America claims to pursue a values-based foreign policy, but is this really reflected in its handling of the war in Ukraine?
For many years now, the United States has claimed that its foreign policy is centered around its ‘values’, i.e. “[protecting] advancing a greater “liberty agenda” while supporting fundamental human rights” and democracy, as stated on the State Department’s website. The Biden administration has specifically emphasized the importance of “values” in its foreign policy. In a speech in early 2021, then-newly appointed Secretary of State Anthony Blanken declared, “The foreign policy of the Biden administration will reflect our values.”
In the 48-page document, the Biden-Harris National Security Strategy, released in October 2022, the word “values” appears 29 times. The document emphasizes that “actions to strengthen democracy and defend human rights are important to the United States not only because it is consistent with us to do so. Valuesbut also because respect for democracy and support for human rights promote world peace, security and prosperity” (emphasis added). He further asserts that, “The future of the international system faces a strategic contest…America will lead with our values.”
America’s claim that its foreign policy decisions are based on moral values is not new. When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, then-President George W. Bush portrayed it as a clash of good and evil, saying: “Our adversaries … embraced cruelty and death as a cause and creed. are We stand for a different choice… We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.” Bush also called the three countries, including Iraq, an “axis of evil”.
The publicly stated reasons for the invasion were to democratize Iraq, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. […] and liberating the Iraqi people. While these may appear on the surface to be morally virtuous and heroic goals, it is now common knowledge that the real motives were actually much more sinister, especially given the alleged US intelligence that Iraq had a large-scale They were weapons of destruction. Political scientist Ahsan Ibutt, for example, argues that the Bush administration invaded Iraq for its “demonstration effect,” stating: “Simply put, the Iraq war was a major blow to the world’s leading power.” was motivated by a desire to (re)establish an American position.”
In hindsight, it is extremely difficult to argue that the US intervened in Iraq based on its own moral values, especially when considering the negative impact of the invasion on Iraq, which killed millions of civilians and further destabilized the country. went. in a political crisis.
The latest US foreign policy effort is in Ukraine, where a conflict between Ukrainian and Russian forces continues nearly a year after Russia’s initial invasion. Although there are officially no US boots in Ukraine, the US is undeniably still heavily involved in the conflict, having sent more than $68 billion in aid to Ukraine in 2022.
America’s declared goals in support of Ukraine are once again tied to its values. Central to U.S. support for Ukraine is the notion that Russia vs. Ukraine is a battle between authoritarian and democratic values, and that the U.S. should give Ukraine—a democracy—a chance to defend itself against authoritarian encroachment. As Antony Blanken said, “The United States is committed to strengthening our relationship with Ukraine as we work to build a prosperous future for all Ukrainians.”
In a speech to the Ukrainian parliament in May, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, a country that could be considered an extension of the United States on this issue, had very close political ties and a front line in foreign policy matters. Seeing the Prisoners declared that the war “is about Ukrainian democracy against Putin’s tyranny. It’s about freedom versus oppression. It’s about right and wrong. It’s about good and evil.” In other words, the United States and its Western allies are presenting their support for Ukraine as a morally humanitarian act.
However, when analyzed closely, the Western narrative regarding Ukraine does not match its actions. Yes, the US and other Western institutions have provided extensive financial and military support to Ukraine, but the extent to which these actions have benefited the Ukrainian people is questionable.
In the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several reports emerged that the two sides were close to agreeing on a peace deal that would end the fighting. The reports came after Russian and Ukrainian delegates convened for talks in Istanbul on March 29, with billionaire Roman Abramovich and Russian political figure Vladimir Medinsky as key participants. Ukraine’s refusal to distance itself from the West and join NATO was critical to the structure of the agreement.
Although no one can say for sure how close an agreement was to being reached, an unexpected obstacle prevented the negotiations from continuing. On April 9, Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv, urging Zelenskyi and other Ukrainian officials to end talks with Russia. As a Ukrainian news agency, PravdaIt was reported in early May, “As Ukrainian negotiators and Abramovich/Medinsky broadly agreed on the structure of a possible future deal based on the outcome of Istanbul, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson almost without warning appeared in.” According to a senior Ukrainian official, Johnson brought two key messages to Kyiv: that there would be no negotiation with an authoritarian figure like Putin, and that if Ukraine was ready for peace talks. Even so, the collective West, Ukraine’s key ally, was unwilling to support negotiations – a deal-breaker for Ukraine, given its dependence on Western aid.
The reason for the West’s willingness to make a deal with Russia is obvious: the West wants to use Russia’s war with Ukraine (and the resulting sanctions on Russia) to force regime change in Russia. “The collective West … now realizes that Putin is not really as powerful as they imagined him to be … now is an opportunity to ‘pressure’ him. And the West wants to use it. Johnson’s unexpected visit to Kyiv is a few Days later, Putin publicly stated that the negotiations had reached a deadlock and would not continue. The Russian president has since announced several times that he is still willing to seek a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. Recently in an address on December 22.
Generally, Western leaders have tried to keep quiet about their goal of regime change in Russia, but occasionally, the truth leaks out. In a speech in March, US President Joe Biden declared: “For God’s sake, this man [Putin] Can’t stay in power. Meanwhile, in late February, a Johnson government spokesman said Western sanctions on Russia were aimed at “bringing down the Putin regime,” engineering an economic and political crisis.
While seeking to topple a foreign government is nothing new for the United States, it is important to understand what this goal means for their decision-making regarding the Ukraine conflict. Effectively, the US and its allies are using Ukrainian territory and, most importantly, the Ukrainian people to serve their own vested political ambitions. In other words, Western leaders, led by the United States, are encouraging Ukraine to continue fighting as long as possible, despite the military situation and Ukraine’s substantial losses, in order to “bleed” Russia, and Increase the chances of Putin being forced out. Retired as President. A Washington Post article sums up the situation well: “For some in NATO, it is better for the Ukrainians to keep fighting, and to keep dying, than to achieve the peace they want. “To Kyiv and the rest too soon or at too great a cost. of Europe.”
So, how did the US and Western-backed war against Russia work out for Ukraine? As fighting continues in and around the Donbass, several Western media outlets still insist that Ukraine has a fighting chance against Russia. But, with Russia having recently mobilized 300,000 troops, it is reasonable to predict that Russia will eventually gain the upper hand in the conflict, if they do not already have it.
In addition to the military situation, Ukraine’s economy shrank by a staggering 33 percent in 2022 and is expected to shrink another 10 percent in 2023. Ukraine also faces a 35% drop in exports, from wheat to steel, while unemployment – already over 30% – is expected to continue to rise. The Ukrainian government was also forced to use quantitative easing to stabilize the economy, which has led to a sharp rise in inflation. As Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in the United States, observes, “We’re already giving them enough to avoid hyperinflation… but there’s clearly a risk of more severe economic contraction, and It’s the only way to stop it. It will provide more financial support.” By contrast, Russia’s economy shrank by about three percent in 2022, far less than Western analysts expected when sanctions began.
In addition to the dire economic situation, the war in Ukraine has created a major crisis for its residents. About eight million refugees have left the country since the start of the war, while many have become internally displaced. The United Nations estimated in September that some 18 million Ukrainians needed humanitarian aid, and the World Bank warned that poverty in the country could increase tenfold. Additionally, Ukrainian officials have estimated that rebuilding the country will cost around $750 billion. In short, the country of Ukraine is in tatters and will be heavily dependent on Western financial aid for the foreseeable future, to prevent total collapse.
Against this backdrop, it is fair to say that the drawn-out conflict has not benefited Ukraine and that it would have been in the country’s best interest to find a diplomatic solution. However, at least in part because of Western influence over Ukraine, a peace deal was not an option for Ukrainians.
It is important to note that Western influence over Ukraine did not begin in 2022, but has been prominent for several years, dating back to the Maidan Revolution in 2014. In fact, because of the US intervention in Ukraine around 2014 and often debated. As for the country joining NATO, some correctly predicted that Ukraine would eventually become embroiled in a conflict between Russia and the West, and be destroyed in the process.
John Mearsheimer, a scholar of international relations, gave an insightful lecture on this issue in 2015, where he stated:
“What were [the West] Karna is encouraging the Ukrainians to play hardball with the Russians. We are encouraging Ukrainians to think that they will eventually become part of the West, because we will eventually defeat Putin and we will eventually get our way.
“The Ukrainians are playing with it, and are almost completely unwilling to compromise with the Russians and, instead, want to pursue a hard-line policy. If they do, the end result is that they The country is going to collapse, and what we are doing is actually encouraging that outcome.
Seven years later, Mearsheimer has been vindicated. In an attempt to deliver a knockout punch to Putin, the West has pushed Ukraine into an economic and humanitarian crisis. The sad fact is that the US sees Ukraine as a mere piece on the chessboard of global power and politics, rather than a true ally. Furthermore, the complete disregard for Ukraine’s infrastructure, civilians, and soldiers demonstrates that America’s long-standing claims that values drive its foreign policy are being used to assert moral superiority over its adversaries. are, and are used for self-serving justification. Interference around the world