US Militarism Is a Cause of Tension in Eastern Europe, Not a Solution

The rising tensions between Ukraine, Russia, the United States and other NATO countries — and the resulting discourse in U.S. media — show that American leaders love an international crisis.

In a crisis, the American public is often discouraged from asking questions — and when they do, militarism is usually the answer.

Despite the fact that Volodymyr Zelensky is the Ukrainian president, he discourages panicking downplays the idea that a Russian invasion is imminent, American officials are portraying armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine as inevitable — and U.S. military support of Ukraine as necessary.

“What’s the alternative?” asked retired Brigadier General and former Defense Attaché to Moscow Peter Zwack in an interviewOn NPR. “Do we just let them get invaded, or do we make the cost so high on the ground-level military — but also the diplomatic and the economic?”

The choice being put forward is between military action or inaction; to opt for “inaction” is presented as an abandonment of Ukraine. Zwack’s prescription is “lethal weapons” — specifically Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

And the U.S. keeps delivering. In less than a week, the U.S. had made a significant contribution to the world’s economy. four shipments of weapons to Ukraine — a move that has U.S. arms manufacturers anticipatingTheir shareholders enjoy record profits

The American officials are using a familiar crisis story in Ukraine: An underdog is facing an authoritarian regime. Therefore, the United States must respond militarily.

In interview On NPR, Republican Representative and Chair of Congress’s Ukraine Caucus Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania offered a historical analogy often invoked by American officials to justify military action.

“When we defended Kuwait in Operation Desert Shield,” Fitzpatrick said, “we sent a message to the world that you cannot violate the territorial integrity of an independent nation. Ukraine should not be treated any differently. We have to send a very strong and unequivocal message to Vladimir Putin, which would also be a message to Xi Jinping, to Kim Jong Un and other bad actors around the world that this is not OK to do.”

Fitzpatrick’s interviewer didn’t question his response. But his example of U.S. military action in Iraq in 1991 shows exactly why it’s critical to question the narrative being pushed by U.S. media, especially during times of crisis.

In Fitzpatrick’s account of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. appears to be a bystander responding to Iraqi actions. But his story conveniently omits the fact that just prior to its invasion of Kuwait, Iraq counted the U.S. as an ally — one that supplied it with weapons during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. It also overlooks the fact that Desert Shield is not the end of the story.

The U.S. quickly shifted its supposed defense of Kuwait into its own invasion — Operation Desert Storm — of Iraq. The U.S. killed approximately 100,000 Iraqis in that attack and decimated the country. The U.S. then imposed severe economic sanctions on Iraq. These were responsible for the deaths and injuries of another million Iraqis. It accompanied its policy with air patrols of Iraq and bombed it intermittently over the next ten-year. The U.S. invaded Iraq again in 2003 and occupied the country. maintainsThere are approximately 2,500 troops there today.

It is not fair to pick and choose from past examples of U.S. interventions. This also leaves out vital contexts that do not tell the whole story. These stories obscure ongoing, long-running military operations and other policy that make the world even more dangerous and who have no end in sight.

There are moments when officials reveal details that may unintentionally reveal that the U.S. involvement is far more complicated that they have been recognizing.

With 8,500 U.S. troops readied for deployment, a journalist asked during a White House press conference if sending forces to the countries that NATO counts as its “Eastern Flank” might escalate the situation rather than calm it. “We’ve had troops in the Eastern Flank countries for decades,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied.

The U.S. has a huge, nuclear armed military presence in Europe — in the years leading up to the current crisis, it has spent millions of dollars arming Ukraine in particular.

Since the 2014 conflict in Ukraine, in which Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, the U.S. has sent hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Ukraine — in 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020 — including its celebrated Javelin missiles.

Psaki’s admission begs some follow-up questions: If U.S. troops and weapons have already been in Ukraine for years — and in Europe for decades — but their presence has not deterred Russia from mobilizing troops to the Ukrainian border, why does the Pentagon think that more weapons and troops will do so now? Could it be that the U.S. militarism in Eastern Europe is contributing to rising tensions, rather than being a solution?

It would be wrong for us to minimize the damage that a Russian invasion could cause in Ukraine. U.S. actions tend to increase tensions, rather than reducing them. While they may speak of Ukrainian sovereignty it is clear that U.S. officials have their primary concern with Russian military aggression, which they consider to be a threat to a world order that the U.S. oversees. Representative Fitzpatrick made it clear that they also want to send a message out to China and other countries they consider hostile.

Ultimately, increased U.S. militarism in Eastern Europe — as history has repeatedly made clear — will only make the situation worse.