Alfred McCoy International Ukraine

We’re Playing With Fire in Ukraine

Alfred McCoy takes you to a planet where things are only getting hotter in so many ways, not just nuclear.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy. [President Of Ukraine / CC0 1.0]

By Alfred McCoy | TomDispatch

From his first days in office, Joe Biden and his national security advisers seemed determined to revive America’s fading global leadership via the strategy they knew best — challenging the “revisionist powers” Russia and China with a Cold War-style aggressiveness. When it came to Beijing, the president combined the policy initiatives of his predecessors, pursuing Barack Obama’s “strategic pivot” from the Middle East to Asia, while continuing Donald Trump’s trade war with China. In the process, Biden revived the kind of bipartisan foreign policy not seen in Washington since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Writing in the December 2021 Foreign Affairs, a group of famously disputatious diplomatic historians agreed on one thing: “Today, China and the United States are locked in what can only be called a new cold war.” Just weeks later, the present mimed the past in ways that went well beyond even that pessimistic assessment as Russia began massing 190,000 troops on the border of Ukraine. Soon, Russian President Vladimir Putin would join China’s Xi Jinping in Beijing where they would demand that the West “abandon the ideologized approaches of the Cold War” by curtailing both NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe and similar security pacts in the Pacific.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine loomed in late February, the New York Times reported that Putin was trying “to revise the outcome of the original Cold War, even if it is at the cost of deepening a new one.” And days later, as Russian tanks began entering Ukraine, the New York Times published an editorial headlined, “Mr. Putin Launches a Sequel to the Cold War.” The Wall Street Journal seconded that view, concluding that recent “developments reflect a new cold war that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have initiated against the West.”

Instead of simply accepting that mainstream consensus, it couldn’t be more important right now to explore that Cold War analogy and gain a fuller understanding of how that tragic past does (and doesn’t) resonate with our embattled present.

The Geopolitics of Cold Wars

There are indeed a number of parallels between our Cold Wars, old and new. Some 70 years ago, in January 1950, Mao Zedong, the head of a Chinese People’s Republic ravaged by long years of war and revolution, met Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in Moscow as a supplicant. He was seeking a treaty of alliance and friendship that would provide much-needed aid for his fledgling communist state.

Within months, Stalin played upon this brand-new alliance by persuading Mao to send troops into the maelstrom of the Korean War, where China soon began hemorrhaging money and manpower. Until his death in 1953, Stalin kept the U.S. military bogged down in Korea, as he sought “an advantage in the global balance of power.” With Washington focused on war in Asia, Stalin consolidated his grip on seven “satellite states” in Eastern Europe — but at a cost. In those years, a newly created NATO would be transformed into a genuine military alliance, as 16 nations dispatched troops to Korea.

Last February, in a reversal of Cold War roles, Putin arrived at that Beijing summit as a supplicant, desperately seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic support for his Ukrainian gambit. Proclaiming their relations “superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era,” the two leaders asserted that their entente had “no limits… no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”

Soon after, the Russian president would invade Ukraine, while ominously putting his nuclear forces on high alert, a warning to the West not to meddle in his war. In a clear parallel to the old Cold War, nuclear weapons are far too dangerous for a direct superpower conflict to break out, so the U.S. and its NATO allies chose surrogate warfare in Ukraine. Just as the Soviet Union once armed North Vietnam with surface-to-air missiles and tanks to bloody the U.S. military, so Washington now began supplying Kyiv with high-tech weaponry to damage the Russian army.

As Ukrainian defenders armed with U.S.- and NATO-supplied shoulder-fired missiles destroyed 2,500 of its armored vehicles, Russia would be forced to pull back from its bid to capture the Ukrainian capital and shift to a months-long slog to seize the Russian-speaking Donbas region near its own border. This effort has, in turn, sparked an artillery duel now fast approaching the sort of strategic stalemate not seen since the Korean War (a conflict that remains unresolved nearly 70 years later).

Beneath such surface similarities between the two eras, however, lies a crucial if elusive difference: geopolitics. As I explain in my recent book, To Govern the Globe, this is essentially a method for the management of empire. At the high tide of the British Empire in 1904, English geographer Halford Mackinder published an influential article arguing that Europe, Asia, and Africa weren’t, in fact, three separate continents but a unitary landmass he dubbed “the World-Island,” whose strategic pivot lay in the “heartland” of central Eurasia. Mackinder later boiled his thinking down to a memorable maxim: “Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; Who rules the World-Island commands the World.”

Apply Mackinder’s principles to the old Cold War and you can indeed see an underlying geopolitics that lends coherence to an otherwise disparate conflict spread across four decades and five continents. In the 500 years since European exploration first brought the continents into continuous contact, the rise of every major world power has required one thing above all: dominance over Eurasia, now home to 70% of the world’s population and productivity. Those five centuries of imperial rivalry could be summarized, thanks to Mackinder, in a succinct geopolitical axiom: “The exercise of global hegemony requires control over Eurasia, and contestation over that vast continent thus determines the fate of empires and their world orders.”

By the time the Cold War ended in 1991, Washington had translated that axiom into a three-part geopolitical strategy to defeat the Soviet Union. First, it encircled Eurasia with military bases and mutual-defense pacts to contain Beijing and Moscow behind an “Iron Curtain” stretching 5,000 miles across that vast land mass. Second, the U.S. intervened, using either conventional force or CIA covert operations whenever the communists threatened to expand their power beyond that “curtain” — whether in Korea, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, or sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, Washington aggressively defended its own hemisphere from communist influence of any sort, however homegrown — whether in Cuba, Central America, or Chile.

In a magisterial sweep through a millennium of Eurasian history, Oxford scholar John Darwin found that, after World War II, Washington achieved its “colossal imperium… on an unprecedented scale” by becoming the first power ever to control the strategic axial points “at both ends of Eurasia.” Initially, Washington defended Eurasia’s western axis through the NATO defense pact signed with a dozen allies in April 1949, making the Cold War, at its outset, little more than a regional conflict over Eastern Europe.

In October 1949, however, communists surprised the world by capturing China. Moscow then forged a Sino-Soviet alliance that suddenly threatened to become the dominant force on the Eurasian land mass. In response, Washington moved quickly to counter that geopolitical challenge by forging four bilateral defense pacts, thereby developing a 5,000-mile chain of military bases along the Pacific littoral from Japan and South Korea all the way to Australia. By serving as the frontier for the defense of one continent (North America) and a springboard for its dominance of another (Eurasia), the Pacific littoral would become Washington’s key geopolitical fulcrum.

In the 1960s, the Sino-Soviet alliance would suddenly collapse into a bitter rivalry — a lucky break for Washington that left Moscow without a major ally anywhere in Eurasia. Reeling from their breach with Beijing, the Soviet leaders would spend several decades trying, unsuccessfully, to break out of their geopolitical isolation by expanding into Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, southern Africa, and, fatally, Afghanistan, catalyzing a succession of local conflicts that led to the deaths of some 20 million people between 1945 and 1990.

A New Geopolitical Balance

At the close of the Cold War, when the U.S. seemed to stand astride the globe like a Titan of Greek legend, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and a devotee of Mackinder’s geopolitical theory, warned that Washington should take care to avoid three pitfalls that could erode its global power. It must, he warned, preserve its strategic “perch on the Western periphery” of Eurasia through NATO; it must prevent “the expulsion of America from its offshore bases” along the Pacific littoral; and it must block the rise of “an assertive single entity” in the “middle space” of that vast landmass.

Now, skip three decades and, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO countries have worked with surprising unanimity to slap sanctions on Moscow, ship advanced weaponry to Kyiv, and even take in previously neutral Sweden and Finland as possible members. In this way, Washington seems to have forged a trans-Atlantic solidarity not seen since the Cold War and preserved, at least for now, Washington’s strategic “perch on the Western periphery” of Eurasia.

By his surprisingly blunt statement last month that the U.S. would “get involved militarily to defend Taiwan” (a key driver of the global economy through its mass production of sophisticated computer chips) and his warning that a possible Chinese attack there would be “similar to what happened in Ukraine,” President Biden has been trying to assert an ever stronger American military presence in the Pacific. China has, however, also been moving in that region, militarily, politically, and diplomatically, potentially winning over islands that were once an American preserve.

Whatever Washington has done to strengthen its “strategic perch” in Europe by rallying NATO and allies in the Pacific as well, it has clearly failed to meet Brzezinski’s critical third criteria for the preservation of its global power. Indeed, the rise of China as “an assertive single entity” in the pivotal “middle space” of Eurasia could potentially prove a fatal geopolitical blow to Washington’s global ambitions, the equivalent of the impact the Sino-Soviet split had on Moscow during the old Cold War.

As its foreign reserves reached an extraordinary $4 trillion in 2014, Beijing announced a trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meant to build an economic bloc encompassing the whole of Mackinder’s tri-continental world island. To overcome Eurasia’s vast distances, China quickly began constructing a steel grid of rails, roads, and gas pipelines that, when integrated with Russia’s networks, would reach across the continent. Within just five years, a World Bank study found that BRI transportation projects were boosting trade among 70 nations by up to 9.7% and lifting 32 million people out of poverty. By 2027, Beijing is expected to commit $1.3 trillion to this project, which would make it the largest investment in history — more than 10 times the foreign aid Washington allocated to its famed Marshall Plan that rebuilt a ravaged Europe after World War II.

To strengthen its regional influence and weaken the U.S. grip on the Pacific littoral, China has also used the BRI to court allies in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2020, in fact, it formed a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest trade pact with 15 Asia-Pacific nations representing 30% of global trade.

Taking a leaf out of Stalin’s geopolitical playbook, President Xi has much to gain from Vladimir Putin’s headstrong plunge into Ukraine. In the short term, Washington’s focus on Europe slows any serious strategic “pivot” to the Pacific, allowing Beijing to further consolidate its burgeoning commercial dominance there. By allying with Russia and so meeting its own food and energy needs, while maintaining ties to Europe through formal neutrality in the Ukraine war, Beijing could emerge, like Moscow after the Vietnam War, with its global influence markedly enhanced and the U.S. geopolitical position significantly weakened.

The Limits of Historical Analogy

However strong the geopolitical continuities between the two eras may be, history also spins skeins of discontinuity, making the past, at best, an imperfect guide to the present. During the 30 years after the Cold War ended, a relentless economic globalization has incorporated China as the world’s industrial workshop and Russia as a key provider of energy, minerals, and grains into the world economy.

As a result, despite recent sanctions, geopolitical “containment” of the sort once used against the old Soviet Union’s feeble command economy is no longer feasible. With the war already causing what the World Bank calls an “an enormous humanitarian crisis,” pressures are building for some way to reintegrate Russia into a global economy that is suffering badly from the ostracism of a country that ranks first in world wheat and fertilizer exports, second in gas production, and third in oil output.

By blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and advancing toward its main one, Odessa, Putin has disrupted grain exports from both Russia and Ukraine, which together provide almost one third of the world’s wheat and barley and so are critical to feeding the Middle East, as well as much of Africa. With the specter of mass starvation looming for some 270 million people and, as the U.N. recently warned, political instability growing in those volatile regions, the West will, sooner or later, have to reach some understanding with Russia.

Similarly, Europe’s escalating embargo of Russia’s natural gas and oil exports is proving profoundly disruptive to global energy markets, stoking inflation in the United States and sending fuel prices soaring on the continent. Already, Putin has successfully shifted much of his country’s oil and gas exports from Europe to China and India. Within months, the European Union’s embargo will likely hit a wall as Germany finds its premature closure of nuclear power plants has created an irresolvable dependence on Russian natural gas imports.

As the conflict in Ukraine becomes a protracted military stalemate, there are signs that both sides are reaching their war-making limit and may yet be forced to seek a diplomatic resolution. Even if the flow of heavy weapons from the West continues, Ukraine’s battered army can, at best, push Russia back to the territory it held before the start of current hostilities, perhaps leaving Moscow in control of Ukraine’s southeast, much or all of the Donbas region, and the Crimea.

In contrast to the Pentagon’s triumphalist rhetoric about using the war to render Russia’s military permanently “weakened,” French President Emmanuel Macron has made the sober suggestion that “we must not humiliate Russia so… we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.” Although controversial, that view may yet prevail. If so, there might well be a diplomatic agreement in which Ukraine swaps bits of territory for the acceptance of a neutral status akin to Austria’s, allowing it to join the European Union, but not NATO.

By attacking Ukraine and alienating Europe, Putin has suffered a serious but not necessarily fatal geopolitical blow. Blocked from expanding westward, he is now accelerating Russia’s “pivot to the East” and rapidly integrating its economy with China’s. In doing so, he’s likely to consolidate Beijing’s geopolitical dominance over the vast Eurasian land mass, the epicenter of global power, while the United States, wallowing in domestic chaos, suffers a distinctly non-Cold War-ish decline.

In this century as in the last one, the geopolitical struggle over Eurasia has proven to be a relentless affair, one that, in the years to come, will likely contribute both to Beijing’s rise and to the ongoing erosion of Washington’s once formidable global hegemony.

Copyright 2022 Alfred W. McCoy

Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Dispatch Books). His new book, just published, is To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change.

30 comments

  1. And here we see the dangers of credentialism. McCoy is “somebody”. His credentials say so. Therefore, he can publish garbage like this in an ostensibly progressive periodical such as Tom Dispatch or Scheerpost.

    To give but one example of a typical propaganda technique, according to McCoy it is not Russia that is doing all this, but “Putin”, as if Putin could drive Russia in a direction it did not want to go. It leaves readers with the impression that Putin is a dictator who doesn’t have to contend with various power bases (and the general public) but can just do whatever he wants.

    It also makes it sound as if this war is all about Putin’s ego and hubris—a land grab—rather than an action supported by the majority of the Russian government and the Russian people themselves.

    There is also nonsense such as the claim that Russia is blockading ports and disrupting the flow of grain, as if the only way for grain to leave Ukraine is through the Black Sea. It also ignores that it is Ukraine that has mined those ports, and Russia that is trying to establish corridors to get the grain out. And it is not Russia that is refusing to sell its grain, but the West that is refusing to buy it. The war, and the coming famines, are entirely the fault of the West, and are the desired result of their deliberate actions.

    While pretending to be providing an honest view of the war and calling America to account for its “mistakes”, McCoy sneaks in bits and pieces of Western propaganda that leave the unsuspecting and unwary reader with a very false impression of what’s going on in Eastern Europe, and Sheerpost and Tom Dispatch do a disservice to their readers. One begins to wonder just whose side they are on.

    1. I think that Mr Dobbs makes some good points, but I also think that he’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I think that Mr McCoy, Dobbs’ points notwithstanding.

      1. What’s the baby? What’s the bathwater? How many readers can tell them apart?

        The reason for mixing propaganda with seemingly blunt truth is to get people to swallow the propaganda. A spoonful of sugar…

        McCoy has done some good work, but either he still harbors some delusions about America’s role in the world, or he can’t quite bring himself to go all the way. Or maybe he believes that telling the whole truth will lose his audience, and that’s probably true.

        But the problem is that the destruction of the world does not require propaganda to be 100% effective, but merely effective enough to confuse and mislead.

        There’s too much here to comment on all of it, but let’s look at just a few things. As I mentioned, McCoy personifies nations as their leaders. It is not China, the USSR, Russia. It’s Mao, Stalin, Putin. But McCoy knows better than most that these people—even Mao and Stalin—are merely the faces of groups of powerful people, and they they “rule” only so long as they serve the needs of that group.

        But personifying nations as individuals makes it easy to change a clash of interests into a clash of egos, and that permits one to ignore the true interests. So it is that “Soon after, the Russian president would invade Ukraine…”

        Really? I don’t remember Putin picking up an AK and making his way to the border. Did I miss that?

        Oh, and he did this “while ominously putting his nuclear forces on high alert…” Whoa! Putin has his own nukes? Wait! Does he launch them using a big red button on his desk at the Kremlin like the one Trump had?

        Please.

        Then immediately we get this: “Just as the Soviet Union once armed North Vietnam with surface-to-air missiles and tanks to bloody the U.S. military, so Washington now began supplying Kyiv with high-tech weaponry to damage the Russian army.”

        No evidence provided that the arming of “North” Vietnam by the USSR was “to bloody the U.S. military” rather than to make money or to curry favor with the Vietnamese, but also, why this attempt at an equivalence? If we accept the evidence-free claim for arming Vietnam, does that help to justify U.S. actions? And why the persistent attempts to equate the Russian Federation of 2022 with the USSR of 1950? Pretty sloppy for a historian.

        And as McCoy must know, the U.S. began arming Ukraine with these weapons (and training) many years before the current hostilities. Why no mention of that? Or of any of the context for the current war?

        But it gets better. McCoy then states that Ukrainian “defenders” destroyed 2500 Russian armored vehicles. (Were they empty when they were destroyed? How bloodless this war… for the Russians anyway.) What is the source of this “fact”? It’s a claim by serial liar Zelenskyy. Where is the proof that this number is accurate? There is none, of course.

        And then this: “Russia would be forced to pull back from its bid to capture the Ukrainian capital and shift to a months-long slog to seize the Russian-speaking Donbas region near its own border.”

        At least it’s Russia this time and not Putin, but where is there any evidence that Russia intended to “capture the Ukrainian capital”? See how he sneaks that in? I believe this is called “begging the question”.

        Was it because they sent a column of tanks toward it? Several experts have claimed that this column was not nearly well provisioned enough to take the capital let alone hold it. And the Kremlin never claimed that they intended to capture Kiev. Does McCoy have some special intel he’s not sharing, or is he just regurgitating Western propaganda?

        As for the “months-long slog to seize the Russian-speaking Donbas region near its own border”, they seem to be doing a pretty good job of it. They already have the land bridge and most of the Donbas under control.

        And where is this stalemate? Ukrainian forces are retreating and many are surrendering or deserting, as even Western media has been forced to admit.

        This is all happening right along Russia’s border, so there is no reason at all for them to hurry. As long as the area they control is contiguous, they have no logistical difficulties. And much of the population of these regions are sympathetic to the Russians.

        I could go from claim to claim through his article pointing out how specious and unsupported most of them are. And funny, too, how Xi and Putin both mimic Stalin (read: Hitler, Jr.) but the the U.S. and Nato never take “a leaf out of Stalin’s geopolitical playbook”.

        Yada, yada, yada. Some nonsense about Russia blockading ports but no mention that those ports were heavily mined by Ukraine, or that Russia has promised repeatedly to let grain shipments through if Ukraine removes the mines—which Ukraine, so far, has refused to do. And it is not Russia that’s refusing to sell its grain, fertilizers, etc.

        It is the West that is preventing it from doing so in the hopes of destroying the Russian economy. That this, if successful, would kill millions of Russians (and tens or hundreds of thousands of children) is never mentioned. Or that the sanctions are illegal. Or that they are an act of war the same as if the US put boots on the ground in Russia.

        Finally, this utter garbage: “By attacking Ukraine and alienating Europe, Putin has suffered a serious but not necessarily fatal geopolitical blow. Blocked from expanding westward…”

        Well, which is it? Putin (personally, obviously) is expanding westward by stealing Ukraine in a land grab, or he [sic] is “blocked” from expanding westward?

        Russia made clear exactly how to avoid this conflict—essentially, implement the Minsk II agreement (never mentioned by McCoy, of course) and keep Ukraine out of Nato—all of which were roundly rejected by Ukraine and the West despite Zelenskyy having been elected by large majority on a platform of implementing fully precisely those protocols.

        As for “alienating Europe”, they have been extending Nato eastward for decades despite repeated promises not to expand “an inch”, conducting aggressive military “exercises” just outside the borders of Russia, sanctioning Russia illegally, and saber rattling. There has been talk of re-arming Ukraine with nuclear missiles.

        Isn’t it Europe that has “alienated” Russia? After all Brezhnev, Yeltsin, and, yes, Putin all asked to join Nato and were bluntly rejected. How is it that McCoy, the historian, fails to mention any of this?

        The evidence suggests that McCoy is an imperialist. He doesn’t want an end to empire. He is, rather, concerned that this current effort to preserve and expand the empire is destined to fail.

    2. thanks, i bailed out at the insane “supplicant”/”korean war” part.. good to see it kept up the tried-and-true “the first step to getting out of a hole ISN’T to stop digging”..

      1. Truisms like “stop digging” seem right until you really think about them. If you can’t fly and don’t have someone nearby to rescue you, how ARE you going to get out?

        Why not keep digging and make a set of steps up one side?

        Why do we assume the either/or, with us/against us binary thinking of Aristotelian logic? Why do we assume that domination in global politics is an absolute necessity without asking FOR WHOM? Why assume that inclusive “we” means much beyond propaganda?

        There’s an old joke from the ’70s about the Lone Ranger and Tonto surrounded by supposedly hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger says something like “we have to fight them, Tonto.” To which Tonto replies: “What’s this WE, white man?!”

        What’s this “we” should be asked about all global Risk players. The same who use our money, our bodies, and our ecological futures to protect the power and profits of an elite few. Especially when that same elite obviously cares so little about anyone but themselves.

    3. Hey again Mr. Dobbs. Once again, you make a lot of good points. In reponse to your what’s the baby, what’s the bathwater, I think you’ve gone a long way to bring up a lot of the “bathwater” part. As to the baby, I think his best point is that while Russia may have been weakened by getting bogged down into this war with Ukraine, I think he’s spot on when he said this is help cement China’s prominence in Eurasia.

      Another thing, I tend to assume that people are innocent barring evidence to the contrary. So until I see evidence to the contrary, I will assume that what Mr. McCoy has either overlooked or gotten wrong is simply due to a lack of education on these matters.

      Still, I think he knows a fair amount. Compared to the discussions I tend to have at an online forum I frequent, it would be nice if the majority of posters were nearly as knowledgeable as he is.

      1. Speaking of credentials, what good are they if they mean nothing?

        McCoy is the author of:

        * Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance
        * In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power
        * To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change

        It is pretty unlikely that the claims he makes to which I object are made out of ignorance. I could be wrong, but I think it’s a very safe bet that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    4. Hey again Bob. Unless you’ve actually read one or more of Mr. McCoy’s books and found that he knows more than he apparently does in this article, I think it’s best to reserve judgement on what he knows.

      However, I think it’s great that you made the comments that you did. While I think you may be ascribing motives that Mr. McCoy doesn’t have, you pointed out a slew of things he got wrong in his article.

      1. I’ve read multiple articles and I have two of his books, which I’ve perused but not fully read. It’s Dr. McCoy, and his expertise is claimed to include CIA covert operations. He’s well connected and highly regarded. I think it’s reasonable to presume that he has better access to the facts than most.

        But facts or lack thereof don’t explain his personification of nations in their leaders, or his association of Putin and Mao with Stalin, or his acceptance of statements by Zelenskyy at face value—surely, a historian knows better than that.

        So I’ll stick by my characterization of his essay as propaganda of a more insidious kind—pretending to be leftish, but really supporting the Western media’s propaganda line by stating speculation as if it were fact and relying on his status to sell it.

        Homie’s not buying it.

    5. Mr. Dobbs, I could not reply to your second comment in reply to Mr. Guzman. I wanted to thank you for shedding light on the deliberate improper use of language by McCoy to categorize the East and only the East as the culprits of the current affairs so belligerently damaging us all. It is with great displeasure to see that for years, decades and practically heading now into a century we keep ripping out our throats while so gallantly playing the role of being kind and gentle traders for he economic good of all. What utter bollocks! Humanity, in general, but most obviously those who conspire in power to run any land mass, deceive themselves that they can conquer the world, a portion of it and not in the process destroy the lives of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or as we see now factually millions of lives. We have our beliefs completely distorted and upside down. We spend so much, but literally so much time, resources and energy bogging down our neighbor when we have taken not even a minute fraction of our personal time, resources and energy to really understand what we are. Are we to continue to live into this century without realizing we are all living in single common shared space? There is here and over there. One can never reach there, because when we “think” we do, it is always here. We all breathe the same air, regardless of how the wind blows. So if there is a nuclear war, even just one bomb detonated, it will affect us all either with radiation fallout or with obvious armageddon consequences to that area. Humanity is so, so, so trapped in its identity of a separate self, of the individual or egocentrism or me, me, me that is has not bothered to sit down and just realize there is only one race, not multiply colored races and there is no female or male but rather a system of reproduction that can perpetuate our common existence and dependance on one another. Why is it so hard to share and make everyone prosper? Because all we do is focus on matter, on materialism on the fear of losing. These are just symptoms of ignorance. What we all need is reconciliation and humbleness, but being vulnerable is what we fear too. As if no one really realized that once they were in bed with someone and had an orgasm, their most valuable, self-realizing moment is precisely when they become most vulnerable for a fragment of time. May we find our way home soonest, because life is so beautiful and we spend so much time struggling and worrying who is getting a better deal.

      1. Well said, sir.

        The problem facing us as a species—and a species is all we are, the rest is silly game playing—is that the vast majority of us are unwilling to think for ourselves. Instead, we look to the “alpha apes” to tell us what to think and do.

        The US has always—always—been a project by a small group of parasites to hoard and waste the resources of as much of the planet as those parasites can get their hands on, and that has not changed. George Washington was the Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos of his day. To accomplish this horror, they have to trick the rest of us into believing that they have some power that we cannot challenge. And that they’re on our side. Nothing has changed.

        The majority of Americans, for example—if America were a real thing rather than another delusion—are not much better off than most people in the Global South. The US military isn’t fighting to protect “Americans”. It never has. It fights for the benefit of the hoarding parasites, who hoard and waste more with every battle while humans lose.

        In truth, we—humans—have all the power. The “power” of the parasites is delegated to them by us. But we forget this because we don’t want the accountability that comes with taking back that power. We’d rather close our eyes, hope for the best, revel in the schadenfreude that someone else always has it worse, and deify our alpha apes over “their” alpha apes, as if there were a “they”.

        There is no they, only a we. We will either continue to live in delusion believing in imaginary nonsense such as law, property, various isms, religion, etc., in our rush to create a dehumanized “other” who we can rob, rape, and murder, or we will look honestly at reality and realize that we must work together as a species to save ourselves. It is almost certainly already too late, so every second counts.

        I wish that I could say that I’m optimistic, but over several decades I have seen that things only get worse, and with ever-increasing speed. We are still accelerating to our doom, and I have not once seen even a single indicator that might herald a change. Rather than join together to help each other, we descend ever further into brutality and sociopathy. Empathy and kindness are endangered species.

        In short, we’re fucked.

        But we can all quarrel like the infants we are right up until the end. So there’s that, I guess.

        It’s a shame, really. We coulda been a contender.

    6. exactly correct—mccoy is at best ignorant and stupid, at worst malevolent

    7. @Bob Dobbs
      I couldn’t agree more. I had the same reaction while reading this, thanks for making these comments so I didn’t have to do so.

  2. An article crafted in outstanding wisdom.
    Unfortunately, in my view the “white race” with its roots in the Tutonic clans of Northern Europe foster the virus that has now spread across the globe and is called as racial prejudice- an extension of Hitler’s superior race..

  3. They have been playing with fire a very long time whether we the people of the US supported imperialism or not. I welcome the erosion of U.S. global hegemony. Clearly, we do not have the resources, nor the need to be the global behemoth. If we had a leadership with brains instead of the abundance of hubris and greed we see on a daily basis, perhaps the world could be spared its growing misery. But, no. Biden will do the bidding of what the fossil fuel and weapons kings tell the Pentagon what they want. Diplomacy? Share markets? Alliances for the needs of all instead of the grotesque wants of the international super elites? That stuff is for pansies, not the Pentagon! This is not a nation anymore. It is a cabal of out of control greed freaks. An apparently clueless Zelensky encourages his citizens to throw molotov cocktails at a world power blocked from their markets while Biden sends ever bigger weapons and a compliant EU goes along with this dangerous game is a recipe for disaster. China must be enjoying this immensely. They could come out of this war far better than the U.S. undeservingly came out of WW2. Meanwhile, at home, religious proto-fascists sit on the Supreme court. Many more of those p-fs sit in federal and state legislative bodies and pass laws and code to protect the minority from the majority. The executive, as well as many others in many other places, is managed by the Pentagon. Citizens are lied to, misled, propagandized, surveilled, and analyzed. It seems to be all about control, manipulation, and obscuring truth. Just what is left to support of this system? Hopes of revitalized portfolios? No thanks. Not worth it.

    1. Bravo for stating the truth. Unfortunately the US public is among the most brainswashed in the world and will not remotely come to their senses. A real tragedy is in the making for a nation that went from Republic to Empire to Hegemon.

  4. We were heroes that engaged and armed the Taliban to defeat USSR, 1980s.
    Then our friends morphed into deadly foes with plenty of neat American weapons.
    We retreated from Afghanistan and left behind many millions$$ worth of weapons and gear; they are now the best equiped army in the region.

    But we seem to be getting smarter, we vow and publicize to spend, loan, and grant billions$$ of new fantastic and heavy weapons /missiles to Ukraine but, not too much is delivered (as of yet). Zelensky constantly whines for more so that is a logical indication that we are not doing as advertised.

    Maybe it is due to that lots of the arms are sold in black markets as brand new weapons. Some are sold to terrorists that will be used against American and Westerners someday.

    Historically, guns, and arms always leak to unwanted hands but this war sure seems to have major leaks.
    See news reports….
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-arms-insight-idUSKCN1050ZE

    Somehow, Russia has been excluded from the European family so it was inevitable to pivot East, war or no war – –
    Perhaps it is due to old animosities.
    And demographics and warming climate would have pushed China north and westerly even without this family fight. If Genghis Khan on horseback could reach the Caspian sea, China ‘s 21st century Iron railways should also be successful.

    All wars play with Fire but because we are in the Golden Billion ( Putin’s term for population of N. AMERICA, EUROPE, and Japan) we anathematized the 6.6 billion in the Rest of the World.
    A bigger Fire will be when the American Empire goats thin skin China into Taiwan Civil War.

    1. LOGISTICS

      “…not too much is delivered (as of yet.) I wonder if anyone has thought about the logistics. Exactly HOW are these wonderful weapons supposed to get there? And when?

      There is staging; putting together shipments isn’t instantaneous. Delivering them means landing at some seaport or airport. Then transporting them to where needed.

      Since there is very little left of US Merchant Marine shipping (US owned, US flag) that would mean flags of convenience or–gasp–Chinese shipping. There aren’t many countries enthused about this war, so few would be fully trustworthy. If they’re just using any shipping companies available, that sure would explain goods that might go missing. The manufacturers were paid; why would they care if a shipment actually arrives?

      Arms could be delivered by air, sure. But again, by whom? The US military is spread out all over the world. And cargo planes don’t carry what a ship can. Where would they land safely, without disrupting whatever else is going on? Not to mention what jet fuel costs–although I guess that’s irrelevant for military accounting.

      In contrast, implications for the future: The Eurasian Economic Union agreements, Silk Road, China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

      1. Very good point Rafi. I think we can all agree with Mr. McCoy that while this war may weaken Russia to some extent, it is doing nothing but strengthening China.

  5. This is a very dangerous moment in the Ukraine War: Russia is set to ‘up the ante’ by attempting to forge a land corridor through Lithuania to relieve Kaliningrad. In this game of bluff, especially with blood-thirsty advocates in all opposing camps, the chances of a tremendous escalation into, at least, a new European War are great indeed. NATO commanders risk seeing Germany and France, and perhaps England, being attacked with conventional missiles. How long before such bombardments become so-called ‘tactical’ nuclear exchanges?

  6. Any relation to John J. McCoy? chip off the old imperial block?

  7. Mr. Dobbs, I agree with your second reply to Mr. Guzman. I wanted to thank you for shedding light on the deliberate improper use of language by McCoy to categorize the East and only the East as the culprits of the current affairs so belligerently damaging us all. It is with great displeasure to see that for years, decades and now practically heading into a century where we keep ripping out our throats while so gallantly playing the role of being kind and gentle traders for the economic good of all. What utter bollocks!
    Humanity, in general, but most obviously those who conspire in power to run any land mass, deceive themselves that they can conquer the world, a portion of it and in the process not destroy the lives of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or as we see now factually see millions of lives.
    We have our beliefs completely distorted and upside down. We spend so much, but literally so much time, resources and energy bogging down our neighbor when we have taken not even a fraction of our own personal time, resources and energy to really understand what we are. Are we to continue to live into this century without realizing we are all living in a single common shared space? There is no here and over there. There is only here. One can never reach there, because when we “think” we do, it is always here. We all breathe the same air, regardless of how the wind blows, there is only one air. The same air that goes in and then comes out of our bodies is the same air that goes in another body and out. So if there is a nuclear war, even just one bomb detonated, it will affect us all, sooner or later, either with radiation fallout or with obvious armageddon consequences to that area. I mean it’s so obvious in the context of what McCoy speaks that we are all still suffering the consequences of WW2. This is what we call multigenerational global trauma.
    Humanity is so, so, so trapped in its identity of a separate self, of the individual of egocentrism or of the me, me, me that is has not bothered to sit down and just realize there is only one race, not simply a multiplicity of colored and multi featured races. As a whole we are humans, all mixing our genes together since we all start having sex with others beyond our closest “tribe”. For that matter there is no female or male either but rather a system of reproduction that can perpetuate our common existence and dependance on one another that in fact is quite a nice way to be. Why is it so hard to share and make everyone prosper? Because all we do is focus on matter, on materialism and on the fear of losing. These are just symptoms of ignorance.
    What we all need is reconciliation and humbleness, but being vulnerable is what we fear the most too. As if no one really realized that once they were in bed with someone and had an orgasm, their most valuable, self-realizing moment is precisely when they become most vulnerable for a fragment of time. May we find our way home soonest, because life is so beautiful and we spend so much time struggling, bickering, arguing and worrying who is getting a better deal or who is bogging us down. What the fuck is love?

    1. It’s the upper 10% that are deluded & think they understand the “other 90%”
      they think they have us an leash with their fantasy house of cards. We don’t care about their fantasy American life of the kardashians, ellen or mr colbert, we don’t believe anything they preach to us on the nightly news. We see right thru all of this in the blatant neglect of our society for which they are responsible since they pull the strings, hold the purse, own the politicians.
      if only we could send then to a home of their own so they would leave the innocent alone

  8. Lots of CIA talking points such as claiming Soviet expansionism in other nations causing 20 million deaths whereas the truth is more like they supported nationalistic uprisings against settler colonialism/imperialism in South Vietnam, Angola, etc. The root cause of those wars was European/American imperialism. Then he characterized the liberation of China by their own people from Western control as “capturing” China, as if they were the invaders. Bryszinki was a warmonger who should be called out as such but McCoy has no opinion on that. McCoy believes America is good and Russia China are evil. He asserts that Russia wants to expand westward while anyone following recent history clearly knows this to be nonsense. Russia has been repeatedly provoked and lied to over decades and only reluctantly resorted to force. The goal of the U.S. is not to defend the non-existent democracy in Ukraine but to cause a coup and break up Russia, eliminating them as any type of competitor.

  9. Author of this article is blatantly wrong on almost everything as this is nothing more than a neocon hit piece, these days often concocted by lapsed progressives with pseudo leftist credentials.

    He is wrong on Korea, wrong on China, wrong on Russia, wrong on NATO and most of all wrong on Vietnam and wrong on Ukraine war analogy to Vietnam war.

    Among million of reasons why the author is wrong comparing Vietnam and Ukrainian wars is the most important one that is totally repudiating author claims namely the mere fact that Vietnam is located at least EIGHT THOUSANDS MILES from US shores while Ukraine shares Russian border at distance of 230 miles from Moscow.

    That is GEOPOLITICS stupid, something that every kindergarten already knows while author seems ignorant of.

    He is also wrong on geopolitics in context of globalization which explains source of nonsensical fears of Russia and China taking over the world in geopolitical realm. Author should ask himself a question why US unchallenged hegemony of the world in last decades did not turn world into hundreds of US states? But this is another subject.

    Vietnam was America-friendly nation that was an ally of US in WWII while Ho chi Min’s idol was no other but Jefferson.

    Vietnam was betrayed by US in 1940s and 50s when US turned around and supported failed attempt by French to reimpose colonial rule after Vietnam liberated itself from French and Japanese occupiers just after WWII.

    Vietnam was not like Ukraine, a hostile nation for almost thirty years since 1993 artificial creation cultivating anti Russian politics, outright Russophobia and its murderous NAZI foundations in the country of 22 millions of ethnic Russians that included ultimate nationalistic aims of annexation of much of Russian land in the east toward Caucasus as well as EU land beyond Ukraine western borders .

    Vietnam was a friend of US had no territorial claims against US and was pushed into Soviet embrace and alien to them para-socialist ideology for strategic reasons as US and historically China together turned against them threatening Vietnamese 1000+ years old statehood.

    Vietnam war was pure US imperial war in fact aimed among other goals to aid Communist China in fighting Vietnam (and they continued to fight Vietnam in 1970s and 80s ) what resulted in famous Nixon visit to China in 1972 and de facto political and economic Sino-American alliance developing for following four decades.

    The schism between Soviets and China in 1960s was not as much along ideological lines or imperial prerogatives but over nationalistic lines as both countries turned toward nationalistic state capitalism development slowly abandoning socialism particularly internationalism with more or less visible hand of US influence peddling. Today CCP manifesto abandons leading role of working class. China and Russia became a bastion of mixed state and market capitalism and globalism run like in the west by local oligarchs Xi and Putin represent.

    The author seems to be wrong and ignorant of many relevant facts including the fact that enlargement of NATO that from its beginning in 1949 targeted Soviet Union that just acquired nuclear bomb as deterrent for US nukes.

    Soviets exploded atomic bomb in 1949 as a warning to stop aggressive move of expansion of US sphere of influence pressing to directly challenge Russian state and territorial integrity.

    US in 1948 planned hot war with Soviets, nuclear bombing campaign against Soviet cities and military installations. But Soviets stopped or rather froze or chilled American-planned hot war by just in time in 1948 getting nukes of their own. That Is the genesis of Cold War a frozen 1948 US war of aggression against Soviet Union, another WWII ally betrayed.

    Putin Nuclear blackmail of Europe? How evil.

    The US itself acted swiftly placing its Nuclear forces on high alert threatening to pulverize Cuba if blockade failed when its borders and statehood was challenge by possible Nuke deployment in 1961 90 miles from Miami.

    Equally Russians in Ukraine like Americans in Cuba (previously invaded many times ) were just taking care of their national security interests.

    In contrast US wars in Korea Vietnam the rest of Indochina, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or proxy wars in Syria and Yemen etc., and now in Ukraine were all US imperial wars of aggression.

    The nuclear blackmail to bully and to buy impunity is as American as Apple pie.

    Author take on Korean War is as ignorant and utterly wrong. It was Korean communists with support of entire nation and backed by Soviet forces attacking Japan that liberated Korean state from 40 years of brutal Japanese occupation that included Japanese mass murder and rape factories that produced hundreds of thousands of kidnapped Korean babies.

    This still unresolved issue due to intransigence of Japanese government to pay war and occupation reparations of several trillions of dollars is so painful that even today it stirs occasional small shooting wars between South Korean and Japanese navies.

    The US by invading Korea for ideological and imperial domination reasons solely to prevent elections which would have resulted with Communists, the only anti Japanese political force, legally taking power in Korea.

    The US like in Texas century before took side of evil, side of slave holders in Texas who opposed Mexico abolition of slavery and in Korea took side of opposition parties, collaborators in Japanese genocide of Koreans and to wage war of extermination against all Korean people.

    Complaint of Mariupol damage ? US turned entire industrialized Korea into Stone Age killed millions just to install murderous military dictatorships of war criminals for decades.

    Russia stuck in Ukraine after four months? That sound ridiculous from US perspective where supposedly greatest military might on the planet was bogged down in a god forsaken place for twenty years and finally defeated a year ago by bunch shoeless peasants with $100 Kalashnikov on a rope driving Toyotas.

    As I repeated many times there is nothing wrong to debate psychotic delusions of Brzezinski and his political descendants like author obsessed with Russia imaginary expansion who self emasculated his own credentials by incessantly blaming Russia or China for irresponsible and reckless US imperial belligerence in nuclear age.

    However, in the reality of total MSM censorship neocon side of things neocon groundless beliefs should be referred to sources in multiple MSM fake news factories and their pseudo independent affiliates like Tom Dispatch rather than taking precious space in truly independent media on the verge of extinction.

  10. McCoy is a moron….others above have corrected many of his fabrications
    the amerikan war in ukraine has been terminated by Russia–a huge humiliation for USA….now 1000 ukie casualties per day. Russia is liberating more territory daily, demolishing relevant military infrastructure daily now including their major oil refinery…there is no stalemate. this is full Russian victory….denazificqtion will persist until Washington permits Zelensky to surrender…ukies mined the Odessa harbor; ukies reject Russian/Turk proposals to remove the mines…..the US promise to provide weapon to ukies result in black market transactions mainly sold to African nations and obliteration by Russian missiles in warehouses near Poland…since roads, air and trains cannot transport to east and south where Russian troops are demolishing ukies, the US/NATO gestures will influence nothing except Russian resolve
    today anglospere and NATO isolated from the civilized world….no other nations are stupid enough except Japan, s Korea to sanction Russia…..mcooy conveniently ignores that China demolished US troops and won the Korean War…Turkey, Serbia, Hungary also reject sanctions…at least 10 EU nations pay for Russian commodities in roubles, now the the strongest currency on earth per Bloomberg….sanctions have contributed to a monthly increase in the Russian reserve fund by 13 billion euros per month and produced hyperinflation and crisis in the angloshere/EU nations

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