Mickey Huff, the third director of Project Censored, interviews American University historian Peter Kuznick, co-author with Oliver Stone of The Untold History of the United States. They discuss the current U.S. and NATO confrontation with Russia over Ukraine; summarize the recent history of Ukraine and U.S. relations, while placing current affairs in Cold War context; and emphasize the urgency of settling the crisis peacefully. Below is my summary.
Kuznick recalls U.S. betrayal of verbal promises to Russia not to expand NATO. Kuznick said that the U.S. incited the war in Syria by Operation Timber Sycamore, which according to wikipedia was “a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by some Arab intelligence services, including Saudi intelligence. Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. ”
In 2001, after 9/11, the first foreign leader to contact President Bush was Vladimir Putin, who even allowed the U.S. to have transit rights and basing opportunities. Putin thought the U.S. could be an ally. But in 2002 the U.S, withdrew from the ABM treaty. So Putin decided to modernize their nuclear forces. “In 2008 George W. Bush announced that he strongly supports the admission of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, even though he was warned by many of his advisers that this was an absolute nonstarter.” Russian leaders told diplomats that Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO was absolutely unacceptable (“Nyet means Nyet.”) Even Russians dissidents opposed those countries joining NATO. U.S. diplomats and William Perry (Clinton’s Defense Secretary) almost resigned out of opposition to proposals to admit Ukraine into NATO.
Ukraine’s Zelensky wanted to make peace with Russia. But the hard-liners in Ukraine fight back, and Zelensky turns against Russia and asked for lethal aid from the U.S. Obama refused. Trump at first refused but then did. “From Russia’s standpoint, for lots of reasons, this was an absolutely untenable situation.”
[This reminds me of the U.S. policy towards China, which has made it abundantly clear that it regards Taiwan as a breakaway province.]
We live in the United States of Amnesia.
When Biden was VP, he was Obama’s point person on Ukraine. Hunter Biden was on the board of one of Ukraine’s energy companies. The bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan puts pressure on Biden to be tough and competent now. He’s under pressure from hawks, both Ds and Rs. “Foreign policy is largely bipartisan.” Biden brought in 16 or 17 from the hawkish Center for New American Security. People like Jake Sullivan and Nuland (# 3 in the State Department Now), who was involved in the Maidan uprising coup in Ukraine and said “Fuck the EU.” “Her husband, Robert Kagan, was one of the founders of the Project for the New American Security, along with Bill Krystal.” At first Biden sounded less hawkish. Now he’s acting like Clint Eastwood. “I don’t respect Russia’s red lines.”
Now Russia is in a much stronger military (especially nuclear) position than in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. That crisis was solved by a backroom deal, in which the U.S. secretly agreed to remove missiles from Turkey in exchange for Russia’s removing missiles from Cuba. Furthermore, now the Russians don’t trust U.S. promises, because of U.S. politics (Trump). After the Cuban missile crisis, Kruschev wrote a letter basically suggesting to end the cold war. Then Kennedy made a pacifist commencement address. Kennedy said he’d rather his children be red than dead. Eisenhower had said he’d rather be atomized than communized.
The corporate media is hawkish. Bloomberg recently issued a false headline, “Russia Invades Ukraine” and had to retract it. Mainstream media doesn’t interview Kuznick. “The band of acceptable opinion is so narrow that the fact that we have a free press is almost meaningless.”
Putin gave a speech 15 years ago, saying that the U.S. is hellbent on maintaining a unipolar power. .. “plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts.”
Hawks say we mustn’t appease Putin (Munich moment) and say we shouldn’t respect Russia’s “sphere of influence.” But what about the U.S. Monroe Doctrine? [And the U.S. has about 800 bases around the world.] Putin is not Hitler. “He is not a great democrat, but he’s not out to re-create the Soviet empire.” “Our offramp is some deal to recognize Russia’s security interest” and other countries’ interest.
Kuznick wants the Doomsday Clock to be moved closer to midnight. He thinks we are in the most dangerous situation, since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Pentagon has run 18 war games over a U.S. China war, and China has won all 18 games.
We’re run by madmen. Countries are run by mental and moral pygmies. We need a world summit where leaders figure out a way to deal with the problems that confront us, such as the climate crisis, world health, and inequality. For us to be fighting over Ukraine is insane, when Russia has a legitimate security interest about Ukraine. But the U.S. overthrows socialist governments in Latin America. Now we have a welfare state for defense contractors. Blood-thirsty merchants of death. Their influence in D.C. is immense.
Kuznick says that Putin made mistakes too, driving some Ukrainians to feel more favorable towards NATO.