaves to the side the still-unanswered yet supremely repressed question of what Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland referred to as the Ukrainians’ “biological research facilities” so dangerous and beyond current Russian bio-research capabilities that she gravely feared they would “fall into Russian hands.”
As a result of the media’s embracing of moral righteousness in lieu of debating these crucial geopolitical questions, the U.S. government has consistently and aggressively escalated its participation in this war with barely any questioning let alone opposition. U.S. officials are boastfully leading the effort to collapse the Russian economy. Along with its NATO allies, the U.S. has flooded Ukraine with billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry, with at least some of those arms ending up in the hands of actual neo-Nazi battalions integrated into the Ukrainian government and military. It is providing surveillance technology in the form of drones and its own intelligence to enable Ukrainian targeting of Russian forces. President Biden threatened Russia with a response “in kind” if Russia were to use chemical weapons. Meanwhile, reports The New York Times, “C.I.A. officers are helping to ensure that crates of weapons are delivered into the hands of vetted Ukrainian military units.”
The U.S. is, by definition, waging a proxy war against Russia, using Ukrainians as their instrument, with the goal of not ending the war but prolonging it. So obvious is this fact about U.S. objectives that even The New York Times last Sunday explicitly reported that the the Biden administration “seeks to help Ukraine lock Russia in a quagmire” (albeit with care not to escalate into a nuclear exchange). Indeed, even “some American officials assert that as a matter of international law, the provision of weaponry and intelligence to the Ukrainian Army has made the United States a cobelligerent,” though this is “an argument that some legal experts dispute.” Surveying all this evidence as well as discussions with his own U.S. and British sources, Niall Ferguson, writing in Bloomberg, proclaimed: “I conclude that the U.S. intends to keep this war going.” UK officials similarly told him that “the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.”
In sum, the Biden administration is doing exactly that which former President Obama warned in 2016 should never be done: risking war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers over Ukraine. Yet if any pathology defines the last five years of U.S. mainstream discourse, it is that any claim that undercuts the interests of U.S. liberal elites — no matter how true — is dismissed as “Russian disinformation.”
As we witnessed most vividly in the run-up to the 2020 election — when that label was unquestioningly yet falsely applied by the union of the CIA, corporate media and Big Tech to the laptop archive revealing Joe Biden’s political and financial activities in Ukraine and China — any facts which establishment power centers want to demonize or suppress are reflexively labelled “Russian disinformation.” Hence, the DNC propaganda arm Media Matters now lists as “pro-Russian propaganda” the indisputable fact that the U.S. is not defending Ukraine but rather exploiting and sacrificing it to fight a proxy war with Moscow. The more true a claim is, the more likely it is to receive this designation in U.S. establishment discourse.