US: a militarized foreign policy

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By VARIOUS AUTHORS*

Article published on the front page of the “New York Times”, signed by fifteen security experts assembled by the “Eisenhower Media Network”

The Russia-Ukraine War is an unmitigated disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed or injured. Millions have been displaced. The environmental and economic destruction has been incalculable. The future devastation could be even greater as the nuclear powers move ever closer to open warfare.

We deplore the violence, war crimes, indiscriminate missile attacks, terrorism and other atrocities that are part of this war. The solution to this appalling violence is not more guns or more war, with more death and destruction guaranteed.

As Americans and national security experts, we urge President Joe Biden and Congress to use their powers to end the Russia-Ukraine War quickly through diplomacy, particularly given the grave dangers of a military escalation that could spiral out of control. .

Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy made an observation that is crucial to our survival today: “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avoid confrontations that leave the adversary to choose between withdrawal humiliating or a nuclear war. Adopting this movement in the nuclear age only evidences the failure of our politics – or the collective death wish for the world.”

The immediate cause of this disastrous war in Ukraine is the invasion of Russia. However, plans and actions to expand NATO to Russia's borders served to provoke Russian fears. Russian leaders have defended this point for 30 years. A failure in diplomacy led to war. Now diplomacy is urgently needed to end the Russia-Ukraine War before it destroys Ukraine and endangers humanity.

The potential for peace

Russia's current geopolitical anxiety is informed by memories of the invasions of Charles XII, Napoleon, Kaiser and Hitler. US troops participated in the Allied invasion force that unsuccessfully intervened against the winning side in the civil war in Russia shortly after World War I. Russia sees enlargement and NATO's presence on its borders as a direct threat; the US and NATO consider it just prudent preparation. In diplomacy, one must seek to see with strategic empathy, seeking to understand the opponents. This is not weakness: it is wisdom.

We reject the idea that diplomats, in search of peace, must choose a side, in this case, Russia or Ukraine. By favoring diplomacy, we choose the side of sanity. From humanity. From peace.

We consider President Joe Biden's pledge to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” a license to pursue ill-defined and ultimately unattainable goals. It could be as catastrophic as was President Vladimir Putin's decision last year to launch this criminal invasion and occupation. We cannot and will not endorse the strategy of fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.

We advocate a meaningful and genuine commitment to diplomacy, specifically an immediate ceasefire and negotiations without any disqualifying or prohibitive preconditions. Deliberate provocations resulted in the Russia-Ukraine War. Similarly, diplomacy can put a stop to it.

US actions and Russia's invasion of Ukraine

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the leaders of the United States and Western Europe assured the Soviet and Russian leaders that NATO do not would expand towards Russia's borders. “There would be no extension of NATO an inch to the east”, US Secretary of State James Baker told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990. Similar assurances from other US leaders, as well as British, German and French leaders were given in the 1990s.

Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that the presence of NATO armed forces on Russian borders was intolerable – just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the US now, or as were Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962. Russia further highlighted that NATO expansion into Ukraine was especially provocative.

Seeing the war through Russian eyes

Our attempt to understand the Russian perspective on their war does not endorse invasion and occupation, nor does it imply that the Russians had no option but this war. However, just as Russia had other options, so did the US and NATO before this moment.

The Russians made their red lines clear. In Georgia and Syria, they proved that they would use force to defend those lines. In 2014, his immediate takeover of Crimea and his support for the Donbas separatists demonstrated that they were committed to defending their interests. Why this was not understood by US and NATO leadership is not clear: incompetence, arrogance, cynicism or a treacherous mix of the three were likely the deciding factors.

More than once, even as the Cold War ended, US diplomats, generals and politicians warned for the risks of expanding NATO to Russia's borders and interfering in its area of ​​influence. Former cabinet officials Robert Gates and William Perry issued these warnings, as did revered diplomats George Kennan, Jack Matlock and Henry Kissinger. In 1997, fifty senior US foreign policy experts wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton advising him not to expand NATO, calling him “a political mistake of historic proportions”. President Bill Clinton chose to ignore these warnings.

Most important for our understanding of the hubris and Machiavellian calculation in US decision-making surrounding the Russia-Ukraine War is the rejection of the warnings issued by Williams Burns, the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In a telegram to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008 while serving as ambassador to Russia, Burns wrote the following on NATO expansion and Ukraine's membership: “The aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO not only touch a sore point in Russia, but also raise serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Russia not only perceives the encirclement and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but also fears unforeseen and uncontrolled consequences that would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly concerned that the sharp divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the Russian ethnic community opposed to membership, could lead to a major divide, involving violence or, at worst, war. civil. In that event, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision that Russia does not want to have to face”.

Why did the US persist in expanding NATO despite these warnings? Profit from arms sales was an important factor. Facing opposition to NATO expansion, a group of neoconservatives and top executives from US arms manufacturers formed the “US Committee to Expand NATO”. Between 1996 and 1998, the largest arms manufacturers they spent $51 million ($94 million today) in LOBBY and millions more in campaign contributions. With this largesse, NATO expansion quickly became a lucrative business. US gun makers sold billions of dollars worth of weapons to new NATO members.

So far, the US sent $30 billion worth of military equipment and weapons to Ukraine, with total aid to Ukraine exceeding $100 billion. War, it has been said, is highly profitable for a few.

NATO expansion, in short, is a key feature of US militarized foreign policy, characterized by unilateralism with political regime changes and preemptive wars. Failed wars, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, have produced massacres and more clashes, a harsh reality created by the United States itself. The Russia-Ukraine War opened a new arena of confrontation and killing. This reality is not entirely of our making, but it could very well be our undoing unless we dedicate ourselves to forging a diplomatic settlement that stops the killing and eases tensions.

Let's make America a force for peace in the world.

* Dennis Fritz is a director of the Eisenhower Media Network. Chief Sergeant, US Air Force Command (retired).

*Matthew Hoh is an associate director of the Eisenhower Media Network. Former Marine Corps Officer and State and Defense Officer.

*William J. Astore is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force (retired).

*Karen Kwiatkowski is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force (retired).

*Dennis Laich is a major general in the US Army (retired).

*Jack Matlock, US Ambassador to the USSR, 1987-91, is the author of the book Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War ended.

*Todd E. Pierce Major, Judge Advocate, US Army (Retired).

* Coleen Rowley is Special Agent, FBI (retired).

*Jeffrey Sachs, is a professor at Columbia University.

*Christian Sorensen, is an expert in Arabic language.

* Chuck Spinney is a member of the US Air Force, Retired Engineer/Analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

* Winslow Wheeler, national security adviser to four republican and democratic states.

*Lawrence B. Wilkerson is a Colonel in the US Army (retired).

*Ann Wright is a Colonel in the US Army (retired) and a former diplomat.

Translation: Benito Mazzi de Araujo.

Originally published in Eisenhower Media Network [https://eisenhowermedianetwork.org/russia-ukraine-war-peace/].


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