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Rachel Marsden: Could Washington’s arming of Ukraine lead to a European ISIS?

Tribune Content Agency logoTribune Content Agency 4/26/2022 Rachel Marsden, Tribune Content Agency
A Ukrainian serviceman holds a weapon near a front line, east of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022. © (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images/TNS) A Ukrainian serviceman holds a weapon near a front line, east of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The recklessness with which the U.S. and its NATO allies are flooding a chaotic Ukraine with weapons suggests that history has taught our leaders nothing.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv on April 24 to champion the $713 million in military funding pledged by the Biden administration. “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine," General Austin said from the Ukrainian capital, alongside President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

While the idea of arming Ukraine against Russia’s insurgence may be tempting to U.S. and allied officials in theory, it hasn’t panned out too well in the long term.

The Ukrainian conflict already has one clear winner: weapons manufacturers and their shareholders. There’s a trend of NATO weapons shipments arriving at depots in Ukraine, only to be subsequently blown up by Russian missiles, in places like Lviv and Odesa. It’s not like the Russians can’t also see all of these weapons shipment announcements on American TV and have eyes in the skies over Ukraine capable of spotting deliveries. It’s so blatantly ridiculous as an effective strategy that it’s tempting to wonder whether the actual goal of the western establishment is just to have Russians blow up weapons in order to justify making more of them. “Ukraine’s use of Stinger and Javelin missiles is outstripping U.S. production,” according to Forbes last month. How convenient.

Rachel Marsden wearing a dress shirt and tie © Provided by Tribune Content Agency Rachel Marsden

The system is clearly benefiting from a blank check conceded by taxpayers who have been themselves bombarded with emotionally charged messaging on the part of their leaders. The heartstring tugging mistakenly leads them to believe that increased weapons supplies are the only way to help the suffering Ukrainian people.

The people of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, who have all been in similar situations to the Ukrainian people today, would likely beg to differ.

The billions of dollars’ worth of weapons provided by the U.S. to its Mujahedeen proxies in the CIA-led Operation Cyclone against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the Cold War ultimately ended up in the hands of the Taliban. “Missiles supplied to Afghan rebels come back to haunt U.S.,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in October 2001, as America targeted al-Qaeda in Taliban-led Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

More recently, as the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan last August, ending 20 years of military operations, the Washington Post reported how the Taliban showed off captured American-made weapons from that war. According to the Asia Times, U.S. artillery also wound up in Pakistan — the historical nation-state sponsor of the Taliban, top Saudi ally, and the country where Saudi-born Osama Bin Laden was ultimately found hiding.

American-made weapons, provided by Washington to Saudi Arabia were also used earlier this year in attacks that killed 80 civilians and injured over 200 in Yemen, according to Amnesty International. Similarly, American missiles dumped into Libya during the civil war sparked in 2011, which led to the ousting of leader Muammar Gaddafi, were found in much different hands in 2019. By then, they were being used by General Khalifa Haftar, whose camp is accused of war crimes, and whom the U.S. claimed openly to oppose as he fought against the government recognized by the United Nations.

In Iraq, “hundreds of thousands” of American guns and other weapons were considered to have been lost by the U.S., explained the New York Times in 2016. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that some of those same weapons dumped by Washington into Iraq during the Global War on Terror were smuggled into Iran before being delivered to Russia for current use in the Ukrainian conflict.

So where are all the U.S. weapons going that are purportedly being delivered to the Ukrainian people to help them fight Russia? If, by now, you’re guessing that no one in charge really has a clue — you’re likely correct. “What happens to weapons sent to Ukraine? The U.S. doesn't really know,” noted CNN on April 19.

Evidence suggests that American weapons sent into chaotic conflict can very well end up in the hands of rogue actors empowered to pursue their own agenda. Today, the neo-Nazi fighters in Ukraine trained by the west and integrated into the country’s army could potentially end up causing a problem for European nations in the same way that ISIS and other ideological groups emerged, armed and dangerous, from previous conflicts. Rather than cheering the delivery of endless weapons, it may be wiser in the long run — although counter-intuitive for some — to hope that the Russian military is successful in their strategic weapons reduction efforts.

(Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of independently produced talk shows in French and English. Her website can be found at

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