Loss of reality and bellicism
by Andreas Urban
Ukraine is “worn out” here, which is supposed to fight a proxy war “until the last Ukrainian” and is equipped for this with weapons, ammunition, financial means, etc., in the desperate hope to finally force Russia to surrender or at least to gain a negotiating position in which the West can impose all possible maximum demands on the enemy. None of this is even remotely realistic.
Loss of reality and bellicism
by Andreas Urban
[This article posted on 6/4/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.streifzuege.org/2023/realitaetsverlust-und-bellizismus/.]
In recent months, not only has the course of the proxy war raging in Ukraine between Russia and the “collective West” continued to escalate to the disadvantage of Ukraine and its Western allies, as was to be expected, but hand in hand with this, the loss of reality in the West has also scaled new heights. Since the Ukrainian “autumn offensive,” which was hailed, especially in the Western media, as an imminent turnaround in the war against Russia, but which in reality brought few strategically relevant territorial gains and was extremely costly for Ukraine, even these minimal successes have been largely undone and Russia has not only intensified its air strikes on Ukrainian cities, but has also made considerable progress on the front lines. If, after Soledar (mid-January), the heavily contested town of Bachmut also falls, the way would be clear for Russia to seize the remaining regions in and take full control of the Donbass.
First of all, in the West, the narrative that “Russia is losing” and “Ukraine is winning” continues unimpressed. People continue to spread Selenskyi’s hallucinations in the media at every opportunity about a reconquest of Crimea and an imminent victory over Russia. In the meantime, however, the real situation is already so bleak that only a few days later it is necessary to report on the Ukrainian president’s admission that the situation on the front is becoming increasingly difficult. The disastrous course of the war for Ukraine and the West is then glossed over as a “stalemate” in which both sides would suffer equally high losses.
Who is running out of ammunition?
Against this backdrop, it can only be explained by a loss of reality when a victory for Ukraine is predicted, and possibly even in the course of the coming months. This is the prediction of a “military expert” from ETH Zurich, for example, who claims on the basis of his calculations that Ukraine will “defeat Russia in October”. (blick.ch, 1.3.2023) We thus encounter here the same detachment from any objective reality as already in the “pandemic” modeling, whose “models” and forecasts derived from them have often enough proven to be grotesquely wrong. The “model assumptions” about the war are based above all on the fairy tale that has been told since the beginning of the war, according to which the Russians will soon – but now really! – will soon run out of ammunition. Even if one were to assume that Russian consumption of ammunition would exceed production capacity at some point in the near future, Ukraine would still be worse off because it is dependent on Western supplies, which, however, are drying up.
How things actually stand can even be read in Western media: According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung of March 7, 2023, the EU is planning to buy artillery shells for a billion euros – “both to supply Ukraine with them and to replenish its own largely depleted stocks.” The article also includes data on Ukrainian versus Russian firepower: according to the article, Russian forces could fire about 20,000 artillery shells per day, while Ukraine had only 4,000 to 6,000 rounds per day. According to Ukrainian Defense Minister Resnikov, “to be militarily effective,” Ukraine needs more than 350,000 rounds per month. However, as even the author of that article cannot fail to notice, this is far beyond the EU’s capabilities. In its article, the Süddeutsche calculates that a “simple 155-millimeter grenade, which, for example, does not have a laser or GPS guidance unit – a so-called ‘dumb bomb’ – […] costs around 3,000 euros per piece. So, with one billion euros, a little more than 330,000 projectiles can be procured – less than Ukraine says it needs per month.” The article (as well as the EU) leaves completely open the question of who is to produce the ammunition in sufficient quantities, especially since it is questionable whether Europe currently has the necessary armament capacities at all. It is no coincidence that the EU’s “plan” includes as a separate point “to [strengthen] armaments capabilities in Europe in the long term.” Against this background, then, there can be little doubt: If anyone is going to run out of ammunition soon, it will be Ukraine long before Russia.
Arms deliveries and “war of attrition”
On the practical-political level, too, the West is sticking to its “tried and tested” portfolio of measures, i.e. it keeps imposing new sanctions that have already failed to have the effect it had hoped they would, but have resulted in no small economic “collateral damage.” For example, on February 24, 2023, exactly on the first anniversary of the “Russian war of aggression,” the EU adopted its tenth package of sanctions. The “strategy” of supplying more and more weapons to Ukraine remains unchanged. The extent of the desperation (but also the madness) in the West can be seen in particular in the fact that more and more red lines are being crossed that have the potential to escalate the conflict into a third world war. This includes, above all, the decision of several Western countries to supply battle tanks to Ukraine. Meanwhile, after the tank deliveries proved to be the farce that they are, there are even discussions about the delivery of fighter jets. If there is no restraint here soon, it can be expected that in the not too distant future the demand for cluster munitions raised by Ukrainian Vice-Governor Kubrakov at the Munich Security Conference in February 2023 could possibly be approached as well – which would, after all, demonstrate the West’s will to commit war crimes. However, the fact that the U.S. recently announced its intention to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles, which would undoubtedly raise the war to a further level of escalation, speaks against a timely flash of rudimentary residual reason.
This prolongation of an already lost war, pursued by the West with absurd to incendiary means, comes at the cost of countless human lives, especially among the Ukrainian population and among the men (and women) who are being burned up on the front lines in ever greater numbers. The whole cynicism of the Western “strategy” is expressed in the media and political vocabulary of the “war of attrition”: Above all, Ukraine is “worn out” here, which is supposed to fight a proxy war “until the last Ukrainian” and is equipped for this with weapons, ammunition, financial means, etc., in the desperate hope to finally force Russia to surrender or at least to gain a negotiating position in which the West can impose all possible maximum demands on the enemy. None of this is even remotely realistic after the course of the war so far. And the more time passes, the worse the Ukrainian negotiating position will become and the greater and more extensive will be the already massive destruction. The Western projections, of course, turn this into a war of attrition for Putin, garnished with the usual demonization and psychopathologization of the Russian “autocrat,” who is simply “indifferent” to human lives – as if “human lives” had ever been a concern in war (especially in the Western wars of world order from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria), and as if the West did not contribute significantly to the increasingly desolate situation in Ukraine through its persistent escalation policy.
Reduced functional intelligence
Moreover, despite the entertainment value that some of the cabaret-like interludes of the Western functional elites may undoubtedly have, it should not be overlooked that they have an enormous escalation potential that could easily go as far as provoking a nuclear war that threatens humanity. The hand on the doomsday clock stands at 90 seconds to midnight – the danger of a global catastrophe is greater than ever before. The ridiculousness and lunacy of many Western actions in the “war against Putin” ultimately only point to the highly desolate state in which the “collective West” together with its “reduced capitalist functional intelligence” (Robert Kurz: Weltordnungskrieg, Bad Honnef, p. 425) seems to find itself in the meantime. 425): It is risking an ever further and ever greater escalation of the war with measures which, in the final analysis, are good for little more than a toothless symbolic policy, but which, in their signal effect on the enemy, are always capable of raising the conflict above the threshold of the Third World War. For example, when the West, by supplying battle tanks, de facto takes an action that the adversary could easily interpret as a declaration of war and thus, under certain circumstances, give it the legitimacy under international law to attack Western bases where, for example, Ukrainian soldiers are trained to operate the tanks. Especially since figures like Annalena Baerbock are meanwhile already explicitly talking about being at war with Russia themselves.
The same panopticon of insanity is the source of the ad nauseam propagated and prolonged sanctions policy, which has long since proven its modest effectiveness, but all the more harmful for it. Here, too, in view of the predominantly autodestructive effects of sanctions, the “purpose” is probably primarily a symbolic one: to demonstrate solidarity, to show the flag and – increasingly – to distract from the failure of one’s own “strategies” (“the path taken is the right one”). Unlike the sanctions policy itself, however, the damage caused does not remain on a symbolic level, but accrues on a very tangible material level. The Western sanctions policy is thus not only virtual, but truly destructive. The functional elites still manage, if only with extreme contortions, to muddle through the material effects of their actions to some extent – or at least to pretend that they do. But here, too, the persistently denied reality is visibly hitting back (inflation, refugee crisis, energy crisis, looming recession, etc.), and the day is probably not far off when the functional elites and the parts of the population currently still in the throes of war will be brought back down to earth.
In addition to the loss of a grip on reality, Western warmongering and the accompanying brutalization of public discourse, especially among the left-liberal and green “living room generals,” have climbed to new heights in recent months. Admittedly, the tone was already not exactly squeamish immediately after the start of the war and, for example, the Spiegel columnist Sascha Lobo – who considers himself a punk and who had already attracted attention during the “pandemic” through the vilest agitation against “opponents of measures” and “unvaccinated” – already denigrated opponents of the war and peace activists as “lumpenpacifists” in April 2022. (spiegel.de, 20.4.2022) However, the course of the war and the hardly deniable shattering of their own “narratives” in the face of objective reality have left clear traces on the nerves of the “solidary” Bellicists and have once again raised the level of aggression considerably. Thus, at the end of February 2023, the Standard blogger Christian Kreil insulted the initiators of the “Manifesto for Peace,” Alice Schwarzer and Sahra Wagenknecht, on Twitter as “Putin cunts” and – in order not to fall into the “gender trap” – other male celebrities positioning themselves against the war as “Putin cocksuckers” in a gender-appropriate manner. (The tweet has since been deleted.) In January, Andrij Melnyk, who will be the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany until the fall of 2022, had already called Sahra Wagenknecht a “disgusting witch” on Twitter (January 21, 2023). However, the preliminary high point in this march into barbarism, which has already begun at least verbally, was certainly marked by a guest article by the Israeli-French sociologist Eva Illouz in Die Zeit, in which she explicitly wished for “a total and crushing victory for Ukraine.” The article first appeared in the print edition on February 16, 2023, and two days later online – that is, exactly on the 80th anniversary of Joseph Goebbels’ infamous speech in Berlin’s Sports Palace on February 18, 1943 (“Do you want total war?”).
Such unmistakable and almost blatant echoes of the language of fascism are capable of rendering speechless even the value critic who is used to so many things and who is certainly not under any illusions about the “civilized nature” of modern, democratic bourgeoisie. Today it seems to be confirmed in such an impressive and shuddering way what Adorno already stated about the continued existence of fascism and what the left-liberal and left-academic milieu, which traditionally sees itself as “anti-fascist”, always and everywhere imagining itself in the fight against “Nazis” and “enemies of democracy”, but today everywhere blowing the trumpet for the war of annihilation against all kinds of external and internal enemies, already wants to know nothing about for a long time: “Only because the causes persist, its spell was not broken until today. ” (Theodor W. Adorno, 1971: Was bedeutet Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit, in: ders.: Erziehung zur Mündigkeit, Frankfurt/Main, p. 28.) The causes for the “spell” of fascism, which has not been broken until today, do not lie in the eternal stubbornness, obtuseness, stupidity or even general evilness of “right-wingers”, “Nazis”, “conspiracy ideologists” etc., but precisely in that “democracy” in the name of which “anti-fascism”, which today has degenerated into nothing more than a hollow phrase, goes to war and does not even shy away from ever more fascistoid methods. In view of such massively advanced tendencies towards savagery, one can only marvel again and again at the fact that large parts of the critique of value and value-division waste their time and attention on a critique of the anti-imperialists, who are unquestionably caught in a historical anachronism, but at least refuse to engage in that bizarre and homicidal warmongering. (Cf. Tomasz Konicz, Die Alternativimperialisten, in: konkret 9/2022). For the “avant-garde of barbarism” – as is made clear by the discursive lapses in public debate and social media that have become the norm in the meantime – is certainly not formed by the “anti-imps” in the present situation, nor even probably by the “right-wingers” (or whatever is subsumed under them in the meantime), but above all by that completely feral “left-liberal” intelligentsia that is now dropping its last bourgeois-democratic masks.
Finally, some events of the last months are worth mentioning, about which the Western media persistently keep silent – probably because they have the potential to considerably damage the “narrative” of the “war against Putin” as a fight for “Western values” and a just “defensive war”. For example, an interview by Angela Merkel in Time on December 7, 2022, in which she states with disarming candor that the Minsk Agreement, which should have settled the civil war in Ukraine that has been raging since 2014, was only used by the West to buy Ukraine time to become “stronger” and arm itself against Russia. This “confession” is relevant under the aspect of growing dysfunctionality of the West and its institutions, which is primarily of interest in this article, regardless of whether Merkel is telling the truth in this interview or not. If they are true, such words are downright grist to Russia’s mill, where an image of the West and its representatives as actors who do not abide by their own rules and break agreements wherever it suits them (not without reason) prevails anyway. Russia even has its own word for this (??????????????????, which means “not agreement capable” or, in an inadequate German translation, “nicht abkommensfähig” or “vereinbarungsfähig”). This would permanently slam the doors shut on any negotiations with Russia that might still follow and would probably be necessary at some point, not to mention any subsequent “international relations.” If Merkel’s statements do not correspond to the truth or are at least to be qualified as exaggerated, the question arises as to what she was aiming at. Was it possibly merely a matter of reaffirming her “solidarity” with Ukraine from her political retirement and with the greatest possible media impact, in the sense of the now ubiquitous virtue signalling? In that case, this would be yet another indication of the dysfunctionality of the Western tendency toward symbolic politics (which is increasingly replacing any realpolitik) and, incidentally, also an indication of a remarkable lack of political competence on the part of the former German chancellor. Merkel’s interview contributed to the incompetence thesis (see Uhlschütz 2023) even if (and even more so) her statements correspond to the facts. For what else but incompetence could cause her to commit such geopolitical stupidity and openly admit that the West never intended to abide by the Minsk Agreement and thus snub the “enemy” so unnecessarily?
Then, in another interview on February 4, 2023, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett blurted out quite a few details about the mediation talks he led between Russia and Ukraine in March 2022. (“Bennett speaks out,” youtube.com, Feb. 4, 2023) Bennett had traveled to Moscow on March 5, 2022, relatively shortly after Russia’s attack, to meet with Putin and negotiate the terms of an early cease-fire. That meeting, he said, was coordinated with the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Both sides, Bennett said, had indicated a willingness to make far-reaching concessions in the process. For example, he said, the Russian side had agreed to forego disarming Ukraine as a basis for a cease-fire. For the Ukrainian side, in turn, Selenskyj had conceded to no longer seek NATO membership, which ultimately also represents one of Russia’s main demands and one of the reasons for its “military intervention.” As is well known, the negotiations ultimately failed, and, as Bennett says, it was due to pressure from the West, particularly the United Kingdom. In April 2022, he says, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kiev and urged Selenskyj not to negotiate with Russia. Thus, Bennett basically confirms the Russian version about the breakdown of the negotiations at that time, which was and is dismissed in the West, like many other things, as “Russian propaganda.” Admittedly, as early as May 2022, for example, it was possible to read in Ukrainska Pravda, not exactly a Russian propaganda paper, that it was indeed Boris Johnson who, during his visit to Kiev, gave the Ukrainian president to understand that Western supporters would not agree to an agreement with Russia under any circumstances, even if Ukraine were willing to sign one.
Nord Stream 2
A particularly interesting example of a “conspiracy theory” and “Russian propaganda” also recently caused quite a stir. US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh – something of a legend in his field, who has already made a name for himself as an “exposer” on numerous other occasions (for example, in the Watergate scandal or in connection with torture practices by the US military in Abu Ghraib) – went public with a revealing “story” about the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines in early February 2023. The fact that the U.S. was probably behind this attack had long been whistled from the rooftops. Initially, the Western media tried to blame Russia for the destruction of the pipelines in a rather tense and clumsy manner. Soon, however, there was an embarrassed silence – it was simply too obvious that it was not the Russians who were responsible for this terrorist act, but rather the perpetrator or perpetrators were to be found among the Western allies themselves, especially in the United States, but no one seemed to be able or willing to say so. The research published by Hersh in February now lays out in detail that and how the destruction of the pipelines was brought about by the U.S. government with the support of Norway. Even if this does not yet provide indisputable proof and the Western media have tried hard to discredit Hersh and his research using familiar methods, the reconstruction of the “sequence of events” does not seem implausible. According to this, the explosive charges had already been placed in June 2022 during a NATO summer exercise (“BALTOPS 22”) by deep-sea divers of the U.S. Navy and detonated on September 26, 2022 by means of a sonar buoy dropped by a Norwegian aircraft. This “conspiracy theory” is explosive not least because some events in the run-up to the war appear in a new light against this background, for example the statement by U.S. President Joe Biden during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on February 7, 2022. February 2022, a little more than two weeks before Russia’s attack on Ukraine, that they would “put an end” to the Nord Stream 2 project if Russia launched an invasion – and, when asked by a journalist how the U.S. planned to do this, especially since the project was under German control, “I promise that we will be able to do it. Likewise, Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s even slightly earlier statement in a U.S. State Department press briefing that Nord Stream 2 would be stopped “one way or another” in the event of an invasion by Russia. The explosive nature of these statements – if Hersh’s story were true – would lie not only in their significance, which is by no means to be underestimated, for the chain of circumstantial evidence of a leading U.S. involvement in this unprecedented act of sabotage or rather terror. That the USA are very pleased about the destruction of the pipelines and hope to profit economically from it, since they could become the leading supplier of liquid gas in Europe, is something they do not make a big secret about anyway. The explosiveness would rather consist in the impressive indiscretion to which the statements of Biden and Nuland would refer. In the context of this article’s central question of the progressive dysfunctionality of the West and its institutions, this would be another piece of the mosaic of some significance, also from the point of view of the obvious incompetence spreading at all levels, especially among the personnel sitting at the levers of power.
Finally, the Nord Stream case has gone into another round. On March 7, 2023, the New York Times reported that, according to U.S. intelligence, the blowing up of the Nord Stream pipelines was perpetrated by a “pro-Ukrainian group.” The U.S. thus moved away from the already implausible version according to which Russia was the perpetrator of the destruction. That this is not very plausible is now also explicitly admitted by the NYT, because it is unclear “what motivation the Kremlin could have to sabotage the pipelines, since they are an important source of revenue and a means for Moscow to exert influence on Europe.” But this merely replaces one implausible, but still geopolitically convenient, version with another, no less implausible story. The nature and extent of the damage caused to the pipelines suggest an extremely sophisticated operation requiring the use of highly skilled and trained deep-sea divers, supported by a submarine or special ship. Not even Ukraine is likely to have the resources for such an operation at present, let alone any “pro-Ukrainian group.” What is remarkable about the story, however, is that it implicitly suggests Ukrainian involvement, thus shifting the buck toward its ally in Eastern Europe because, according to the NYT, the possibility was left open “that the operation might have been carried out unofficially by a proxy force with ties to the Ukrainian government or its security services.” If one also takes into account here the fact that the “U.S. officials” quoted in the article are going public with this story at a time when Ukraine’s military situation is becoming rather bleaker, this could possibly be interpreted as the first signs of an incipient U.S. disengagement.
This article is an abridged and slightly revised excerpt from the three-part essay Reality Loss and Suicidal Drift, published between November 2022 and March 2023 at wertkritik.org. Detailed references and supporting documents can be read there.