NUCLEAR HYPOCRISY

Is The United States Really In The Position To Criticize Threats Of Nuclear War When It Has Done So Itself On Several Occasions?

The Russo-Ukraine conflict took an ominous turn with Vladimir Putin’s alleged nuclear threats. The possibility of nuclear war particularly shocked Europeans, who assumed that America would always protect them from all that is bad in the world. That Putin would contemplate use of nuclear weapons was seen as additional evidence of outrageous criminality. Nevertheless, optimistic observers insisted that nuclear weapons would be of little use and recommended ignoring his pronouncements.

Other allied officials were more pessimistic, leading some to threaten retaliation. For instance, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned of unspecified “catastrophic consequences.” Less reputable analysts, such as David Petraeus, advocated risking Armageddon by attacking Moscow’s forces, apparently assuming that Putin—whose personal survival literally may depend on the war’s outcome—would meekly retreat and concede defeat. Thankfully, President Joe Biden has been more responsible and sought to prevent a nuclear conflagration.

While that is what an American president should be expected to do, it is not what past American presidents have done. As the first nuclear power, America not only used nuclear weapons, it also frequently threatened to use them, even against non-nuclear states. In short, Washington has done what Moscow supposedly did, only much more often.

At the conclusion of the Second World War, the USSR had a large quantitative advantage in conventional forces in Europe. America feared a Soviet invasion and threatened Moscow with nuclear weapons. In January 1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles declared against relying on large American conventional forces and placing permanent garrisons in other countries. Instead, he advocated “for ourselves and the other free nations, a maximum deterrent at a bearable cost.” That meant relying on a “deterrent of massive retaliatory power,” which was understood to mean nuclear weapons.

In November 1950, President Harry Truman said that use of nuclear weapons was under “active consideration” in Korea. He also indicated that “We will take whatever steps are necessary to meet the military situation, just as we always have” and, when asked whether that included nuclear weapons, replied “That includes every weapon we have.” President Dwight Eisenhower said in his memoirs that he was willing to use nuclear weapons against both North Korea and China, neither of which possessed nukes, to end the war. Moreover, after the signing of the armistice, he said he would use nuclear weapons against the People’s Republic of China if it renewed the war. Moreover, National Security Council minutes stated: “The President expressed with great emphasis the opinion that if the Chinese Communists attacked us again, we should certainly respond by hitting them hard and wherever it would hurt most, including [Beijing] itself.”

In 1955, Beijing launched a military operation to seize Yijiangshan Island, about ten miles from China. The PRC threatened to invade Taiwan, upon which the Nationalist government had relocated after fleeing the mainland. After the Yijiangshan attack, “the U.S. Congress passed the Formosa Resolution, pledging to defend the Republic of China from further attack. Then…the United States warned that it was considering using nuclear weapons to defend the Nationalist government.” Eisenhower said he saw no reason why nukes “shouldn’t be used exactly as you would use a bullet or anything else.” Vice President Richard Nixon declared: “Tactical atomic weapons are now conventional and will be used against the targets of any aggressive force.”

The Taiwan crisis recurred three years later, this time threatening Kinmen Island. Reported the New York Times: “When Communist Chinese forces began shelling islands controlled by Taiwan in 1958, the United States rushed to back up its ally with military force—including drawing up plans to carry out nuclear strikes on mainland China, according to an apparently still-classified document that sheds new light on how dangerous that crisis was. American military leaders pushed for a first-use nuclear strike on China, accepting the risk that the Soviet Union would retaliate in kind on behalf of its ally and millions of people would die.”

In 1969 China feared attack from the Soviet Union. The latter reportedly sought American neutrality, but the Nixon administration threatened nuclear war. According to a Chinese historical journal: “In the final step before the attack, Moscow sought the opinion of Washington. Nixon saw the Soviet Union as his main threat and wanted a strong China against it; he feared the effect of a nuclear war on 250,000 American troops in the Asia-Pacific. On October 15, Kissinger told the Soviet ambassador in Washington that America would not be neutral and would attack Soviet cities in retaliation.”

The American military prepared for use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam. The New York Times reported on newly declassified diplomatic materials: “In one of the darkest moments of the Vietnam War, the top American military commander in Saigon activated a plan in 1968 to move nuclear weapons to South Vietnam until he was overruled by President Lyndon B. Johnson, according to recently declassified documents cited in a new history of wartime presidential decisions. The documents reveal a long-secret set of preparations by the commander, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, to have nuclear weapons at hand should American forces find themselves on the brink of defeat at Khe Sanh, one of the fiercest battles of the war.” Also advanced, though ultimately rejected, were proposals to use nuclear weapons by the Eisenhower administration to back the French army at Dien Bien Phu, the Johnson administration to strike the North, and the Nixon administration to compel North Vietnam to reach agreement in the ongoing peace talks.

In 1973, just six years after its stunning victory in the Six-Day War, Israel was caught off guard by its neighbors and teetered on the edge of defeat, before rebounding, backed by a substantial airlift of weapons from America also implicitly threatened to go nuclear against the Soviet Union if it intervened. Per Foreign Policy:

In the war’s febrile final days, the United States detected what appeared to be radiation from a Soviet freighter headed for Egypt and concluded—almost certainly incorrectly—that Moscow was transferring nuclear warheads to Cairo. Partly in response, on Oct. 24, Washington placed its nuclear forces on a global alert for only the fourth time in history—a step it has taken only twice since. The American alert prompted the Soviet Union to reportedly issue a preliminary order to begin the alerting of its own nuclear forces.

The Bushes also had their nuclear moments. The George H.W. Bush administration warned Iraqi officials: “God forbid…chemical or biological weapons are used against our forces—the American people would demand revenge.” Secretary of State James Baker explained that he “purposely left the impression that the use of chemical or biological agents by Iraq would invite tactical nuclear retaliation.” The second Bush scored a dubious trifecta: invading based on fake evidence, violating international law, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. In 2002, President George W. Bush echoed his father. The administration also added the warning to its national security strategy, which held: “The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force—including through resort to all of our options—to the use of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) against the United States, our forces and friends and allies.”

The latter Bush also said that “all options are on the table” regarding Iran. When asked if that included nuclear weapons, he reiterated: “all options are on the table.” That was widely understood to mean yes. Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, used the same formulation. In 2015, he explained: “I made clear that Iran would not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon on my watch, and it’s been my policy throughout my presidency to keep all options—including possible military options—on the table to achieve that objective.”

America also threatened use of nuclear weapons in connection with the Berlin blockade early during the Cold War, the 1958 American intervention in Lebanon, and Libya’s storage of chemical weapons in 1996. Pentagon planners likely drafted additional plans to use nuclear weapons elsewhere, which remain classified and ready for a related crisis. America continues to issue nuclear warnings regarding its allies almost daily. Famous were Donald Trump’s imprecations against North Korea, that he would meet Pyongyang’s threats “with fire and fury like the world has never seen” and possessed “a much bigger & more powerful” nuclear button than the North’s Kim Jong-un. Just last week while speaking of South Korea and Japan, Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman stated that “we will use the full range of U.S. defense capabilities to defend our allies, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities.” Also last week, Politico reported that “The United States has accelerated the fielding of a more accurate version of its mainstay nuclear bomb to NATO bases in Europe,” which are deployed to defend America’s NATO allies from whatever enemy might appear.

No doubt, Washington officials believed that America was justified in making these many threats. However, Putin’s warnings look less outrageous when compared to those issued by a succession of American presidents apparently prepared to use nuclear weapons. If Washington can do so without consequence, why is anyone surprised when other nuclear powers follow suit? Isn’t Russia’s current situation—involving potential defeat and territorial loss—as serious as any faced by America?

America has no credibility when criticizing Russia for threatening to go nuclear. If Washington wants to lead the world on this issue, it must live by the principles that it advocates for others.

AMERICA’S MOST DANGEROUS NUCLEAR POLICY IS THE FIRST STRIKE

On October 27th, Russian President Vladimir Putin Said He Would Not Use Nuclear Weapons; On The Same Day, President Joe Biden Said He Would.

Two days earlier, at talks being held between America, Japan and South Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman explained that the “ironclad” American commitment to defending Japan and South Korea meant that America “will use the full range of U.S. defense capabilities to defend our allies, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities.”

That line is striking and dangerous. It means that the American first strike policy would be triggered, not only by an attack on America, but by an attack on American allies: and not just its NATO allies.

The line is striking, but Sherman was just articulating official American policy. The 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review states that “The United States would only consider the employment of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners. Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks.” The American regime also insists that it “has never adopted a “no first use” policy.”

The American nuclear policy has three shocking features: the first strike policy means it would be willing to initiate a nuclear war by striking first, it would do so even when faced by a non-nuclear conventional threat even though it has the largest and most capable conventional forces in the world, and it would do so to defend not only itself but also its allies and even its “partners.”

There had been great hope that America would repeal its first strike policy. At the recent UN General Assembly First Committee session on October 19th, China’s ambassador for disarmament affairs, Li Song, declared that “China has solemnly committed to no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

In a 2020 article in Foreign Affairs written during the presidential campaign, Biden had promised that he would take “steps to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons.” He said that “the sole purpose of the US nuclear arsenal should be deterring – and, if necessary, retaliating against – a nuclear attack,” and promised that “As president, I will work to put that belief into practice.”

But he didn’t. On October 27th, the same day Wendy Sherman was explaining that America would use nuclear weapons to defend Japan and South Korea, the Department of Defense released the long delayed 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. The updated review continues to state “The United States affirms that its nuclear forces deter all forms of strategic attack. They serve to deter nuclear employment of any scale directed against the US homeland or the territory of Allies and partners. …”

It preserves the conclusion “that nuclear weapons are required to deter not only nuclear attack, but also a narrow range of other high consequence, strategic-level attacks.”

The Nuclear Posture Review says that “the fundamental role of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our Allies, and partners. The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its Allies or partners.”

The Nuclear Posture Review than clearly states that “We conducted a thorough review of a broad range of options for nuclear declaratory policy – including both No First Use and Sole Purpose policies – and concluded that those approaches would result in unacceptable levels of risk. …”

The most recent Nuclear Posture Review, then, specifically preserves a first strike policy as well as insisting upon the right to use nuclear weapons in the event of a non-nuclear threat and the right to use nuclear weapons to protect, not only its own territory, but the territory of its allies and even its partners.

Though the West reacted strongly to Putin’s warning that “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us,” official American policy goes beyond Putin’s warning. Russia’s Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear deterrence, says that Russia “hypothetically” could allow the use of nuclear weapons only if there is “aggression using conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.” Russia’s nuclear policy does not extend to the protection of allies and partners and is only triggered “when the very existence of the state is threatened.”

And on the same day that America published its official policy that it would use nuclear weapons in a first strike, Russia was saying that it would not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine even if what it considers its territory was threatened.

Since Russia considers Crimea and now the Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia to be part of Russian territory, an attack on any of those regions, and especially Crimea, could trigger the Russian nuclear strike policy. Putin, on October 27, though, said that Russia would not use a nuclear weapon in that situation. “We see no need for that,” Putin said. “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military.”

The updated Nuclear Posture Review makes it clear that it is America that has the most dangerous nuclear policy in the world. China has recommitted to its no first strike policy. India has always had a no first strike policy. Russia does not. But it confines its nuclear employment policy to defending only Russian territory. Only America reserves the right to a first strike policy and the right to extend its nuclear umbrella beyond its territory to the territory of its allies and partners.

BIDEN’S BAD “DEAL” WITH THE SAUDIS BLEW UP IN HIS FACE

The Biden Administration’s “Back To Basics” Approach Has Already Been Tested And Found Seriously Wanting.

The Biden administration made the mistake of believing that the Saudi government could be trusted. As the New York Times Reports:

Lawmakers who had been told about the trip’s benefits in classified briefings that included details of the oil deal — which has not been previously disclosed and was supposed to lead to a surge in production between September and December — have been left fuming that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman duped the administration.”

It was foolish to trust the Saudi government’s promises, but this does at least help to explain why the administration was willing to humiliate itself by sending the president to Jeddah as if he were a supplicant and why they were so irate when the expected cooperation failed to materialize. They wrongly imagined that they had a deal with Mister Bone Saw, and they proceeded on the assumption that the Saudis would honor the deal after Biden came to Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, the president’s willingness to curry favor with Riyadh told Mohammed bin Salman that there was nothing that he and his government could do that would lead to real consequences from Washington.

The crown prince assumed he had no reason to worry about going back on any agreement his government may have made with America. As Biden had already gone on his trip in the name of repairing the relationship, there was little reason for the Saudi government to expect a backlash when they broke their word later. The president had already shown that he wasn’t willing to penalize the Saudi government at all. Biden’s visit was taken as a sign that the American regime was eager to rebuild ties, and had demonstrated once again that it absolutely would not use its leverage to press the Saudi government on any issue. The president repeatedly and publicly said that his visit had nothing to do with energy while his officials were attempting to work out a deal to secure Saudi cooperation on that very issue, and then they claim to be surprised when it all blew up in their face.

The administration’s embarrassment has been in the works for months:

Leading proponents of the visit, including Mr. Hochstein and Brett McGurk, the top National Security Council official for Middle East policy, met during the spring with Prince Mohammed and his advisers. American officials said that in May, they reached a private oil deal with the Saudis that had two parts.

First, the Saudis would accelerate an OPEC Plus production increase of 400,000 barrels per day already planned for September, moving it to July and August. Then the Saudis would get the cartel to announce a further production increase of 200,000 barrels per day for each month from September to December of this year.”

Obviously, it has not worked out this way, but then there was no good reason to think that it would. At best, American officials advocating for making up with the Saudis were oblivious to the divergence in Saudi and American interests and were setting the administration up for a fall. It seems possible that these officials knew all along that the Saudis wouldn’t hold up their end of the bargain, but still used this supposed deal to sell Biden on an ill-advised trip. One thing that is clear is that Biden needs to stop listening to the officials that urged him to go to Saudi Arabia, and he needs to replace the officials at the White House responsible for so much bad advice. McGurk in particular should be sent on his way.

The Biden administration’s “back to basics” approach has already been tested and found seriously wanting. The president still has at least two years to change course and make necessary corrections to how he deals with the Saudi government. The oil production cut was just the latest wake-up call that the Saudis can be trusted only to do what is best for them and their interests have little or nothing to do with ours. Don’t get mad at the Saudis. Get even. Begin cutting off the weapons and military assistance that they have come to rely on, and make it clear to the Saudi government that America will make policy decisions in its own interests just as they do. America owes them nothing, and unless they can prove that they can advance American interests they should not receive any more support from our government.

The Saudi government can’t be trusted, but then we should have known this for a long time. They have lied again and again about the conduct of the war on Yemen, and they violated the agreements they made with America by handing off American-made weapons to third parties. Agents of their government murdered Jamal Khashoggi on the crown prince’s orders, and then they spent weeks lying and pretending that Khashoggi had left the consulate in Istanbul. They still maintain the obvious lie that the crown prince was not responsible for commissioning the murder. Now they also sentence American citizens to absurdly long prison sentences for nothing more than expressing dissent on social media while in the United States.

This is not an ally. This is not even a client, since their government does so little to advance American interests. The Saudi government is at best a headache and a liability and at worst a menace. If the Biden administration is beginning to understand that, there may yet be hope that American policy can improve. Until then, Congress needs to take action to block as much support for Saudi Arabia as it can.

NATO’S UNIFIED POLICY ON RUSSIA AND UKRAINE IS FALLING APART

Maintaining American Imposed Support For Kiev Is Not A Winning Political Strategy For The Regimes In Europe Who Actually Have A Democratic Country.

The Biden administration’s policy toward the Russia-Ukraine war was built on the assumption of widespread international support for a coercive response to Russia’s invasion. Even during the early weeks of the conflict, however, there were indications that Washington’s belief was faulty. Biden’s boast that the world stood united in its opposition to Russia’s “aggression” was little more than wishful thinking. Barely a week after the onset of the war, there were extensive defections from a United Nations General Assembly vote calling for the withdrawal of Russian forces. In addition to the five nay votes, there were 35 abstentions—even though the resolution did not commit U.N. members to take any substantive action.

Most of the abstentions came from Africa and Asia, and the vote proved to be a harbinger of widespread indifference to the war, combined with tenacious opposition to Washington’s drive to isolate and punish Russia. As time passed, the problem only grew worse. Aside from NATO and longstanding American allies in East Asia, the global map showed almost no support for economic sanctions against Russia, much less for economic and military backing for Ukraine.

During the early months of the war, NATO did appear to be reasonably united behind Washington’s policy—with some notable exceptions, such as Hungary and Turkey. The contrast between NATO’s perspective and the position that countries elsewhere in the world adopted was glaring. Hudson Institute scholar Walter Russell Mead provided an apt summary of Washington’s lack of success in broadening the anti-Russia coalition beyond the network of traditional allies. “The West has never been more closely aligned. It has also rarely been more alone. Allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization plus Australia and Japan are united in revulsion against Vladimir Putin’s war and are cooperating with the most sweeping sanctions since World War II. The rest of the world, not so much.”

Despite massive American diplomatic pressure on such key players as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, that lack of wider support has not changed.

The administration could take some consolation in the apparent unity within NATO and in the fact that Russia’s actions in Ukraine impelled Sweden and Finland to abandon their traditional policies of neutrality (in Sweden’s case, a policy that had endured for 170 years) and seek membership in the alliance. NATO’s existing members joined Washington in applying harsh sanctions against Moscow, and many of them also participated in the American-led campaign to provide Kiev with an abundance of sophisticated weaponry.

Nevertheless, fissures in NATO’s unity on Russia have become increasingly visible. As aforementioned, Hungary and Turkey were never fully on board. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban made it clear from the beginning that his country would never send weapons to Ukraine. In addition, his endorsement of even the mildest economic sanctions against Russia was tepid and typically occurred only after delays resulting from his efforts to dilute the sanctions that NATO and the European Union were able to impose.

Orban’s opposition to the West’s overall anti-Russia policy has become noticeably more vocal, as he insists that democratic Europe is causing needless problems for itself by reflexively embracing the hardline approach Washington demands. His criticism spiked in mid-July when he contended that the E.U. had not just shot itself in the foot but had “shot itself in the lungs” by joining the American crusade to coerce Russia with economic sanctions, especially the sanctions on natural gas and other energy supplies. If those measures were not reversed soon, he argued, they might well wreck Europe’s economy and cause widespread suffering.

Turkey’s deviation from Washington’s policy is even greater than Hungary’s apostasy, especially with respect to sanctions on energy supplies. Almost from the beginning, Ankara has given higher priority to ending the war in Ukraine as soon as possible rather than trying to coerce, weaken, and humiliate Russia. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly offered to play the role of mediator. Ankara also is not above profiting from the soaring energy prices caused by Western sanctions. Turkey has positioned itself as the middleman in marketing Russia’s oil exports, frequently selling them to fellow NATO members—at, of course, a substantial markup.

Erdogan also is becoming decidedly more outspoken in his criticism. In early September, he railed against Turkey’s fellow NATO members for engaging in repeated provocations toward Moscow. Conversely, he hailed Ankara’s “balanced” policy, which he pledged to continue.

That pragmatic, albeit somewhat cynical, approach stands in marked contrast to the strident, uncompromising attitude of the Biden administration and pro-Ukraine hawks in Congress. Leading a congressional delegation to Kiev in early May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told President Volodymyr Zelensky that “we are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.” Washington’s willingness to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian has not waned. During his official visit to Kiev in early September, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged lasting support for Ukraine. “We will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Blinken said in a statement, which accompanied a new military aid package.

There is growing uneasiness among European populations about the wisdom of using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against a nuclear-armed power, and that uneasiness has begun to creep into the political establishments in some countries other than Hungary and Turkey. Perhaps even more important, it has become exceedingly apparent that the strategy of imposing economic sanctions on Russia has backfired. That is especially true with respect to the energy sector. In August, Russia exported a record amount of crude oil. Russia’s state-owned energy company, Gazprom, has doubled its revenue in 2022, despite sending far less natural gas to Europe. Higher prices and new markets elsewhere in the world have more than offset the loss of European customers. Such developments indicate that Russia is hardly on the verge of economic collapse because of Western sanctions. Indeed, populations in NATO member countries are now at risk of experiencing more pain than the Russian people from those sanctions as Moscow retaliates.

The resulting strains on European unity are increasingly evident. There is a noticeable split between what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once described as “old Europe”—longtime NATO members in Western Europe, such as France and Italy—and the alliance’s newer members along Russia’s western flank. The latter, especially Poland and the Baltic republics, remain fully committed to an uncompromising policy toward Moscow. Poland’s level of economic and military aid to Kiev is second only to the amount Washington is providing. On a per capita basis, Estonia is the largest contributor among NATO countries of aid to Ukraine.

Western European powers have resisted adopting extreme measures toward Russia, with Paris and Rome emphasizing that NATO’s goal must be to facilitate a peace accord, not humiliate Vladimir Putin. Economic strains are producing political changes that undermine support for Ukraine. In July, one party pulled out of Italy’s governing coalition, citing “the terrible choice” that Italian families face “of paying their electric bill or buying food.” The defection forced the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who in June had traveled to Kiev to reiterate Italy’s support for Ukraine.

Even the German government, headed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has quietly backed away from its initial enthusiastic support for the hardline policy that Washington favored. The proliferation of protests in German cities against skyrocketing prices is pressuring Scholz to adopt a more pragmatic policy. Such angry demonstrations are hardly confined to Germany. In early September, 70,000 people took to the streets of Prague to oppose not only the government’s energy policies but the overall EU and NATO confrontation with Russia.

European governments have scrambled to ease the economic pain resulting from the West’s sanctions against Moscow. Emergency financial aid programs for hard-pressed populations have been the most common measures. Some governments also have imposed price controls on fuel and other energy supplies, despite the long historical record that such controls only lead to shortages and black markets.

Under intense pressure from Washington, the G-7 adopted price caps on imports of Russian gas and oil. Violators supposedly would be subject to sanctions. The measure was the ultimate exercise in futile symbolism. Putin responded by threatening to cut off all energy exports to the West if the price caps violated existing contractual commitments. Moreover, not only were key international economic players, such as India and China, demonstrating no support for the West’s latest anti-Russia scheme, even some NATO and E.U. members balked. At least 10 of those countries voiced objections to the new G-7 controls, and the E.U. has thus far failed to implement those caps.

Indeed, the principal response at its September meeting was to approve, in principle, a “windfall plan.” Although the details of that policy remain to be fleshed out, the windfall plan would see governments skim off excess revenues from wind, nuclear, and coal-fired power plants that can currently sell their power at record prices heavily influenced by the cost of natural gas. E.U. governments would then use the money to soften consumer bills. The scheme entailed more than a small degree of irony. European governments proposed to seize some of the profits of nuclear and even wind power plants, which environmentalists had long touted as “clean energy” replacements for oil and natural gas.

Concerns about possible energy shortages mounted when leaks caused by explosions were discovered in both the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines. The evidence pointed to sabotage. Russia and the European powers exchanged accusations of culpability. Of course, if you have a brain you know who was the culprit, the effective result has been to increase the prospect (and the fear) of more serious shortages for European consumers.

Viktor Orban appears to be right: democratic Europe is now suffering from serious self-inflicted economic and social wounds. If Russia continues to withhold or even substantially reduce gas supplies in the coming months, it could lead to a very dark, cold winter in several European countries. Discontent about high prices and the uncertain availability of fuel already is mounting throughout Europe, and public opposition to sanctions is likely to increase as winter approaches. The probable governmental response would be to shutter factories and other commercial firms to preserve scarce supplies to keep homes heated at least at minimal levels. Strict energy rationing has already begun in some countries; however, further restricting commercial operations—which are already impacting firms, including food companies, in some countries—would virtually guarantee a nasty economic meltdown throughout the E.U. Indeed, it would likely intensify an emerging global recession.

Unfortunately, both the Biden administration and its deferential allies among Europe’s political elites continue to be deaf to the rising anger of beleaguered European populations. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg epitomizes that attitude. Writing in the Financial Times, Stoltenberg stated that even though Europeans will face sharply rising energy costs this winter after levying sanctions against Russia, the continent has a “moral responsibility” to support Ukraine. “There are tough times ahead, but we have faced tough times together before,” Stoltenberg wrote. “The cost of not standing up for our values is always greater. For Ukraine’s future and for ours, we must prepare for the winter war and stay the course.”

Corrupt, increasingly authoritarian Ukraine is not worth anything approaching the level of sacrifice now being demanded of the European people. Many European elites are still apparently willing to blindly follow Washington’s anti-Russian policies, but populations in several countries are defecting. If they wish to survive politically, leaders in Central and Western Europe will have to do the same. Even the pro-war elites in the Baltics and other East European countries could discover that maintaining a stance of knee-jerk support for Kiev is not a winning political strategy. As Europe’s dark, cold winter arrives, the NATO unity that the Biden administration loves to tout may be nothing more than a faint memory.

THE AMERICAN REGIME’S PLAN TO BREAK UP RUSSIA

The Unfolding War For The Carve-Up Of Russia And China Appears Like A Brutal Inevitability Given The American Empire’s Goal To Rule The World.

The Western goal is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our nation. They are openly stating that, since they managed to break up the Soviet Union in 1991, now it’s time to split Russia into many separate regions that will be at each other’s throats.” Russian President Vladimir Putin

Cheney ‘wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.’…The West must complete the project that began in 1991 …. Until Moscow’s empire is toppled, though, the region—and the world—will not be safe…” (“Decolonize Russia”, The Atlantic)

Washington’s animus towards Russia has a long history dating back to 1918 when Woodrow Wilson deployed over 7,000 troops to Siberia as part of an Allied effort to roll back the gains of the Bolshevik Revolution. The activities of the American Expeditionary Force, which remained in the country for 18 months, have long vanished from history books in America, but Russians still point to the incident as yet another example of America’s relentless intervention in the affairs of its neighbors. The fact is, Washington elites have always meddled in Russia’s business despite Moscow’s strong objections. In fact, a great number western elites not only think that Russia should be split-up into smaller geographical units, but that the Russian people should welcome such an outcome. Western leaders in the Anglosphere are so consumed by hubris and their own blinkered sense of entitlement, they honestly believe that ordinary Russians would like to see their country splintered into bite-sized statelets that remain open to the voracious exploitation of the western oil giants, mining corporations and, of course, the Pentagon. Here’s how Washington’s geopolitical mastermind Zbigniew Brzezinski summed it up an article in Foreign Affairs:

Given (Russia’s) size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”, Foreign Affairs, 1997)

The “loosely confederated Russia”, that Brzezinski imagines, would be a toothless, dependent nation that could not defend its own borders or sovereignty. It would not be able to prevent more powerful countries from invading, occupying and establishing military bases on its soil. Nor would it be able to unify its disparate people beneath a single banner or pursue a positive “unified” vision for the future of the country. A confederal Russia –fragmented into a myriad of smaller parts– would allow America to maintain its dominant role in the region without threat of challenge or interference. And that appears to be Brzezinski’s real goal as he pointed out in this passage in his magnum opus The Grand Chessboard. Here’s what he said:

For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

Brzezinski sums up American imperial ambitions succinctly. Washington plans to establish its primacy in the world’s most prosperous and populous region, Eurasia. And–in order to do so– Russia must be decimated and partitioned, its leaders must be toppled and replaced, and its vast resources must be transferred to the iron grip of global transnationals who will use them to perpetuate the flow of wealth from east to west. In other words, Moscow must accept its humble role in the new order as America’s de-facto Gas and Mining Company.

Washington has never really veered from its aim of obliterating the Russian state, in fact, the recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) along with a congressional report titled “Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense—Issues for Congress”, confirm much of what we have said here, that America plans to crush any emerging opposition to its expansion into Central Asia in order to become the dominant player in that region. Here’s an excerpt from the congressional report:

The U.S. goal of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia, though long-standing, is not written in stone—it is a policy choice reflecting two judgments: (1) that given the amount of people, resources, and economic activity in Eurasia, a regional hegemon in Eurasia would represent a concentration of power large enough to be able to threaten vital U.S. interests; and (2) that Eurasia is not dependably self-regulating in terms of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons, meaning that the countries of Eurasia cannot be counted on to be able to prevent, though their own actions, the emergence of regional hegemons, and may need assistance from one or more countries outside Eurasia to be able to do this dependably.”

How different is this new iteration of official American foreign policy than the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine that was delivered prior to the War in Iraq. Here it is:

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

As you can see, there has been no meaningful change in the policy since Wolfowitz articulated his doctrine nearly 2 decades ago. The American foreign policy establishment still resolutely asserts Washington’s right to dominate Central Asia and to regard any competitor in the region as national security threat. This is further underscored by the fact that both Russia and China have been identified in the latest National Security Strategy as “strategic competitors” which is a deep-state euphemism for mortal enemies. Check out this excerpt from an article titled “Partitioning Russia After World War III?”:

The end goal of the US and NATO is to divide and pacify the world’s biggest country, the Russian Federation, and to even establish a blanket of perpetual disorder (somalization) over its vast territory or, at a minimum, over a portion of Russia and the post-Soviet space…”

The ultimate goal of the US is to prevent any alternatives from emerging in Europe and Eurasia to Euro-Atlantic integration. This is why the destruction of Russia is one of its strategic objectives….”

American foreign policy is now exclusively in the hands of a small group of neocon extremists who reject diplomacy outright and who genuinely believe that America’s strategic interests can only be achieved through a military conflict with Russia. That said, we can say with some degree of certainty, that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

PUTIN KNOWS HOW STUPID THE AMERICAN REGIME IS

“It Looks Like We Are Witnessing An Attempt To Enforce Just One Rule Where Those In Power … Could Live Without Following Any Rules At All And Could Get Away With Anything.”

Speaking on Oct. 27 at the Valdai International Discussion Club, Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned the sanity of those who would “spoil relations with China at the same time they are supplying billions-worth of weapons to Ukraine in a fight against Russia.”

In answer to a question on “the growing tensions between China and the United States over Taiwan,” Putin labeled visits by top American officials to Taiwan a “provocation.” Putin added:

“Frankly, I do not know why they are doing this. … Are they sane? It seems that this runs completely counter to common sense and logic … This is simply crazy.

“It may seem that there is a subtle, profound plot behind this. But I think there is nothing there, no subtle thought. It is just nonsense and arrogance, nothing else. … Such irrational actions are rooted in arrogance and a sense of impunity.”

ELITE, EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE

What kind of people are behind what Putin describes? It turns out they come from the same stock of white-privileged, exceptional, ivy-mantled “Best and Brightest” that brought us Vietnam. This time, it is President Joe Biden who brought them in. Giving Biden the benefit of the doubt, we believe he was/is not smart enough to understand that they have made a big mess of things.

These are the sophomores, totally ignorant of how the Russia-China relationship had evolved, who told Biden at the Geneva summit on June 16, 2021 that “Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now … being squeezed by China. …,” which Biden parroted planeside before departing Geneva.

In his Valdai speech Putin quoted from a Harvard Commencement address by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

“A continuous blindness of superiority is typical of the West; it upholds the belief that vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present-day Western Systems.”

Putin adds:

“Solzhenitsyn said this in 1978. Nothing has changed. … Belief in one’s infallibility is very dangerous; it is only one step away from the desire of the infallible to destroy those they do not like. … “They arrogantly rejected all other variants and forms of government by the people and, I want to emphasize this, did so contemptuously and disdainfully … as if everyone else were second-rate, while they were exceptional.”

The day after Putin’s speech, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, asked for comment, said: “We highly appreciate the positive remarks by President Putin on China-Russia relations; they have maintained the momentum of robust development.” The foreign ministry spokesman added that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the day Putin spoke at Valdai, and that the two diplomats “exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis.”

RULES-BASED INTERNATIONAL ORDER”

Putin lampooned the Antony Blinken/Jake Sullivan concoction of the “rules-based order.” As for the idea of “substituting ‘rules’ for international law.” Putin quipped, as he began his prepared remarks at Valdai:

“I was tempted to say ‘We are clear about who made up these rules’, but perhaps that would not be an accurate statement. We have no idea whatsoever who made these rules up, what these rules are based on, or what is contained inside these rules.

“It looks like we are witnessing an attempt to enforce just one rule where those in power … could live without following any rules at all and could get away with anything.”

Later, during the Q and A, Putin rang some changes on the “rules-based” concept:

“They are talking about rules – what rules? Where are they written and who has approved them? It is nonsense … nothing more than rubbish. Still, they keep drumming it into people’s heads indefinitely. And those who do not observe these rules will be subject to restrictions and sanctions.

RELAXED, JOCULAR, IN CONTROL

Putin appeared vigorous and fully alert, with a prodigious grasp of detail, during his three and a half hours on stage at Valdai. He even told a couple of jokes … one about Russia being blamed for everything – including broken toilets. In this connection, readers might enjoy this short video showing who was to blame for sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines. (Perhaps one reason Putin seemed in such high spirits is that he had already seen this video.)

Nonetheless, in his earlier, prepared remarks, Putin was dead serious in addressing what he called, multiple times, the “tectonic shift” in the world correlation of forces.

“Now this historical period of boundless Western domination in world affairs is coming to an end. The unipolar world is being relegated to the past. We are at a historical crossroads. We are in for probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time most important decade since the end of World War II. The West is unable to rule humanity single-handedly and the majority of nations no longer want to put up with this. This is the main contradiction of the new era. To cite a classic, this is a revolutionary situation to some extent – the elites cannot and the people do not want to live like that any longer.”

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.

PEACE IS POSSIBLE IN UKRAINE

Recent Statements Have Suggested The Outlines Of What Such A Settlement Might Look Like. Those Outlines Are Tragically Like The Ones That Existed On The Eve Of The War.

That tells you the war could have been avoided. That didn’t happen so the war in Ukraine has reached a level of danger unimagined at the start. With Russia formally absorbing Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia into Russia on October 5, those regions are now regarded by Russia as part of its territory. That means that Russia will see any attack on those regions as an attack on Russia. Such an attack would justify, in the words of Putin, the “use of all weapon systems available to us.” Such attacks are inevitable; indeed, they are taking place now. There is an urgent need for a negotiated settlement to the war.

On September 30, in response to Russia’s annexation of the Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applied for “accelerated ascension” into NATO. He did not get the response he hoped for. Despite the months of NATO assistance and Ukrainian suffering, the response was unchanged from prior to the war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg still said that NATO’s door is open to all European countries. But he again closed the door, reminding Zelensky that he had to settle for NATO’s “focus now [being] on providing immediate support to Ukraine to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s brutal invasion.” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan once again bolted the door, saying Ukraine’s application “should be taken up at a different time.”

Zelensky made his case for ascension by pointing out that “De facto, we have already made our way to NATO. De facto, we have already proven compatibility with Alliance standards. They are real for Ukraine — real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction. We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other.” That the painful battlefield proof of the reality of de facto NATO membership has changed nothing highlights, once again, that NATO membership is out of reach for Ukraine for the foreseeable future. Since that is de facto the case, making it de jure the case practically changes nothing. But, in terms of a hopeful settlement, it could change everything.

A possible negotiated settlement could start with the realization that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO. That seems to be something that Zelensky was prepared to accept as early as March and again during the April talks in Istanbul, when Ukraine seemed poised to agree to outlines of a settlement that would have included the promise not to seek NATO membership before, according to Putin, “the West . . . actually ordered [Kiev] to wreck all these agreements.” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lends credence to Putin’s claim with his charge that the promise of peace had been killed by “countries within NATO who want the war to continue.” This point of past agreement could be returned to. That Ukraine will not join NATO will remain true either way.

Also on September 30, Putin called for Ukraine “to return back to the negotiating table.” However, he stipulated that “the choice of the people in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson will not be discussed. The decision has been made, and Russia will not betray it. Kiev’s current authorities should respect this free expression of the people’s will; there is no other way. This is the only way to peace.” Though perhaps slightly swollen in territory, that too has been on the table from the start. Autonomy for the Donbas was an essential part of the Minsk II agreement that was brokered by Germany and France, signed by Russia and Ukraine and backed by America and the U.N. Implementing Minsk II was part of Zelensky’s successful election platform.

Though he has clearly changed his mind and is now insisting on the return of not only the Donbas but also Crimea as a criterion for ending the war, in December 2021, Zelensky was open to the possibility of those regions remaining within Russia, saying “I do not rule out a referendum on Donbass in general. It might be about Donbass, it might be about Crimea.” As recently as March 8, Zelensky was still saying that he is open to discussions on “compromises in Crimea” and that he “is ready to hold a dialogue with Russia on security guarantees, on the future of the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions [and] Crimea.” Although he said that “We cannot recognize that Crimea is the territory of Russia,” he also said, “But we can discuss with Russia the future of Crimea and Donbas.” He added that “Ukraine is ready to hold a dialogue with Russia on . . . the future of the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” At the Istanbul talks, the two sides seem to have tentatively agreed that there would be a compromise on territory, with Russia withdrawing “to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea.”

A possible negotiated settlement could start with the realization that Crimea and the eastern regions will have, at least, their autonomy. Short of a complete Ukrainian victory, which is not only unlikely but would risk a severely escalated war with Russia, and possibly even a nuclear war, Crimea and the eastern regions will be something less than part of Ukraine. That status has evolved from autonomous to independent to being part of Russia. That too, with negotiations on the exact boundaries—which Russia has at times suggested might still need to be determined—could become official without changing the already determined facts on the ground.

Of course, both sides would have to agree to a ceasefire. Russia would have to provide guarantees that they would not invade further into Ukraine than the agreed upon borders. Just as Ukraine would have to promise not to go into NATO, NATO would have to promise that it would not go into Ukraine: it could not use Ukraine as a base for weapons that could be used to attack Russia. Ukraine would need to receive some security guarantees. All the points in this outline of a possible settlement have been suggested by recent remarks. They provide a place to start diplomacy when the time is urgent and the window small.

THE INCREDIBLY STUPID NARRATIVE THAT NUCLEAR CONFRONTATION IS SAFE AND DE-ESCALATION IS DANGEROUS

There’s No Reason Why America Can’t Move From Models Of Competition And Domination To Models Of Collaboration And Care For All People Across The Globe.

Of all the face-meltingly stupid narratives that have been circulated about the American proxy war in Ukraine, the dumbest so far has got to be the increasingly common claim that aggressively escalating nuclear brinkmanship is safety and de-escalation is danger.

We see a prime example of this self-evidently idiotic narrative in a new Business Insider article titled “Putin’s nuclear threats are pushing people like Trump and Elon Musk to press for a Ukraine peace deal. A nuclear expert warns that’s ‘dangerous.’”

An understandable desire to avoid a nuclear war could actually make the world more dangerous if it means rushing to implement a ‘peace’ in Ukraine that serves Russian interests,” writes reliable empire apologist Charles Davis. “Such a move, which some influential figures have called for, risks setting a precedent that atomic blackmail is the way to win wars and take territory troops can’t otherwise hold, a model that could be copycatted by even the weakest nuclear-armed states, and may only succeed at delaying another war.”

Davis’ sole source for his article is the UN Institute for Disarmament Research’s Pavel Podvig, who is very openly biased against Russia.

The West supports Ukraine with weapons and financial and moral and political support. Giving that up and saying that, ‘Well, you know, we are too afraid of nuclear threats and so we just want to make a deal’ — that would certainly set a precedent that would not be very positive,” says Podvig. “If you yield to this nuclear threat once, then what would prevent Russia in the future — or others — to do the same thing again?”

Like other empire apologists currently pushing the ridiculous “de-escalation actually causes escalation” line, Davis and Podvig argue as though nuclear weapons just showed up on the scene a few days ago, as if there haven’t been generations of western policies toward Moscow which have indeed involved backing down and making compromises at times because doing so was seen as preferable to risking a nuclear attack. We survived the Cuban Missile Crisis because Kennedy secretly acquiesced to Khrushchev’s demands that America remove the Jupiter missiles it had placed in Turkey and Italy, which was what provoked Moscow to move nukes to Cuba in the first place.

Throughout the cold war the Soviet Union insisted on a sphere of influence that American strategists granted a wide berth to, exactly because it was a nuclear superpower. Even as recently as the Obama administration the president maintained that “Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.”

Nevertheless we’re seeing this new “escalation is safety and de-escalation is danger” narrative pushed with increasing forcefulness by imperial spinmeisters, because it would take a lot of force indeed to get people to accept something so self-evidently backwards and nonsensical.

All of you who are saying that we have to give in to nuclear blackmail are making nuclear war more likely. Please stop,” tweeted Yale University’s Timothy Snyder recently. “When you give in to it, you empower dictators to do it again, encourage worldwide nuclear proliferation, and make nuclear war much, much more likely.”

Snyder, who has been photographed grinning happily with Ukraine’s President Zelensky, does not actually believe that people tweeting in support of de-escalation and detente will cause a nuclear war. He uses the newfangled buzzword “nuclear blackmail” to discredit calls for de-escalation and detente because he wants those who support de-escalation and detente to be silent. He says “please stop” solely because he wants peace advocacy to stop.

Nuclear war comes because we’ve done too little not too much,” tweeted Alexander Vindman, a key player in advancing the Trump-Ukraine scandal, further pushing the narrative that greater escalation is where the safety is.

In response to a tweet by France’s President Macron saying “We do not want a World War,” a senior policy advisor for the American government’s Helsinki Commission named Paul Massaro tweeted, “Precisely this sort of weak, terrified language leads Russia to escalate.”

Imagine being so warped and twisted that you see that as a sane response to the most normal statement anyone can possibly make.

Meanwhile you’ve got idiots like Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger acting like they’re being brave tough guys by welcoming continual nuclear escalation while calling anyone who advocates de-escalation cowards.

The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel somehow pulled off the heroic feat of getting an article advocating de-escalation published in the Washington Post with a piece titled “The Cuban missile crisis was 60 years ago, but it’s urgently relevant today.” Reminding us how close we came to total annihilation and how we only survived getting so recklessly close to nuclear war by “plain dumb luck,” she argues that humanity cannot risk going to the brink like that again.

Humanity cannot afford to spin the cylinder again in this game of Russian roulette; we must unload the gun. Our only path forward is de-escalation,” vanden Heuvel writes.

Indeed it is. It’s absolutely insane that humanity is risking its own extinction over these games of empire-building and planetary domination when we’ve got so many other existential hurdles we need to focus on clearing.

This is all completely unnecessary. There’s nothing inscribed upon the fabric of reality saying states need to be waving armageddon weapons at each other. There’s no valid reason not to lay aside these games of global conquest and collaborate together toward a healthy coexistence on this planet.

We could have such a beautiful world. All the energy we pour into competition and conquest could go toward innovation that benefits us all, making sure everyone has enough, eliminating human suffering and the need for human toil. We’re trading heaven on earth for elite ego games.

There’s no valid reason we can’t move from models of competition and domination to models of collaboration and care. Collaboration with each other; care for each other. Collaboration with our ecosystem; care for our ecosystem. We’re throwing it away in exchange for senseless misery and peril.