Patrick Lawrence: Europe and the Legitimization of Deception

As we were all told as kids and as we all learned growing up: lies always come back to bite you on the ass. From Patrick Lawrence at

Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of France François Hollande at the Kremlin to discuss solutions to the situation in southeast Ukraine. (2015-02-06)., CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S., having no need of or gift for statecraft, has long practiced what I’ve taken to calling the diplomacy of no diplomacy. You can’t expect much from bimbos such as Antony Blinken or Wendy Sherman, Blinken’s No. 2 at the State Department. All they can do is roar, even if they are mice next to any serious diplomat.

But have the European powers now followed along? I fear to ask because I fear the answer. But I must, given recent events.

Early last year, when Petro Poroshenko stated publicly that the post-coup regime in Kyiv had no intention of abiding by diplomatic commitments it made in 2014-15 to a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis, a few eyebrows arched, but not over many. Who was the former Ukrainian president, anyway? I had him down from the first as a self-interested dummkopf who did what Washington told him to do and nothing more, no shred of statesmanship about him.

It was another matter when, in early December, Angela Merkel admitted in back-to-back interviews that the European powers were up to the same thing. The objective of diplomatic talks in late 2014 and early 2015, the former German chancellor told Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, was not, as they had pretended, a framework for a federalized Ukraine in the cause of a lasting peace between its hostile halves: It was to deceive the Russians to give Kyiv time to prepare for a military assault on the Russian-speaking provinces in the east, whose people had refused to accept the U.S.–orchestrated coup that brought compulsively Russophobic Nazi-inflected nationalists to power in February 2014.

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