Tag Archives: Diplomacy

Whither Ukraine? By Peter Van Buren

The solution to the Ukraine problem was diplomacy before it started, after it started, and now. Unfortunately for the West, diplomacy now will get them a worse deal than they could have had earlier. From Peter Van Buren at theamericanconservative.com:

The possible outcomes from the start of the war remain the same today.

From the moment Russian troops crossed into Ukraine, there were only two possible outcomes. Ukraine could reach a diplomatic solution that resets its physical eastern border (i.e., Russia annexes much of eastern Ukraine to the Dnieper River, and establishes a land bridge to Crimea), and so firmly reestablishes its geopolitical role as buffer state between NATO and Russia. Or, after battlefield losses and diplomacy, Russia could retreat to its original February starting point, and Ukraine would firmly reestablish its geopolitical role as a buffer state between NATO and Russia.

As of Day 286 on this fifth of December, despite much noise about nuclear war and regime change, those are still the only realistic outcomes. Diplomacy is necessary and diplomacy is sufficient to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. Until all parties realize that, and agree to sit down, the increasingly bloody and efficient meatgrinder will continue. The current status of the war—this 20th-century, WWI-style conquering of territory by creeping land advances with 21st-century weaponry—cannot continue indefinitely. Both sides will run out of young men to kill.

Vladimir Putin’s goal in his invasion has never been something quick and has never included Kiev. It has always been to widen the speed bump that is Ukraine between Russia and NATO. This problem for Putin is ever more acute as NATO builds up strength in Poland. While powerless to negotiate for itself at the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was promised NATO would not expand eastward—a lie—and now Poland is sacrosanct NATO territory, as blessed as Paris, Berlin, and London, untouchable by foreign invasion.

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We Must Now Learn the Lesson of 1914, Not the Lesson of 1938. By Ryan McMaken

Diplomacy does not equal appeasement, and it’s been known to prevent wars and bloodshed. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

With proponents of military intervention and war, it’s always 1938, and every attempt to substitute diplomacy for escalation and war is “appeasement.”

Last week, for example, Ukrainian legislator Lesia Vasylenko accused Western leaders of appeasement during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, stating, “This is the same as 1938 when also the world and the United States in particular were averting their eyes from what was being done by Hitler and his Nazi Party.” The week before that, Estonian legislator Marko Mihkelson declared, “I hope I’m wrong but I smell ‘Munich’ here. ”

These, of course, are references to the notorious Munich conference of 1938, when UK prime minister Neville Chamberlain (and others) agreed to allow Adolf Hitler’s Germany to annex the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia as a means to avoid a general war in Europe. The “appeasement,” of course, failed to prevent war because Hitler’s regime actually planned to annex much more than that.

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Imperial Infantilism, by Patrick Lawrence

Diplomacy is a fine alternative to war. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

Diplomacy is an essential skill in the century swiftly taking shape around us, but we find that hurling playground insults at the leader of another nation has become normal in post-9/11 Washington.

Presidential limousine carrying Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2021. (White House, Adam Schultz)

It’s getting downright difficult to keep track of all the epithets American statesmen, stateswomen, political leaders and legislators use to tell us just who Vladimir Putin is — and with what bottomless contempt we should regard the Russian president.

I long for the days when he was simply “Hitler.” Such as when Hillary Clinton compared him with der Führer after Moscow re-annexed Crimea in response to the coup the U.S. had just engineered in Kiev. That was back in 2014. There were few complications then: All we needed to do was hate him.

Now the names we have for Putin roll around among like pinballs.  “Hitler” has fallen somewhat out of fashion, the hyperbole having proven too silly, or maybe because NATO is now arming a Nazi-infested regime.

He’s all sorts of other things too, keeping us well on the side of repugnance and hostility, and safely away from a serious, adult understanding of the man, the nation and what the man and the nation are doing — in Ukraine and elsewhere.

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Breathe Easier: Blinken, Lavrov Meet Friday, by Ray McGovern

Maybe we won’t have Armageddon in Ukraine after all. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

Whoa! Could this mean that reports of the death of U.S.-Russia security talks are greatly exaggerated? What about the impasse, the deadlock? Might it mean no Russian invasion of Ukraine – at least not yet?

Actually, figuring out what the planned bilateral talks Friday in Geneva mean requires no PhD in political science. Nevertheless, the notion is so alien to consumers of the corporate media that one can, I suppose, give the New York Times credit for admitting, matter-of-factly:

“[The fact] that Mr. Lavrov [Russia’s foreign minister] will meet with [Secretary of State] Mr. Blinken on Friday indicates that Russia is prepared for at least one more round of diplomacy.”

In the same obvious vein, the Washington Post quoted a “senior State Department official” (probably Blinken himself) explaining that the planned meeting on Friday shows that “diplomacy is not dead…We are prepared to continue to engage with Russia on security issues in a meaningful, reciprocal dialogue. We will see this Friday if Russia is prepared to do the same.”

So, can we be somewhat hopeful that war can be avoided? Not so fast.

Persistent Paradigm

Don’t get your hopes up. The editors at the Washington Post and elsewhere were careful to avoid suggesting that there is much possibility that peace might be given a chance – despite the miraculous resurrection of talks that were said to be dead and buried for a few days. Tuesday evening the Post headlined its web version of the story: “Blinken to meet Russian counterpart as White House warns Moscow could attack Ukraine ‘at any point’. That awkwardly balanced headline was changed overnight to “Ukraine invasion seen as looming”, and the new headline sat atop the same article, which ran as the page-one lead in the print edition Wednesday morning.

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America’s ‘Deal of the Century’ in Flames After Israel Pounds Gaza, by Finian Cunningham

So much for US diplomacy in the Middle East. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

The pretense of American mediation in the Middle East is in tatters. A year after the Abraham Accords, and the world is witnessing another bloody round of ethnic cleansing by the Israelis armed with American warplanes and missiles.

It only took a year for Trump’s “deal of the century” to fall apart for the fraud that it always was. The Arab and Muslim world are enraged by the crimes against humanity committed by Israel against Palestinians in nearly two weeks of violence.

A ceasefire has halted the bloodshed – for now – but the damage to America’s image of peace broker is permanent.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump bent over backward to please Israel. So much for all his bluster about “America First”. More like “Israel First”. Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and gave a green light to continue the annexation of Palestinian land.

Then in a re-election bid, Trump cobbled together the so-called Abraham Accords, a grandiose sounding deal between Israel and Arab countries. This was supposed to be the “deal of the century” which Trump, with his characteristic megalomania, touted as solving the seven-decade-old Middle East conflict. It was a con-job, befitting a wheeler-dealer real-estate mogul who is currently being investigated in the U.S. for corruption.

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It’s Time To Make a Deal With North Korea, by John Feffer

North Korea is not the first time that the US has confronted a newly nuclear-armed communist dictator. From John Feffer at antiwar.com:

The United States faces a new nuclear power ruled by a communist dictator. Washington is worried that the leadership of that country is crazy enough to use its new weapons – even against the United States. Meanwhile, other countries fear that the “madman” in the Oval Office might just launch a preemptive nuclear attack.

This description captures the situation today, with US President Donald Trump facing off against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But it also describes a similar conflict in the late 1960s, between the United States and China. That confrontation ended not in war but in détente and a close economic relationship between the two countries. It’s an important reminder that diplomacy can work even in seemingly intractable situations.

In the early 1960s, the United States was terrified that Communist China would acquire a nuclear weapon. By 1964, China tested its first nuclear bomb. Two years later, the Cultural Revolution began, and China descended into political chaos.

Even though the Cultural Revolution would last for the next 10 years and Chinese leader Mao Zedong became increasingly senile during this period, the United States made a strategic decision at the beginning of the 1970s to engage the leadership in Beijing.

This détente started out with highly secret negotiations conducted by national security adviser Henry Kissinger. The United States was still deeply involved in the Vietnam War, and President Richard Nixon didn’t want to give the impression that he was weak on communism.

Indeed, the president was projecting the image of a “madman” on the theory that North Vietnam would accede to US demands for fear of being hit by a nuclear strike. Since he had credibility as a hardliner, Nixon ultimately could sell a deal with China to Congress and the American public.

Today, the United States faces a leadership in Pyongyang that is rhetorically aggressive – and a terrible abuser of human rights at home – but a good deal less ideological than Beijing was in the late 1960s. North Korea wants a nuclear weapon for quite rational reasons: to deter any possible attacks from outside and to balance the overwhelming conventional military edge maintained by the United States and South Korea.

To continue reading: It’s Time To Make a Deal With North Korea

US Congress Bends over Backwards to Prevent Improvement of Relationship with Russia, by Peter Korzun

It makes it more difficult to thaw relations with another country when the official policy is to not allow relations to be thawed. From Peter Korzun at strategic-culture.org:

Congress on May 4 authorized a new effort to counter «Russian influence and aggression» and to support civil society organizations in Europe and Eurasia. The lawmakers also backed a measure imposing new restrictions and oversight on Russian diplomats in the United States. The provisions are part of the $1.1 trillion budget to fund the federal government for 2017 backed by Senate. The bill is expected to head to the president’s desk soon.

Lawmakers earmarked $100 million for a new «Countering Russian Influence Fund», which specifically targets the money toward civil society groups that «strengthen democratic institutions and processes, and counter Russian influence and «aggression». The legislation also provides funds for the so-called Eastern Partnership countries – a European Union program with the ex-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The funds will reduce their EU’s «vulnerability to external economic and political pressure from the Russian Federation».

The bill requires the president to set up an interagency committee to counter Russian activities. The new committee is to meet on a regular basis. Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the Act, the committee is to submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report describing steps being taken to counter «active measures by Russia to exert covert influence».

It all brings to memory the days of McCarthyism – a shameful period of recent American history. This new body is to be modeled after its Cold War predecessor – the Active Measures Working Group, which operated at the height of the Cold War, when some mid-level officials in the US State Department sought a more robust effort to counter «aggressive Soviet propaganda».

An intelligence authorization measure also tucked into the bill tightens oversight of Russian diplomats in the United States. It requires the State Department, the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence to set up a procedure that would essentially obligate Russian diplomats to give the FBI advance warning about travels beyond the embassy and consulates’ immediate geographic territory.

To continue reading: US Congress Bends over Backwards to Prevent Improvement of Relationship with Russia


Russia’s Military Aims Achieved, Putin Switches to Diplomacy, by Paul Craig Roberts

From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

American presstitutes, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, expressed surprise at Russia’s support for the Syrian ceasefire, which Russia has been seeking, by Putin’s halt to attacks on the Islamic State and a partial withdrawal of Russian forces. The American presstitutes are captives of their own propaganda and are now surprised at the failure of their propagandistic predictions.

Having stripped the Islamic State of offensive capability and liberated Syria from the Washington-supported terrorists, Putin has now shifted to diplomacy. If peace fails in Syria, the failure cannot be blamed on Russia.

It is a big risk for Putin to trust the neocon-infested US government, but if ISIS renews the conflict with support from Washington, Putin’s retention of air and naval bases in Syria will allow Russia to resume military operations. Astute observers such as Professor Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research, Stephen Cohen, and The Saker have noted that the Russian withdrawal is really a time-out during which Putin’s diplomacy takes the place of Russian military capability.

With ISIS beat down, there is less danger of Washington using a peace-seeking ceasefire to resurrect the Islamic State’s military capability. Therefore, the risk Putin is taking by trusting Washington is worth the payoff if the result is to enhance Russian diplomacy and elevate it above Washington’s reliance on threats, coercion, and violence. What Putin is really aiming for is to make Europeans realize that by serving as Washington’s vassals European governments are supporting violence over peace and may themselves be swept by the neoconservatives into a deadly conflict with Russia that would ensure Europe’s destruction.

Putin has also demonstrated that, unlike Washington, Russia is able to achieve decisive military results in a short time without Russian casualties and to withdraw without becoming a permanent occupying force. This very impressive performance is causing the world to rethink which country is really the superpower.

The appearance of American decline is reinforced by the absence of capable leaders among the candidates for the Republican and Democratic party nominations for president. America is no longer capable of producing political leadership as successive presidents become progressively worse. The rest of the world must be puzzled how a country unable to produce a fit candidate for president can be a superpower.


What Kind of Diplomacy Do Hawks Want? by Lucy Steigerwald

From Lucy Steigerwald at antiwar.com:

During the most recent GOP debate, there appeared to be a contest between candidates over who could sound the most outraged by the Obama administration on foreign policy. These men are running against Hillary Clinton (and Barack Obama, at least in rhetoric) and to do so – and to pander to the most basic version of a Republican – those two must be called doves, weaklings, and politicians who apologize for America nonstop.

It’s painful to praise Obama’s foreign policy in any way. We will live to regret the precedent his administration set for drone presence in various countries with which the U.S. isn’t even at war. And an official legal defense for assassination of American citizens is something even George W. Bush didn’t manage to get to during his terrible eight years. Yet, for all of the bloodstained embarrassment that is our Nobel Prize-winning President Obama, he could have been much much more sanguine.

Obama still heads the empire known as the United States, but he does appear to have a certain level of fondness for diplomacy. Much like the generally-loathsome Richard Nixon, Obama may eventually get some historical credit for talking instead of fighting. And he may even deserve it.

In 1972 when Nixon decided to recognize Communist China, the phrase – and it has lingered – was “only Nixon could go to China.” That is, Nixon was a Republican who had proven his warmongering bona fides already. He did not look weak when he decided to start talking to one of the 20th century’s great villains, Mao Zedong.

The above link is to a National Review piece which disputes the daring of Nixon in this case, noting that support for the action was high, and the U.S. had lost its taste for leaving China on its own a few years previously. So even a seemingly-soft Democrat could have made the leap. The point, however, is that Mao’s heinous crimes were not wiped away by the fact of the United States recognizing Red China. Nixon himself had an enlightening quote that said this had to be done not because the U.S. loved China, but because China was there.

Forty years later, China is richer and less brutal than it was, with millions and millions lifted out of poverty. And whether Nixon in China has taken on certain mythic conceits or not, it still was a moment of speech instead of warfare. That’s always nice. It also doesn’t seem to be popular among today’s Republicans.

Even more undeniable than the benefits of countries communicating is the fact that sanctions and embargoes do so little. Cuba has been plugging along oppressed and isolated from the U.S. for 60 years, and men named Castro have ruled it for all that time. Cuba’s dictators were not removed or particularly harmed, but the people of Cuba certainly were when they were prevented from buying medicine.

Iran is similar, and that is where the true vitriol still seems to lie. The Castros are old and tired, but Iran is still infuriating conservatives by refusing to be a U.S. puppet. Only that, it seems, would satisfy them.

To continue reading: What Kind of Diplomacy Do Hawks Want?