The Ukraine and Israeli/Palestine Conflicts Show the Demise of Western Imperialism and Foreshadow Its Coming Collapse
Dmitri Kovalevich, Orinoco Tribune, October 26, 2023 —
Dmitri Kovalevich is the special correspondent in Ukraine for Al Mayadeen English. He writes a monthly situation report for the publication as well as occasional special reports, such as the following
The escalation of hostilities between the Israelis and the Palestinian people (whose historic lands the Israelis occupy) has been met with much irritation in governing circles in Ukraine. Events in and around Ukraine have dominated Western media for nearly two years, but now this has given way to the news of violent conflict by the Israelis, a satellite of the Western powers, against the Palestinian people. The conflict threatens to spread to neighboring Arab countries. All this has Ukrainian authorities fearing a decline in Western attention and support for war against Russia.
Indeed, the Western news outlet Axios reported on October 19 that the U.S. government will divert hundreds of thousands of artillery shells destined for Ukraine to the Israelis. So although Ukraine and the Israelis are each a satellite of the United States and NATO, Ukraine must now compete with the Israelis for the title of the most favored recipient of U.S. weaponry.
When Palestine resistance forces first launched their breakout from the open-air prison of Gaza on October 7, Ukraine president Zelensky called on all Western leaders to fly to the Israeli-occupied lands to show their support. He sought to travel there himself to show ‘solidarity’, but the Israelis told him ‘no’, fearing the political distraction it would cause and also fearing the image of military disaster that Ukraine brings along due to its failing war, in alliance with NATO, against Russia. In Western parlance, there is an ‘image problem’ with Zelensky and his governing regime due to the terrible pounding Ukraine’s armed forces are suffering at the hands of the Russian military.
Former Ukrainian MP and ultranationalist Igor Mosiychuk has recently observed, “For some reason, the Ukrainian government believes that the whole world owes [military and financial assistance] to us, to Ukraine and the Ukrainians.” But he also observes, “The whole world does not think so”.
The former MP continued, “President Zelensky thinks the whole world will applaud him all his life, will greet him, hug him, kiss him, and so on,” the former people’s deputy said in an interview with journalist Alexander Shelest. But according to him, Zelensky has already become a “lame duck”.
The Ukrainian government, media, and ultranationalists have been unambiguously supportive of the Israelis in the current conflict (although historically, the far-right ideology of Ukrainian ultranationalists is anti-Jewish). This is due not so much to ideological proximity as it is to a common dependence on the United States. Another factor in support of the Israelis is the common racist trope of protecting ‘Western civilization’ from ‘barbarians’, which in Ukraine means combatting ‘Russian hordes’ while in Palestine it means the Israelis combatting the Palestinian and broader Arab populations.
Discriminatory attitudes towards migrants and refugees have been observed since last year in and around Ukraine. Ukrainian refugees were immediately granted refugee status, protection, health insurance, housing, and allowances in the NATO countries, standing in contrast to the fates of so many refugees and migrants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The latter are often routinely refused refugee status, obliged to wait years for residency application cases to be heard, or forcibly deported to third countries, many of whose economies have been destroyed by Western corporations.
Like the Israeli regime in the Middle East, Ukraine has become an outpost in eastern Europe of the Western imperialist world. Since 2014, Ukraine has been used by the West to punish those who stand up to imperialist meddling or domination, such as what happened to the people of Donbass and Crimea following the 2014 coup in Ukraine.
Palestinian journalist Manar Bsoul, who lives in the Russian Federation, writes in the Ukrainian publication Liva (‘Left’) that the ongoing military provocations by Western countries in the Middle East are increasingly aimed at promoting a new regional bloc under the U.S. umbrella that would include the Israelis as well as the monarchies of the Gulf. “This new regional bloc is being created as another ‘watchtower’ against the ‘axis of evil’ (China, Iran, Russia, North Korea), on a par with the imperialist military bloc AUKUS in the Asia-Pacific,” the Palestinian journalist writes.
In her opinion, it is primarily Hamas that stands in the way of the creation of a new U.S. “watchtower” in the Middle East. “The U.S. nuclear umbrella, Israeli technology and finance, oil and gas, and the human resources of the Muslim countries of the Middle East – these are the foundations of the “watchtower” that Washington wants to construct and complete prior to the U.S. presidential election in 2024. The world of big money does not tolerate interference, and interference in the form of Hamas must now be neutralized, despite the enormous civilian casualties in Gaza,” Bsoul writes.
The U.S. has been using Ukraine, among other things, as an instrument of influence on the countries of the Global South. However, promoting Ukraine and the Israelis at one and the same time is an impossible task for the United States and its NATO allies. Without question, most people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America instinctively support the rights of Palestinians, recognizing their own historic longings as similar to those of Palestine.
“We have definitely lost the battle in the Global South,” says one senior G7 diplomat. “All the work we have done with the Global South [over Ukraine] has been lost… Forget about rules, forget about world order, they won’t ever listen to us again.” Many developing countries have traditionally supported the Palestinian cause, seeing it through the prism of self-determination and a push against the global dominance of the U.S., the Israelis’ most important backer.
“Some American diplomats are privately concerned that the Biden administration’s response has failed to acknowledge how its broad support of Israel can alienate much of the Global South,” writes an analysis in the Financial Times on October 17.
Moreover, the process of deindustrialization in Ukraine and in the Western countries is calling into question the ability of Western imperialism to supply arms to several of its satellites at once. For this reason, Ukrainian political scientist Ruslan Bortnik says that any shift of attention to other events is dangerous for Ukraine. “For Ukraine, any external global event means a decrease in attention and resources spent on the war in Ukraine. Besides, we can hardly count on deliveries of Israeli weapons in the near future, even hypothetically, and the quality of their use in a real conflict, even with semi-guerrilla units, is questionable today,” the political analyst argues.
Last year, Zelensky pleaded to the Israelis without success that it supplied Ukraine with its ‘Iron Dome’ air defense system. In September of this year, Zelensky told the Israeli prime minister that Ukraine could better protect Jewish (Hasidic) pilgrims if it received the weapon system.
Another Ukrainian political scientist and economist, Oleksandr Ryabokon, warned recently that the shift in military attention away from Ukraine may be followed by a shift in Western financial aid. “Another round of the long-running Arab-Israeli conflict has in a few days completely pushed Ukraine off the front pages of world media. Informational oblivion can be followed by financial and material oblivion. The chief ‘gardener’ of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, is already whining that in the conditions of uncertainty with the American financing of Ukraine, Europe will not be able to do it on its own,” he writes.
In early October, Admiral Rob Bauer, the Dutch chairperson of the NATO Military Committee, commented on the problems with ammunition deliveries to Ukraine: “We started to give away from warehouses half-full or less, and now the bottom of the barrel is visible.” The military depots of another U.S. satellite, South Korea, are also running low. “Ukraine’s counter-offensive relied on a massive infusion of shells from South Korea, and its rate of fire will inevitably fall in the months ahead”, writes The Economist on October 14.
Now the West is demanding that Kiev increase its own arms production. But this is extremely difficult to do after three decades of deindustrialization (since the demise of Soviet Ukraine), propelled by austerity policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and other Western financial agencies. And that is not to speak of catastrophic shortages of skilled factory workers, engineers, etc. caused by the current military conscription. Millions of Ukrainian women have fled abroad and many skilled men have been forcibly mobilized into the army. There are, quite simply, not enough human resources in Ukraine to maintain critical infrastructure.
It can be added that the only ammunition manufacturer in Ukraine prior to 2014 was located in Lugansk territory, which is today a constituent of the Russian Federation. In 2014, the people of Lugansk rebelled against the coup in Kiev that year. The new, anti-coup governing authority took control of the ammunition manufacturer and nationalized it. Since then, Ukraine has not established its own ammunition production, despite the years of warfare it waged against Donbass (the region consisting of the former Ukrainian territories of Lugansk and Donetsk).
Ukrainian expert Vitaliy Zaitsev observes that Ukraine lacks not only laborers but also skilled workers for the production of weapons. “Our professional schools have been practically lost. In addition, we need to re-establish the production of steel and rolled steel suitable for military production.”
Serhiy Bondarchuk, the former head of Ukrspetseksport (state arms exporter), is also quite cautious about the prospects of arms production in Ukraine. “How to organize the logistics of components? Armor, gunpowder, special chemicals, special components – none of this is produced in Ukraine, so we will have to import, while also taking into account national borders and the threat of military strikes [by Russia] along the related transport routes.” And there are further organizational issues of which the former head of arms exports speaks, including whether there can be an uninterrupted power supply.
In other words, Western imperialism cannot yet make its Ukrainian satellite self-sufficient in arms production or even supply. Quite simply, it cannot easily supply several recipients at once.
In this regard, Ukrainian political scientist Kost Bondarenko recently noted in an interview that the strategy of the Kiev regime, which relies so heavily on Western support, will have to change for objective reasons. The political scientist believes that the time of U.S. global omnipotence, coming after its seeming victory in the Cold War, is passing away.
“This era is over. Now it is necessary to find points for a new world order amidst this new world chaos that has arrived. The U.S. is no longer an authority for the whole world; in fact, some two-thirds of the world is today in opposition to the United States.” Bondarenko added that Ukraine is now “among the minority” in its alliance with (subordination to) the United States.
According to Bondarenko, the first task in Ukraine following the end of the current war will be for its people to “dismantle the current state system” in the country. For him, that includes the adoption of a new and fair constitution; creation of a new state on the basis of the current, de facto borders; dismantling of the power of the economic elites; and overall, “the creation of a new political structure that is truly fair and not detached from society, as is the case today.”
Other satellites of Western imperialism are pondering something similar for their future development. The Biden administration in Washington is well aware of this and may well embark on further, bloody military interventions and wars to forestall such scenarios.