No doubt, Ukrainians have been surprised to discover that many American Leftist intellectuals tend to justify Russian aggression directed at Ukraine. Many side with Stephen Cohen, the leading Putin apologist in the USA, and most blame the United States. This is an issue that deserves an explanation.
For decades, many American intellectuals on the Left concentrated on criticizing the American foreign policy, which they’ve perceived (and often rightfully so) as needlessly interventionist. However, this mindset left them ill-prepared to judge the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Sympathetic to the critical voices from abroad, they internalized anti-American propaganda — particularly the belief that most political developments in the world are only effects of the application of America’s will.
No wonder that Noam Chomsky, in his latest book Who Rules the World?, leans on sources like Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands by Richard Sakwa, which he calls an “illuminating and judicious scholarly study of the region.” This is the book, may I remind you, where Mr. Sakwa states that “ultimately, the Ukraine crisis was about Russia’s refusal to submit itself to Atlanticist hegemony and global dominance.”
Mr. Chomsky also finds Russian concerns easily understandable, and includes in his book this quote by Joseph Mearsheimer, the father of offensive realism: “the taproot of the current crisis [over Ukraine] is NATO expansion and Washington’s commitment to move Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit and integrate it into the West,” which Putin viewed as ‘a direct threat to Russia’s core interests.’” Never mind that the same Joseph Mearsheimer also wrote back in 1993: “A nuclear Ukraine makes sense for two reasons. First, it is imperative to maintain peace between Russia and Ukraine. That means ensuring that the Russians, who have a history of bad relations with Ukraine, do not move to reconquer it. Ukraine cannot defend itself against a nuclear-armed Russia with conventional weapons, and no Nuclear Deterrence state, including the United States, is going to extend to it a meaningful security guarantee. Ukrainian nuclear weapons are the only reliable deterrent to Russian aggression.” Perhaps, the idea of Russian aggression could still be entertained back in the 90’s, but not in 2016, right?
Just like Mr. Chomsky, the American Leftist-at-large found it much harder to understand Ukrainian concerns, or grasp complexities of Ukrainian politics. It might as well have been Western Sahara. It’s all about America: projections of the American solipsist mind locked into internal debate over its identity and policies toward the major geopolitical forces like the EU, China, Russia, and the Islamic World. Tens of millions of puppets, remote-controlled from the State Department, must be populating vast areas in between, so why even try?
This bizarre worldview mirrors the opinions expressed by Russian conspiracy buffs & Putin’s propaganda in the most comic and unfortunate way. Distorted reflections of American power are absorbed and internalized to fortify the perceived might of American thought, will, and ego.
No large-scale upheavals anywhere in the world can happen without the hand of the U.S.A.
There is no place for any other hegemony in this echo chamber.
Igor Satanovsky is a poet living in New York City.