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A Voice Of Sanity In The Ukraine War

The Monroe Doctrine has been a No-Trespassing sign nailed to the gate of US foreign policy for almost 300 years. Naval exercises are performed by the US in places like the Yellow and South China Seas. Enacted by other countries off our coasts, however,  they would be unthinkable. Take the  Cuban missile crisis, for instance, in which the USSR  placed missiles in Cuba as a tit-for-tat retort to the US placement of nukes in Turkey.

It almost destroyed the planet.

When it comes to other countries’ security needs, however, US ignores their demand for equivalent safety. With our almost 1000 naval bases around the world, installed in other countries, and our Full Spectrum Dominance: of the sea, air and space, the Monroe Doctrine has morphed into the Plan for the  New American Century, a creation of Dick Cheney and Friends during the ‘90s and still adhered to today.

Dr. Benjamin Abelow, MD, taking the case of Russia, discusses the consequences of this policy in a new book, How the West Brought War to Ukraine.  In defiance of the agreement between Gorbachev and Reagan, negotiated In the late 1980s when the Berlin Wall went down, NATO began to encircle Russia with military bases. Seven Warsaw Pact countries were invited to join NATO, an organization whose very reason for existing was enmity towards Russia. Despite many other provocations and baiting, Russia, though denouncing it, tolerated NATO’s threatening advance toward its borders for three decades. For the last 15 years, however, Russia has repeatedly proclaimed that it draws the line at NATO membership for Ukraine.

That Dr Abelow was able to publish this book is a good sign. Only a few months ago, fueled by our government’s deranged hostility for Russia, we were burning Dostoevsky novels, and banning Russian opera singers and dog show contestants. Americans who follow the war have been persuaded by our politicians and our press that Putin is just like Hitler: he wants to conquer the world and enslave us all. Dr. Abelow’s book repudiates this madness. The book is accessible, short, and vivid, giving it a fair chance, if it gets through the fires, of being read by many people.

In the book, he describes the relentless flow of NATO/US provocations of Ukraine. He organizes the provocations before, and after, the coup of 2014, an event in which the malign intent of the US is revealed in a leaked phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, as they, in the words of  Russian expert Stephen Cohen quoted by Abelow “plotted to midwife a new anti-Russian government by ousting or neutralizing a democratically elected president…” and installing the US’s chosen candidate.

As he documents Russia’s rising alarm, he describes NATO’s and the US’s mocking responses to it’s expostulations: the US has no intention to hurt or threaten Russia! In spite of their being located on Russia’s border, a few minutes shot from Moscow and other targets, the ABMs are really intended for Iran and North Korea. He comments:

“In doing all this the West has suggested that Mr. Putin is imagining strategic threats where none in fact exist. This Western framing - which posits a lack of legitimate Russian security concerns  coupled with implied and explicit accusations of irrationality - underlie much of the currently dominant narrative.”

He compares it to gaslighting.

Dr. Abelow presents Zelensky as a tragic victim: a man who won his presidential campaign on a strong mandate for peace with Russia and an end to the bombing of the Donbas, but who was turned by the US/NATO. Their trumpeting of him as a champion of  “freedom”, and sending vast amounts of US armaments, US expert trainers, for seven years, until the Ukrainian military was a crack fighting force, blinded him, and he ended up throwing his country to the wolves.

“Really”, says Abelow,” what sane person could believe that putting a Western arsenal on Russia’s border would not produce a strong response? What sane person could believe that placing this arsenal would enhance American security?”

And he asks, further, where does that leave us?

Dr. Abelow is very gentle with us citizens, so easily swayed to spend away our own national welfare, our plans to engage the climate crisis, poverty, all our other problems, and back a Congress that votes almost 100%  to fund a catastrophically evil war.

Our rulers, however, have put us “in a very bad spot…which could only have been arrived at through a level of American governmental stupidity and blindness, and among the leaders of Europe, a level of deference and cowardice that is almost inconceivable.”

Indeed. Almost inconceivable. When International and Russian Affairs expert Gilbert Doctorow was asked what he thinks American citizens should know, he remarks, and Dr Abelow, quotes,

“Your lives are in danger…Mr Putin has been on record that he does not contemplate a world without Russia. And if the American intent is to destroy Russia, then the American intent will be self-destruction”.

Dr Abelow’s characterization of US motives in the Ukraine conflict,“ foolish”, is more sanguine than dissident views one hears from others, such as that the US/NATO is trying to “weaken Russia”,  the US is testing its weapons for the real conflict it plans with China, that the war will be waged until the last Ukrainian left standing.

Whatever. But the book ends with a vivid image, applicable to both assessments, and recalling Dante’s inferno: of NATO and US policymakers standing “up to their hips in a barrel of viscous mud”, with  extrication of “themselves...and the rest of us, difficult to imagine.”

(Ellen Taylor lives in Humboldt County and can be reached at


  1. George Hollister December 10, 2022

    There is no line that defines the boundary of the Russian Empire, that has kept growing, and many of those they have conquered on their periphery want independence. Some have left, and willingly joined NATO. Not because of NATO persuasion, but because of Russia’s historical deadly behavior. Has the USA done the same? Hard to deny it hasn’t. At the root of the conflict is the choice between freedom, and dictatorship. The USA has made the mistake of thinking all people prefer freedom. Russia has make the mistake of thinking that all people prefer a dictator. In the case of Ukraine, this is a Russian mistake.

    In the case of the Monroe Doctrine, the USA has drawn the line with regard to strategic weapons. Nothing else. Russia has supported the dictators of Venezuela and the USA has placed sanctions on Venezuela, but there is no intent to invade.

    • Harvey Reading December 10, 2022

      Do you mean wannabe dictators like Juan Guido, the US-recognized, unelected ass who pretends to be the Venezuelan president, while the US holds Venezuelan funds and imposes other gruesome sanctions on that country, thus impeding the duly elected government of Maduro in its quest to improve life for common Venezuelans?

      The US should grow up and officially recognize the elected Venezuelan president, and remove ALL sanctions against that country, one that has the guts to stand up to the monster of the north.

      By the way, the Monroe doctrine is a piece of illegal crap, laid down by a slave-owning southerner. “Doctrines” are NOT laws. You have a typical, self-entitled, conservative take on the subject, as usual.

  2. izzy December 10, 2022

    A singular point of difference between the USA and all others would be a global presence of hundreds of military bases in countries scattered around the world, along with an enormously outsized budget to support the continuing deployment. Both the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny have jumped their original boundaries over time. If by “freedom” one means the opportunity to be exploited and do things our way, then that comparison stands. There seems to be an unwarranted assumption of benign intent involved.

    • George Hollister December 10, 2022

      Freedom, in this context, means citizens being able to freely elect their government. This definition has its faults, I know, and does not truly define what freedom is.

      • Wayne December 11, 2022

        Do you think Americans can freely elect our government? If you believe that you’d be a fool.

  3. Alex S. December 10, 2022

    While you have a point about the Monroe Doctrine versus the old Soviet Bloc, and the Cuban Missile Crisis versus the Russo-Ukraine War, you have left out some key points.

    One – The Cubans wanted Russians and their Kremlin-controlled missiles on their territory, the Ukrainians are using non-nuclear US arms but the US is not on the ground in Ukraine and the Ukrainians do not want Russians on their territory.
    Two – When the Ukrainians gave up their strategic arms in the 1990s, the Russian Federation promised non-aggression in exchange. They then reneged on that promise, meddled in Ukrainian politics, attempted coups, and sent troops into Ukraine in 2014; all the while at a time when most Ukrainians supported close ties to Russia.
    Three – Apart from Guantanamo Bay, all the American bases in the world at this time are at the invitation and with the host country’s consent. On the other hand, the Kremlin has a history of contriving crises to support the use of Russian military might against people who have not harmed Russia, and who have no interest in Russian troops on their territory.
    Four – During the Cold War, both the USA and USSR fought proxy wars with the consent of friendly regimes they helped achieve power through covert means. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not pursued such policies, except for the war in Iraq. Russia has done so in Kazakhstan, Georgia, Belarus, Chechnya, and Ukraine since 2000.
    Independent US units and personnel have committed war crimes, as occurs with individuals and small groups in almost every war anywhere. It has not participated in a coordinated and government-sponsored initiative to directly and explicitly target civilians as the Russians have in Ukraine, Chechnya, etc.
    Five – The US has made good-faith efforts to support the development of democracies in the countries in which it has operated. Sometimes it was more successful than at other times. However, these efforts were usually to the exclusion of supporters of the regime and policies in place at the time of the invasion and to the exclusion of extremist groups. The Russians have attempted to take over the countries that they have invaded and to install puppet regimes either overtly or covertly.
    Six – The US has achieved bases on the periphery of both China and Russia primarily because the countries in which the US operated have sought its assistance against overt threats emanating from those two countries. Yes, this is similar to the situation in Cuba after the Bay of Pigs. However, as I previously stated, that was during the Cold War.
    Seven – The reason Russia is increasingly hemmed in is that its actions have continually spooked its erstwhile neutral neighbors into seeking NATO protection. Ukraine likely would not have sought NATO membership had Russia not invaded and annexed large parts of its territory. The Baltic nations and Poland would not have joined were it not for repeated Russian aggression against them over the previous 400 years. Sweden and Finland would not have joined had Russia not invaded Ukraine earlier this year. This about this, the Poles, who suffered massive extermination programs at the hands of the Nazis, have chosen to ally with Germany and NATO over Russia, under whom they have also suffered greatly. That should tell you something.

    Let’s assume we did what you propose. Russia would not stop until it had taken over all its former satellite states in Eastern Europe and re-established a shorter and more defensive border between the Carpathian Mountains and the Baltic Sea. It would absorb Poland, the Baltic States, Belarus (which it has already largely taken over), Ukraine, Moldova, and Bulgaria. That is Putin’s ultimate goal for his country. He understands he won’t live to see it but he hopes to get the ball rolling during his lifetime as evidenced by his actions since 2000. Such an outcome would result in millions of people in independent countries falling unwillingly under the political and military dominance of Russia. It would result in terror campaigns to keep the peace in those countries. Russia has already shown its willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve compliance from the Ukrainians and others. I’m mystified why anyone in a western democracy would take this position. What Russia is doing and planning to do is the equivalent of the US seeking to take over Canada, Mexico, and Central America down to the Panama Canal as a way of making itself even more defensible and bringing those countries’ resources under its domination. Further, to make the comparison accurate, one would also have to imagine the US being willing to flatten all the civilian infrastructure in those countries leaving their inhabitants to suffer and starve. I find the theme of this article very disturbing.

  4. Donald Cruser December 10, 2022

    When Russia got involved in Central America we went to war (Iran/Contra) to stop it. We have been very involved in Ukraine providing weapons and training troops. According to Norman Solomon since the collapse of the Soviet Union we have dumped 1.2 trillion dollars worth of weapons into the countries bordering Russia. There is the major clue to understanding this war. Our military/industrial complex has become such a powerful economic force that it is leading us into profit making wars all over the globe. Korea, Viet Nam, Afganistan, Iraq, etc. and what have we gained from these killing exploits. Only huge profits for the war machine. We haven’t won any of the wars because the longer the war goes on the more to profit. When Dick Cheny quit as CEO of Haliburton and they gave him a 25 million retirement package I thought to myself, “What will Dick do to pay them back?”Long before the war was over I read where Halliburton had made 14 billion on the war in Iraq. Not a bad return on their investment in Dick. Many of our top generals work for the arms producers when they leave the military. It is all part of our system of legalized bribery. Our contribution to the war in Ukraine is now up to more than 60 billion and climbing. There are people in this country that are getting rich off of this war. The perfect war with a legitimate bad guy and Americans are not dying. Forget negotiations, the economic forces will keep this war and the killing going for a long time. We are all culpable since it is our tax dollars making it possible.

    My grand mother immigrated from Kiev in 1916. She spoke Russian and always identified as Russian. For centuries Ukraine and Russia were one country called Rus. There are large regions of Ukraine where the majority of the people are Russian. In the historical perspective it looks like a civil war. Here we go again fighting another war, thousands of miles from home, in another regional conflict. Don’t expect it to end soon and don’t expect us and our allies to win. Just expect someone to profit.

    • Alex S December 11, 2022

      The timing of your grandmothers exodus from Ukraine/Russia seems to have been appropriately timed. The Soviet regime was still consolidating its power in 1919 after the revolution and the people had been put through horrible conscription processes and sent, sometimes completely unarmed, out to the front to participate in the Czarist military’s human wave “strategy” on the eastern front. A generation before that, most people in Russia were still serfs, effectively slaves tied to the land.

      The reason that Ukraine and Russia were one country as you put it was because the Mongols conquered Kievan Rus and occupied it throughout the 14th and 15th century. They decimated the population, razed all fortifications and most towns and cities to the ground, and destroyed the cultural and intellectual heritage of Kievan Rus by burning all collections of books and burning down centers of learning.

      The Duchy of Moscovy, beginning around the reign of Ivan the Terrible, took advantage of the weakening remnants of the great Mongol horde, which had splintered into the Golden Horde in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. As that fragment fragmented further, Moscovy took advantage of the situation and took over its territories by force, intrigue, and diplomacy. The budding Russian Empire kept Ukraine under its boot for the next few hundred years. Russian acculturation efforts and the forced emigration of ethic Russians to Cossack territories in Ukraine forced hundreds of thousands or millions of people to take refuge in the Ottoman Empire to maintain their way of life.

      The Soviets continued the process of forced emigration of Russians to Ukraine to bring the territory further under its domination and to control the rich coal fields of the Don Basin as well as some of the most productive agricultural land in the world, equal only to the US central plains. It is possible, though I have no way of knowing, that your grandmother is of ethnic Russian heritage as a result of such programs.

      I agree with you that, prior to 2014, Ukraine was largely pro-Russian either because the history I previously mentioned was no longer vivid in the the cultural history or because the relocation of so many ethnic Russians to Ukraine meant that most Ukrainians now had Russian ancestry.

      At the end of the day, my point is that the Kievan Rus were NOT Russian. They were Ukrainian. Russian heritage stems from the Duchy of Moscovy in the 14th and 15th centuries. Kievan Rus had been around for centuries before that and had very strong cultural ties and trade relations with the Byzantine Empire, most trading slaves and furs for gold, silver, and luxury goods. The fact that there is so much overlap in the Russian/Ukrainian ven diagram is a result of efforts to dilute or eliminate traditional Ukrainian heritage within that country. The one Russia/Ukraine idea is Czarist Era propaganda to justify their military operations in Ukraine as peace keeping and protecting ethnic Russians. The Soviets inherited that legacy and continued in all of the satellite Soviet Republics, not just Ukraine. That is why Putin has used that argument to justify his actions in several countries since 2020.

      I can understand why this issue is close to home for you. We all want to believe our history as it is told to us when we are young. Unfortunately, the truth is seldom as simple as our memories and anecdotes would make us believe.

    • Alex S. December 11, 2022

      Those are all reasonable points with some of merit. However, there was scant if any American weaponry in Ukraine on the eve of the Annexation of the Donbas and Crimea in 2014. If there was more in February 2022, it wasn’t much. That’s why the Ukrainians had all Russian and Soviet era tanks, planes, small arms, air defence etc. in February. I remember the graphics comparing the sizes of the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces on the eve of the invasion. On paper, and in reality had the west not supported Ukraine, the Russians would have mowed over the entire country. I don’t think they could have held it, but they sure could have put a puppet regime in place.

      The thing your argument misses is that US hasn’t been pushing weapons down the throats of former Soviet Republics as it seemed you were insinuating. Quite the contrary, all of those countries approached NATO and had to make significant investments to join the alliance. They didn’t do so to threaten Russia. They did so to protect themselves against a country, Russia, that has repeatedly and viciously invaded their nations over and over again for hundreds of years. Before the end of World War II, Poland wasn’t an independent country most of the time. Poland was mostly divided to one degree or another between Germany and Russia. Finland is another example. Several wars and border conflicts between Russia and Finland have occurred.

      Saying that we provoked Russia by providing arms to countries it routinely invaded is like saying that we provoked a bully by teaching the kids he abused how to defend themselves. NATO is definitionally a defensive alliance. There’s even a fair amount of doubt whether all the countries would really come to the aid of another depending on the level of provocation. Tyrants and empires always sow the seeds of their own downfalls by abusing their citizens, subjects, and neighbors. Eventually everyone puts the differences aside for the moment to take the empire down. Russia is experiencing the same thing.

      The Russian nation serves the ethnically Russian people who live west of the Ural Mountains, it always has and to the detriment of its ethnic minorities. The country outside that core isn’t a single nation, it’s a loose confederation of nations, most of whom would rather be independent.

      The big danger I see here, to my mind, is that the modern state of Russia will be rent apart by the turmoil caused by this war, shattering into warring statelets. Consider the potential ramifications of that and I think you’ll be more comforted by the array of weaponry parked just outside the Russian border.

  5. George Hollister December 11, 2022

    Was your grandmother aware of Stalin’s Ukrainian Famine that killed 4 million Ukrainians? Likely not. Stalin hid this deadly Russian assault on Ukraine, as well has Hitler hid the Holocaust.

  6. George Hollister December 11, 2022

    Another significant event was the Treaty Of Westphalia that came at the end of the 30 Years War. This treaty established national sovereignty, and became a fundamental part of world order from that time forward. Russia was not a signer of the treaty, but has paid lip service to the fundamental principal. Russia gave Ukraine sovereignty nearly 30 years ago. Now they are violating that sovereignty.. Westphalian Sovereignty has been violated by many, so it is not perfect. But Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty is overt, and Russia can not even begin to make the case that Ukraine was a threat to Russia’s sovereignty. Was Ukraine going to invade Russia? And the argument that NATO was a threat to Russia does not hold water, either. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine most NATO countries, including the USA, did not think Russia was a threat and NATO funding was lacking as a result. Remember President Obama’s declaration that Russia was no longer a threat, the Cold War was long over.

    • Alex S. December 11, 2022

      Excellent points, all. That ones the one that’s right in front of everyone’s face. Ukraine may be becoming a threat to Russia now that it has full NATO support and arms, but that’s Putin’s fault. As is the rest of Scandinavia joining NATO. There was hope coming out of the Cold War that Russia would finally join the rest of the world powers as a rules-based nation. I partially blame the US and its allies for that. There should have been a Marshall Plan for the old Soviet Bloc. Sadly, that chance won’t come again for a long while. Putin has absolutely destroyed his country’s future for the next 10 – 20 years at least. I empathise with and pity the Russian people who have to bear the consequences of Putins savagery.

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