Oaklandsocialist publishes this article by Pete Glosser. Its perspective is not very optimistic as far as the war in Ukraine. However, while we support the defeat of the Russian invasion, we have to be clear as to what is happening, positive or negative. The article also links the outcome of the war with events concerning world perspectives – a valuable and necessary approach.
By Pete Glosser
Reported as early as last week by NPR and other sources as a fait accompli, the Russian victory in the key port city of Mariupol continued to be shrouded in doubt by other “Western” media as late as Saturday. The Washington Post carried a story under the headline “Russia tries to rebound in Ukraine as prospects for victory fade,” which contained the following triumphant words:
”The Russian military, mired in a war with no end in sight, is attempting to resuscitate its sputtering offensive in Ukraine, firing commanders, splitting combat units into smaller formations, and redoubling its reliance on artillery and other long-range weapons.
“The shift comes nearly three months after Russian and American officials alike predicted a quick and decisive victory for Moscow. After the deaths of thousands of Russian soldiers and an avalanche of failures since the invasion began Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin has narrowed his objectives in a campaign viewed as unsustainable, unrealistic — and probably unwinnable.
‘That assessment is shared by an array of observers, including Western intelligence officials and independent analysts who have tracked the war closely. ‘Russia,’ said Mikk Marran, director general of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, ‘is losing in Ukraine militarily, politically, and morally.’”
Le Monde for May 22 has a story alleging that pockets of resistance still remain in Mariupol, even as Zelensky announces an end to the fighting there and speaks of diplomacy as the way out of the conflict.
But more than a month ago, Foreign Policy carried the following assessment of what a Russian win in Mariupol would mean—a clearcut tactical victory for Russia:
”Seizing full control of Mariupol would have profound implications for Russia’s war effort and broader strategic goals. The U.S. Defense Department estimates it would free up an estimated 12 battalion tactical groups, roughly 8,000 or more troops, but they may not be battle ready. ‘If they’ve been there for weeks, I don’t anticipate that they’re going to be in great condition to turn around and take part in a new offensive,’ Hodges said.
“As Moscow has struggled with high rates of attrition and low morale, these forces could be redeployed as part of the anticipated escalation of fighting in the Donbas.”
Mariupol would also give Moscow a strategic foothold on the Sea of Azov from which to push north in a bid to link up with Russian forces coming down from Kharkiv. ‘They have to get through Mariupol in order to go north,’ said Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist with the Rand Corporation. It would also allow Moscow to link up two of its main axes of attack: from Crimea and the Donbas.”
Moscow now clearly seems to have Mariupol secured despite the doubts being sown in the media. The only question is the extent of the damage inflicted by the siege and Ukrainian resistance on Russia’s apparently already severely degraded military capacity.
Zelensky, while vowing to fight on, has acknowledged a defeat by asking for renewed negotiations and then having to insist that no territory would be given up.
Direction of NATO Allies
Time is not on the side of Ukraine. Holland has already declared an end to supplying howitzers to Ukrainian forces, and it seems likely that other more or less fair-weather friends will follow suit. While the US Congress has finally approved a $40Bn miliary aid package for Ukraine, it is very unlikely that a majority Republican Congress after the New Year will approve or enact anything the Biden administration requests or demands.
In the increasingly unlikely event that Ukraine wins a decisive military victory, the Republicans will take the credit, and if, as now appears likely, Ukraine effectively loses the war, Biden and rampant homosexuality, etc. in the US (except for the “joke” homoseuality of Madison Cawthorn) will be blamed. All of this may well be cat’s meat to the American electorate, who, in any case are presented with very little to believe in by the lifeless cartoon politics of the traditional Democratic/Republican duopoly.
In short, effective US and NATO support for Ukraine has a shelf life potentially as short as a few months for many reasons.
Russian and World Economy
Much has been made of the alleged collapse of the Russian economy under sanctions, but the Ukraine economy has also collapsed, and without the ability to sell its products abroad, Ukraine is on a very short plank if its “Western friends” too hit the political and economic skids that are very much in the picture at present.
It is very highly relevant that a new world recession may be on the horizon—another harbinger of political and economic collapse and chaos worldwide and certainly in the US. Republican victories in 2022 and 2024 would not signal more of the meaningless back-and-forth of duopoly politics as usual; the entire political and economic framework of the US is potentially on the block. Indeed a Democrat victory would be unlikely to do more than postpone the inevitable crisis—not much of a victory if no crack can be made in the suicide pact by which the forces of duopoly hold the US government and economy in thrall.
If Ukraine cannot pull off a decisive military victory before the New Year, they will be in much greater difficulties than at present.
Buffalo Shooter and Neo-Fascism
Here one has to interject a comment on neofascism. The Buffalo shooter clearly self-identified as a fascist and neo-nazi. For those whose world outlook is conditioned by the twin idiocies of individual psychologism and the eternal war of Good and Evil, that is all that is needed to say yes, fascism is the danger. But unless we understand a form of malignant and murderous rootin’ tootin’ individualist anarchism to be the real political danger, rather than “a Hitler regime,” we will be greatly mistaken in our enemies.
Any murderer can wear a swastika and spew copy-and-paste 4Chan manifestos. There is, as the Buffalo shooter makes clear in his own manifesto, no powerful fascist organization in the US that would be capable of bringing about the changes he says he would like to see.
This does not mean that Hitler walks again. It strongly suggests that he doesn’t and isn’t about to. What we face now—including neofascism, but neither limited to nor determined by that–may, in the long run, prove worse than historical fascism—even than the Nazi Party. The Nazis failed even to exterminate the Jews. Postmodern capitalism threatens the extinction of life on earth.
Ukraine may yet—for some period–rescue its national identity, in however diminished a form, as a result of its war. Indeed, the prospect of actual Ukrainian victory, while it is certainly dimmed by Putin’s victory at Mariupol, is still not entirely out of the question as long as it comes this year or very early in 2023.
As I’ve said before, what makes this worth supporting, apart from the hellish monstrosity of war as conducted by Russia, is above all not the non-existent “vibrant, democratic society” of Ukraine with all its corruption, its homegrown fascism and the dead end of capitalism and fragmentation of culture that all nations face—unless biological extinction intervenes–but rather the hope of administering a defeat to the worldwide political right of which Putin is the undeniable leader. That is the goal? We should begin considering alternative means of achieving that goal.
“Spiraling out of Control”
The political situation in the United States, however, appears to be, as they say, “spiraling out of control”—and this is not because of a traditional “Fascist menace,” which indeed would put the situation eventually under very firm control indeed, but rather because of the threat of individualist anarchy, of which neofascism is only one face.
The only force on the current horizon that offers any hope of a way out in the long run in my opinion is the worldwide labor movement—which I believe will have to overcome pockets of all-out reactionary and neofascist sentiment in its ranks and come together in a straightforwardly anticapitalist fashion very soon. Only a democratic and radical end to capitalism can prevent political destruction and forestall the biological extinction that is so obviously marching forward with every new heat wave.
Pete Glosser is a retired technical writer living in Washington, D.C.
Oaklandsocialist adds: The points about the Buffalo fascist murderer should be taken seriously. For more on what he represents and the roots of his ideas throughout US society, see “Racist Murders in Buffalo: A warning to be taken seriously”. On the perspectives for the US working class: This is a much longer and complex issue and is related to the absolute roadblock that the entire union leadership, conservative and “progressive”, present.