Ukrainian War from an America Couch - Niko Vorobyov
There's a frustrating tendency among foreign "anti-war leftists" to accept the official Russian narrative ("we didn't wanna vaporise 4-y.o. girls with Downs syndrome but they forced us") than what anti-war voices on the ground (i.e. Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian) actually say. It's telling how Britain's Stop The War's get-together on Ukraine didn't feature a single Ukrainian speaker. It's a weird kind of American exceptionalism (and racism) that's the opposite of the neocon-Bush Team America days: only America and its allies can be the bad guys.
On the night of February 24, I attended a peace rally in St Petersburg against my government killing innocent people in Ukraine. I avoided police attention by slipping into the crowd, but others weren't as lucky: being dragged to the station, beaten and threatened with rape. But as far as certain anti-imperialists are concerned, it seems all of us who were at the peace rallies in St Petersburg and Moscow can jump under a train.
It's very easy for you, hundreds of miles from where it's happening, to accept Putin's bullshit about a multipolar world. You don't know what it's like to have people you know being arrested for holding blank pieces of paper. It's easy for you to say Ukrainians are America's pawns when missiles aren't raining over your heads and you're not in a fight for your very survival.
But - and consider the possibility - perhaps Ukrainians fight because they don't want to be under Russia's boot? So far everyone I've seen saying Ukrainians should just surrender or compromise... are not Ukrainian. I suppose Hồ Chí Minh and the boys should have just given up in the face of overwhelming American superiority. Instead they left us with a treasure trove of classic war movies.
Anyone with more than two brain cells knows that the USA and the arms industry have their own agenda, that's a given. But what do the Ukrainians themselves want? Are CIA agents dressed in cartoonish Uncle Sam top hats holding Ukrainian families at gunpoint, warning the men that if they don't stick it to the Rooskis, little Bohdan gets it? No? Then what the hell does it matter what the Americans' agenda is?
Applying that same logic, the Vietnamese were just Soviet/Chinese pawns, as was Mandela; the Rojava Kurds were just American pawns; George Washington was just a French pawn; and so on. In this version of American exceptionalism, no-one else has agency. Not even Putin, apparently, who allowed himself to fall for their master plan and "provocations". That, and tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives, is on him. Try the bastard already.
The whole point of opposing American imperialism is so they don't crush small countries underfoot, which is what Russia's trying to do now. We're either against that or we're not. There's a lot of discussion to be had about American foreign policy, of course, but bringing it up in this context ("yes it's bad, but the AMERICANS...") doesn't advance the cause of the people who are suffering now i.e. Ukrainians.
As for the arms industry, if I was Ukrainian and it was a choice between some goodies from Lockheed Martin or my family getting Bucha'd, I know what I'm going with.
No-one stuck a gun to Putin's head and ordered him to unleash the hounds. This bloodbath is entirely on him. Yes, there's quite a few Ukrainians in the east (not a majority, but certainly more than you'd think) who've been alienated from Kyiv, putting it mildly, and for a time I had sympathy for the Donbas rebels as well. But what's happening now isn't a liberation struggle. What the fuck does obliterating little girls with Down's syndrome in Vinnytsia have to do with Donetsk, 500 miles away?
Слава Україні! This is not an endorsement of everything Zelensky does (though given the circumstances, it's not anti-Zelensky either). The Ukrainians fight because they don't want to be a humiliated, subjugated nation like the Palestinians. They want to be like the Vietnamese.
- Niko Vorobyov is a formerly-imprisoned Russian-British freelance journalist and author of the book Dopeworld. You can follow him on Twitter @Narco_Polo420