Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster - Jeffrey D. Sachs

by Peter Myers

Date: July 7, 2022; updated January 17, 2023

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(1) Francis Boyle on the Ethnic Hatreds behind the war on Russia
(2) Brzezinski said that, without Ukraine, Russia can no longer be a Major Power
(3) Jeffrey D. Sachs blames the Neocons, who have run Foreign Policy for 30 years, for the Ukraine Disaster
(4) Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster - Jeffrey D. Sachs
(5) Kissinger warning at Davos: Ukraine war will set us back decades
(6) Brzezinski vs Neocons (2005)
- he hoped "neocons who engineered the war against Iraq will be overruled by the realists"
(7) Russia's Bombing of a Mall - where are the people? the cars? It was next to a weapons plant
(8) WaPo disputes the narrative, ponders whether Ukraine will be like Afghanistan
(9) NYT admits Ukraine is losing, canvasses negotiated peace based on "realistic assessment"
(10) Samuel Huntington on Ukraine as Cleft between Catholic West & Orthodox East
(11) Ukraine's sharp divisions - BBC news, 23 April 2014
(12) Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault - John J. Mearsheimer (2014)
(13) Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO - John Mearsheimer
(14) Paul Wolfowitz and other Neocons developed the regime change idea, and overthrew Marcos and Suharto - Steve Hanke
(15) The Fraud of Neoconservative "Anti-Communism", by Max Shpak

(1) Francis Boyle on the Ethnic Hatreds behind the war on Russia

Francis Boyle: Brzezinski wants to break Russia up into constituent units


Francis Boyle: Brzezinski wants to break Russia up into constituent units. Why does Obama hate Russia?

Pravda.Ru interviewed Francis Anthony Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law about the current politiclal situation in the world. We asked the professor to comment on whether the crisis between Russia and the West is as dangerous as it seems to be.

[...] Why is the West convinced that Russia can be broken down with the sanctions?

I regret to say what we are seeing here in the Unites States are the ascendancy of two factions in this country who are against Russia and the Russians. First is Brzezinski, who was Obama's mentor when Obama was a college student in Columbia, and Brzezinski in 2008 ran all the foreign affairs and defence policies of the Obama presidential campaign and has stacked his administration with advisor on Russia at the National Security Council comes from the Brzezinski's outpoll CSIS there in Washington D.C. I graduated from the same Ph.D. programme at Harvard that produced Brzezinski before me.

He is a die-hard Russian hater, he hates Russia, he hates the Russian, and he wants to break Russia up into its constituent units, and, unfortunately, he has his people, his proteges in the Democratic Party and in this Administration. Second faction lining against Russia are the neo-conservatives, for e.g. this latest Brookings Institute report calling for arming the Ukrainian military in these Nazi formations which is now reflected in this latest bill just introduced into the Congress yesterday, and the neoconservatives feel exactly the same way against Russia and the Russians.

I went to school with large numbers of these neoconservatives at the University of Chicago, Wolfowitz and all the rest of them. Many of them are grandchildren of Jewish people, who fled the pogroms against Jews, and they have been brainwashed against Russia and the Russians. So you have two very powerful factions here in the United States against Russia and the Russians who are driving this policy, and I regret to report there are very few voices opposing this.

So in my assessment, the situation this is the dilemma that confronts Russia today, that confronts President Putin and it also certainly confronts me having gone to school with most these people both at Chicago and Harvard and opposing them for a generation, and all peace-loving people in America that somehow here in the United States we are going to have to figure out a way to reign {sic} these people in to avoid the direct military confrontation between Russia and the United States that very well could occur if things get out of control there in Ukraine. So it's an extremely dangerous situation for both Russia and the united states. There's no question about it. I haven't seen any thing this dangerous in my lifetime since the Cuba missile crisis that I personally lived through the 1962 and it inspired me to spend ten years in studying the Soviet Union Russia at the University Chicago and Harvard - two of the leading centres for training experts in this area in the United States. So it's extremely dangerous, I could not underestimate how dangerous the situation is.

(2) Brzezinski said that, without Ukraine, Russia can no longer be a Major Power

The Eurasian Chessboard: Brzezinski Mapped Out "The Battle for Ukraine" in 1997

By Chris Ernesto

Global Research, March 16, 2014

It's all about maintaining the US position as the world's sole superpower

Why would the United States run the risk of siding with anti-Semitic, neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

One of the keys may be found by looking back at Zbigniew Brzezinski's 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard in which he wrote, "Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire."

"However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia."

The former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 and top foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, Brzezinski wrote that US policy should be "unapologetic" in perpetuating "America's own dominant position for at least a generation and preferably longer still."

Brzezinski delved into the importance of little known Ukraine by explaining in his 1997 book, "Geopolitical pivots are the states whose importance is derived not from their power and motivation but rather from their sensitive location ... which in some cases gives them a special role in either defining access to important areas or in denying resources to a significant player."

"Ukraine, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Turkey and Iran play the role of critically important geopolitical pivots," he wrote in The Grand Chessboard, a book viewed by many as a blueprint for US world domination.

Brzezinski wrote that Eurasia is "the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played," and that "it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America."

Understanding Brzezinski's long-term view of Ukraine makes it easier to comprehend why the US has given $5 billion to Ukraine since 1991, and why today it is hyper-concerned about having Ukraine remain in its sphere of influence.

It may also help explain why in the past year the US and many of its media outlets have feverishly demonized Vladimir Putin.

By prominently highlighting the mistreatment of activist group Pussy Riot, incessantly condemning Russia's regressive position on gay rights, and excessively focusing on substandard accommodations at the Sochi Olympic Games, the Obama administration has cleverly distracted the public from delving into US support of the ultra-nationalist, neo-Nazi factions of the Ukrainian opposition, and has made it palatable for Americans to accept the US narrative on Ukraine.

Interestingly enough, it was Brzezinski who first compared Putin to Hitler in a March 3 Washington Post Editorial. Hillary Clinton followed-up the next day with her comments comparing the two, followed by John McCain and Marco Rubio who on March 5 agreed with Clinton's comments comparing Putin and Hitler. Apparently Brzezinski still continues to influence US political speak.

In his book, Brzezinski contends that "America stands supreme in the four decisive domains of global power: militarily ... economically ... technologically ... and culturally."

While this may have been accurate in 1997, it can be argued that today, other than militarily, the US no longer reigns supreme in these domains.

So late last year when Ukraine's now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych surprisingly canceled plans for Ukrainian integration into the European Union in favor of stronger ties with Russia, the US may have viewed Ukraine as slipping even further out of its reach.

At that point, with the pieces already in place, the US moved to support the ousting of Yanukovych, as evidenced by the leaked phone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. When peaceful protests were not effective in unseating Yanukovych, the violence of the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party and Right Sector was embraced, if not supported by the west.

In today's Ukraine, the US runs the risk of being affiliated with anti-Semitic neo-Nazis, a prospect it probably feels can be controlled via a friendly western media. But even if the risk is high, the US likely views it as necessary given the geopolitical importance of Ukraine, as Brzezinski mapped out in 1997.

Chris Ernesto is co-founder of St. Pete for Peace, an antiwar organization in St. Petersburg, FL that has been active since 2003. Mr. Ernesto also created and manages and

Comment (Peter M.): Nevertheless, Brzezinski opposed the Iraq War, as did George Soros. The Iraq War was done at the behest of Zionist Neocons, and they are the main force behind the war on Russia. Many are 'progressive' Jews, but John Bolton is also in their camp, as is Liz Cheney.

(3) Jeffrey D. Sachs blames the Neocons, who have run Foreign Policy for 30 years, for the Ukraine Disaster - by Peter Myers, July 7, 2022

In a dramatic headline "Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster", Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs impales the Neocons who have run US Foreign Policy for the past 30 years (item 4).

The article was first published on Sachs' website on June 27: Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster Jeffrey D. Sachs | June 27, 2022

Sachs writes as a Democrat and a Green. He imagines that after the Ukraine debacle, a future Republican president might go to war to recover the USA's lost prestige. Yet Trump had called for NATO to be disbanded.

But, above all, Sachs writes as a Realist. He is in the same camp as Kissinger (item 5), Brzezinski (item 6), and Mearsheimer (items 12 & 13).

Sachs lists the leaders of the Neocons as Leo Strauss, Donald Kagan, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Cohen, Elliott Abrams and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick).

Every one of them is Jewish. As is Sachs himself. Yet he could not mention this fact. This is the most extraordinary aspect of Jewish power - it cannot be mentioned.

Of course, Kissinger, another Realist, is Jewish too. It's not as if they are ALL "bad guys". So why not highlight their commonality - might not outing it induce more responsibility?

On July 6, I did a Google search to see if any MSM outlet has covered Sachs' comments.

Google search "Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster" "Jeffrey D. Sachs"

Search Date July 6 2022, 5.18am AEST

About 2,640 results

Not one MSM site covered it. Alternative / dissident sites did, but no MSM site, despite Sachs' eminence.

I also did a search on "Jeffrey D. Sachs" without the Ukraine term, to see if any MSM outlet had covered the story under a different headline. None had.

Max Shpak explained how many Jewish Communists became Neoconservatives:

"Jews alike carried deep-seated hatreds for the traditional regimes and religions of the European continent, particularly Czarist Russia ... world Jewry ... embraced the Revolution and Marxist ideology alike. ... When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, it became clear the Russian masses would not fight for the sake of Bolshevism, an ideology that brought them so much misery, but rather for the sake of Russian blood and soil. From then on, the Soviet leadership had to court the very Russian nationalist elements that the early Bolsheviks had worked so hard to stamp out. This lead to an increasing tolerance towards the Russian Orthodox Church and a decreased Jewish presence in the Soviet politburo and KGB. Thus, the USSR was "betraying" the very elements that made it attractive to the Jewish establishment to begin with."

The Fraud of Neoconservative "Anti-Communism": shpak-fraud-neocons.html.

Samuel Huntington's book Clash of Civilizations dealt with cleft countries - countries torn between two or more civilizations.

Yugoslavia was cleft between three - Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic. In the 1990s, the US and Western Europe split it into the three zones, mounting a Color Revolution using the strategy developed by Gene Sharp, with help from Soros Foundations and US NGOs, especially NED, the National Endowment for Democracy; it created Otpor, the movement that carried through the revolution.

Huntington said that Ukraine was cleft between the Catholic West and the Orthodox East (item 10). He thought that it might survive that way, but in 2014 US and German leaders stoked the Maidan rebellion which wanted to win the whole of Ukraine for the West.

The eastern provinces would not have it, and US leaders then tried to stop them from joining the Russian zone.

During World War II, Croatia and West Ukraine supported the Nazis, whereas Serbia and East Ukraine were pro-Soviet.

The US planned to use the 2014 Maidan coup to oust the Russian Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol in Crimea; this would have destroyed Russia as a Black Sea power with access to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. That's why, just after the coup, Putin invaded Crimea. It had long belonged to Russia, before Khrushchev handed it back to Ukraine; and its population was Russian.

It's clear now that the Cold War did not end in 1991. The Soviet block stopped fighting, believing in a higher union of East and West, Gorbachev being an advocate of One World. But the US block kept on fighting, picking off one Soviet ally after another (Milosevic, Saddam, Gaddafi, Libya, Syria).

The BBC published an article on Ukraine's sharp divisions, in BBC news of 23 April 2014 (item 11).

It showed a map depicting the divisions, based on the 2010 Ukraine election results and Russian as native language, at

A historical map of Ukraine is at

In 2013, Victoria Nuland, wife of Robert Kagan, admitted that the US had spent $5 billion building 'Democracy' in Ukraine.

Nuland $5 billion:

{Youtube video transcribed by Peter Myers}

Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; wife of (Neocon) Robert Kagan

U.S. - Ukraine Foundation presents

Ukraine in Washington 2013

Address by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland

December 13, 2013

The Euro-Maidan movement has come to embody the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies. What began on November 24th as a protest against President Yanukovych's decision to pause on the route to Europe has become much deeper and bigger.

5: 03 The reforms that the IMF insists on are necessary for the long-term economic health of the country. A new deal with the IMF would also increase Foreign Direct Investment that is so urgently needed in Ukraine.

7: 26 Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic partipation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations.

We've invested over 5 billion dollars to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will assure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine. [...]


(4) Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster - Jeffrey D. Sachs

Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster

July 1, 2022

If Europe has any insight, it will separate itself from these U.S. foreign policy debacles, writes Jeffrey D. Sachs.

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

Common Dreams

The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the U.S. wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The neocon track record is one of unmitigated disaster, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the U.S. and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle. If Europe has any insight, it will separate itself from these U.S. foreign policy debacles.

The neocon movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, several of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan. Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Cohen, Elliott Abrams and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick).

{Comment - Peter Myers: every one of them is Jewish, and Sachs is too. But the article omits the Jewish connection. It just can't be mentioned.}

The main message of the neocons is that the U.S. must predominate in military power in every region of the world and must confront rising regional powers that could someday challenge U.S. global or regional dominance, most important Russia and China. For this purpose, U.S. military force should be pre-positioned in hundreds of military bases around the world and the U.S. should be prepared to lead wars of choice as necessary. The United Nations is to be used by the U.S. only when useful for U.S. purposes.

Wolfowitz Spelled It Out

This approach was spelled out first by Paul Wolfowitz in his draft Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) written for the Department of Defense in 2002. The draft called for extending the U.S.-led security network to Central and Eastern Europe despite the explicit promise by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in 1990 that German unification would not be followed by NATO's eastward enlargement.

[Related: The New York Times' Shift on Victory in Ukraine]

Wolfowitz also made the case for American wars of choice, defending America's right to act independently, even alone, in response to crises of concern to the U.S. According to General Wesley Clark, Wolfowitz already made clear to Clark in May 1991 that the U.S. would lead regime-change operations in Iraq, Syria and other former Soviet allies.

Oct. 2, 1991: Paul Wolfowitz, on right, as under secretary of defense for policy, during press conference on Operation Desert Storm. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in center, Gen. Colin Powell on left. (Lietmotiv via Flickr)

The neocons championed NATO enlargement to Ukraine even before that became official U.S. policy under President George W. Bush, Jr. in 2008. They viewed Ukraine's NATO membership as key to U.S. regional and global dominance. Robert Kagan spelled out the neocon case for NATO enlargement in April 2006:

"[T]he Russians and Chinese see nothing natural in [the 'color revolutions' of the former Soviet Union], only Western-backed coups designed to advance Western influence in strategically vital parts of the world. Are they so wrong? Might not the successful liberalization of Ukraine, urged and supported by the Western democracies, be but the prelude to the incorporation of that nation into NATO and the European Union - in short, the expansion of Western liberal hegemony?"

Kagan acknowledged the dire implication of NATO enlargement. He quotes one expert as saying, "the Kremlin is getting ready for the 'battle for Ukraine' in all seriousness."

The neocons sought this battle. After the fall of the Soviet Union, both the U.S. and Russia should have sought a neutral Ukraine, as a prudent buffer and safety valve. Instead, the neocons wanted U.S. "hegemony" while the Russians took up the battle partly in defense and partly out of their own imperial pretensions as well. Shades of the Crimean War (1853-6), when Britain and France sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea following Russian pressures on the Ottoman empire.

Kagan penned the article as a private citizen while his wife Victoria Nuland was the U.S. ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush, Jr.

Nuland has been the neocon operative par excellence. In addition to serving as Bush's ambassador to NATO, Nuland was President Barack Obama's assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs during 2013-17, when she participated in the overthrow of Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and now serves as Biden's undersecretary of state guiding U.S. policy vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine.

The neocon outlook is based on an overriding false premise: that the U.S. military, financial, technological, and economic superiority enables it to dictate terms in all regions of the world. It is a position of both remarkable hubris and remarkable disdain of evidence.

May 16, 2015: Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at the police patrol training site in Kiev, Ukraine. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv)

Since the 1950s, the U.S. has been stymied or defeated in nearly every regional conflict in which it has participated. Yet in the "battle for Ukraine," the neocons were ready to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over Russia's vehement objections because they fervently believe that Russia will be defeated by U.S. financial sanctions and NATO weaponry.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a neocon think-tank led by Kimberley Allen Kagan (and backed by a who's who of defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Raytheon), continues to promise a Ukrainian victory.

Regarding Russia's advances, the ISW offered a typical comment:

"[R]egardless of which side holds the city [of Sievierodonetsk], the Russian offensive at the operational and strategic levels will probably have culminated, giving Ukraine the chance to restart its operational-level counteroffensives to push Russian forces back."

The facts on the ground, however, suggest otherwise. The West's economic sanctions have had little adverse impact on Russia, while their "boomerang" effect on the rest of the world has been large.

Moreover, the U.S. capacity to resupply Ukraine with ammunition and weaponry is seriously hamstrung by America's limited production capacity and broken supply chains. Russia's industrial capacity of course dwarfs that of Ukraine's. Russia's GDP was roughly 10X that of Ukraine before the war and Ukraine has now lost much of its industrial capacity in the war.

The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer a large swath of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine landlocked or nearly so. Frustration will rise in Europe and the U.S. with the military losses and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions.

The knock-on effects could be devastating, if a right-wing demagogue in the U.S. rises to power (or in the case of Trump, returns to power) promising to restore America's faded military glory through dangerous escalation.

Instead of risking this disaster, the real solution is to end the neocon fantasies of the past 30 years and for Ukraine and Russia to return to the negotiating table, with NATO committing to end its commitment to the eastward enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia in return for a viable peace that respects and protects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development. He has been adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general and currently serves as an SDG advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Sachs is the author, most recently, of A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020). Other books include: Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable (2017) and The Age of Sustainable Development, (2015) with Ban Ki-moon.

This article is from Common Dreams.

(5) Kissinger warning at Davos: Ukraine war will set us back decades

MAY 29, 2022


Ukraine is a millstone around Europe's neck

The fallout of the war in Ukraine over Europe is largely seen in terms of the uncertainties over the continent's heavy dependence on Russian energy and the impact of it on the economies of the 27 EU member countries. Imposing restrictions on Russian oil has proven a much more complicated task than imagined previously.

Countries that are highly dependent on Russian fossil fuels are concerned about the implications of such measures for their own economies. Hungary, for example, is apparently asking for financial support of between $16 billion and $19 billion to move away from Russian energy. It also refuses to discuss the matter at the upcoming Extraordinary European summit on Monday/Tuesday in Brussels. Prime Minister Viktor Orban asked in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the <> oil embargo be removed from the topics of discussion at the summit.

Equally, there is much of debris falling on Europe on other fronts. The UN says that as of May 24, 6.6 million refugees have left Ukraine for neighbouring countries. They are entitled to social welfare payments and access to housing, medical treatment and schools. But this coincides with a cost of living crisis in Europe. A confluence of economic shocks continues to threaten the outlook for the EU bloc. The CEOs of several European blue chip companies told CNBC recently that they see <> a significant recession coming down the pike in Europe.

But what is by far most crucial for Europe is the endgame in Ukraine, which Russia cannot afford to lose. Such wars usually end with a dirty diplomatic settlement. Clearly, the initial blue-and-yellow flag-waving phase of the war is steadily giving way to a sombre mood as the slow, grinding phase of the Russian advance in the Donbass and the stunning success in Mariupol bring in grim realities.

Henry Kissinger has come out in the open at the World Economic Forum at Davos to argue that Europe needs to have its own independent, and clear-headed definition of its strategic goals. In a <> conversation with WEF founder Klaus Schwab on Monday, Kissinger made three important points. He said, "Parties should be brought to peace talks within the next two months. Ukraine should've been a bridge between Europe and Russia, but now, as the relationships are reshaped, we may enter a space where the dividing line is redrawn and Russia is entirely isolated."

Kissinger estimated that European interests would be best served by a normalisation of relations and increased cooperation right across the European continent, including Russia and Ukraine. This is the first point. Second, Kissinger's prognosis is that the conflict in Ukraine can permanently restructure the global order. In his words,

"We are facing a situation now where Russia could alienate itself completely from Europe and seek a permanent alliance elsewhere. This may lead to Cold War-like diplomatic distances, which will set us back decades. We should strive for long-term peace."

A highly nuanced hint here is that both Europe and Russia's interests vis-a-vis China's rise are congruent and if the Atlanticist politicians in Brussels and their assorted Russophobic allies in Eastern Europe and their mentors in Washington, DC keep pushing the dated Cold War ideology over the long-term political and economic interests of European citizens, the most likely scenario will be even greater Russian rapprochement with China. ...

(6) Brzezinski vs Neocons (2005) - he hoped "neocons who engineered the war against Iraq will be overruled by the realists"

Against the Neocons


FEBRUARY 21, 2005

Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national-security adviser and the author, most recently, of The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, spoke with Michael Tomasky on January 31 about the Iraqi elections and plausible alternatives to neoconservatism.

MICHAEL TOMASKY: Will the Iraqi elections validate the neoconservative view?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I don't think it's going to be validated in the sense that it will demonstrate the proposition that democracy can be spread through force. I think what we will get from it is an arrangement that will be quite short of anything like, for example, what we have seen recently in the Ukraine, but will still be tolerable -- namely, a more complicated semi-confederal structure in Iraq with Shiite predominance (in effect rather theocratic), and some limited, partial accommodation between the dominant Shiites and the resentful Sunnis. That is not a democracy in my understanding of the word, but it is an improvement over what we have been seeing.

Consolidation in turn is more likely to happen if we disengage sooner rather than later. Therefore, a great deal depends on whether the neocons who engineered the war against Iraq will be overruled by the realists in the Bush administration. ...

MT: What does all this leave internationalists and realists to say about the world?

ZB: It leaves the realists still with the reality of other practical problems for which neoconservative solutions have been discredited. One would have to be close to insane to say that our experience in Iraq has been an unqualiÞed success. If the Iraqis are smart enough to ask us to leave, and if we are smart enough actually to leave, the fact remains that the Iraq operation has gravely undermined American global credibility. It has even more seriously compromised us morally. It has shown the limits of our warfare capability for dealing with political conþict. It has cost tens of billions of dollars more than originally estimated. And it would take a very naive president to again succumb to the same people who Þrst demagogued about the need to go to war, who vastly exaggerated the welcome we would receive, who mismanaged the political dimensions of the war. ...

(5) Russia's Bombing of a Mall - where are the people? the cars? It was next to a weapons plant

Is Russia's Bombing of the Mall in Kremanchuk Another False Atrocity Story Being Used to Justify Ongoing Military Intervention in Ukraine?

By Jeremy Kuzmarov and Steve Brown - July 1, 2022 6

A thousand people? Where are all the casualties? [Source:] Where are all the cars? [Source:] Empty mall parking lot and existence of a munitions plant nearby raise questions about official narrative advanced in mainstream U.S. media

On Tuesday June 28, mainstream media outlets reported that at least 18 people were killed and dozens injured in a Russian missile strike on a "crowded shopping mall" in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday.

Thirty-six other people were said to be missing and a survivor was on record saying that she had been shopping with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.

The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, NPR and other news outlets reporting on the story used Ukrainian government officials as their primary source, notably Mayor Vitaliy Maletskiy - who wrote on Facebook that the attack "hit a very crowded area, which is 100% certain not to have any links to the armed forces."

But they made no independent investigation as to the truth of the self-serving statement. Also without verification they quoted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - who said in a Telegram post that the number of victims was "unimaginable," and cited reports that more than 1,000 civilians were inside at the time of the attack.

However, other reports contradict Zelensky and suggest that the Russian missile attack in Kremenchuk is just one more false story about alleged Russian atrocities known to have been fabricated by Ukraine's very active propaganda mill.

For example, there are reports that the mall - which Zelensky claims was filled with 1,000 civilian shoppers - had actually been closed for months. Zelensky himself claimed that the mall had been evacuated after air sirens went off earlier in the day - contradicting his own claims about 1,000 civilians being inside.

This seems credible because there were virtually no cars in the mall parking lot during the attack, let alone enough cars for 1,000 shoppers. And according to satellite imagery, adjacent to the mall was a machine plant that manufactured weapons.

This plant, Russia said, was the target of a legitimate military strike, which resulted in a fire in the adjacent mall that had been closed to business since the war began in February.

First Casualty of War is Truth

The crucial Russian counterclaim was not reported by most news media outlets, including alternative media. The Ukrainian commissioner for human rights, Lyudmila Denisova, was recently fired by parliament in part because she was fabricating and feeding false reports of Russian atrocities to Western news media. ...

An RT News report featured Ukrainian government videos from the scene of the missile attack - videos which correlated with photographs featured on NPR's website and those of other media outlets - that showed dozens of men, many in military uniforms, running in the mostly empty parking lot outside the burning building as black smoke rose into the sky.

The empty parking lot - with just the odd car. Not the sign of a crowded mall. [Source:] The people running curiously did not seem to be running out of the building but next to it.

The article raised the legitimate question about why there were so few cars in the parking lot if 1,000 people were really inside the mall as Zelensky claimed.

It also referenced the factory next to the mall and a railway junction that was often a target of Russian missile strikes.

"Just Scrutinize the Facts"

Moon of Alabama's June 28th political blog provided a link to satellite imagery confirming that the shopping mall in Kremanchuk was next to a large machine plant, which Moon said manufactured armaments that were being delivered to Ukrainian troops in Donbass.

After noting the Russian Defense Ministry's claims, Moon wrote: "Ahhh - 'don't trust the Russians!' you say. Well, don't trust anyone I say, just scrutinize the facts."

Moon goes on to report about the empty parking lot and fact that only 16 people died and 25 were injured - meaning that over 900 survived unscathed. The video showed at most several dozen people in the parking lot, raising questions as to where all the survivors went. ...

(7) WaPo disputes the narrative, ponders whether Ukraine will be like Afghanistan

As Ukraine war bogs down, U.S. assessments face scrutiny

The growing conjecture is fueled by U.S. assessments of other wars, notably Afghanistan, where officials habitually sidestepped questions of whether success was sustainable

By Dan Lamothe and Karoun Demirjian

July 2, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. EDT

The shifting nature of the war in Ukraine has prompted a split among analysts and U.S. lawmakers, with some questioning whether American officials have portrayed the crisis in overly rosy terms while others say the government in Kyiv can win with more help from the West.

The growing conjecture comes more than four months after Russia's invasion and its failure to seize the capital. Russian President Vladimir Putin has since narrowed its objectives, focusing on capturing eastern Ukraine's industrial Donbas region while launching thousands of artillery rounds per day at outgunned Ukrainian forces.

President Biden, speaking Thursday at a summit of NATO leaders, said the United States is "rallying the world to stand with Ukraine" and pledged to support the cause "as long as it takes."

"I don't know ... how it's going to end," the president said, "but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine."

Biden and NATO send Russia a defiant message

U.S. officials acknowledge that as Russian forces have massed firepower, they have gradually seized territory in the east. That includes capturing the strategically important city of Severodonetsk in June and pressing to do the same in its nearby sister city, Lysychansk. Russia claimed control of the latter city on Sunday, while Ukrainian officials acknowledged their military had withdrawn.

U.S. officials have downplayed the gains, calling them halting and incremental, while highlighting the significant number of Russian military fatalities that have come as a result. ...

The scrutiny is fueled by U.S. government assessments of other wars, notably in Afghanistan, where U.S. officials habitually glossed over widespread dysfunction and corruption and sidestepped questions of whether battlefield successes were not only achievable but sustainable. Successive administrations insisted Afghan forces were "in the lead" even as their performance was often deeply flawed - and their survival depended on U.S. logistical support and air power.

The Biden administration has committed more than $6.9 billion in weapons and other security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, while encouraging other Western allies to provide similar help. The weapons have become increasingly sophisticated, with recent packages including the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, surface-to-air missile defense systems and launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles. ...

Others more wary of U.S. involvement in Ukraine see Washington's assessments as incomplete for different reasons.

Benjamin Friedman, a policy director at Defense Priorities, said that Ukraine's stated objective to push Russian forces out seems "increasingly unrealistic" and that the Biden administration must do more to press Ukraine to negotiate with Russia and strive for a political settlement.

"Nobody wants them to cede territory, or hardly anyone wants them to cede territory," Friedman said. "But you have to assess the situation honestly and say that you're trading peace for territory. I think we should be doing more to pressure them, and I think we're sort of doing a disservice not just to regular Ukrainians, but to a lesser extent Americans and everyone else who is suffering economic problems because of the war."

Friedman said the U.S. government is "spinning for Ukraine for the obvious reason that we are rooting for them" and because a more blunt assessment of Ukrainian losses or liabilities might assist Russia.

"It's natural," he said, "not to criticize the people you're fighting with, and certainly not in public."

Feelings are similarly split on Capitol Hill. ...

(8) NYT admits Ukraine is losing, canvasses negotiated peace based on "realistic assessment"

The New York Times' Shift on Victory in Ukraine

May 27, 2022

As the war becomes less popular and it takes its toll, an electoral disaster looms ahead in 2022 and 2024 for Biden and the Democratic Party, for which the Times serves as a mouthpiece, writes John Walsh.

By John Walsh

On May 11 The New York Times <> ran an article documenting that all was not going well for the U.S. in Ukraine, and a companion opinion piece hinting that a shift in direction might be in order.

Then on May 19, the editorial board, the full Magisterium of the Times, moved from hints to a clarion call for a <> change in direction, declaring that "total victory" over Russia is not possible and that Ukraine will have to negotiate a peace in a way that reflects a "realistic assessment" and the "limits" of U.S. commitment.

The Times serves as one the main shapers of public opinion for the elite and so its pronouncements are not to be taken lightly.

US Limits

The editorial contains the following key passages:

"<> In March, this board argued that the message from the United States and its allies to Ukrainians and Russians alike must be: No matter how long it takes, Ukraine will be free. ..."

"That goal cannot shift, but in the end, it is still not in America's best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions."

And, to ensure that there is no ambiguity, it went on:

"A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal. ... Russia remains too strong..."

The, to make certain that President Joe Biden and the Ukrainians understand what they should do, it adds:

"... Mr. Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government's decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain."

As Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky read those words, he must surely have begun to sweat. The voice of his masters was telling him that he and Ukraine will have to make some sacrifices for the U.S. to save face. As he contemplates his options, his thoughts must surely run back to February 2014, and the U.S.-backed Maidan coup that culminated in the hasty exit of President Viktor Yanukovych from his office, his country and almost from this earth.

Alexander Mercouris of The Duran explains the shift in Western media reporting:

In the eyes of the Times editorial writers, the war has become a U.S. proxy war against Russia using Ukrainians as cannon fodder ­ and it is careening out of control:

"The current moment is a messy one in this conflict, which may explain President Biden and his cabinet's reluctance to put down clear goal posts.

"The United States and NATO are already deeply involved, militarily and economically. Unrealistic expectations could draw them ever deeper into a costly, drawn-out war ... Biden's <> assertion that Mr. Putin 'cannot remain in power,' Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's <> comment that Russia must be 'weakened' and the <> pledge by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that the United States would support Ukraine 'until victory is won' - may be rousing proclamations of support, but they do not bring negotiations any closer."

While the Times dismisses these "rousing proclamations," it is all too clear that for the neocons in charge of U.S. foreign policy, the goal has always been a proxy war to bring down Russia. This has not become a proxy war; it has always been a proxy war. The neocons operate by the Wolfowitz Doctrine, enunciated in 1992, soon after the end of Cold War 1.0, by the necoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, then under secretary of defense:

"We endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

"We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global power."

Clearly if Russia is "too strong" to be defeated in Ukraine, it is too strong to be brought down as a superpower.

(9) Samuel Huntington on Ukraine as Cleft between Catholic West & Orthodox East

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

Samuel P. Huntington

Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996

{p. 138} Ukraine is divided between the Uniate nationalist Ukrainian-speaking west and the Orthodox Russian-speaking east.

In a cleft country major groups from two or more civilizations say, in effect, 'We are different peoples and belong in different places.' The forces of repulsion drive them apart and they gravitate toward civilizational magnets in other societies.

{p. 158} The most compelling and pervasive answer to these questions is provided by the great historical line that has existed for centuries separating Western Christian peoples from Muslim and Orthodox peoples. This line dates back to the division of the Roman Empire in the fourth century and to the creation of the Holy Roman Empire in the tenth century. It has been in roughly its current place for at least five hundreds years. Beginning in the north, it runs along what are now the borders between Finland and Russia and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Russia, through western Belarus, through Ukraine separating the Uniate west from the Orthodox east, through Romania between Transylvania with its Catholic Hungarian population and the rest of the country, and through the former Yugoslavia along the border separating Slovenia and Croatia from the other republics. It is the cultural border of Europe, and in the post-Cold War world it is also the political and economic border of Europe and the West.

The civilizational paradigm thus provides a clear-cut and compelling answer to the question confronting West Europeans: Where does Europe end? Europe ends where Western Christianity ends and Islam and Orthodoxy begin.

{p. 163} The successor to the tsarist and communist empires is a civilizational bloc, paralleling in many respects that of the West in Europe. At the core, Russia, the equivalent of France and Germany, is closely linked to an inner circle including the two predominantly Slavic Orthodox republics of Belarus and Moldova, Kazakhstan, 40 percent of whose population is Russian, and Armenia, historically a close ally of Russia, In the mid-1990s all these countries had pro-Russian governments which had generally come to power through elections. Close but more tenuous relations exist between Russia and Georgia

{p. 164} (overwhelming Orthodox) and Ukraine (in large part Orthodox; but both of which also have strong sense of national identity and past independence. ...

Overall Russia is creating a bloc with a Orthodox heartland under its leadership and a surrounding buffer of relatively weak Islamic states which it will in varying degrees dominate and from which it will attempt to exclude the influence of other powers. Russia also expects the world to accept and to approve this system. [...]

{p. 165} Apart from Russia the most populous and most important former Soviet republic is Ukraine. At various times in history Ukraine has been independent. Yet during most of the modern era it has been part of a political entity governed from Moscow. The decisive event occurred in 1654 when Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Cossack leader of an uprising against Polish rule, agreed to swear allegiance to the tsar in return for help against the Poles. From then until 1991, except for a briefly independent republic between 1917 and 1920, what is now Ukraine was controlled politically from Moscow. Ukraine, however, is a cleft country with two distinct cultures. The civilizational fault line between the West and Orthodoxy runs through its heart and has done so for centuries. At times in the past, western Ukraine was part of Poland, Lithuania, and the Austro-Hungarian empire. A large portion of its population have been adherents of the Uniate Church which practices Orthodox rites but acknowledges

{p. 166} the authority of the Pope. Historically, western Ukrainians have spoken Ukrainian and have been strongly nationalist in their outlook. The people of eastern Ukraine, on the other hand, have been overwhelmingly Orthodox and have in large part spoken Russian. In the early 1990s Russians made up 22 percent and native Russian speakers 31 percent of the total Ukrainian population. A majority of the elementary and secondary school students were taught in Russian. The Crimea is overwhelmingly Russian and was part of the Russian Federation until 1954, when Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine ostensibly in recognition of Khmelnytsky's decision 300 years earlier.

The differences between eastern and western Ukraine are manifest in the attitudes of their peoples. In late 1992, for instance, one-third of the Russians in western Ukraine as compared with only 10 percent in Kiev said they suffered from anti-Russian animosity. The east-west split was dramatically evident in the July 1994 presidential elections. The incumbent, Leonid Kravchuk, who despite working closely with Russia's leaders identified himself as a nationalist, carried the thirteen provinces of the western Ukraine with majorities ranging up to over 90 percent. His opponent, Leonid Kuchma, who took Ukrainian speech lessons during the campaign, carried the thirteen eastern provinces by comparable majorities. Kuchma won with 52 percent of the vote. In effect, a slim majority of the Ukrainian public in 1994 confirmed Khmelnytsky's choice in 1654. The election, as one American expert observed, 'reflected, even crystallized, the split between Europeanized Slavs in western Ukraine and the Russo-Slav vision of what Ukraine should be. It's not ethnic polarization so much as different cultures.

{p. 167} As a result of this division, the relations between Ukraine and Russia could develop in one of three ways. In the early 1990s, critically important issues existed between the two countries concerning nuclear weapons, Crimea, the rights of Russians in Ukraine, the Black Sea fleet, and economic relations. Many people thought armed conflict was likely, which led some Western analysts to argue that the West should support Ukraine's having a nuclear arsenal to deter Russian aggression.

If civilization is what counts, however, violence between Ukrainians and Russians is unlikely. These are two Slavic, primarily Orthodox peoples who had close relationships for centuries and between whom intermarriage is common. Despite highly contentious issues and the pressure of extreme nationalists on both sides, the leaders of both countries worked hard and largely succesfully to moderate these disputes. The election of an explicitly Russian-oriented president in Ukraine in mid-1994 further reduced the probability of exacerbated conflict between the two countries.

A second and somewhat more likely possibility is that Ukraine could split along its fault line into two separate entities, the eastern of which would merge with Russia. The issue of secession first came up with respect to Crimea. The Crimean public, which is 70 percent Russian, substantially supported Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum in December 1991. In May 1992 the Crimean parliament also voted to declare independence from Ukraine and then, under Ukrainian pressure, rescinded that vote. The Russian parliament, however, voted to cancel the 1954 cession of Crimea to Ukraine. In January 1994 Crimeans elected a president who had campaigned on a platform of 'unity with Russia.' This stimulated some people to raise the question: 'Will Crimea Be the Next Nagorno-Karabakh or Abkhazia?' The answer was a resounding 'No!' as the new Crimean president backed away from his commitment to hold a referendum on independence and instead negotiated with the Kiev government. In may 1994 the situation heated up again when the Crimean parliament voted to restore the 1992 constitution which made it virtually independent of Ukraine. Once again, however, the restraint of Russian and Ukrainian leaders prevented this issue from generating violence, and the election two months later of the pro-Russian Kuchma as Ukrainian president undermined the Crimean thrust for secession.

The Election did, however, raise the possibility of the western part of the country seceding from a Ukraine that was drawing closer and closer to Russia. Some Russians might welcome this. As one Russian general put it, 'Ukraine or rather Eastern Ukraine will come back in five, ten or fifteen years. Western Ukraine can go to hell!' Such a rump Uniate and Western-oriented Ukraine, however, would only be viable if it had strong and effective Western support. Such support is, in turn, likely to be forthcoming only if relations betweeen

{p. 168} the West and Russia deteriated seriously and came to resemble those of the Cold War.

The third and more likely scenario is that Ukraine will remain united, remain cleft, remain independent, and generally cooperate closely with Russia. Once the transition questions concerning nuclear weapons and military forces are resolved, the most serious longer term issues will be economic, the resolution of which will be facilitated by a partially shared culture and close personal ties. The Russian-Ukrainian relationship is to eastern Europe, John Morrison has pointed out, what the Franco-German relationship is to western Europe. Just as the latter provides the core of the European Union, the former is the core essential to unity in the Orthodox world.

{p. 242} [...] a consequence of the end of the Cold War and the need for a redefinition of the balance between Russia and the West and agreement by both sides on their basic equality and their respective spheres of influence. In practice this would mean:

1. Russian acceptance of the expansion of the European Union and NATO to include the Western Christian states of Central and Eastern Europe, and Western commitment not to expand NATO further, unless Ukraine splits into two countries;

2. a partnership treaty between Russia and NATO pledging nonaggression ...

3. Western recognition of Russia as primarily responsible for the maintenance of security among Orthodox countries and in areas where Orthodoxy predominantes ...

4. Western acknowledgment of the security problems, actual and potential, which Russia faces from Muslim peoples to its south and willingness to revise the CFE treaty and to be favorably disposed toward other steps Russia might need to take to deal with such threats.

5. agreement between Russia and the West to cooperate as equals in dealing with issues, such as Bosnia, involving both Western and Orthodox interests.

If an arrangement emerges along these or similar lines, neither Russia nor the West is likely to pose any longer-term security challenge to the other.

(10) Ukraine's sharp divisions - BBC news, 23 April 2014

Ukraine's sharp divisions

Published 23 April 2014

Deadly pro-Russian unrest in eastern Ukraine has created a crisis for the new authorities in Kiev, months after President Viktor Yanukovych was driven out of office.

After imposing economic sanctions on Russia over its annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March, the US and EU are at loggerheads again with Moscow despite diplomatic efforts in Geneva.

The crisis has exposed deep divisions in Ukrainian society - between the European-facing west and the Russian-facing east.

Explore the maps and graphics below to find out more.

Why is the eastern Ukraine crisis dangerous?

Pro-Russian sentiment is strong in regions like Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine's industrial heartland and vital to the country's economy, but the population is much more divided in its loyalties to Moscow or Kiev than people were in Crimea.

In contrast to Crimea, the revolt in the east has been bloody, with at least six protesters shot dead, and the abduction and killing of at least one pro-Ukrainian politician.

Again unlike in Crimea, the Ukrainian government has responded with military force but its early efforts to restore order in protest strongholds got bogged down.

Russia has made clear it reserves the right to intervene militarily if its interests are threatened in the region, and has stationed thousands of troops just over the border.

Why is Crimea so important? The region, a peninsula on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, is of political and strategic significance to both Russia and Ukraine.

The majority of Crimea's 2.3 million population identify themselves as ethnic Russians and speak Russian - a legacy of Russia's 200-year involvement in the region.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet has its historic base in the Crimean coastal city of Sevastopol - a continuing source of tension. After Ukraine gained independence, a leasing agreement was drawn up to allow the fleet to continue operating from there.

In 2010, this lease was extended to 2042 in exchange for Russia supplying discounted natural gas.

Frictions between Ukraine and Russia escalated dramatically in November last year after the then pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an EU deal in favour of stronger ties with Russia. He fled Ukraine in February after violent protests in the country's capital Kiev.

Later, Kremlin-backed forces effectively seized control of Crimea and, in a subsequent referendum, the region declared 97% of voters backed joining Russia and leaving Ukraine.

What ethnic groups live in Ukraine and Crimea? The divisions within Ukraine go back much further than recent events. The country has been torn between east and west since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and this is reflected in a cultural and linguistic divide.

Russian is widely spoken in parts of the east and south. In some areas, including the Crimean peninsula, it is the main language.

In western regions - closer to Europe - Ukrainian is the main language and many of the people identify with Central Europe.

This division is to some extent reflected in voting patterns. The areas where a significant proportion of people speak Russian almost exactly match those that voted for Mr Yanukovych, as opposed to his rival and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2010.

Crimea is particularly Russian-facing in terms of its language and ethnicity.

According to the 2001 Ukraine census, while most Ukrainians identified themselves as Ukrainian, most residents of Crimea identified themselves as ethnic Russians.

The census also showed that while most of Ukraine's population said they regarded Ukrainian as their native language, most of those in Crimea said their native language was Russian.

However, there are still large populations of ethnic Ukrainians and Tartars.

Many ethnic Ukrainians have natural loyalties to Kiev, while many of Crimea's indigenous Tatar community - deported in large numbers by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944 after some collaborated with the Nazis - boycotted the referendum. Some have also expressed fear at being once again under Moscow's rule. ==

BBC maps showing the west-east split are at

(11) Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault - John J. Mearsheimer (2014)

September/October 2014 Issue

Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault

By John J. Mearsheimer

According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin's decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU's expansion eastward and the West's backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine -- beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 -- were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected and pro-Russian president -- which he rightly labeled a "coup" -- was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin's pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia's backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy.

But this grand scheme went awry in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolitik remains relevant -- and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia's border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy.


As the Cold War came to a close, Soviet leaders preferred that U.S. forces remain in Europe and NATO stay intact, an arrangement they thought would keep a reunified Germany pacified. But they and their Russian successors did not want NATO to grow any larger and assumed that Western diplomats understood their concerns. The Clinton administration evidently thought otherwise, and in the mid-1990s, it began pushing for NATO to expand.

The first round of enlargement took place in 1999 and brought in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The second occurred in 2004; it included Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Moscow complained bitterly from the start. During NATO's 1995 bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs, for example, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said, "This is the first sign of what could happen when NATO comes right up to the Russian Federation's borders. ... The flame of war could burst out across the whole of Europe." But the Russians were too weak at the time to derail NATO's eastward movement -- which, at any rate, did not look so threatening, since none of the new members shared a border with Russia, save for the tiny Baltic countries.

Then NATO began looking further east. At its April 2008 summit in Bucharest, the alliance considered admitting Georgia and Ukraine. The George W. Bush administration supported doing so, but France and Germany opposed the move for fear that it would unduly antagonize Russia. In the end, NATO's members reached a compromise: the alliance did not begin the formal process leading to membership, but it issued a statement endorsing the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine and boldly declaring, "These countries will become members of NATO." Moscow, however, did not see the outcome as much of a compromise. Alexander Grushko, then Russia's deputy foreign minister, said, "Georgia's and Ukraine's membership in the alliance is a huge strategic mistake which would have most serious consequences for pan-European security." Putin maintained that admitting those two countries to NATO would represent a "direct threat" to Russia. One Russian newspaper reported that Putin, while speaking with Bush, "very transparently hinted that if Ukraine was accepted into NATO, it would cease to exist."

Russia's invasion of Georgia in August 2008 should have dispelled any remaining doubts about Putin's determination to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from joining NATO. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was deeply committed to bringing his country into NATO, had decided in the summer of 2008 to reincorporate two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But Putin sought to keep Georgia weak and divided -- and out of NATO. After fighting broke out between the Georgian government and South Ossetian separatists, Russian forces took control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow had made its point. Yet despite this clear warning, NATO never publicly abandoned its goal of bringing Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance. And NATO expansion continued marching forward, with Albania and Croatia becoming members in 2009.

The EU, too, has been marching eastward. In May 2008, it unveiled its Eastern Partnership initiative, a program to foster prosperity in such countries as Ukraine and integrate them into the EU economy. Not surprisingly, Russian leaders view the plan as hostile to their country's interests. This past February, before Yanukovych was forced from office, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the EU of trying to create a "sphere of influence" in eastern Europe. In the eyes of Russian leaders, EU expansion is a stalking horse for NATO expansion. The West's final tool for peeling Kiev away from Moscow has been its efforts to spread Western values and promote democracy in Ukraine and other post-Soviet states, a plan that often entails funding pro-Western individuals and organizations. Victoria Nuland, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, estimated in December 2013 that the United States had invested more than $5 billion since 1991 to help Ukraine achieve "the future it deserves." As part of that effort, the U.S. government has bankrolled the National Endowment for Democracy. The nonprofit foundation has funded more than 60 projects aimed at promoting civil society in Ukraine, and the NED's president, Carl Gershman, has called that country "the biggest prize." After Yanukovych won Ukraine's presidential election in February 2010, the NED decided he was undermining its goals, and so it stepped up its efforts to support the opposition and strengthen the country's democratic institutions.

When Russian leaders look at Western social engineering in Ukraine, they worry that their country might be next. And such fears are hardly groundless. In September 2013, Gershman wrote in The Washington Post, "Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents." He added: "Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."


Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico.

The West's triple package of policies -- NATO enlargement, EU expansion, and democracy promotion -- added fuel to a fire waiting to ignite. The spark came in November 2013, when Yanukovych rejected a major economic deal he had been negotiating with the EU and decided to accept a $15 billion Russian counteroffer instead. That decision gave rise to antigovernment demonstrations that escalated over the following three months and that by mid-February had led to the deaths of some one hundred protesters. Western emissaries hurriedly flew to Kiev to resolve the crisis. On February 21, the government and the opposition struck a deal that allowed Yanukovych to stay in power until new elections were held. But it immediately fell apart, and Yanukovych fled to Russia the next day. The new government in Kiev was pro-Western and anti-Russian to the core, and it contained four high-ranking members who could legitimately be labeled neofascists.

Although the full extent of U.S. involvement has not yet come to light, it is clear that Washington backed the coup. Nuland and Republican Senator John McCain participated in antigovernment demonstrations, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, proclaimed after Yanukovych's toppling that it was "a day for the history books." As a leaked telephone recording revealed, Nuland had advocated regime change and wanted the Ukrainian politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk to become prime minister in the new government, which he did. No wonder Russians of all persuasions think the West played a role in Yanukovych's ouster. For Putin, the time to act against Ukraine and the West had arrived. Shortly after February 22, he ordered Russian forces to take Crimea from Ukraine, and soon after that, he incorporated it into Russia. The task proved relatively easy, thanks to the thousands of Russian troops already stationed at a naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Crimea also made for an easy target since ethnic Russians compose roughly 60 percent of its population. Most of them wanted out of Ukraine.

Next, Putin put massive pressure on the new government in Kiev to discourage it from siding with the West against Moscow, making it clear that he would wreck Ukraine as a functioning state before he would allow it to become a Western stronghold on Russia's doorstep. Toward that end, he has provided advisers, arms, and diplomatic support to the Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, who are pushing the country toward civil war. He has massed a large army on the Ukrainian border, threatening to invade if the government cracks down on the rebels. And he has sharply raised the price of the natural gas Russia sells to Ukraine and demanded payment for past exports. Putin is playing hardball.


Putin's actions should be easy to comprehend. A huge expanse of flat land that Napoleonic France, imperial Germany, and Nazi Germany all crossed to strike at Russia itself, Ukraine serves as a buffer state of enormous strategic importance to Russia. No Russian leader would tolerate a military alliance that was Moscow's mortal enemy until recently moving into Ukraine. Nor would any Russian leader stand idly by while the West helped install a government there that was determined to integrate Ukraine into the West.

Washington may not like Moscow's position, but it should understand the logic behind it. This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory. After all, the United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less on its borders. Imagine the outrage in Washington if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico in it. Logic aside, Russian leaders have told their Western counterparts on many occasions that they consider NATO expansion into Georgia and Ukraine unacceptable, along with any effort to turn those countries against Russia -- a message that the 2008 Russian-Georgian war also made crystal clear.

Officials from the United States and its European allies contend that they tried hard to assuage Russian fears and that Moscow should understand that NATO has no designs on Russia. In addition to continually denying that its expansion was aimed at containing Russia, the alliance has never permanently deployed military forces in its new member states. In 2002, it even created a body called the NATO-Russia Council

in an effort to foster cooperation. To further mollify Russia, the United States announced in 2009 that it would deploy its new missile defense system on warships in European waters, at least initially, rather than on Czech or Polish territory. But none of these measures worked; the Russians remained steadfastly opposed to NATO enlargement, especially into Georgia and Ukraine. And it is the Russians, not the West, who ultimately get to decide what counts as a threat to them.

To understand why the West, especially the United States, failed to understand that its Ukraine policy was laying the groundwork for a major clash with Russia, one must go back to the mid-1990s, when the Clinton administration began advocating NATO expansion. Pundits advanced a variety of arguments for and against enlargement, but there was no consensus on what to do. Most eastern European émigrés in the United States and their relatives, for example, strongly supported expansion, because they wanted NATO to protect such countries as Hungary and Poland. A few realists also favored the policy because they thought Russia still needed to be contained.

But most realists opposed expansion, in the belief that a declining great power with an aging population and a one-dimensional economy did not in fact need to be contained. And they feared that enlargement would only give Moscow an incentive to cause trouble in eastern Europe. The U.S. diplomat George Kennan articulated this perspective in a 1998 interview, shortly after the U.S. Senate approved the first round of NATO expansion. "I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies," he said. "I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anyone else."

The United States and its allies should abandon their plan to westernize Ukraine and instead aim to make it a neutral buffer.

Most liberals, on the other hand, favored enlargement, including many key members of the Clinton administration. They believed that the end of the Cold War had fundamentally transformed international politics and that a new, postnational order had replaced the realist logic that used to govern Europe. The United States was not only the "indispensable nation," as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it; it was also a benign hegemon and thus unlikely to be viewed as a threat in Moscow. The aim, in essence, was to make the entire continent look like western Europe.

And so the United States and its allies sought to promote democracy in the countries of eastern Europe, increase economic interdependence among them, and embed them in international institutions. Having won the debate in the United States, liberals had little difficulty convincing their European allies to support NATO enlargement. After all, given the EU's past achievements, Europeans were even more wedded than Americans to the idea that geopolitics no longer mattered and that an all-inclusive liberal order could maintain peace in Europe. So thoroughly did liberals come to dominate the discourse about European security during the first decade of this century that even as the alliance adopted an open-door policy of growth, NATO expansion faced little realist opposition. The liberal worldview is now accepted dogma among U.S. officials. In March, for example, President Barack Obama delivered a speech about Ukraine in which he talked repeatedly about "the ideals" that motivate Western policy and how those ideals "have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power." Secretary of State John Kerry's response to the Crimea crisis reflected this same perspective: "You just don't in the twenty-first century behave in nineteenth-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext."

In essence, the two sides have been operating with different playbooks: Putin and his compatriots have been thinking and acting according to realist dictates, whereas their Western counterparts have been adhering to liberal ideas about international politics. The result is that the United States and its allies unknowingly provoked a major crisis over Ukraine.


In that same 1998 interview, Kennan predicted that NATO expansion would provoke a crisis, after which the proponents of expansion would "say that we always told you that is how the Russians are." As if on cue, most Western officials have portrayed Putin as the real culprit in the Ukraine predicament. In March, according to The New York Times, German Chancellor Angela Merkel implied that Putin was irrational, telling Obama that he was "in another world." Although Putin no doubt has autocratic tendencies, no evidence supports the charge that he is mentally unbalanced. On the contrary: he is a first-class strategist who should be feared and respected by anyone challenging him on foreign policy.

Other analysts allege, more plausibly, that Putin regrets the demise of the Soviet Union and is determined to reverse it by expanding Russia's borders. According to this interpretation, Putin, having taken Crimea, is now testing the waters to see if the time is right to conquer Ukraine, or at least its eastern part, and he will eventually behave aggressively toward other countries in Russia's neighborhood. For some in this camp, Putin represents a modern-day Adolf Hitler, and striking any kind of deal with him would repeat the mistake of Munich. Thus, NATO must admit Georgia and Ukraine to contain Russia before it dominates its neighbors and threatens western Europe.

This argument falls apart on close inspection. If Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22. But there is virtually no evidence that he was bent on taking Crimea, much less any other territory in Ukraine, before that date. Even Western leaders who supported NATO expansion were not doing so out of a fear that Russia was about to use military force. Putin's actions in Crimea took them by complete surprise and appear to have been a spontaneous reaction to Yanukovych's ouster. Right afterward, even Putin said he opposed Crimean secession, before quickly changing his mind.

Besides, even if it wanted to, Russia lacks the capability to easily conquer and annex eastern Ukraine, much less the entire country. Roughly 15 million people -- one-third of Ukraine's population -- live between the Dnieper River, which bisects the country, and the Russian border. An overwhelming majority of those people want to remain part of Ukraine and would surely resist a Russian occupation. Furthermore, Russia's mediocre army, which shows few signs of turning into a modern Wehrmacht, would have little chance of pacifying all of Ukraine. Moscow is also poorly positioned to pay for a costly occupation; its weak economy would suffer even more in the face of the resulting sanctions.

But even if Russia did boast a powerful military machine and an impressive economy, it would still probably prove unable to successfully occupy Ukraine. One need only consider the Soviet and U.S. experiences in Afghanistan, the U.S. experiences in Vietnam and Iraq, and the Russian experience in Chechnya to be reminded that military occupations usually end badly. Putin surely understands that trying to subdue Ukraine would be like swallowing a porcupine. His response to events there has been defensive, not offensive.


Given that most Western leaders continue to deny that Putin's behavior might be motivated by legitimate security concerns, it is unsurprising that they have tried to modify it by doubling down on their existing policies and have punished Russia to deter further aggression. Although Kerry has maintained that "all options are on the table," neither the United States nor its NATO allies are prepared to use force to defend Ukraine. The West is relying instead on economic sanctions to coerce Russia into ending its support for the insurrection in eastern Ukraine. In July, the United States and the EU put in place their third round of limited sanctions, targeting mainly high-level individuals closely tied to the Russian government and some high-profile banks, energy companies, and defense firms. They also threatened to unleash another, tougher round of sanctions, aimed at whole sectors of the Russian economy.

Such measures will have little effect. Harsh sanctions are likely off the table anyway; western European countries, especially Germany, have resisted imposing them for fear that Russia might retaliate and cause serious economic damage within the EU. But even if the United States could convince its allies to enact tough measures, Putin would probably not alter his decision-making. History shows that countries will absorb enormous amounts of punishment in order to protect their core strategic interests. There is no reason to think Russia represents an exception to this rule.

Western leaders have also clung to the provocative policies that precipitated the crisis in the first place. In April, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden met with Ukrainian legislators and told them, "This is a second opportunity to make good on the original promise made by the Orange Revolution." John Brennan, the director of the CIA, did not help things when, that same month, he visited Kiev on a trip the White House said was aimed at improving security cooperation with the Ukrainian government.

The EU, meanwhile, has continued to push its Eastern Partnership. In March, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, summarized EU thinking on Ukraine, saying, "We have a debt, a duty of solidarity with that country, and we will work to have them as close as possible to us." And sure enough, on June 27, the EU and Ukraine signed the economic agreement that Yanukovych had fatefully rejected seven months earlier. Also in June, at a meeting of NATO members' foreign ministers, it was agreed that the alliance would remain open to new members, although the foreign ministers refrained from mentioning Ukraine by name. "No third country has a veto over NATO enlargement," announced Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general. The foreign ministers also agreed to support various measures to improve Ukraine's military capabilities in such areas as command and control, logistics, and cyberdefense. Russian leaders have naturally recoiled at these actions; the West's response to the crisis will only make a bad situation worse.

There is a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, however -- although it would require the West to think about the country in a fundamentally new way. The United States and its allies should abandon their plan to westernize Ukraine and instead aim to make it a neutral buffer between NATO and Russia, akin to Austria's position during the Cold War. Western leaders should acknowledge that Ukraine matters so much to Putin that they cannot support an anti-Russian regime there. This would not mean that a future Ukrainian government would have to be pro-Russian or anti-NATO. On the contrary, the goal should be a sovereign Ukraine that falls in neither the Russian nor the Western camp.

To achieve this end, the United States and its allies should publicly rule out NATO's expansion into both Georgia and Ukraine. The West should also help fashion an economic rescue plan for Ukraine funded jointly by the EU, the International Monetary Fund, Russia, and the United States -- a proposal that Moscow should welcome, given its interest in having a prosperous and stable Ukraine on its western flank. And the West should considerably limit its social-engineering efforts inside Ukraine. It is time to put an end to Western support for another Orange Revolution. Nevertheless, U.S. and European leaders should encourage Ukraine to respect minority rights, especially the language rights of its Russian speakers.

Some may argue that changing policy toward Ukraine at this late date would seriously damage U.S. credibility around the world. There would undoubtedly be certain costs, but the costs of continuing a misguided strategy would be much greater. Furthermore, other countries are likely to respect a state that learns from its mistakes and ultimately devises a policy that deals effectively with the problem at hand. That option is clearly open to the United States. One also hears the claim that Ukraine has the right to determine whom it wants to ally with and the Russians have no right to prevent Kiev from joining the West. This is a dangerous way for Ukraine to think about its foreign policy choices. The sad truth is that might often makes right when great-power politics are at play. Abstract rights such as self-determination are largely meaningless when powerful states get into brawls with weaker states. Did Cuba have the right to form a military alliance with the Soviet Union during the Cold War? The United States certainly did not think so, and the Russians think the same way about Ukraine joining the West. It is in Ukraine's interest to understand these facts of life and tread carefully when dealing with its more powerful neighbor.

Even if one rejects this analysis, however, and believes that Ukraine has the right to petition to join the EU and NATO, the fact remains that the United States and its European allies have the right to reject these requests. There is no reason that the West has to accommodate Ukraine if it is bent on pursuing a wrong-headed foreign policy, especially if its defense is not a vital interest. Indulging the dreams of some Ukrainians is not worth the animosity and strife it will cause, especially for the Ukrainian people.

Of course, some analysts might concede that NATO handled relations with Ukraine poorly and yet still maintain that Russia constitutes an enemy that will only grow more formidable over time -- and that the West therefore has no choice but to continue its present policy. But this viewpoint is badly mistaken. Russia is a declining power, and it will only get weaker with time. Even if Russia were a rising power, moreover, it would still make no sense to incorporate Ukraine into NATO. The reason is simple: the United States and its European allies do not consider Ukraine to be a core strategic interest, as their unwillingness to use military force to come to its aid has proved. It would therefore be the height of folly to create a new NATO member that the other members have no intention of defending. NATO has expanded in the past because liberals assumed the alliance would never have to honor its new security guarantees, but Russia's recent power play shows that granting Ukraine NATO membership could put Russia and the West on a collision course.

Sticking with the current policy would also complicate Western relations with Moscow on other issues. The United States needs Russia's assistance to withdraw U.S. equipment from Afghanistan through Russian territory, reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, and stabilize the situation in Syria. In fact, Moscow has helped Washington on all three of these issues in the past; in the summer of 2013, it was Putin who pulled Obama's chestnuts out of the fire by forging the deal under which Syria agreed to relinquish its chemical weapons, thereby avoiding the U.S. military strike that Obama had threatened. The United States will also someday need Russia's help containing a rising China. Current U.S. policy, however, is only driving Moscow and Beijing closer together.

The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process -- a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.

(12) Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO - John Mearsheimer

The Economist is solidly anti-Putin; this article is a rare exception - Peter M.

By Invitation | Russia and Ukraine

John Mearsheimer on why the West is principally responsible for the Ukrainian crisis

The political scientist believes the reckless expansion of NATO provoked Russia

Mar 19th 2022

THE WAR in Ukraine is the most dangerous international conflict since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Understanding its root causes is essential if we are to prevent it from getting worse and, instead, to find a way to bring it to a close.

There is no question that Vladimir Putin started the war and is responsible for how it is being waged. But why he did so is another matter. The mainstream view in the West is that he is an irrational, out-of-touch aggressor bent on creating a greater Russia in the mould of the former Soviet Union. Thus, he alone bears full responsibility for the Ukraine crisis.

But that story is wrong. The West, and especially America, is principally responsible for the crisis which began in February 2014. It has now turned into a war that not only threatens to destroy Ukraine, but also has the potential to escalate into a nuclear war between Russia and NATO.

The trouble over Ukraine actually started at NATO's Bucharest summit in April 2008, when George W. Bush's administration pushed the alliance to announce that Ukraine and Georgia "will become members". Russian leaders responded immediately with outrage, characterising this decision as an existential threat to Russia and vowing to thwart it. According to a respected Russian journalist, Mr Putin "flew into a rage" and warned that "if Ukraine joins NATO, it will do so without Crimea and the eastern regions. It will simply fall apart." America ignored Moscow's red line, however, and pushed forward to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia's border. That strategy included two other elements: bringing Ukraine closer to the eu and making it a pro-American democracy.

These efforts eventually sparked hostilities in February 2014, after an uprising (which was supported by America) caused Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, to flee the country. In response, Russia took Crimea from Ukraine and helped fuel a civil war that broke out in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

The next major confrontation came in December 2021 and led directly to the current war. The main cause was that Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO. The process started in December 2017, when the Trump administration decided to sell Kyiv "defensive weapons". What counts as "defensive" is hardly clear-cut, however, and these weapons certainly looked offensive to Moscow and its allies in the Donbas region. Other NATO countries got in on the act, shipping weapons to Ukraine, training its armed forces and allowing it to participate in joint air and naval exercises. In July 2021, Ukraine and America co-hosted a major naval exercise in the Black Sea region involving navies from 32 countries. Operation Sea Breeze almost provoked Russia to fire at a British naval destroyer that deliberately entered what Russia considers its territorial waters.

The links between Ukraine and America continued growing under the Biden administration. This commitment is reflected throughout an important document - the "US-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership" - that was signed in November by Antony Blinken, America's secretary of state, and Dmytro Kuleba, his Ukrainian counterpart. The aim was to "underscore ... a commitment to Ukraine's implementation of the deep and comprehensive reforms necessary for full integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions." The document explicitly builds on "the commitments made to strengthen the Ukraine-u.s. strategic partnership by Presidents Zelensky and Biden," and also emphasises that the two countries will be guided by the "2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration."

Unsurprisingly, Moscow found this evolving situation intolerable and began mobilising its army on Ukraine's border last spring to signal its resolve to Washington. But it had no effect, as the Biden administration continued to move closer to Ukraine. This led Russia to precipitate a full-blown diplomatic stand-off in December. As Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, put it: "We reached our boiling point." Russia demanded a written guarantee that Ukraine would never become a part of NATO and that the alliance remove the military assets it had deployed in eastern Europe since 1997. The subsequent negotiations failed, as Mr Blinken made clear: "There is no change. There will be no change." A month later Mr Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine to eliminate the threat he saw from NATO.

This interpretation of events is at odds with the prevailing mantra in the West, which portrays NATO expansion as irrelevant to the Ukraine crisis, blaming instead Mr Putin's expansionist goals. According to a recent NATO document sent to Russian leaders, "NATO is a defensive Alliance and poses no threat to Russia." The available evidence contradicts these claims. For starters, the issue at hand is not what Western leaders say NATO's purpose or intentions are; it is how Moscow sees NATO's actions.

Mr Putin surely knows that the costs of conquering and occupying large amounts of territory in eastern Europe would be prohibitive for Russia. As he once put it, "Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain." His beliefs about the tight bonds between Russia and Ukraine notwithstanding, trying to take back all of Ukraine would be like trying to swallow a porcupine. Furthermore, Russian policymakers - including Mr Putin - have said hardly anything about conquering new territory to recreate the Soviet Union or build a greater Russia. Rather, since the 2008 Bucharest summit Russian leaders have repeatedly said that they view Ukraine joining NATO as an existential threat that must be prevented. As Mr Lavrov noted in January, "the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward."

Tellingly, Western leaders rarely described Russia as a military threat to Europe before 2014. As America's former ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul notes, Mr Putin's seizure of Crimea was not planned for long; it was an impulsive move in response to the coup that overthrew Ukraine's pro-Russian leader. In fact, until then, NATO expansion was aimed at turning all of Europe into a giant zone of peace, not containing a dangerous Russia. Once the crisis started, however, American and European policymakers could not admit they had provoked it by trying to integrate Ukraine into the West. They declared the real source of the problem was Russia's revanchism and its desire to dominate if not conquer Ukraine.

My story about the conflict's causes should not be controversial, given that many prominent American foreign-policy experts have warned against NATO expansion since the late 1990s. America's secretary of defence at the time of the Bucharest summit, Robert Gates, recognised that "trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching". Indeed, at that summit, both the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, were opposed to moving forward on NATO membership for Ukraine because they feared it would infuriate Russia.

The upshot of my interpretation is that we are in an extremely dangerous situation, and Western policy is exacerbating these risks. For Russia's leaders, what happens in Ukraine has little to do with their imperial ambitions being thwarted; it is about dealing with what they regard as a direct threat to Russia's future. Mr Putin may have misjudged Russia's military capabilities, the effectiveness of the Ukrainian resistance and the scope and speed of the Western response, but one should never underestimate how ruthless great powers can be when they believe they are in dire straits. America and its allies, however, are doubling down, hoping to inflict a humiliating defeat on Mr Putin and to maybe even trigger his removal. They are increasing aid to Ukraine while using economic sanctions to inflict massive punishment on Russia, a step that Putin now sees as "akin to a declaration of war".

America and its allies may be able to prevent a Russian victory in Ukraine, but the country will be gravely damaged, if not dismembered. Moreover, there is a serious threat of escalation beyond Ukraine, not to mention the danger of nuclear war. If the West not only thwarts Moscow on Ukraine's battlefields, but also does serious, lasting damage to Russia's economy, it is in effect pushing a great power to the brink. Mr Putin might then turn to nuclear weapons.

At this point it is impossible to know the terms on which this conflict will be settled. But, if we do not understand its deep cause, we will be unable to end it before Ukraine is wrecked and NATO ends up in a war with Russia.

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.


(14) Paul Wolfowitz and other Neocons developed the regime change idea, and overthrew Marcos and Suharto - Steve Hanke

Suharto, too, was a victim of regime change, by Steve Hanke

Long before Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz's neo-conservative idea was successfully applied in the Philippines and Indonesia, claims Steve Hanke

The Australian

April 29, 2003

MOST people think the overthrow of Saddam Hussein resulted from the US Government's embrace of a new policy. This particular policy may be new, but the regime change idea and its use are not.

US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and a small group of likeminded neo-conservatives developed the regime change idea some time ago and have been promoting it since. The Iraqi dictator was not the first to fall in the crosshairs of that policy. When the US government concluded that Philippines president Fernand Marcos was illegitimate, he had to go. Consequently, Washington assisted in his removal from power in 1986. The point man who engineered the overthrow of Marcos was Wolfowitz, an assistant secretary of state at the time.

During Wolfowitz's tenure as the US ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1989, he planted the regime change idea once again. This time president Suharto was in the crosshairs. He was deemed to be corrupt and undemocratic, and had to be overthrown. The US, with the help of the International Monetary Fund, eventually accomlished its goal in 1998, when Suharto was toppled in May that year.

As it turns out, I know something about the overthrow of Suharto. In late January 1998, I delivered a series of lectures in Turkey. One evening, I received an urgent message: an invitation from Suharto to visit him in Jakarta.

The Asian crisis of 1997 hit Indonesia hard. The IMF responded by prescribing its standard medicine and Indonesia floated the rupiah on July 2,1997. The results were castrophic. The value of the rupiah collapsed, inflation soared and economic chaos ensued. Suharto was aware that I had advised Bulgaria and Bosnia to establish currency boards in 1997. And as night follows day, currency chaos was halted in those countries immediately after they adopted fixed exchange rates coupled with the full backing of their domestic currencies with foreign reserves.

Suharto realised that the IMF's medicine was killing the patient and that a currency board might prevent a complete collapse. Following our first meeting in Jakarta, Suharto named me his special counsellor. Shortly thereafter, Suharto endorsed my proposed currency board for Indonesia. This sent the rupiah soaring. It appreciated by 28 per cent against the US dollar on the day the news was released. This did not suit the US government and the IMF.

Even though the currency board proposal gathered support from many Nobel laureates and other distinguished economists, it was subjected to a withering attack. Suharto was told in no uncertain terms by US president Bill Clinton and the IMF's managing director Michel Camdessus that he would have to drop the currency board idea or forgo $US43 billion in foreign assistance. Why did a currency board for Indonesia cause such a violent reaction? Nobel laureate Merton Miller, who understood the great game immediately, said that the US wanted to overthrow Suharto and that a currency board would spoil that plan.

MILLER said the US Treasury knew that a currency board would stabilise the rupiah and the Indonesian economy and, as a result, Suharto would stay in power. Consequently, the US government used all means available - including the IMF - to oppose the idea.

Australia's former prime minister Paul Keating arrived at a similar conclusion: "The [US] Treasury quite deliberately used the economic collapse as a means of bringina the ouster of president Suharto." Former US secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger embraced a similar diagnosis: "We [the US government] were fairly clever in that we supported the IMF as it overthrew [Suharto]. Whether that was a wise way to proceed is another question. I'm not saying Mr Suharto should have stayed but I kind of wish he had left on terms other than because the IMF pushed him out."

Even Camdessus could not find fault with these assessments. On the occasion of his retirement, he proudly proclaimed: "We created the conditions that obliged President Suharto to leave his job."

The neo-conservative regime change idea and its use are not new. The only thing that distinguished its application in Iraq was the use of extensive military force.

Steve Hanke, a senior economics adviser to president Ronald Reagan, is a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

(15) The Fraud of Neoconservative "Anti-Communism", by Max Shpak

Neocons are former Communists, mostly Jewish and mostly supporters of Trotsky, who abandoned Communism because they did not like Stalin's USSR. They left, and took up in the West, where they promote the Green Left's Culture War and well as a pro-Zionist and anti-Russian foreign policy.

Max Shpak explains, in his article The Fraud of Neoconservative "Anti-Communism":

Jews alike carried deep-seated hatreds for the traditional regimes and religions of the European continent, particularly Czarist Russia ... world Jewry ... embraced the Revolution and Marxist ideology alike. ... When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, it became clear the Russian masses would not fight for the sake of Bolshevism, an ideology that brought them so much misery, but rather for the sake of Russian blood and soil. From then on, the Soviet leadership had to court the very Russian nationalist elements that the early Bolsheviks had worked so hard to stamp out. This lead to an increasing tolerance towards the Russian Orthodox Church and a decreased Jewish presence in the Soviet politburo and KGB. Thus, the USSR was "betraying" the very elements that made it attractive to the Jewish establishment to begin with. shpak-fraud-neocons.html

And so most left, and many became Neocons: jewish-emigration-ussr.html.

Copyright: Peter Myers asserts the right to be identified as the author of the material written by him on this website, being material that is not otherwise attributed to another author.


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