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Groaning Towards War

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The US House of Representatives might have though it through a bit more, but House Resolution 758, the handiwork of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill), passed with 98 percent of the vote. The text lasts a dreary 16 pages, but that is the least of it. It states, in the undusted, revised language of Cold War vitriol, the agenda of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, which the House accuses of using “a policy of aggression against neighbouring countries aimed at political and economic domination.” It makes reference to Russia’s purported violation of “each of the 10 principles of the 1975 Helsinki Accords in its relations with Ukraine.”

A line is drawn in the sand of political engagement – Russia, it is claimed, further violated ceasefire agreements of the September Minsk Protocol while also providing “military equipment, training, and other assistance to separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine.” This, in turn, is said to breach the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, not to mention breaching that rather worn document, the United Nations Charter.

The resolution is, furthermore, a dossier of blame, a document of accusation. Russia’s paw prints are said to be on everything from the disruption of Ukrainian elections on May 25, 2014 to the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

It also, for good measure, throws in a reference to Russia’s support for Syria’s Bashar Assad regime, which sadly, in the game of bloody geopolitics, is neither here nor there. The White House, in its own confused way, happily supplies a motley collection of “moderates” and fundamentalists against Assad, some of whom transform into beheading freedom fighters the moment they relocate from Syria to Iraq.

Such is the magic of political cant and strategic calculation surrounding such groups as the al-Nusra front or ISIS. Strategy operates in a moral vacuum, even if it is tarted up by the public relations firms.

Bullying foreign policy is a place where angels fear to tread. The resolution’s insistence on “lethal aid” is dangerous, not because Putin is the picture of sweetness (the Russian President did claim in September that he could have “Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest” in two days), but because it aims to meddle and force the issue in Ukraine. It flies the flag high for the regime in Kiev, cloaking it with pristine credentials.

It is worth noting, on that point, the original circumstances for the conflict, seeded, as it were, by what effectively amounted to a coup after the Maidan protests ran away with the blessings of various European capitals and Washington. This does not feature in HR 758. The fracturing of Ukraine is very much an affair of force and calculation, a historically tragic stew of considerations that is not served by the righteous language of any side.

The entire language of HR 758 is, in fact, not so much historically slanted as inspiringly ignorant. Paragraph 22 assumes that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 – the European Union put the kibosh on that suggestion after an investigation of its own. It might even be said that the Georgian regime had been irresponsibly encouraged in its bullishness by NATO encouragement, even if it might have been misconstrued.

The resolution does its own bit of dangerous meddling, insisting in paragraph 13 that Kiev “resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence.” While cease-fires tend to be the pretences of diplomatic stone-walling, such a statement is tantamount to a full egging on, an encouragement for further slaughter.

Not that you should tell the likes of US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who is on record boasting about the $5 billion expended on regime change in Ukraine, that sordid term fed by an open cheque book at US taxpayer’s expense.

Ron Paul, in his reaction to the passage of HR 758, attacked the resolution’s use of language “that should have made even the neocons blush”. World War Three, argues Paul, is effectively around the corner, the result of “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever”.

As an avid watcher of such resolutions in Congress, Paul claims that such wording is pregnant with consequences. In 1998, the Iraq Liberation Act proved to be the precursor for invasion in 2003. “I did not oppose the Act because I was an admirer of Saddam Hussein – just as now I am not an admirer of Putin or any foreign political leader – but rather because I knew then that another war against Iraq would not solve the problems and would probably make things worse. We all know what happened next.”

Even before Paul’s response, former US congressman Dennis Kucinich suggested that HR 758 was “tantamount to a ‘Declaration of Cold War’.” “NATO encirclement, the US-backed coup in Ukraine, an attempt to use an agreement with the European Union to bring NATO into Ukraine at the Russian border and a US nuclear first-strike policy are all policies which attempt to substitute force for diplomacy” (Press TV, Dec 3). Time, it would seem, to dig in for the bloody, and expensive long haul.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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