American author Benjamin Abelow: How the West is prolonging the Ukraine conflict


Reality Check /

Editor’s note: The Biden administration’s reported plan to send cluster bombs to Ukraine is a stark reminder of their disregard for civilian safety. These weapons have been banned by over 120 countries, including NATO allies such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. It makes one wonder: Is the U.S. truly interested in resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict or prolonging it for its own agenda? To gain insights into this reckless U.S. policy, CGTN’s Sr. International Editor Abhishek G. Bhaya spoke with American author Benjamin Abelow, whose book “How the West Brought War to Ukraine: Understanding How U.S. and NATO Policies Led to Crisis, War, and the Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe,” challenges the Western mainstream view on the crisis. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN.

CGTN: The West has constantly blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for triggering the military conflict in Ukraine. You are among the few Americans who do not agree with that view, as evident from the title of your book. What made you convinced that it is the West that is responsible for this war in Ukraine?

Abelow: Yes, I would say ultimately responsible. I think all parties to the extent that they have some free will and have some agency contributed. I do not think that Mr. Putin had to go to war, but I think he felt threatened enough that he made a decision that this is what he needed to do for the security of his country.

I can well understand how from the Russian perspective, through Russian eyes or, so to speak, standing in the shoes of the Russian elite, why the situation could seem threatening enough that such an action would be necessary.

And one of the reasons why I say that is if I try to imagine the reverse of the situation. I imagine a situation, let’s say, where Russia had formed an alliance on the U.S. border, let’s say, with Canada, and had carried out some of the same types of exercises that the United States and NATO have carried out with respect to Russia. I think the United States would feel extremely threatened. It would have demanded that those activities cease. And if the activities did not cease, I think it’s quite likely the United States would have gone to war with its own invasion, in that case, into Canada.

So, I think when we try to look at things realistically, we see that these are situations the United States never would have tolerated. And this gives us great insight into what and how Russia may have perceived things.

CGTN: What is your immediate response to the recent reports indicating that the Biden administration is considering providing Ukraine with cluster munitions?

Abelow: It is obvious to me that if cluster munitions are being used, then that will greatly increase the risk that ultimately many civilians will be harmed. So, this is obviously a maneuver that will ultimately harm Ukrainian civilians. Now, I think the reason for this is that the West and the United States seem to be running out of artillery and that they are trying to use this to make up the gap. And I see this as just one more step in a process that is ultimately destroying Ukraine.

So, with or without cluster munitions, this ongoing war is causing great, great damage to Ukraine. It’s killing tens and hundreds of thousands of people. It’s destroying the country economically; it’s destroying the infrastructure. And it may ultimately lead to the cessation of Ukraine as a functioning society. So, I put this within the context of a whole series of moves, that the underlying problem really is the continuation of the war.

CGTN: Does part of the blame also lie with Washington’s European allies, many of whom seem to privately disagree with the U.S.-NATO’s muscular approach in the conflict, but are unable to put up any meaningful resistance? Shouldn’t the European allies have been more circumspect in supporting U.S.’s proxy war against Russia, considering it is being fought in their continent, and they are the ones that are facing the immediate consequences?

Abelow: Yes, I certainly agree. They should have been more circumspect. And I would go further. I would say they should have had more intelligence, more independence, more integrity, more boldness and more courage. I think in every respect they have failed. There’s a kind of real cowardice.

They are acting like they’re vassals of the U.S., as opposed to independent powers, independent men and women and human beings who can make their own decisions. And as a result, they have greatly contributed to this crisis. There are many steps that could have been taken by Europe as well as by the United States, not only to prevent this war but to truncate the war and shorten it once the war actually started.

CGTN: Do you think the West has an end game in mind on this conflict or do they just want to prolong this conflict, and as they say that fight until the last Ukrainian and just bleed Russia?

Abelow: I prefer to draw a very clear distinction between the objectives or the interests of a small foreign policy elite in Washington and the 340 million American citizens. Now those citizens, their interest is in ending this war quickly.

What I see right now is a continuation within the Washington and European foreign policy elite, an attempt to weaken and even impose a strategic defeat on Russia, as opposed to seeing that as a very unlikely possibility, and one that will only prolong the war.

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