On the Ukraine War
By Moteki Hiromichi,
On the Ukraine War
1. Ukraine war: a war between globalism and nationalism?
As Fujiwara Masahiko says in his book Nihonjin no Shinka (True Value of the Japanese) (Bunshun Shinsho 2020) that “it is hard to believe that aggression as blatant as the Russian invasion of Ukraine takes place in the 21st century Europe,” many are surprised at how history has gone backwards by one century, so to speak.
However, some seem to support the view that this is a war of nationalism against globalism. Apparently, they see it as a confrontation of the Russian nationalism against American globalism led by the DS (deep state) but this raises a question of where Ukraine, the leading player, comes in. Do they mean that Ukraine is a voice of globalism supported by the US?
It is an outrageous idea to make light of the Ukrainians. Are they saying that Ukraine, fighting bravely and squarely against an all-out attack from Russia, which boasts overwhelming military power, are fighting for the US? I feel inclined to wonder if they are thinking of the Ukrainians as fools committing their lives to the US. Certainly, it is thanks to the enormous arms support from the US and other countries of the Western bloc that they have been able to repulse the main forces of the 200,000 Russian troops, protect the capital Kyiv, strike a blow at the Russian troops in the eastern and southern regions and recover lost territory. Who expected a wretched debacle of the Russian tank force of over 1,000 vehicles? No matter how much military aid is offered, fighting such fierce battles would be absolutely impossible without the determination to fight of the people who love and commit their lives to their country. Look at Afghanistan. They got themselves into such a mess despite the US troops that had joined them in addition to the arms support.
If the present war is a heroic war of nationalist Ukraine, what about Russia? Russia expressed as pretexts for invasion of Ukraine what can never suffice as reasons for all-out invasion, such as the “threat of neo-Nazism” and the issue of accession to the NATO but the true reason is Great Russianism: It is an all-out invasion aimed at the realization of Great Russia.
On February 26, in the initial period after the start of the war, RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, said in an article under the title of “The advent of Russian new world”:
“Russia is restoring its historical fullness, bringing together the Russian world and the Russian people, namely the Great Russians (Russia), White Russians (Belarus) and Little Russians (Ukraine). If we had abandoned this and allowed the temporary division to take hold, we would not only betray the memory of our ancestors, but would also be cursed by our descendants for allowing the disintegration of the Russian land.”
It means that the Russian nationalist sense of mission was at the root of the invasion of Ukraine. However, this nationalism totally ignores the sovereignty of Little Russia, which is a sovereign country, and the will of the Ukrainians and one-sidedly forces Russia’s own nationalism. They do not hesitate to use armed force for that purpose. It is an extremely malicious and dangerous idea.
The “globalism” called the Great Russianism has now begun to claim that Russia has a right of possession even of Japan’s Hokkaido on the grounds of the Ainu issue (Deputy of the State Duma has stated openly that “Russia has all rights to Hokkaido.” The Sankei Shimbun June 11, 2020)
As Yoram Hazony discusses in his book The Virtue of Nationalism (Japanese version translated by Nakano Takeshi and Se Teruhisa, Toyo Keizai 2021), Nazism was not confined to nationalism but “transformed into globalism that takes on the nature of imperialism and forces own principles and culture on other countries.”
Just like this, the Great Russianism should be regarded as globalism clothed in nationalism. That is, the present war is more accurately a war of the Great Russianist globalism, rather than Russian nationalism, versus Ukrainian nationalism.
2. Threat of neo-Nazism: a complete lie
As a reason for starting a war, Russia put the main emphasis on the threat of neo-Nazism such as the Azov Regiment confronting the pro-Russian faction in Ukraine.
From 1932 to 1933 in the Soviet Union era, Ukraine was hit by a great famine. It was a tragic incident that caused starvation of 3.3 or even more millions of people but it was due more to the Communist Party’s self-justified authoritarianism than to the weather, as it was depicted in the famous movie Mr. Jones. This inevitably raised strong anti-Soviet emotions among Ukrainian nationalists and Ukrainian people. Therefore, when the German troops made inroads into Ukraine, many Ukrainians cooperated with the German troops. Against this backdrop, it should be natural that people like the Azov Regiment came into existence. In the present Ukraine, however, neither are the Azov Regiment’s illegal attacks against Russian residents officially approved nor are anti-Russian revanchist policies taken by the Ukrainian government. On the contrary, Russia has sent the Wagner Group’s unit of 8,000 mercenaries to the eastern part of Ukraine since 2014. Russia has long been engaged in acts of aggression. They are absolutely unqualified to mention neo-Nazism. Needless to add, it can never be a pretext for all-out invasion of Ukraine.
As another reason for starting the war, Russia mentions the threat of NATO. They claim that Ukraine’s refusal to give up joining NATO is a threat to Russia.
NATO has expanded and is still expanding. However, NATO has never waged war of aggression against any sovereign nation. The expansion of NATO is an increase of member states for avoiding the threat of an aggressive big power called Russia and not one country intends to join NATO to invade Russia. In response to Russia’s current act of violence reminiscent of the 20th century, Sweden and Finland, which traditionally took a neutrality policy, officially applied for the accession to NATO. This means that the reason for starting the war mentioned by Russia has produced a reverse effect.
That is, the reason for starting the war associated with neo-Nazism or with NATO can never be sufficient for providing justification for Russia’s one-sided all-out invasion.
3. Incorrect allegation over historical perception that the Pearl Harbor attack has something in common with Russia’s all-out invasion
President Zelenskyy of Ukraine spoke along the following lines in his online speech made to the US Congress on March 16:
Remember Pearl Harbor, the terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you.
This is an absurd, incorrect perception. Very regrettably, however, a view that the Pearl Harbor attack is Japan’s one-sided act of aggression is mostly shared around the world in reality. Having said that, the “aggressor Japan” view is a total “fallacy,” as discussed by Henry Stokes, former Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times, in his book Fallacies in the Allied Nations’ Historical Perception as Observed by a British Journalist (Hamilton Books, New York, 2017).
What should be confirmed first is the fact that Russia, whose existence was not in a critical situation, waged total aggression against Ukraine, a minor power, resulting in the present Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, they are outrageous enough to declare a nuclear threat.
It is true that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a preemptive strike, but the situation was totally different from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Japan was faced with a genuine life-or-death crisis for the nation.
In July 1939, the US one-sidedly announced its abrogation of the US-Japan Treaty of Commerce and Navigation. It was “all the more serious because the denouncing of a commercial treaty for political reasons is almost unheard of in American diplomatic history,” as an article in the July 28, 1939, edition of The Manchester Guardian stated, and virtually a quasi-declaration of war. It gave the US the power to begin restricting exports to Japan six months later and the US started to restrict the export of scrap iron, alloys, refined steel, steel products, machines, etc., which at last led to the total embargo of oil in August 1941. Japan, whose oil supplies depended 90% on import, lost its sources of oil and was driven to the critical point of survival as a modern state because the Netherlands followed in the footsteps of the US to restrict exports. The situation was just the opposite of how Russia is conversely making use of oil as a strategic material to the West and using its export as a threat.
An economic blockade is warfare, as US Secretary of State Kellogg said on December 8, 1928, in the hearing for the ratification of the Pact of Paris proposed by himself, when he stated that an economic blockade is “An act of war, absolutely!” responding to a question from a senator. That is, the one that first committed an act of war called an economic blockade against Japan was none other than the US.
In addition, the US formulated an operation plan (JB355) to bomb the mainland Japan using long-range bombers, which was signed for approval by President Roosevelt on July 23, 1941. (The signed document has been published in the US National Archives.) It was four and a half months before the Pearl Harbor attack.
The Japanese government had been continuously negotiating to avoid conflict with the US but the Hull note, which was virtually an ultimatum to it, was submitted on November 26. Its content brought the results of negotiations up to then to almost nothing. Hamilton Fish, the Republican leader who approved of the declaration of war, made severe criticism after the war that none of the congress members was informed of the Hull note and said that it was wrong of himself to ask for the declaration without the knowledge of it.
While the US was already engaged in a virtual act of war by the economic blockade, Japan was seeking an avenue to reconciliation. For Japan, the loss of the possibility of reconciliation meant that there was no other way left but to take measures for self-defense. Japan had the right to use self-defense measures. Then, it decided to use self-defense measures, which was the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not a response to a threat to their existence or use of the right of self-defense. President Zelenskyy and other people around the world should know that there is nothing similar about it to the Pearl Harbor attack. Very regrettably, the reality is that the view on the Pearl Harbor attack as Japan’s one-sided act of aggression is still mostly shared around the world. It is a perception that must be corrected.