The Call for “Diplomacy” to End the War in Ukraine: A Reply to L. Michael Hager

“Diplomacy” – the supposed silver bullet that painlessly solves all problems. But who, in fact, are the diplomats? Whom do they represent?

The supposedly left journal Counterpunch has published an article called Diplomacy not Weapons Will End the Warby L. Michael Hager. Hager, starts off by in effect appealing to the concerns of Western readers, including that the war “could easily slip into a battle of nukes.” In fact, that is unlikely. For all his bluster, Putin is actually quite cautious and is certainly not insane.

Diplomacy and the “win-win” fraud
Hager then advocates “mediated diplomacy” in which a mediator goes from one side (Putin) to the other (Zelensky) until a “win-win solution can be achieved.” As Hager advocates, “confidentiality rules” require that the leaders keep the
population in the dark as to what is being conceded. Any serious union activist will be familiar with this strategy. It’s a means of isolating the leadership of the union so that they can betray the members and then emerge with a “win-win” situation, meaning that capitulation is cloaked in all sorts of confusing language. In this case, it means insulating Zelensky from the pressure of the Ukrainian working class.

In case Zelensky comes under so much pressure that he cannot go along with the plan, Hager makes things clear: “At some point they [the Western capitalist governments] will say ‘enough,’ and the politicians will have to curtail military aid.” In other words, the Western capitalists should set up the situation in order to force Zelensky to capitulate.

Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian imperialism as of July 27. “Diplomacy” won’t end this occupation.

The Situation on the Ground
What Hager and others like Code Pink advocate must be seen in light of the actual situation on the ground. Putin first annexed Crimea and struggled to annex Luhansk and Donetsk regions since 2014. In February of this year, he attempted to outright overthrow the entire government of Ukraine and establish a puppet regime there through a military march onto Kyiv. That march was militarily defeated, so Putin retreated to Plan B, which was to annex the north east and east coast of Ukraine. On September 11 Putin plans to hold “referendums” in the regions his troops have conquered. Meanwhile, his troops have partially instituted a fait accompli by imposing the Russian language only, replacing the Ukrainian currency with the Russian currency, distributing Russian passports, and other similar steps. The invaders have done all this through simple force of arms, not diplomacy.

Michael Karadjis, who does the blog site , deconstructed this entire argument. He wrote in an email:

All wars involve diplomacy as well as military conflict. That’s not saying anything.

The problem with this article, and so many like it, is that they are based on a number of assumptions, all of which are entirely unsupported, or, frankly, bullshit.

The first assumption is that Ukraine doesn’t want to negotiate. That is just a complete lie. Ukraine has consistently put forward negotiating positions which are very much in Russia’s favour. Can people please stop saying this without checking for facts first?…

The second assumption is that even if Ukraine wants to negotiate, the US is against negotiations, blocks Ukraine from negotiation, because the US only wants total victory over Russia and no negotiations. This is complete and utter fiction, based on nothing at all, except for leftist fantasy that attempts to fit stubborn reality into its grotesque dogmas. Ukrainians, in fact, will ultimately be more worried about the opposite. [In actual fact, Biden has been very slow to provide Ukraine with the arms it needs to fight off the invasion. He is, in effect, following the policy that Hager recommends!]

The third assumption/assertion is that if Ukraine doesn’t want to negotiate, or doesn’t accept certain “negotiation” terms put by Russia, that the US should negotiate anyway. That is, the US should negotiate on Ukraine’s behalf (and indeed, negotiate away parts of Ukraine’s territory, as Kissinger advocates). Isn’t it amazing how much an … ‘anti-imperialist’ position seems to resemble a super-imperialist position?

The fourth assumption, as always based on nothing, is that it is Russia that wants to negotiate. But the imperialist conqueror of Ukraine has never shown the slightest interest in negotiations. Why would it? And by reducing the arms flow to the Ukrainian defenders, the tankie-pacifist set are thereby advocating for reduced pressure on the occupation forces; so without military pressure, why would Russia negotiate anything?

Of course, while Ukraine has put forward far-reaching negotiating positions, and Russia has rejected them all and responded by simply escalating its terror and aggression, that does not mean that Ukraine has any obligation to negotiate. Tactically, we may consider it wise that it is doing so. But that’s Ukraine’s business. As part of the same international working class and the Ukrainian workers being butchered, bombed, dispossessed, our only demand is on Russia to withdraw completely – Out Now, No Conditions – Total, Immediate and Unconditional Withdrawal of Russian forces (remember??). [This is a reference to the US invasion of Vietnam.] The only valid negotiation from our perspective should be over the logistics and speed of the evacuation of Russian forces.”

The International Development Law Organization
To fully understand this article, we should understand that Hager is the cofounder and former Director General of the International Development Law Organization. According to Wikipedia, this group “is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the promotion of the rule of law.” As its funders below reveal, the rule of (international) law is simply the law that might makes right, and conflicts between various international capitalist cliques must be settled through secret diplomacy where possible. As far as war, that is simply “politics through other means.”

Major donors to the IDLO include: Australian Agency for International DevelopmentGates FoundationCenter for International Forestry ResearchEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and DevelopmentEuropean UnionFord FoundationDeutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale ZusammenarbeitInternational Fund for Agricultural DevelopmentInstitute of MedicineKuwait Fund for Arab Economic DevelopmentOPEC Fund for International DevelopmentUnited Nations Development Programme, and UNICEF as well as numerous countries, namely Canada, China, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.

That a section of the Western capitalist class would support the position of Hager is understandable. It is also understandable why supposedly left “peace and justice” groups like Code Pink, which is funded by a representative of Chinese capitalism (Neville Roy Singham), would support this position. The same for groups that are linked with Russian capitalism such as United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). It is even understandable why those who are more concerned with their own wallet than with principles would support that position. But principled socialists? Really?

Categories: Europe, socialist movement, war

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