A New Cold War Won’t Help the People of Ukraine or Anyone Else

The Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine has provoked strong reactions across the world, from empathetic solidarity with the Ukrainian people to crass anti-Russian bigotry. Looking to ride the wave of both sentiments is a domestic foreign policy establishment that is eager to restore the U.S.’s global standing and sense of historic purpose — and perhaps their own soiled reputations after two decades of a disastrous “global war on terror.”

“The post-9/11 war on terror period of American hubris, and decline, is now behind us,” declared the Obama administration’s former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. “We’ve been trying to get to a new era for a long time. And now I think Putin’s invasion has necessitated an American return to the moral high ground.”

For the veteran foreign correspondent George Packer, Vladimir Putin’s war should jolt Americans out of the melancholy “realism” of a declining superpower and remind us of “a truth we didn’t want to see: that our core interests lie in the defense of [democratic and liberal] values.”

Then there’s the former CIA Director as well as Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who revealed more than he intended when he declared that “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has ended Americans’ 30-year holiday from history.”

Only a Pentagon bureaucrat can so easily overlook the epochal developments of recent years: a Pandemic, an economic meltdown and an uprising of Black lives as well the acceleration in rising temperatures that threaten this era’s human civilization. Yes, you can picture Gates saying that this stuff is. Kind of Important, but a war on land in Eurasia? Now that’s Real history.

But there’s a common and depressing framework shared by Gates, Packer and even Rhodes, who once memorably described the Beltway foreign relations officialdom as “the Blob”Which the Obama administration tried to disrupt.

In recent years, the United States has had many opportunities under both Democratic and Republican administrations to lead the charge in defending liberal values and taking moral high ground on key issues such as vaccine access, migrant right, and renewable energy conversion. Yet these centrist Democrats only seem to envision U.S. global leadership in the 21st century being restored through a revived 20th-century Cold War with Russia — and probably China.

The U.S. might be particularly eager to regain its former position as a global power because of the fact that they are the ones who destroyed it. Gates, Packer and almost all other Washington insiders supported the 2003 Iraq War. It was another outrageously brazen invasion that rested upon. legal fictionsFalse delusions of instant success.

The failures of that war, along with the Afghanistan war and “counterterror activities” in 83 other countries, have drained the U.S. treasury of an astounding $8 trillion, mortally wounded Washington’s global credibility, and contributed to the rising authoritarianism at homeThat helped Donald Trump win his 2016 presidency. Now “the Blob” is saying we can undo America’s decline … through another endless war.

This sudden agreement that we are in is far from a break with the imperial mistakes of 20 years ago. new Cold War Echoes the Bush administration’s post-9/11 talk about a “generational conflict” that would last decades and extend the fight against “terrorism” into countries across the globe.

Foreign policy elites don’t think primarily about the immediate needs for the Ukrainian people, unlike ordinary people around world. If they were, the U.S. could do more. aid peace talksCancel Ukraine’s onerous debt repaymentsStop the global banks denial of entry to Ukrainian refugeesAt the U.S. Border.

Instead, the primary form U.S. assistance has always been an “unprecedented” flow of weaponryThe country. That’s because the Blob is looking to make Ukraine a costly and bloody battlefield for its Russian invaders.

Hillary Clinton was typically clumsy She cited U.S. assistance to Afghan militants fighting Russia during the 1980s as an example of what to do in Ukraine now. While most American officials are savvy enough to avoid repeating the actions that led to al-Qaeda’s formation and the September 11 attacks in 2001, Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic points out that many U.S. officials share Clinton’s interest in turning Ukraine into a Russian quagmire.

The Biden administration has so far ruled out the possibility of imposing a tax. no-fly zoneThis could lead (despite the protestations from an alarmingly hawkish) to a nuclear- and potentially catastrophic U.S.–Russia war White House press corps). But we should be clear that Washington regards Ukrainians as a propaganda tool for restoring the U.S.’s reputation, rather than 40 million people whose lives will be further devastated if their country becomes the site of a protracted war.

To be clear, the surge of enthusiasm for confronting Russia is being driven by the Putin government’s belligerent actions, which have already caused thousands of deaths, created 3 million refugees, and unraveled what were already frayed relations among the U.S., Russia, China and Western Europe.

People around the globe should resist the invasion of Ukraine and show solidarity with Ukraine. This is not through a Cold War, but rather by echoing the demands from. Ukrainian and global activists to welcome refugees, abolish Ukraine’s debt, revive global disarmament talks and negotiate an immediate end to the war.

For anyone concerned that these measures don’t do enough to punish Vladimir Putin, there is an obvious and globally beneficial strategy for countering an autocratic government whose economy rests on oil exports. If wealthy governments had spent the last decade converting their economies to renewable energy sources, writes Naomi Klein, “Putin would not be able to flout international law and opinion as he has been doing so flagrantly, secure in the belief that he will still have customers for his increasingly profitable hydrocarbons.”

Instead, the Biden administration aims to counter Russian fossil fuel loss by increasing global domesticOil production. U.S. politics is like Russia. It has been taken over by oil companies and other oligarchs. Our democracy is so damaged that it is impossible to regain control. West Virginia coal baron has held his entire party’s program hostage for the past year.

The U.S. has been moving in a slow motion (OK, maybe a little faster during Trump years) towards the same trends of autocracy and oligarchy as those that more severely affect Russia. Liberal foreign policy hawks like George Packer and Ben Rhodes see these trends and think they can be reversed through a new generational conflict that revives the country’s national spirit.

That sounds a bit like an American version of Putin’s logic, which only shows how much both countries were commonly shaped (and misshaped) by 50 years of the original Cold War. As the deadline for decisive climate action gets closer, the world can’t afford to waste another half-century on a new one.