John Bellamy Foster: The US proxy war in Ukraine – A must read article

Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden

By Adrian Bailey

Monthly Review, the US socialist magazine, this month has published an article by its editor, John Bellamy Foster, which is essential reading for all progressive activists. The piece, ‘The US proxy war in Ukraine’, which can be read here, explains how and why the US deliberately provoked the current war in Ukraine and outlines the dangers that lie ahead from the US’s increasingly aggressive nuclear weapons policy. For copyright reasons it is not possible to reproduce the whole article here, so this review is intended to point out the importance of this article and to encourage everyone to read it in full.

As the title of the article makes clear, Foster shows clearly that the Ukraine War is a US proxy war. This has been publicly acknowledged by the former CIA director and secretary of defence Leon Panetta. As Foster explains:

‘To be explicit, the United States (backed by the whole of NATO) is in a long proxy war with Russia, with Ukraine as the battlefield. The U.S. role in this conception, as Panetta insisted, is to provide more and more weapons faster and faster with Ukraine doing the fighting, bolstered by foreign mercenaries.’

To understand why the US has provoked a proxy war, Foster sets out the fundamentals of the US’ global strategy from 1991 onwards, after the USSR dissolved. He explains ‘two prongs’ of this strategy: the US’s ‘geopolitical expansion and positioning, including the enlargement of NATO’ and the ‘drive for nuclear primacy’

After 1991, Foster explains:

‘This process of U.S./NATO geopolitical expansion commenced immediately, visible in all the U.S./NATO wars in Asia, Africa, and Europe…NATO’s war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s was particularly important in this respect.’

‘Washington started to implement that [the enlargement of NATO] in 1997, eventually adding 15 additional countries to NATO.’

‘…the goal was the Ukraine….if it were brought into NATO and under Western control, would weaken Russia so much that it could be tethered, if not dismembered.’

Foster sets out how the current Ukraine war:

‘…started in 2014 when the Maidan coup, engineered by the United States, took place in Ukraine, removing the democratically elected president, and putting ultra-nationalists largely in control. The immediate result though was that Ukraine began to break apart.’

‘When the coup occurred, with Ukrainian ultra-nationalists in control, the Crimean population wanted out.’

‘…in the eastern Ukraine the primarily Russian population was subjected to repression by ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi Kyiv forces.’

The populations the Donbass established two breakaway republics and Foster says:

‘A civil war thus emerged in Ukraine between Kyiv in the West and Donbass in the East. But it was also a proxy war with the U.S./NATO supporting Kyiv and Russia supporting Donbass.’

Foster reports on the situation that provoked Russia to intervene this year:

‘In February 2022 Kyiv was preparing a major offensive, with 130,000 troops on the borders of Donbass in the East and South, ….. firing into Donbass, with continuing U.S./NATO support. This crossed Moscow’s clearly articulated red lines.’

‘Russia intervened mainly with the object of freeing up Donbass, much of which was occupied by Kyiv forces. A priority has been gaining control of Mariupol, the main port, which would make Donbass viable.’

On the Ukraine – Russia negotiations, Foster states:

‘The U.S. role in this has been to operate as a spoiler in the negotiations.’

Foster explains how dangerous for humanity is the current US military escalation.

US military policy on the use of its nuclear weapons has been progressively revised in a more aggressive direction, risking an increasingly dangerous situation for the whole of humanity. Foster explains that:

‘In 1979 … it was decided to move beyond Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and for the United States to pursue a counterforce strategy of nuclear primacy…..aimed at destroying the enemy’s nuclear forces before they can be launched…..a first strike strategy.’

‘In 1983…scientists discovered that in a nuclear war with firestorms in 100 cities, the effect would be a drop in an average global temperature by … up to “several tens of degrees” Celsius …. which would mean all harvests on Earth would end. This would destroy nearly all vegetative life, so that the direct nuclear effects in the northern hemisphere would be accompanied by the death of almost everyone in the southern hemisphere as well. Only a few people would survive on the planet.’

For progressive activists within the NATO countries, subject daily to a frenzied pro-war propaganda from their ruling classes, Foster’s analysis is a vital corrective. As he explains towards the end of his article:

‘…it’s important to understand the two prongs of the U.S./NATO imperial grand strategy in order to understand why the Kremlin considers itself threatened, and why it acted as it did, and why this proxy war is so dangerous for the world as a whole.’

Compared to the superficial confusions which exist in major part of the Global North John Bellamy Foster’s article outlines the real situation from the headline onwards ‘The US proxy war in Ukraine’. It is recommended for everyone to read in the strongest possible terms.

The full article ‘The US proxy war in Ukraine’ by John Bellamy Foster, can be read here on Monthly Review.