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The UnKnown War in Ukraine

The UnKnown War in Ukraine

Jerry Krase (August 7, 2023)

The reasons why wars take place do not change the horror of the carnage they produce, but revealing the reasons might reduce the likelihood of the next local expression of conflict between global powers



In the European Academy of Sciences of Ukraine international conference to discuss Unknown Wars in which I participated, one would be correct in expecting that the distinguished guests would be speaking about wars that took place without anyone, especially the general public, knowing about them as in "hidden" or "secret" wars which may of course abound undetected. From the perspective of someone like Juergen Habermas however the unknown label might also be applied to those conflicts which are misunderstood or incorrectly defined as in the accumulated mass media universe of contradictory statements claiming to be truthful. As we claim to live in relatively free societies in which communication is ubiquitous, we might consider some of his remarks. As truthful information is so well connected to the notion of freedom, we might consider Juergen Habermas' ideal speech acts. Social structures are free from constraint only when for all participants there is a symmetrical distribution of chances to select and employ speech acts which have no distortion, coercion, or barriers to communication. In ideal speech acts, participants desire only shared rational conclusions. and an effective equality of chances to assume dialogue roles. "Truth," therefore, cannot be analyzed independently of "freedom" and "justice." (Habermas, 1975: xvii, See also Krase 2021, 2021)

For those like myself have who taken up space at the lower strata of society, from both my personal experience and scholarly pursuits, I would argue that all wars are unknown in this regard.

My Own Unknown War

In the 1963 winter of my personal discontents, having left Indiana University involuntarily, and facing a difficult job market, I enlisted in the United States Army. My service number was/is RA (Regular Army) 12673587. At the time, many of my high school graduated or more numerous drop-out working-class Brooklyn neighborhood friends had either enlisted in the Army Reserve, National Guard or other, what they thought were, less dangerous branches of military service such as the U.S. Coast Guard, that might at least keep them stateside should there be a "Hot(ter) War." In 1963, according to the "mainstream" media the U.S. was only providing limited support to the courageous people of The Republic of (south) Vietnam that was fighting against the evil godless “commies” from the North. In 1963 Vietnam, or even Southeast Asia, was a place about which they, and I, had little idea. Today Ukraine has taken the place of that terra incognita.

My cultural motivation for enlisting, other than unemployment, was a feeling instilled in me by family, school, and especially the many war movies I devoured as a child that it was my duty, if necessary, to defend our country. My two older brothers Steve and John had already served in the military. Unknown to me, and to most other Americans at the time, was that in January, the South Vietnam Army had suffered a major defeat by Viet Cong forces. This loss caused a debate among high-level military, intelligence and civilian leaders about whether it was wise to sustain, or increase, financial and military support to the South Vietnamese regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Little of this information was shared with the general American public. At the time, official U.S. government sources denied even having "combat" soldiers in South Vietnam, even though American troops routinely participated in combat operations against the Viet Cong. Most of these activities were referred to as "training and support services." By the end of the year, the count of U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam was more than 16,000, and 122 combat deaths of U.S. military personnel had already occurred. There were no figures for clandestine services of course. By the end of what began to be called the “War in Vietnam” in 1973, the number of U.S. combat deaths was 58,281. As the result of the combat between 1955 and 1973, an estimated 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians killed. (Sources:, "Vietnam 1963":; Causes, Origins and Lessons of the Vietnam War :; "The Diem regime and the Viet Cong," : )

As I am now worrying about my European Academy of Sciences of Ukraine friends and colleagues who have suffered first through a civil war that began in 2014 and are now the victims of a brutal invasion by Russia in 2022, it is difficult to write about the causes of the ongoing conflict. However, I will offer some of their ideas near the end of this essay. From studying the history of other wars, I have little disagreement with 19th century Prussian general Carl Philip Gottlieb Von Clausewitz’s often oversimplified dictum that “war is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means,” (1943: 280. See also

For Von Clausewitz wars are creatures of nation states, and if it is true that war requires political goals, the question arises of what are the political goals and whom is at war and against whom on what is being called the War in Ukraine. Currently the obvious combatants are Russia and Ukraine. The less obvious combatants, supporting one side or the other United States, NATO, China, Iran, The European Union, and a host of more and less well-known others.

It is neither my place nor my expertise to clearly delineate either the warriors or their goals. Until it is over and the smoke of propaganda clears, I can only allude to the possibilities by considering what I now know about what was unknown in prior American wars. What I am certain of is that the coverage in the Western and American dominated media is likely to be less than half of the story.

In this regard I must refer to Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. President George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense. As discussed by The Washington Post reporter Dan Zak wrote:

‘There are known knowns — there are things we know we know,’ Rumsfeld said in February 2002, when asked for evidence that Saddam Hussein tried to supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. ‘We also know there are known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.’

A journalist followed up: Is this alleged link between Hussein and other terrorists an ‘unknown unknown’?

‘I’m not going to say which it is,’ Rumsfeld replied with a grin. Perhaps he knew and wasn’t telling. Perhaps he didn’t know. Perhaps he believed that he knew, and that was enough — for him, if not for the country, which would be drained of blood and treasure by catastrophic interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Zak 2021, See also Kakutani 2011 and Rumsfeld 2011)

Knowing the truth does not change the fact, or the magnitude, of the human carnage in warfare regardless of the names we call "war," but it can change the meaning (semiosis) of those lost lives from victims to perpetrators. As to popularly accepted "historical" truths, I shudder to think of the meaning of the Shoah, the Nanjing Massacre, or the American Civil War had the Nazis or the Japanese won World War II, or the Confederate States the United States bloodiest internecine conflict, as the victors are the ones that get to write or rewrite the history of inferior races.

What I learned during six-weeks of Basic Infantry Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey was how to kill the "gooks" or other evil enemy monsters (we were encouraged to make blood-curdling shouts while practice bayoneting straw-filled dummy surrogates). Such essentially "psychological" training is a practical expression of the demonization of the enemy that is enhanced by atrocity propaganda and the proliferation of falsehoods during warfare.

Also at the Fort Dix, we were assembled to watch films to intended to embed in our consciousness the growing threat of the "blood-thirsty” communists who, in the film, were figuratively knocking over a line of dominoes across the world. Upon reflection, I recognized this brainwashing process in The Manchurian Candidate (1962

Luckily, despite the "opportunity" offered me to spend some quality time in Vietnam, I was sent to Frankfurt am Main in what was then "West" Germany to fight the Reds. I must note here that before the heat was raised "in country" (i.e., when the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive) there were many incentives for military service in Vietnam such as extra pay (TDY Temporary Duty), as well as the possibility of easier and faster promotions from our lowly ranks. I was also told that one could live off base in one's own “hooch” and have a woman to take care of all your needs for a few dollars a month. In any case, I didn't take the bait, but many fellow noncommissioned servicemen did and some didn’t return, and those that did were much worse for the wear. I remember most vividly meeting a friend from the Army Language School who told me of another friend who was noted for his good looks and whose face was "blown off" by a Claymore Mine. These were antipersonnel mines designed to leap to head height when tripped before exploding. In the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, there is an often visited, and sometimes celebrated, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but missing is a memorial to all the more numerous soldiers who died in unknown wars. Perhaps that is because it would require so much more space. Instead, there is one memorial wall with the etched names of all my brothers and sisters in arms who fought and died in Vietnam. There are several walls in other American cities as well and I have visited two too many.

Who Knew

In 1995, Secretary of State, Robert S. McNamara’s publicly apologized for lying. The Biggest Lie was about the fictive Tonkin Gulf Incident that was used to justify the massive increase in the U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. ( The Tonkin Gulf Incident was an echo of so many other "incidents" in American military history such as ... "Remember the Maine" ( Although the Vietnam War was not an Unknown War to McNamara who had easy access to the facts, it was to the rest of us. As a Roman Catholic, like me, I assume he had confessed his sins many times prior to the public revelation, but I do wonder how much money he earned for the best-selling book and subsequent lecture tour about his extremely profitable mea culpa. An excerpt from Noam Chomsky's discussion of McNamara in Class Warfare (1995) provides some sad commentary on such worthless apologies:

QUESTION: … [In Robert McNamara’s #1 bestseller In Retrospect, he] writes, “We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why. I truly believe that we made an error not of values and intentions, but of judgment and capabilities.”

CHOMSKY: Actually, he’s correct about the values. If somebody tries to disobey us, our values are that they have to be crushed and massacred. Those are our values. They go back hundreds of years, and those are exactly the values they acted upon. His belief that it was a mistake — personally, I agree with the hawks on this. He’s been criticized by the doves who say, You came around too late, and by the hawks who say, Well, it was a victory. And the hawks are right, it was a victory. So, it wasn’t a mistake. He doesn’t understand that. He doesn’t understand very much, incidentally. The one interesting aspect of the book is how little he understood about what was going on or understands today. He doesn’t even understand what he was involved in. (

What is the context of this purposive governmental misinformation? In countries such as the United States of America where what Jean Baudrillard might refer to as (if I am allowed to roughly paraphrase) a democracy simulated via elections; the waging of war requires both dis- and mis-information. This is because warfare always requires the loss of lives and limbs, as well as economic sacrifice on the part of the participants. Therefore, almost all wars are to some degree unknown as to their initial causes and reasons for continuation; such as being a victim of sneak attack, assault on our freedom by oppressors, who have lower ideals than our own.

Another interesting reflection on purposely "unknown to the public" wars was by Dan Zak in the Washington Post on the passing of Donald H. Rumsfeld:

Into the Great Unknown, then, goes Donald H. Rumsfeld, who died Tuesday at 88, and whose tenure as George W. Bush’s defense secretary was a monument to both ramrod certainty and tactical equivocation, the twin dogmas of Washington. He was a paradox in spectacles, an exacting presence who helped to produce inexact outcomes. “There are known knowns — there are things we know we know,” Rumsfeld said in February 2002, when asked for evidence that Saddam Hussein tried to supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. “We also know there are known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” A journalist followed up: Is this alleged link between Hussein and other terrorists an “unknown unknown”? “I’m not going to say which it is,” Rumsfeld replied with a grin. Perhaps he knew and wasn’t telling. Perhaps he didn’t know. Perhaps he believed that he knew, and that was enough — for him, if not for the country, which would be drained of blood. (Zak 2021)

Deception comes in many forms such as propaganda and is necessary because in the U.S.A. declarations of wars must be voted upon by democratically elected legislatures and executed by democratically elected Presidents. Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says Congress shall have power to ... declare War." However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a "declaration of war." The Constitution itself does not use this term. The decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals (Doe v. Bush) reads "[T]he text of the October Resolution itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an 'authorization' of such a war." In effect, a formal congressional "Declaration of War" was not required by the Constitution. The last formally "declaration" of war was in 1942, when it was declared against Axis-allied Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, because President Franklin Roosevelt thought it was improper to do so without a formal declaration. Since then, every American president has used military force without a declaration of war, and, in effect, the country has been in a continual state of hot and cold warfare.

As I have referred to propaganda, a few words on the subject should be offered. The inherently violent nature of war means that exaggeration and invention of atrocities often becomes the main staple of propaganda. In most cases these potent methods for defining enemies take place long before actual warfare. Historical enemies require less extensive defining as the animosities toward potential enemies in warfare have been integrated into the teaching of history in educational systems as well as interlaced in popular culture and media often a thin cover for ethnic, racial and religious biases. As to Propaganda Lies of the First World War by Arthur Ponsonby he notes:

Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. Man, it has been said, is not "a veridical animal," but his habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe. It is, indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish. But in war-time the authoritative organization of lying is not sufficiently recognized. The deception of whole peoples is not a matter which can be lightly regarded.

A useful purpose can therefore be served in the interval of so-called peace by a warning which people can examine with dispassionate calm, that the authorities in each country do, and indeed must, resort to this practice in order, first, to justify themselves by depicting the enemy as an undiluted criminal; and secondly, to inflame popular passion sufficiently to secure recruits for the continuance of the struggle. They cannot afford to tell the truth. In some cases, it must be admitted that at the moment they do not know what the truth is. (1918: 2)

One very potent method during hostilities, that can also be a precursor for violence as well, is "atrocity propaganda" about the real and imagined crimes committed by an enemy. In the ancient past they were conveyed orally but as communication technology advanced, the horrors were made even more vivid by lurid text in print, bloody illustrations, photographs, videos, that abound on the current worldwide web of mis- and dis-information. As noted by Harold Lasswell, the necessarily violent condition of warfare almost requires that propaganda be exaggerated and in which atrocities frequently become a main feature. As national pride might not be enough to make people willing to make sacrifices, such as loss of life or limb, hatred and fear of the enemy is necessary. "So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations, that every war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about who the public is to hate." (Lasswell 1947: 27, See also 1927a and 1927b)

As to "Demonization of the Japanese in U.S. World War II Propaganda:

In all forms of American anti-Japanese propaganda, the Japanese were derogatively referred to as “Japs” and depicted as violent apes or some form of vermin, referred to as “sneaky little yellow rats.” The Japanese custom of respecting authority was demonstrated by American propaganda as a form of fanaticism, and Japanese immigrants in the United States were also labeled as people not to be trusted. The American public was constantly reminded that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, “mistreated prisoners of war,” and “committed atrocities.” In propaganda posters, common tropes included depicting the Japanese as monstrous apes threatening the honor of the United States and/or a white American woman. The words “sneaky,” “monster,” and “Japs” were painted in big, bold lettering. A cruiser called Honolulu is remembered to have had a sign on its bow that read, “Kill Japs. Kill Japs Kill More Japs.” Admiral William Frederick Halsey of the U.S. Navy is quoted as having publicly spoken of the Japanese as “bestial apes” and saying, “We are drowning and burning [them] all over the Pacific, and it is just as much pleasure to burn them as to drown them.” (Propaganda Module. 2016)

The illustrations below are also instructive in this regard.



It is interesting to note that in many posters the victim is a white woman or another vulnerable person such as children. As o textual atrocities, for example, in the Gulf War precursor to the U.S. invasion of Iraq there appeared widely in the American press a horrific story about Iraqi soldiers who had invaded Kuwait in 1990: "While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers coming into the hospital with guns and go into the room where 15 babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the babies on the cold floor to die.”

According to Nick Williams however the fake testimony to the United States Congress was given by a teen-age Kuwaiti girl who was the daughter of Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States, Sheik Saud al Nasser al Sabah. The teenager claimed to have observed the war crime while volunteering at the hospital.

That disclosure put the spotlight back on the occupation efforts of the exiled Kuwaiti government to wage propaganda war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. In Washington, the campaign was pressed by Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a lobbying outfit that hired the expertise of Hill & Knowlton, the big U.S. firm known for handling public relations for foreign governments. (Williams 1992)

Even tactics in warfare have biased interpretations. I have read several newspaper articles between 2020 and 2022 that implied that there were good and bad "targeted assassinations." The moral evaluation depended upon which nation was the perpetrator or victim, and especially in which national press the story was published. (For more on subject see; Zengel, 1992, and Franck, 1970)

As to the impact of mis and disinformation on world events, I must note a long and enlightening discussion on the American Historical Association’s digital Member Forum about "Historical Events caused by Fake News." In this regard the comment by Konstantinos Karatzas is informative:

Dear all, I am so pleased that there so many great ideas on the topic! It is highly important to address the problem of fake news and most of all how much it can shape history, memory, identity and reality. Among many ideas I have I would like to share the case of Tulsa Race Massacre (in my work I indicate it as War as well). The 1921 Tulsa disgraceful violent incident began from fake news. Reportedly a young black man raped a white woman, in the middle of the day, literally in the busiest building of Tulsa--the newspapers led/supported by supremacists along with the newspapers seeking from the racists of any branch and organization to buy their "work" spread the rumor and in a few words (in my opinion) the worst racially motivated riot, war, massacre of US history took place. Just as an extra idea since on May 31 is the centennial of the incident. (Karatzas 2021)

Another very enlightening American Historical Association discussion was about how war is more studied than attempts at diplomacy to prevent or to end wars. The current war in Ukraine is a sad case in point at which the Clausewitzian invader, Russia, seeks agreement only on how much sovereign Ukrainian territory it will keep. Some of the events and issues which have been used by Russia as an excuse to invade are more concrete than others. Without giving them truth value by discourse they have been:

1. Historical animosities of Western Europe toward the East, especially Russia, as well as Slavs and "Asiatics" in general. The fear of the East has also been an historical source of Anti-Semitism. More recently it has been anti-Russia attitudes of former Warsaw Pact and other "Captive Nations" especially Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

2. Discrimination against ethnic Russian Ukrainians, especially since the changes to its Constitution since the Maiden revolution in 2014 when a pro-Russian (anti-Western) government was replaced by an anti-Russian (pro-Western) one. In this regard there is frequent reference to the 2015 "Minsk Agreements." (Koshiw, 2022, Mackinnon, 2022) I should note here a related phenomenon of American right-wing, Christian religious fundamentalism support for Russia as its post-Communist period ushered in the return of the political influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

3. The eastward expansion of NATO is a major threat to Russia's own security. Although few experts would doubt that the alleged promises not to expand that came at the fall of the Soviet Union were not sincere, a frequent reference is made by Russia to these unwritten "promises."

It is abundantly evident that Russian President Vladimir Putin is no fan of NATO. Indeed, he displays a pronounced—almost obsessive—antipathy toward the Alliance. He claims that NATO took advantage of Russian weakness after the collapse of the Soviet Union to enlarge to its east, in violation of promises allegedly made to Moscow by Western leaders. But no such promises were made—a point now confirmed by someone who was definitely in a position to know: Mikhail Gorbachev, then president of the Soviet Union. (Pifer 2014)

There has also been occasional reference to the "talk" of a common defense treaty with the Russian Federation.

Some more complex arguments, while fact-based, also provide no justification for the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. One finds these in the "alternative" media as it is difficult to see reference to them except in academic discourse. Of course, Russian government funded outlets such as RTV abound with such justifications. Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sacks, who was the most respected scholar regarding post-Soviet Russia, is probably the best known of these. In regard to popular mass media in the West, similarly it is difficult to find any positive news about China, Venezuela, or Cuba. Relatedly, most objective observers believe that there exists a proxy war between the United States of America and Russia; in tandem with one against The Peoples Republic of China.

America has long thought of itself as an exceptional nation. As in Sacvan Bercovitch's American Jeremiad (1978), the conviction that the United States is the chosen nation permeates its intellectual and political traditions. (See also Stephenson 2010) The fall of the USSR was seen as proof of that divine selection as it defeated the exporter of "Godless Communism." Perversely, after 9/11, these notions easily combined with Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations (2011) in which global political clashes will be dominated by cultural and religious identities. although Huntington's main thrust was toward Islam and China, New York Times opinion writer Ross Douthat applied his thesis to the Ukraine War in this way:

The Huntington thesis would seem ripe for new attention in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the surprisingly unified Western response, the more uncertain reactions from China and India. But more often lately Huntington has been invoked either warily, on the grounds that Putin wants a clash of civilizations and we shouldn't give in to him, or in dismissal or critique, with the idea being that his theory of world politics has actually been disproved by Putin’s attempt to restore a Greater Russia. (Douthat 2022)

American exceptionalism was further amplified by University of Chicago Professor Leo Strauss (1899-1973) whose wide ranging and complex philosophical works were interpreted by neoconservatives as speaking of the need for, indeed the duty of, the United States to lead a new "world order. " His students or perhaps followers, had a major impact on the foreign policies of the George W. Bush administration (2001-09) The conservative bent is taken from his book, Natural Right and History (1953), in which he attacked the relativism and value-free orientation that dominated the social sciences which he saw as a barrier to achieving philosophical and scientific knowledge. Advisors to Bush such as Paul Wolfowitz viewed relativism as a threat to the survival of Western culture. (Smith 2006) These attitudes contributed to idea that fabricating evidence to justify military actions, such as "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in the invasion of Iraq, could be justified to prevent a greater evil; even if the greater evil was either fictional or ideologically biased. (Mazzetti and Shane 2008)

Some global and historical strategic issues also matter in regard to the American focus on Ukraine. The first are the ideas of British geographer Halford Mackinder who in 1904 reintroduced the concept of geopolitics in his Heartland Theory which he saw as "the Geographical Pivot of History." (1962) He argued that whatever state controlled the vast natural resources of Central Asia would become "the empire of the world." Today this empire consists of Russia and the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia. The fall of the USSR in 1991 created an opportunity for the emergence of a new hegemon. According to a leaked 1992 Pentagon document:

Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a rival that poses a threat on the territory of the former Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration and requires that we endeavor to prevent any history power from dominating a region whose resources would under, consolidated control be sufficient to generate global power. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any future global competitor. (Fettweiss 2003, Also Fettweiss 2000, Iseri 2009)

Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928-2017), U.S. National Security advisor to President Jimmy Carter (1977-81) stood in the tradition of Halford Mackinder, and as might be expected developed his own " Geostrategy for Eurasia." The excerpt below is the most succinct explanation I could find for centering Ukraine as an essential stop on the way the envisioned "New World Order" via the heartland of Europe. Having witnessed the rise of the Nazi's and from afar the Soviet Union Brzezinski, the son of an aristocratic Polish diplomat, saw politics as a cultural and ideological life and death struggle. Good versus evil would not be an exaggeration, as he saw the need for an invigorated Europe (Euro-Atlantic) to take advantage of the Western victory in the Cold War. Therefore, he argued:

 ... NATO and EU enlargement should move forward in deliberate stages. Assuming a sustained American and Western European commitment, here is a speculative but realistic timetable for these stages: By 1999, the first three Central European members will have been admitted into NATO, although their inclusion in the EU will probably not take place before 2002 or 2003; by 2003, the EU is likely to have initiated accession talks with all three Baltic republics, and NATO will likewise have moved forward on their membership as well as that of Romania and Bulgaria, with their accession likely to be completed before 2005; between 2005 and 2010, Ukraine, provided it has made significant domestic reforms and has become identified as a Central European country, should also be ready for initial negotiations with the EU and NATO.

Failure to widen NATO, now that the commitment has been made, would shatter the concept of an expanding Europe and demoralize the Central Europeans. Worse, it could reignite dormant Russian political aspirations in Central Europe. Moreover, it is far from evident that the Russian political elite shares the European desire for a strong American political and military presence in Europe. Accordingly, while fostering a cooperative relationship with Russia is desirable, it is important for America to send a clear message about its global priorities. If a choice must be made between a larger Europe-Atlantic system and a better relationship with Russia, the former must rank higher. (Brzezinski 1997)

I must note some ironic precursors of this tragedy. The current threat of China is in many ways a creation of American and other Western European countries and corporations who financed the growth of industry in China to increase profits. This was aimed especially at undermining the power of unions as they shipped their well-paid jobs overseas. The West thought that China would go the way of Russia, which has evolved from a failed post-communist state that had given lip service to communism to a one dominated by Mafia Neofeudal Capitalism.

Another common apologetic for the criminal Russian invasion is because the U.S.A. has invaded and/or overthrew the governments of other countries, the criminal conduct of Russia is somehow more tolerable. However, equivocation is not a logical route for legitimatization. Regardless of the truthfulness of the events leading to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia which may or may not be considered "reasons," they cannot be considered a just cause for the murder of people and the destruction of property within the internationally recognized borders of the country. For the people living in Ukraine does it make a difference? As encapsulated by Andrew F. Kramer Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky planned speech at a joint session of the U.S. Congress seeking increased aid Ukraine — Ukraine Is Fighting for Good Over Evil. (Kramer 2022)

The View from Ukraine

Recent articles by fellow members of the European Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (EASU) in the American Behavioral Scientist provides further, first-hand, insight on the war. The articles are the fruit of the EASU conference on Unknown Wars in which I also participated and from which this more expansive essay has evolved. ( In "The War in Ukraine and its Challenge to NATO: Peacekeeping to Peace Engineering," Maxim Lepskiy and Nataliia Lepska 2022 provide a more informed discussion of some of the topics I have hinted at in preceding paragraphs and point out the glaring weaknesses in international agencies, such as the United Nations which nations rely on for protection.

Russian aggression against independent Ukraine is grounded in revanchist narratives and reconstructed meanings of World War II and the Yalta-Potsdam system, which returns to threats of nuclear escalation, and military expansion of territories. Reducing military action from global to regional conflict, as the 2014 to 2016 “Minsk Agreements” did, is no longer possible. After all, the events of February 2022 are a scalable expansion and justified by ideas of revanchist propaganda involving an armed takeover not only of Ukraine but also of post-Soviet countries and former Warsaw Pact countries, most of which are members of the EU and NATO.

According to its Charter, the U.N. is a global peacekeeping institution and the most representative (193 member states) regulator of the development of the world community. However, the U.N. response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the lack of mechanisms to preserve the global security system, the imperfection of international law, and the crisis of the peacekeeping system. Even after the vote of representatives of 141 countries against the Russian aggression in Ukraine at the U.N. General Assembly on March 2, 2022, and the appeal of the U.N. International Court of Justice condemning and demanding an immediate cessation of all Russian military actions in Ukraine, these resolutions were ignored by the aggressor. (Lepskiy and Lepska 2022: 2-3, see also Kushner and Tursunbaeva 2022, Maltsev 2022)

After discussing historical and psychological of war crimes, Oleg Maltsev and Iryna Lopatiuk сonclude:

What are the causes (subjective and psychological) of these crimes? Impunity is not so much of a cause as an effect. A kleptocratic state where criminals are in charge turns any war into a kind of department of their own business. With such activity at the level of the leadership, all the lower levels of the state copy these actions. Impunity generates a cyclical repetition of these crimes because “there is no time to sort things out” during the war. The main problem and cause of modern wars is the phenomenon of “political marketing,” which was addressed at the international conference “Unknown Wars” on July 16, 2022. Political marketing is the transformation of a marketing unit into a strategic intelligence unit and providing it with all kinds of indulgences in the pursuit of superprofits (“Crises and Emergencies, Pandemics, War: What Will Happen Next?,” 2022; “Human as a subject of research should come first, not robots and cybersecurity,” 2021; Maltsev, 2022). The definition of a war crime, suggested by the authors of this article: A war crime is an inexplicable act, including any violation of the Constitution, committed by the armed forces and special ideological units of the armed forces, as well as by the intelligence services of states; having sufficient publicity and being so obvious as not to require proof; subject to a composite international court or the court of a state of one of the parties to the conflict; blasphemous, conscientious, and morally unacceptable acts, and punishable by a composite panel of states that condemn it. (Maltsev and Lopatiuk 2022)


What I have hoped to show in this essay, as I have tried in virtually all of my scholarship, is to make connections between the many levels of human experience from the personal to the global. In this regard I often quote, as below, from C. Wright Mills' "The Promise of Sociology," in The Sociological Imagination.

Seldom aware of the intricate connection between the patterns of their own lives and the course of world history, ordinary men do not usually know what this connection means for the kinds of men they are becoming and for the kinds of history-making in which they might take part. They do not possess the quality of mind essential to grasp the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and world. They cannot cope with their personal troubles in such ways as to control the structural transformations that usually lie behind them. (1959: 3-4)

Sadly, when the Ukraine War ends, as I pray each day it will, it is unlikely that all the unknowns will become knowns. However, the deaths and destruction will, and the heartless blame games will continue until the next unknown war begins.

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