It seems increasingly clear that, so far as the United States is concerned, there is a big difference in goal and method when it comes to “saving Ukraine” and “defeating Russia”. The two goals are not the same and may even be incompatible. Is Russia’s defeat now the unstated end game that the US is seeking? It’s worth observing that war cries are coincidentally reaching a fever pitch as to drown out alternative voices in the US while its mainstream media offer non-stop coverage on a foreign war that involves no US troops on the ground. According to a study by the Tyndall Report, an authoritative journalism newsletter which has been tracking and analysing nightly newscasts since 1987, the three major TV networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, have spent more time together in their reporting on the Ukraine war than all other wars in the last 31 years, including those started by the US. Combined, they devoted 562 minutes to covering the first full month of the war in Ukraine, compared with the first month of the US invasion of Panama in December 1989 (240 mins), its intervention in Somalia in 1992 (423 mins), and the first month of its invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001 (306 minutes). Quite extraordinarily, the two peak months of coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion each saw less saturated coverage – 414 minutes in March of 2003 and 455 minutes in April – than last month in Ukraine. Of course, these are just three TV networks. Practically all other major news outlets in the US – and also in Europe – have been offering non-stop news coverage. For Europeans, though, it’s understandable because the war is right in their own backyard. But for the US? Anyone who offers more nuanced analyses or explanations for the war now risks being denounced as “Putin’s American apologist”, “Putin’s pals”, “Russia’s stooges”, “Russian trolls”, “patsies” and “useful idiots”. That’s what happens when the US media and political class are mobilised to promote and legitimate war efforts. President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly made peace overtures and even managed to kick off a few rounds of peace talks with Moscow. They were all met by silence from Washington. When Kyiv said it was prepared to negotiate the status of Crimea and the Donbas coveted by Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken countered about the imperative to defend the “basic principle” that “one country cannot simply change the borders of another by force”. It may be unspoken but it’s clear many in Washington, including those in the White House, think US interests lie with Russia’s defect, while peace in Ukraine is incidental. Every now and then, a mainstream US commentator would let such truths come out. Hal Brands is Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a highly prolific op-ed writer, so productive he is all over the major US media you have to wonder if he had any time for actual teaching and academic research. In a recent interview on NPR (National Public Radio) in the US, he offers a perfectly logical, if ruthless explanation behind the US strategy over the war in Ukraine. “There’s long been a debate in the United States over whether we should prioritise competing with Russia or China or treat them as coequals,” he said. “And that debate has flared up again in the context of this war. I think what the war indicates, though, is that the best way of putting pressure on China, which is the more dangerous and the more powerful of the two rivals, is actually to ensure that Russia is defeated, that it does not achieve its objectives in this war, because that will result in a weaker Russia, one that is less capable of putting pressure on the United States and its allies in Europe and thus less useful as a strategic partner for Beijing.” Ukraine war: Russia would deploy nuclear weapons if Finland, Sweden join Nato For Washington, the war is about containing Russia and China; and that also means driving a wedge between their two countries. “The United States simply can’t avoid the reality that it has to contain both Russia and China simultaneously,” he said. Nothing about “saving Ukraine” and defending democratic values. It’s all about rolling back America’s two primary adversaries today. That’s cold naked realism. I agree with his analysis, and thank him for sparing us the endless hypocrisy and “holier than thou” moralism spilling out of Washington and the White House. The US is turning the conflict into a proxy war and is pouring more and more advanced and lethal weapons into Ukraine, with Nato help. It wants to defeat Russia, undermine the alliance between Moscow and Beijing and then refocus total hostility on China. And if Ukraine is levelled as a country in the process, that’s a sacrifice worth making – without a drop of American blood.