For the past several weeks, the media has been dominated by news of the seemingly imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, with President Biden stating on Tuesday that “we are jointly ready, and all of NATO is ready” for such an invasion. The media has quickly fallen in line with the Biden administration’s reproach of Russian President Vladimir Putin, pushing the fear-mongering narrative so far that a third world war seems to be a ready proposition. This tactic is unsurprising, to say the least, but it serves a far more political and economic purpose, which is readily overlooked. I would like to preface that in no way is this a defense of Putin or his actions, but rather a frank analysis of the manner in which modern conflict is simply a political and economic racket, and the lack of critical reporting is complacent (in the lightest of terms). You don’t fight imperialism with more imperialism, yet that appears to be the current course.
It is far from a secret to state that Biden’s first year and a half in office have thus far been a bitter failure. His approval ratings have continuously fallen, currently resting at just above 40%, with disapproval at over 50%. The Build Back Better Bill is floundering spectacularly, with the most recent development being free community college sacrificed in a “compromise,” despite that already being the compromise from free tuition for all state universities. There is an inability to corral the majority within his own party, and the Afghanistan withdrawal was a hornswoggling dumpster fire. And what is the typical tool of a failing president? To redirect and reinvigorate with a conflict-fueled, reignited patriotism, which is precisely what the Ukraine situation offers. This is exactly the method which President Bush and subsequent presidents employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nixon in Vietnam, Reagan in Libya and Iran, and now Biden with Ukraine.
It should come as no surprise that the heavy hitters (Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics) of the military-industrial complex have already begun peddling the benefit from this prospective war to shareholders. Raytheon CEO Gregg Hayes has brazenly boasted of the potential profits presented in this conflict, saying on a Jan. 25 earnings call that “the tensions in Eastern Europe … I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it,” according to Sarah Lazare of In These Times. Lockheed Martin President and CEO Jim Taiclet made similar remarks in a Jan. 25 earnings call with investors as well. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an influential think tank, has released a report by Senior Vice President Seth G. Jones that “Washington’s goal should be to deter Russian conventional operations in Ukraine by punishment.” Shocker, it’s these same military-industrial complex entities which are some of the largest backers for the group. This Western narrative is actively pushing for this conflict to occur, fully aware of the destruction it will bring, for the sole purpose of pleasing investors.
Nothing occurs in a vacuum, and this conflict has been steadily brewing for over a decade. With the renewed efforts of Ukraine to join NATO, and historically neutral states such as Sweden continually cozying up to the organization, Putin’s paranoia of an amassed European military alliance is not unfounded. Having watched as more and more of Eastern Europe joins an organization which was formed in opposition to your home nation, this reaction is nothing but predictable from the Russian strongman. Understanding this easily trackable set of interactions, this Western narrative of “unprovoked Russian aggression” is more aptly a line of propaganda. Let’s also not forget the stark irony of the United States, with its over 800 active military bases around the globe, including in Estonia and Latvia, sitting upon its high horse dictating terms to Russia mobilizing their own forces within their own borders.
To be clear, any Russian intent to invade and annex Ukraine is an imperialist act, and easily condemnable. However, you don’t fight fire with fire, which is the exact aim of the U.S. and many of its Western allies. Be wary of the political agenda that the Biden administration, Western powers and the military-industrial complex most certainly have (being their own longevity and the profits of Super PAC donors), and don’t allow yourself to be whipped up into the patriotic fervor amplified by the “free” Western media.
Guthrie Richardson ’25 is an undecided major from Chapel Hill, N.C. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.