In Aaron Maté, NATO, Roger Annis, Russia, Ukraine, USA


By Roger Annis,

Published on A Socialist in Canada, June 12, 2022:

Aaron Maté’s informative new essay describes responses in the U.S. Democratic Party to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. It is an essential read. But it is marred by his use of the term ‘catastrophic’ to describe the Russian intervention and by his unexplained claim that Russia has failed to provide sufficient justification for it.

U.S./Canadian writer Aaron Maté has published a commentary on his Substack media outlet hitting out against pro-war liberals in the U.S. who support the NATO countries’ supply of weaponry to the extreme-wing governing regime in Kyiv. His commentary is titled ‘On Ukraine, ‘progressive’ proxy warriors in U.S. spell disaster’ and it appeared on June 7.

His introduction reads, “Urging leftists to support the Ukraine proxy war, Bernie Sanders aide Matt Duss whitewashes the US. role, attacks dissenting voices, and advocates the dangerous militarism that he claims to oppose.” The commentary is hard-hitting and essential reading for understanding how the events in Ukraine are playing out in the Democratic Party and more broadly in the United States. But in it, Maté restates his opposition to what he calls Russia’s “catastrophic” political/military intervention in Ukraine. Strong word, ‘catastrophic’, yet Maté offers no explanation to justify its use.

As of June 10, 2022, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports a total of 4,339 civilians killed and 5,246 civilians injured in Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s military operation. These are tragic numbers, but are only slightly higher than the number of civilians killed by the war of the Kyiv regime and NATO against the people of Donbas from 2014 to 2021, approximately 3,500. Military deaths during that time were more than 10,000; the comparative figure in the current intervention is largely unknown but is no doubt higher, especially on the Ukraine side.

What made the Donbas war by Kyiv and NATO truly catastrophic was that it was a war without end. In 2021 and early 2022, Kyiv and NATO were preparing a military offensive aiming to depopulate the entire Donbas region.

The Russian intervention, on the other hand, began with clearly defined goalsthat were conveyed for months to NATO and to the world by the Russian government. The goal was and remains a lasting political settlement that would put an end to NATO threats, provocations and attacks against Russia–using Ukraine as proxy–and bring about a lasting peace in Ukraine-Russia relations.

As to whether the Russian intervention can be termed ‘catastrophic’, that should be examined by comparing to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. That caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries and forced displacements by the year 2006 (Wikipedia). What words, then, to describe that? Maté’s use of the term ‘catastrophic’ to describe the Russia’s intervention in Ukraine thus devolves into a word game in place of objective, political and military analysis.

Maté writes further, “Russia has to meet a high burden of evidence [for its intervention in Ukraine] that, in my view, it has not.” What is that ‘high burden of evidence’? Is a war against the civilians of Donbas and a refusal to implement Minsk 2 agreement not enough evidence? That what about Ukraine’s sought-after membership in the aggressive, NATO military alliance? No explanation for this is offered anywhere in Maté’s writings.


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