Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Must Read From An Elder Statesman - Common Sense On Ukraine

Ah, Dr. Kissinger! 90 years old and still razor sharp. Here's some common sense on Ukraine from a master statesman in a must read piece. The contrast between him and the buffoons currently running DC is mind boggling. Here's a slice:

Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.

Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.

Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian , became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Read the rest here.


B.Poster said...

This is definitely a good article by Mr. Kissinger. Such a policy, while it does contain flaws, would as he proposes would seem to be a definite improvement over what we currently are pursuing.

While I don't want to nit pick the flaws, it does seem he mistakenly lumps the "west" into some sort of monolithic entity. Also, he seems to assume the US has more ability influence negotiations than it actually does. Nevertheless it is a vas improvement over what we currently have!! It's a shame we do not have men like him in top levels of policy making positions today.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I am split about this article. For several reasons.

1 Essentially, it boils down to what I keep repeating: US should not stick its nose (and more) into the fray. But his reasoning is a bit different, and, of course, is highly diplomatic. Instead of calling both warring factions what they are, which is essentially vultures, he does it differently - which could be a white diplomatic lie. Whatever.

2. The mere mention of Kissinger and his realpolitik causes me revulsion. Don't forget that this is the man who preferred to sell us down the river at the height of Yom Kippur War, and only Nixons' direct order prevented it. There is more...

So yes, the conclusion is correct but it comes for the wrong reasons and from a wrong man. Sorry.

Rob said...

Hi Snoopy,
It was my information that it wasn't Kissinger but the US Joint chiefs of Staff who were dithering because those wonderful European allies of ours forbade U.S. planes from using any of their bases to resupply Israel, even ones we were paying a nice dollar to lease from them.

Nixon collected the JCS in a room, and used some fairly colorful language to tell them he wanted the 'stuff' as he put it en route to Israel within 48 hours, no excuses and that they should send anything that can fly.

This is the man Leftist American Jews commonly think of as an 'anti-semite'.

Nixon's orders led to Operation Nickle Back, which involved some pretty intense mid-air refueling, but Nixon's deadline was met.

Kissinger did indeed make on severe error in '73 when he successfully convinced the Israelis to allow the Egyptian 3rd Army Arik Sharon had trapped and helpless to march intact back to Cairo with their weapons 'to avoid an Arab humiliation'.

Because of that, the Egyptians were able to lie to their people and tell them they had won the war, something that was reinforced when Israel gave back the Sinai as part of Camp David, because to that mentality only losers give up territory.

Big mistake, I grant you.

B.Poster said...

"...those wonderful European allies of ours..." From the context, I think you meant this sarcastically. I could not agree more with such an assessment of these people. This does beg the question of why exactly are we in NATO agreeing to defend these people. It isn't exactly like they would stand shoulder to shoulder with us if/when are invaded.

As far as Mr. Kissinger goes, this was a big mistake back in '73. As for Mr. Nixon, he was likely to pro-Israel for the liking of the powers that be and is why he had to be destroyed politically. Men have done far worse than he and not suffered anything for it.

The powers that be in America are to stupid for their and our own good. They don't seem to grasp that without Israel acting as a buffer between us and our Arab enemies the cost to defend America and the so called "west" becomes much more expensive and far more difficult.

Nevertheless Mr. Kissinger approach, while it does have flaws, is a vast improvement over what we currently have here.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Hm, there are several source that say approximately the same:

"In particular, Nixon overruled Kissinger on the airlift. The latter hoped that a more vulnerable Israel would be more compliant with his grand diplomatic designs to both bring peace to the Middle East and freeze the Soviets out of the action."

That quote comes from here:

But I have seen several others during the years. And this is the part that causes me that unusual allergy to the man.

Notice that source doesn't try to present Nixon as a saint, far from it. Well, we know he wasn't one ;-)

louielouie said...

so if i read this correctly, if the mexican president is named putinez, then the central valley becomes the western border of the US?

Rob said...

I have heard that about Kissinger before,Snoops and I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just mentioning I've heard it presented differently, and I can see why you would feel that way about Dr. K.

However, he was also one of the most successful and effective S of S in America's history, someone who studied history,took the appropriate lessons from Pax Britannia, Pax Romana and the long period of European peace after the Congress of Vienna and understood where long time, effective peace and national security comes from and how to achieve it.That's actually one reason why Nixon made Israel such a key ally in the first place on Kissinger's advice, the first U.S. president to do so.

Even after he was long out of office, presidents would use Dr. Kissinger as a clandestine envoy to the Russians, Chinese and others because he knew and was deeply respected by all the players, and more importantly knew which buttons to push that they would respond to.

If you haven't already, try to put your totally understandable distaste aside for a bit and read 'Diplomacy' and his more recent book on China.He is a first class intellect who presents his material in a fascinating and definitively non-dry fashion , and I believe you will learn a lot. I certainly did.

As for Richard Nixon, he indeed was no saint..but then, I doubt that saints make such great real world leaders. Even Jeanne D'Arc ended up as the main course at a barbecue, and not in a good way.

What he was, however, was America's most underrated president. Had he been elected in 1960, Cuba would be a U.S. ally and not a Marxist outpost in our hemisphere, America would have largely avoided being sucked into Vietnam the way we were, Israel would have been a U.S. ally much earlier, our economy would probably have avoided the dislocations of the early 1970's brought on by the huge deficits of the Vietnam war and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the country as a whole would have been much better off,IMO.

Balanced against Watergate, which was largely a frenzy brought on by media which had always loathed him, Richard Nixon deserves far better from history and his countrymen.