Ukraine, Global War, Empire

Glen T. Martin

9 April 2022

I find it bizarre that I should feel the need to write about this subject—yet again. Over and over, I have pointed out the nature of the integrated global war, domination, and exploitation planetary system. I have been doing this since the 1980s—during my entire career—and still most people do not get it. It does not sink in. Yet this global system impacts everything—right down to our daily lives struggling with scarcity of resources—from healthcare to housing to education to food—that is built into our system.

It is precisely for this reason that my 2021 book on our planetary climate crisis called The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet had to analyze and reveal the system yet again. One cannot understand the cascading destruction of the environment and the impotence of the so-called “UN Sustainable Development Goals” without discerning the dynamics of the world system.  We have to design a world-system in harmony with the planet’s biosphere, which the present system is not. Ukraine, and the war-system, are not separate from climate collapse or human starvation around the world. To be a “world system” is to be just that—everything that happens on Earth is interrelated and interdependent with everything else.

Hence, my book on climate collapse and its solution describes not only the seriousness and dynamics of what is happening (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Collapse, IPCC, already does this and they do not need me to repeat their findings). My book explains why it is happening in terms of the dynamics of our world system. It should be self-evident that we cannot solve any major problem unless we understand  what has generated the problem.

 The global system is inherently a scarcity system (50% of humanity lives on the border of starvation), a war-system (99% of all nations are militarized and linked into networks of military alliances), a climate-collapse system (the ecosystem of our entire planet is rapidly descending into chaos as a consequence of this system), and a system of successive global empires (since 1945 it has suffered under the brutal empire orchestrated from Washington, DC).

Those who call themselves “evolutionary leaders,” ensconced in the UN and elsewhere, who are complicit in this system and believe that one can work within this system to somehow make things better, might balk at my characterization of the empire as “brutal.” This article will not attempt to document this brutal legacy that included, early-on, mass slaughter during the Korean War and continues unabaited to the present, but rather simply point out that the facts are there in the scholarly literature, so that those who care to see could certainly see if they cared to.

Near the beginning of the “brutal” empire, due to the work of Allied forces: “Almost every major city in North Korea was burned to the ground. Survivors sought shelter in caves….approximately 3 to 4 million Korans died, out of a population of 30 million, as did more than a million Chinese” (Stone 2012, 244). The onslaught of empire continued through the savage bombings of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos (wiping out another 3 to 4 million people, 95% of them civilians), the overthrow of innumerable governments deemed hostile to the empire, the destruction of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and innumerable smaller places. The savagery has not abated since 9/11 and the new Global War on Terror (GWOT)—as documented, for example, by Jeremy Scahill’s monumental book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield (2013).

A few do get it, of course, and my writings are not the only ones describing the world system. I also had to learn from penetrating and thoughtful predecessors as we all do.  With respect to Ukraine, a few voices grasp the situation clearly, such as Dr. Roger Kotila in his recent article titled “The Curse of NATO” (March 2022).

He speaks of NATO as a “curse” because it is an imperialist organization, dominated by the USA, that serves an instrument of US imperial aggression and hegemony worldwide, for example, against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. It is a “coalition of the willing,” that is, those who are willing to serve as lapdogs for empire. Once we understand in what ways NATO is part of the world system and its global empire, we are on the way to understanding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

War and militarism are merely adjuncts and supports for the power of global economic domination and exploitation, a system well documented in such books as Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neo-liberal Capitalism by Petras and Veltmeyer (2005), Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalism, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis by John Smith (2016), and Global Imperialism and the Great Crisis: The Uncertain Future of Capitalism by Ernesto Screpanti (2014).

Some theorists and proponents of the Empire, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (1998), openly followed the wisdom of empire first articulated by British economic-military strategist Sir Halford Mackinder in 1904 who declared: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; Who rules the World-Island commands the world” (in McCoy 2017, 213). The “World-Island” is Eurasia and the aim of the US Empire since its inception in 1945 has been to rule what happens on the World-Island. (Prior to that time the US empire was hemispheric, not planetary, as Greg Grandin documents in his book Empire’s Workshop, 2007.)

With regard to Brzezinski’s policies in action, for example in Afghanistan, historian Alfred W. McCoy writes: “he understood and rationalized the untold misery and unimaginable human suffering his strategy inflicted through ravaged landscapes, millions of refugees uprooted from ancestral villages, and countless Afghan dead and wounded” (2017, 213).  Afghanistan was only a move on the grand chessboard. Iraq was only a move on the grand chessboard. The immense suffering, the saturation bombing of peasant villages in Vietnam, amount to nothing, mere moves on the grand chessboard.

Are we getting closer to understanding the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the outraged western propaganda system reacting to this terrible “illegal invasion” with its attendant “war-crimes”?  Or do our “evolutionary leaders” still draw a blank? On April 7, 2022, Asia Times investigative reporter Pepe Escobar tweeted:

And here’s the Wall of Shame. The Empire of Resentful Cowards and Liars, who’s starving millions of Afghans to death and weaponizing the genocide in Yemen, got the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.

The United Nations, dominated and colonized by the ruthless empire, dutifully suspends Russia from the Human Rights Council to the applause of supposedly progressive groups throughout the West. Saudi Arabia, which systematically violates the rights of 50% of its population on a daily basis, served two terms on this council without significant protest. Military dominance is only an adjunct to the Empire’s dominance over thought. Orwell’s book, 1984, hit the nail on the head. The Western strategists of empire have learned from Nazi propaganda chief Joesph Goebbels that if the lie is big enough, and repeated often enough, it will be accepted as truth by the majority.

Ukraine has long been understood by those who follow the foibles of empire to play a key role in the grand scheme of things. In this 2009 book Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, F. William Engdahl opens the book by reviewing the Mackinder prescription for world domination and Brzezinski’s adaption of this to the US empire (15). He goes on to quote Vladimir Putin’s well-known remarks at the 2007 Munich European Security Conference showing that Putin clearly understood the Mackinder-Brzezinski-Bush-Obama global strategy (ibid., 19-25).

So does China’s President Xi Jinping. Concerning Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” (engineered by the CIA) and the significance of Western control of its government, Engdahl writes: “Most of Russia’s natural gas pipelines from West Siberia flowed through Ukraine on their way to Germany, France and other West European states. In military strategic terms, a non-neutral Ukraine in NATO would pose a fatal security blow to Russia” (ibid., 43).

In his subsequent 2016 book, The Lost Hegemon: Whom the Gods Would Destroy, Engdahl describes the way the CIA and State Department turned their attention to Ukraine in 2003 with the intention of installing a pro-NATO president in that country. He describes the overall strategy for the CIA and State Department: “The CIA ‘Color Revolutions’ to install pro-NATO regimes along Russia’s immediate borders, coupled with the use of Mujahideen and of Chechen Islamic Jihadists, created a strategic crisis for…chaotic Russia” [and along with other tactics] were only one, albeit major part, of a geopolitical Grand Chessboard, as Brzezinski termed it in his 1997 book by the same name” (214).

In 2014 the US helped implement a coup in Ukraine in which pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown by far-right Neo-Nazi forces and pro-NATO lackies were installed who insisted, supported by US foreign policy, that Ukraine as a sovereign nation had to right to join NATO and place “defensive” missiles in its territory.  The US has long known that this would be absolutely unacceptable to Moscow, since nuclear armed warheads in Ukraine could reach Moscow in 3 to 4 minutes and would be nearly impossible to defend against.

But the strategy, like all local tactics in hundreds of locations around the world where the CIA is working to overthrow forces perceived hostile to the empire (this is called GWOT—the Global War on Terror), the highest level of strategy is economic. The US dollar as the world’s reserve currency and its strategic promotion out of Washington, DC, is the key. The empire is most fundamentally one of economic domination.

As Petras and Veltmeyer point out: “military and political power…create the conditions for home-based multinational corporations to take advantage….The US imperial state, both directly (via the departments of state and defense) and indirectly (via control over financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund), constitutes a directorate to manage the global system” (2005, 25-26).

Nevertheless, from within the “World-Island” both China and Russia have been emerging as major economic players (along with Iran and India).  China’s “Belt and Road” initiative and Russia’s support for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany both foster Eurasian economic integration and progressively marginalize the US economic role. If Nord Stream 2 (already completed) were to begin operations, this would constitute another major economic integration of Russia and Europe, supplying large quantities of cheap energy to Europe in ways that US energy exports could not possibly match. This had to be stopped.

The Ukraine war now begins to become clear. The Empire’s strategy was to force Russia into this war. Knowing full well that NATO weapons on Russia’s borders would be intolerable to Moscow’s security interests, the US insisted to the point of triggering a Russian invasion (having refused to consider Moscow’s repeated European, mutual security peace proposals going back to 2007). The immediate consequences are a clear victory for the empire. Europe has turned away from energy dependence on Russia and is willing to pay much higher prices for US supplied energy resources, and Nord Stream 2 has been cancelled.

The propaganda war has also been won (at least in the Western world). Russia is demonized as an ”aggressor” nation and even organizations that should know better decry its “illegal” invasion (while ignoring the fact that nearly everything “the exceptional nation” does on the world stage is illegal according to international law). The UN, colonized as ever since its inception by its main donor-nation, votes to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council.

Pepe Escobar concludes his book Empire of Chaos (2014) by drawing together the empire’s strategy for both Russia and China. “From Beijing’s point of view,” he writes, “the Ukraine crisis was a case of Washington crossing every red line to harass and isolate Russia” (601). The conflict with China over the South China Sea is another component of this “crossing every red line” tactic in order to “keep the Pacific Ocean as a classic ‘American lake’” (600). Surrounding and undermining the two main rivals to control of the World Island defines much of the strategic plan. Human rights and massive death mean nothing to this system.

Again, it is not only my own books and articles that have been exposing this world system for many decades. There is a large scholarly literature doing the same, only a few books of which are cited below. As my book The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet shows, we cannot deal with the climate crisis without understanding this same world system that results in endless wars and threatens to exterminate the human species in thermonuclear holocaust.

What force on Earth makes us so incapable of understanding that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth offers the only true, practical alternative to the present world system? Only such an alternative could be achieved in time to prevent human extinction, and only if we act now, with integrity and vision, to make it happen, to ratify this Earth Constitution. Our choice is not a “multi-polar world system” in which sovereign nations respect one another and live together under international law. This is an impossibility.

This option of a “multi-polar” world, supposedly respecting international law, changes neither the structure of the war-system nor the global economics of domination and exploitation. The Earth Constitution truly remains our only credible option. Ukraine, and the immense suffering of millions of its people, means very little to the empire.  This war is merely another move on “the grand chessboard.”

Works Cited

Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Found on-line at and  In print with the Institute for Economic Democracy Press, Appomattox, VA, 2010 and 2014.

Engdahl, F. William (2009). Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. Wiesbaden, Germany: Mine.Books.

Engdahl, F. William (2016). The Lost Hegemon: Whom the Gods Would Destroy. Wiesbaden, Germany: Mine.Books.

Escobar, Pepe (2014). Empire of Chaos. Ann Arbor, MI: Nimble Books.

Grandin, Greg (2007). Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Kotila, Roger (2022). “The Curse of NATO.” United World: CDWG News & Views, Mar-Apr 2022, Vol. 35, No.2, pp. 10-12.

Martin, Glen T. (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA: Peace Pentagon Press.

McCoy, Alfred W. (2017). In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power. Chicago: Haymarket Books.

Petras, James and Henry Veltmeyer (2005). Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neo-liberal Capitalism. Black Point, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.

Scahill, Jeremy (2013). Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. New York: Nation Books.

Screpanti, Ernesto (2014). Global Imperialism and the Great Crisis: The Uncertain Future of Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Smith, John (2016). Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Stone, Oliver and Peter Kuznick (2012). The Untold History of the United States. New York: Simon & Schuster.