None of the military efforts by Ukraine, which for years has ranked as the poorest country in Europe, would be possible without the arms and funding from NATO and, above all, the US. Amidst record inflation, Washington has spent some $50 billion on weapons for Ukraine since February alone, while ceasing all COVID-19 relief funding and targeting the last remaining social security for millions of Americans. Last Wednesday, Biden pledged another $3 billion for weapons and ammunitions for at least another three years.
Predictably, the Ukrainian military is shamelessly being cheered on by the US media. In a piece that read largely as an advertisement for US weapons manufacturers and the Ukrainian military, the New York Times on Sunday praised the “craftiness” and “engineering ingenuity” of Ukrainian soldiers, who have been finding ways to combine highly sophisticated US weapons with their decades-old Soviet-era tanks and military equipment.
The reality behind this US-funded and armed “craftiness” is a horrific blood bath. The US claims that the Russian army has suffered 80,000 casualties. Estimates of Ukrainian casualties are also put in the high tens of thousands. Ukrainian officials themselves admitted in the early summer that they were losing up to 500 men each day. Several weeks and likely thousands of deaths ago, the Washington Post noted in late June that the war in Ukraine was on track of becoming one of the bloodiest in modern history. In addition to the tens of thousands of dead and wounded, over a quarter of the deeply impoverished Ukrainian population of 38 million has been displaced by the war.
US imperialism, which has laid waste to entire societies in the Middle East and North Africa, could care less about how many tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Ukrainians and Russians will die in this war.
It is becoming clear that U.S. neoconservatives have succeeded in creating a warmongering, anti-Russian mood in Europe through an unprecedented information war, the consequences of which will take some time to assess. It is, however, possible to identify the signs of what is to come.
Losers: We do not yet know who will win this war (or if anyone will win it, apart from the arms industry). But we do know who will lose the most: the Ukrainian and European people. Parts of Ukraine are in ruins, millions of people have been displaced, and the euro has fallen; these are signs of defeat. In the seven decades since the destruction caused by World War II, Europe had risen again. Led by high-profile politicians and supported by the United States in its anti-communist crusade, Western Europe managed to establish itself as a region of peace and development (even if, alas, at the expense of colonial and neocolonial violence and appropriation). All it took to put the peace and development at risk was one ghost war: fought in Europe, but not led by Europe, and not even in the interest of Europeans.
Energy transition: Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is responsible for global warming, remains in the atmosphere for many thousands of years. It is estimated that 40 percent of the CO2 emitted by humans since 1850 remains in the atmosphere, according to a Deutsche Welle report that cited the 2020 international Global Carbon Budget study. So, although China is the largest emitter of CO2 today, the fact is that, if we look at the CO2 emissions data for 1750 to 2019 (from Deutsche Welle’s analysis of Our World in Data figures), Europe was responsible for 32.6 percent of emissions, the U.S. for 25.5 percent, China for 13.7 percent, Africa for 2.8 percent, and South America for 2.6 percent of the total emissions during that period. Given the cumulative emissions debt that Europe has rung up over the course of 269 years, the story of its recent credit toward balancing the global carbon budget by leading the fight for renewable energy in recent decades is a qualified success—it is the least they can do. We may be critical of an energy transition that is underpinned by the ecology of the (mostly European) rich, but at least it was heading in the right direction. The war in Ukraine and the fossil fuel energy crisis it triggered were enough to make all projects related to this energy transition evaporate. Coal has returned from exile, and oil and nuclear energy are being rehabilitated. Why is perpetuating the war more important than advancing the energy transition? What democratic majority has decided to follow in that direction?
Political spectrum: The approaching economic and social crisis will have an impact on the political spectrum in European countries. On the one hand, it is worth noting that it is the most authoritarian governments (like Hungary and Turkey) and far-right parties that have shown the least enthusiasm for the warmongering, which is encapsulated in the anti-Russian triumphalism that has dominated European politics in recent months. On the other hand, the left-wing parties, with few exceptions, have given up their own (left-wing) position on the war. Some of those parties who had distinguished themselves in the past with their stance against NATO have remained silent in the face of its senseless and dangerous expansion to all continents. When the continuation of the war and the expansion of military budgets begin to cause the impoverishment of families, what will the citizens think in terms of political choices made in the name of protecting them? Will they not be attracted to opt for the parties that have shown the least enthusiasm for the warmongering jingoism that caused their impoverishment?
Citizen safety: In June 2022, Interpol made public its concern that a large number of the weapons supplied to Ukraine could enter the illegal arms market and end up in the hands of criminals. This situation is all the more serious since some of the equipment provided to Ukraine includes heavy artillery. The experience of what has happened in the past in other theaters of war justifies this concern. For example, much of the war material supplied by the U.S. to Afghanistan ended up in the hands of the Taliban against whom the U.S. army was fighting. The U.S. tragedy of successive massacres caused by armed civilians is well known. What will happen in Europe if the easy accessibility of these weapons leads to them ending up in the wrong hands?
Normalization of Nazism: Shortly before the war in Ukraine, several intelligence services and security think tanks had been warning about the strong presence of neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, their military training and equipment, and the way they were being integrated into the regular military forces, which is unprecedented. Understandably, the outbreak of war has put this concern to rest. What is at issue now is whether Nazism can be turned into a nationalist ideology like any other and whether its recurrent attacks on progressive politicians in Ukraine can be converted into patriotic acts. It remains to be seen what impact this will have in Europe, against the background of the growth of the extreme right.
The Biden administration confirmed Monday that it will “pause” its program to send millions of Americans free rapid antigen test kits through the mail at the end of this week. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made the brief announcement on its website, blaming Congress for failing to provide the necessary funds.
In addition to an end to postal delivery of free kits, the administration will stop free testing in schools, homeless shelters, shelters for victims of domestic violence and prisons. Children and the poorest and most oppressed sections of the working class will be “flying blind” into conditions of a spreading pandemic with new and likely more infectious and lethal variants of SARS-CoV-2.
The HHS will conserve the relatively small number of test kits that remain, planning to distribute them in the fall when a new upsurge in COVID-19 infections is expected, agency officials said. In other words, while the number of free test kits goes down to zero, the number of cases of infection will rise significantly.
Al-Sadr announced on Twitter his “final withdrawal” from politics and the closure of all political institutions linked to his Sadrist Movement. Al-Sadr has made similar statements before only to walk them back, but analysts have said that his latest announcement may be a bluff or a way to distance himself from any violence.
Supporters of al-Sadr, who had been based at a sit-in outside the parliament since late July, pulled down cement barriers outside the Republican Palace and stormed the building.
Other supporters approached a counter-protest held by al-Sadr’s Shia rivals, the Iran-backed Coordination Framework Alliance, where both sides threw rocks at each other.
Protesters also blocked the entrance to the Umm Qasr port, near the southern city Basra, bringing operations down by 50 percent, according to Reuters.
In response to the growing violence, the Iraqi military announced a full curfew in Baghdad, beginning at 3:30pm local time (1230 GMT). A nationwide curfew was declared at 7pm (1600 GMT).
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stopped all cabinet sessions after pro-Sadr protesters stormed the government headquarters.
Gunfire and explosions began to be heard on Monday evening in the Green Zone, as reports emerged of al-Sadr supporters being fired upon, and fighters from the pro-Sadr militia, Saraya al-Salam, took to the streets.
Late on Monday al-Sadr declares that he will start a hunger strike until violence and the use of weapons stops.
Fighting in Baghdad continued through Monday night and into Tuesday morning. On Tuesday morning Iraqi security forces said that four rockets had landed in the Green Zone, damaging a residential area.
Iran closed its borders with Iraq on Tuesday morning in response to the fighting, and urged its citizens to avoid travel there. Iranian state television also said that all flights to Iraq had been halted.
On Tuesday afternoon al-Sadr orders his supporters to leave the Green Zone, including their protest sites, and apologises for the violence. “This is not revolutionary [anymore] because it has lost its peaceful character,” al-Sadr said. Many of his supporters immediately started to leave.
"The right to peaceful public protest is a fundamental element of all democracies, but demonstrators must also respect the institutions and property of the Iraqi government, which belong to and serve the Iraqi people and should be allowed to function," the embassy added.