Commentary. The crux of the matter is that two contradictory choices by the West are emerging from Biden’s statement: We don’t deal with a butcher, and we push on until Putin is taken out; or we have to deal with Putin to stop a war in the heart of Europe.

Joe Biden’s Putin declaration and our choices in Ukraine

Putin is a “butcher” who “cannot remain in power.” Biden’s statement, which brought divided reactions between Europe and United States, is something we can agree with, but at the same time it is absolutely unacceptable.

We can agree with it because someone who bombs cities in a “surgical” way knows when they are striking civilians indiscriminately, sowing terror useful for the purposes of war.

What else is killing even a single child but the work of a butcher? And sadly, according to the UN, the number of Ukrainian children killed so far is more than 140. And it’s likely that the Russian people are not really happy with their president who has chosen war as a solution to the Ukrainian crisis at the cost of the lives of Ukrainian civilians, Russian young men sent to the front to die and millions of refugees.

What about it is unacceptable, then? The fact that the one leveling this accusation is a president of the United States who in his political life has voted in favor of every bipartisan American war, right-wing and left-wing, direct or indirect, which have dotted the entire Middle East with scenes of slaughter.

In these wars, the civilian victims have been in the hundreds of thousands, in massacres from aerial bombardments or as a result of deadly sanctions. We are talking about the three wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, which was occupied for 20 years, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Yemen which is ongoing. A reality with hundreds of thousands of dead, according to UN sources.

All crimes committed with impunity. We only know this thanks to the counter-information work of WikiLeaks, just like we know the truth about the crimes in Chechnya thanks to the sacrifice of Anna Politkovskaya and the Novaya Gazeta, which on Tuesday had to shut down due to the harsh Russian censorship. Not coincidentally, Julian Assange is in jail, ready to be delivered to U.S. justice, the same that denies the legitimacy of International Criminal Courts.

Who is the one crying “butcher” here?

But the unacceptability of Biden’s statement can also be seen in its second part, perhaps even more so. Secretary of State Blinken hastened to clarify that no, the U.S. “does not have a strategy of regime change in Russia.” Chancellor Scholz claimed Biden didn’t really say what everyone has heard him saying. But the one who spoke out the clearest against “escalating in words or actions” was Macron, because he is talking with Putin and trying to negotiate; even Erdogan, the NATO Sultan, had objections: “If everybody burns bridges with Russia then who is going to talk to them at the end of the day?”

Draghi was taken by surprise, only a few hours after he thanked the Pope, who called European leaders who increase military spending “madness.” He said, “I want peace, I will talk to Putin.”

The crux of the matter is that two contradictory choices by the West are emerging from Biden’s statement: we don’t deal with a butcher, we push on until Putin is taken out; or we have to deal with Putin to stop the war in the heart of Europe.

No one has any illusions. Biden didn’t make any mistake; reading between the lines, he has revealed what the American administration thinks and wants to do: to turn the Ukrainian opportunity into a showdown with the Russian enemy.

And they also want to send a warning to indecisive China. For that, the war not only shouldn’t be stopped, but it should grow further.

We’ve finally understood the reason for so much mirth, so much laughter, friendly winks, cheerfulness on the part of Biden, the EU leaders and then among the American soldiers at the Polish base. Let them laugh – but why? Because the Russian invasion of Ukraine is considered in Atlantic circles as the greatest victory for NATO – after so many defeats, from Syria, to Libya, to Kabul – since the victorious “humanitarian” war of 1999 against Milosevic’s little Yugoslavia.

And now the problem is how to do with Putin what was done with Milosevic, who, it’s worth remembering, fell a year and a half after the end of the war, through the violent action of nationalists much worse than him.

The Russians should have self-determination too – but we are again faced with the doctrine of American hetero-determination of peoples, which among other things is triggering even more repression from Putin: “exporting democracy” is back.

This is in stark contrast with negotiations for peace, with banning war from human history, as the Pope called for, but nobody’s listening. Is the important goal perhaps to cover up these decisions – this is the art of war – and fuel the armed conflict as much as possible, waiting for the “Russian revolt”? Is this the script we’re supposed to play our assigned role in, as extras, by sending weapons and increasing military spending by a third?

What is bewildering is that this U.S. project will have to fall on European shoulders and in Europe’s strategic space. A bigger Afghanistan, devastating for every future project of a European Union, now left on the backburner (taking the focus away from Next Generation EU and the fight against pandemic), into which arms are being poured, gravitating around the transatlantic axis.

Are those who want to send weapons to Ukraine – which has been full of NATO weapons depots and trainers for years, as Secretary Stoltenberg confessed – aware of the fact that the U.S. itself is saying no? It doesn’t want to deliver the real weapons, the decisive ones, loudly requested by Zelenski who is accusing the West of lacking courage: planes and tanks, and the no-fly zone revisited as a Polish initiative, with the Warsaw government insisting on sending planes and NATO “peacekeeping” forces. We must be warned that each of these reckless proposals will be attempted. Which can mean the Third World War, not piecemeal but the whole package: because Putin, with nuclear weapons, is no Milosevic.

Either the logic of negotiations will take over, in order to safeguard Ukraine but also Europe, endangered by the adventurism of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine but also by the underlying, and now evident, designs of the United States; or we will be involved and we will be at war.

The European leaders should explain to their own governed people why the promise to keep the Old Continent free of war has failed, and how serious their responsibility is because they delegated the security and foreign policy of the Union to the Atlantic Alliance – which, according to U.S. security strategists as well, such as Kissinger and Kennan, should absolutely not have expanded to the east, let alone gotten involved in Ukraine. This did not safeguard the Minsk agreements, which set out the independence but also the neutrality of Kiev: these ideas are coming back in the end as the realistic content of any mediated solution. Not coincidentally, the only guarantee for that was the “bulwark” of Angela Merkel: after her, the deluge. Because the failure of those agreements led to a civil war that has lasted since 2014, and now to the ferocity of this new, evil war of aggression decided by Putin.

There is no both-siderism in denouncing this climate of fighting and death that hangs over us. And if anyone wants to accuse us of that, we’ve made it clear that there is an aggressor and a victim: we are not saying we don’t side with either. We are not neither-nor, but against-against. Against both wills of destruction in play.

We reject this war. Which must be stopped, by protagonists who are playing their own, strong, autonomous and independent role, not one dictated to them by others.

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