Alexander MERCOURIS: A Top US Foreign Policy Magazine Warns Negotiations Preferable to US Defeat in Ukraine; RI Aug 31, 2015

RI, Aug 31, 2015 —

A Top US Foreign Policy Magazine Warns Negotiations Preferable to US Defeat in Ukraine

  • Article in The National Interest* warns against escalation and says US is setting itself up for a humiliating defeat in Ukraine
  • Washington urged to seek a negotiated solution with Moscow – which holds all the cards in the conflict – to avoid humiliation
  • TNI is a magazine connected to the Center for the National Interest representing the realists in the US foreign policy establiment

By Alexander MERCOURIS

As we first disclosed in January, a debate is underway within the foreign policy establishment in Washington about what to do with the Ukrainian crisis.
On the one hand are the realists, who appear to be led within the administration by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Pitted against them are the hardliners, who include Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
Obama, characteristically, refuses to commit himself clearly to one side or the other. Instead, he tilts one way or the other, depending on which side appears stronger.
Since the late autumn, as Russia’s help for the deal with Iran has moved into focus, and as it became clear that Russia would not let the Ukrainians overrun the Donbass, the balance of advantage has tilted towards the realists.
However, as we discussed shortly after the Kerry-Putin meeting in Sochi, it is essential to understand the nature of the discussion.

The realists in Washington are not friends of Russia. On the contrary, they think of Russia as an adversary – just as the hardliners do.
The people we call the “realists” are not seeking friendship or a rapprochement with Russia. They simply see no sense in confronting Russia in Ukraine where Russia is strongest, whilst at the same time being willing to work with Russia on some issues such as the deal with Iran where there is a mutual interest in doing so.

True realists, people like (from their very different perspectives) Henry Kissinger and the historian Stephen Cohen, who understand that US national interests are best served by good relations with Russia, and that these require an honest acknowledgement of Russia’s legitimate interests, have no voice in the present administration, or in any likely succeeding one.

An article (attached below) has just appeared in The National Interest, an international affairs magazine published by the Center for the National Interest, a US think-tank known to be close to the realists in the US foreign policy establishment, which provides a clear statement of their views, and which is obviously intended to make them public as part of the ongoing policy debate.
What sets this article apart is its frank admission of the point we repeatedly make: in Ukraine it is Russia that holds all the high cards.
That admission could not be made more clearly. In essence what the article says is that Ukraine matters a lot to Russia, but does not matter anything like as much to the US – and matters even less to the US’s European allies.

The result is that US and EU support for Ukraine is essentially rhetorical. Though they talk big about backing Ukraine and “stopping Putin”, what they do in practice is less than little.
The result is that Ukraine actually gets from the West microscopic amounts of economic and military support, whilst the West’s overblown rhetoric simply encourages it to engage Russia in a conflict it cannot win. (…)

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