Ukraine is the latest neocon disaster –

If Europe gets a glimpse, it will part ways with these US foreign policy debacles, writes Jeffrey D. Sachs.

On May 3, President Joe Biden delivers a “Stand Up With Ukraine” speech at Lockheed Martin facilities in Troy, Alabama. (White House, Adam Schultz)

By Jeffrey D. Sachs / Common dreams

The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden administration is filled with the same neocons who championed America’s wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011) and who have done so much to provoke Russia. invasion of Ukraine. The neoconservative’s record is one of absolute disaster, but Biden has staffed his team with neoconservatives. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union toward yet another geopolitical meltdown. If Europe gets a glimpse, it will part ways with these US foreign policy debacles.

The neoconservative perspective is based on an overriding false premise: that the military, financial, technological, and economic superiority of the United States allows it to dictate its terms in all parts of the world.

The neoconservative movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, many of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan. Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Cohen, Elliott Abrams, and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick ).

The main message of the neoconservatives is that the United States must predominate in military power in all regions of the world and must confront the rising regional powers that may one day challenge the global or regional domination of the United States, especially Russia and the United States. China. To this end, American military force should be prepositioned in hundreds of military bases around the world, and the United States should be prepared to fight wars of choice if necessary. The United Nations should only be used by the United States when it is useful for American purposes.

This approach was first articulated by Paul Wolfowitz in his Draft Defense Policy Directives (DPGs) written for the Department of Defense in 2002. The draft called for expanding the US-led security network to Central and Eastern Europe despite Germany’s explicit promise. Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in 1990 that German unification would not be followed by an eastward enlargement of NATO. Wolfowitz also advocated for American wars of choice, defending America’s right to act independently, even alone, in response to crises that concern the United States. According to General Wesley Clark, Wolfowitz had already made it clear to Clark in May 1991 that the United States would conduct regime change operations in Iraq, Syria and other former Soviet allies.

October 2, 1991: Paul Wolfowitz, right, as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, at a press conference on Operation Desert Storm. General Norman Schwarzkopf in the center, General Colin Powell on the left. (Lietmotiv via Flickr)

Neoconservatives championed NATO expansion to Ukraine even before it became official US policy under George W. Bush, Jr. in 2008. They viewed Ukraine’s membership of the NATO as the key to US regional and global dominance. Robert Kagan explained the neocon arguments for NATO expansion in April 2006:

[T]russians and Chinese see nothing natural in [the “color revolutions” of the former Soviet Union], the only Western-backed coups designed to advance Western influence in strategically vital parts of the world. Are they so wrong? The successful liberalization of Ukraine, encouraged and supported by Western democracies, would it not be only the prelude to the incorporation of this nation into NATO and the European Union, in short, the expansion of the hegemony Western liberal?

Kagan acknowledged the disastrous consequences of NATO enlargement. He quotes an expert who said: “The Kremlin is seriously preparing for the ‘battle for Ukraine’. The neoconservatives were looking for this battle. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States and Russia should have sought a neutral Ukraine as a prudent buffer and safety valve. Instead, the neocons wanted American “hegemony” while the Russians took the fight partly to defend themselves and partly for their own imperial pretensions as well. Shades of the Crimean War (1853-6), when Britain and France sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea following Russian pressure on the Ottoman Empire.

Kagan wrote the article as a private citizen while his wife Victoria Nuland served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush, Jr. Nuland served as the quintessential neocon agent. In addition to being Bush’s ambassador to NATO, Nuland served as Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2013 to 2017, where she helped overthrow pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and is now Biden’s undersecretary of state. State guiding American policy vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine.

In the ‘battle for Ukraine’, the neocons were prepared to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over vehement Russian objections because they fervently believe that Russia will be defeated by US financial sanctions. and NATO armament.

The neoconservative perspective is based on an overriding false premise: that the military, financial, technological, and economic superiority of the United States allows it to dictate its terms in all parts of the world. It is a position of both remarkable hubris and remarkable disregard for the evidence.

May 16, 2015: Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at the Police Patrol Training Site in Kyiv, Ukraine. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv)

Since the 1950s, the United States has been blocked or defeated in almost every regional conflict in which it has participated. Yet in the ‘battle for Ukraine’, the neoconservatives were prepared to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over vehement Russian objections, as they firmly believe that Russia will be defeated by financial sanctions. American and NATO armaments.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a neoconservative think tank led by Kimberley Allen Kagan (and backed by a who’s who of defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Raytheon), continues to promise a Ukrainian victory. Regarding Russia’s advances, the SIE made a typical comment:[R]whichever side holds the city [of Sievierodonetsk]the Russian offensive at the operational and strategic levels will likely have peaked, giving Ukraine the opportunity to relaunch its counter-offensives at the operational level to repel Russian forces.

The facts on the ground, however, suggest otherwise. Western economic sanctions have had little negative impact on Russia, while their boomerang effect on the rest of the world has been significant. In addition, the ability of the United States to resupply Ukraine with ammunition and weaponry is seriously hampered by the United States’ limited production capacity and broken supply chains. Russia’s industrial capacity, of course, eclipses that of Ukraine. Russia’s GDP was about 10 times that of Ukraine before the war, and Ukraine has now lost much of its industrial capacity during the war.

The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer much of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine almost or landlocked. Frustration will increase in Europe and the United States with military casualties and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions. The ripple effects could be devastating, if a right-wing demagogue in the United States rises to power (or in Trump’s case, returns to power) promising to restore America’s faded military glory through a dangerous escalation.

Instead of risking this disaster, the real solution is to put an end to the neoconservative fantasies of the past 30 years and for Ukraine and Russia to return to the negotiating table, with NATO pledging to end its commitment to the eastward enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia in return for a viable peace that respects and protects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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