Who Lost the Peace Dividend After the End of the Cold War?

The end of the first Cold War in the late 80s gave Americans a unique historical chance to stop worrying about nuclear war and get a well-deserved Peace Dividend. Instead, not only they lost it, but the talk about the inevitable nuclear WW3 became a routine discussion subject in the government, public, and media circles.

Washington and its loyal (with rare exceptions) Western allies and partners blame Russia and its “unprovoked and unjustified” invasion of Ukraine, but the rest of the planet and many well-known American and European experts have different opinions. They agree with Pope Francis, who said that “NATO’s barking” at Russia’s door may have led to Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Still, there are many in the U.S. and EU who are happy with this development. NATO, which many felt became obsolete after the collapse of the USSR, is thriving, and so are weapon manufacturers and all those with whom they share the profits, including a bi-partisan army of politicians, think tanks, and heavy-handed democracy promoters around the world.

As for the war in Ukraine, for some of them, it is a great opportunity. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “Russians are dying. It’s the best money we ever spent.” Obviously, Graham and his colleagues like Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) don’t care about Ukrainian lives. This is what he wrote, “Even Americans who have no particular interest in freedom and independence in democracies worldwide should be satisfied that we’re getting our money’s worth on our Ukraine investment.”

Spending over $100 billion, with no end in sight, we are clearly not getting our money’s worth. In fact, this money could have helped many Americans at home, but so far, we haven’t witnessed a strong anti-war movement. Some of the reasons are that so far there are no American casualties on the battlefields, as well as non-stop scare tactics from Biden & Co to justify the continuation of the funding of this war: “If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there.  It’s important to see the long run here. He’s going to keep going… Then we’ll have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops. ”

In the meantime, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 580,466 Americans were homeless in 2020. Simple math calculations show that a small fraction of the money we are sending to Ukraine could resolve this problem by providing them with food, housing, and medical care.

Besides helping the homeless, it would no longer be necessary to deport them to avoid huge embarrassment, like what happened during the recent visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to San Francisco.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 22.8 percent of American adults (18 years and older) had a mental illness (57.8 million adults) in 2021. Only 47.2 percent of those adults received treatment. Since 1999, more than 1 million Americans have died from drug overdoses. The number of annual overdoses has trended upward over the past 20 years. In addition to the federal government’s national debt, which is above $34 trillion, according to the New York Federal Reserve, total household debt in this country reached a record $17.29 trillion in the third quarter of 2023.

At the same time, 32 members of the House and Senate outperformed the S&P 500, which in 2023 grew only 24.8%, while Nancy Pelosi made 65.5% and Richard Blumenthal, above mentioned, made 68.1%.

The constantly growing defense budget is not helping regular folks, as food, gas, and housing prices are constantly rising. Instead of working with Russia on climate change, Washington facilitated or at least welcomed the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, which released 225 kt of natural gas into the Baltic Sea and a huge volume of methane into the atmosphere.

As far as preventing Putin from moving west, this tactic was used many times before. Remember the Domino theory during Vietnam and other wars in Southeast Asia; G.W. Bush’s war on terror when he said, “We are fighting them over in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them here at home.”  Zelensky learned fast and keeps demanding more money and weapons since he needed them to defend “not only Ukraine but also Western freedom and democracy.”

This and other lies about Putin’s intention to restore the Soviet empire are exposed by Ted Snider and Nicolai Petro in their article “To End the War in Ukraine, Expose Its Core Lie” by providing solid facts that Putin had no intention neither to conquer all of Ukraine nor attack any other country. They quote to this effect even NATO General Secretary Stoltenberg, who stated that “Putin invaded Ukraine to prevent NATO’s expansion.”

For example, Putin could recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and then annex them to Russia, but he hasn’t.  Crimea could still be a part of Ukraine if not for the U.S.-backed regime change coup in February 2014. Donbas could also stay in Ukraine if Kyiv honored the Minsk agreements. The war and all its tragic consequences could have been avoided if Washington accepted Ukraine’s neutral status. How harmful would this status be for the Ukrainian or American people?

Edward Lozansky is President of American University in Moscow.