Letter about Ukraine

Letter on Ukraine to Labour Affairs

From Eamon Dyas

I don’t think Zelenskiy believes that he is going to be defeated. Of course, given his predicament such defiance of reality is irrational and can only be sustained by a confidence that at some point he can convince US/NATO to get involved. 

US/NATO could never have gotten involved at the outset – public opinion wouldn’t permit it but that doesn’t mean that US/NATO would never get involved or that they weren’t planning for such involvement. Such things always require context. 

The people of the US and Germany didn’t believe that Wilson would ever get involved in the First World War but a mere matter of months after being re-elected on the basis of having kept the country out of the war he went in. He had been planning for over a year to make that move through his “Preparedness Campaign” and on the back of a compliant media willing to concoct and exaggerate all kinds of atrocity stories that were designed to make public opinion more pliable.

There is a similarity with the way the Ukrainian situation has unfolded. The closer Russia gets to achieving its territorial goals the more the reporting and public statements of politicians ever hyped on the back of new evidence of Russian barbarism make such an outcome likely. The US/NATO have said that Russia cannot come out of this conflict with any capacity to claim any gain. 

Until the conflict is over Russia cannot claim to have made gains. A territory still in a state of instability cannot be said to constitute a gain. What US/NATO want is for this conflict to continue indefinitely so that this state of instability continues to prevent any semblance of normality to be established and they are willing to continue to add fuel to it in order to sustain that instability. Ideally, US/NATO would like to see an equilibrium of death and destruction being established in the country as such a state would preclude their direct involvement in the conflict. However, there is no conflict that at some point doesn’t result in some form of accommodation between the belligerents.

That accommodation can be reached by one side or the other gaining the upper hand or by both sides acknowledging on the basis of reason that a stalemate had been reached. But what we have in the Ukrainian conflict is a situation where one side is being encouraged to act irrationally by the political and material support of powerful outsiders who have determined to ensure that the conflict does not reach a stage where an accommodation is possible. In that situation a conflict can go on indefinitely. 

What is likely to happen if at some stage – and we may be approaching that stage – Russian military advances begin to indicate a potential win? Is the US/NATO likely to withdraw and allow an accommodation between the two belligerents? 

Personally I don’t think they will. If it seems that Zelinskiy is about to move in that direction and the only thing that might prevent it is the offer of more direct involvement of US/NATO in the conflict that’s what he’ll be promised. And of course, all the atrocity stories with probably more extreme ones in the pipeline, will have prepared the public for just such a “humanitarian intervention”. 

I hope I’m wrong but I just can’t see any other scenario. But it’s just a scenario and as such, hopefully, there are other  scenarios that are just as likely to play out even if I cannot see it at present. 

Labour Affairs replies:

At this stage, we can only echo the conclusion of Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian:

“Johnson and Truss have not declared that a Ukrainian deal is for Zelenskiy and his people to decide. They want him to keep fighting for as long as it takes for Russia to be utterly defeated. They need a triumph in their proxy war. Meanwhile anyone who disagrees with them can be dismissed as a weakling, a coward or pro-Putin. That this conflict should be hijacked by Britain for a squalid forthcoming leadership contest is sickening.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/28/liz-truss-ukraine-war-russia-conservative-power

For in-depth background information about the situation in Ukraine, see the special issue of Irish Foreign Affairs (also published in Labour Affairs April)

See also the memorandum from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

Intel Vets: Nuclear Weapons Cannot Be Un-Invented

by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Posted on May 1, 2022

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Nuclear Weapons Cannot Be Un-invented, Thus …
PRECEDENCE: IMMEDIATE
REF: Our Memo of 12/20/20, “Don’t Be Suckered on Russia

May 1, 2022

Mr. President: 

Mainstream media have marinated the minds of most Americans in a witches’ brew of misleading information on Ukraine – and on the exceedingly high stakes of the war. On the chance you are not getting the kind of “untreated” intelligence President Truman hoped for by restructuring intelligence, we offer below a 12-point factsheet. Some of us were intelligence analysts during the Cuban missile crisis and see a direct parallel in Ukraine. As to VIPs’ credibility, our record since Jan. 2003 – whether on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or Russia – speaks for itself.

  1. The growing possibility that nuclear weapons might be used, as hostilities in Ukraine continue to escalate, merits your full attention.
  2. For almost 77 years, a common awareness of the awesome destructiveness of atomic/nuclear weapons created an (ironically stabilizing) balance of terror called deterrence. Nuclear-armed countries have generally avoided threatening to use nukes against other nuclear-armed countries.
  3. Putin’s recent reminders of Russia’s nuclear weapons capability can easily fit into the category of deterrence. It can also be read as a warning that he is prepared to use them in extremis.
  4. Extremis? Yes; Putin regards Western interference in Ukraine, particularly since the coup d’etat in Feb. 2014, as an existential threat. In our view, he is determined to rid Russia of this threat, and Ukraine is now a must-win for Putin. We cannot rule out the possibility that, backed into a corner, he might authorize a limited nuclear strike with modern missiles that fly many times the speed of sound. 
  5. Existential threat? Moscow sees U.S. military involvement in Ukraine as precisely the same kind of strategic threat President Kennedy saw in Khrushchev’s attempt to put nuclear missiles in Cuba in violation of the Monroe Doctrine. Putin complains that US”ABM” missile sites in Romania and Poland can be modified, by simply inserting an alternate compact disk, to launch missiles against Russia’s ICBM force.
  6. As for putting missile sites in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin readout of your Dec. 30, 2021 telephone conversation with Putin, you told him the US”had no intention of deploying offensive strike weapons in Ukraine”. So far as we know, there has been no objection to the accuracy of that Russian readout. Nevertheless, your reported assurance to Putin disappeared into thin air – contributing, we imagine, to Russia’s growing distrust.
  7. Russia can no longer doubt that the US and NATO aim to weaken Russia (and to remove him, if possible) – and that the West also believes it can accomplish this by pouring weapons into Ukraine and urging the Ukrainians to fight on. We think these aims are delusional.
  8. If Secretary Austin believes that Ukraine can “win” against Russian forces – he is mistaken. You will recall that many of Austin’s predecessors – McNamara, Rumsfeld, Gates, for example – kept assuring earlier presidents that corrupt regimes could “win” – against foes far less formidable than Russia.
  9. The notion that Russia is internationally “isolated” also seems delusional. China can be counted on to do what it can to prevent Putin from “losing” in Ukraine – first and foremost because Beijing has been designated “next in line”, so to speak. Surely, President Xi Jin-Ping has been briefed on the Pentagon’s “2022 National Defense Strategy” identifying China as the #1 “threat”. Russia-China entente marks a tectonic shift in the world correlation of forces. It is not possible to exaggerate its significance.
  10. Nazi sympathizers in Ukraine will not escape attention on May 9, as Russia celebrates the 77th anniversary of the victory by the Allies over Nazi Germany. Every Russian knows that more than 26 million Soviets died during that war (including Putin’s older brother Viktor during the merciless, 872-day blockade of Leningrad). Denazification of Ukraine is one of the key factors accounting for Putin’s approval level of above 80 percent.
  11. The Ukraine conflict can be called “The Mother of All Opportunity Costs”. In last year’s “Threat Assessment”, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines identified climate change as a major national security and “human security” challenge that can only be met by nations working together. War in Ukraine is already diverting much needed attention from this impending threat to coming generations.
  12. We note that we sent our first Memorandum of this genre to President George W. Bush on Feb. 5, 2003, critiquing Colin Powell’s unconfirmed-intelligence-stuffed speech at the UN earlier that day. We sent two follow-up Memos in March 2003 warning the president that intelligence was being “cooked” to justify war, but were ignored. We end this Memo with the same appeal we made, in vain, to George W. Bush: “You would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.

Lastly, we repeat the offer we made to you in December 2020 (in the VIPs Memorandum referenced above): ‘We stand ready to support you with objective, tell-it-like-it-is analysis.’ We suggest you might benefit from “outside” input from veteran intelligence officers with many decades of experience on the “inside”.

FOR THE STEERING GROUP: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

  • Fulton Armstrong, former National Intelligence Officer for Latin America & former National Security Council Director for Inter-American Affairs (ret.)
  • William Binney, NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Richard H. Black, Former Virginia Senator; Col. US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)
  • Graham E. Fuller,Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
  • Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)
  • Larry Johnson, former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official (ret.)
  • Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF Intelligence Agency (ret.), former Master SERE Instructor
  • John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Edward Loomis, Cryptologic Computer Scientist, former Technical Director at NSA (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)
  • Pedro Israel Orta, former CIA and Intelligence Community (Inspector General) officer
  • Todd Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
  • Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus, MIT (Physics). Former Science and Policy Adviser for Weapons Technology to the Chief of Naval Operations (associate VIPS)
  • Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
  • Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA (ret.)
  • Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (Retired)/DIA, (Retired)
  • Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)
  • Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned in opposition to the war on Iraq)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPs) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington’s justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.

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