The Intoxicating Pull of Proxy War Will Worsen Ukraine

John Glaser, April 14, 2014

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The White House has just confirmed what had been reported in Russian media that CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev over the weekend.

“Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is accusing the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force,” AP reports. “But the CIA denies that Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations.”

One would have to be incredibly gullible to believe that the CIA Director was in Kiev for benign reasons, just to catch up and have tea with the new leadership.

Coming alongside this news is word from the State Department that, “the United States is considering supplying arms to Ukraine,” to fight against pro-Russian militias and protesters in the east.

This looks like the beginnings of a new proxy war. If the U.S. goes down this road, even in a limited fashion, Ukraine will descend into even worse chaos and Eastern Europe will become a resource sinkhole for an already indebted U.S.

The pull of getting involved in proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work. Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the details. Proxy wars are usually waged secretly and thus represent U.S. foreign policy that the American people (and indeed most of the U.S. government itself) has no say in. They usually involve supporting unscrupulous groups of people that often end up committing serious crimes (although, it’s by proxy so U.S. officials typically wiggle out of any responsibility).

Perhaps most importantly, research shows pretty clearly that when foreign powers meddle in a civil conflict-turn-proxy war, the conflict is prolonged and often becomes stalemated. Each side in Ukraine is already emboldened by their respective foreign backers and therefore neither has incentive to compromise.

Beyond all of those palpable reasons not to get involved in a proxy war, one question that is barely (if ever) asked in the mainstream is what business the U.S. has of getting involved in the Ukraine crisis in the first place. Ukraine is not a vital U.S. interest, even as defined by policymakers in Washington, D.C. who think virtually “every nook and cranny of the globe is of great strategic significance.”

Commentators left and right can holler all they want about Moscow’s transgressions, but it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. has no right or legal sanction whatsoever to meddle in Ukraine.

If it’s true that Brennan was conducting tactical operations in Ukraine and that the State Department is going to send in weapons to Kiev, then Americans can wait for Ukraine to get much, much worse, as both eastern and western Ukraine become emboldened by their respective backers in Moscow and Washington, neither of which are apparently willing to back down themselves.




24 Responses to “The Intoxicating Pull of Proxy War Will Worsen Ukraine”

  1. Pro-Russian Militants? Translation Russian Commandos, Marines, Special Forces.

    Civil war? This is a Russian land grab pure and simple.

  2. That translation could also be "Gladio" style, US/EU/NATO financed mercenaries working to create the impression of being pro-Russian militants.

    NBC reports a Russian fighter jet buzzed a US warship http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/r
    Shades of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

    Whether it be proxy war, or the more traditional direct involvement, it seems our "leaders" are anxious to begin a conflict in or around Ukraine.

  3. What puzzles me is that if these Pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine are really Russian troops in disguise, why hasn't even one of the been captured, identified, and paraded down Kiev streets to show him to the world? Let's see him; seeing is believing.

  4. I always feel safer when John Brennan and the CIA arrive on the scene. Nothing can go wrong. See my coments of this morning:

    Title: DO NOT BAIT THE RUSSIAN BEAR
    Link: http://deyanbrashich.com/home/2014/4/14/do-not-ba
    Excerpt: The Litchfield County Times has covered the ongoing confrontation between United States lead NATO and Russia, the “invasion” of Crimea, the referendum on secession and its subsequent annexation; the ongoing unrest in the region with pro-Russian elements seeking control over territory formerly an integral part of the Ukraine. NATO is now threatening to deploy some 40,000 ground forces, including US soldiers, to Eastern European countries bordering Russia.

    A speech by Thomas Graham, a managing director of Kissinger Associates, said to be an expert on Russia, was featured in an article in the Times last week. His comments and views as a former Presidential special assistant and National Security Council director were fully covered and need not be repeated except to note that he does not address the issue of a possible military response or fallout from economic sanctions.

    The Times also published an interview last month with Gregory Feifer, another Russian expert and the author of “Russians: The People Behind the Power”. Mr. Feifer spoke of his observations of Russia and the course of events, historical, political and economic which have led to the present confrontation but categorically states that military action “is off the table”.

    With this I agree, but as a casual observer of events without expertise I feel obliged to comment.

  5. It's also convenient that Brennan can't answer questions about the latest breach of the War Powers Act: CIA's Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

  6. As wars fought by proxy seems to be the preferred modus operandi for the United States it doesn’t surprise me, indeed seems quite natural, that America should use mercenaries, terrorists and those with links to organised crime to do its bidding in the Ukraine and elsewhere. The gun running, drug smuggling, money laundering and other attendant evils necessary to the successful prosecution of such wars, together with the terrible human cost, are simply airbrushed out of history by the 24/7 propaganda system we live under… nothing more than ‘blowback’ and ‘collateral damage’. And I fear it will only get worse because the heart of the US economy is a military-security system built on war, fear and incarceration that has nowhere to turn but inward, toward tyranny, or outward, towards war.

  7. A hundred years ago, WW1 was billed as the war to end all wars – as it turned out – a little bit prematurely. Today, any policies such as supporting a proxy war in Ukraine that could lead to direct confrontation with Russia might finally give us the war to end all wars – without the positive connotations that the WW1 slogan was intended to carry. So, continue with the wise policies.

  8. I really hope that the US & EU can help Ukraine to stabilize the situation. Right now it seems like Russia uses all of its power to destabilize the region, lets hope for the sake of the people their, that these attempts will fail.

  9. Ukraine is not our problem, and you won't get far with R2P arguments here. If the US wanted to stabilize Ukraine then force Kiev to stop making provocative statements and blaming their unpopularity on the Russians. Why would the east be pleased that their candidate was removed from office with violence that the US would not condemn, but when the voters revolt over their democratic rights being usurped by isolated mob violence in Kiev they are immediately condemned even before they are openly violent.

  10. […] The White House has just confirmed what had been reported in Russian media that (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev over the weekend.“Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is accusing the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force,” AP reports. “But the CIA denies that Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations.”One would have to be incredibly gullible to believe that the CIA Director was in Kiev for benign reasons, just to catch up and have tea with the new leadership. Read full article […]

  11. Its 2014. 100 years ago was 1914, the year that patriotic idiots pretty much destroyed the world because one Serbian shot two Austrians. And for that 20 million had to die, and also setup a second war that killed 50 million.

    Keep on saying, without offering proof, that the militants in Eastern Ukraine are just Russians who came over the border. But SOMEONE voted for the fellow Yanukovich who was elected free and fair, and they have a right to be pissed off that the guy they elected got overthrown by violent street action.

    It is time to begin defusing the whole situation by getting the long ugly nose of the US World Domination State out of Ukrainian affairs.

  12. Who subsidized the overthrow of the elected government in Kiev last month, and then bragged on a phone call that we were going to get "our guy" installed into power in Kiev? It was NOT Russia.

    The original provocation, again as always, comes from the black hand of the US World Domination State.

    The US "stabilize" Ukraine????? Only a human being so profoundly ignorant that he could overlook the immense destruction visited on every recent "beneficiary" of US "stabilization" could utter such words. Go tell the people of Iraq or Syria, or Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Vietnam, or any other country pulverized and atomized by the the US World Domination state how great it is to be "stabilized" by Uncle Sam!!

  13. […] conflict with the nuclear-armed Russkies has to be   ruled out. However, as John Glaser wisely pointed out, a proxy war is another   question entirely: one can easily imagine an alternate world in which […]

  14. […] John Glaser writes for Antiwar: […]

  15. […] proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work,” writes John Glaser. “Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the […]

  16. […] proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work,” writes John Glaser. “Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the details. […]

  17. […] in proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work,” writes John Glaser. “Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the details. […]

  18. […] in proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work,” writes John Glaser. “Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the details. […]

  19. […] in proxy wars is intoxicatingly strong for an obvious reason: proxies do all the work,” writes John Glaser. “Just provide surrogates cash and guns and voilà! The devil, as always, is in the details. […]

  20. What is most odd is that the right-wingers on the attack against the small libertarian-leaning wing of the party that opposes rabid interventionism seem thoroughly unaware that what they call “naive” foreign policy is actually backed up by history and much of academia.

  21. Whether it be proxy war, or the more traditional direct involvement, it seems our "leaders" are anxious to begin a conflict in or around Ukraine.
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