IN AMERICA, DIPLOMACY IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD

War Fever In Washington Has Reached Such A High Pitch That Even Mild Calls For Cease-Fire Talks, As House Progressives Articulated In A Now-Retracted Letter, Are Now No Longer Acceptable.

That’s dangerous at any time, let alone when nuclear tensions are high.

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, liberal discourse about the issue had veered in a deeply unhealthy direction, with any suggestion that America should exercise restraint in managing the antagonistic America-Russia relationship casually labeled treasonous, authoritarian — even covertly doing the work of the Kremlin. As earlier episodes of war fever remind us, a political climate like this makes it hard to for common sense break through the din of demands for military escalation — an especially dangerous thing for two massively nuclear-armed countries to engage in.

Need proof? Just look at the debacle that’s swallowed up the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) this week.

On Tuesday, CPC chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) sent a letter to the White House about the Ukraine war signed by her and twenty-nine other House progressives, urging the Biden administration to make a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.” The signatories include all the members of the “Squad,” as well as big progressive names in congress like Ro Khanna, Raúl Grijalva, and Barbara Lee, among others.

Within twenty-four hours, Jayapal retracted the letter.

The official explanation is that the letter had been mistakenly released by staff and was never meant to go out. Various signatories quickly explained they had signed the letter months ago, when the situation in the war had been different, and didn’t realize it was now being released.

Timing is everything in public policy, letters are written to respond to a moment and in politics moments pass in the speed of light,” said Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Squad member and typically one of the Democrats’ most progressive voices on foreign policy. “In this particular case, the letter was a response to intel we were getting on the war and the pathway forward.”

This is, to put it politely, a flimsy attempt at spin. The truth, as a senior Congressional aide admitted to Vox, was that: “We floated the world’s softest trial balloon about diplomacy, got smacked by the Blob, and immediately withdrew under pressure.”

But you didn’t need the words of a staffer to grasp this, since the retraction followed an avalanche of attacks from a variety of prominent liberals. Longtime Democratic staffer and lobbyist Jim Manley called it “absolutely, positively disgraceful.” Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas charged it was “unbelievably naive and stupid” and that “only overwhelming force will now end” the war. “Why now?” asked the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser, having apparently forgotten that barely three weeks ago, the president had warned the world is dangerously close to nuclear Armageddon due to the war.

They were joined in these attacks, in a by now depressingly familiar pattern in the post-Trump era, by a parade of neoconservative voices. Bill Kristol, a leading propagandist for the American invasion of Iraq, called it — what else? — “appeasement.” Max Boot, who once urged Americans to think of American wars in the Middle East “in much the same way we thought of our Indian Wars,” deemed it “appalling.” Eliot “Iraq is the big prize” Cohen labeled the letter “disgrace and folly.”

THE DIPLOMACY TABOO

All of this begs the question: What was actually in the letter to inspire such rage and vitriol?

The letter opens with effusive praise for the Biden administration’s military support for Ukraine and its role in “deal[ing] a historic military defeat to Russia,” as well for having successfully managed Biden’s goal of avoiding direct military conflict with the nuclear-armed country.

Pointing to the dangers for both Ukraine and the world from a prolonged conflict, it urges the president to “pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push” for a cease-fire — that is, to keep arming Ukraine while also doing this — and referenced Biden’s own public statements about the eventual need for a negotiated settlement and to find “a way out” for Vladimir Putin.

The signatories acknowledge how hard diplomatic engagement will be in light of Putin’s crimes and his annexations, but given the alternative, stress that the United States must “pursue every diplomatic alternative” to “end the war while preserving a free and independent Ukraine,” and finding “a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.” Besides the continuing harm to Ukrainians, they note the suffering the war’s economic ripple effects are causing in the poorest parts of the world as well as for working Americans. They stress that while “it is not America’s place to pressure Ukraine’s government regarding sovereign decisions,” the depth of American involvement in the war creates a responsibility to “explore all possible avenues” to reduce harm. To that end, it points to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s own statements stressing the war will only end and untold lives will be saved through diplomacy.

So to recap: the signatories unreservedly endorsed Biden’s existing policy on the war; urged the president to add a diplomatic push to what he’s already doing; affirmed that this must only be done if the cease-fire terms are acceptable to Ukraine; ruled out pressuring the Ukrainian government about the terms of negotiations; and all on the basis of the immense suffering that the war’s continuation is causing to both ordinary Ukrainians and working people all over the world. To top it off, they emphasized that what they were calling for was exactly what both Biden and Ukraine’s president had already called for in public.

In the warped political climate that’s enveloped the United States over the past year, this exceedingly mild request is considered “disgraceful,” “stupid,” “appalling,” and simply beyond the pale. Give the liberal and neoconservative hawks a hand: on the sixtieth anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, they’ve successfully managed to flip the lessons of humanity’s lucky break in that episode, turning the foolish advice profered by John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev’s most unhinged military advisors into the reasonable, even progressive, position and insisting that, actually, the thing that saved the world in 1962 — high-level dialogue and diplomatic engagement — is the real dangerous, reckless course of action.

What this represents isn’t just the usual dishonest establishment pile on against the left-leaning faction they despise. It’s the wholesale stigmatization in Washington debate of any diplomatic avenue to war. Or as MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan put it:

You don’t have to agree with everything in the letter, or the timing of it, to see how dangerous it is that, on the one hand, the president is speaking about nuclear Armageddon, and on the other, any members of his party who mention “diplomacy” are smeared as Putin apologists.

Hence, now even Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who once urged Ronald Reagan to “develop a major peace offensive” with the Soviet Union even as it was three years into invading Afghanistan, is denouncing progressives as if they had been calling for military aid to Ukraine to end. That Sanders clearly sees it as more politically risky to call for diplomacy today than in the “Evil Empire” days of the 1980s sums up how menacingly distorted American political culture has become these last few years.

One exception deserving of applause is Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), who unlike other signatories now scrambling to distance themselves from the letter, has calmly and courageously stood by it, defending CPC staff and calling its provisions “common sense” on CNN. “Even at the height of the Cold War in this country . . . we had our leaders talk to the Russians,” he told the network.

Unfortunately, you’ll find this kind of impulse to stand by one’s convictions rare in any period of America’s war fever.

ESCALATION RISES

This couldn’t have come at a more dangerous time. The president’s own warning about nuclear apocalypse is understated compared to the alarm with which various experts, scientists, and analysts are looking at the current risks. The Biden administration itself acknowledges the “inescapable paradox” that its commitment to backing Ukraine until it recaptures even the contested territories of Crimea and Donbas raises the risk of nuclear conflict. Meanwhile, the United States is being drawn deeper and deeper into the conflict, with more American covert personnel on the ground in Ukraine than at the war’s start, and CBS recently reporting that American troops are now deployed for combat mere miles from the Ukrainian border, ready to cross over if the fighting escalates.

The attacks on the letter are particularly ironic because the CPC was only cautiously echoing what prominent establishment voices had already said in response to this spiraling escalation. No less than former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, who had advised both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has already urged the Biden administration to tamp down its rhetoric and start talks with Moscow. Multiple American government and military sources expressed frustration to Newsweek over the seeming absence of American efforts to find the de-escalatory “off-ramp” for Russian president Putin, which Biden himself has publicly said is needed to prevent disaster. (“Washington and NATO seem too focused on a public message, and not on a solution,” one Strategic Command officer complained).

Meanwhile, for all the claims floating around now that the Kremlin doesn’t want to talk, we have strong indications the opposite is true. Both former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, currently engaged in prisoner swap negotiations with Russian officials, as well as the American special advisor to Ukraine’s military commander have said they believe Moscow is ready to negotiate, as multiple statements from Russian officials this month and earlier have suggested.

The trouble is that, as the furor over the CPC letter shows, the political space doesn’t exist in the United States to hold talks with Russia. This is why Biden just expressly ruled out speaking with Putin at the G20 summit and why Antony Blinken, the top-ranking American diplomat, has only spoken to his Russian counterpart once, in July about a prisoner swap. The Russian ambassador to the United States, meanwhile, has claimed there is no Cuban missile crisis–style back channel between the two countries, and the Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman has cautioned that contrary to assumptions of “secret diplomacy” happening behind the scenes, “there are few channels open with the Kremlin.”

The CPC’s intervention was meant to create the political cover for the Biden administration to pursue this pathway. Instead, the furious pushback to it seems to have firmly shut the door to it.

THE FRUITS OF RUSSIAGATE

This is sadly the logical end point of the McCarthyite sickness that’s gripped the American establishment since 2016.

At that point, liberals, Democrats, and even some leftists decided Russia would be a politically convenient cudgel to use against Donald Trump and other political enemies. But predictably, this migrated well beyond, and accusations of being soft on Russia or even secretly in cahoots with the Kremlin quickly became a go-to political smear, usually in the direction of the preferred policy of the Washington establishment. So a leading scholar of Soviet history, Stephen F. Cohen, even upon his death, was casually smeared as a Putin apologist. Left-wing challengers to or critics of the Democratic establishment were baselessly tied to Putin by irresponsible commentators. Questioning the logic of expanding NATO to Montenegro meant you were doing the Kremlin’s bidding. So did pushing for American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This trend has gone into overdrive with Russia’s invasion. A few months back, Amnesty International came under a barrage of attacks for putting out a report critical of both the Ukrainian military for setting up base in civilian areas, and of Russian forces for targeting civilian areas — a criticism it regularly levels in other countries, as with, say, the Israel-Palestine conflict, where the group has criticized Hamas for doing the same thing. Around the same time, under a similar hail of criticism, CBS retracted a report where a private arms supplier to Ukrainian forces admitted only 30 percent of military aid was reaching the front line, due to corruption and “power lords, oligarchs, political players.” The supplier said that the figure had “significantly improved” since the report was filmed, but gave no actual specifics.

Over in the UK, prominent broadcaster and commentator Paul Mason called for the Left to “fight Putin’s hybrid warfare tactics from within British society.” Leaked emails later showed what Mason meant: a covertly government-funded scheme that would take aim at a “pro-Putin Info Sphere,” which he mapped out in a Glenn Beck–style chart that included everyone from Jeremy Corbyn and various antiwar groups, to Novara Media, the Labour left, and, strangest of all, Muslim and black communities. A few months back, Louise Mensch ― a former British Tory MP and fabulist who became a minor American political celebrity over the Russiagate scandal — tagged the official Twitter handle of the Ukrainian special operations forces in a reply to a Canadian journalist on the ground in the Donbas, implying they should take her out.

Remember that this is all happening over a war that the United States and other NATO states are, nominally, not actually fighting in.

MADE TO WAVE THE FLAG

Lost in all this is that the position briefly taken by the CPC is, despite the goings-on on Twitter, the far more mainstream position, from the perspective of public opinion. There are now multiple surveys showing a majority the American public support pursuing diplomacy to bring the war to a close. And even as majorities tell pollsters they’re willing to weather higher costs to help Ukraine in the abstract, other polls show that matters of foreign policy are way down the list of voters’ priorities this November, which are instead topped by inflation and the economy ― the very issues Republicans have used to overtake the Democrats in polling leading up the election, and which are worsened by the war continuing to go on and on.

Speaking of a Republican midterm victory, the decision to effectively bar diplomacy as a political option comes in the middle of growing talk of a GOP-run Congress cutting off military aid to Ukraine. While this is far from guaranteed — most Republicans are just as hawkish on Russia as Democrats — it’s not out of the question. This measure is being pushed by powerful conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation, the driving force of the Trump transition, and Trump himself has signaled his lack of enthusiasm for the war, matching that of influential right-wing commentators like Tucker Carlson. Little thought is given to what will happen to Ukraine if it rejects talks now at a position of strength, only to lose its leading military patron a few months later, let alone the economically unsustainable nature of the country’s war effort.

Beyond the human costs, just as little thought is given to the long-term political consequences of liberals and progressives ceding the broadly popular pro-diplomacy terrain regarding this conflict to an increasingly radical right. But maybe Americans shouldn’t even concern themselves with all of these messy questions. After all, isn’t that exactly what Putin wants? But we doubt you will buy that since you have enough of a brain to read all of this….

BIDEN IS NOT KENNEDY

The Founding Fathers Didn’t Intend For The American President To Have The Same Authority As A Dictator, But That’s The System We Live Under.

This month is the 20 year anniversary of George W. Bush signing the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

This was the resolution—still on the books—that Congress passed giving the president unlimited authority to wage perpetual war in Iraq.

Twenty years later, and we still have 2,500 soldiers in Iraq. And there are neocons lobbying to use it as an excuse to go to war with Iran. (Try explaining how that makes sense).

We live in a country where a single person, the president, holds tyrannical authority over the critical decision of war and peace.

The Founding Fathers didn’t intend for the American president to have the same authority as a foreign strongman like Vladimir Putin, but that’s the system we live under.

Our government became like this because of a power hungry executive branch and a weak-willed legislative branch fearful of accountability.

Only state governments, acting in the protective interests of their residents, can fix this federal problem.

Defend the Guard legislation would prohibit the deployment of a state’s National Guard units into active combat without a declaration of war by Congress.

This enforces Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and will cripple the government’s ability to wage illegal, endless wars.

We can force them to end the unconstitutional AUMF against Iraq, and bring our troops home from there as well as Syria, Yemen, and Africa.

The Defend the Guard movement is the cornerstone project of Bring Our Troops Home. It is the only organization getting bills introduced in state legislatures.

October 16 was the sixty year anniversary of the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On that fall morning of 1962, President John F. Kennedy was shown photographic evidence that the Soviet Union was positioning nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from American shores.

For close to two weeks, the United States and the Soviet Union faced off in a nuclear brinksmanship.

One itchy trigger finger on either side, and you wouldn’t be reading this newsletter right now, and we wouldn’t be here to right it.

President Kennedy knew that offensive military equipment that close to the American was an intolerable position. So he stood his ground.

But he also knew deescalation and negotiation was the solution.

Sidling against his generals—who wanted to blow up the world—Kennedy opted for personal diplomacy with Krushchev.

The Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba and American removed it’s missiles from Turkey, and the crisis point was averted.

Kennedy and Krushchev both possessed “strategic empathy.” That’s the wisdom to understand the security requirements and redlines of foreign powers.

It’s what smart leaders have, which is why we don’t have any of it in Washington DC.

Since 2008, Vladimir Putin has made clear closer ties between Ukraine and the west are a red line for Russia; and they’re willing to wage war to prevent it.

Responsible leadership would see this situation, weigh the pros and cons to the American people, and decide that Eastern Europe has never mattered a whiff to our national security.

We knew that during the Cold War, but have somehow forgotten.

A Kennedy-esque president today might try to negotiate an end to American interference in Ukraine.

But instead we have Joe Biden, half-asleep at the reins of power while the military-industrial complex submits another multi-billion dollar weapons deal.

The United States is a co-belligerent in a war on the border of a nuclear power. This is the closest we’ve been to the annihilation of our specials in sixty years, if not ever.

You should trust the judgements of John Kennedy a lot more than you trust Joe Biden.

If you care about our soldiers, our laws, the lives of your family and the air we breath, speak out to all elements of your state and federal governments.

AMERICA’S REJECTION OF MOSCOW’S OFFER FOR PEACE TALKS IS UTTERLY DISGUSTING

It’s Absolutely Insane That The World’s Two Nuclear Superpowers Are Accelerating Toward Direct Military Confrontation And America Won’t Even Talk To Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow was open to talks with the America or with Turkey on ending the war in Ukraine, claiming that American officials are lying when they say Russia has been refusing peace talks.

Reuters reports:

Lavrov said officials, including White House national security spokesman John Kirby, had said the United States was open to talks but that Russia had refused.

This is a lie,” Lavrov said. “We have not received any serious offers to make contact.””

Lavrov’s claim was given more weight when American State Department spokesman Ned Price dismissed the offer for peace talks shortly after it was extended, citing Russia’s recent missile strikes on Kyiv.

We see this as posturing,” Price said at a Tuesday press briefing. “We do not see this as a constructive, legitimate offer to engage in the dialogue and diplomacy that is absolutely necessary to see an end to this brutal war of aggression against the people and the state, the Government of Ukraine.”

This is inexcusable. At a time when our world is at its most perilous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis according to many experts as well as the president of the United States, the American government has no business making the decision not to sit down with Russian officials and work toward de-escalation and peace. They have no business making that call on behalf of every terrestrial organism on this planet whose life is being risked in these games of nuclear brinkmanship. The fact that this war has escalated with missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital makes peace talks more necessary, not less.

This rejection is made all the more outrageous by new information from The Washington Post that the American government does not believe Ukraine can win this war and refuses to encourage it to negotiate with Moscow.

Privately, U.S. officials say neither Russia nor Ukraine is capable of winning the war outright, but they have ruled out the idea of pushing or even nudging Ukraine to the negotiating table,” WaPo reports. “They say they do not know what the end of the war looks like, or how it might end or when, insisting that is up to Kyiv.”

These two points taken together lend even more credibility an argument we have been making from the very beginning of this war: that America does not want peace in Ukraine, but rather seeks to create a costly military quagmire for Moscow just as American officials have confessed to trying to do in Afghanistan and in Syria. Which would explain why Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the American goal in Ukraine is actually to “weaken” Russia, and also why the empire appears to have actively torpedoed a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia in the early days of the conflict.

This proxy war has no exit strategy. And that is entirely by design.

Many have been calling for America to abandon its policy of actively sustaining this war while avoiding peace talks.

President Biden’s language, we’re about at the top of the language scale, if you will,” former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen told ABC’s This Week on Sunday regarding the president’s recent remark that this conflict could lead to “Armageddon”.

I think we need to back off that a little bit and do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing,” Mullen said, adding, “As is typical in any war, it has got to end and usually there are negotiations associated with that. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.”

One thing the United States can do is… drop the position, the official position, that the war must go on to weaken Russia severely, meaning no negotiations,” Noam Chomsky argued in a recent appearance on Democracy Now. “Would that open the way to negotiations, diplomacy? Can’t be sure. There’s only one way to find out. That’s to try. If you don’t try, of course it won’t happen.”

It is time for the United States to supplement its military support for Ukraine with a diplomatic track to manage this crisis before it spirals out of control,” said the Quincy Institute’s George Beebe following the Monday missile strikes on Kyiv, calling it “a major escalation in the war” that was bound to “bring the world closer to a direct military collision between Russia and the United States.”

The Americans have to come to an agreement with the Russians. And then the war will be over,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at an event on Tuesday, adding that “anyone who thinks that this war will be concluded through Russian-Ukrainian negotiations is not living in this world.”

It’s absolutely insane that the world’s two nuclear superpowers are accelerating toward direct military confrontation and they aren’t even talking to each other, and it’s even crazier that anyone who says they should be gets called a Kremlin agent and a Chamberlain-like appeaser. Responsible Statecraft’s Harry Kazianis discusses this freakish dynamic in a recent article titled “Talking is not appeasement — it’s avoiding a nuclear armageddon“:

I have fought more than thirty combat simulations in wargames under my own direction for a private defense contract over the last several months, looking at various aspects of the Russia-Ukraine war, and one thing is clear: the chances of a nuclear war increase significantly every day that passes.

In every scenario I tested, the Biden Administration slowly gives Ukraine ever more advanced weapons like ATACMS, F-16s, and other platforms that Russia has consistently warned pose a direct military threat. While each scenario has postulated a different point at which Moscow decides to use a tactical nuclear weapon in order to counter conventional platforms it can’t easily defeat, the chances that Russia uses nukes grow as new and more powerful military capabilities are introduced into the battlefield by the West.

In fact, in 28 of the thirty scenarios I have run since the war began, some sort of nuclear exchange occurs.

The good news is there is a way out of this crisis — however imperfect it may be. In the two scenarios where nuclear war was averted, direct negotiations led to a ceasefire.”

Again that it is absolutely pants-on-head gibbering insanity that these direct negotiations are not already presently underway. Let us petition any and all higher powers we have faith in that this changes very soon. Let us also petition the leaders of our individual nations around the world to exert whatever kind of pressure they can muster upon Washington for these talks to commence. This brinkmanship threatens us all, and the managers of the American empire have no business playing these games with our lives.

THE UKRAINE GAME IS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL

The World’s Very Survival Depends On Prudence, Diplomacy, And Compromise By All Sides.

Former American National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski famously described Ukraine as a “geopolitical pivot” of Eurasia, central to both American and Russian power. Since Russia views its vital security interests to be at stake in the current conflict, the war in Ukraine is rapidly escalating to a nuclear showdown. It’s urgent for both America and Russia to exercise restraint before disaster hits.

Since the middle of the 19th Century, the West has competed with Russia over Crimea and more specifically, naval power in the Black Sea. In the Crimean War (1853-6), Britain and France captured Sevastopol and temporarily banished Russia’s navy from the Black Sea. The current conflict is, in essence, the Second Crimean War. This time, an American led military alliance seeks to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, so that five NATO members would encircle the Black Sea.

America has long regarded any encroachment by great powers in the Western Hemisphere as a direct threat to American security, dating back to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which states: “We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those [European] powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.”

In 1961, America invaded Cuba when Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro looked to the Soviet Union for support. America was not much interested in Cuba’s “right” to align with whichever country it wanted – the claim American asserts regarding Ukraine’s supposed right to join NATO. The failed American invasion in 1961 led to the Soviet Union’s decision to place offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba in 1962, which in turn led to the Cuban Missile Crisis exactly 60 years ago this month. That crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Yet America’s regard for its own security interests in the Americas has not stopped it from encroaching on Russia’s core security interests in Russia’s neighbourhood. As the Soviet Union weakened, American policy leaders came to believe that the American military could operate as it pleases. In 1991, Undersecretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz explained to General Wesley Clark that America can deploy its military force in the Middle East “and the Soviet Union won’t stop us.” America’s national security officials decided to overthrow Middle East regimes allied to the Soviet Union, and to encroach on Russia’s security interests.

In 1990, Germany and America gave assurances to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that the Soviet Union could disband its own military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, without fear that NATO would enlarge eastward to replace the Soviet Union. It won Gorbachev’s assent to German reunification in 1990 on this basis. Yet with the Soviet Union’s demise, President Bill Clinton reneged by supporting the eastward expansion of NATO.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin protested vociferously but could do nothing to stop it. America’s dean of statecraft with Russia, George Kennan, declared that NATO expansion “is the beginning of a new cold war.”

Under Clinton’s watch, NATO expanded to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in 1999. Five years later, under President George W. Bush, Jr. NATO expanded to seven more countries: the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), the Black Sea (Bulgaria and Romania), the Balkans (Slovenia), and Slovakia. Under President Barack Obama, NATO expanded to Albania and Croatia in 2009, and under President Donald Trump, to Montenegro in 2019.

Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement intensified sharply in 1999 when NATO countries disregarded the UN and attacked Russia’s ally Serbia, and stiffened further in the 2000’s with American wars of choice in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. At the Munich Security conference in 2007, President Putin declared that NATO enlargement represents a “serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust.”

Putin continued: “And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances [of no NATO enlargement] our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.’ Where are these guarantees?”

Also in 2007, with the NATO admission of two Black Sea countries, Bulgaria and Romania, America established the Black Sea Area Task Group (originally the Task Force East). Then in 2008, America raised the America-Russia tensions still further by declaring that NATO would expand to the very heart of the Black Sea, by incorporating Ukraine and Georgia, threatening Russia’s naval access to the Black Sea, Mediterranean, and Middle East. With Ukraine’s and Georgia’s entry, Russia would be surrounded by five NATO countries in the Black Sea: Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Russia was initially protected from NATO enlargement to Ukraine by Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who led the Ukrainian parliament to declare Ukraine’s neutrality in 2010. Yet in 2014, America helped to overthrow Yanukovych and bring to power a staunchly anti-Russian government. The Ukraine War broke out at that point, with Russia quickly reclaiming Crimea and supporting pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas, the region of Eastern Ukraine with a relatively high proportion of Russian population. Ukraine’s parliament formally abandoned neutrality later in 2014.

Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas have been fighting a brutal war for 8 years. Attempts to end the war in the Donbas through the Minsk Agreements failed when Ukraine’s leaders decided not to honour the agreements, which called for autonomy for the Donbas. After 2014, America poured in massive armaments to Ukraine and helped to restructure Ukraine’s military to be interoperable with NATO, as evidenced in this year’s fighting.

The Russian invasion in 2022 would likely have been averted had Biden agreed with Putin’s demand at the end of 2021 to end NATO’s eastward enlargement. The war would likely have been ended in March 2022, when the governments of Ukraine and Russia exchanged a draft peace agreement based on Ukrainian neutrality. Behind the scenes, America and UK pushed Zelensky to reject any agreement with Putin and to fight on. At that point, Ukraine walked away from the negotiations.

Russia will escalate as necessary, possibly to nuclear weapons, to avoid military defeat and NATO’s further eastward enlargement. The nuclear threat is not empty, but a measure of the Russian leadership’s perception of its security interests at stake. Terrifyingly, America was also prepared to use nuclear weapons in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a senior Ukrainian official recently urged America to launch nuclear strikes “as soon as Russia even thinks of carrying out nuclear strikes,” surely a recipe for World War III. We are again on the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

President John F. Kennedy learned about nuclear confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis. He defused that crisis not by force of will or American military might, but by diplomacy and compromise, removing Amerian nuclear missiles in Turkey in exchange for the Soviet Union removing its nuclear missiles in Cuba. The following year, he pursued peace with the Soviet Union, signing the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

In June 1963, Kennedy uttered the essential truth that can keep us alive today: “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy–or of a collective death-wish for the world.”

It is urgent to return to the draft peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine of late March, based on the non-enlargement of NATO. Today’s fraught situation can easily spin out of control, as the world has done on so many past occasions – yet this time with the possibility of nuclear catastrophe. The world’s very survival depends on prudence, diplomacy, and compromise by all sides.

AMERICA SURVIVED THE LAST NUCLEAR STANDOFF THROUGH COMPROMISE AND DE-ESCALATION

If People Really Understood How Much Is Being Risked Here And Now With Russia, And How Little It Benefits Them, Washington DC Would Be On Fire Right Now.

Vladimir Putin has signed documents finalizing the Russian annexation of four regions in eastern Ukraine, meaning there’s now a western-backed Ukrainian counter offensive underway to recapture what Russia officially considers parts of its homeland.

Moscow has made it clear that it will use all weapons systems at its disposal to defend against attacks on territories it claims as its own, which could include nuclear weapons. Depending on if and how that happens and what kind of day all the relevant decision makers are having when it does, there is a distinct possibility that a chain of events could follow which leads to the end of the world.

This happens as Ukraine’s President Zelensky signs a decree officially ruling out the possibility of any peace talks with Putin, who recently publicly requested such talks. The American empire, which has been driving this proxy war from the beginning, is also not currently engaged in peace talks with Moscow. Things are accelerating faster and faster toward the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen, and as far as we know nobody’s got a foot anywhere near the brake pedal.

Meanwhile, everyone has gone insane. The propaganda blanket has been laid on so thick since this war started that it has become the mainstream position that only continual escalation is acceptable. Public calls for de-escalation and detente are met with accusations of Kremlin loyalty, as we just saw with the vitriolic responses to Elon Musk’s online proposal of possible terms to end the war.

There’s a popular post going around Twitter right now by a pro-Kyiv pundit named Thomas Theiner which sums up the delusional sentiments we’ve been seeing on this front.

I grew up during the Cold War. I studied the Cold War,” Theiner writes. “When the russians/Soviets say: ‘We will use nuclear weapons!’, the only answer must be: ‘Try and die.’ All else is seen as weakness by the kremlin and will lead to the russians using nukes.”

Theiner is wrong, and has made no serious study of the cold war (or to be more precise the last cold war, since we’re in another one now). The only reason we survived the most dangerous part of that era was because of compromise and a sincere commitment to de-escalation, not because anyone was yelling “Try and die” at Moscow.

Back in 2013 The Atlantic published a solid article titled “The Real Cuban Missile Crisis,” subtitled “Everything you think you know about those 13 days is wrong.” Its author Benjamin Schwartz details how the crisis was peacefully resolved not because JFK was on the phone yelling “Try and die” at Nikita Khrushchev, but because he secretly cut a deal to remove the Jupiter missiles America had stationed in Italy and Turkey which provoked the 1962 incident in the first place.

Moscow perceived that the only reason why that type of midrange weapon would be placed in such a way would be if America was planning a nuclear first strike to disarm Russia, and Schwartz writes that that suspicion was entirely well-founded: the Kennedy administration had indeed strongly contemplated such a strike during the Berlin crisis of 1961. In response to this threat, as well as the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, Khrushchev moved ballistic missiles to Cuba, whose discovery led to the tense standoff which brought us far closer to nuclear annihilation than most of us care to contemplate. A secret deal was struck whose nature wouldn’t become public knowledge until decades later, resulting in both sides removing their offending missile placements.

We are alive today because Kennedy backed down from the brink and struck a compromise (as well as our sheer dumb luck at having one cool-headed Soviet officer on a nuclear-armed submarine refuse to deploy the weapon while being bombarded by the American navy during the standoff between JFK and Khrushchev). Kennedy conditioned his acquiescence to Moscow’s demands on assurances that his doing so would be kept secret, because then, as now, there were tremendous political pressures not to be seen as “backing down” and “looking weak” before the enemy.

But as history tells us, it’s not caveman chest-thumping that has allowed us to remain alive on a planet full of stockpiled armageddon weapons. It’s the sensibility to know when to compromise and relent rather than pushing continuously toward the edge.

Detente used to be a household term. It was a routine subject of mainstream political discourse; mainstream politicians were expected to have a clear and articulate position on the diplomatic easing of tensions with the USSR. Now people don’t even know detente is a thing. Say that word to people and it’s clearly the first time they’ve ever encountered it, and the concept itself is completely alien to them. People tend to believe the only options on the table are either (A) continuing to escalate this insane game of nuclear chicken with Russia, or (B) giving Putin everything he wants. They’re completely unaware that a third option of negotiation, compromise and de-escalation exists, much less that it has historically been viable and successful.

This is entirely by design. People don’t know that detente is an option because the political/media class virtually never mentions it anymore. The news media are supposedly responsible for helping to create an informed populace, but because their real job is propaganda they generally end up doing the exact opposite. If the public were permitted to become widely aware that these games of nuclear brinkmanship are not a necessity but a choice that is being made on their behalf, and that their leaders are rolling the dice on their lives and the lives of everyone they know and love for no other reason than to work toward securing unipolar planetary hegemony, they would no longer consent to this madness.

If people really understood how much is being risked here, and how little it benefits them, Washington DC would be on fire right now. That’s why their understanding is continually manipulated and obscured by the managers of the empire.

DIPLOMACY IS NOT APPEASEMENT — IT’S TO AVOID NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON

The Chances Of The Conflict In Ukraine Widening Into A Much More Devastating Conflict Demands That America Explore What May Be Possible Through Negotiation.

American foreign policy is filled with overused and tiresome cliches designed to resonate with a preferred partisan audience. For example, hawks like to label any resistance to aggressive strategy “appeasement,” or say that world leader X is “weak” or Y politician has “no strategy” towards whatever the foreign “threat” of the day may be.

They hide behind these phrases and tropes and often substitute toughness and machismo for what is needed most of the time — and that’s talking, complicated negotiations, and compromise.

All of this is precisely what is happening today with regard to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and why the United States and its allies won’t do the one thing that might help end the bloodshed: talk to Moscow.

Clearly, Washington and its allies should be finding ways to open up communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to end the fighting — as hard and politically difficult as that will be, given his latest annexation of Ukrainian territory and jeremiad lambasting the United States and the West on Friday. But it is nonetheless clearly in America’s national interest to do so. Right now, new sanctions and even a new the American-led military command are being set up for the long, hard slog, but what about back-channel diplomacy?

In fact, it seems that tensions are rising by the second.

Considering the stakes — among them, the possibility that Russia will feel so boxed in that it will turn to its arsenal of 6,400 nuclear warheads and try to end the Ukraine war on its own terms despite the risk of a nuclear holocaust — one would think talks would already be happening as we speak. Sadly, due to the Western narrative that Ukraine is “winning” the war against Moscow, the Biden administration appears to believe it can put enough pressure on Putin with more weapons for Ukraine that he will give up his newly annexed territories and go home with his atomic tail between his legs.

But Kyiv does not have the manpower, resources, or overall military capability to win anything right now. Yes, they have been successful recently as the Biden Administration is flooding them with weapons from its own military stockpiles like the HIMARS rocket system and other precision-strike platforms while giving Ukraine’s soldiers a crash course on how to use them. This means Washington is literally conducting a proxy war with Russia, and the pressure will mount daily to give Ukraine more and more advanced weapons to keep what is amounting to a war of attrition going.

Here is where we enter dangerous waters. Someone has fought more than thirty combat simulations in wargames under a private defense contract over the last several months, looking at various aspects of the Russia-Ukraine war, and one thing is clear: the chances of a nuclear war increase significantly every day that passes.

In every scenario, the Biden Administration slowly gives Ukraine ever more advanced weapons like ATACMS, F-16s, and other platforms that Russia has consistently warned pose a direct military threat. While each scenario has postulated a different point at which Moscow decides to use a tactical nuclear weapon in order to counter conventional platforms it can’t easily defeat, the chances that Russia uses nukes grow as new and more powerful military capabilities are introduced into the battlefield by the West.

In fact, in 28 of the thirty scenarios run since the war began, some sort of nuclear exchange occurs.

The good news is there is a way out of this crisis — however imperfect it may be. In the two scenarios where nuclear war was averted, direct negotiations led to a ceasefire. The Biden Administration and its NATO allies should be testing Putin’s recent comments about a ceasefire to test his seriousness. While Kyiv might not want a cessation of hostilities, thinking it can somehow regain not only territories lost this year but Crimea as well, it should be reminded that American and NATO weapons are what has enabled and turbo-charged its resistance.

Kyiv must also understand that there are no guarantees that it can sustain its momentum against a Russian military that still has them outmanned and outgunned — and that it is not in America’s interest to continue bankrolling another forever war with no end in sight.

Next is the hard part: what does a settlement actually look like? To be frank, it could take many months or years to hammer out any agreement, and it might not even take place until Putin leaves office as he may have politically painted himself into a corner.

Nonetheless, the possibility of nuclear war demands that the West try to seriously explore what may be possible. Clearly, Ukraine cannot join NATO as Russia would be most unlikely to accept such an outcome given that preventing Ukraine from joining the alliance was the casus belli initially cited by Putin for his invasion. However, offering up front that Ukraine will never join NATO — removing one of Russia’s great geopolitical fears — as leverage could get the diplomatic ball rolling. While Kyiv put in a formal bid to join the alliance on Friday, it simply cannot happen, no matter how much Ukraine complains publicly or in the media.

From there, things will get more difficult, and there is no guarantee a ceasefire deal can be struck. In fact, Ukraine could end up one giant “frozen conflict”. And while no one wants to see that happen, one can argue that it would undoubtedly be better than a slow and steady march toward nuclear war in which billions of people could perish in the process.

AMERICANS SUPPORT A QUICK DIPLOMATIC END TO THE WAR IN UKRAINE

A Poll Reveals Most Voters Also Said They Want Washington To Actively Engage In Diplomacy As A Condition For Sending Military Aid.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans would support the United States engaging in diplomatic efforts “as soon as possible” to end the war in Ukraine, even if that means Ukraine having to make concessions to Russia, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Data for Progress on behalf of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, also found that a plurality (49 percent) said the Biden administration and Congress have not done enough diplomatically to help end the war (37 percent said they had).

The poll’s release comes after Vladimir Putin doubled down on Russia’s war in Ukraine by mobilizing reserves and issuing threats to use nuclear weapons after recent gains by the Ukrainian military near the country’s eastern border with Russia.

Moscow has also recently orchestrated referendums in some Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine on whether citizens there want to secede and become part of the Russian Federation, some so called “experts” to believe that regardless of the outcome, Putin plans to illegally annex parts of Ukraine.

The survey also found that 47 percent said they support the continuation of American military aid to Ukraine only if Washington is involved in ongoing diplomacy to end the war, while 41 percent said they would support aid regardless of whether the United States is engaged in negotiations.

Just six percent said Russia’s war in Ukraine is among the top three most important issues facing the United States today, with the top three being inflation (46 percent), jobs and the economy (31 percent), and gun violence (26 percent).

But, of course, you do not hear about those things as important stories in the mainstream media (a.k.a. Propaganda ministry.)

BIDEN’S DEMAND THAT RUSSIA “UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER” WILL FAIL

President Biden’s Policy In Ukraine Seems Completely Thoughtless And It’s Having A Negligible Effect On Russia And The Course Of The War.

When the Combined Chiefs of Staff Conference in Casablanca, Morocco ended in January 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill held a press conference. Toward the end of the press conference, FDR told the correspondents that the Allies were determined to demand the “Unconditional Surrender” of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

FDR later said that Ulysses S. Grant’s 1862 ultimatum of “Unconditional Surrender” to the Confederate garrison holding Fort Donelson in Tennessee was his inspiration. Grant was trying to speed the capture of an isolated fortress and avoid unnecessary casualties on all sides.

But FDR’s policy of “Unconditional Surrender” during a destructive global war was unwise and costly. It stiffened German resistance, lengthened the war, pushed violence to its utmost limits and rejected any resolution to the conflict other than the opponents’ complete annihilation—the kind of result that Stalin and Hitler called “victory.” Sadly, there is no evidence that anyone in the White House or the Pentagon studied the policy’s psychological impact on the German or Japanese peoples before it was announced.

Biden’s speech on March 26 in Warsaw removed any doubt in Moscow’s governing circles that Washington’s goal was Russia’s destruction: “…that’s why I came to Europe again this week with a clear and determined message for NATO…—we must commit now to be in this fight for the long haul…and for the years and decades to come.” In case there was any lingering uncertainty, Biden added, “For God’s sake this man [Vladimir Putin] cannot remain in power.”

President Biden’s policy in Ukraine seems equally thoughtless and it’s having a similar effect on Russia and the course of the war. Since Biden delivered his speech, Russian control of Ukrainian territory has jumped from 5 to and estimated 22%, the same portion that provides Ukraine with 85% of its GNP. Moscow abandoned the “fight and negotiate strategy” of the “Special Operation” for a new one: extend permanent Russian control over the Russian-speaking areas in Eastern Ukraine from Kharkov to Odessa. When the fighting ends, Moscow will likely control roughly 30-35% of Ukraine’s former territory.

Meanwhile, Moscow mastered Washington’s economic sanctions and, as James Rickards notes, continues to reduce the supply of natural gas to Western Europe with has resulted in Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, relying on its energy reserves as winter approaches and Russian supplies dwindle.

At home, inflation will cost the average American household more than $5,200 this year. A few days ago, Dr. Ron Paul described the situation: “Inflation is a tax on middle class and poor Americans. The wealthy—like those who run Raytheon and Lockheed Martin—always get the new money first before prices go up. The rest of us watch as the dollar buys less and less.” As Washington celebrates the commitment of more and more dollars to fighting Russia in Ukraine, the rest of America struggles with open borders and rising criminality in its major cities.

The timeless lesson is that emotionally charged speeches should never frame national policy, but Biden is in good company. Lyndon Johnson talked himself into a similar dilemma in Vietnam when he insisted, “If we are driven from the field in Viet-Nam, then no nation can ever again have the same confidence in American promise, or in American protection.” Eventually, LBJ was trapped by his own rhetoric.

He discovered what Biden is discovering in Ukraine. LBJ found out the hard way that the North Vietnamese were far more committed to “victory at any cost” than were the American people. In the aftermath of North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive, American support for the war dropped dramatically and the specter of defeat plunged the Johnson administration into a crisis of legitimacy.

Biden has forgotten that a lost war, even a proxy war, weakens the right to rule of those who govern the nation. The Biden administration is ignoring the fundamental truth that proxy wars like the one Washington is waging against Russia in Ukraine are not exempt from war’s iron discipline: all wars put national existence, power and prestige at risk, making victory or defeat the only real options.

Like the North Vietnamese, Moscow is far more committed to victory in Ukraine than Washington or its European allies. Once again, American support for ongoing operations in Ukraine is razor thin and growing concern in America and Europe is that Biden’s unlimited war aims could involve the use of nuclear weapons to reverse Ukraine’s defeat.

Of course, the idea of using nuclear weapons in this way runs counter to Eisenhower’s fundamental point that nuclear weapons are weapons of last resort in defense of the nation. Whether tactical or strategic, nuclear weapons have no other rational application in modern warfare. Frankly, their use for any other purpose is suicidal. Anyone inside the Biden administration or Congress who is considering their use in Ukraine should be locked up.

The price of gratuitous self-righteousness is always high. Moscow will never again allow Washington and its allies to transform Eastern Ukraine into a launching pad for offensive military operations against Russia proper. Washington’s distorted view of the world and the realities of twenty-first century warfare will not alter Russia’s control of Eastern Ukraine.

President Biden’s insistence that Russia must be defeated regardless of how long it takes or how much it costs the Americans, Ukrainians, and NATO members is worse than FDR’s unconditional surrender demand. It endangers the American people, and eventually, if carried to its logical extreme, this policy stance will induce America’s allies and strategic partners to abandon their alliance with Washington.

REINFORCING THE FAILURE IN UKRAINE

The Longer The War With Russia Lasts The More Likely It Becomes Likely That The Damage To Ukraine Will Be Irreparable, But America Works To Avoid A Diplomatic Solution To Bring The Conflict To An End.

In an open letter entitled “U.S. must arm Ukraine now, before it’s too late” 20 notable American advocates for the war against Russia in Ukraine argue that the conflict has reached a decisive moment. To win, the authors insist, Ukrainian forces need an abundance of new equipment, including the constant resupply of ammunition and spare parts for artillery platforms, short- and medium-range air defense systems to counter Russian air and missile strikes, and ATACMS munitions fired by HIMARS with the 300 km range necessary to strike Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine or Crimea.

Meanwhile, the initial flood of equipment and ammunition from Washington’s European Allies into Ukraine has been reduced to a trickle. Daniel Fiott, a European defense analyst at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, complained, “Ukraine needs hardware, not hot air.” Equally important, refugee fatigue is setting in across Europe.

Germans and Hungarians lost their patience with the unrelenting influx of refugees into Europe some time ago, but now the Poles are reaching the saturation point. Polish households confront serious economic headwinds. Poland has one of Europe’s highest inflation rates—15.6 percent in July—caused in part by the war in Ukraine. As conditions worsen in the fall and winter, it is not hard to imagine enormous public pressure on Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Paris, and Rome to end the war in Ukraine.

The hard truth is the introduction of new weapon systems won’t change the strategic outcome in Ukraine. Even if NATO’s European members, together with Washington, D.C., provided Ukrainian troops with a new avalanche of weapons, and it arrived at the front instead of disappearing into the black hole of Ukrainian corruption, the training and tactical leadership required to conduct complex offensive operations does not exist inside Ukraine’s 700,000-man army. In addition, there is an acute failure to recognize that Moscow would react to such a development by escalating the conflict. Unlike Ukraine, Russia is not currently mobilized for a larger war, but it could do so quickly.

American military and civilian leaders routinely ignore the historical record and its lessons. Most importantly, they ignored the criticality of human capital in uniform that frequently constitutes the margin of victory in war.

On June 22, 1941, the German Wehrmacht launched its invasion of Russia with more horses than tanks. For the most part, the German ground forces were composed of Great War-style infantry divisions dependent on horse-draw logistics and artillery. The German soldiers were indisputably excellent, but only a minority were equipped with the firepower, mobility, and armored protection needed for warfare in Eastern Europe.

Of the millions of German soldiers who marched into Russia, roughly 450,000 to 500,000 were assigned to Germany’s mobile armored force, the offensive striking power that rapidly crushed its Polish, British, Dutch, Belgian, and French opponents. These soldiers were the best of the best with the lion’s share of the modern equipment.

It took four years, from 1939 to 1943, to wear down this core element to the point where large-scale German offensives were no longer possible. The critical data point to remember is that 55,000 German officers had been killed in action by October.

These German officers were among the best and most experienced officers in the army. They performed the brilliant maneuvers that brought the ill-equipped Wehrmacht to the gates of Moscow in a war on three fronts—Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe. They led it through the offensives that culminated in the battles of Kursk and El Alamein.

A similar problem plagued the Luftwaffe. German industry could provide modern jet fighters, but the Luftwaffe could no more replace the losses of its best pilots than the German Army could replace its best officers.

Meanwhile, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto understood the importance of human capital in uniform better than anyone. Yamamoto not only wanted to strike and annihilate the American fleet at Pearl Harbor but also wanted to seize the Hawaiian Islands, declaring, “To defeat the U.S. Navy we must kill its officers.” Yamamoto understood how long it took to train and prepare officers for the Navy. Ultimately, Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor allowed American forces to kill off the best the Imperial Japanese armed forces had in the air and at sea.

In war and peace, human capital is everything. Sadly, Washington places almost no value on it, eagerly lowering standards of admission for soldiers and officers. If this attitude persists, and it probably will, relaxed standards will catch up with America’s military when our forces finally confront a capable opposing force in battle.

John Adams, second president of the United States, observed, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Adams is still right.

Ukraine’s war with Russia is at a decisive point. It is time to end it. Instead, the authors of the letter seek to reinforce failure. They are demanding a deeply flawed strategy for Ukraine that will lead in the best case to Ukraine’s reduction to a shrunken, land-locked state between the Dnieper River and the Polish border. These are results of misguided policies originating in the 1990s under the Clinton administration, which drove Russia into political isolation from Europe and forged Moscow’s alliance with Beijing.

Expanding NATO to Russia’s borders was never necessary and has become disastrous for Europe. The longer the war with Russia lasts the more likely it becomes that the damage to Ukrainian society and its army will be irreparable. Neutrality on the Austrian model for Ukraine is still possible. If Washington insists on perpetuating Ukraine’s war with Russia, the neutrality option will vanish, NATO’s fragile “coalition of the willing” will collapse, and Ukraine will become the new “sick man of Europe” and remain a catalyst for future conflict.

AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IS A TRAGIC DRAMA

What Is Euphemized As American-Style Democracy Is A Financial Oligarchy Privatizing Basic Infrastructure, Health And Education.

As in a Greek tragedy whose protagonist brings about precisely the fate that he has sought to avoid, the American/NATO confrontation with Russia in Ukraine is achieving just the opposite of America’s aim of preventing China, Russia and their allies from acting independently of American control over their trade and investment policy. Naming China as America’s main long-term adversary, the Biden Administration’s plan was to split Russia away from China and then cripple China’s own military and economic viability. But the effect of American diplomacy has been to drive Russia and China together, joining with Iran, India and other allies. For the first time since the Bandung Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in 1955, a critical mass is able to be mutually self-sufficient to start the process of achieving independence from Dollar Diplomacy.

Confronted with China’s industrial prosperity based on self-financed public investment in socialized markets, American officials acknowledge that resolving this fight will take a number of decades to play out. Arming a proxy Ukrainian regime is merely an opening move in turning Cold War 2 (and potentially/or indeed World War III) into a fight to divide the world into allies and enemies with regard to whether governments or the financial sector will plan the world economy and society.

What is euphemized as American-style democracy is a financial oligarchy privatizing basic infrastructure, health and education. The alternative is what President Biden calls autocracy, a hostile label for governments strong enough to block a global rent-seeking oligarchy from taking control. China is deemed autocratic for providing basic needs at subsidized prices instead of charging whatever the market can bear. Making its mixed economy lower-cost is called “market manipulation,” as if that is a bad thing that was not done by the United States, Germany and every other industrial nation during their economic takeoff in the 19th and early 20th century.

Clausewitz popularized the axiom that war is an extension of national interests – mainly economic. The United States views its economic interest to lie in seeking to spread its neoliberal ideology globally. The evangelistic aim is to financialize and privatize economies by shifting planning away from national governments to a cosmopolitan Zionist financial sector. There would be little need for politics in such a world. Economic planning would shift from political capitals to financial centers, from Washington to Wall Street, with satellites in the City of London, the Paris Bourse, Frankfurt and Tokyo. Board meetings for the new oligarchy would be held at Davos’s World Economic Forum. Hitherto public infrastructure services would be privatized and priced high enough to include profits (and indeed, monopoly rents), debt financing and management fees rather than being publicly subsidized. Debt service and rent would become the major overhead costs for families, industry and governments.

The American drive to retain its unipolar power to impose “America First” financial, trade and military policies on the world involves an inherent hostility toward all countries seeking to follow their own national interests. Having less and less to offer in the form of mutual economic gains, American policy makes threats of sanctions and covert meddling in foreign politics. The American dream envisions a Chinese version of Boris Yeltsin replacing the nation’s Communist Party leadership and selling off its public domain to the highest bidder – presumably after a monetary crisis wipes out domestic purchasing power much as occurred in post-Soviet Russia, leaving the international financial community as buyers.

Russia and President Putin cannot be forgiven for having fought back against the Harvard Boys’ “reforms.” That is why American officials planned how to create Russian economic disruption to (they hope) orchestrate a “color revolution” to recapture Russia for the world’s neoliberal camp. That is the character of the “democracy” and “free markets” being juxtaposed to the “autocracy” of state-subsidized growth. As Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov explained in a press conference on July 20, 2022 regarding Ukraine’s violent coup in 2014, America and other Western officials define military coups as democratic if they are sponsored by the United States in the hope of promoting neoliberal policies.

The global economic fracturing goes far beyond NATO’s conflict with Russia in Ukraine. By the time the Biden administration took office at the start of 2021, Russia and China already had been discussing the need to de-dollarize their foreign trade and investment, using their own currencies. That involves the quantum leap of organizing a new payments-clearing institution. Planning had not progressed beyond broad outlines of how such a system would work, but the American confiscation of Russia’s foreign reserves made such planning urgent, starting with a BRICS-plus bank. A Eurasian alternative to the IMF will remove its ability to impose neoliberal austerity “conditionalities” to force countries to lower payments to labor and give priority to paying their foreign creditors above feeding themselves and developing their own economies. Instead of new international credit being extended mainly to pay dollar debts, it will be part of a process of new mutual investment in basic infrastructure designed to accelerate economic growth and living standards. Other institutions are being designed as China, Russia, Iran, India and their prospective allies represent a large enough critical mass to “go it alone,” based on their own mineral wealth and manufacturing power.

The basic American policy has been to threaten to destabilize countries and perhaps bomb them until they agree to adopt neoliberal policies and privatize their public domain. But taking on Russia, China and Iran is a much higher order of magnitude. NATO has disarmed itself of the ability to wage conventional warfare by handing over its supply of weaponry – admittedly largely outdated – to be devoured in Ukraine. In any case, no democracy in today’s world can impose a military draft to wage a conventional land warfare against a significant/major adversary. The protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s ended the American military draft, and the only way to really conquer a country is to occupy it in land warfare. This logic also implies that Russia is no more in a position to invade Western Europe than NATO countries are to send conscripts to fight Russia.

That leaves Western democracies with the ability to fight only one kind of war: atomic war – or at least, bombing at a distance, as was done in Afghanistan and the Near East, without requiring Western manpower. This is not diplomacy at all. It is merely acting the role of wrecker. But that is the only tactic that remains available to the United States and NATO Europe. It is strikingly like the dynamic of Greek tragedy, where power leads to hubris that is injurious to others and therefore ultimately anti-social – and self-destructive in the end.

How then can the United States maintain its world dominance? It has deindustrialized and run up foreign official debt far beyond any foreseeable way to be paid. Meanwhile, its banks and bondholders are demanding that the Global South and other countries pay foreign dollar bondholders in the face of their own trade crisis resulting from the soaring energy and food prices caused by America’s anti-Russian and anti-China belligerence. This double standard is a basic internal contradiction that goes to the core of today’s neoliberal Western worldview.