The following text is based on a possible reaction to two very different situations: Russia’s special military operation and the Israeli army’s invasion of Gaza. This reaction leads to the easy denunciation of “two unprovoked invasions”. We intend to criticize the simplistic reaction of denouncing these two situations as if they were comparable, when in fact they are not. If there is anything comparable between these two cases, it is that we are dealing with a coherent posture of American imperialism. It is with imperialist objectives in mind that the Americans support both Israel and Ukraine. In this sense, those who criticize the United States for its policy towards Israel should, to be consistent, also criticize the United States for its policy towards Ukraine.
Two incomparable situations
The comparison could easily be made. Russia has invaded Ukraine and is occupying part of its territory. Israel occupies the Palestinian territories. It seems coherent to attack Russia and Israel, and it seems incoherent to have different positions in the two cases. Russia and Israel, it is believed, must both withdraw from the occupied territories. But this opinion is unfounded.
It is highly questionable to lump Russia and Israel together. According to this view, they are both aggressors. But Russia is strategically on the defensive against NATO, even if tactically it has taken the offensive in Ukraine. It is also reclaiming battered Russian-speaking territories and not ethnically cleansing them. The same cannot be said of Israel. In fact, the opposite is true. The Netanyahu government is battering the population of the West Bank and Gaza, and speaks openly of ethnic cleansing.
The easy position that some may be tempted to adopt of denouncing all “unprovoked invasions” is problematic because it ignores geopolitical reality. If there is a comparison between the two situations, it is not where they think it is. To grasp it properly, we need to zoom out a little, to step back and take a broader view of the context. We need to take into account a third player: the United States, and a fundamental geopolitical fact: its interests.
The only possible ground for comparison: American interests
It may seem incoherent for the United States to accept that Israel should be allowed to violate the “rules-based world order” with impunity, while Russia should suffer the wrath of the West precisely because it violates these same rules. It is on this basis that some feel it necessary to criticize Russia and Israel equally.
Is the position adopted by the United States consistent? It denounces the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity with reference to a « rules-based world order », but does not denounce the violation of Palestine’s territorial integrity, and does not de facto recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. This should raise questions about the idea of a world governed by “rules” which, in fact, are known to no one. As the American authorities see it, this is not the world of international law. The “rules” are those set by the United States according to its needs at a specific moment. It follows that doubt can be cast on the official reasons provided by the White House to justify military and financial support for Ukraine. Perhaps it’s not the violation of the “rules-based” world order that poses a problem for Washington, but the fact that this world order is being disrupted by Moscow. The truth is that the American inconsistency is only apparent. It vanishes when it is understood that the “rules-based world order” is in fact the one dictated by US interests.
As the proponents of Realpolitik believe, and as Henry Kissinger once said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”. The United States wages proxy wars, using second-hand surrogates against the countries it targets. As soon as their usefulness is exhausted, these proxies are jettisoned. By no means original, this is a classic policy of the Empires; their British mentors excelled at it.
The Americans used the Mujahideen against the USSR in Afghanistan, the Contras against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the Kurds to counter ISIS in Iraq and Al Qaeda and Daech to destabilize Syria, then the Kurds to counter Daech in Syria. In the present context, they are using Ukraine to weaken Russia and Taiwan to confront China. For over half a century, they have been using Israel to establish their dominance in the Middle East.
To maintain its global hegemony, embodied in a unipolar world, and its economic primacy against countries it cannot compete with, the United States seeks to neutralize (or worse) all those whose development challenges the status quo of subordination to the “one superpower”. China, Russia and, more generally, the members of the BRICS are targeted. To achieve their objectives, the United States, with other Western countries in tow, wage economic warfare in the form of “sanctions” (applied to some forty countries representing a third of the world’s population), destabilization campaigns and military wars, whether direct or hybrid.
This is the backdrop needed to understand the logic driving the American authorities. They support Ukraine to weaken Russia, and they support Israel to ensure US dominance in the Middle East.
The Americans sought to integrate Ukraine into NATO, which aroused Russia’s concern. They also sought to “normalize” Israel’s relations with certain Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, all with anti-Iranian aims. They had reached the point of wanting to “normalize” Israel’s relations with Saudi Arabia, which could only outrage the disenfranchised Palestinian people.
They financed the Maïdan coup d’état in 2014 for the tidy sum of $5 billion. They have been funding Israel at a cost of US$3-4 billion a year for several years. Biden has just asked Congress for $14.6 billion (including $10.6 in arms) for Israel.
The Americans supplied lethal weapons to Ukraine. They also sold sophisticated military equipment to the Netanyahu government.
They installed missile shields in Poland and Romania. They also helped Israel install a missile shield, the “Iron Dome”.
They joined up with the Ukrainian far right, despite the presence of neo-Nazis in the government and the army. They also consorted with Netanyahu’s far-right-dominated regime.
They did not intervene to prevent Ukraine from adopting Russophobic laws denying the linguistic rights of the Russian-speaking minority. They also let the Netanyahu government adopt measures in 2018 providing the basis for apartheid discrimination against the Palestinian minority on its territory (20% of the population), by declaring Israel a Jewish state, rather than a state for all its citizens.
Like Ukraine, France and Germany, they used the Minsk Accords to buy time to prepare Ukraine for war. They gave cover to Israel as it turned the Oslo Accords into a screen for expanding settlement on the West Bank and in Jerusalem.
Biden withdrew his promise not to install nuclear missiles in Ukraine. Israel is a nuclear power, the only one in the Middle East, with the blessing of the United States, even as the latter moves heaven and earth, “sanctions” and threats, to prevent Iran from becoming one. There would be “proliferation” if Iran acquired the weapon, but not if Israel possessed it. In the Middle East, double standards reign supreme, always in Israel’s favor. A shining example of a “rules-based world order”.
The US fueled the Zelensky regime’s desire to do battle with Russia. They also supported Israel’s urge to do battle with the Palestinians.
In this sense, the Americans not only did everything they could to provoke Russia, they have also made war inevitable. In Palestine, they allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where the Palestinians would inevitably take up arms.
Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine against the expansion of NATO and the persecution of Russian speakers was presented as an unprovoked aggression, which immediately placed Ukraine in the position of the victim requiring American financial and military support. In Palestine, attempts were made to portray the attack on Gaza on October 7 as an unprovoked aggression, coming out of nowhere, with no connection whatsoever to a history of colonization, occupation, denial of rights and the stifling of any political solution.
Two countries serving American interests
From the American perspective, the war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022 with an unprovoked Russian aggression on Ukrainian territory. The war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7, 2023, with an unprovoked aggression by the latter on the territory of the former.
From the outset of these conflicts, horror stories fabricated by official propaganda were used to shock the population into accepting financial and military intervention. Russia was soon subjected to accusations of rape, as well as to allegations asserted as absolute truths that it was responsible for the bombing of the Zaporijjia power plant, which it controlled and guarded. She was declared guilty of the murder of Dugin’s daughter and the bombing of the Kremlin. Paradoxically, Russia was also responsible for sabotaging its own gas pipeline (Nordstream), through which it supplied Europe, even though Biden had publicly announced that it would be destroyed. Similar fake news took place in Israel. We were told that babies were beheaded, women were raped and the Al Ahli hospital was bombed by the Jihad, not by Israel, even though Israel is engaged in a bombing campaign to displace the population of Gaza and prepare for a ground invasion.
The United States torpedoed the Russia-Ukraine agreement of April 2022, which would have brought a quick end to the conflict and avoided half a million deaths, a colossal waste of financial resources and the disruption of the European economy. In recent days, the US vetoed the Security Council resolution proposing a humanitarian pause to provide vital aid to millions in Gaza. The vote resulted in 12 members in favor, two abstentions and one member against – that of the United States. As a permanent member of the Security Council, it has veto power, the resolution was not adopted.
The reason why the Palestinians are a little less misunderstood than Russia is that the public is more sensitive to the human and moral dimension, whereas the geopolitical framework required to understand the conflict in Ukraine is often lacking. Without refusing the empathy that events call for, the geopolitical perspective cannot be reduced to what is happening before the eye of the beholder. It requires stepping back and a certain level of abstraction. In the short, medium and long terms, it has far-reaching consequences for communities and millions of individuals.
In addition to the points they have in common and that are explained by the role of the United States, the conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine have a number of other points in common in terms of domestic treatment: firstly, the tendency to replace rationality with emotions, even to the point of banning thought and wielding anathema (“anti-Semitism”, “Russophilia”); secondly, the demagoguery of which Biden gave an example a few days ago when he declared, unaware of the ridiculousness, that Putin and Hamas wanted to destroy “democracy”.
In the face of so called “unprovoked aggressions”, the United States has proclaimed its support for Ukraine and Israel. When one understands the motives behind U.S. policy, it comes as no surprise that Congress is being called upon to vote financial aid to the two U.S. protégés simultaneously. It’s also true that after so many billions sunk into the Ukraine fiasco, the only way to get more is to link the request with other issues.
Despite the resounding failure of the “counter-offensive” in Ukraine, and the fact that it is no longer talked about, the war goes on. Despite the prospects of costly failure and general conflagration in the region, a ground invasion of Gaza is far from ruled out.