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Which Is Worse? Trying to Get Ukraine into NATO, or Trying to Use Ukraine to Reelect Trump?

Question for discussion: which is worse?

(Forgive the run-on sentences; they are necessary to convey the complexity of moral issues here.)

(1) The effort of the U.S. State Department backed by the Pentagon to expand the NATO military alliance (which as you know is the most terrifyingly powerful military alliance in human history, from its inception in 1949 a specifically anti-Russian alliance that since the end of the Cold War has expanded to curl around European Russia from the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea) to include Ukraine, Europe’s largest country, to fully surround western Russia, and expel the Russian fleet from Crimea, through $ 5 billion in U.S. support (ostensibly to support Ukraine’s “European aspirations”) for a bloody coup involving neofascists in Feb. 2014, that has produced much misery in Ukraine?

Or:

(2) The effort of a U.S. president to find evidence for corruption on the part of Hunter Biden—who as a son of the sitting U.S. vice president with no experience in the energy business accepted a position on the board of directors of Ukraine’s largest private corporation, the Burisma Holdings gas company, two months after the bloody coup, receiving $ 50,000 a month between 2014 and 2019 (a total of $ 3 million) while (according to his wife now suing for divorce) spending huge sums on cocaine and prostitutes, during a time when Ukraine was generally fraught with corruption—by strong-arming the new Ukrainian president to reopen a closed prosecutor’s investigation on Burisma and look for dirt, as an implied condition for the provision of weapons for use against Russians or Russian-backed Ukrainians in a civil conflict?

Let me rephrase the question. Which is better?

Regime change in Ukraine, producing an immediate succession movement in the Donbass, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and a disastrous worsening in U.S.-Russian relations?

Or, a shameless move by Donald Trump, who prides himself on being different, to demand the investigation of the son of a possible political opponent. confidant that—even if a Ukrainian investigation finds no wrongdoing by Hunter—the mere revelation of his now widely exposed lifestyle will damage Sleepy Joe’s chances?

Notice that there is no discussion of the morality of the first in the U.S. media. It is apparently not allowed. NATO is beyond reproach, the bedrock of postwar stability in Europe, the basis for Europe’s prosperity. Why should its expansion to include Montenegro and North Macedonia be a problem, or the topic even merit cable news commentary? Why would it be wrong to want to include Ukraine too? Why not interfere in Ukraine’s politics and work with neofascists to achieve regime change that will allow Kiev’s entry into NATO? Not an issue.

The second on the other hand is the stuff of lamentation and outrage, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. How dare the U.S. president seeks political dirt on an opponent from a FOREIGN source? ask the news anchors who routinely thank their expert consultants for their military service and seem contractually committed to imposing a type of patriotism on their audiences.

Talking heads keep repeating that Ukraine has a “desperate” or “urgent” need for aid to resist a Russian “invasion.” That is, they make the offense sounds worse by implying that Trump’s failure to authorize the Javelin anti-tank shipment earlier than he did weaken a beleaguered nation, perhaps costing lives. But when was the last time we heard about major military operations in eastern Ukraine? Must we take the CNN experts’ word for granted, that indeed, Ukraine is in desperate need of aid from the world’s best friend?

Actually, according to Foreign Policy (10/3/2019): “Under the conditions of the foreign military sale, the Trump administration stipulates that the Javelins must be stored in western Ukraine—hundreds of miles from the battlefield.” Apparently there have been Javelins there supplied by the U.S. for several years.

The media presentation of the whole sob-story about Trump denying the besieged Ukrainian nation vital arms for its desperate heroic self-defense, hinging the deal on the receipt of political dirt, seems as designed to vilify Russia and maintain Russophobia as the core of national religious ideology as to defend any real-life Ukrainians. (The routine occurrence of “Soviet” in the live commentaries by these clowns betrays the conflation of the old USSR and Putin’s altogether capitalist Russia in their confused subconsciouses.)

Meanwhile, in its religious avoidance to any discussion of NATO, the centrality of Ukraine to NATO’s plan of expansion, and the Russian perception of the relentless expansion of an alliance designed to go to war with itself, the corporate media encourages general ignorance as required by its sponsors. These are the people who pray for Joe Biden’s victory and dread attention at his son and at his own role as Obama’s point man on Ukrainian corruption while Hunter was doing his stuff with Burisma.

They are also the people who keep telling us that the real problem is Bernie Sanders and socialism.

You won’t be surprised I vote for regime change in Ukraine as worse than the bid for election help. I hope that Trump’s crude, Mafiosa-like behavior contributes to the impeachment movement. I think, however, it quite possible that his argument (that the source of opposition research, even if foreign, is irrelevant if the info is true) may convince most of his followers, and that he will persuade them that his pressure on Zelensky was just an expression of U.S. firmness on corruption. In any case, people now are talking about the scandal of Biden making what he did when he did, and that is good. Any exposure of capitalism and its excesses is good.

So let the Bidens be exposed for what they are; let Bernie benefit, and let people start to discuss the real recent history of Ukraine and the central problem of NATO.

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Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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