Who Dares Apply Anti-Interventionist Analysis to Russia?

What questions would we be posing if "special operation" was waged by the US?

What about for “demilitarization”?

As early internet coincided with the “Global War on Terror” it so happened that one of its best parts was the breadth of writings shining a critical light on America’s wars of empire. Progressives, libertarians, and conservatives alike contributed common sense critiques of these costly wars of choice from a broadly anti-interventionist standpoint.

When these anti-interventionists took a look at the wars of Bush and Obama they did not raise the flag of Mullah Omar, Sadam Hussein, or Abu Musa al-Zarqawi. Their argument wasn’t that the other side was the side of good and ought to win. There was no sense in which the likes of Alexander Cockburn, Justin Raimondo, or Pat Buchanan were Islamists or anti-Americans.

On the contrary, their argument was often that the wars were bad for America and its interests. They often spelled out a reality where the anti-interventionists were the true patriots, and where the War Party had harmed America more than its enemies ever could, all the while making these enemies stronger and more of a threat.

By and large, they did not do so by breathing fire but by posing the most pedestrian questions. A favorite approach was to take the declared goals of the intervention at face value but ask rudimentary questions such as: How do these means get us those ends? Once we start this, what is the exit strategy, how do we get out? Will the enemy get a vote on that? What about blowback? What about the human cost?

It did not speak to the strength of the pro-war position that warmongers felt threatened by such elementary questions and would respond with ad hominems before falling back on talking points.

What I learned reading this stuff for many years wasn’t that specifically America’s wars are bad. What I learned was more broadly the folly of interventionism and the wisdom of staying clear of it. There is no mess so bad that it cannot be made worse by adding in politicians and bombs. Non-interventionism requires making a level of peace with an unappealing and imperfect reality. But frequently interventionism means paying the cost of intervention and then having to make peace with an even poxier reality.

For all its interventionism the US ended up with a stronger and more legitimate Taliban than ever, an Iran-friendly Iraq where Tehran has a strong proxy presence, and Somalia ruled by its erstwhile Islamic Courts Union enemies but now recipients of American support against the even more radical Al-Shabaab. Not the greatest of scoreboards. These wars were not just crimes, they were blunders.

With the non-mainstream media so well-versed in non-interventionist arguments, I thought respect for the general wisdom of non-interventionism was our thing here in the alternative space. Perhaps, I was wrong. Because now that Russia has given the interventionism roulette a spin I don’t see anyone examining the wisdom of this Russian war for Russia in the same way.

To be fair, the bigger part of alt-media simply doesn’t ever cover Russia so it’s not really their job to do so. But there are plenty of us who do cover Russia and who were die-hard anti-interventionists when it came to America’s wars. But if this is the lens through which we see the world why stop its use when the gaze falls upon Russia? Are the wisdom and boon of non-interventionism fit only for the United States but not for Russia?

Is non-interventionism good for America but not for Russia? Perhaps that is so. And perhaps this war will yet conclude as a success that left Russia better off. Perhaps. But if no one is willing to explore also the negative aspects of the intervention then how can we possibly ever have an answer? Surely that requires weighing any positive results as well as any negative ones at the same time.

I have seen some critiques of Russia’s escalation by people who enthusiastically backed every American war. These are hypocrites of the highest order. But are we the mirror images of them? Is that who we are now? Are we to roll out anti-interventionism for the US, then turn around and unquestioningly build monuments to Kremlin’s adventures as solid 5D gold?

Or is it the case that as the Empire can overreach and shoot itself in the foot, so can the much smaller Russia? If anything it sounds like its margin for error is much smaller. It is less well-positioned to absorb the consequences of error to begin with. But then also has to contend with powerful enemies standing at the ready to pounce on any of its mistakes. In such a situation anything but the best-conceived intervention threatens to backfire spectacularly.

The full anti-interventionist examination will have to wait for another time. But for this introductory installment let us briefly look at Kremlin’s stated goals, and ask ourselves if war is a means that can deliver such ends?

The Kremlin has declared it seeks a demilitarized Ukraine. So to “demilitarize” a state you involve it in a major conventional war? How exactly does that work?

Another declared goal is “denazification”. Well now that Russia has gone out of its way to advertise that Nazis participated in the defense of the Ukrainian state and bore sacrifices to do so is their future status in Ukraine supposed to drop? How?

Putin complained that Ukraine was too anti-Russian, but now the only war Ukrainians will have ever fought as Ukrainians will be against Russia. How is that supposed to help things?

Moscow complained that Ukraine had too many ties to NATO — well the escalation of February 24 has opened the floodgates on that. Ukrainian-NATO cooperation has shot up by orders of magnitude.

You could say that in all of these aspects Ukraine was already trending in a negative direction anyway, but what is gained by supercharging the drift?

The Kremlin’s justification for war revolved around what Ukraine had become. But in terms of changing what Ukraine is, the war has backfired spectacularly. On those terms, the war is an astounding failure. Sure enough, Russia will inflict a defeat on Ukraine. But does inflicting defeat on the other side means that you yourself have won? I don’t think so. I think winning a war entails improving the situation you complained about. If you set for yourself war goals that can not be attained by war then you are setting yourself up for defeat regardless of how the fighting goes.

End of Part I.

  1. test says

    odličan tekst! jedan od boljih vezano uz rat koje sam pročitao u zadnje vrijeme.

  2. SharMar says

    Don’t lose the plot. This is a war between Russia and a U.S. proxy army of neo-Nazis.

    1. Commenter says

      “This is a war between Russia and a U.S. proxy army of neo-Nazis” US didn’t create nazi sentiment in Ukraine, it’s a centuries long culture. US supports it but it’s stupid to they created it out of nothing. This is the same as muslims bawling that US created ISIS, as if sharia wasn’t creating jihadists way before US was a nation. Russia is aware of US support for Azov and still went into attack with a lot of talk and little planning.

    2. Arraya says

      The war on Nazi terror in the Putin thwarted Nazi 9/11 is very different because Nazis are scarier

      And remember not all Nazi’s wear swastikas. It’s kind of like Antifa…. Just an idea

      So who is the Nazi expert that can tell if Ukrainian Nazism is like sufficiently low enough. To declare denazification has been complete?


    3. Arraya says

      The Biden-Soros Jewish controlled Nazi’s with secret but not secret biolabs must be defeated.

      Clown world intensifies

      Reacting to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments that Hitler had Jewish origins and accusing Jews of antisemitism, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said:

      “I join Israeli Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid in deploring Foreign Minister Lavrov’s unfortunate comments as being beyond any legitimate and permissible rhetoric. Comparing any Jew, let alone Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, to Hitler is beyond the pale, and accusing Jews of antisemitism feeds into the agendas of the worst antisemites and neo-Nazis. I call on Foreign Minister Lavrov to publicly retract these comments to avoid pouring further gasoline on an already surging global antisemitic fire.”

      In an interview with an Italian news channel, Foreign Minister Lavrov referred to the fact that Ukraine’s president is Jewish and said: “In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything. For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest antisemites were Jewish.”

  3. Traveller says

    Most USA (and UK) wars were in essence colonial wars, with ultimate goal of stealing resources. Most Russian wars were in essence self-defence wars(Georgia, Chechenia) or pre-emptive defensive wars(Ukraine).
    Therefore, results are different. as well as reaction of peoples in attacked countries.
    Americans are hated and despised for being basically armed robbers on national level, while results of Russians interventions so far are quite interesting (Chechens are now ferociously fighting for Russia in Ukraine, Georgians don’t want to introduce sanctions to RF).

    Russian goals in Ukraine (as stated by themselves) are demilitarision and denazification. Demilitarizion is underway, as Ukrainian army is getting destroyed daily, and soon will cease to exist as coherent force. Therefore, no military equals e-militarization..:)
    Denazification will start when hostilities are over, and will take some time(probably a decade or so), and will involve passing anti-nazi laws, reforming school system, banning nazi parties in Rada, etc.

    To call denazification a failure at this stage, while war is still underway, just shows that anti-empire does not get it.

  4. YakovKedmi says

    >>>> “they did not raise the flag of Mullah Omar, Sadam Hussein”

    The excuses used by the Bush family for going to war against the people of Iraq were as sound, genuine, &c as the excuses used by the Putin crew for attacking the people of Ukraine. (the Ukrainian national socialists will be demilitarized when Putin takes from them the weapons of mass destruction Mr. Hussien left with them for safe-keeping)

    If you compare Zelensky to Hussein, that would make Zelensky a good guy. Putin and the siloviki enforcers are as beneficial to the peoples of Russia as the Bush Family is for the residents of the United States. One of the reasons the Bush family attacked the people of Iraq was to make sure that oil from Iraq doesn’t get to the market and ruin the price. One of the reasons Russia is attacking the people of Ukraine is to make sure that Ukrainian natural gas doesn’t get to the market and ruin the price.

    1. Traveller says

      Actually, Ukraine imports one third of their gas from Russia, as they don’t have enough of their own, so that was definitely not the reason for attacking them…:)))

      1. Drapetomaniac says

        And they imported almost all of their Gassholes from the West.

  5. Drapetomaniac says

    The 2014 coup in Ukraine??

    Can’t imagine what these chatterboxes would say if Russia were able to subvert Florida or Texas.

  6. Kevin Barsi says

    This is what we call a “whataboutism” marko

  7. Ilya G Poimandres says

    Not all wars are created equal, and Russia has a much better claim to anticipatory self defense than the US ever had for Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I’m for this war ending as soon and as peacefully as possible, but this requires Ukraine to surrender, which their drugged up leadership is absolutely against.

  8. Oscar Peterson says

    So what course of action should Putin have taken?

    Your argument is on the practical grounds that the Russian military operation has exacerbated the problem of Ukraine being drawn into NATO by the back door that it was initiated to correct. So, you imply, he should not have done it.

    If we accept that judgment as true, we are still left to wonder what more efficacious plan Putin could and should have carried out. Obviously, the execution of the operation could have been much better and not tied to wishful thinking about the Ukrainian response based (perhaps) on bad intelligence about what the AFU would do. But that’s not a different course of action, just better execution of this one.

    Either Putin had to accept the overthrow of Yanukovich and the ensuing gradual NATOization of Ukraine, with all the potential strategic threats to Russia that that entailed, or he had to take action against them.

    What options other than some better-executed variant of what he did do were there?

    An answer to that question is what is missing in this piece.

    1. YakovKedmi says

      Your premise is that, like the Bush family, V.V. Putin had to take action because, like the Bush family, he was facing an existential threat, a fourth largest army with weapons of mass-destruction, only minutes away from taking over half og the planet.

      None of you provided any support for this premise.

      Perhaps the Bush family were facing a threat (the people of the U.S. weren’t); perhaps the Putin crew were facing an existential threat (the citizens of Russia weren’t —not from Ukraine; McDonald is more threat to them than NATO; the lack of children is more threat to Slav future than anyone).

      Even if Ukraine became a full-fledged member of NATO, what additional threat would that have been ? (not a good support for false premise) Russia cannot occupy the whole Ukraine, so a de facto NATO country will be just across the river (if Russia is able to take the left bank). If Russia could have counquered the whole of Ukraine, they would have been at the border with NATO Poland —a people who like Russians less than Ukrainians. (not good foundation for false premise)

      >>>> “what course of action should Putin”
      First we would have to know what he and the siloviki enforcers were trying to achieve. (could it be that their goals were similar to the Bush family’s goal ?)

      1. Oscar Peterson says

        “Your premise is that, like the Bush family, V.V. Putin had to take action because, like the Bush family, he was facing an existential threat, a fourth largest army with weapons of mass-destruction, only minutes away from taking over half of the planet.”

        No, I did not assume he HAD to take action. I acknowledged that he had a choice:

        “Either Putin had to accept the overthrow of Yanukovich and the ensuing gradual NATOization of Ukraine, with all the potential strategic threats to Russia that that entailed, or he had to take action against them.”

        My premise was that Russia would suffer a strategic defeat if it did nothing.

        I did not use the term “existential threat,” whose actual parameters are hard to establish. I said that it Russia would face strategic damage if it did nothing.

        I see little similarity with either of the Bushes. Bush Sr. crushed Saddam’s foolish attack on Kuwait. And aside from the lingering question of whether Saddam was somehow lured into it, I don’t find it controversial.

        Bush Jr. undertook a war on transparently false premises–WMD, Saddam-AQ link–on a country on the other side of the world that posed no threat to the US and managed by that war to unleash AQ and later IS in the Fertile Crescent where it had been prevented from operating.

        With regard to Ukraine, the escalation would not have started in the absence of the 2014 coup against the democratically elected Yanukovich and then the arming, training and reorganizing of the UFA by NATO–that is, NATO by the back door.

        If NATO is so inoffensive, why were we so eager to install it in Ukraine? Did Ukraine need NATO? Was there any consensus in 2013 to join NATO? No and no.

        But the coup and the strategic uncertainty it posed for Russia drove an escalation which led to Russian annexation of Crimea and covert support to LPR/DPR, which in turn shifted Ukrainian opinion against Russia and allowed NATO to get its foot in the door. Ultimately, that sequence of events produced what has happened in 2022. Without the coup and the NATO scheming since then, there would have been no Russian invasion. And since the US was the motive force behind all NATO actions, the fundamental responsibility lies in Washington.

        Why do you think the US was so eager to get NATO into Ukraine?

        As to the nature of the threat that NATOized Ukraine would pose to Russia, it’s uncertain. That’s the nature of strategic decision-making. Yes, NATO is weak and flabby on one level, but clearly it can be used aggressively. And who can predict what the world will be like 10 or 20 years down the road? There is no way to anticipate what weapons systems would have ended up in NATOized Ukraine. After all, the US has used ABM systems to establish a potential threat to the Russian nuclear deterrent under the laughable guise of protecting Europe from Iran’s non-existent nukes.

        So I guess your preferred Russian course of action was for Putin to accept Ukraine in NATO–formally or informally–and assume that the strategic consequences would be negligible.

        Well, that’s an approach–but not one that I would take.

        1. Arraya says

          My premise was that Russia would suffer a strategic defeat if it did nothing.”

          I fully I admit, I am a conspiracy spreading lunatic who thinks 9/11 was an inside job and the WMD thing was nonsense or at the very least like a technical reason, if they didn’t have the emotional pretext which caused Bush’s approval rating to remain in the 80s for 6 -8 months I highly doubt it would have happened Coming to find my political identity or art least trying on different hats has been quite a journey.

          Becoming disillusioned each group, form a Ron Paul libertarian to a full blown anti capitalist with all the lingo rhetoric that went along with it. Until I became disillusioned with the most of the left. At least I had the anti imperialist left who didn’t seem to go completely insane. Then covid came I distanced myself from them, caught some blatantly lying and the likes of Chomsky saying the unvaccinated should be round up, I was over them.

          If I apply the same skepticism to the Bush era war on terror charade and the Trump era everybody is a nazi charade to Russia, then I would say, the brilliant idea to paint a swastika feels a little psyop-y. Like hey lets terrorize the Russian population to ‘get putin’ ummmm does that make any sense from a strategic standpoint. Like hey here is your emotional justification to thwart the 9/11.

          “Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because “Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia”

          That was said in 97. When the DC’s consensus was at least verbally no NATO no way. Perhaps they were lying. But Ukrainian separatism has been an issue for a long time. It’s a complicated history that leads to interesting questions about ethnicity and nation states.

          So as to your strategic lose premise. What exactly would that look like?

          Lost Ukraine forever? Was the NATONAZIS going to regime change Russia when they failed with Assad.

          Frankly it appears to me that he was begged to invade. And he did what the shadowy puppet masters required of him.

          At this point it don’t matter. A New World Order is coming fast, the inertia to great.

          But forgive me for not ‘supporting the troops’ .

          was very vocal for many years. I still think 9/11 was helped along with against within the bush admin complicity

    2. YakovKedmi says

      At least you are consistent. You had/have no objection to America’s attacking the people of Iraq for the sake of the Bush family, and waring against them for 25 years. There are many lynch-goons on youtube who happily serviced (for money) the Bush family in killing Iraqies, but somehow now are indignant over V.V. Putin’s doing to the people of Ukraine what the Bush family had done to the people of Iraq since 1991.

      1. Traveller says

        But? But? Yakov, your original position is that Bush and his siloviki enforcers has attacked Iraq to keep the oil price down, and that Putin has attacked Ukraine to prevent them exporting cheap gas.
        After being educated in gas dynamics facts, and that Ukraine actually import gas from Russia, you are switchng to some ‘existential threats’.
        Try to be consistent in your theories.

  9. GMC says

    The more ” Aid” that flows in, the longer Russia will stay and eventually take most of Ukraine. Although no war will break the fact that the dollar and euro can be printed at will, with no legitimate backing whatsoever, it doesn’t mean the domestic part of the West will be able to survive the massive problems their leaders have dealt them.

    How long can Russia continue the war in Ukraine ? Until every Ukie/Nazi soldier is hunted down, run out across the borders, surrenders, KIAd, neutered, etc. etc. etc. – the Bear is still on a long leash but can be set Free to roam, at any time. This may happen if Nato doesn’t back off and actually – I hope the Bear is let lose and bloodies some Nato noses.

  10. Nomon says

    The purpose of the war is destruction. Carnage and chaos, so that a new and even worse world order can shudder out of the ashes. The mass of humanity does not want that dystopean future, so on both sides the ordinary people are fed superficial lies to stupify them into acquiescence.

    Why do both sides champion medical tyrrany, the WHO, and clotshots? Central bank digital currencies? Ever stronger international governance? Ever greater censorship? Smart cities? Climate change lies?

    Both sides are really one. An elite club of puppet rulers, led by bankers. Mankind is their true enemy. They fight this war against all of us.

    1. Traveller says

      Unfortunately,that seem to be the case. Khazarian mafia is ruling both sides, at leaast it looks like that now. Clotshot is giveaway sign.

  11. SteveK9 says

    I don’t think it makes sense to talk about failing to reverse the tide of anti-Russianism in Ukraine at this point. This will be the work of decades in the territories that are absorbed by Russia. Which soldiers seem the most fiercely loyal to Russia and Putin in the conflict? … the Chechens! Would you have predicted that 20 years ago? Propaganda works … anti-Russia propaganda and pro-Russia propaganda. It doesn’t work in a couple of months in the middle of a conflict that will decide who rules what.

  12. qqtf says

    The Kremlin’s justification for war revolved around what Ukraine had become. But in terms of changing what Ukraine is, the war has backfired spectacularly. On those terms, the war is an astounding failure. Sure enough, Russia will inflict a defeat on Ukraine. But does inflicting defeat on the other side means that you yourself have won? I don’t think so. I think winning a war entails improving the situation you complained about. If you set for yourself war goals that can not be attained by war then you are setting yourself up for defeat regardless of how the fighting goes.

    This is totally correct. The only way to achieve militarily it’s objectives posed on the outset would be to physically take control of all of Ukranian borders, except for those with Biellarus. At this moment, that seems to be unachievable and insane.
    Unfortunately, making a decision to invade, does not really provide proof of sanity .

  13. qqtf says

    You can not logically explain why certain states must preserve for themselves the right, that if attacked, they are allowed to destroy the whole of human civilization. Other states on the other hand, should not have this right.

    That some states can claim spheres of influence, while others can not or need to undergo them. Of course, you can’t.

    From that viewpoint, it really doesn’t matter who invades who or why.

    Of course, the world isn’t logic (or “fair”), nor does it strive to be, would be a valid counter. One needs to look at the world from reality and suddenly notions as geo-strategic defense etc become important. And provide a context, a narrative. And within that artificial mental framework, they can provide a reasoning and justification, as long as you’re willing to step into it and ignore the rational inconsistencies. And before you know it, you’re frantically trying to decide which war is just and which isn’t.

    In my state we have a self-defence law, with very specific conditions that need to be met. And even if it’s ruled that there is no doubt those were met fully, the charged is still convicted to be a murderer. But he/she will not receive a penalty.
    I agree with this fully.
    Murder is murder, war is war.
    Trying justifying it is meaningless.

  14. John says

    Russia’s special military operation IS anti-interventionist, it opposes US intervention in Ukraine, it will liberate Ukraine from its US puppet regime.

  15. Curmudgeon says

    I think this analysis is too simplistic. Yes, the US announced coup d’etat was a major factor in creating the mess, but it is just one of a series of events over hundreds of years that have led to this. Resentment of Russians by “Ukrainians” goes back to Catherine the Great, at least. In the 19th century Taras Shevchenko and others created a quasi myth of “Ukraine”, which had, for about 800 years been part of some other country or empire, and had been inhabited by many tribes some not even Slavic. Galicia, Ruthenia, and other small parts of “Ukraine” were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the Treaty of Versailles handed them over to the USSR. Many people fled at the risk of being shot. Long ago, I met older people from the region, who identified as Austrian interchangeably with Ukrainian. Others identified only as Ukrainian, and there were also many Mennonites, with several sects. Lenin added the Black Sea regions to “Ukraine”. Stalin’s brutal campaign against the kulaks resulted in millions of Ukrainians dying of starvation in the 1930s.
    When Germany conducted Operation Barbarosa, why do people find it hard to believe that the people who had previously lived under the Austro-Hungarian Empire and seen millions of their family friends and neighbours starved to death, would be prepared to volunteer to fight with the Germans to rid themselves of their oppressors? There were over 500,000 volunteers from across Europe and North Africa making up the Waffen SS. Where numbers warranted a “national” battalion (sometimes 2) were formed. As per the Treaty of Westphalia, which required combatants to be uniformed, they were given uniforms, badges and insignias. The Germans weren’t conducting blood tests or exams to determine whether these people were “Nazis”. The “hero” Bandera, who was caught up in the Shevchenko myth, never claimed to be a Nazi, and the Nazis never said he was. There is no question the Waffen SS were anti-communist, and as with the Ukrainians some had a large anti-Russian grudge. Some escaped before the Soviets eventually won, and many were executed after. Crimea was handed over to Ukraine for administrative purposes in 1954 to placate “Ukraine” and had always been semi-autonomous. The so-called “Nazis” in Ukraine were/are wholly into the banker run EU, IMF, and their pit bull NATO. They support a Russian speaking Jewish President run by Jewish oligarchs. The only thing they have in common with the Ukrainians in the Waffen SS is that they hate Russians. As an aside, the “Nazi” narrative pushed by the Russians serves to protect the lie of the “Great Patriotic War” where poor, innocent, helpless Russia was attacked by the “eeevvviiilll Naht-zees” for no reason whatsoever, conveniently ignoring their assembly of the largest invasion in history.
    As for “Putin’s” intervention, For over 20 years, Russia has been calling on the US and NATO to live up to their promises, made at the time the USSR withdrew from Germany and elsewhere 30 years ago, of not expanding NATO. When regions in Eastern Ukraine rejected the coup and voted to secede, The Russians brokered Minsk to keep the regions in Ukraine. Ukraine along with guarantors France and Germany, refused to implement Minsk. For 8 years, NATO trained Ukrainian troops have been killing civilians in the Donbass while preparing for an all out assault. When Luhansk and Donetsk declared independence and asked for assistance, Russia recognized them as sovereign states and provided that assistance. No sovereign state has asked for the US to intervene. The US built a massive base in, and recognizes, Kosovo, even though there was no invitation from Serbia/Yugoslavia to be there in the first place, and no referendum.

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