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Ukraine’s neoliberalism on steroids, Europe’s economic suicide

Political economists Radhika Desai, Michael Hudson, and Mick Dunford analyze the conflict in Ukraine, discussing the aggressive neoliberal reforms being imposed by the Ukrainian government and Europe’s suicidal policies.

Ukraine neoliberalism Europe economy Radhika Desai Michael Hudson Mick Dunford

To analyze the conflict in Ukraine, political economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson are joined by economic geographer Mick Dunford. They discuss the aggressive neoliberal reforms being imposed by the Ukrainian government and Europe’s suicidal policies.

You can find more episodes of Geopolitical Economy Hour here.




(What follows is a lightly edited transcript.)

RADHIKA DESAI: Hello everyone and welcome to this ninth Geopolitical Economy Hour, the fortnightly show on the political and geopolitical economy of our times. I’m Radhika Desai.

MICHAEL HUDSON: And I’m Michael Hudson.

RADHIKA DESAI: And today we have a special guest, Professor Mick Dunford. Mick is professor emeritus at Sussex University and a visiting scholar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his work focuses on world development, especially of Eurasia and China.

Mick is going to help us discuss the political and geopolitical economy today of the Ukraine conflict. The conflict is dragging on. The much anticipated spring offensive has started and is sputtering.

Western propaganda is beginning to portray what we know is in many cases a bloodbath for Ukraine as a triumph. President Zelensky is jetting around European capitals, eliciting very uncertain promises of help.

Western powers are filling Ukraine with what somebody recently called a zoo of incompatible weapons and weapon systems of different vintages.

The EU continues imposing ever newer sets of sanctions while President Biden continues to proclaim his support for Ukraine’s cause as long as it takes to regain its 1991 borders, which of course includes Crimea.

So all of this is going on. We know there is much that is puzzling about the conflict.

And today what we want to do is follow the money on the conflict. Wars are not just fought with arms, strategies and tactics. Armies march, as they say, on their bellies.

So what is the political and geopolitical economy of this conflict?

While the mainstream press makes it sound as if the West is involved in the conflict entirely altruistically, standing up for Western values and democracy, even as it supports, by the way, an ever-more fascist government in Kiev, a few critical sources do focus on the profits that are being made by arms production.

But what we think we will be able to show in the course of this hour is that, in fact, the underlying political economy and geopolitical economy is far more complex.

So what we’ve decided to do is organize the conversation by country and region.

So we will first discuss the points relating to Ukraine. Then we’ll come to Russia. Then we’ll come to Europe. Then we’ll go to the US. Then we’ll discuss China and then the rest of the world.

So that’s roughly how we want to do it.

And so beginning with Ukraine, what I find really remarkable about the whole sort of economic situation in Ukraine is that normally when a country is at war, you’d expect that the country pulls together, the government creates policies that are egalitarian.

You know, in the course of the conflict in the Second World War in Britain, there was talk of fair shares and equal sacrifices.

But what you find in Ukraine now is absolutely the opposite. What you are looking at in Ukraine is what we may call neoliberalism on steroids.

The Zelensky government, even as it is conducting a war, which is very often a kind of “show war” anyway, but it is supposedly at war, it is fighting a great enemy.

Meanwhile, the government is implementing exceedingly anti-labor legislation. It has banned the opposition that will try to resist that. And it is privatizing all sorts of state assets in order to finance the war.

So you’re essentially selling off the family silver in order to pay for an ongoing expense.

And what’s more, the privatizations include the very, very fertile land of Ukraine. And it is not being privatized to ordinary farmers or anything. On the contrary, the land is being sold off to large agribusiness.

So every time you hear about, you know, how urgent it is that Ukrainian grain has to get out to world markets, it’s not the interest of ordinary farmers that are being protected, Ukrainian farmers. On the contrary, these big agribusinesses must get their products out for sale. So this is what’s going on.

And in many other ways as well, private enterprise is deeply involved. Every time there is a loan being given to Ukraine, private sector operators, big financial institutions are involved. And of course, the IMF is funneling money to Ukraine in various ways and so on.

Don’t you think, Michael, isn’t that really quite an exceptional state of things for a country at war?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, it certainly is.

And in the press discussion every day, it’s obviously about the military, but the military discussion about whether there’s going to be a counterattack by Ukraine, the military situation is, all what they’re really talking about is, Ukraine has to make some victory so that it can now negotiate peace with the Russians and install exactly the neoliberal policy that you’ve described. There’s no way in which that can happen.

I think we should say at the beginning what the other side has to say. And I think Russia’s foreign secretary Lavrov made it clear on May 4th.

[Lavrov] said, ““Everyone understands the geopolitical nature of what is happening. Everyone understands that, without solving the main geopolitical problem, which is the desire of the West to maintain its hegemony and dictate to everyone its will, it is impossible to solve any crisis, be it in Ukraine or in other parts of the world.”

So you can see right now how the U.S. has been preparing for that. Every day, certainly in the New York Times and the Washington Post, there is a list of all of the war crimes that Russia has been allegedly committing in Ukraine, beginning with faked massacres, the [Bucha] massacre, and all of the attacks.

So the U.S. is accumulating a bill that now the New York Times says is $2 trillion that Ukraine will have to pay the West in order to become solvent once the fighting is over.

And the U.S. says, — Well, we’re already preparing a war crimes trial in the International Criminal Court against Russia for what this is going to be, a list of damages to charge Russia so that Ukraine can begin to pay.

But of course, the war crimes trial is going to take years and years. And in the meantime, Ukraine is going to have to sell off exactly all of its assets that you have mentioned.

It’ll have to sell off its agriculture to Monsanto. It’ll sell off its gas rights to Chevron. The U.S. has hired BlackRock, the Wall Street firm, to make a repertory of all of the assets Ukraine has and how they will be sold to U.S. buyers.

Well, the whole question is, what will happen? Will that really be sold off?

Well, how can it be sold off if the sellers are a government that was installed by a coup d’etat, a government which actually itself has become a terrorist government, and the money that is received for these special privileges are actually turned over to the kleptocrats and to the government officials to put in their own accounts, and much of it has actually been recycled into campaigns for the U.S. Congress, the U.S. senators and U.S. politicians.

And that is sort of a key economic aspect of this that hasn’t been discussed apart from Hunter Biden’s laptop, where he promised to pay Hunter Biden and the big man, presumably the father, to act as lobbyists for Ukraine.

And we know that much of the money that has been donated to Ukraine has been paid by Ukraine on public relations agencies and lobbyists to pay senators and representatives.

But also, when you have BlackRock in charge of neoliberalizing and carving up the Ukrainian economy, the senators and congressmen can expect campaign contributions not only from Ukraine but from BlackRock, from Chevron, from all of the other companies that are able to buy a killing there.

Well, what is the response?

And I think what I want to point out is that Russia obviously needs its own criminal court.

It needs a shadow court to say, — Yes, of course there has been the aggressor must pay reparations. The aggressor in this case is the U.S. and NATO. We are owed money. We’re not the payees.

— And these assets in Ukraine, especially in the Russian part that are now part of Russia, are not Ukraine’s to sell. They are our assets now. They are Russian assets. And we are not going to sell them to the West, and we are not going to install a neoliberal program that is being proposed by the West.

So there’s obviously going to be a standoff for a number of years.

That standoff will have to go beyond just an international criminal court by the global majority, but a whole set of counter-institutions to counter, for instance, the IMF, which is lending money to Ukraine in violation of its articles of agreement, lending to a country at war, lending to a government that is anything but democratic to fight the war.

So I think we may have a little back and forth here before we finish Ukraine, but to get into this, the fact that the economic solution can only be settled on the battlefield. Everybody agrees with that.

The U.S. is expecting Ukraine to win enough on the battlefield so that they can say, let’s stop and talk.

And Russia has made it very clear, we’re not going to stop and talk. We are going to continue to put our national security demands up front, and this is not something that’s going to end this year or next year or even the year after.

MICK DUNFORD: I just want to pick up on what Michael said about the way in which neoliberalism is seen as the way forward from this point in time.

And I want to do that by talking about the way in which neoliberalism, the way in which a particular path to transition, the way in which a country in which ethnic nationalists came to power through a series of successive color revolutions, laid the foundations, many of the foundations for the current crisis.

It’s very interesting, you know, that in 1991, the Ukrainian ethnic nationalists, of whom Gorbachev had actually warned Bush, envisaged that Ukraine would very quickly become another France.

In fact, what happened was that Ukraine, in a sense, actually went backwards. In 1989 to 1991, there were a series of transformations in Europe in which many of the communist countries in Europe collapsed and undertook transitions to capitalism.

And in 1989, there was an attempted color revolution, which failed in China.

real gdp graph poland belarus russia ukraine

This chart simply depicts the growth of GDP in a number of these transition countries from 1989. 1989 is equal to 100.

Of the East European countries, the one that did best was Poland. It reached, by 2019, an index of 251.7. But Poland received huge sums of cohesion fund support from the European Union.

Of these countries, the one that did second best was actually Belarus, which did not adopt a neoliberal path.

If however, you look at Ukraine, you find that it, in 2019, right before the major impact of the current conflict, but obviously reflecting in part the conflict that started in 2014, stood at just 56.8% of where it was in 1989.

That represents a catastrophic economic collapse as a result of the path of transition that was adopted in that country.

If one looks at China, I record the Chinese index. The Chinese index, starting at 100 in 1989, in 2019 was 1,480.

I want you to just think about those two numbers. You can compare Poland, 251.7; [Ukraine], 56.8; China, 1,480.

So in a sense, this particular neoliberal path led to an economic catastrophe.

It also led to a demographic catastrophe because the country had 51.3 million people in 1989, 1993. It had dropped to about 41 million by 2014. Today it is probably about 31 million.

About 5.5 million refugees are in [Russia], another 4.5 million in the European Union.

Its population has collapsed because deaths exceed births. So it has very little prospect of seeing sustained population growth in the years to come.

So in a sense, I just wanted to document these economic and demographic aspects of a catastrophe that has led to this tragedy.

RADHIKA DESAI: That really is very important.

What we are seeing now in the context of the war is that these policies are actually being further enhanced, including by the fact that the Zelensky government has used the excuse of the war to ban all opposition, which means that the opposition to these policies cannot be voiced, essentially.

And of course, what you are also saying about the demographic collapse, both before and then during the war, with so many refugees in Russia and elsewhere, I think it also shows that, the irony of the fact is that everyone who says stand up for Ukraine and we are going to defend Ukraine is actually contributing to the systematic destruction of Ukraine.

This is one of the ironies of the present situation.

Another thing about the sort of political economy of all this that really strikes me as extremely, I mean, scandalously hypocritical, shockingly hypocritical, is that all the arms that are being sent, especially by the United States, but also by other countries, they are always portrayed as, we are giving Ukraine arms.

None of these arms are being given. The United States and other countries are selling these arms. And if Ukraine cannot pay, as it indeed cannot, they are running up a tab.

At the end of this war, whatever entity that survives to which the name Ukraine can be stuck will be saddled with this bill.

And I don’t think all the money that they will confiscate from this Russian oligarch or that Russian oligarch, Central Bank reserves and whatnot, will come anywhere near to paying for this.

And so essentially, whoever the people who remain in Ukraine, will be working very hard to pay off this debt.

And again, it is a debt, remember, that has been incurred for a completely illegitimate purpose.

Ukraine was not very prosperous, but it would have retained what little 56.8% of its 1989 prosperity. It would have retained that substantially and maybe even done better had they signed the Minsk agreements.

But the West, by egging Ukraine on not to sign the Minsk agreements, has essentially created this situation.

And what’s more, Western corporations, financial, agribusiness and all sorts are basically already profiting from it.

They were profiting, as Mick, you pointed out, already before this conflict began, through all the color revolutions and the implementation of neoliberal policies and so on, which goes back certainly to 2014 and much earlier than that as well.

But also in the context of the present war, while the war is going on, while the country is at war, Western corporations are benefiting by buying up productive assets and essentially exploiting Ukrainian labor essentially with a labor legislation that is totally loaded in favor of big corporations.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the question is, what is Ukraine going to be for all of this?

When you talk about the neoliberalism, there’s no way that this neoliberal program can be applied to Donetsk or to Luhansk or to Odessa, if that’s taken over.

So what we’re talking about is a kind of rough state of Ukraine in which it’s possible even Luhansk may be turned over to Poland. It’s going to be carved up.

So the argument is going to be: What is the Ukraine that is going to pay these debts?

And certainly any agreements that the proxy government has made and any debts that they’ve run into can be repudiated on the grounds of odious debts.

Now obviously if the United States imposes a puppet government, a client oligarchy, they’re not going to raise the issue of odious debts.

As you just pointed out, the political system is such that labor has no representation there.

So you would have a Ukraine that’s lost half of its population that’s living abroad now and there’s nothing to go back to for it.

And much of the population is in the Russian speakers. So there’s going to be literally something that is not really a country.

You can think of it as an economic entity that somehow controls the raw materials we’ve mentioned, the land that’s not poisoned by uranium bullets and made radioactive.

You’re talking about a kind of, not really a country. Even the definition of how to put in the new laws is going to have to await a settlement of the political boundaries that I don’t see happening within the foreseeable future.

RADHIKA DESAI: So absolutely. I mean, basically what we are all ending up saying is that the war has simply been the occasion for further acceleration of neoliberal transformation of Ukraine, that’s what the West is getting.

Meanwhile, of course, ordinary Ukrainians, many of them may be even quite idealistic, are being signed up to go and fight and die for a cause which is not even the cause of their liberation, but a cause of the destruction of their country.

I mean, this is the horrific situation in Ukraine. Maybe if we are done with Ukraine, we can, Mick, did you want to add anything more about Ukraine?

MICK DUNFORD: I mean, no, the only thing I would have added is that, I mean, if you look at Mariupol, I mean, there’s already quite a significant process of reconstruction of housing, with people being provided with new accommodation.

There’ve been quite major investments in transport infrastructure. There’ve been attempts to address the problems of water supply of the Crimea.

So I suspect that those parts of Ukraine that have become parts of the Russian Federation may well see very substantial public investment in order to try to, well, so much has been destroyed, to actually restore the infrastructure and to start to reestablish public services and maybe to get some of these economic activities working again to provide people with livelihoods.

But obviously that will involve massive financial investments and very careful planning.

RADHIKA DESAI: Absolutely, and that’s a good segue into our next topic, which is Russia.So, I would say, what are the most general things you can say about the situation in Russia?

Well, recall that when the conflict began, President Biden claimed that he was going to impose such sanctions that were going to, what was, how did he put it? That we were going to reduce the ruble to rubble and that we were going to set back the Russian economy, massively destroy the Russian economy.

Instead, what we’ve seen is that the Russian economy has actually proved very resilient. And in fact, in many ways, the sanctions have been boomeranging, causing more harm to the imposers of the sanctions, whether it’s the European Union or the US itself, particularly the dollar system and so on, instead of hurting Russia.

So Russia has proved resilient against sanctions.

And this story itself also goes back to 2014, because in 2014, as people may recall, a first batch of sanctions were imposed on Russia.

And in response to those sanctions, the Russian government did undertake a number of initiatives to essentially sanctions-proof its economy.

And one of the big success stories of that sanction-proofing was in fact, the Russian agricultural sector, which in fact has been, has proven to be a success story.

And Russia is today a major exporter, not only of grain and food products and so on, but it also exports fertilizers, as we saw in an earlier phase of the conflict, when there was a great deal of concern about the disruption of supplies of fertilizer from Russia.

And Russia has also, over the last year or so, demonstrated a capacity for keeping up production.

One of the other things that occurs to me is that, in the West, with all the weapons being supplied and sold to Ukraine, the stockpiles have been depleted, whereas Russia has demonstrated a capacity to continue manufacturing weapons and essentially to win wars in Russia.

So in that sense, and last point I’d like to make is that all of this has been done in a context where, although the government has stepped up its level of state intervention in order to create a more productive economy, become more of a developmental state, there are many in Russia who argue that not enough has been done on this front and more can be done.

The central banks policies, the Russian central banks policies could be more anti-neoliberal than they are.

The government could also essentially mobilize the economy on a war footing.

And actually, instead of how, for Russia, the IMF predicted that the Russian economy would be set back by about 12 to 14%. And in the end, in 2022, it was set back by a mere 2%.

But many people would argue, Sergei Glazyev is one of them, who says, actually, if you mobilize the economy, you would not only not have a setback of a mere 2%, which is certainly something to celebrate, but actually have a Russian economic boom, which could still be possible.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, what Russia wants to do is to turn what is going to be a victory militarily in Ukraine into an overall new economic order. That’s what both Putin and Lavrov have talked about.

And they’ve also pointed out that economic and political resolutions of the Ukraine conflict go together.

So, Russia at the very outset is going to ask Ukraine and the United States to admit that the fake massacre in [Bucha] and other accusations of war crimes were faked.

And Russia is going to, I would hope, make its own list of Ukrainian, American, and British war crimes against Ukraine, including now-depleted uranium, and present its own bill for money that is owed, which probably will be much more.

There will be a whole argument about who started the war.

Did the war start in 2014 with the coup d’etat?

Or did it start with the buildup of Ukrainian [forces] to attack Luhansk and Donetsk just before February of last year?

Or did it just start with Russia coming in as every American official document says, unprovoked?

Well, the war crimes trial is going to be run by the Russians, probably with other Global South, world majority countries, China and others.

And the objective is going to be to restructure not only NATO-Ukraine, but NATO-China and US relations with the global majority altogether.

And what Russia realizes is that whatever comes out of this, whatever peace agreement is negotiated can only be established on the battlefield. That’s why Russia cannot afford to lose the war.

And why in the New York Times, Mr. Friedman comes out and says, Russia has now expanded right to the tip of NATO. It’s Russia that’s expanding to NATO instead of NATO expanding out to Russia.

So I think what Russia is going to come out with is its own Monroe Doctrine.

And it’s going to say, keep out of the Black Sea and keep also out of the Northern Pacific.

It can coordinate this with China, keeping foreign ships out of the China Straits. The Ukraine war is going to set a whole model for what’s happening in Taiwan, in China, and all over the world, far outside of Ukraine.

And the United States essentially has seized the holdings of Russian oligarchs. And we’ve talked about seizing Russia’s reserves.

And these holdings of Russian oligarchs were bought with the money that they paid the privatized companies to US and foreign borrowers.

So Russia can economically respond by nullifying all foreign holdings of Russian stocks that are held by US holders and NATO holders.

Say, — Wait a minute, you’ve not only stolen from Ukraine, you’ve stolen in Russia. Let’s have a global settlement of all this.

— You did to Russia first what you did to Ukraine. We’re going to cancel all stocks and bonds owed to US and NATO holders. Simply nullify them to reverse the sell-off of the Russian industry.

And that could be a model for the same thing to be done to Ukraine in calculating the damages and reparations that America, Britain, and Germany owe to Ukraine.

MICK DUNFORD: Yes, I mean, Michael spoke about a new economic order.

I think it’s quite interesting to ask why, when from the 1990s, Russia put forward proposals for economic integration of Eurasia from Lisbon to Vladivostok, when it spoke about indivisible security, when it expected that the verbal and written commitments made to Gorbachev concerning the non-expansion of NATO would be respected, and we now learn from Jeffrey Sachs that NATO started to plan the inclusion, even of Ukraine in 1991, 1992, which is astonishing.

But in a sense, these constructive proposals were repudiated by the United States and also by the European Union. An important question one needs to ask is why.

I mean, obviously there are many reasons and there are complicated explanations, but clearly what this conflict has done is, it’s disrupted the Belts and Road Initiative, it’s divided Russia and Germany.

It obviously is presumably intended to prevent the emergence of a significant Eurasian land power that could challenge the leadership of the United States.

In the case of the EU, the EU is only interested in economic integration on its terms, which means, which it says respect its values, but what it means by its values are a political order in which it’s easy to interfere externally, and an economic order in which all resources are essentially available to sale to everyone and anyone, which tends to deny less-developed parts of the world the prospects of engaging in a form of catch-up development.

I think it’s in the light of that bitter experience that Russia’s formulated a new foreign policy, and that new foreign policy is extremely interesting because it involves on the one hand, a reorientation of Russia towards the East, the establishment of closer relationships with East Asia, with Southeast Asia, with India.

But it also involves the redefinition of Russia as a “civilization state”.

I mean, for a long time, since Peter the Great, Russia in a sense modeled itself on the West, and I think it’s the malfeasance of the West has actually persuaded it that there has to be another way forward.

And in a sense, this notion of a civilization state is a notion that’s also used in relation to China, you could use it in relation to India, in relation to the countries of the Islamic world.

And the thing that’s quite interesting about it is if you actually say, look, you look at East Asia, until 1894, East Asia was at peace for 300 years.

If you just look at China, it was at peace for 500 years. These countries did not engage in forms of external expansion and colonialism.

So in a sense, there’s a profound difference in the kind of civilization or values of these East Asian civilizations and Western civilization in which capitalism emerged, imperialism and colonialism.

And in a sense, that’s associated with a radically different conception of the international order that I think Russia has now come to in its close relationship with China, and especially in terms of the way in which it’s defined its new foreign policy.

And that, in a sense, is a hope that we might all, in the years ahead, come to live in a more peaceful world in which we’re not constantly faced with a succession of wars as we have been basically in the last 500 years, since the rise of Western colonialism and imperialism.

RADHIKA DESAI: No, that’s exactly the word. The word you ended with is exactly what I was going to talk about, because it is about imperialism.

You said Jeffrey Sachs noted that the Americans were planning as early as 1990, 1991 to integrate Ukraine into NATO, et cetera.

The reason for that is that essentially what has ruled the world, what has determined how the different parts of the world relate to each other for the last couple of hundred years has been Western imperialism.

Why do we have Western imperialism? Because of Western capitalism.

What is the purpose of Western imperialism?

To constantly open up more and more parts of the world so that Western corporations based in the West could have access to markets, to investment opportunities and profit opportunities and cheap labor and cheap materials.

Russia has always been seen as a big prize for the West.

Essentially, the Anglo-American interest, so to speak, the so-called liberal and the most aggressively imperialist interest of the West has always looked upon Russia as being too big and therefore something that should be broken down.

And this is also important.

It’s also important to talk about this because Western imperialism is often ignored while the Russian empire or the Chinese empire, and we are always being told that these countries are being imperialist.

But as you rightly pointed out, these civilizations have lived peacefully and they have been used to living peacefully for centuries.

Whereas what you have seen with the onset of Western capitalism is nothing but endless war. And the purpose of these wars is exactly this.

So I think that, and I also like to make one, I mean, I completely agree with you that, of course, since Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Russia did look to the West.

But the purpose of looking to the West was not in fact to model itself on the West, but rather to essentially partner with the West to create Russian prosperity.

But because the West is imperialist, it is precisely this prosperity that was not possible in close relation with the West.

That is why the pinnacle of Russian productive achievement was under the Soviet Union when it was not in fact connected with the West.

So in that sense, I would say that what Russia has realized now, and this was very clear in my last visit to Russia, two quick reminiscences.

Number one, we attended a major economic conference and even like two or three years ago, that conference would have been dominated by neoliberal intellectuals.

This time around, the overwhelming majority of the speakers were decidedly anti-neoliberal.

There were a couple of neoliberals, but they were sort of one or two in a sea of general consensus about creating a developmental state in Russia, having closer relations with China, and moving away from the West.

So that’s number one.

Number two, another conference I attended, began by the chair.

Again, this took place in the home of neoliberalism in Russia which is the Higher School of Economics, which was set up after 1991 precisely to be a sort of beehive for neoliberal thinking.

This is where the session began by the chair, essentially the first speaker, essentially saying that when this war ends, Russia will no longer turn to the West.

That chapter is finished. Russia is looking to the East.

And the session ended with the chair saying, the fact of the matter is, Russia does not want to become closer to the West. The West is boring. The East is where everything is happening.

So in that sense, yes, the Washington consensus has now been universally rejected and the longstanding question of whether Russia is European or Eurasian has been decisively settled.

So in this sense, I would say that there are many trends essentially moving in an anti-neoliberal direction.

There is room for more and I think Russia can come out of this as a much more productive society, provided it manages to not just build resilience against sanctions, but actually learn how a mixed —

The graph showed that in the period since 1989, China has essentially increased its GDP by almost 15 times. Other countries like Russia can do it too. Russia has a lot of potential, but it needs to have the right policies.

And I think this is the direction in which the present situation is pushing Russia. And of course, as both of you pointed out, this is creating a, we sometimes call it a multipolar world.

It’s certainly dividing the world away from the West and creating new relationships between countries, particularly the closeness between Russia and China is very important here.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the Ukrainian and Russian situation in many ways has inverted the whole traditional drive of imperialism.

You and I have spoken for decades about imperialism being economic.

And even when Karl Marx talked about British expansion into India, he gave a speech before the chartists saying, — Well, at least English imperialism is going to break down the backwardness of India and other countries. And it’s going to introduce capitalism. And that’ll be the first step toward socialism in these countries.

This is not what is occurring in Ukraine or in the neoliberal breakup of Russia.

And in fact, you can look at Ukraine and Russia in the last 30 years and say, the whole geopolitical theory of economic priority, the idea that economics drives politics, doesn’t seem to be the case today.

Neither industry nor labor is benefiting.

You’re seeing Germany already agreeing to subsidize the high gas and oil prices to support buying its liquid national gas from the United States. It’s six times the price that Russia was charging. That’s not economic.

You have German industry unable to stop the dismantling of German industry by dismantling the energy trade and the food trade with Russia that was what gave German industry its competitive advantage. That’s now gone. And that’s irreversible.

Not because of anything that President Putin is saying, we’re turning eastward. But because the US demands to turn Europe into a client oligarchies has made it irreversible.

If the German government supports industry by saying, — Okay, we’re going to give money to the industry so it can depend entirely on the United States for materials we used to import from Russia, then, given the fact that we have to balance our budget according to the EU rules, we’re going to have to cut back social spending.

— Especially now that we have to vastly increase our arms spending to replace all of the old obsolete arms that we’ve sent to Ukraine with brand-new U.S. arms, there really isn’t going to be any opportunity for a social democratic economic program in Germany.

Well, it’s hard to say how economic self-interest justifies this inversion, this reversal of European policy, because it’s led to America’s destruction of German industry. And not only that, but by destroying German industry, you’ve destroyed the demand for skilled labor.

Are we going to see German labor emigrating just like it has from the Baltic states, 20 percent loss in population from Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania?

But there’s another thing that also Europe has lost by this. And when Russia and China are turning away from Europe, they’re not turning away from the Europe that was going social democratic, from the Europe that actually held out ideals in times past, but from the fact that Europe is no longer social democratic.

It’s lost its former socialist labor policy. Germany’s Die Linke Party has broken up over the Ukraine war, and the United States political meddling has turned Europe’s social democratic and labor parties into neoliberal proxies, the Tony Blairism of German politics and French politics and all over Europe.

So the result is that not only a client political oligarchy, but also a client political labor force. There’s no labor movement in Europe to oppose what’s happening here.

What if economics governed European policy? Well, after 1991, Europe hoped at least to gain economic dominance over Central Europe, Russia, and, as you pointed out, Ukraine. But now it’s losing Eurasia.

Annalena Baerbock says that any kind of trade is a risk. And if you trade with Russia or China, she said, then you’re taking the risk that they can do to Europe what America does to the rest of the world.

They can cut you off with sanctions and disrupt your economy by refusing to export to you. And Europe can only be safe if it doesn’t export, import anything that it needs from China or Russia or the rest of the global majority.

Only the United States can be depended upon to help Europe develop, just as it helped Germany develop by blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines and restructuring its energy trade.

So this is the craziness of what Germany’s foreign minister herself is saying.

I don’t know how you can ever say that this is an economic explanation of things. The fact is, it’s ethnic and racist hatred of Russia. It’s Nazism. It’s not social democracy.

Europe has now embraced Nazism, and I think this is best symbolized over the weekend by the Zelenskys meeting with the Pope wearing two Nazi symbols on his shirt, just to make it very clear, hey, maybe we can reestablish the papal Nazi pact of the 1930s and the red line and everything.

So Europe has lost its profitable investment future with Russia, and now it seems China too, and it’s completely tied itself to the United States.

How do you explain that economically in terms of self-interest? You can’t.

RADHIKA DESAI: Mick, we’re still discussing Russia, right?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, it’s Europe too.

MICK DUNFORD: I started to talk about Europe. Michael just talked about the way in which some of the decisions, the extraordinary decisions made by the political leaders of European countries, and the ways in which the complete absence, it seems, of any strategic autonomy in Europe has led to actions that make a bad situation worse.

They make a bad situation worse in the sense that they’ve disrupted relationships with Russia, especially energy relationships, food relationships, and also de-risking generates serious risks where Europe is very, very dependent upon a whole range of intermediate goods that are actually produced in China and supplied to European industry by China.

European industries, and indeed all the G7 industries, face serious challenges in any case which are to some extent linked to the fact that after the economic crisis in the 1970s, neoliberalism was in a sense adopted as a solution.

It was adopted as a solution in the sense when you saw this offshoring of industry, you did indeed see increases in the profitability of companies that offshored.

g7 labor productivity graph

But if you actually look at the productivity growth of the G7 countries, this is the average productivity growth, labor productivity, hourly productivity, you can see that it has basically steadily declined.

So in a sense, the economic performance of the G7, which includes a number of major European countries and of course the United States, Canada, and so on, has progressively declined.

And it’s declined because of a decline in productive investment, which partly reflects profitability considerations and the relative profitability of investments in financial activities and a whole series of speculative activities linked to real estate and to stock markets and so on.

So the first challenge that Europe already faces is in a sense the challenge of overcoming that relative decline in productivity.

But in seeking to confront that challenge by acting in the way in which it has in the last few years and in a sense becoming a kind of part of the world that is almost completely dominated by the United States and by its interests, Europe has done itself considerable damage.

I think the other thing that’s very striking about what is happening as far as Europe is concerned is that because of the way in which the world order is changing, the kind of resources available for the former colonial powers are more diminished.

So in that situation, the United States is seeking to seize a much larger share of these resources for itself by requiring Europe, for example, to purchase expensive US energy rather than Russian energy through new measures which are designed to perhaps encourage the relocation of European industries in the United States.

So in a sense, what you see is a kind of inter-imperial rivalry between Europe and the United States, with the United States exploiting its dominant position in order to secure a greater volume of resources for itself.

RADHIKA DESAI: Absolutely, Mick.

You use the term inter-imperial rivalry, but I would say that essentially going back to even the 19th century and certainly in the 20th century, the United States has always wanted to essentially contain or roll back European imperialisms in order to open up the world economy to itself.

That has always been its goal. It’s continuing to attempt this, even though, of course, it is farther away from realization than ever before. The rest of the world economy is turning away from it.

We’re basically now on to discussing Europe. And I want to say a couple of things about that.

But I did want to say one final thing about Russia before we leave that topic entirely.

And that is that, basically what is happening now can be explained by what happened to post-communist Russia.

Essentially Russia was plunged into economic chaos and retardation in the 1990s under shock therapy. And in the 2000s, under Putin’s leadership, you know, Putin managed to stabilize Russia to a considerable extent.

But already then it was very clear that if the West had its way, this is what would happen to Russia, what happened to Russia in the 1990s.

And in the course of the period over the next two decades, what the Putin government tried to do is to try to say to the West that, — Look, we would like to have good relations with you, but not on those terms. You have to accept our own interests and naturally economic interests, security interests and so on.

And that possibility of essentially trying to have a more balanced relationship with the West has been destroyed. The West has basically refused it. It has continued to expand NATO.

So now this decisive reorientation of Russia, the realization that the West no longer has anything to offer Russia that is valuable. This is, you know, this has that history.

Coming to Europe, to me, the headline in terms of discussing what’s happening in Europe is, are they crazy?

Why are they undertaking such a suicidal policy where their industrial base is being destroyed, as Michael, you pointed out.

And also the industrial base is being destroyed now quite actively with the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, the cutting off of the most sensible source of energy for Europe, which is energy from Russia.

And then making moreover Europe reliant on energy from the United States, which not only is more expensive, so creating economic problems, but also setting Europe back from its climate goals because imported LNG, LNG shipped from the United States to Europe will have a carbon footprint which is 8 to 10 times higher than natural gas being supplied by pipeline from Russia.

So in all of these ways, the Europeans seem to be intent on a degree of self destruction that I think is amazing. And I still don’t fully understand what animates it.

But I can certainly know two things. Number one, there is considerable public discontent.

And number two, there is also a presumed, I mean, I think there is a fair degree of discontent in the elite classes because the industrialists’ interests are being destroyed as well.

So what is going to happen in Europe is an open question.

Certainly we can see the Europeans, they may have gone along with, or at least they may have appeared to go along with the United States with imposing sanctions and so on.

But if you look closely at the sanctions, they’re also designed to minimize the impact on Europe.

And the fact of the matter is, Europe’s reliance on Russian energy may have decreased, but Russian energy is still being pumped to Europe even as we speak.

But in terms of extending this hostility that is now being directed from Europe to Russia, we can see that the Europeans are certainly hesitating and looking at that. So there is that dimension.

We will have to see how long this unity that the West has proclaimed, the unity they have found over the conflict over Ukraine, how long it will last and how long it will be before the economic hurt that is being inflicted on Europe will essentially produce some kind of pushback.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, Radhika, you asked the question, are they crazy?

Well, in a way, yes, they are in the sense that you and I each have gone to the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation meetings in Berlin, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in East Germany.

They were traumatized by the Soviet occupation there, so traumatized that it’s almost an unthinking opposition to anything that Russia does.

And it’s this anti-Russia feeling that America has been able to fan and encourage that has led the Germans to say, — Yes, we’re willing to sacrifice our industry. We saw what happened under Russia. Now let’s turn to the United States.

Not realizing that what the United States is doing is going to be equally bad as what happened in East Germany. They were tapping Angela Merkel’s phones. There’s still wiretapping.

My main source of Russian information is Johnson’s Russia List.

Johnson just went to France and Germany to take a vacation two weeks ago and said that he was surprised to find that you can’t get any access to RT or Russian news on the internet. Everything’s blocked. There’s total thought control in Europe.

This again is a total inversion of everything that was supposed to be democratic. And this is pushed to the really insane point that when Baerbock says, — Anything we import from Russia or China can potentially be used for the military.

— If you import Russian food, that could be used to feed Russian soldiers to fight in Ukraine. And so that food is military. We can’t rely on for national security purposes on that.

— We’ve got to follow the Dutch and not permit the exportation of ultraviolet scanning machinery to information technology chips. We’ve got to really break off all trade.

Well, as you know, when so much trade is already with Russia and China and Eurasia, having a sharp cutoff is going to mean a prolonged depression there.

And there’s no indication that a European depression is going to lead to a left-wing solution.

If the U.S. has its way, it will lead to a 1930 Nazi-type solution, just as the United States has promoted in Ukraine and in the other countries that it’s taken forward.

So Europe may end up looking like a Latin American dictatorship, like Chile under Pinochet.

MICK DUNFORD: One also needs to recognize that in some respects, the structure of the economies of Europe, you know, have some parallels with the structure of the economies of North America.

There are economies with very high GDPs, but actually their GDP enormously overstates their real wealth in many ways, in part because the GDP includes all sorts of imputations.

It includes a whole series of immaterial services, you know, that basically derive from intangible assets that are associated with what copyright, patent, trademarks, intellectual property rights and the control of supply chains.

So a significant amount of European wealth in a sense derives also from those sorts of sources.

This control over IP, for example, is associated with excessive markups, high service payments.

It prevents the diffusion of technologies, of products that could make considerable contributions to the improvement of human livelihoods throughout the world because they remain so expensive.

In fact, we know that what in a sense drives development is the rapid diffusion, adoption, repetition of investments. But this system, you know, prevents it.

But this system is one which generates large rents, you know, for economically advanced countries and associated with these rents are a lot of interests that are not connected with manufacturing industry and maybe that seem prepared to sacrifice it and to sacrifice the people who work in it in order to preserve some alternative kind of future.

To me, that world is scarcely viable outside of a kind of colonial and imperial world order.

And in that sense, I agree absolutely with what you’re saying about the naivety and apparent stupidity, gross stupidity of many of the leaders of European countries.

RADHIKA DESAI: No, exactly. And you make a very important point, Mick.

The GDP of many Western countries, particularly the United States, is vastly exaggerated for the reasons you state. And also because finance in particular constitutes such a large part of this.

And essentially, what is finance? Finance is actually not production. Finance only involves the transfer of wealth from some to others.

So that in a certain sense, the very thing which is harming the US economy, which is creating inequality, is actually counted as economic wealth.

And of course, the making of financial profits only benefits a small number of people to enjoy the labor of other people for next to nothing. I mean, that’s essentially what it is.

I also want to say one other thing, which is, obviously, one of the implications of what all of us have been saying is that it is important — today, you showed the labor productivity graph.

What would be required to turn that around? What would be required to increase labor productivity in European countries, Western countries more generally?

It would be some kind of industrial policy. It would be a set of policies which are totally the opposite of neoliberalism, monetary policies, fiscal policies, industrial policies, everything the opposite of neoliberalism.

But after 40 years of applying neoliberalism, it is a moot question whether these countries are ever going to be in a position to be able to implement serious industrial policy.

The very structure of these societies, the relationship between states and capitalist classes has changed to such an extent.

So increasingly, I’ve been noting that both in the United States and in Europe, industrial policy is being revived as a topic of discussion. Everybody’s saying we need industrial policy.

But if you look closely, if you read between the lines, what is passing for industrial policy is essentially a policy which is neoliberalism, which is to say, giving more and more subsidies to big corporations.

So the Germans under the rubric of industrial policy are essentially discussing whether they should give subsidies to IBM or to some German manufacturers or what have you. But that’s all it is.

And that’s not industrial policy. It’s just the continuation of neoliberalism.

Why? Because neoliberalism, for all the talk of free markets and free trade, has ever been only about governments favoring big corporations by giving them all sorts of goodies, cheap credit, privatizing assets at fire sale prices so these companies get ever bigger, giving them subsidies in the name of R&D, and of course, providing all sorts of other services.

So really it seems as though the road out of all this for Europe is also going to be very difficult, even if there arise forces that are determined to seek to attempt that.

MICHAEL HUDSON: What you’ve described as neoliberalism is exactly what Mick has called a rentier policy. And a rentier policy pretends to be economic growth, but it’s really overhead.

RADHIKA DESAI: Absolutely. So we will bring this ninth Geopolitical Economy Hour to an end. And see you next time. We will continue this discussion then. Bye-bye.



  1. Kalecki

    2023-05-16 at 15:08

    Alright–this is getting very strange.

    Here we have Dr. Hudson and Ms. Desai, both among the most brilliant members of the left, engaging in functionally neoconservative reasoning.

    Whatever you think of the Ukraine government or its economic policies, it has been a sovereign nation for over thirty years. Yes, the current ruling administration came about in questionable fashion. But that does not justify unnecessary military aggression.

    Dr. Hudson, Ms. Desai, others at Geopolitical Economy, and indeed much of the left in general, have repeatedly claimed–correctly–that it is wrong for the West to invade nations it does not like in order to force them to change their economic or political systems.

    Yet what is being claimed here is that Putin and Russia are justified in unilaterally invading a sovereign nation to do just that.

    Well, if two wrongs make a right, then I don’t see how any of the members of this panel can complain about the crimes of the West. That is precisely the reason the West gives for every one of its military campaigns. “Nation/political entity X did Y first, and we dislike Y, ergo we are justified in waging war with X, even though Y was done within the bounds of X’s own borders, and X does not really pose a danger to us.” That is exactly the reasoning the capitalist nations used to justify their aggression towards the Bolshevik revolutionaries–a reasoning that thinkers like Dr. Hudson have rightly decried.

    Are we really going to start excusing it now?

    • Eric Arthur Blair

      2023-05-17 at 20:01

      To Mr/Ms/undefined nonbinary entity Kalecki:

      You need to address people by their proper earned titles which are Professor Desai and Professor Hudson (Dr might possibly be acceptable for either). Why did you demote Prof Desai to a mere “Ms”?
      Kalecki, are you a racist or a misogynist or a racist misogynist? You are certainly disrespectful and as such Kalecki, you yourself do not deserve respect from me or any others.
      Your post betrays at best a confused mind that needs to be set right, or at worst shows the mendacious servility of a ventriloquist dummy spouting distorted deviousness from the mainstream misinformation media. If the latter, you need to shut up and get the hell out of here, there are any number of psycho fascist websites you can post at instead.
      You have misrepresented Profs Desai and Hudson as now engaging in neoconservative reasoning. Only a profoundly stupid person could reach such a conclusion. The whole purpose of their session was to ANALYSE neoconservative / neoliberal behaviours and thinking and to understand them, which is entirely different from Profs Hudson/Desai themselves adopting neoconservative reasoning. Know your enemy.

      You said Ukraine has been a sovereign nation for over 30 years. Bullshit, garbage, crap.
      The USA were almost successful in capturing Ukraine as a puppet state in the attempted color revolution in 2004 and were entirely successful in violently overthrowing the neutral Yanukovich government in 2014. Ever since then Ukraine has absolutely NOT been a sovereign nation, it has been a puppet state, 100% under the thumb of the USA (the US “embassy” in Kiev had 900 staff!) who used their Banderite Nazi proxies to enforce the US agenda by violence. This is also how the USA looted Ukraine in the service of their neoliberal economic agenda. The 2014 Maidan “color revolution” was the most blatant coup ever conducted by the USA, with overt meddling conducted in public, well documented by the Western media at the time, done by Droolin’ Nuland, Geoffrey Pyatt, Lindsay Graham and John McCain (who publicly stood on stage in Ukraine with the Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok, supporting the Nazi Svoboda party). Nuland openly boasted the USA had spent $5 billion to stage their successful coup and declared who the next Ukie “leader” was going to be in her famous “Yats is our guy, F the EU” phonecall with Pyatt. Ukraine has for many years been a TERRORIST proxy of the USA, NOT a sovereign state by ANY stretch of the imagination. It has been performing cultural, linguistic and physical genocide against Russophones living within its contrived borders*. You may claim that the current “leader”, the penile piano player Zel won office democratically. Even if we were to believe that his election process was legitimate, with him getting around 72% of the vote, it was “won” by FRAUD. He only won because he promised peace to the people of Ukraine who in the end got the exact opposite. Democracy of the people? Not when Russian speaking Ukrainian citizens are discriminated against, have no representation and all non-Fascist parties are banned. Democracy by the people? Not when the 3% criminal NeoNazi element are defacto in charge, the goon squad of the USA, who enforce their agenda by murder and terrorism. Democracy for the people? Not when the ordinary people ask for peace and get war instead.
      Kiev has FORFEITED any legitimate right to govern Donbass or any Russophone territory because of its well documented violent terrorism against innocent civilian Russophones. What right does Russia have to govern Donbass? The mandate of the Donbass people themselves by legitimate referendum (as witnessed by international observers), the fact Russia are defending Donbass civilians and bringing them peace, the fact that Russia is reconstructing Donbass infrastructure and offering food, housing, utilities, jobs, a future. Russia is now the LEGITIMATE ruler of Donbass, as has been DEMANDED by the people of Donbass. If the people of Odessa, a RUSSIAN CITY FOUNDED AND BUILT BY RUSSIA demand a return to their Russian motherland, that is their RIGHT, along with their right not to be terrorised by the UkroNazi goon squads of the USA.
      The Kiev proxy regime of the USA clearly loss legitimacy from the day their terrorist goons burned / suffocated 48 Russophones to death in the Trade Union building in Odessa in 2014, which is what prompted the people of Donbass to de-recognise the US installed Kiev puppet “government” and to demand autonomy (but not an outright return to Mother Russia at that time). In Orwellian response, the Kiev proxy of the USA declared Donbass to be “terrorist separatists” and started bombing and shelling Donbass civilians, killing well over 10 thousand according to UN figures. Donbass asked Putin to protect them militarily from the outset, but instead he attempted peaceful negotiations over the next 8 years. We now know for a FACT that the West NEVER intended to allow peace, their intent was ALWAYS military confrontation with Russia, to weaken Russia by a (preferably prolonged) proxy conflict, as Uncle Tom “Raytheon” Austin himself admitted publicly. Multiple public statements by Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Petro Poroshenko confirmed the FACT that the West and their Ukie proxies were NEVER serious about any negotiated peace, even though they deceitfully signed Minsk 1 and 2 agreements. Ex Israeli PM Naftali Bennett, who attempted peaceful mediation, also in a public interview stated that the West had used Minsk 1 and 2 negotiations merely to buy time in preparation for the military UkroNazi invasion of Donbass. Ever since 2014, NATO were furiously arming and training the UkroNazi terrorists in preparation for their push into Donbass scheduled for early 2022, which was foiled by the pre-emptive DEFENCE of Donbass by Russia.
      It is a FACT that between 60 to 100 thousand Western Ukie troops were massed on the Donbass border poised for invasion East and that the Ukies had intensified their shelling of Donbass by several magnitudes in early 2022 (source: Ray McGovern), just prior to the Russians embarking on their SMO and pre-empting the Ukie invasion.
      In late March 2022, post SMO, the Russians almost achieved a peace deal with Ukraine mediated by Turkey, but this was foiled by BoJo the clown (who bears a remarkable resemblance to his cousin Bozo the clown, only with crazier hair) who visited Kiev and convinced Zel the comedian to reject any peace deal or face withdrawal of all Western economic and military support. The FACTS are copious and INDISPUTABLE that Russia was trying hard REPEATEDLY for a negotiated peace but the USA was HELL BENT on war, to fight by proxy (as cowards do) down to the last Ukraininan. If you think any different, you are either an ignorant fool or a jackass or a psychopath or all the above.
      Let the legal “experts” argue till they are blue in the face as to whether the Russian SMO was legal or illegal. The FACT of the matter is that Russia HAD NO CHOICE, they tried hard to negotiate for peace but were DECEIVED FOR YEARS, it was the USA that was hell bent on provoking war which is what they got. The only alternative would have been wholesale massacre of Russophones in Donbass by the Ukies.
      These are the historical FACTS, previously reported as isolated disconnected news snippets in the Western mainstream media, but nowadays such FACTS are actively suppressed and are never integrated into a big-picture agenda.
      You want the big-picture agenda? The chickenshit armchair warmongering neoconartists who write policy papers in the numerous Beltway think-tanks (RAND, Brookings etc) which are then adopted by the Pentagon, have clearly outlined their big-picture albeit insane, evil and deluded agenda. It has been clearly outlined by the Wolfowitz doctrine, by the PNAC spouted by Prick Cheney and in particular by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his “Grand Chess Board” in which he resurrects the corpse of “world island” Mackinder. Psychopaths all.
      Unless their psychopathic agenda is foiled, humanity faces thermonuclear extinction.
      So Kalecki, either you screw your head on the right way round or shut the F up.

      *Ukie borders were contrived by Khrushchev who was Ukrainian by birth, who gifted the ethnically Russian territories of Kiev and Odessa and Donbass and Crimea to territorial administration by Ukraine (which means “borderland”) because otherwise Ukraine would just be an impoverished landlocked farmland. It did not matter much then because it was all one country, the USSR, at the time. Post 1991, Ukraine became a faux “country” by historical quirk of fate.

      I have not even mentioned the encroachment of NATO East and the nuclear first strike threat posed by the USA against Russia, a 1962 Cuban missile crisis in reverse (but much worse).
      I have not even mentioned the 30+ Ukie biopathogen labs bankrolled by the USA located in Donbass near the Russian border (no less than Hunter Biden was one of the Metabiota fundraisers).
      I am not Russian, I do not speak nor read Russian and I know no Russians personally. But I am deeply interested in Truth and Fairness (I believe that is Ben Norton’s platform) and the US establishment and their stooges are utterly lacking in both. The first step towards fairness is to prosecute those war criminals who invaded Iraq in 2003 based on LIES. If you argue for any equivalence between Iraq in 2003 and the SMO in Ukraine in 2022, the facts will prove that you are an idiot and a liar and a supporter of genocidal UkroNazi thugs.

      • Kalecki

        2023-05-18 at 09:44

        Again, this is neoconservative/Cold Warrior thinking.

        “Kiev has FORFEITED any legitimate right to govern Donbass or any Russophone territory because of its well documented violent terrorism against innocent civilian Russophones.”

        Bush acolyte: “Saddam Hussein has FORFEITED any legitimate right to govern Iraq because of his well-documented violent terrorism against his own people. We should invade Iraq to ‘right the wrong’.”

        “The USA were almost successful in capturing Ukraine as a puppet state in the attempted color revolution in 2004 and were entirely successful in violently overthrowing the neutral Yanukovich government in 2014. Ever since then Ukraine has absolutely NOT been a sovereign nation, it has been a puppet state, 100% under the thumb of the USA (the US “embassy” in Kiev had 900 staff!) who used their Banderite Nazi proxies to enforce the US agenda by violence.”

        Cold Warrior: “The Red Army was entirely successful in overthrowing the legitimate government of Nicholas II. Ever since then Russia has NOT been a sovereign nation, it has been a puppet state, 100% under the rule of a regime of terrorists. We must attack them and get them out of power.”

        “We now know for a FACT that the West NEVER intended to allow peace, their intent was ALWAYS military confrontation with Russia, to weaken Russia by a (preferably prolonged) proxy conflict, as Uncle Tom “Raytheon” Austin himself admitted publicly.”

        Bush acolyte: “We now know for a FACT that the Islamists never intended to allow peace, their intent was ALWAYS a global jihad against the West–this justifies our invasion of [Afghanistan, Iraq, any vaguely Islamic middle eastern nation that doesn’t willingly provide the US with massive supplies of oil]”

        “It is a FACT that between 60 to 100 thousand Western Ukie troops were massed on the Donbass border poised for invasion East and that the Ukies had intensified their shelling of Donbass by several magnitudes in early 2022 (source: Ray McGovern), just prior to the Russians embarking on their SMO and pre-empting the Ukie invasion.”

        No, it is not a fact. McGovern has only ever speculated that this happened, and he has no direct evidence. He is employing the same neocon reasoning lately, too, to my disappointment. Take his claim in ‘Exberliner’ ( that:

        “It’s all manufactured. NATO, the EU and the US provoked this crisis. The Russians are reacting. It became clear that a very hostile government had been imposed by a coup d’état by the United States and Western Europe.”

        Again, this is no different than the Bush clan rationalizing their Iraq misadventures by saying “Saddam Hussein provoked this crisis. We’re reacting. It’s clear that he has installed a government that is hostile to us via a coup d’etat,” or the Cold Warriors justifying attacking the Bolsheviks by saying “The Bolshies provoked this crisis. We’re reacting. It’s clear that they have installed a government that is hostile to the West via a coup d’etat against Nicholas II.”

        And claims like this–

        “Ukraine became a faux “country” by historical quirk of fate”

        –are exactly what imperialists say before they invade a country they’d like to control. And, at any rate, *every* nation-state is a political construct, (and thus a ‘faux’ entity) and every one can point to a “historical quirk of fate” as its founding moment.

        None of that justifies invading them.

        “But I am deeply interested in Truth and Fairness (I believe that is Ben Norton’s platform) and the US establishment and their stooges are utterly lacking in both. ”

        They certainly are–which is why it is best not to emulate their reasoning and their tactics, as is being done here. (perhaps unintentionally, but that does not make said emulation any less problematic)

        As an aside, I meant no disrespect in omitting either speaker’s professorial title. Again, while my criticisms here might suggest otherwise, I am actually a great admirer of their work. Michael Hudson, Steve Keen and Hyman Minsky are my three favorite modern economists, and IMO Radhika Desai’s work is a great complement to their work.

        • Eric Arthur Blair

          2023-05-18 at 17:06

          Kalecki remains an undefined non-binary entity, possibly even a bot, hence is best described by the pronoun “it”. Admittedly being a bot is unlikely though, because Kalecki seems the exact opposite of artificial intelligence.
          It continues to foolishly persist with its false equivalence idiotic argument: Those who “justify” the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine are the same as Neocons who “justified” the US invasion of Iraq. It also implies the converse: those who condemned the US invasion of Iraq must also condemn the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.
          Bullshit, garbage, crap.
          By far the most important consideration, which armchair pinhead pontificators generally ignore is this: what is in the best interests of the civilian population of the territory in question? What is the best course to promote peace, stability and prosperity for the local common people?
          By that vital criterion, the US invasion of Iraq was unquestionably EVIL beyond belief and the Russian SMO in Donbass was unquestionably BENEFICIAL for the resident civilians (in the immediate, short and long term), hence arguably was in the service of GOOD.
          There is NO equivalence.
          Let us take apart and expose just how disingenuous, perhaps even downright evil that Kalecki’s mindset is.
          Remember that those who can convince you to believe in their lies can persuade you to commit atrocities.
          The most dangerous liars are those who tell half truths and Kalecki seems to fit that category, citing cherry picked factoids taken out of context, using weasely tactics remniscent of global warming deniers.
          Language is important, and Orwellian distortion of language leads to distortion of thought exemplified by Kalecki’s arguments.
          Was Russia’s action an invasion? The people of Donbass, who suffered for many years under Ukronazi bombardment, INVITED, nay demanded that Russia intervene militarily to protect them, hence it was NOT an invasion. RUSSIA WAS INVITED. The terms protective intervention or SMO by Russia are therefore more factually accurate. Russia was exceedingly careful to attack military targets only, to preserve civilian lives (even though we know the Ukronazis used civilians as shields) and only after the Kerch bridge terrorist bombing did the Russians seriously (but still highly selectively) target Ukrainian infrastructure like electricity substations (not main power stations) to paralyse Ukrainian troop transportation.
          Was the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 an invasion? Absolutely. It has been a complete disaster for the Iraqi people, with more than a million dead, total destruction of all their infrastructure from the get go, subsequent civil war, theft of their oil, horrific ongoing effects of US depleted uranium etc, etc. It was clearly motivated by US neocon, neoliberal, neocolonial GREED AND PLUNDER with TOTAL DISREGARD FOR CIVILIAN LIVES.
          There is NO equivalence.
          What was Donbass to Russia? It was formerly not just a part of the USSR but also of Mother Russia, they were historically the same country. They had a history of cultural and ethic unity.
          What was Iraq to the USA? It was a culturally and ethnically alien, remote (far across an ocean) client state (especially when operating as US proxy in their invasion of Iran in the 1980s), at least until Saddam went “rogue”.
          There is NO equivalence.
          Twenty years after the US invasion of Iraq, we know for sure that ALL of their so-called justifications were 100% LIES. Saddam was indeed a brutal dictator but the USA did not give a shit about that, certainly not when he gassed Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s using chemicals manufactured by factories in Iraq established by the US. Saddam only suddenly became a brutal dictator when he threatened to sell his oil in Euros and not in USD. The US claim that they were invading to bring democracy to Iraq and to protect the Iraqi people was a LIE, the fact is they did not give a shit about ordinary Iraqis, just as their claims about WMDs in Iraq in 2002 and Iraqi links to Al Qaeda were ALL LIES.
          Just over a year after the Russian SMO, we know that most (perhaps all) of their justifications for their intervention were TRUE and in the years to come as the fog of war disperses, we may well discover that 100% of Russian assertions were TRUE. The terrorism, bombing, murder of Russophones by UkroNazis was TRUE. The cultural genocide against Russophones and glorification of Nazi Banderites was TRUE. The presence of 30+ biopathogen labs in Ukraine FUNDED BY THE USA (as admitted by Droolin’ Nuland herself) was TRUE.
          There is NO equivalence.
          The bottom line is this: Kalecki’s opinion is worth less than shit. Why? Because even shit may be useful as fertiliser or fuel, whereas Kalecki’s opinion is less than worthless. It is easy for Kalecki to sit in an armchair and condemn Russia’s intervention, but Kalecki offers NO worthwhile alternative option. Should Russia continue to be strung along by bogus peace negotiations, ALL DONE IN BAD FAITH BY THE WEST, while continuing to watch atrocities being committed against Ukraininan Russophones, then to watch the UkroNazis invade Donbass and commit wholesale massacres of Russophones? (the FACTS show it was the UkroNazis, NOT the Russians, who committed the Bucha massacres) Such inaction, which Kalecki seems to be advocating, was by all human rights considerations, utterly unacceptable.
          Regarding NATO encroachment East of Germany, Kalecki portrays that as occurring by mutual agreement, perhaps even at the request of those Eastern European countries. Certainly the CIA would like us to believe such garbage. Who benefited from 14 additional countries joining NATO between 1990 and 2022? What benefit to joining NATO was there to the ordinary Bulgarian or Slovakian or Rumanian, when Russia was no longer a military threat? Nothing, Nada, Zilch. The main beneficiary was the US military industrial complex, because all those new NATO members would need to discard their old military hardware and buy new NATO compatible hardware. We know how the USA spreads their tentacles around the world using bribery of corruptible leaders or election meddling or astroturf regime change color revolutions or assassinations, to recruit more satrapies and advance their neoliberal neocolonial agenda, plundering the resources and wealth of other countries. Fortunately despite the heavy presence of many so-called NGOs in several former USSR states, the attempted color revolutions in Georgia and Belarus and Khazakhstan failed.
          I was puzzled at the beginning of the SMO in 2022 to learn that the most fanatically patriotic forces to fight on Russia’s behalf were the Chechen soldiers and I needed to discovery why. I had been deceived by the mainstream media that ordinary Chechens were the mortal enemies of Russia, that they were behind a previous bitter war of separatism. Further research exposed the fact that it was just a tiny minority of anti-Russian Chechen terrorists who were behind the war, who were supported and funded by the CIA. Ordinary Chechens were glad of the Russian victory and to be rid of those terrorists. The majority grassroot Chechens actually identify as being Russian despite being non-Slav Muslims, and are certainly accepted by ethnic Russians as being fellow Russians. Russians are PROUD to have an all-inclusive multi ethnic country.
          Such was my danger of believing in distorted reports from the mainstream media. Since the SMO I have researched many other facts to relieve me of my old MSM delusions. The fact that the Russians lost almost 27 million people in their fight against the Nazis in WW2 and that the US lost less than half a million. That the world owes its greatest debt to the Russians for victory over Nazis and Fascists, that the role of the USA was minor by comparison, even though Hollywood has brainwashed us to believe otherwise.
          The fact is that today, it is the USA who are funding and supporting and arming NeoNazis and Fascists as their proxies and Russia continues the fight against such evil.
          Do not allow Kalecki to confuse you with its devious distortions and misrepresentations.

    • Pintada

      2023-05-17 at 20:41

      Kaleki said, “it is wrong for the West to invade nations it does not like in order to force them to change their economic or political systems.

      Yet what is being claimed here is that Putin and Russia are justified in unilaterally invading a sovereign nation to do just that.”

      NO. Russia invaded Ukraine because: 1. NATO was in the process of expanding to Russias border, and getting ready to install nuclear weapons there. 2. The Ukrainian NAZIs were shelling Donetsk City and doing other things to kill Russian speaking Ukrainians in apparent effort to exterminate them, and 3. NATO using the Ukrainian army was about to push eastward and invade Crimea.

      The fact that Ukraine will have to be reorganized once the NAZIs have been eradicated is secondary.

      • Kalecki

        2023-05-18 at 10:03

        (2) may be true, and horrible, but it is a conflict internal to Ukraine. Using another country’s civil war as an excuse to invade it is neoconservative logic that has been deployed again and again to try to absolve Western nations from being held responsible for their military meddling in other countries.

        (3) is entirely speculative, and we have no direct evidence for it. If speculation that does not have any direct evidence to support it constitutes a sufficient basis to justify an invasion of another country, then Bush Jr. had a sufficient basis to invade Iraq. It’s neocon rationalization.

        As for (1), you’re brushing aside the fact that NATO did not expand by fiat. A group of nations willingly joined it. If a nation voluntarily joining a political organization is enough to justify invading it, then you can’t criticize the West for waging war against countries that wanted to join the Communist block during the Cold War. Maybe you personally never made such a critique, and thence are exempted in this case from self-contradiction, but Prof. Hudson is not, as he is on the record in making it. (and he is 100% correct in making it)

        • Eric Arthur Blair

          2023-05-19 at 23:30

          I have completely discredited Kalecki’s opinions, including that regarding NATOs eastward expansion, above.

          • JonnyJames

            2023-05-23 at 12:34

            Don’t waste your time on intellectually dishonest, ideologues like this “Kakecki” troll.

            For those of us who are familiar with Profs. Desai and Hudson: their track records speak for themselves.

            Has anyone started reading the new Collapse of Antiquity? I recently got my copy.

  2. bill wolfe

    2023-05-16 at 15:59

    What is happening in Ukraine right now allows the “lessons” the US learned in Iraq. Paul Bremer ha a difficult time open Iraq to US corporate investment, asset theft, privatization, exploitation of labor, and pillage. Laws and institutions had to change and that took time and triggered resistance.

    In Ukraine, it’s all being done before the war is even over, when no one is watching and when local resistance can not emerge

  3. Atma Gunawan

    2023-05-18 at 06:45

    I’m from Indonesia. Many thanks to Radhika Desai, Professor Desai and Professor Hudson. These three respectable people have opened our my eyes , and they should also to all nations in Asia that were once colonized by the West. You all made us realize that the West is really like a wolf in a priest’s robe. You also gave us an understanding that Russia has the right and deserve to secure its power and territory from the greed of the Western imperialists. We Asians are grateful that the unipolar power of the West has come to an end, is heading to sink, and now the wheels of history are turning, the sun is starting to set in the west and now the sun’s light is starting to appear in Asia. Allah, our God, rotates power according to His will.

    • Eric Arthur Blair

      2023-05-18 at 20:02

      Dear Atma,
      We salute Indonesia which under Sukarno was a champion of the original non-aligned movement. Unfortunately he was ousted by the murderous Suharto, who as a US proxy, killed more than a million so-called “communist” Indonesians in the 1960s. Yet one more example of US evil neoliberal foreign criminality. We hope those dark days are long gone and wish only the best “win-win” policies for Indonesia.
      PS: I hear your new high speed rail from jakarta to bandung is due to open in August this year which promises to benefit millions of ordinary Indonesians. Bagus sekali!

      Of course one cannot compete with the USA which has, er, how much high speed rail?
      Oops, zero kilometers.

    • Rubicon

      2023-06-10 at 18:14

      Dear Atma- we appreciate your valued input. But let’s not take for granted that the “multi-polar world” has been completed.
      Sadly, the US’s Financial/Military Hegemon will not end until either, by its own making, destroys itself, or if the Non-Western Nations can effectively banish ALL usage of the US Dollar via a construction of a central bank, how to deal with Debt amongst those nations and the requisite balance of payment systems. Those are some of Dr. Hudson’s cornerstone frameworks required before those nations can effectively bypass the US $$$. The US $$ is the kingpin of the US hegemon. Without it, it has no chance of surviving.

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