Tax Putin, But No U.S. Overreach
I want to comment on an interesting piece in CounterPunch from long-time peacenik and foreign policy maven Richard Falk. I trust Falk on the reality of Ukrainian oppression of its Russian-speaking minority. But it is this minority in the East that seems to be the chief victim of the Russian invasion, as the destruction of their cities proceeds apace, so how is that relevant? It should be clear that their well-being is not a factor in Putin's considerations, except as a transparent political pretext for his aggression -- the same sort of nonsense peddled by every imperialist aggressive power throughout history, including the U.S.A.
I also believe Falk on the risks of any direct NATO-Russia military confrontations.
As to the propaganda war, his claim of support for Russia in the Global South does not impress me. These are hardly democratic nations. At the very least, they are far less democratic than the U.S. or the EU. (That might change after 2024.) Understanding this resistance as any type of anti-U.S. imperialism seems like a huge stretch.
The case for diplomacy is incontrovertible. The issue is how to get there. My view is that the better Ukraine is able to resist Russia, the more readily Putin will consent to meaningful negotiations. That means supplying Ukraine with all the aid, including the lethal variety, that is possible and prudent. Cut off that aid, and Russia rolls deeper into Ukraine in pursuit of its immediate objective of a corridor from the East to Transnistria.
I do like the Alfred McCoy idea of the EU slapping a 20 percent tax on Russian gas sales. It would do Russia no good to have that gas sit in the ground while its enormous investment in pipeline infrastructure goes to waste. Time is money. Russia cannot simply sell gas anywhere it likes. It lacks the infrastructure to liquify the gas, and its pipelines all run to the EU.
Rather than bloviate about the endless aggression of NATO, a better target for the Left is the emerging idea from the Biden Administration that this war presents the U.S. with a “strategic opportunity,” much like the views of Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy guru Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1980 regarding the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
The blowback from support for the Islamic reactionaries in Afghanistan proved to be 9-11, and later on Isis and the carnage in Syria. There is no limit to the damage from foreign policy overreach. One nation’s strategic opportunity is ruination for others.