Caoimhin O’Muraile and Anthony McIntyre discuss the issue of Left neutrality in Russia's war on Ukraine. 

AM: Much has been written and said about the war on Ukraine. You and I have had a few sharp exchanges about it and no doubt will have a few more – we had a good discussion about it over our pint last week. Most on the Left seem to take the standard anti-Imperialist approach to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, citing Putin’s own statements about Ukraine not being a nation – that it is somehow a vassal state and its citizens little more than chattel. They have thrown their weight, to the extent they can, behind Ukraine whilst remaining aware of broader concerns on the Left and which are underreported in the media such as the NATO element and that of the far right. You as a long time Marxist take a different approach. You profess neutrality between the invader and the invaded. When a country is subject to what Chomsky, citing the Nuremburg Tribunal, labelled the supreme international crime can a Marxist be consistent with the principals of universal solidarity and at the same time remain neutral?

COM: Firstly, I have never supported the invasion, but can see Vladmir Putin’s security concerns on his western border. This could and should have been resolved via mediation using the offices of the United Nations. There was, and perhaps is, an alternative way to resolve the perceived concerns of Russia. If NATO weapons, primarily US nuclear missiles were placed in Ukraine they could hit Moscow in five minutes. Russia would have no time to respond. This situation, from Putin’s point of view, cannot be allowed to happen. No world leader would allow it, especially Joe Biden. Any settlement would have to guarantee Ukraine’s independence, but not as a member of NATO. Should Ukraine join this so-called "Atlantic Alliance" there would no longer be parity between NATO and the Russian Federation. They cannot hold a NATO gun to Russia’s head.

You could argue if Ukraine cannot join NATO it would not be independent. Fair argument, but if Russia gives concrete guarantees not to invade enshrined - given the situation and geography - in international law such as it is, that should copperfasten Ukraine’s independence and neutrality. The offices of the UN were not used and should have been. No world leader could tolerate such a threat on their borders, Russia is no exception. Would Joe Biden tolerate a similar situation in Mexico, or even Canada? No, he would not. Therefore, why should Putin? The UN were formed, among many other roles, to address situations like this without bloodshed.

Alternatively, NATO could give Russia guarantees that any application by Ukraine to join would be rejected, given that the organisation once assured Russia, then the USSR, that with German unification NATO would not move "one inch" eastwards. They broke this promise so why should Putin ever trust NATO, primarily the USA, ever again.

So, mediation using the UN offices was possibly, still could be, a means of peaceful resolution. No socialist could support NATO and Azov, but, in my view invasion was not the answer, certainly not primarily.

AM: Russian guarantees not to invade in future would be viewed with deep scepticism: When Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal it did so in exchange for a guarantee that Russia would not attack it. The promise was as worthless as the West’s not an inch towards the East promise you refer to. Putin lied right up to the invasion so it is difficult to see what commitment he might have had to any UN backed initiative. He seemed determined to go in even when seasoned analysts felt there was no advantage in it to him. And he is making seriously heavy weather of it. Chomsky suggested that with no sign of statesman-type life about the Kremlin the opportunity was missed to engage the French and Germans in the hope of striking an agreement with them which could have bypassed the US. The Kremlin failed to widen what seemed a pre-existing cleavage within the NATO camp. Germany in particular is aware that Gorbachev by agreeing to the Germans joining NATO back in the day of reunification made a huge compromise for which Russian noses should not have been rubbed in it. It was considered more susceptible to an agreement with the Russians. While Russia has genuine concerns about NATO, Moscow would easily be destroyed whether nuclear weapons were in Ukraine or not. Nor would its ability to retaliate be lessened by the presence of NATO nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The pressure now to join NATO must be immense amongst the European countries not already in it, the lesson being if you don’t want your cities destroyed, join NATO. The war on Ukraine seems to have impelled Finland and Sweden to expedite any plans they had to join.

COM: Firstly, to say Moscow would be destroyed with or without nuclear weapons is questionable. Napoleon tried, the British in the Crimean War, had a go and, as we know, Hitler tried and was repelled by Zukhov at the gates of Moscow. Nuclear weapons, primarily US nuclear missiles in the Ukraine are the main security concern. Russia, unlike now, would not have time to respond because within five minutes Moscow and other Russian cities would be obliterated. As it presently stands NATO nuclear missiles in those countries which are members, could not hit the Russian capital without Russia having time, just enough time granted, to respond. 

AM: Yet, the only people toying with the possibility of nuclear holocaust are the Russians. It is probably sabre rattling – not the first time in Kremlin history that this has happened. The West knows only too well that while it can destroy Moscow with nuclear weapons (Napoleon tried on horseback – surprisingly, perhaps, the Nazis relied a lot on horseback as well despite their much-vaunted mechanised warfare capacity), it too will be destroyed. There are no winners in a nuclear war, and one big loser – humankind. The point is that the proximity of Ukraine to Russia will not determine the outcome of any nuclear war.

COM: Personally I am against all nuclear weapons, any socialist should be. Although I accept they are there and cannot be de-invented. Only a socialist world would get rid of them, "workers of the world unite". However, I am deviating, and I must stress I do unreservedly support Ukrainian refugees, no question there and the Ukrainian people. I also support the Russian proletariat and their fears of NATO nuclear weapons inside Ukraine. As I have said, I never supported the invasion. I no longer think Zelensky's the innocent man he once appeared. He gives me the impression he would like rid of Russia. Putin, on the other hand, has no right to say Ukraine is not a country, he is wrong to imply it has no right to exist.

AM: Nevertheless, the only way a position of neutrality would have any consistency would be if those holding it were to remain neutral in the event of the US invading other countries, claiming its vital interests were at stake. Should the Left be neutral were the US to invade Mexico to demilitarise the drug cartels? Despite all the hypocrisy of the US you would by implication have to remain neutral if it were to wage war on Mexico (Trump it seems advocated bombing drug labs there and denying responsibility for it) on the pretext of the war on drugs or would you not? If you can be neutral when one right wing capitalist state invades its neighbours, how could you not remain neutral when another does likewise? You have to see the danger in establishing the principle that it is okay for capitalist states to invade their weaker neighbour.

COM: As for the US invading Mexico to smash the drug cartels that’s a bit rich, given the fact popular though it is those same cartels are backed by the CIA just as they were in Panama. Once they no longer serve the interests of US capitalism there is, again like Panama, the US could take steps to get them out of their haven. The world would then proclaim their admiration for the USA. They did this when the US invaded, illegally, Iraq.

AM: But you don't reduce the Kremlin's reason's for going to war to NATO. You feel it is wider in reach and that the Kremlin has other serious concerns. 

COM: The presence of Nazi thugs of the Azov regiment, which is growing in numbers, is also a major concern of Putin’s. It should be a concern to Zelenskyy as well. One day they could be in Government in Ukraine. Let’s hope not but always a possibility. Alternative social media reports suggest it is Azov who bombed the railway station and hospital, having kicked the patients out. How much truth in this I cannot say, but it is an old Nazi trick dating back to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

AM: We can find anything on social media that we want – evidence that the world is either flat or young. The more reliable sources accept that war crimes are being perpetrated by Russia, the same sources that called out the war crimes in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Gaza – all with serious Western involvement. No socialist would support Azov but they are obligated to support Ukraine in its defence against the supreme international crime.

COM: Many on the socialist left and social media again appear to support Russia’s invasion. I stop short of that as there were other ways of resolving the situation. The Nazi threat is real. If they ever become a government, they could use nuclear missiles on Russia. I know that is unlikely but stranger things have happened.

To the Nazi presence in Ukraine. Russia, given their historical experience with that warped ideology, have genuine concerns. I accept there is a fascist presence in Russia itself, and Putin supports Marine Le Pen in France and vice versa. To my knowledge though there are no openly Nazi regiments in the Russian army, unlike Ukraine. The Azov regiment, there is a popular belief, were responsible for bombing the railway station and hospital, then blaming the Russians. Hitler did this to the radio station, blaming the Poles. I understand, on a much smaller scale, the UVF did something similar to electricity pylons, blaming an almost defunct IRA back in the sixties.

AM: Those of us who are familiar with Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy will struggle to find plausible the blame it all on the opposition when an atrocity is committed. Nor do we have to rely on what Western governments have been saying. Open source journalism such as that carried out by Bellingcat has been destroying Russian disinformation for years. It does not rely on opinion or what people claim, but goes for the hard forensic evidence. They set their findings out for the rest of us to check. They are hated by the reactionary Right and the Regressive Left, both of whom seem to struggle with facts and even alternative opinions.

COM: Firstly, it is not okay for any country to invade another, secondly, as is now becoming more apparent the Nazis of AZOV are finally taking a bloody nose. I once had some time for Zelensky but his stance is not what is once was. A man who claims Jewish extraction, which in my view is becoming questionable, would not allow such a regiment as Azov in his armed forces. this gang take Das Reich of the Waffen SS as their role model and must be stopped. Thankfully their leader has been arrested by Russian forces, if, again, reports are correct. Look at some of the Azov forces, covered in Nazi type tattoos. I have tattoos myself but nothing of their nature. Now, that they are evacuating the steel works the West are proclaiming these Nazis, “brave fighters” which could have been said of the SS! The West and USA in particular have since 1945 been after getting nearer to Russia’s borders, and could have done so if they had accepted Russia’s application to join NATO, an organisation I do not subscribe to but not from a hypocritical view point. Once the Warsaw Pact disbanded then so too should the US-led NATO but they never had any intentions of in doing this. Since the disbandment of the USSR, a move economically backed by the USA, the need for NATO ceased to exist. Now Ukraine wants to join them, Nazi Azov included. Little wonder France are concerned about them joining the EU. France have their own fascist threat with Marine Le Pen, without a country with openly Nazi regiments in their own armed forces coming in to this capitalist club: bad as it is it is not that bad.

I notice Zelensky is also now applauding Azov as brave “Ukrainian Fighters” which begs the question how anti-Nazi is he? He continues demanding more western weapons relentlessly while mentioning very little about the real victims of this mess, his own citizens, refugees. I am not saying Putin is any better because he is not, neither are socialists or internationalists. If I had my way both would be overthrown by the indigenous working class of each land. That said I would say the same of Biden, Johnson and even our own Martin. That is not going to happen, I am not naive enough to imagine for one second it will.

As for the Nuremberg trials after WWII only a few Nazis were tried, and even then some got off. Senior scientists were taken to the USA to work for them, irrespective of war crimes.

Russia have no right to deny Ukraine the right to a national identity, the British did that to us for seven hundred years, and British fascists, like Britain First, still do.

Already US so called experts in international law are trying to say Azov, under said international law, cannot be tried because they are “combatants”. Why not say the same of the Waffen SS? After all Azov do model themselves on that murderous organisation!

I do have a problem with groups supporting the invasion, even allowing for the NATO threat, but what alternative was there from Putin’s view point? I suggested a couple of alternatives which nobody appears interested in, so I would like to hear other alternatives to invasion, while addressing the NATO threat. So far nobody has come up with an answer, supporting Ukraine unreservedly or Russia likewise. Hence my neutral stance. Biden and NATO are war mongers, no question about that, but so is Putin. Zelensky, what of him? A fool and puppet of NATO or a self-publicist trying to promote his own image on a world scale, or both. My views on him have changed, and I never have been a Putin fan. I hope those who engineered the fall of the USSR, Yeltstin being senior along with the then President of Ukraine and that of Belarus are proud of the mess they have left. What does bother me is Russia’s western border security concerns appear not to have the priority Putin was arguing earlier. If that was his concern he would not have sent in inexperienced conscripts to fight. He would have deployed his finest and gone through the place like a dose of salts, which has not happened. Russia are losing the long fight, their failure to take the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is testament to that as various embassies are returning to carry on their diplomatic business.

AM: Do you not think some on the Left have lost the plot? To me their loathing of the West results from their own failure to make a dent in the hegemony of capitalist ideology within their own societies. I can get that – it is hard to struggle for almost a lifetime as many of them have done, only to end up marginalised. It would be surprising if such failure and frustration did not induce a loathing. This has, in my view, led to them siding with anybody that takes a stand against the West. I saw it years ago when the Trotskyist Left was defending what Tony Cliff had earlier pejoratively but accurately termed clerical fascism. All of us who see the world through a Marxian lens (with varying levels of adjustment) have serious difficulties with the West, but refrain for falling for my enemy’s enemy is my friend. The Left supporting an authoritarian capitalist state waging aggressive war on its weaker neighbour and regurgitating the Kremlin kleptocracy propaganda to justify their stance seems straight out of Animal Farm or 1984.

COM: Finally, Anthony, yes, the so-called Left have lost the plot and did so a long time ago. Not knowing if they’re having a shit, shave or shower is an understatement.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

In Quillversation ✑ Neutrality In The Russia-Ukraine War

Caoimhin O’Muraile and Anthony McIntyre discuss the issue of Left neutrality in Russia's war on Ukraine. 

AM: Much has been written and said about the war on Ukraine. You and I have had a few sharp exchanges about it and no doubt will have a few more – we had a good discussion about it over our pint last week. Most on the Left seem to take the standard anti-Imperialist approach to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, citing Putin’s own statements about Ukraine not being a nation – that it is somehow a vassal state and its citizens little more than chattel. They have thrown their weight, to the extent they can, behind Ukraine whilst remaining aware of broader concerns on the Left and which are underreported in the media such as the NATO element and that of the far right. You as a long time Marxist take a different approach. You profess neutrality between the invader and the invaded. When a country is subject to what Chomsky, citing the Nuremburg Tribunal, labelled the supreme international crime can a Marxist be consistent with the principals of universal solidarity and at the same time remain neutral?

COM: Firstly, I have never supported the invasion, but can see Vladmir Putin’s security concerns on his western border. This could and should have been resolved via mediation using the offices of the United Nations. There was, and perhaps is, an alternative way to resolve the perceived concerns of Russia. If NATO weapons, primarily US nuclear missiles were placed in Ukraine they could hit Moscow in five minutes. Russia would have no time to respond. This situation, from Putin’s point of view, cannot be allowed to happen. No world leader would allow it, especially Joe Biden. Any settlement would have to guarantee Ukraine’s independence, but not as a member of NATO. Should Ukraine join this so-called "Atlantic Alliance" there would no longer be parity between NATO and the Russian Federation. They cannot hold a NATO gun to Russia’s head.

You could argue if Ukraine cannot join NATO it would not be independent. Fair argument, but if Russia gives concrete guarantees not to invade enshrined - given the situation and geography - in international law such as it is, that should copperfasten Ukraine’s independence and neutrality. The offices of the UN were not used and should have been. No world leader could tolerate such a threat on their borders, Russia is no exception. Would Joe Biden tolerate a similar situation in Mexico, or even Canada? No, he would not. Therefore, why should Putin? The UN were formed, among many other roles, to address situations like this without bloodshed.

Alternatively, NATO could give Russia guarantees that any application by Ukraine to join would be rejected, given that the organisation once assured Russia, then the USSR, that with German unification NATO would not move "one inch" eastwards. They broke this promise so why should Putin ever trust NATO, primarily the USA, ever again.

So, mediation using the UN offices was possibly, still could be, a means of peaceful resolution. No socialist could support NATO and Azov, but, in my view invasion was not the answer, certainly not primarily.

AM: Russian guarantees not to invade in future would be viewed with deep scepticism: When Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal it did so in exchange for a guarantee that Russia would not attack it. The promise was as worthless as the West’s not an inch towards the East promise you refer to. Putin lied right up to the invasion so it is difficult to see what commitment he might have had to any UN backed initiative. He seemed determined to go in even when seasoned analysts felt there was no advantage in it to him. And he is making seriously heavy weather of it. Chomsky suggested that with no sign of statesman-type life about the Kremlin the opportunity was missed to engage the French and Germans in the hope of striking an agreement with them which could have bypassed the US. The Kremlin failed to widen what seemed a pre-existing cleavage within the NATO camp. Germany in particular is aware that Gorbachev by agreeing to the Germans joining NATO back in the day of reunification made a huge compromise for which Russian noses should not have been rubbed in it. It was considered more susceptible to an agreement with the Russians. While Russia has genuine concerns about NATO, Moscow would easily be destroyed whether nuclear weapons were in Ukraine or not. Nor would its ability to retaliate be lessened by the presence of NATO nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The pressure now to join NATO must be immense amongst the European countries not already in it, the lesson being if you don’t want your cities destroyed, join NATO. The war on Ukraine seems to have impelled Finland and Sweden to expedite any plans they had to join.

COM: Firstly, to say Moscow would be destroyed with or without nuclear weapons is questionable. Napoleon tried, the British in the Crimean War, had a go and, as we know, Hitler tried and was repelled by Zukhov at the gates of Moscow. Nuclear weapons, primarily US nuclear missiles in the Ukraine are the main security concern. Russia, unlike now, would not have time to respond because within five minutes Moscow and other Russian cities would be obliterated. As it presently stands NATO nuclear missiles in those countries which are members, could not hit the Russian capital without Russia having time, just enough time granted, to respond. 

AM: Yet, the only people toying with the possibility of nuclear holocaust are the Russians. It is probably sabre rattling – not the first time in Kremlin history that this has happened. The West knows only too well that while it can destroy Moscow with nuclear weapons (Napoleon tried on horseback – surprisingly, perhaps, the Nazis relied a lot on horseback as well despite their much-vaunted mechanised warfare capacity), it too will be destroyed. There are no winners in a nuclear war, and one big loser – humankind. The point is that the proximity of Ukraine to Russia will not determine the outcome of any nuclear war.

COM: Personally I am against all nuclear weapons, any socialist should be. Although I accept they are there and cannot be de-invented. Only a socialist world would get rid of them, "workers of the world unite". However, I am deviating, and I must stress I do unreservedly support Ukrainian refugees, no question there and the Ukrainian people. I also support the Russian proletariat and their fears of NATO nuclear weapons inside Ukraine. As I have said, I never supported the invasion. I no longer think Zelensky's the innocent man he once appeared. He gives me the impression he would like rid of Russia. Putin, on the other hand, has no right to say Ukraine is not a country, he is wrong to imply it has no right to exist.

AM: Nevertheless, the only way a position of neutrality would have any consistency would be if those holding it were to remain neutral in the event of the US invading other countries, claiming its vital interests were at stake. Should the Left be neutral were the US to invade Mexico to demilitarise the drug cartels? Despite all the hypocrisy of the US you would by implication have to remain neutral if it were to wage war on Mexico (Trump it seems advocated bombing drug labs there and denying responsibility for it) on the pretext of the war on drugs or would you not? If you can be neutral when one right wing capitalist state invades its neighbours, how could you not remain neutral when another does likewise? You have to see the danger in establishing the principle that it is okay for capitalist states to invade their weaker neighbour.

COM: As for the US invading Mexico to smash the drug cartels that’s a bit rich, given the fact popular though it is those same cartels are backed by the CIA just as they were in Panama. Once they no longer serve the interests of US capitalism there is, again like Panama, the US could take steps to get them out of their haven. The world would then proclaim their admiration for the USA. They did this when the US invaded, illegally, Iraq.

AM: But you don't reduce the Kremlin's reason's for going to war to NATO. You feel it is wider in reach and that the Kremlin has other serious concerns. 

COM: The presence of Nazi thugs of the Azov regiment, which is growing in numbers, is also a major concern of Putin’s. It should be a concern to Zelenskyy as well. One day they could be in Government in Ukraine. Let’s hope not but always a possibility. Alternative social media reports suggest it is Azov who bombed the railway station and hospital, having kicked the patients out. How much truth in this I cannot say, but it is an old Nazi trick dating back to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

AM: We can find anything on social media that we want – evidence that the world is either flat or young. The more reliable sources accept that war crimes are being perpetrated by Russia, the same sources that called out the war crimes in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Gaza – all with serious Western involvement. No socialist would support Azov but they are obligated to support Ukraine in its defence against the supreme international crime.

COM: Many on the socialist left and social media again appear to support Russia’s invasion. I stop short of that as there were other ways of resolving the situation. The Nazi threat is real. If they ever become a government, they could use nuclear missiles on Russia. I know that is unlikely but stranger things have happened.

To the Nazi presence in Ukraine. Russia, given their historical experience with that warped ideology, have genuine concerns. I accept there is a fascist presence in Russia itself, and Putin supports Marine Le Pen in France and vice versa. To my knowledge though there are no openly Nazi regiments in the Russian army, unlike Ukraine. The Azov regiment, there is a popular belief, were responsible for bombing the railway station and hospital, then blaming the Russians. Hitler did this to the radio station, blaming the Poles. I understand, on a much smaller scale, the UVF did something similar to electricity pylons, blaming an almost defunct IRA back in the sixties.

AM: Those of us who are familiar with Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy will struggle to find plausible the blame it all on the opposition when an atrocity is committed. Nor do we have to rely on what Western governments have been saying. Open source journalism such as that carried out by Bellingcat has been destroying Russian disinformation for years. It does not rely on opinion or what people claim, but goes for the hard forensic evidence. They set their findings out for the rest of us to check. They are hated by the reactionary Right and the Regressive Left, both of whom seem to struggle with facts and even alternative opinions.

COM: Firstly, it is not okay for any country to invade another, secondly, as is now becoming more apparent the Nazis of AZOV are finally taking a bloody nose. I once had some time for Zelensky but his stance is not what is once was. A man who claims Jewish extraction, which in my view is becoming questionable, would not allow such a regiment as Azov in his armed forces. this gang take Das Reich of the Waffen SS as their role model and must be stopped. Thankfully their leader has been arrested by Russian forces, if, again, reports are correct. Look at some of the Azov forces, covered in Nazi type tattoos. I have tattoos myself but nothing of their nature. Now, that they are evacuating the steel works the West are proclaiming these Nazis, “brave fighters” which could have been said of the SS! The West and USA in particular have since 1945 been after getting nearer to Russia’s borders, and could have done so if they had accepted Russia’s application to join NATO, an organisation I do not subscribe to but not from a hypocritical view point. Once the Warsaw Pact disbanded then so too should the US-led NATO but they never had any intentions of in doing this. Since the disbandment of the USSR, a move economically backed by the USA, the need for NATO ceased to exist. Now Ukraine wants to join them, Nazi Azov included. Little wonder France are concerned about them joining the EU. France have their own fascist threat with Marine Le Pen, without a country with openly Nazi regiments in their own armed forces coming in to this capitalist club: bad as it is it is not that bad.

I notice Zelensky is also now applauding Azov as brave “Ukrainian Fighters” which begs the question how anti-Nazi is he? He continues demanding more western weapons relentlessly while mentioning very little about the real victims of this mess, his own citizens, refugees. I am not saying Putin is any better because he is not, neither are socialists or internationalists. If I had my way both would be overthrown by the indigenous working class of each land. That said I would say the same of Biden, Johnson and even our own Martin. That is not going to happen, I am not naive enough to imagine for one second it will.

As for the Nuremberg trials after WWII only a few Nazis were tried, and even then some got off. Senior scientists were taken to the USA to work for them, irrespective of war crimes.

Russia have no right to deny Ukraine the right to a national identity, the British did that to us for seven hundred years, and British fascists, like Britain First, still do.

Already US so called experts in international law are trying to say Azov, under said international law, cannot be tried because they are “combatants”. Why not say the same of the Waffen SS? After all Azov do model themselves on that murderous organisation!

I do have a problem with groups supporting the invasion, even allowing for the NATO threat, but what alternative was there from Putin’s view point? I suggested a couple of alternatives which nobody appears interested in, so I would like to hear other alternatives to invasion, while addressing the NATO threat. So far nobody has come up with an answer, supporting Ukraine unreservedly or Russia likewise. Hence my neutral stance. Biden and NATO are war mongers, no question about that, but so is Putin. Zelensky, what of him? A fool and puppet of NATO or a self-publicist trying to promote his own image on a world scale, or both. My views on him have changed, and I never have been a Putin fan. I hope those who engineered the fall of the USSR, Yeltstin being senior along with the then President of Ukraine and that of Belarus are proud of the mess they have left. What does bother me is Russia’s western border security concerns appear not to have the priority Putin was arguing earlier. If that was his concern he would not have sent in inexperienced conscripts to fight. He would have deployed his finest and gone through the place like a dose of salts, which has not happened. Russia are losing the long fight, their failure to take the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is testament to that as various embassies are returning to carry on their diplomatic business.

AM: Do you not think some on the Left have lost the plot? To me their loathing of the West results from their own failure to make a dent in the hegemony of capitalist ideology within their own societies. I can get that – it is hard to struggle for almost a lifetime as many of them have done, only to end up marginalised. It would be surprising if such failure and frustration did not induce a loathing. This has, in my view, led to them siding with anybody that takes a stand against the West. I saw it years ago when the Trotskyist Left was defending what Tony Cliff had earlier pejoratively but accurately termed clerical fascism. All of us who see the world through a Marxian lens (with varying levels of adjustment) have serious difficulties with the West, but refrain for falling for my enemy’s enemy is my friend. The Left supporting an authoritarian capitalist state waging aggressive war on its weaker neighbour and regurgitating the Kremlin kleptocracy propaganda to justify their stance seems straight out of Animal Farm or 1984.

COM: Finally, Anthony, yes, the so-called Left have lost the plot and did so a long time ago. Not knowing if they’re having a shit, shave or shower is an understatement.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

23 comments:

  1. Caoimhin
    Some of your arguments are at best assinine. I think Mackers, as ever, is being polite and going easy on you.

    1. "...if Russia gives concrete guarantees not to invade, enshrined in international law ..that should copperfasten Ukraine’s independence and neutrality" Mackers then responds with the fact that Russia gave assurances when Ukraine gave up its nukes but reneged. You didn't respond to this glaringly obvious Russian deception. Maybe you would like to now?
    2. "I no longer think Zelensky's the innocent man he once appeared" Quite, he has seen his major cities levelled, he has smelt the stench of rotting civilian corpses from the mass graves of Bucha and he is juggling the imminent bankruptcy of his nation, all day every day he deals with the most tragic and evil circumstances imaginable, and all without the support of his family. But you doubt his innocence?
    3. "A man who claims Jewish extraction...would not allow such a regiment as Azov in his armed forces" When you are faced with annihilation you will accept any help. Some of the Irish republican forces fighting the British during the independence war went on to fight for Franco, some against Franco, but against the British fought side by side. Azov are a very effective unit, Zelenskey needs them now.
    4. "To my knowledge though there are no openly Nazi regiments in the Russian army, unlike Ukraine" But the Russian army is using the Wagner group which has openly nazi units in it, linked to the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), a white-supremacist paramilitary organisation. There are also Chechen units guilty of genocide in Syria and Chechnia. You constantly talk about Azov as if they are the biggest evil when they are trying to stop a Russian genocide in Ukraine. So Caoimhin, do you consider Azov a bigger evil than the Russian army?

    It seems to me that you are scrambling around looking for a position that allows you to avoid the reality of the situation without betraying your biases.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going easy - that is always nice to hear! The tone of quillversations is conversational rather than confrontational. Nevertheless, worth noting all the same.

      My problem with Zelensky is not his wholly justified defence of Ukrainian society against foreign invasion, but his support for the Israeli bombing of Gaza in which he said the Israelis were the only people suffering. I thought that crass and a complete abandonment of the very principle of universal solidarity and Responsibility To Protect to which he now appeals. He also said nothing after a SS regiment was honoured in Kiev at the end of last month until the Israelis and Germans kicked up a stink about it (The US too stayed silent until Zelensky was forced into a corner).
      The Azov issue throws up many moral quandaries - Simon Pirani in the next quillversation throws some light on it. Sean Russell, Tom Barry, James O'Donovan and Frank Ryan all members of the IRA consorted with the Nazis without ever being slated by republicans in the way Zelensky is. The sad things is that Azov (whose former hero was Putin) put it up to the Russian military in a way that will make them appear national heros. One report said:

      The Azov Battalion are no ordinary fighters; they tied up Russian firepower for months, which gave other cities the chance to prepare and to better resist. In Ukraine, they call them the 300, or the Spartans: they are heroes.

      If Putin was really concerned about Nazis he would never have given them a shot in the arm.

      The most Nazi act to date in the war for me was the Kremlin bombing of the Babi Yar area - "bombing one of the most sacred sites of victims of the Nazis" - where 33,000 Jews were butchered during WW2.

      Yet, I am much more comfortable with the perspective outlined by Lev Golinkin, a writer very critical of Russia's war on Ukraine where he calls for Azov to have no role in the Ukrainian armed forces.

      This is a battalion that should not be — the news organizations should not be using them. All it does is, A, play into Russian propaganda, and, B, it gives them legitimacy, which they absolutely should not be getting, because they are white supremacists. And it’s shameful to see news organizations use videos from Azov. It was shameful the Financial Times actually interviewed the leader of Azov, who is a committed neo-Nazi, and they gave him a platform. And it’s been extremely disturbing to see this group being legitimized. Japan just took them off the list of their terrorism. They have a list of terror groups, and then they just took them off the list.
      And, I mean, I cannot stress this enough: Support Ukraine. Support the people who are not white supremacists. That’s the overwhelming majority of Ukraine. Do not support this formation. Do not support it, because they are white supremacists. They are wonderful for Putin’s propaganda. And they are seeking to get international fighters to come to Ukraine and learn how to kill, which is the absolute worst thing we want…. . There’s already been proof that they’ve gotten, for example, rifles, sniper rifles. There is proof that they’ve been getting training over the past — and this has been happening over the past eight years, while myself and others have been writing, saying, “Listen, this group needs to be taken care of. This group needs to be disbanded.” It should not be operational in Ukraine. All it does is it hurts Ukraine.
      And they’ve met — they’ve had people from NATO come over and train with them. And it’s just — it’s a horrible — it’s a horrible look. It shouldn’t be done. Support Ukraine. Don’t support the tiny part of it that happens to be an actual white supremacist battalion.


      I regard Azov in ethical terms as every bit as bad as the Russian invaders - but the bastards have been placed on the right side of the barricade by Putin. And their presence is not sufficient reason not to support Ukrainian society against the war crime of aggressive war.

      Anybody doubting the extent of the far right in Ukraine could do worse than read Golinkin on it.

      Delete
  2. It seems to me Peter you are not, naively, seeing the Ukrainian leadership for what it is something I once doubted and that is they are apologists for neo-Nazi elements. They now call Azov "brave fighters" which I never thought I'd hear. As I said, Putin is lttle if any better, but at least he has no openly Nazi battallions in his army. I really am begining to wonder how wide this neo-Nazi webb is.
    As for Putin, if he is as concerned as he has a right to be about his western border security, he, as I suggested, would have gone through Ukraine with his best forces and weapons, short of NBC. He has not done that, why not? If that had ben the US,as they did against a far inferiour foe in Iraq, they use state of the arts weapos, including Stealth Bombers. All this against a country with no serious air defences. Why has Putin not done the same?
    I suggested a couple of alternatives to invasion, which nobody appears interested in, so heres your opportunity to offer one while, at the same time addressing the NATO threat to Russia.
    You appear to believe, naively in my view, that a NATO threat does not exist which is bollocks.
    As for this talk of neutrality being not an opption for Marxists, I think that is crap and, in fact, flies in the face of Marxist internationalism. To quote V.I Lenin, "what happens when the thieves fall out"? Well, as in most capitalist wars here is your answer, millions of refugees and deaths.
    As for people fleeing Kyiv, yet another misconception as various embassies are resuming buisiness as usual. Somebody is lying and, like the phoney images of Kuwait on Sky, after the Iraqui invasion, they tell us of the damage caused in Kyiv, then tell us all is normal.
    Zelensky giving his daily conferences in Kyiv takes on more and more of a military posture, never mentions his fleeing people but goes on and on about wanting more weapons.
    For fucks sake see him for what he is, a Ukrainian vetsion of Putin!

    Caoimhin O'Muraile

    ReplyDelete
  3. One more point Peter, you said I did not respond to Russias breach of promise whe Ukraine gave up its nukes. You are correct, I didn't so now I will, as you say, take this opportunity. When Ukraine gave up its nukes, former USSR weapons, perhaps Russia were not expecting those weapons to be replaced by NATO, US, nuclear weapons. The situation obviously changed when Ukraine began making serious noises about joining NATO. At the moment it would take "seven minutes" for NATO/US missiles to hit Moscow which is just enough time for Russia to respond. Once NATO missiles are in Ukraine that time is cut to between four and five minuets.
    This is an argument I do not feel comfortable with as an opponent of nuclear weapons full stop, but just pointing out the time facto. Two to three minuets is an eternity in the mad, ludicrious world of MAD.

    Caoimhin O'Muraile.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If anyone is interested Oliver Stone did a great podcast on lex fridman a week ago. He had some very insightful opinions due to have interviewed putin twice in the flesh. After listening to it I realise now it's waaaay more complex than what the West news channels portrays

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve - I didn't hear the podcast but I was less than impressed by Ukraine On Fire. Thought it a poor return of serve to Winter On Fire. The latter was well crafted even though it completely excluded the Nazis from the narrative. An interview with Putin is to me as useful as an interview with Trump (who Caoimhin is something of an authority on via the character of Ronald Crump!!). The answers don't matter, just the questions.

      Delete
  5. Thank you Steve, it is very complex. As for what passes for "left opinion" so called any dealings I have had with the so called left, both parliamentarian and, what are laughingly termed "revolutionary" reminds me of a shoal of jelly fish, no backbone. As a Marxist and In ternationalist myself I am taking the neutral position which I consider justified, because of the complexities you allude to. On the one hand Russia have concerns over their security on the western border, plus the presence of Nazi groups within the Ukrainian armed forces. On the other hand Ukraine has a right to exist as a nation and Russia have no right to deny them this, if indeed they ever did. We only have the wests word on this.

    It is"far more complex than what the west news channels portrays", a lot more that is very true.

    Caoimhin O'Muraile

    ReplyDelete
  6. True Anthony, there are definate similarities between the fictitious character in my book, The Misogynous President, Ronald Crump and the real life former suppossed President!!!

    Caoimhin O'Muraile

    ReplyDelete
  7. "For fucks sake see him for what he is, a Ukrainian version of Putin!"
    I did a masters in International Conflict a few years ago and that knocked any naivety that I may have right out of me. No world leader is pure in deed, deals must be done with devils to secure your strategic objectives. We've seen NATO do deals with the Kurds then judas them to cosy up to Turkey. Zelensky may prove to be a tyrant in the end but for now he is doing a sterling job in rallying his defences and population. To suggest that he is like Putin is ridiculous.

    "...at least (Putin) has no openly Nazi battallions in his army" - as I said, he has Wagner in his army and they do have openly nazi units. But much worse than having nazi units in his army, he has a nazi at the heart of his regime in Aleksandr Dugin or "Putin's Brain" one of Putin's principal strategists.
    How you can stay "neutral" while Russia invades Ukraine and commits genocide, levels cities and threatens nuclear war is beyond me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did much of my degree in International Relations and it does wipe away the rose tint from the glasses. Despite being anti-war these days, I do think it is impossible to stand over a position of neutrality when aggressive war is waged. It always sounds an excuse rather than a reason. Although I don't really understand what Caoimhin's neutrality amounts to because when we go through his points it seems more a statement of neutrality than actually holding the position of neutrality. Much of what he says seems to place him on the side of Ukraine and in opposition to Russia, even if he is reluctant to say it. Whereas, if you look at the perspective of Mark Hayes, he seems to take a much more neutral stance.

      Delete
  8. Not to get into a contest of academic superiority, bacause that, like most of what I have heard and read, is bollocks but for the record I did my degree in politics and masters in philosophy. I did not think such things were of any relevance but as you brought them into play I thought I'd mention it.

    To my way of thinking the leadership in Ukraine are no better than that of Russia. Not one of them, to my knowledge, has mentioned the plight of refugees, not a fucking word. At least Russia have serious security concerns but the way they have gone about addressng those concerns is questionable at best.

    I have now asked twice for any apologists for the Ukrainian, Nazi harbouring, regime, and opponents of Russias actions, premature in my view, why when I suggested using the UN, set up initially after WWII, to resolve such situations, or, failing that a tripartate meeting between the leaderships of Russia, Ukraine and NATO (US) all kinds of less than convincing reasons why such a process woulld not work have been offered, where are your alternatives? It appears to me you do not have one, apart from condeming one capitalist power for invading another. Well, we are all agreed to a point on that one, but what is your answer? Perhaps placing NATO on Russias borders is what you would like to see! Well, that may be what the US want, my question is, do you wnt the same? I can say without fear, I would definately come down on Russias side should that happen. Apologists for an ever increasingly militaristic Zelentsky, who does not look like a man under pressure to me, should maybe take a more objective view of the sorry state of affairs. Mark my words, this may well end in tears for all of us!

    For the record, I believe I answered Peters question, which, admittedly, hitherto I had not done, so perhaps my question for an alternative settlement to using the UN or a tripartate meeting could be answered.

    Finally, the situation out there, what is really going on, I have no more idea than you two, Anthony and Peter, do. As Steve pointed out it is very complex and, let us not forget, Ukraine was, for centuries, referred to, rightly or wrongly, as "Russias bread basket".

    Caoimhin O'Muraile

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the relevance of degrees was stated by Peter as an explanation of how he came to think what he does. It was not about trying to beat you down with his degree. The thing about studying at university level is that it does compel you to think more deeply if you are to understand the material.
      The leadership in Ukraine have a distinct advantage over Russia - it is not invading its neighbour.
      There are alternatives - you outlined them yourself. As Chomsky suggests they were missed out on. The alternative now is to demilitarise - the invader has to pull out and all arms shipments to Ukraine to cease. That would allow the type of alternative you suggest to have some chance of success.
      NATO should not be encircling Russia but the Russian actions are ensuring that. Finland and Sweden now looking to join. NATO has been given a great makeover by Putin.
      We have a good idea of what is going on out there from reliable sources. Discard the governments and go for open source.
      While no fan of Zelenski, he has made Putin like like a wooden top in the PR game. I suppose that is the value of having a trained actor pitched against a police thug.

      Delete
  9. AM
    Indeed it does. We studied Rwanda and Libya in depth and the complexity in both was astonishing. Deals ,double deals, deals reneged on, indifference, political pressures at home, leaders stuck between rocks and hard places, alliances that must be honoured, it was all bewildering and not a bit of wonder that it goes pear shaped most of the time. Some of the poor decisions were the only possible decisions that could be taken at that time.
    And so, it would not surprise me if Zelensky turns out to be a bit of a cunt in the future, as they say - no good deed goes unpunished - but while Russia is doing what it is doing, surely, we can't sit on the fence?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read quite a lot about Rwanda but not as part of studying. A lot of my courses was taken up with Realism and Neorealism, Neo Marxism, Pluralism - all models of international relations - then a lot of case work around Russia, US, France and global politics. It lets you see how complex the world is. I agree - we can't sit on the fence when the supreme international crime is being perpetrated.
      Oddly, we never seen the Left rushing to back Thatcher's invasion of the Falklands / Malvinas when the opposition was a genuine fascist government riddled with Nazis: and Thatcher was hardly any more right wing that Putin.

      Delete
  10. George Galloway supported the British war in the Falklands, iirc. He said so on his radio show, the MOAT on TalkSport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Popper thing on falsification comes to mind - all sheep are white until there is a black one!!!

      Delete
  11. Well lads, I have made my point and am sticking to it, as you have yours. I agree, for once, with peter, Zelensky is a "Ukrainian version of Putin"🙃😬😝 and on that note I'm moving on. We must agree to disagree on this one and no matter what there is nothing, alas, we can do about it apart from welcoming refugees.

    The match is on tonight, Real Madrid v Liverpool and a few drinks to be had🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🤠🤠

    Caoimhin O'Muraile

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't think that is what Peter said - you are telling Putins about him!!!! - you certainly made your point and I am glad you took the time to work on it for us. I find quillversations, as we call them, useful for throwing around ideas. Match tonight for sure - as I said to you on the phone my head is full of Covid so hopefully enough clears for me to enjoy the game rather than cough and splutter my way through it!!

      Delete
  12. That was a great quillversation Anthony, certainly an apt title and brilliant for heavy, serious political debate. That is something I do miss about IRSP, the Ard Fheis. A time to air ideas and formulate polcy.

    Would look forward to another quillversation, it certainly activates the mind.

    I hope you are match fit, so to speak, and enjoy the game. A few whiskeys might help.

    Caoimhin O'Muraile

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. maybe about Marxism or writing - we could do that at some point

      Delete
  13. Oh, sorry Anthony, Peter did say "for fucks sake see him for what he is, a Ukrainian version of Putin".

    Caoimhin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caoimhin - I think he was taking the piss out of you rather than stating it - think he was trying to convey what he felt you meant. He put it in inverted commas to indicate that it was not what he was saying himself. That was how I read it anyway.

      Delete
    2. Caoimhin
      I was quoting you. Look at the 3rd comment on this thread. You said it, I was quoting, that's what quotations marks are for.

      Delete