Benjamin Abelow Interview: How the West Brought War to Ukraine
The United States and NATO allies have sown the conflict in Ukraine and we are now reaping the whirlwind. That’s the view of Benjamin Abelow who explains the reasons in this interview with Finian Cunningham.
Abelow is the author of How the West Brought War to Ukraine. In his book and in this interview, he lays out the background of the war and how the US and its Western allies created the causes of conflict.
We need to understand those causes of conflict if sustainable peace is to be found – before this war turns into a catastrophe of all-out world war.
The United States, NATO and the Western media are part of the problem, not part of the solution as they would fancifully pretend to be.
Washington repeatedly ignored Moscow’s strategic security concerns over many years with the expansion of NATO right up to Russia’s borders. Even on the eve of war at the beginning of this year, the US and its NATO partners dismissed out of hand Russia’s diplomatic efforts to form a security treaty for Europe, one that would take Moscow’s concerns into proper consideration. That effort at diplomacy was rejected and now we are in a situation of horrific destruction and suffering and the potential for a nuclear conflagration.
The Western media are doing a huge disservice to public understanding of the war in Ukraine, how it was created and what are the bigger geopolitical concerns. Abelow says the Western media are acting like “propaganda arms” for warmongering policies. Russia is distorted as “evil incarnate” while Vladimir Putin is caricatured as the “new Hitler”. This is appalling misinformation and anyone who challenges the distortions is liable to be denounced as a “Russian stooge” or censored from public debate.
False narratives are leading to more and more errors with tragic consequences. The Biden administration is a shambles as are European governments. They are piling more fuel to the fire in Ukraine such as endlessly supplying weapons instead of pushing for a negotiated settlement. The decision by the Biden administration this week to supply Patriot missiles to Ukraine is one more example of how the West is recklessly escalating a conflict which is ultimately bringing nuclear powers into confrontation.
In the midst of this madness, the Western media are censoring intelligent and informed views about the war in Ukraine. Benjamin Abelow brings such a view to the fore in this interview.
If war is to be averted then we must understand the causes of conflict. Benjamin Abelow provides such an understanding.
This is a very poorly constructed arguments presented by Abelow.I pasting very thoroughly constructed rebuttal on Amazon given by Patrick M Blackburn.If you only read one book on the Russian invasion, please don’t let it be this one. If you want to read it as another view after you’ve read others (which is what I did), that makes more sense. This is a frustrating book when you know what’s going on there. Abelow quotes very few people, and does so over and over again. These people are scholars who share his view, like Richard Sawka, others who are either aligned with Russia Today (RT), or work in Russian universities, or he completely misquotes others (most notably Fiona Hill, an absolutely laughable and misguided attempt to discredit one of the most knowledgeable scholars on the region. Yes, she’s very pro-Ukraine and anti-Putin; at least she had the good sense to appropriately source her books).
This is one of those books where the author starts out with a grain of truth, and then completely fails to successful argue his point. Is war bad? Yes. Has the United States done some terrible things throughout the world? Yes again. But just because the US has done terrible things in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc., doesn’t automatically mean that it is responsible for the war in Ukraine. Instead, the author uses the past as a pretext to argue his point about what is currently happening in Ukraine. And he does it unconvincingly.
Most notably, Abelow conveniently omits many facts that are inconvenient to his argument. He fails to mention the Budapest Memorandum and the two Minsk agreements when trying to argue that Putin is simply trying to protect Russia. Putin has told us why he’s invading Ukraine: Because they aren’t a country and he wants to wipe it off the face of the map. Why the author can’t see this is perhaps his greatest weakness. He also fails to even mention Russia’s occupation of Moldova (see: Transnistria) and their horrifying wars in Chechnya (one launched by Putin under possibly pretextual circumstances: read about the Moscow apartment bombings and decide for yourself). Chechnya is a perfect blueprint for what Putin is doing today in Ukraine.
Abelow seems terribly concerned about the US involvement in wars and conflicts around the world, yet brushes past (only once) Russia’s war crimes, crimes that include the rape of women and children, the mass murder of innocent citizens, and the indiscriminate bombing of civilian locations, including homes, schools, and shopping centers.
When Abelow can’t site a source, he falls back on the tactic of turning the statement in the form of a question, or starts the sentence with “maybe.” For example, on page 8 he states that the US “helped lay the groundwork, and MAY HAVE DIRECTLY INSTIGATED, an armed, far-right coup in Ukraine.” This is unsourced. On page 16, he writes, “Russia correctly perceived that America was directly involved—certainly in laying foundation for the coup, and POSSIBLY IN FOMENTING THE VIOLENCE.” Again this is unsourced. This occurs over and over again throughout the text.
Other times he is clearly trying to mislead. On p. 21 he quotes someone who stated that “Operation Sea Breeze almost provoked Russia to fire at a British naval destroyer that deliberately entered what Russia considers its territorial waters.” What the author doesn’t tell you is that those “territorial” waters are outside of Crimea, a region he basically stole from Ukraine in 2014.
The author’s analysis of the 2014 protests in Ukraine are, at best, delusional, and also is misleading. His most important omission has to do with how he describes then-president Yanukovych. On multiple occasions, he refers to the pro-Russian president as “democratically elected.” While true, he fails to mention all of the unilateral changes he made while in office, changes that were intended to keep him in power and put Ukraine on a path toward authoritarianism. The author knows this — it’s common knowledge. He omitted it because it doesn’t help his argument. He then mentions, again without sourcing, that the US helped install a pro-Western president without democratic election. While Oleksandr Turchynov was temporarily installed, a new election was held only four months later, where Petro Poroshenko won what is considered a fair election. And Zelenskyy won five years later in another fair election.
I could go on — I marked up the book on almost every page. I’m hoping to show that this isn’t the best book for a primer of what is going on in Ukraine. There are better books on the subject that are far more accurate, books I’m sure Abelow wouldn’t endorse. I’ve read about 15 books on the conflict, and after 4 or 5 you start to see patterns emerge where you get a good idea of what’s true and what’s not. Here are some better reads for those interested:
For info on the 2014 protests: “Ukraine Diaries” by Andrey Kurkov, Christopher Smith’s excellent “Ukraine’s Revolt, Russia’s Revenge” (Smith worked for the US Dept of State at the time, so Abelow would hate this account), and “The Ukrainian Night” by Marci Shore. Also watch Netflix’s “Winter on Fire.”
For info on the Ukraine-Russia conflict: “Ukraine and Russia” by Paul D’Anieri is stellar, as is “Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know” by Serhy Yekelchyk. Also “Putin’s War Against Ukraine” by Taras Kuzio.
And for an insider’s account, Iuliia Mendel has written an excellent account of the rise of Zelenskyy in “The Fight of Our Lives.” She worked in the president’s administration.