Humanitarian and peace-loving people take seriously the oft repeated vows of “never again” to atrocities committed leading up to and during WWII. The lack of widespread outcry was thus disheartening when the US Congress uncritically approved unprecedented amounts–$54 billion since March–of military aid to Ukraine, dangerously escalating hostilities in a country with a troubling track record of condoning Nazism and ruthless persecution of its sizable Russian speaking population.
I define Nazism as an authoritarian ideology exerting tight control over a chosen population, deemed inherently superior, while dehumanizing and condoning the exclusion, abuse and extermination of people belonging to undesirable groups. It facilitates extreme concentration of wealth and power by keeping working people divided, rewarding loyalty in useful players among the chosen and blaming any social ills on the undesirables. It is a tool of the ongoing stealth war of the super-rich predator class against the rest of humanity over control of the earth’s people and resources that hides behind manufactured conflicts instigated to distract and demoralize.
Successful theater depends on the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. US power brokers have employed theatrics behind the scenes to project a convincing anti-Nazi illusion while simultaneously enabling Nazism in various ways during WWII, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War era, including in Ukraine today.
WWII – Plausible Deniability
The US’ official alliance with the Soviet Union in WWII gave it plausible deniability of clandestine support for Nazism. Nazi Germany could be seen as a useful tool for defeating or at least massively weakening the Soviet Union and its communist principles of egalitarianism (however imperfectly implemented). In fact, many wealthy US industrialists and financiers, including Prescott Bush, whose son and grandson became US presidents, actively supported corporations building up the Nazi regime to subvert the growing power of workers’ movements in the young Soviet Union and elsewhere. When Stalin, under heavy German invasion, implored the US and UK to open a western front, they held off doing so until 1944, after it became clear that the Soviet Army, sacrificing millions of lives in the fight against Nazism, was prevailing and would soon march triumphantly into Berlin.
The Cold War – Covert Operations
After 1945, the US and the West trumpeted themselves as beacons of goodness and democracy. While the official script flipped from Nazis to communists as archenemies, the former were surreptitiously nurtured off-stage. Few are aware that communist East Germany methodically set about denazifying its civic institutions[i], while West Germany retained many Nazi’s in high positions, as the US implemented Operation Paper Clip, welcoming Nazi scientists and engineers. Nazi Germany’s chief anti-Soviet spy, Reinhard Gehlen, was hired by the CIA to re-activate and recruit spy networks in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.[ii]
Far from the limelight the sordid saga of Operations Gladio in Europe and Condor in Latin America unfolded—CIA and NATO-backed covert operations perpetrating political subterfuge, murder, kidnapping, and false flag bombings to thwart any rise in leftist movements seeking to promote workers’ rights and a more equitable distribution of resources. Gladio’s secret “stay behind” armies (comprised often of Nazi’s left over from WWII) permeated virtually all Western European countries[iii]. The CIA financed Gladio and Condor with Mafia drug money laundered by the Catholic church[iv], targeting anyone who threatened the elites’ grip on power.
Post-Cold War and Ukraine – Manipulating the Narrative
After the Berlin Wall fell, the West’s theatrics surged into overdrive, proclaiming to wide audience acclaim a new era of peace dividends, prosperity and human rights, spinning tales that bore little relation to reality. The US no longer hid their support for unsavory elements, it simply dressed them in beneficent costumes and called them our friends, as with Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman, admirer of Nazi-connected Ustasha, in the 1990’s Yugoslavia war, instigated by the US and Germany to justify NATO’s continuing existence.
Zbigniev Brzezinski articulated US goals of controlling Eurasia’s resources and preventing another country from challenging US dominance, while viewing Ukraine as critical for containing Russia. But the Russia of today is no longer the malleable client state immediately following the Soviet collapse. 2007 in Munich Putin did the unforgivable–insisting on Russia being treated as an equal partner–“Security for one is security for all…. We must seek a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue.”
With pre-Maidan Ukraine leaning closer to Russia, the US openly praised the 2014 coup d’état it had engineered, with CIA funded and trained pro-Nazi elements, to bring Ukraine back into its neoliberal fold. The US and its allies subsequently turned a blind eye and deaf ear to Ukraine’s blatant violations of Minsk I and II peace accords (stipulating autonomy for Donetsk and Lugansk), relentless attacks including torture by Nazi Aidar groups of residents and dissidents in eastern Ukraine, and defiant plans to join NATO, while rebuffing Russia’s repeated quest for dialogue to ensure mutual security in the region. Provoked to its limit, Russia’s military intervened in February, standing up to the big bully US and its gang of acolytes who arrogantly refuse to work towards peace.
The ensuing spectacle of PR controlled theatrics have risen to new heights while spellbound Western audiences lap it up. Ukraine’s President Zelensky, a TV actor with no experience in politics or diplomacy, is delivering a masterful performance in his current role as spokesperson of the perceived underdog. Western leaders adulate him while corporate media report his every word as gospel truth, failing to consider his sponsors–US neocons, russophobic Nazis, and corrupt oligarch Igor Kolomoiksy–who are likely writing his script.
In true Goebbels fashion (always accuse your enemy of that which you are doing), Zelensky falsely blames all the death and destruction on Russia. Western reports ignore eye-witness evidence of Ukrainian forces, infused with Nazi-linked Azov elements, killing innocents, bombarding Donbass cities, occupying civilian buildings and holding local people as human shields, thus creating scenes to make Russia look like the sole aggressor and Ukraine the innocent victim. Dead bodies at Bucha and Kramatorsk blamed on Russia have been shown to be victims of overzealous Ukrainian forces. An alleged mass grave turns out to be non-existent. In an ironic twist of theatrics, a fake attack on a theater in Mariupol was staged.
A former US intelligence officer suggested Russia is exercising restraint in aiming only at military targets and avoiding damage to civilians as much as possible in pursuing its goals, namely….
Demilitarization, Denazification, Mutual Security and Self-determination
How could anyone object to such goals? The US not only objects but actively subverts them, because doing so benefits the super-rich predator class. The US is escalating militarization, flooding Ukraine with all manner of weapons–a bonanza for the arms industry–prolonging the fighting and needless suffering of Ukrainian residents. It throws its full support behind a regime that condones violent attacks against Russian speaking citizens, bans their language, and prohibits Victory Day celebrations of the Nazi defeat in WWII, while honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera with statues and street names. The US persists in spearheading an expanding military alliance (NATO) that threatens peace and security in the region. It has shown zero inclination to heed the fervent aspirations, expressed via referenda and plebiscites, of the populations in Crimea and Donbass for autonomy from Ukraine.
What Might the Future Hold?
Peace is possible in Ukraine if President Biden would stop hemorrhaging weapons and press Zelensky to negotiate with Russia in good faith towards meeting legitimate goals of all parties.
Some view Western intransigence in Ukraine as the last straw that will finally break up the US Empire, perhaps causing faint rumblings of dissent to surface within the Western establishment. Draconian sanctions against Russia–rejected by countries with the vast majority of the world’s population–are backfiring, bringing economic distress to the US and its European allies, while Russia pivots its key energy resources increasingly east and south. Russia’s relationship with China is strong. Asian, African and Latin American nations are increasingly looking to each other as trading partners.
The US Empire’s demise could play out in many ways, some more painful and destructive, others more hopeful and beneficial to humanity. The latter route could bring a drastic reduction in military spending, global nuclear disarmament, and removal of the nearly 1,000 US military bases[v] in 70 countries encircling the earth, along with mechanisms to ensure equitable distribution of resources and collaborative decision making from the bottom up rather than top-down. It could see cooperation among all nations to ensure a dignified life for every human being.
To get there we must keep building movements to pierce the willing suspension of disbelief that bedazzles so many, and lower a final curtain on the stage of war propaganda that props up the predators. Meanwhile I mourn the anguish of people in all parts of Ukraine trapped in an avoidable civil war turned dangerous showdown between NATO and Russia. I mourn the needless misery of people around the world impacted by the immeasurable greed and lust for power of the few. I honor all who question deceptive narratives serving the interests of those few.
[i] Victor Grossman, A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee
[ii] Douglas Valentine, The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World
[iii] Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe
[v] David Vine, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World
Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California. A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of Task Force on the Americas, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 May 2022.