The United States leaves a mess in Ukraine, moves on to China

Apr 10, 2024
Flag of China Russia and Ukraine.

The US State Department’s No 2 now admits the AUKUS joint submarine project between three of the Five Eyes is tied to Taiwan and mainland China.

At the US State Department, the Ukraine girl is out, and the China guy is in. From Washington’s perspective, it was a right assignment. Whether that’s good for Asia and world peace is a different matter.

It means the militarisation of US diplomacy against China gets another big push with the new Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who is considered a China expert.

As he told the Washington-based Centre for a New American Security this week, there is a need to link the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine project between Australia, Britain and the US to the defence of Taiwan. While that agenda was widely assumed, it was rarely so blatantly stated.

“[AUKUS has] enormous implications in a variety of scenarios, including in cross-strait circumstances,” he said.

“I would argue that working closely with other nations, not just diplomatically but in defence avenues, has the consequence of strengthening peace and stability more generally.”

Sure, flooding military hardware into an already tense region to make it even more volatile would “strengthen peace and stability”. As Orwell wrote about doublespeak, “War is peace”.

Meanwhile, Washington’s proxy war in Ukraine is going down the drain, and its biggest advocate, Victoria Nuland, took the fall. She did not get the No 2 post, which went to Campbell, and resigned last month.

An emerging consensus in the US is that the Russian problem is short-term and manageable, but the “China threat” is the real generational challenge.

Donald Trump’s open disavowal notwithstanding, the war in Ukraine is seen increasingly as a lost cause. So much for it being an existential threat to the free world.

As CIA chief William Burns recently said, “We have a short-term problem in the form of Russia, but a bigger long-term problem in the form of China.”

As a top diplomat, Nuland was neck-deep in Ukraine ever since it tried to pull away from Russia’s political orbit. Under the guise of a revolution, a coup was staged against Moscow’s man, the democratically elected Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014. It was done with active US support.

A leaked phone conversation between Nuland and the then US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, had the two openly plotting and selecting US-friendly Ukrainians to run the future government, with Pyatt declaring at the outset, “I think we’re in play”. It also included a classic line from Nuland: “F*** the EU”.

A neoconservative and Nato expansionist, she had made no bones about using Ukraine as a base and buffer zone against Russia.

Days after Yanukovych was deposed, Ukrainian intelligence invited MI6 and the CIA to form a new partnership. According to The New York Times, “[Ukraine’s] new spy chief, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, arrived at the headquarters of the domestic intelligence agency and … called the CIA station chief and the local head of MI6. It was near midnight but he summoned them to the building, asked for help in rebuilding the agency from the ground up, and proposed a three-way partnership. ‘That’s how it all started,’ Mr Nalyvaichenko said.”

No fewer than 12 clandestine CIA “forward operating bases” along Ukraine’s border with Russia were set up and operated for years prior to the Russian invasion in 2022. The CIA provided training to Ukraine’s intelligence and special forces, with capabilities to infiltrate Russian territories, according to The Times, along with the provision of funds and advanced electronic equipment.

Suppose Russian or Chinese intelligence were doing all that along the Mexican-US or Canadian-US borders, how would you think Washington would see it? A direct provocation that requires a military response?

Whether or not the Russian invasion was justified, never claim Moscow was not provoked.

Now, it looks like Washington is leaving behind a mess in Ukraine, just like it did in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other places besides, and is moving onto China.

It will fail again, but not before creating a big mess, if not starting world war three.

Republished from the South China Morning Post on April 5, 2024

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