In upcoming posts, we shall have things to say about informational aspects of the current world disorder. Likely the most urgent of these pertain to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Why do US leaders deem it worthwhile to undertake the nuclear gamble they are making in Ukraine?  One reason has been publicly asserted: as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated in April , 2022, the US is trying to weaken and destabilize Russia.[1] This goal has been more difficult to accomplish than the US projected; moreover, even partly realized, it has rendered Russia more dependent on America’s adversary, China – Russia’s largest trading partner.[2] Russia brings to its Chinese ally substantial assets: military technology; newly opened Arctic sea lanes for inter-Asian shipping; river passages from northern Russia to the Black Sea[3]; abundant endowments of oil, gas, water, and prospectively arable land; and a land corridor from the Baltic to the Pacific sporting a 2600 mile border with China itself.  In sum, it’s not clear that weakening Russia constitutes a rational objective for any but the obsessive neocons who dominate Washington’s foreign policy.  These cadres, Victoria Nuland, Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, and the like, are intent on completing the project of extending The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Russia’s doorstep – a project that Paul Wolfowitz and other forbears initiated during the 1990s.

A second reason for US support for the Ukraine war has, however, gone mostly unmentioned. US policy is motivated by an overarching concern to resubordinate Europe, by “cutting Russia off totally from Germany and the EU, cementing permanent U.S. control of Western Europe.”[4] So far the US has been very effective in actualizing this objective – although it also seems likely to strengthen the far right in European politics as living standards deteriorate.[5] German reliance on Russian energy has been reduced by the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline and related decisions by the German government, removing much of Germany’s ability to waffle on its commitment to the war[6]; and NATO is being enlarged again, to include Finland and – almost certainly – Sweden – even if Europe’s military expenditures have not yet reached the level desired by US leaders. The European Left has meanwhile been fractured, so that a coherent mass peace movement has not arisen to challenge the war.   

The Ukrainian political economy is shot through with graft and corruption. Arms shipments are not exempt from these disabling practices; nor are they necessarily providing equipment most likely to be effective in repelling the Russians.[7] Within this wider matrix, however, the Ukrainians’ fighting strength has been augmented by their reliance on US communications and information technology. 

US targeting information was used by Ukraine less than four months after the start of Russia’s invasion to sink the Russian Navy’s Black Sea missile cruiser, the Moskva.[8] Satellite imagery, NATO aircraft overflight intelligence, and intercepts of Russian military communications were by then flowing to Ukraine’s military in “real time,” according to a Ukrainian official, becoming a “key enabler of the Ukrainian campaign.”[9]

US corporate enterprise also stepped forward to assist. Elon Musk’s privately owned SpaceX satellites have provided broadband communications for a variety of purposes to Ukraine’s military.  In February 2023, SpaceX’s president announced that the company had taken unnamed measures to prevent Ukraine from using its Starlink service to operate offensive drones in the region.[10]  How reliable this announcement was, and whether it came after the fact, are not known. 

The Ukrainians’ reliance on Lockheed-Martin’s HIMARS computer-guided rocket artillery also binds them to a larger information network that is under US control.[11]

In these three instances, US organizations are undeniably parties to the Ukraine war.  Yet it seems unthinkable that the mainstream media, let alone the US Congress – which alone possesses the power to declare war under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution – should demand to hold a formal debate over US participation in this grave and escalating conflict.

[1] Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood, Keven Liptak and Alex Marquardt, “Austin’s assertion that US wants to ‘weaken’ Russia underlines Biden strategy shift,” CNN, April 26, 2022.

[2] Perhaps this is a reason why, by early in 2023, there began to be at least some quasi-official discussion of how to limit the length of the war.  Samuel Charap, Miranda Priebe, “Avoiding a Long War: U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict,” RAND National Security Research Division, PE-A2510-1, 2023. 

[3] Alastair Crooke, “The Most Egregious Mistake,” Strategic Culture Foundation January 23, 2023.

[4] Diana Johnstone, “Demonstrate Together,” Consortium News, February 14, 2023.

[5] Wolfgang Streeck, “Getting Closer,” Sidecar, November 7, 2022.

[6] Alexander Zevin and Seymour Hersh, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” Sidecar, February 15, 2023 ; Seymour Hersh, “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline,” Substack, February 8, 2023.

[7] Andrew Cockburn, “More Magic Weapons for Ukraine!,” Spolis of War, January 25, 2023.

[8] Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Intelligence Helped Ukraine Strike Russian Flagship, Officials Say,” New York Time, May 5, 2022.

[9] Shane Harris, Paul Sonne, Dan Lamothe and Michael Birnbaum, “U.S. provided intelligence that helped Ukraine sink Russian warship,” Washington Post, May 5, 2022.

[10] Joey Roulette, “SpaceX curbed Ukraine’s use of Starlink internet for drones – company president,” Reuters February 9, 2023.

[11] Christopher Caldwell, “Russia and Ukraine Have Incentives to Negotiate.  The U.S. Has Other Plans,” New York Times, February 7, 2023; HIMARS: Protecting our soldiers with combat proven reliability, Lockheed Martin.

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