Mutually Assured Paranoia in the Ukraine Crisis: The Failures of Elite Planning

The Ecological Mobilization that Wasn’t to the War Mobilization that Is: Mutually Confirmed Paranoia

A systemic ecological mobilization at a fast pace, with necessary sacrifices, has been needed to avoid further climate catastrophes. Today, we have mobilization for war based on militarist managerialism. As various nations attempt to shift out of the fossil fuel era, many in the West have been simultaneously preoccupied by expanding militarist approaches to foreign policy defined by: (a) permanent war economies, continually producing weapons systems, (b) membership in or cooperation with military alliances, and (c) foreign policy based on the extension of military power, war games, and provocations which help rationalize counter-moves on the other side. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the culmination of this failed logic, but the problem is that the provocateurs on either side will never admit their culpability in the cycle of violence. Russia’s invasion is grist for the NATO cheerleaders. NATO expansion is grist for the Russian militarists. Every NATO provocation strengthens the Russian militarist paradigm. Every Russian border incursion confirms the NATO military managerialists’ view of the world.

Addicted to Militarism and Oil

Russia is a militarist, oil state. But much like the rich kids who buy drugs from the poor, stigmatized urban zones, they have their patrons in legitimate society. Why does Putin risk economic chaos by invading Ukraine? The answers range from sober pre-emptive realism to paranoia. Why did the West complicate its own economic situation by provoking Russia with NATO expansion? The answers also range from pre-emptive realism to paranoia. Two dismal worldviews and character structures which confirm one another. Other questions remain, despite this strange logic of mutually confirmed paranoia.

People who buy drugs sometimes get caught by the violence associated with the trade. Does it make sense that countries opposed to Russian expansion actually helped to pay for its weapons? Various countries whose leaders did nothing to try to stop the eastward expansion of NATO, e.g. Sweden, actually depend heavily on Russian oil. Two years before the invasion, the Russian news agency Tass announced that Sweden imported about a third of its oil from Russia. From 2012 to 2020, there was a significant decline in the amount of Russian oil imported into Sweden. Yet, throughout 2021 the amount Russia exported to Sweden steadily increased. Here is an interesting quote from the Tass news item on Russian exports to Sweden: “‘We know that oil from the North Sea is more sustainable. The Russian level of risk is higher, but generally acceptable, and we follow the recommendations of the Foreign Ministry,’ Malin Hallin, head of the sustainability department at Preem told the TT agency.” Even if Sweden reduces Russian oil imports, it has long patronized a state which it classifies as dangerous to its own interests.

Sweden is not alone. A recent Eurostat entry summarizes the West’s dependency on Russia: “The stability of the EU’s energy supply may be threatened if a high proportion of imports are concentrated among relatively few external partners. In 2019, almost two thirds of the extra-EU’s crude oil imports came from Russia (27 %), Iraq (9 %), Nigeria and Saudi Arabia (both 8 %) and Kazakhstan and Norway (both 7 %). A similar analysis shows that almost three quarters of the EU’s imports of natural gas came from Russia (41 %), Norway (16 %), Algeria (8 %) and Qatar (5 %), while over three quarters of solid fuel (mostly coal) imports originated from Russia (47 %), the United States (18 %) and Australia (14 %).”

These countries helped to damage the ecosystem with their oil habit and helped finance the Russian military through trade. Now, they try to use sanctions to punish Russia which resisted NATO expansion. Russia’s imperial expansion has partially been financed by trade with the West. Through its addiction to Russian oil, the West made itself vulnerable when deploying sanctions. As Christine Romans explains: “The most effective way to target Russia with sanctions is to cut off its supply of oil and natural gas to the West. But that could trigger even higher prices and more pain for consumers. Oil prices already are near 8-year-highs and serve as a major driver of inflation. It is already taking a toll politically and these decisions will be tough to enact for the West’s leaders.” Romans quotes Josh Rogan, another CNN reporter, who argued: “The president of the United States has to worry about his domestic polls heading into a new election season and leaders in Europe have their own domestic political constraints as well…It ends up limiting the range of responses, the range of action that the allies can put into place in response to Putin’s aggression.”

Media Confusion will Cloud Common Sense

Listening to the radio and TV this morning, it’s clear that Western champions of NATO or its silent investors have learned nothing from their failed militarist managerial expansion. What was needed is a systematic mobilization based on converting from an oil and conflict regime system (tied to the military managerialism of leading political blocs) to a clean energy and authentic diplomacy regime based on accelerated investments in clean energy and constraints on militarist expansionism. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stopped one form of NATO expansion, but years of military exercises and arms build ups on all sides have helped neutralize the diplomatic frontier. Yes, Russia should be condemned in the strongest of terms, but that means little when those doing the condemning have themselves contributed to a failed frontier for authentic diplomacy, i.e. a diplomacy based on creating neutral zones between Russia and the EU, where possible.

In moments of war, long-term solutions are often drowned out by the heightened alliance between the media and war champions and those using militarist logic in key channels of communication. Parts of the Trump-friendly media can be expected to promote the anti-NATO line favored by Trump, a kind of isolationism which is the right-wing alternative to war. Liberal forces, by sanctioning NATO expansion and provoking Putin, have helped strengthen these forces. Interestingly, some far right parties oppose Putin, given the parameters of their version of nationalist thinking. A liberalism allied with militarist expansion leads to war, Russian militarist expansion, and strengthening of reactionary forces.