Russia Was Baited Into War but That Does Not Absolve Its Criminal Aggression

by | Mar 2, 2022 | Headline News | 21 comments

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    This article was originally published by Chris Hedges at ScheerPost. 

    Preemptive war, whether in Iraq or Ukraine, is a war crime. It does not matter if the war is launched on the basis of lies and fabrications, as was the case in Iraq, or because of the breaking of a series of agreements with Russia, including the promise by Washington not to extend NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, not to deploy thousands of NATO troops in Eastern Europe, not to meddle in the internal affairs of nations on Russia’s border and the refusal to implement the Minsk II peace agreement.

    The invasion of Ukraine would, I expect, never have happened if these promises had been kept. Russia has every right to feel threatened, betrayed, and angry. But to understand is not to condone. The invasion of Ukraine, under post-Nuremberg laws, is a criminal war of aggression.

    I know the instrument of war. War is not politics by other means. It is demonic. I spent two decades as a war correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, where I covered the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. I carry within me the ghosts of dozens of those swallowed up in the violence, including my close friend, Reuters correspondent Kurt Schork, who was killed in an ambush in Sierra Leone with another friend, Miguel Gil Moreno.

    I know the chaos and disorientation of war, the constant uncertainty, and confusion. In a firefight, you are only aware of what is happening a few feet around you. You desperately, and not always successfully, struggle to figure out where the firing is coming from in the hopes you can avoid being hit.

    I have felt the helplessness and the paralyzing fear, which, years later, descend on me like a freight train in the middle of the night, leaving me wrapped in coils of terror, my heart racing, my body dripping with sweat.

    I have heard the wails of those convulsed by grief as they clutch the bodies of friends and family, including children. I hear them still. It does not matter the language. Spanish. Arabic. Hebrew. Dinka. Serbo-Croatian. Albanian. Ukrainian. Russian. Death cuts through the linguistic barriers.

    I know what wounds look like. Legs blown off. Heads imploded into a bloody, pulpy mass. Gaping holes in stomachs. Pools of blood. Cries of the dying, sometimes for their mothers. And the smell. The smell of death. The supreme sacrifice made for flies and maggots.

    I was beaten by Iraqi and Saudi secret police. I was taken prisoner by the Contras in Nicaragua, who radioed back to their base in Honduras to see if they should kill me, and again in Basra after the first Gulf War in Iraq, never knowing if I would be executed, under constant guard and often without food, drinking out of mud puddles.

    The primary lesson in war is that we as distinct individuals do not matter. We become numbers. Fodder. Objects. Life, once precious and sacred, becomes meaningless, sacrificed to the insatiable appetite of Mars. No one in wartime is exempt.

    “We were expendable,” Eugene Sledge wrote of his experiences as a marine in the South Pacific in World War II. “It was difficult to accept. We come from a nation and a culture that values life and the individual. To find oneself in a situation where your life seems of little value is the ultimate in loneliness. It is a humbling experience.”

    The landscape of war is hallucinogenic. It defies comprehension. You have no concept of time in a firefight. A few minutes. A few hours. War, in an instant, obliterates homes and communities, all that was once familiar, and leaves behind smoldering ruins and a trauma that you carry for the rest of your life. You cannot comprehend what you see. I have tasted enough of war, enough of my own fear, my body turned to jelly, to know that war is always evil, the purest expression of death, dressed up in patriotic cant about liberty and democracy and sold to the naïve as a ticket to glory, honor, and courage. It is a toxic and seductive elixir. Those who survive, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, struggle afterward to reinvent themselves and their universe which, on some level, will never make sense again.

    War destroys all systems that sustain and nurture life – familial, economic, cultural, political, environmental, and social. Once war begins, no one, even those nominally in charge of waging war, can guess what will happen, how the war will develop, how it can drive armies and nations towards suicidal folly. There are no good wars. None. This includes World War II, which has been sanitized and mythologized to mendaciously celebrate American heroism, purity, and goodness. If truth is the first casualty in war, ambiguity is the second. The bellicose rhetoric embraced and amplified by the American press, demonizing Vladimir Putin and elevating the Ukrainians to the status of demigods, demanding more robust military intervention along with the crippling sanctions meant to bring down Vladimir Putin’s government, is infantile and dangerous. The Russian media narrative is as simplistic as ours.

    There were no discussions about pacifism in the basements in Sarajevo when we were being hit with hundreds or Serbian shells a day and under constant sniper fire. It made sense to defend the city. It made sense to kill or be killed. The Bosnian Serb soldiers in the Drina Valley, Vukovar, Srebrenica had amply demonstrated their capacity for murderous rampages, including the gunning down of hundreds of soldiers and civilians and the wholesale rape of women and girls. But this did not save any of the defenders in Sarajevo from the poison of violence, the soul-destroying force that is war. I knew a Bosnian soldier who heard a sound behind a door while patrolling on the outskirts of Sarajevo. He fired a burst from his AK-47 through the door. A delay of a few seconds in combat can mean death. When he opened the door, he found the bloody remains of a 12-year-old girl. His daughter was 12. He never recovered.

    Only the autocrats and politicians who dream of empire and global hegemony, of the god-like power that comes with wielding armies, warplanes, and fleets, along with the merchants of death, whose business floods countries with weapons, profit from war. The expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe has earned Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Analytic Services, Huntington Ingalls, Humana, BAE Systems, and L3Harris billions in profits. The stoking of conflict in Ukraine will earn them billions more.

    The European Union has allocated hundreds of millions of euros to purchase weapons for Ukraine. Germany will almost triple its own defense budget for 2022. The Biden administration has asked Congress to provide $6.4 billion in funding to assist Ukraine, supplementing the $650 million in military aid to Ukraine over the past year. The permanent war economy operates outside the laws of supply and demand. It is the root of the two-decade-long quagmire in the Middle East. It is the root of the conflict with Moscow. The merchants of death are Satanic. The more corpses they produce,  the more their bank accounts swell. They will cash in on this conflict, one that now flirts with the nuclear holocaust that would terminate life on earth as we know it.

    The dangerous and sadly predictable provocation of Russia — whose nuclear arsenal places the sword of Damocles above our heads — by expanding NATO was understood by all of us reporting in Eastern Europe in 1989 during the revolutions and the break-up of the Soviet Union.

    This provocation, which includes establishing a NATO missile base 100 miles from Russia’s border, was foolish and highly irresponsible. It never made geopolitical sense. This does not, however, excuse the invasion of Ukraine. Yes, the Russians were baited. But they reacted by pulling the trigger. This is a crime. Their crime. Let us pray for a ceasefire. Let us work for a return to diplomacy and sanity, a moratorium on arms shipments to Ukraine, and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country. Let us hope for an end to war before we stumble into a nuclear holocaust that devours us all.


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      1. The United States is the only country that has never committed criminal aggression or war crimes when it has been forced into war.

        We have proven it unnecessary.

        A shame the rest of the world isn’t more like us.

        • You forgot the /sarc.

        • You are living in a fantasy island with your delusional comments.

      2. how about when usa invaded iraq Afghanistan syria there is a mile long list of cia aggression

      3. all world rulers are tyrants criminals , you need to look into usa past aggressions ,or may be to you its ok if usa done it, its justified

      4. Well, for what it is worth, I put in between active and reserve, 29 yrs, of my two sons, one spent 7 yrs in the army and the other 20 yrs in the navy. My two grand sons and grand daughters, hopefully ( unless the manure really hits the fan at some point in the future ) will never or won’t go into the military, because of the way the current administration is screwing ( in place of the F word ) up by the numbers and we will be paying the piper for years to come because of it. And because of the polices of the current president and his democratic communist handlers, we will be paying the price for years to come ( and I’m not saying that the other politician party is any better, BUT )

        • @alfie. I second this. After exiting the Army in 2009, ironically just as my son commissioned (I was his first enlisted salute), I couldn’t wait for him to get out, which he did in 2017, and my son-in-law to retire in 2021. We all have seen these horrors. I was for the Iraq war based on a false premise. Once there, I wonder WTF are we doing here? My morale for the situation changed me. I was STUPID. I was duped by the lies. I see the fighting in Ukraine and I am saddened by the death on both sides. Even the Russian soldiers.

          I can’t speak for my son or son-in-law who saw more combat than I have. My SIL lost his brother in Iraq, a day before my birthday. His sister, her husband, and his stepbrother are all still in.

          I now have three grandsons and two granddaughters between my son and SIL. I think I would shoot each of them in the foot before I would let them go in, that’s how strongly I feel about it.

        • Brooklynsez:
          Sooooo your blaming the current administration for Pukins war on a peaceful democatic country??? WTF u got selective memory??? here let me refresh it for a bit heres some current history for you. no1 the past administration not gonna name names but the one led by the orange gibbon, witheld aid to Ukraine in order to blackmail yes blackmail another country into MAKING UP fake Sh*t to smear Hillary, he also tried his mighty best to DEFUND NATO remember that? Oh and he kisses PUKINs azz shamelessly Allowing said communist fuk wad PUKIN, to become more aggressive, also remember and this is documented and spare me that fukkin excuse all rightwingers use…(its fake news fake news FY) i am gonna remind you of the dirty sh*t the orange oragutan did in order to cover up his misdeeds which got him Impeached……he covered it up smeared an American hero Xol. Vindman and lied lied and lied some more and this has been proven in the artucles of impeachment his has two open criminal investigations against him ONE for attemlting to over throw an election that was proved timw and tine again to be FAIR he lost pure and simple and even the retards that tried to “prove” it was rigged came up EMPTY, ALL OF THIS HAPPENED ON HIS WATCH!!! And the one that really pissed me off smearing American soldiers calling them suckers for dying for their country, I personally will never ever forgive that orange fuk wad ever, just for that comment alone, your saying THAT Russia got goaded into attavking Ukraine? because of Nato expasionism??? Well WTF if a SOVREIGN country wants to join a mutual defense treaty Who the FUK is anybody got to say about it???? I do not blame Ukraine for wanting to Join ….WTF seriously…
          And for the record I did my time in two different uniforms Policeand military, NY’s finest for 23 years retired and 21 years between air force and navy, 4 years active 16 reserve and 2 deployments, and no i am not a lefty liberal and most defininately not a follower of the orange turd or his minions….I am an independent who thinks the conservatives have lost their minds. Fuk Pukin.

      5. Very well written and the truth. There is no honour in war. Even war fought by playing by the rules (dead is dead, whether somebody first rapes your daughter and your wife before blowing your head off, or kills you with grim and dutiful regret).

        War and violent death stinks. It is nothing but sadness (always remember the soldier you just killed was once a baby born of love).

        Unfortunately this war is going to be very good for the UK and the USA. Lots and lots of money to be made selling weapons. In return, Ukraine will be totally wrecked as has been Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. Lots and lots of Ukrainians and Russians will die.

        At this point the only right action is for governments and the international system to do everything they can to get a ceasefire. Peace really is the best option.

      6. Maybe this azzhat has never heard of the crime called menacing? If you point a gun at me, I’ll respond accordingly. That’s what Russia did.

      7. I guess the author forgot about all the US biolabs in Ukraine? I guess he forgot to mention the very real mafia embedded throughout Ukraine? I guess he forgot to mention that 4 children of congressmen “work” for Ukrainian oil companies?

        I’m with Putin and I don’t consider this aggressive war. The US, NATO and their lapdogs have been targeting Russia for a while. This action is defensive and necessary.

      8. What has really been “sanitized” is the fact that 66-100 Million Russian CHRISTIANS were MURDERED by the Bolsheviks, who were 80% ZIONIST Jeews. FAKE Khazarian Zionist Jeews, which is 97% of “Israel” today, and those calling themselves Jeews. Fake Jeews in a Fake Israel, fomenting a Fake Armageddon for the arrival of their Fake Messiah.
        One thing that will not be Fake, is the LAKE OF FIRE that they will soon be cast into, before the decade ends. These are they of whom it was written, “They shall seek death but death shall flee from them.” God’s wrath is coming for you – LIARS. A place has been prepared for the utter end of your fallen fathers, along with all of you.
        Bring your Albert Pike Luciferian Directive – WW3. Your Fake Armageddon, to bring your “pure doctrine of Lucifer, brought finally out into Public View.” It only means YOU WILL BE NO MORE, that much sooner. YES!! The END of the seed of the serpent!! Before the decade ends! Mankind will then live in peace!

      9. The movie “The day the earth stood still” needs to become reality.

      10. Load of BS

      11. Load of BS
        RU had to act. And seem to be doing the best they can not to wreck the place. The US would have the country in ashes by now, e.g. Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.

      12. Excellent Article ★★★★★

        Thank you for calling out (some) of the ??? ???? by name…. that’s a rarity even for a former war correspondent.

        Oh what a glorious day when a MSM war correspondent goes live and says “You see all this? This is the handy work of the ??? ????, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrop Grumman,Almez -Antey, Sukhoi, Tactical Missile Corp. and so so many more.

        I can dream …can’t I?

        A couple years ago I posted up a website on here that I have been keeping an eye on ever since.( defense blog . com)

        It’s like Playboy magazine for ??? ????.
        How many weapons will it take in the ?????????? of “Just War Theory” to satisfy the satanic pusuit of filthy lucre?
        Obviously no end in sight… ever……as technology fuels the eternal flame.

        In early 2019, more than 90% of world’s 13,865 nuclear weapons were owned by Russia and the United States.

        So you tell me where lies the axis of evil?

        To suggest that Russia was wrong for taking the bait is like suggesting politicians are wrong for taking bribes.

        In what surreal parallel universe is that not going to happen?

        This ends when “we the people” of earth say it ends.

        Thanks again for the great article.

      13. It is silly to say that Putin was baited into war. Putin has been planning this war for years. It is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination.

        • You are 100% correct that Putin has been planning this for years. To be more specific, he has been planning it since we, the US and our so called friends, overthrew the Ukrainian government in 2014. From Russia’s perspective, how many times have they invaded Europe versus how many times has Europe invaded Russia in the last couple hundred years?

          Do not think for a second that I am pro Russian. Many have suffered and died because of them. But, our leaders and through guilt by association, “We the people” have blood on our hands for not electing (or by using whatever means were necessary) leaders that adhered to their oath of office.

          If things continue down the path we are currently on, our children are destined to die in another senseless war so the powers that be can have more power and another dollar. God help us to find a way to stop the madness before the mushroom clouds appear. And if they do appear, guess who will be the only superpower left to rule the world that is left…… CHINA

      14. Good article, but President Zelensky apparently said with full NATO support, that Ukraine should leave the Budapest Memorandums and acquire nukes against Russia.

        Ukraine had Soviet nukes but never were in control of them. NATO insisted in the Budapest Memorandums that they be removed and Ukraine sign the NPT while Ukraine was a Russian satellite.

        Ukraine built the Soviet-ere missiles and helped build those warheads. Ukraine has nuclear power – a threshold capability we strive to prevent Iran from having.

        Ukraine could build nukes; they only made the mistake of threatening Russia with nukes before they had a few.

        This isn’t ever yet, either.

      15. Sorry, but I can’t help but root for Putin in this quagmire.

        • You are a traitor. You deserve a traitor’s end. Fuck you.

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