More Cowbell For Ukraine While Former U.S. Military Officers and Diplomats Plead for Sanity
Like a degenerate gambler who has emptied his bank account and is now borrowing from the Casino to continue his losing ways, the Biden Administration reportedly is reversing course and moving towards supplying F-16s to Ukraine. CNN reports:
President Joe Biden informed G7 leaders on Friday that the US will support a joint effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation aircraft, including F-16s, a senior administration official tells CNN.
The training is not expected to happen in the US, the official said, and will likely happen entirely in Europe. But US personnel will participate in the training alongside allies and partners in Europe, the official said. It is expected to take several months to complete and the official said the hope is it will begin “in the coming weeks.”
The decision marks a stark turnaround for Biden, who said earlier this year that he did not believe that Ukraine needed the F-16s. The decision to support the training initiative came together very quickly, officials said, and was made by Biden following meetings with G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, where the topic of F-16s to Ukraine was a key point of discussion. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been pushing particularly hard in recent days for countries that have the jets in their stockpile to send them to Ukraine so that the country can better defend itself against Russia’s daily aerial attacks.
This is a panic move by the Biden team. The F-16s will make no tactical nor strategic change in the trajectory of this war. Ukraine’s prospects of reversing Russian success in its “Special Military Operation” grows more bleak with each passing day as the Russian Air Force and Army relentlessly pummel beleaguered Ukrainian troops with hypersonic missiles, 500 kilogram bombs, drones, artillery and troop assaults.
The tempo of the war underway in Ukraine has shifted dramatically in Russia’s favor and Ukraine has no answer. It is running out of artillery shells, tanks, aircraft and, most importantly, trained fighters who can execute large unit maneuvers. Delusion reigns supreme among most of the NATO allies, who insist that this war will drag on and that Ukraine will continue to stubbornly resist and exhaust the Russians.
Western leaders should recall Vladimir Putin’s warning issued during a speech to the Russian Duma in July 2022:
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield.”
“Well, what can I say? Let them try.”
“We have already heard a lot about the West wanting to fight us ‘to the last Ukrainian.’ ”
“This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but that seems to be where it is going.”
“But everyone should know that, by and large, we have not started anything in earnest yet.”
US-dominated Western regimes opposed to conflict resolution talks “should know that the longer (Russia’s SMO) goes on, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”
Time and again I stressed the futility of diplomatic outreach to the US/West by Russia and other nations free from their control.
The only language their ruling regimes understand is toughness.
No other course of action is effective in dealing with them — why it’s a waste of time and effort trying.
I suspect Putin had a Bachman Turner Overdrive tune in mind when he made this declaration:
Check out the following video (sorry, I can’t figure out how to embed it). It shows one of the recently provided mobile artillery pieces firing away a few days back:
Here is the photo of that same vehicle a day after that video was shot.
This is the fate that awaits the F-16s if they are introduced into the Ukraine theater of combat.
An organization, the Eisenhower Media Network, has posted an important letter pleading for some sanity in Washington with respect to Ukraine and Russia. I applaud those who signed the letter:
Dennis Fritz, Director, Eisenhower Media Network; Command Chief Master Sergeant, US Air Force (retired)
Matthew Hoh, Associate Director, Eisenhower Media Network; Former Marine Corps officer, and State and Defense official.
William J. Astore, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force (retired)
Karen Kwiatkowski, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force (retired)
Dennis Laich, Major General, US Army (retired)
Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., 1987-91; author of Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended
Todd E. Pierce, Major, Judge Advocate, U.S. Army (retired)
Coleen Rowley, Special Agent, FBI (retired)
Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor at Columbia University
Christian Sorensen, Former Arabic linguist, US Air Force
Chuck Spinney, Retired Engineer/Analyst, Office of Secretary of Defense
Winslow Wheeler, National security adviser to four Republican and Democratic US
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (retired)
Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (retired) and former US diplomat
I fear their warning will be ignored. They paid to get it in the New York Times, but the rest of the establishment media chose to ignore it. They do so at their own peril. Here are some key portions of the letter (you can read it in its entirety here.)
The Russia-Ukraine War has been an unmitigated disaster. Hundreds of thousands have been killed or wounded. Millions have been displaced. Environmental and economic destruction have been incalculable. Future devastation could be exponentially greater as nuclear powers creep ever closer toward open war.
We deplore the violence, war crimes, indiscriminate missile strikes, terrorism, and other atrocities that are part of this war. The solution to this shocking violence is not more weapons or more war, with their guarantee of further death and destruction.
As Americans and national security experts, we urge President Biden and Congress to use their full power to end the Russia-Ukraine War speedily through diplomacy, especially given the grave dangers of military escalation that could spiral out of control.
Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy made an observation that is crucial for our survival today. “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy–or of a collective death-wish for the world.”
The immediate cause of this disastrous war in Ukraine is Russia’s invasion. Yet the plans and actions to expand NATO to Russia’s borders served to provoke Russian fears. And Russian leaders made this point for 30 years. A failure of diplomacy led to war. Now diplomacy is urgently needed to end the Russia-Ukraine War before it destroys Ukraine and endangers humanity. . . .
U.S. Actions and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
As the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended, U.S. and Western European leaders assured Soviet and then Russian leaders that NATO would not expand toward Russia’s borders. “There would be no extension of…NATO one inch to the east,” U.S. Secretary of State James Baker told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990. Similar assurances from other U.S. leaders as well as from British, German and French leaders throughout the 1990s confirm this.
Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO’s armed forces on Russian borders were intolerable – just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the U.S. now, or as Soviet missiles in Cuba were in 1962. Russia further singled out NATO expansion into Ukraine as especially provocative.
Seeing the War Through Russia’s Eyes
Our attempt at understanding the Russian perspective on their war does not endorse the invasion and occupation, nor does it imply the Russians had no other option but this war.
Yet, just as Russia had other options, so too did the U.S. and NATO leading up to this moment.
The Russians made their red lines clear. In Georgia and Syria, they proved they would use force to defend those lines. In 2014, their immediate seizure of Crimea and their support of Donbas separatists demonstrated they were serious in their commitment to defending their interests. Why this was not understood by U.S. and NATO leadership is unclear; incompetence, arrogance, cynicism, or a treacherous mixture of all three are likely contributing factors.
Again, even as the Cold War ended, U.S. diplomats, generals and politicians were warning of the dangers of expanding NATO to Russia’s borders and of maliciously interfering in Russia’s sphere of influence. Former Cabinet officials Robert Gates and William Perry issued these warnings, as did venerated diplomats George Kennan, Jack Matlock and Henry Kissinger. In 1997, fifty senior U.S. foreign policy experts wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton advising him not to expand NATO, calling it “a policy error of historic proportions.” President Clinton chose to ignore these warnings.
Most important to our understanding of the hubris and Machiavellian calculation in U.S. decision-making surrounding the Russia-Ukraine War is the dismissal of the warnings issued by Williams Burns, the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In a cable to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008, while serving as Ambassador to Russia, Burns wrote of NATO expansion and Ukrainian membership:
“Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”
Why did the U.S. persist in expanding NATO despite such warnings? Profit from weapons sales was a major factor. Facing opposition to NATO expansion, a group of neoconservatives and top executives of U.S. weapons manufacturers formed the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Between 1996 and 1998, the largest arms manufacturers spent $51 million ($94 million today) on lobbying and millions more on campaign contributions. With this largesse, NATO expansion quickly became a done deal, after which U.S. weapons manufacturers sold billions of dollars of weapons to the new NATO members.
So far, the U.S. has sent $30 billion worth of military gear and weapons to Ukraine, with total aid to Ukraine exceeding $100 billion. War, it’s been said, is a racket, one that is highly profitable for a select few.
NATO expansion, in sum, is a key feature of a militarized U.S. foreign policy characterized by unilateralism featuring regime change and preemptive wars. Failed wars, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, have produced slaughter and further confrontation, a harsh reality of America’s own making. The Russia-Ukraine War has opened a new arena of confrontation and slaughter. This reality is not entirely of our own making, yet it may well be our undoing, unless we dedicate ourselves to forging a diplomatic settlement that stops the killing and defuses tensions.
Let’s make America a force for peace in the world.
As you read this letter I suggest you listen to some Simon and Garfunkle. Profound and prophetic:
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