By Dan Kovalik
The politics of our two-party system increasingly defy traditional descriptions and categories, such as liberal and conservative, though both of these tendencies converge in one clear trajectory – the support of the United States’ perpetual war effort.
Take for example, the impeachment battle between the Democrats and Donald Trump. The liberal hero of this saga is Rep. Adam Schiff, who has pushed not only the impeachment campaign, but also the Russiagate narrative which under-girds it. Recently, Adam Schiff, to the adoration of liberal media outlets such as National Public Radio, proclaimed that Trump’s greatest crime was to withhold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine which, Schiff claims, is critical to American national security. As Schiff claimed, “The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there so we don’t have to fight Russia over here.” This statement appears to be a truism of U.S. liberals, though it is as dangerous as it is false.
First, this statement ignores the ugly fact that the Ukraine government and military include many neo-Nazi elements, such as the Azov Battalion. Indeed, former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica stated it well when he said that it is unfair to call these elements “neo-Nazi” because they are in fact straight-up Nazis who trace their roots directly back to the 1920s and to leaders, such as Stephen Bandera, who aided and abetted Nazi Germany in the Holocaust. Nazis such as Bandera are now being lauded and memorialized as great leaders by the current Ukrainian government – a government which another liberal icon, Barack Obama, helped put into office through a coup in 2014. And, the Ukrainian military is not in fact fighting Russia, but is fighting and killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, the military believing that Russians, along with Jews, should be purged from Ukraine.
Incredibly, we are being led to believe by liberal leaders and pundits that our national security depends upon funding such ultra-right wing forces and that Trump must keep that funding going without pause, or else. That is, liberals are in fact outflanking Trump from the right (indeed the very far right) on this issue, just as they do on Syria where, they argue, the U.S. military must remain indefinitely to allegedly protect human rights. In short, as hawkish as Trump is, the establishment Democrats may indeed be more hawkish. And, in any case, many congressional Democrats, even in the midst of trying to impeach Trump, voted to give him the largest military budget in U.S. history last fall, just two weeks after the Washington Post revealed newly-declassified documents showing that we’ve been lied to for 18 years about the war in Afghanistan. The war must go on after all, or at least that is what we are being told.
In my new book, I attempt to undermine one of the key tenets – bordering on a religious one – propping up the American faith (and in particular the liberal American faith) in the use of military force. That tenet is “humanitarian” interventionism — the belief that the West must militarily intervene around the world in order to protect human rights against the governments of the Global South and East. This doctrine, of course, depends itself upon the belief that the West, and the U.S. in particular, is morally superior to the rest of the world, and therefore, can and should exercise military power to uphold the values all of us hold dear.
The problem with this doctrine, like the problem with many religious beliefs, is that it is grounded in myths and utter falsehoods which few even bother to question. While I cannot go into all these falsehoods here (you will have to read my book for that), the following is but a sampling: (1) the belief that the West won the war against Nazi Germany (another Western country), when it was, in fact, the USSR which truly won this war; (2) the belief that liberal darling Bill Clinton led the 78-day bombing of Serbia to protect human rights, while this bombing not only violated international humanitarian law in numerous ways, but also accelerated the very human rights abuses which Clinton and NATO purported to stop; (3) the belief that President Obama, with encouragement from the troika of Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, went to war in Libya to protect human rights, when in fact that war has undermined human rights and has directly led to the creation of modern-day slave markets in Libya; and (4) the belief that NATO must stay in Afghanistan to protect women’s rights, when in fact it continues to undermine those very rights in Afghanistan, which currently ranks at the very bottom of all nations for women’s rights.
If you wish to purchase the book No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using ‘Humanitarian’ Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests, as I hope you will, it is available now for pre-order at Indiebound.org and major book retailers.
Dan Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He served as in-house counsel for the United Steel Workers for over 25 years.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 3. April, 2020. All rights reserved.