This article was shared with me by former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Catherine Austin Fitts, and it's so important that not to share it and comment upon it would simply be a kind of dereliction and irrationality, especially with the geopolitical mess into which the West has positioned itself with respect to the Ukraine, and especially given the more recent moves by Russia to block western agribusiness in expanding GMO usage into that country, as we've been noting for the past few weeks. This article comes from the Council on Foreign Relations, notorious centerpiece of many a conspiracy theory, and bellwether for the direction of western foreign policy. It's a signal that there are those within the policy-formation elite that are themselves questioning the counter-intuitive insanity that seems to have gripped western foreign policy vis-vis Russia and the Ukraine:
As Mr. Mearsheimer makes clear in this thoughful article, there seems to be a kind of utopian-liberal delusion that has seized some elements within the American elite, a delusion that ignores the realities of Great Power Realpolitik. Imagine, he asks, what the American response to, say, China forging alliances with Mexico or Canada and basing troops there would be. (Well, in fact, China, you'll recall, does appear to be ready to do business with disgruntled Canadian provincial premiers, bypassing the Canadian federal level entirely, as your recall the premier of British Columbia wants to make that province the first in Canada to open an exchange trading in the Chinese yuan).
The real news here, as you'll have immediately gathered, is that the CFR, through this article, is "voicing concern" over the direction of American foreign policy, and if you're one of those who thinks the CFR sits at the center of a web of conspiracy, or exercises a great deal of influence in American policy-making circles (and it does), then this article might be taken as a message from "the elite" to Washington: you're headed in the wrong direction. In my opinion, however, it's more of a message from one faction of that elite, to another,, we'll call them "the old guard" and "the Young Turks". In which case, the Old Guard is sending a clear message to the Sublime Porte in Washington and its current sultan: we see what you're doing, it's insane, and we've served notice.
That message, if one is familiar with the murky and dark undercurrents of America's "deep politics" (to use Professor Peter Dale Scott's term), is a clear message: change course, and soon, otherwise the long term costs will be extreme.
With respect to those long term costs, there's an interesting suggestion in the article:
"But most realists opposed expansion, in the belief that a declining great power with an aging population and a one-dimensional economy did not in fact need to be contained. And they feared that enlargement would only give Moscow an incentive to cause trouble in eastern Europe. The U.S. diplomat George Kennan articulated this perspective in a 1998 interview, shortly after the U.S. Senate approved the first round of NATO expansion. 'I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies,' he said. 'I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anyone else.'
"Other analysts allege, more plausibly, that Putin regrets the demise of the Soviet Union and is determined to reverse it by expanding Russia’s borders. According to this interpretation, Putin, having taken Crimea, is now testing the waters to see if the time is right to conquer Ukraine, or at least its eastern part, and he will eventually behave aggressively toward other countries in Russia’s neighborhood. For some in this camp, Putin represents a modern-day Adolf Hitler, and striking any kind of deal with him would repeat the mistake of Munich. Thus, NATO must admit Georgia and Ukraine to contain Russia before it dominates its neighbors and threatens western Europe.
"This argument falls apart on close inspection. If Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22. But there is virtually no evidence that he was bent on taking Crimea, much less any other territory in Ukraine, before that date. Even Western leaders who supported NATO expansion were not doing so out of a fear that Russia was about to use military force. Putin’s actions in Crimea took them by complete surprise and appear to have been a spontaneous reaction to Yanukovych’s ouster. Right afterward, even Putin said he opposed Crimean secession, before quickly changing his mind."
And so Mearsheimer comes to his recommendation (a rather obvious one):
"There is a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, however -- although it would require the West to think about the country in a fundamentally new way. The United States and its allies should abandon their plan to westernize Ukraine and instead aim to make it a neutral buffer between NATO and Russia, akin to Austria’s position during the Cold War. Western leaders should acknowledge that Ukraine matters so much to Putin that they cannot support an anti-Russian regime there. This would not mean that a future Ukrainian government would have to be pro-Russian or anti-NATO. On the contrary, the goal should be a sovereign Ukraine that falls in neither the Russian nor the Western camp.
"To achieve this end, the United States and its allies should publicly rule out NATO’s expansion into both Georgia and Ukraine. The West should also help fashion an economic rescue plan for Ukraine funded jointly by the EU, the International Monetary Fund, Russia, and the United States -- a proposal that Moscow should welcome, given its interest in having a prosperous and stable Ukraine on its western flank. And the West should considerably limit its social-engineering efforts inside Ukraine. It is time to put an end to Western support for another Orange Revolution. Nevertheless, U.S. and European leaders should encourage Ukraine to respect minority rights, especially the language rights of its Russian speakers."
The reason for this obvious course of action? Mr.Mearsheimer's analysis suggests the real long term goal: Russia is needed as a partner, not an adversary, in the "pivot to the Pacific":
"The United States will also someday need Russia’s help containing a rising China. Current U.S. policy, however, is only driving Moscow and Beijing closer together.
"The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process -- a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win."
Perhaps all sides would win, and I myself have argued that it makes much more sense for the West to have Russia as a friend, not an adversary. But there's a problem, and that problem is history. It was the West that helped to impose the shackles of Communism on Russia, and the whole thrust of Anglo-American foreign policy has been, all along, somehow to contain the eastern colossus. The Russians - and particularly the Russian leadership nomenklatura - know this history well. Regaining trust in such an atmosphere, already poisoned by the Ukrainian fiasco, will be difficult...
...but rest assured, the mandarins of the CFR are probably already hard at work brainstorming ideas on that too.
See you on the flip side...