by Howard Machtinger

Michael Klare has one of the more interesting takes on the war in Ukraine in the context of the last generation of global struggle [read it here at].

He notes how many of the global contestants have misread the ‘correlation of forces’—especially in terms of discounting the morale and tenacity of its opponents. This was true for both the USSR and the US in Afghanistan, for instance, as well as in the current moment. China ”had misread the meaning of the American exit from Afghanistan and, like the Russians, assumed it indicated Washington’s retreat from global engagement. ‘If the U.S. cannot even secure a victory in a rivalry with small countries, how much better could it do in a major power game with China?’ asked the state-owned Global Times in August 2021.”

Klare also shows how China was taken aback by the Russian invasion: “China didn’t even evacuate thousands of its own nationals from Ukraine when the U.S. and other Western nations did so, leaving them in place as the war broke out.” And then he importantly cautions “Today, the global correlation of forces looks positive indeed for the United States and that… should worry us all….Seeking regime change in Russia (or anywhere else, for that matter) is certain to alienate many foreign governments now supportive of Washington’s leadership. Likewise, a precipitous move to pull Taiwan into America’s military orbit could trigger a U.S.-China war neither side wants, with catastrophic consequences. The correlation of forces may now seem to be in America’s favor, but if there’s one thing to be learned from the present moment, it’s just how fickle such calculations can prove to be and how easily the global situation can turn against us if we behave capriciously.”

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, US leaders believed they could do what they liked in a ‘unipolar world’ which led to disaster after disaster in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and so on. Instead of a peace dividend then, fantasies of world domination were fostered under the illusion that ‘the end of history’ had arrived resulting in a US-cloned world. Thanks to M, for pointing me toward this.

Samuel Moyn: ”More than 80% of all US military interventions abroad since 1946 came after 1989.”

One indication of this danger is the prospect of the US and NATO horning in on negotiations between Ukraine and Russia [NATO says Ukraine to decide on peace deal with Russia within limits (].

I do think this is an anti-imperial war against the forces of reaction, but I resist the notion that the anti-Russian coalition is the repository of freedom. For instance, defining Saudi Arabia as part of the forces of freedom—or right wing Poland, for that matter–doesn’t fly, nor does the heroizing of the US as the guardian of progressive values and of the legal world order—a nation which has flouted international law whenever it suited and has tried to neuter any limitations on its power

This poses a big problem for those of us in the peace movement who feel solidarity with Ukrainians who are demanding more military aid, while other European nations are arming up in Eastern Europe as well as Germany. What does anti-militarism mean in this moment? How can condemnation of Russian aggression coexist with a critique of western militarism?

I am good with the idea of building unity in the peace movement as the following article pleads for, but my gut instinct is that the cleavages in the peace movement over the war in Ukraine are defining and cannot be pled away [“Ukraine crisis splitting peace movement when its needed most” (]

That said, it makes sense to figure out how to work together and push back against any form of war fever.

War crimes in Ukraine committed by an occupying army are now in the media limelight. Biden has termed Putin a “war criminal”. I can’t help being reminded that when the story of the My Lai massacre broke during the American war in Vietnam, there was international condemnation, but who among global governments called for trying US leadership as war criminals?