Ukraine — Can you handle the Truth? [Intelligence Matters]

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This [NATO] expansion would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves.”

George Kennan (1998)

George Kennan is arguably America’s greatest ever foreign policy strategist. Kennan was the architect of the U.S. cold war strategy.

April 4 2022 — 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 most depressing thing about the Ukraine crisis is the sheer number of top strategic thinkers who warned for decades that this war was coming if we continued down the same path. They made it very clear. And none of the clowns running ‘Western Democracies’ listened to them. And here we are… This is pure madness. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

RELATED POST: The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis [UPDATE — The Economist : “Why the West is principally responsible for the Ukrainian crisis”]

In 1994, Ted Galen Carpenter — Cato Institute’s senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies — wrote :

“It would be extraordinarily difficult to expand NATO eastward without that action’s being viewed by Russia as unfriendly. NATO expansion “would constitute a needless provocation of Russia.”

In his memoir, Clinton’s defense secretary William Perry explains that NATO enlargement is the cause of “the rupture in relations with Russia”.

In 1996, Perry was so strongly opposed to it that in the strength of his conviction, he considered resigning.

In 1997, 50 prominent foreign policy experts (former senators, military officers, diplomats, etc.) sent an open letter to US President Bill Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion. It’s a “policy error of historic proportions.”

The same year, Paul Keating, former Australian Prime Minister argued that expanding NATO was “an error which may rank in the end with the strategic miscalculations which prevented Germany from taking its full place in the international system in early 20th.”

Jack F. Matlock was the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991. In 1997, Matlock warned that NATO expansion was “the most profound strategic blunder, [encouraging] a chain of events that could produce the most serious security threat (…) since the Soviet Union collapsed.” [Was this crisis predictable?]

“Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post cold-war era. Such a decision may be expected . . . to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”

A Fateful Error

Diplomat-historian George F. Kennan

(Feb. 5, 1997)

George Kennan is arguably America’s greatest ever foreign policy strategist. Kennan was the architect of the U.S. cold war strategy.

As soon as 1997, Kennan warned that NATO expansion was a “tragic mistake” that ought to ultimately provoke a “bad reaction from Russia”.

In 1998, Thomas Friedman [New York Times] asked George Kennan what he thought about the expansion of NATO to include as members the recently ex-communist nations of central and eastern Europe getting every closer to the borders of Russia.

Kennan replied: 

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves.

We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a lighthearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs. What bothers me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.

Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”

In his 1999 book ‘A Republic, Not an Empire’, Pat Buchanan wrote:

“By moving NATO onto Russia’s front porch, we have scheduled a twenty-first-century confrontation.”

“Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”

CIA director William Burns

In 2008 William Burns — Then US ambassador in Moscow and now CIA Director — wrote:

“Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all red-lines for [Russia]” and “I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests”

In February 2008, William Burns  wrote the following cable: NYET MEANS NYET: RUSSIA’S NATO ENLARGEMENT REDLINES.

Part of the cable reads:

“Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region.

Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests.

Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war.

In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”

In 2014, Malcolm Fraser — the 22nd prime minister of Australia — warned that “the move east [by NATO was] provocative, unwise and a very clear signal to Russia”.

Fraser correctly predicted that this would lead to a “difficult and extraordinarily dangerous problem”.

“Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.”

Henry A. Kissinger (March 5, 2014)

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. On March 5 2014, Kissinger wrote the following story in the Washington Post: “To settle the Ukraine crisis, start at the end.”

Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.

Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities. (…)

A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.

In 2014, Stephen Cohen, a famed scholar of Russian studies, warned that:

“If we move NATO forces toward Russia’s borders […] it’s obviously gonna militarize the situation [and] Russia will not back off, this is existential.”

Stephen Cohen on Russia Ukraine Crisis “We are Well Into a Cold War” (April 17 2014)

“The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked […] What we’re doing is in fact encouraging that outcome.”

John Mearsheimer (2015)

John Joseph Mearsheimer is an American political scientist and international relations scholar, who belongs to the realist school of thought. He is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

He has been described as the most influential realist of his generation. Professor Mearsheimer predicted the current crisis a decade ago.

“My argument is that the West, especially the United States, is principally responsible for this disaster. But no American policymaker is going to acknowledge that line of argument. So they will say that the Russians are responsible.” [John Mearsheimer (February 2022)]

The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis (Sept. 25 2015)

In his 2015 memoirs, former US defense secretary and CIA director Bob Gates wrote:

“Moving so quickly [to expand NATO] was a mistake. […] Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching [and] an especially monumental provocation”

In 2015, Noam Chomsky explained why “the idea that Ukraine might join a Western military alliance would be quite unacceptable to any Russian leader” and that Ukraine’s desire to join NATO ” was not protecting Ukraine. It was clearly and directly threatening Ukraine with major war.

In 2015, Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych warned that if Ukraine continues down the path of joining NATO, “it will prompt Russia to launch a large scale military operation […] before we join NATO”, “with a probability of 99.9%”, likely “in 2021-2022.”

In 2018, Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner wrote that NATO expansion in Ukraine was unacceptable to the Russians. Pozner made it crystal clear that there had to be a compromise that Ukraine would not become a member of NATO.

Vladimir Pozner: How the United States Created Vladimir Putin (Sept. 27 2018)

A year ago, Sir Roderic Lyne, former British ambassador to Russia, warned that “[pushing] Ukraine into NATO […] is stupid on every level.”

“If you want to start a war with Russia, that’s the best way of doing it.”

Earlier this year, right before war broke out, economist Jeffrey Sachs writing a column in the FT warned that:

“NATO enlargement is utterly misguided and risky. True friends of Ukraine, and of global peace, should be calling for a US and NATO compromise with Russia.”

We are living a very unusual event. We have never before had such a dangerous conflict — the risk of a full nuclear war is very real — that so many strategic thinkers had predicted and warned against for so many years, indeed decades.

Yet their wise advice was completely ignored. This begs the question: WHY?

PS — On April 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty, which created #NATO was signed by 12 nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.

Article 5 of the treaty states: “an attack against one member shall be considered an attack on all members.”

The Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 25, 1991. What was the ‘raison d’être’ of NATO after 1992?

“If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project [NATO] will have failed.”

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (February 1951)

REFERENCES

Henry Kissinger: To settle the Ukraine crisis, start at the end — Washington Post

A Fateful Error — George F. Kennan (NYT, Feb. 5, 1997)

Why John Mearsheimer Blames the U.S. for the Crisis in Ukraine — The New Yorker

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Ukraine — Can you handle the Truth? [Intelligence Matters]

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