Comments on Edward Lozansky’s Clearing the Fog of ‘Unprovoked’ War

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity published this essay by physicist and mathematician Edward Lozansky, who was born in Ukraine, studied in Russia and worked in the U.S.:

Clearing the Fog of ‘Unprovoked’ War

It retells a lot of the history of aggressive NATO expansion and the squandered opportunities for peace.  The essay was also published on

Lozansky quotes Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan as having said, “NATO expansion would open the door to future nuclear war.”   I can find no documentation of that exact quotation other than Lozansky’s essay. But I did find this archived article from 1998 in which Moynihan warns that NATO expansion may force Russia to resort to nuclear weapons and in which then Senator Joe Biden disagrees with Moynihan’s warnings about NATO expansion:

NATO: U.S. Senator Concerned About Russian Nuclear Doctrine

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moynihan says Russian conventional forces today are in disarray, its army shrinking and military morale is at a low ebb. All these factors, the senator says, have forced Moscow to proclaim that, if NATO is expanded, Russia would have to place a greater reliance on its nuclear weapons.

Moynihan says gone now is the old Soviet doctrine of the “no-first-use principle,” which he says “saved mankind in the 20th century.” That doctrine proclaimed that the Soviet Union would not be the first country to use nuclear weapons.

He says: “All they have to defend themselves are nuclear weapons. It is a curiously ironic outcome that at the end of the Cold War we might face a nuclear Armageddon.

Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), while calling Moynihan “the single most erudite” and “informed person serving in the Senate,” says he disagrees with him. Biden says he believes that even without admitting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO, the Russian military would have reached the same conclusions about the importance of nuclear weapons.

Biden says he believes the underlying Russian military doctrine would be no different today even if NATO decided to stay within its [then?] current borders.

Likewise, this (non-paywalled) 1998 Washington Post article DECIDING NATO’S FUTURE WITHOUT DEBATE says that Senators Moynihan and Warner had concerns about NATO expansion.   Moynihan “points to a Russian government strategy paper published last December saying the expansion of NATO inevitably means Russia will have to rely increasingly on nuclear weapons.”

The New Republic’s  The NATO Critics Who Predicted Russia’s Belligerence from March 3, 2022 documents Senator Moynihan’s verbal sparring with then Senator Joe Biden over NATO expansion:

Joe Biden was confident. “This, in fact, is the beginning of another 50 years of peace,” he declared while serving as ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1998. The Delaware Democrat was proud of his role in helping the bipartisan congressional vote to approve the addition of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic as full NATO members.

Not everyone was so optimistic, however. One month earlier, during a Senate debate, New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan cautioned, “We’re walking into ethnic historical enmities.” He added: “We have no idea what we’re getting into.”

Hearing Moynihan, Biden’s face reddened. He stalked the Senate floor for 10 minutes, waving his arms and shouting. “I find this absolutely astounding!” he said. “If my friends are saying, anyone who votes for expanding NATO to include Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, are tying this noose around a Russian neck, this iron ring, well, then I don’t quite get it.”

The essay goes on to retell how the U.S. helped Russian oligarchs turn the former USSR into a kleptocracy and how some diplomats and analysts warned that NATO expansion would be viewed aggressively by Russia:

>As the Clinton administration signaled its wish to expand NATO, Charles Kupchan penned aNew York Times op-ed in 1994 forecasting: “An expanded NATO would lead Russia to reassert control over its former republics and to remilitarize.” Kupchan, who had served as director for European affairs on Clinton’s National Security Council, said that bringing new countries into the alliance would not protect them from Russia, since Moscow didn’t threaten them. But, he added, Western leaders would create a self-fulfilling prophecy by inflaming Russian nationalism if they pursued NATO expansion.

Soon, more than 15 distinguished Cold War–era diplomats signed an open letter in The New York Review of Books arguing that NATO expansion would be disastrous. They were bolstered in February 1997 by George Kennan, the legendary ambassador to the Soviet Union and Cold War theoretician. He wrote bluntly that NATO expansion was a historic error, one that might “restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and … impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.” Inside the Clinton administration itself, Defense Secretary William Perry nearly resigned when his advice against rapid NATO expansion went unheeded.

Of course, Clinton ignored these critics, as did George W. Bush’s administration when it oversaw another round of NATO expansion in 2004.

…. The 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania, proved more fateful than previous rounds of expansion, however. The organization declared that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually become members, over Russia’s threats of retaliation. “I think that was a huge mistake; it was hugely provocative,” said Goldgeier.

…. But the 2014 revolution in Ukraine was transformative. The Obama administration, along with Republican senators like John McCain, blatantly supported the pro-Western, anti-Russian forces in Ukraine. When the pro-Russian president was removed and fled the country after months of protests, Putin saw an urgent threat and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

It almost goes without saying that the New Republic essay says that the responsibility for the war is entirely Putin’s.

My position is that the U.S. shares responsibility for the war. Even if one says that the U.S. is responsible for only 1/4 of the crisis, there’s still a lot of blood on U.S. hands, and the hypocrisy and lies of the U.S. establishment are disgusting.  The war was entirely avoidable had the U.S. shown restraint. And the U.S. squashed peace deals both before the invasion (Minsk agreements) and in the spring of 2022.  For details about U.S. provocations see How the U.S. provoked Russia in Ukraine: A Compendium.

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