Why The US Elite Screwed Up The Ukraine War

Oz Zeren
12 min readJan 12, 2024


Total disaster (image licensed to author)

More US and European media outlets have started to admit that ‘the West’ lost the war in Ukraine. The supporters of Ukraine now started pressuring it into peace talks in which it will end up having to concede to all or most of Russia’s pre-war policy positions. The media efforts to ‘shape perception’ and ‘frame’ the loss as ‘not a loss’ fall short. At this point, it’s becoming obvious that the Ukraine war has been a gigantic flop for ‘the West’ led by the US.

But why did the US screw it up so majestically?

Everything was in its favor. Russia was a shaky, unstable gas station posing as a country. Russia would come crashing down the moment the sanctions hit it or when its people got fed up if the war dragged on for a few months. Yet everything went totally the opposite of what the US establishment, its policymakers, its opinion shapers, and its institutional media told the way things would go. There was a great disconnect between the narrative and the actual reality — a disconnect so large to be explained by the usual media lying to ‘manufacture consent’.

This time, the institutional and media lying were different from the case of the nonexistent WMDs in Iraq. They did the usual manufacturing of consent by using all means including lying to deceive the public into supporting them as well. But this time, they actually did believe the predictions they had been making about how isolated and weak Russia was, how the entire world was on their side, and how they would be destroying and dismembering Russia very fast.

And even as all indicators started showing that things would go totally in the opposite direction, they did not change their strategy and instead doubled down on their frustrated predictions. It was as if they were having a delusional dream in an alternate reality without any connection to the real one.

Can an entire establishment’s ruling class be this out of touch as if they were aristocrats of the past living in secluded, high castles and palaces?

They Can If They Are Actual Aristocrats

The American ruling class lives in a different world than their subjects from their birth until their death. They are born in exclusive private clinics or special sections of exclusive private hospitals, they grow up playing in secluded large estates among themselves, and they are driven every day by chauffeurs to get schooled in exclusive private schools that ‘selectively’ admit their students. During this process, they do not mingle with ordinary Americans but live their childhood among their peers of the same status — the children of other families of generational wealth who are ‘old money’, not even nouveau rich. Their characters are shaped by their circumstances, which are full of attendees, servants, and ‘helpers’, in which their parents — when they are around — give them an early childhood education that resembles the education of an old-time aristocrat more than the modern American. They are taught about the exclusive customs of their social group, their status, their ‘legacy’, their standing on the social ladder, and how they are ‘better’ than everyone else.

When they become teenagers, this trend does not change and instead, the aristocratic tenets become even more visible: They participate om ‘coming of age’ in balls in which they are introduced to their social circle, and mingle with their potential future peers and marriage prospects.

College cements the formation — they are easily admitted into specific Ivy League colleges, choosing mostly law or governance-related fields. After graduation, they are pipelined into exec positions in major corporations that are owned or run by their parents, relatives, or those in their social circle. Marriage does not break this routine either — they keep it among themselves, marrying candidates from their own exclusive social circle and strata.

They pass the rest of their life either running or being on the board of major corporations, holding offices in state-level or federal politics, and running foundations or organizations that relate to their social strata. And as they do all of these, they keep the power among their own social circle, keeping the outsiders out.

This phenomenon is so pronounced and the monopolization of power by this strata among their social circle is so rigid that a famous ongoing UCSC study that investigated this phenomenon found that this small collection of old money families in the US consolidates both corporate and political power in the US among themselves:

Who Rules America — The Class-Domination Theory of Power

The wealthiest and most cohesive upper-class families often have “family offices” through which they can bring to bear the concentrated power of their collective stock ownership, sometimes placing employees of the office on boards of directors. Then too, members of the upper class often control corporations through financial devices known as “holding companies,” which purchase a controlling interest in operating companies. More generally, members of the upper class own roughly half of all corporate stock . Then too, upper-class control of corporations can be seen in its over-representation on boards of directors. Several past studies show that members of the upper class sit on boards far more than would be expected by chance. They are especially likely to be part of the “inner circle” that has two or more directorships.

The upper class and the closely related corporate community do not stand alone at the top of the power structure. They are supplemented by a wide range of nonprofit organizations that play an important role in framing debates over public policy and in shaping public opinion. These organizations are often called “nonpartisan” or “bipartisan” because they are not identified with politics or with either of the two major political parties. But they are the real “political party” of the upper class in terms of insuring the stability of the society and the compliance of government.

Third, these organizations legitimate their participants to the media and interested public as knowledgeable leaders who deserve to be tapped for public service because they have used their free time to acquaint themselves with the issues in nonpartisan forums. The organizations thereby help make wealthy individuals and corporate executives into “national leaders” and “statesmen.”

So, these people not only live as out-of-touch aristocrats. Through their power, they also force their own society to bend to their will. Not only the laws and ever-shifting ‘rules’ of society are shaped by them to benefit them, but even the social perception is just ‘shaped’ through their control of the media and other institutions that influence public opinion.

This means that if they want something to be one way in the US, they will just make it happen through their wealth, corporate power, political power, and ‘opinion shaping’ power.

They are born into this reality, they are shaped by this reality and they live the rest of their lives in this reality — a reality in which they can shape the reality to their will, whatever the actual reality in the US may be. They don’t even care about the reality of the ordinary people in the US and the US society in general — for regardless of what may be happening in the US outside of their small elite world, they will make the US bend to their will.

As a result, it’s not a surprise that people who have this mindset would think that the reality and the countries in the rest of the world would just bend to their will. And if they didn’t, they would just make it so.

Except, The World Is Not The US

There are some Western countries in which the US influence is very high through interlinked corporate ownerships, media owned by US-aligned rich, private individuals, and outright local extensions of American media and corporations themselves. These countries are also subservient to US policy through their placement in the control hierarchies of organizations like NATO. In these countries, US-linked politicians and political parties backed by local, US-linked business groups may be dominating the local politics.

But, the American elite does not monopolize the control structures of the rest of the world.

Outside a small set of European countries and Canada, the US influence was tied to the US military power and its control on the world financial system and as a result, the international trade through the electronic payments system, SWIFT. Any country that defied the US would get expelled from this international payment system, immediately crippling its international trade. Or, if they were too defiant and did not crash and burn despite being expelled, then the US military would bomb them to ‘freedom’ and make them bend to their will.

But, the initial moves the US took broke these two pillars of the US power.

First, it expelled Russia from SWIFT and even confiscated the money of private Russians who were the opponents of the current government, signaling to the entire world that neither countries’ nor individuals’ money was safe in the US-dominated financial system.

Then, in the early stages of the war, it became obvious that Russia was easily able to counter entire NATO in the proxy war and it would extend the same know-how and weaponry to anyone else who sought to blow the US off.

This was already a trend that was happening, however, the early stages of the Ukraine war proved all the earlier theories about the fundamental change in the defense technology realm: Drones, cheaper missiles ruled the battlefield in the land and hypersonic missiles ruled the strategic battlefield. Aircraft were now expensive, easy-to-shoot-down vehicles in contrast to ever-cheaper air defense missiles. Small teams of soldiers armed with ATGMs could easily destroy the latest tanks worth tens of millions. The invincibility of hypersonic missiles and the impossibility of shooting them down demonstrated that all the hypersonic anti-ship missiles that were being produced in Russia, China, and India could easily destroy anything on the sea, including giant, expensive US aircraft carriers.

Now the rest of the world, nowadays called ‘the Global South’, did not have anything to fear. They could just defy the US, dump the dollar to trade in their own currencies, and be safe from any kind of US invasion thanks to the support of the power axis that was emerging from within them.

The only thing that was left to the US elite to push their agenda was the media and ‘opinion shaping’ power. An immense media propaganda was aimed at Russia and anyone who was on its side of the fence. A cacophony of falsities was presented to domestic audiences where the US media power could reach, painting a picture of a nonexistent, ongoing Russian defeat backed by lies. This cacophony deceived the domestic audience thanks to the hypocritical censorship effected on foreign news agencies and pressure on the domestic media that did not toe the line in the US and its satellites. But it had no effect in the rest of the world where the US could not get Russian, Chinese, Indian, Arab, or Latin American news agencies banned.

Neither did the ‘moral’ propaganda levied against the rest of the world through the Anglo-American and satellite media had any effect — most of these countries and their people have been targeted, smeared, and vilified by this media before and neither their establishments nor their people had any trust left in them to spare for what the US said.

This media bubble had an amplifying effect on the elites of the US establishment. Already out of touch, already surrounded by yes-men who were pursuing careers by bending to their will, already able to shape their own reality at home, the cacophony of lies only helped to strengthen their false perception of reality. The US elite doubled down in their policy even as the US and its allies depleted their military stocks, and their economies got crippled due to the economic turmoil and the never-ending, disappearing economic aid sent to Ukraine.

So the US aristocrats were not able to bend actual reality in the world to their will.

It’s Not So Different At Home Now Either

The US aristocrats bent the US to their will and made the reality that they wanted real. For over 40 years now, the economic, domestic, and foreign policies in the US have been shaped to benefit them at the expense of the American people. American society was privatized wholesale, wages were made to stagnate even as productivity and corporate profits grew. Education, healthcare, and housing were made luxuries only the rich could afford. The wealth was transferred from working Americans who constituted ~90% of the society to 1%, and recently to a smaller 0.1% who constitute the aristocratic segment. Americans are told to skip breakfast even as they hold multiple jobs to save money.

Even as all of these happened, the ruling class was not challenged. They were safe in their isolated world, living in their isolated mansions, luxury resorts, and exclusive halls of power that they dominated. Despite turning their own society into scorched earth, things went their way, and their power and privilege were not questioned or challenged.

But times have changed. The reality in the US is no longer bending to their will either.

The American people are in abject poverty. Even the educated white-collar professionals are feeling the heat. As those from the white-collar class who can do it are escaping by emigrating, the majority of the working class has to remain behind and suffer the rapacious economy. These segments increasingly radicalize and go after populist leaders as a result. They hope to change something, or at least, break the current paradigm so that something new can be born.

The out-of-touchness of the aristocratic class shows itself in this situation as well. While a majority of them just can’t understand what can possibly be that wrong with the US society that the people are starting to follow populist leaders, those among them who actually work in governing the US think that they can just make the trend go away through ‘opinion shaping’ and ‘media’. And, as these are also now failing to do that, they are increasingly resorting to other methods to keep their populist challengers away by trying to ban them from entering the elections at every level from the state level to the federal. If they can’t dominate the democracy, there is no need for it.

Of course, judging from history, this kind of trend is not sustainable. Things will eventually come to a head, at which point neither media propaganda nor lawfare can stem the tide of rising popular reaction. And when that happens, the popular segments will prosecute the incumbent elite, and that can be very disagreeable, to say the least. This is not a trend that the ruling class in the US must follow, for their own good.

They Must Get Back In Touch With Their Own Society

They must realize that the ruling strata of a society cannot exist without its own society. And if the society is led to ruin by the ruling strata, be it for their own gain or something else, the society will eventually get back at them in one way or the other.

But more than that, they must realize that the prosperity of the ruling class even in an aristocratic society is derived from the prosperity of their own society. The more prosperous and strong a society is, the more opulent its ruling class is.

There is no meaning to being kings on top of a hill of dirt.

The prosperity of the lower classes of the society feeds its economy and especially education. Those feed the technological apparatus of society. And that feeds the mechanics that elevate society to higher standards of living and new horizons. And the technological progress will be built into the new infrastructure of the society.

From longer lifespans with healthier bodies to flying cars, from androids to futuristic cities, all the things that can make life much better and more satisfactory can only be obtained by the elite if society functions well and the people can obtain these amenities as well. The faster the society heals and pushes forward, the faster the elite can get all of these. An external source, god, or aliens won’t make these happen for anybody. Humans will work and make these happen, and that can’t happen in a society that is suffering from hunger and can’t even find a home to put its head in. So even from an aristocratic viewpoint, the well-being of one’s own society is important.

And no, stealing brainpower through immigration of educated workforces is not an option anymore — the countries that used to export their brainpower to the US are becoming prosperous and the educated youth of these countries are now preferring to stay in their own countries, which now can provide amenities comparable to the US without them needing to leave their families, friends and culture behind.

Therefore the American elite is left with the American people. The faster they realize that their fate is intertwined with their own people, the better.



Oz Zeren

Writing for a better future. I work in Tech. I like Philosophy, History, Computers, Gaming, the Internet. I’m excited about the Creator Economy, Web 3.0, DAOs.