I was devastated the other day when I read of the assassination of Darya Dugina. She was blown up in a car bomb in Moscow meant for her father.
Her father had come to prominence in the last few years as the West discovered that he was one of the public intellectuals that Putin relied on for this thinking. And so inevitably the question arose, as to whether he was responsible for the disastrous and dangerous Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
I had become more interested in him when I was invited to listen to him and interrogate his ideas in a small seminar group that I belong to. I was touched when he attended one to listen to one of my presentations. That seemed to me to show a degree of humility and curiosity that was unusual.
The Western press had instantly labelled him as a fascist of course. It’s astonishing to find this label used even in what used to be the most prestigious of our broadsheets. How did it ever become acceptable to use the term as a form of general, casual abuse without any evidence for it?
One of the most interesting things about Dugin is his analysis that the three major ways of looking at the world politically and philosophically have all failed or run out of steam.
It takes a Russian in his 60’s who has lived through left wing totalitarianism, to tell us authoritatively that Communism doesn’t work, and has failed. It’s obvious that fascism failed too. But neo- liberalism, in the form of our progressive culture is running out of steam and seems to be caught in a decadent tail sin that is shows no sign of recovering from.
Dugin’s fourth way has yet to emerge, but in Russian terms it’s going to involve a renewal of the idea of one’s own country and culture. Western multiculturalism precludes that, but it’s an option in Russia. Unsurprisingly it’s easy to get a bit edgy about that in the West. But in part that edginess is made worse because none of our media outlets are offering usthe truth about the way that the dynamics of international affairs have developed over the last ten years in the Ukraine.
This is not to suggest that Russian culture, or foreign policy, or internal occasionally mafia-ridden economics are to be offered anything by the most ruthless critique. But what’s been most odd about the last couple of years is the way in which there has been almost a complete censorship of what was really happening in Ukraine since their Russian leaning democratically elected government was toppled in 2014, and replaced with an EU leaning one.
Ukraine is a large country, and it’s no surprise that the west of it looks to the EU and the east of it to Russia. The internal stresses were always going to cause some turmoil.
But the origins of the present invasion are found in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 and where NATO issued a statement saying they intended that Ukraine and Georgia should become members of NATO.
Russia, edgy after the fall of the Soviet Union, and concerned about Western expansionist ambitions. responded saying that it regarded this as a serious existential threat and that it would react accordingly.
However, ignoring Russia, NATO and EU expansion, expressed in terms of giving military hardware, training the Ukrainian army, making closer economic links and even establishing factories researching chemical warfare in East Ukraine, have all been taking place since 2014, to the great consternation of the Russians.
The USA has their own version of explaining what the Russians were objecting to, and it’s called the Munroe doctrine. It states that any expansion by a hostile government that intrudes too closely into the American sphere of influence will be deemed as deliberate act of destabilising and will produce the most serious consequences.
What American, NATO and the EU were doing in the Ukraine was exactly in breach of the Munroe doctrine, and unsurprisingly Russia responded as America had done earlier in South America.
The most accessible American commentator on this is Prof John Mearsheimer. He is a proponent of great-power politics—a school of realist international relations that assumes that, in a self-interested attempt to preserve national security, states will pre-emptively act in anticipation of adversaries.
For years, Mearsheimer has argued that the U.S., in pushing to expand NATO eastward and establishing friendly relations with Ukraine, has increased the likelihood of war betweennuclear armed powers, and laid the groundwork for Putin’s aggressive position toward Ukraine. In 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea, Mearsheimer wrote that “the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for this crisis.”
From Mearsheimer’s point of view, a proxy war is being waged by the USA against Russia, in the Ukraine, using the Ukrainians as political pawns. They knew Russia would react to western expansionism, because Putin has been saying he would for the last ten years. What we don’t know is whether or not he was disbelieved (unlikely) or thought that Russia was too weak to carry out its threats (more likely).
What they don’t seem to have anticipated is that the consequence of provoking Putin to establish and preserve a buffer zone between the borders of Russia and NATO expansion would help create a destabilising and dangerous fuel crisis in the west which had made itself particularly vulnerable by pursuing a net zeros agenda without having discovered new ways of replacing fossil fuel.
Mearsheimer points out that the ensuing economic chaos that has erupted and is threatening our economies and our capacity to keep warm and keep the lights on is the West’s refusal to take responsibility for its expansion into Ukraine; which it covers up by pretending that Putin has ambitions to toll his Russian army right through Europe. Since it is unable even to tackle Kyiv, this seems not just unlikely, but untrue. The cheap solution seems to be to blame Putin (and Dugin).
However the great danger we now face is that of nuclear conflict. Russia will not and cannot back down. It appears at the moment that America NATO, and most Western government refusing to acknowledge their own part in this destabilisation, increasingly also will not back down. That the road that leads to the nuclear threat.
The problem is made worse by the fact that few people in the Western media are telling the truth about the origins of the conflict in a way that will require their governments to act accountably, acknowledge what has really been going on, and become willing to admit they made a mistake In using the Ukraine to attempt to weaken Russia.
Calling Dugin a fascist, and claiming that Putin has ambitions to conquer Europe is a rather shabby way of covering up the truth. It does nothing to help our governments row back from a position they created which is ratcheting up the terrifying likelihood of a nuclear wa