Stockman: No More Ukraines
Authored by David Stockman via LewRockwell.com,
Joe Biden must think that he’s the world’s Rich Uncle. In a meeting with the so-called Bucharest Nine today he promised these former Warsaw Pact nations—which should never have been admitted to NATO in the first place—unlimited economic and military support.
Nine more Ukraines if need be.
Biden conveyed reassurances that the United States is prepared to speed to their defense if they come under offensive action by Moscow. These nations include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
For want of doubt, here’s the just-in-case-you-missed-the-message amplification from NSC spokesman John Kirby. Said the Deep State’s favorite shill, who is apparently serving the national security complex in endless rotation, having moved from State to DOD and then to the National Security Council during the last decade, with a stop in between at CNN:
“These are largely the group of eastern flank NATO allies who are basically and, quite frankly, literally on the front lines of our collective defense right now,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had previewed.
He said the president’s purpose in the meeting is to “reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for the security of that alliance and trans-Atlantic unity.” It’s also meant to send a message to Putin that his country can’t intimidate these democracies, some of them relatively new and fragile.
Well, let’s see. Where is it documented that Putin has ever threatened Bulgaria or Hungary or Slovakia or Lithuania or any of the others for that matter? As it transpired, Hungary’s leader even refused to attend this pointless Biden photo op.
After all, what in the world could Putin gain by attacking these nations and occupying what would be hostile populations and damaged economies? A tremendous fiscal drain on his already beleaguered finances would be the only certainty.
The fact is, Washington has become so crazed with anti-Putin war fever that it doesn’t even ask, let alone answer, these foundational questions. Instead, it has just lapsed into grade school reasoning by analogy. If Putin attacked the government of Ukraine, why then it’s a sure bet that the nine yellow dominoes highlighted in the map below are next on the list to fall.
No, not at all. Ukraine is sui generis. It’s a hodge-podge of variant histories, ethnicities and religious traditions that never belonged under the roof of a single state.
Moreover, its propinquity to things Russian is an unassailable matter of history. Prior to the arrival of communist rule after WWI, its various regions had marinated for centuries as vassals under the tutelage of Czarist Russia. Ukraine’s historically meandering boundaries, in fact, were only finally frozen in current form by the brutal dictates of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev.
During the long amalgamated history of these neighboring, mainly Slavic populations the eastern and southern portions of the current Ukraine map became populated and economically developed by Russian speaking migrants. At length, they converted the largely empty, herder-dominated steppes into the flourishing bread basket, mining district and industrial work shop of old Russia.
This arrangement was essentially continued by the communist commissars after they consolidated control in 1922, save only for an arbitrary administrative re-arrangement which put the old “Novorossiya” (New Russia) of Catherine the Great’s time into a wholly unnatural state rechristened as the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine.
These artificial borders and the ethnic hodge-podge within them were held together at the gun point of Ukraine’s local communist rulers until 1991, when the scourge of Soviet Communism perished from the earth. And almost immediately thereafter, the elections showed that the state confected by Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev had never been built to last; and that the verdict of Ukraine’s nascent democracy was that partition would someday be the only answer.
As it happened, Viktor Yanukovych was the last democratically elected politician before Washington essentially took-over the country. Of course, by the writ of the Ukraine’s de facto rulers on the Potomac he was illegally deposed and driven out of the country via the coup d’ etat in February 2014.
Needless to say, Yanukovych had been the champion of the Russian speaking populations of the Donbas and southern rim of the Black Sea. He ran on what was called the “Regions” party platform in both 2004 and 2010, against vehemently pro-Ukrainian candidates, whose bases of support were in the central and west geographies.
As shown in the two maps below, both elections were a case of red state versus blue state electoral division on steroids. Except unlike the US where a GOP gubernatorial candidate actually got a 47% showing in the deep blue state of New York this past election, the vote split in the most hard core of the respective regions (dark red and dark blue) was upwards of 90/10 in many localities.
In the 2004 election, Yanukovych narrowly lost the overall count, even as he dominated overwhelmingly in the east and south.
2004 Election Results in Ukraine
By contrast, in 2010 Yanukovych retraced the same massive domination of his own Russian-speaking regions while striking out in the west. But this time with the help of Washington-based election consultants (i.e. the infamous Paul Manafort) he managed to accumulate enough incremental votes to come out on top in the nation-wide tally.
2010 Election Results in Ukraine
Needless to say, when the foolish neocons led by the detestable Victoria Nuland, who surrounded then Vice-President Joe Biden, fomented the coup against Yanukovych in February 2014 they had no clue as to the tenuous political balance they were upending.
But it didn’t take long to strike the match. In short order the followers of the WWII Hitler ally, Stephan Bandera, who dominated the unelected, Washington-installed government in Kiev, made two destructive moves that amounted to a signal to “let the partition begin”.
The first of these was to abolish Russian as an official language in the Donbass and elsewhere. And the second was the massacre by fire of pro-Russian trade unionists in a building in Odessa by supporters of the Kiev government.
It was only a matter of time, therefore, before most of the red-colored territories on the maps above declared their independence. It was also in short order that the people of what had been the Russian province of Crimea after Catherine the Great purchased it from the Ottoman’s in 1783 voted overwhelmingly to re-join the Russian Federation. That ended their brief sojourn in the Ukrainian state, which had been Khrushchev’s 1954 gift to the communist thugs in Kiev who had helped him seize power after Stalin’s death.
Also, in short order the new proto-Fascist government in Kiev moved to deeply antagonize its historic neighbor and former fealty overlord in Moscow by seeking to join NATO and launching a brutal, unrelenting war on the breakaway Republics of the Donbas. This onslaught ended up killing upwards of 15,000 civilians during the eight year run-up to Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Needless to say, Putin was no more interested in having nuclear missiles planted even closer to his own border than was President John Kennedy in October 1962. Nor was he about to countenance the continued slaughter of Russian speakers in the Donbass after Kiev launched a drastically stepped up shelling and bombing campaign on these beleaguered areas one week before the February 24th invasion.
Below, we will amplify further on the overwhelming reasons why the Ukraine situation is a one-off civil war situation and the unfinished and unstable residue of a state which was never built to last.
Accordingly, it is not a case at all of legitimate sovereign borders being violated. Nor does it involve an assault on the hypocritical notion of a “liberal international order” that has not actually ever existed and which, instead, has been a cover for Washington’s global hegemony all along.
But the lessons are nonetheless profound. History accumulates and eventually leads to destructive, but wholly unnecessary outcomes.
That is the case today with the utterly foolish action of Washington during the 1990s and 2000s to bring former Warsaw Pact Nations, and even breakaway Soviet Republics into a NATO alliance whose mission was over and done in 1991.
It should have been dismantled then and there. When the old Soviet monster with its 50,000 tanks and 7,000 nuclear warheads posed along-side the Bucharest Nine pictured above disappeared into the dustbin of history, there was no longer a threat to the east. There was no “front line” to defend.
At that point Washington should have and easily could have led the world to disarmament and to a revival of the lasting peace that had disappeared in the “Guns of August” in 1914.
But now the NATO section 5 mutual defense commitment to these nations is equivalent to a stupid charity that the nearly bankrupt Federal government cannot afford in any case.
There is absolutely nothing in it for the enhancement of America’s homeland security, and huge incentives for the politicians of these nations to caterwaul against Russia rather than seek peaceful accommodation.
But Sleepy Joe is a captive of the Dems “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and cannot think rationally for a moment about the Russian President.
Still, the latter most definitely did not cause the Dems to loose the 2016 election. They brought Trump’s freakish victory upon themselves by their choice of candidate and embrace of policies that much of Flyover America found deeply repugnant.
When Washington began its foolish campaign to expand NATO to Russia’s doorstep in 1997, there was one American who actually possessed more knowledge, experience and analytical savvy about Russia and eastern Europe than the entire treaty-ratifying US Senate combined.
We are referring, of course, to Ambassador George F. Kennan. The latter was the intellectual father of the post-war containment policy against the Soviet Union and had spent decades in the US embassies of Europe and the Soviet Union, before going on to hold high rank in the State Department during the crucial years after WWII when the Cold War was born. Thereafter he joined academia at Princeton, where he produced a prodigious flow of scholarly work on national security policy, including a ringing dissent on the folly of LBJ’s war on Vietnam.
So by the time he penned a New York Times op ed upon the initial expansion of NATO in 1997, which he succinctly entitled “A Fateful Error”, the 93-year old Kennan had decades and decades of wisdom under his belt as a policy-maker and historian. And almost all of it was directly pertinent to the disorder left behind in the wake of the sudden collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991.
Kennan pulled no punches on the matter of NATO expansion:
The architect of the cold war policy of containment did not mince words in arguing that “expanding Nato would be the most fateful error in American policy in the entire post-cold war era”. He predicted that “it would inflame nationalistic, anti-western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion”, “have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy”, “restore the atmosphere of cold war to east-west relations”, and “impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking”.
A fair share of the script readers and stenographers who comprise today’s mainstream media, of course, have a faint knowledge of George Kennan and his unequivocal stance against NATO expansion, if any at all. Their blinders are simply the product of a quarter-century of accumulated recency bias—a process by which the once unthinkable becomes the unchallenged status quo.
The fact is, once the Soviet Union with its 50,000 tanks, 40,000 nuclear warheads, 5 million men under arms and frightfully militarized economy disappeared into the dustbin of history there was no purpose whatsoever for the perpetuation of NATO.
In that sense, Kennan’s “containment” policy had achieved 100% of its goal. The fearsome enemy on the eastern flank of Europe had literally vanished, meaning that what had been a one-time expedient of the Cold War could and should have been disbanded. In the rubble of the dismembered Soviet Union there was no threat left and nothing to defend or contain.
NATO’s warranted interment didn’t happen, however, and for the immensely trivial reason that the utterly unprincipled Bill Clinton determined to make hay one more time in the political posturing grounds of the “Captive Nations”. And with respect to this long forgotten matter your editor happened to have held a front row seat.
When we went to work on Capitol Hill for a GOP congressman at the peak of the Cold War in 1970 our first assignment was drafting a resolution during Captive Nations Week calling for the liberation of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania etc from yoke of Soviet tyranny. Such resolutions had nothing to do with actual policy, of course, which was to leave the Great Russian Bear undisturbed in his lair called the Warsaw Pact. But as a home-front politicking matter such resolutions were catnip to the eastern European constituencies.
After eastern Europe was peacefully liberated in 1991, however, this Captive Nations gambit became self-evidently obsolete, but the Clinton Administration soon had a handy PR substitute. Namely, NATO membership for the woebegone remnants of the Warsaw Pact—a seemingly harmless gesture that had no real purpose other than to express solidarity with back home constituencies of eastern European descent.
NATO expansion, in effect, was a way for Washington politicians to say: We are still with you!
Indeed, since there was no plausible reason for maintaining a war alliance against an enemy that didn’t exist, NATO became the equivalent of a diplomatic American Legion hall. It was a place for bureaucratic veterans of the Cold War to swap combat stories and to pretend they still had something worthwhile to do.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that harmless. The military-industrial complex soon realized that it needed a tangible enemy to justify current procurement and new weapons systems and also that the former Captive Nations comprised an expanded market for its wares.
So the 14 new NATO nations formed a ready-made shopping mall for additional weapons sales.
That all might have been harmless enough, save for two untoward developments. The first was the designation of Russia and Putin as enemy #1 by the neocons after their adventures against “terrorism” in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the middle east came a cropper a few years after the memory of 9/11 had dimmed.
The demonization of Putin became especially urgent in late 2013 when he deftly put the kibosh on the neocon’s plan for regime change in Syria. By convincing Assad to give up his chemical weapons under international supervision, the case for military removal of the Syrian president quickly evaporated.
In short order, however, these same neocons got their revenge by fomenting a coup d’ etat on Putin’s doorstep in Ukraine. And it was led by Washington’s hand-picked proto-fascists who detested all things Russian, including the considerable populations and regions of Ukraine which were Russian-speaking.
As it happened, you don’t need a tinfoil hat to recognize the near-conspiracy on the banks of the Potomac that sent the fragile politics of the artificial state of Ukraine into a tail-spin, and which at length paved the way to the catastrophe underway there at present.
The fact is, the detestable Kagan family comprises the high preisthood of the neocon synod that has infiltrated the foreign policy establishment of both parties. And it just so happens that the very high priest of that lamentable synod, Robert Kagan, is married to Victoria Nuland, a war-mongering national security apparatchik who has served every administration since Bush the Younger, and who was the archetict of the Maidan coup on the streets of Kiev in February 2014.
From that moment on, Putin was transformed from a mere bad guy into the incarnation of evil itself in the neocon narrative. And his rational actions after the coup to reclaim Moscow’s centuries old naval bases in Russian Crimea and to offer succor to the imperiled Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas only added fuel to the fire.
But then came the deluge. In a word, the freakish election of Donald Trump in 2016 was falsely laid at Putin’s doorstep, even as Washington’s bipartisan ruling elites and their henchman in the mainstream media went berserk against the Donald.
At length, it turned into a a full-fledged mania—a Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) that pales into insignificance prior outbreaks of American political irrationality, such as the McCarthyism of the 1950s and the Red Hunts of 1919.
In a word, the TDS has utterly destroyed Washington’s foreign policy compass. The demonization of Putin has become so extreme and un-moored from reality that Washington is literally possessed by a ghost of the old Soviet Union. That is, it imagines a ferocious and powerful enemy on the “eastern front” that simply does not exist.
For crying out loud, GDP is a measure of latent capacity to make war, but the GDP of NATO is 26 times larger than that of Russia. Likewise, defense budgets are a measure of actual current military capacity, of which NATO’s war spending is 15 times larger. And that’s in the here and now.
Moreover, from the point of view of Vlad Putin leaping over the Atlantic and Pacific ocean moats to invade the American shores, the question recurs: How many aircraft carriers does he have compared to America’s 20 aircraft and heliocraft carriers?
And it’s 38 years old!
In a word, the absurdity of Washington’s proxy war against Russia and this week’s meeting of the so-called Bucharest Nine is the product of a foreign policy compass that has been shattered by two decades worth of myths and lies that served the short-term interests of Washington’s career politicians and their Deep State masters.
But go back to the fact that George Kennan was right 26 years ago and the truth that nothing has changed in the interim to alter his judgement.
In that context, what would a president not entombed in the false narrative of the past quarter century actually do?
Here are a few possible starters:
Arrange exile for Zelensky in Costa Rica ( far better than he deserves);
Agree to a settlement in Ukraine that partitions the country and allows the territories in the east and south previously known as Novorossiya (New Russia) to go their separate way or rejoin Mother Russia;
Remove NATO’s missiles and other advanced warfare capability from the former Warsaw Pact countries, so as to eliminate the military threat on Russia’s doorstep;
Arrange for the early dissolution of NATO after the Ukraine proxy war has been extinguished;
Re-open and complete an updated version of the nuclear arms treaties enacted near the end of the Cold War, two of which were abrogated by Washington and one this week by Moscow;
Cut the egregiously bloated $850 billion defense budget by 50% and lead the world into a new global treaty to drastically reduce the scale and cost of conventional arms;
Begin the nearly insuperable challenge of sharply paring back the nation’s $2 trillion plus annual deficits, which extend as far as the eye can see.
That would be a start. It would put America back on the road toward rational homeland security, and enable a global future not imperiled by the threat of Nuclear Armageddon.
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Originally posted at David Stockman’s Contra Corner.