While we react with fear to the resurgence of fascist, Nazi or Japanese imperial groups, we fail to see that it was not these ideologies that provoked World War, but the alliance of rulers ready for the worst. The same configuration is about to be repeated with other groups. In a few months, if we do not react now, a Third World War may be possible.
The Second World War can serve as a lesson to us. It did not appear in a serene sky. It was not a battle of the Good guys against the Bad guys. It was just triggered by an unforeseen gathering of forces capable of destroying everything.
After the economic crisis of 1929, the whole world was convinced, and rightly so, that the capitalism of that time was over. The Soviet Union alone offered an alternative, Bolshevism. Soon the United States came up with a second alternative, the structural reforms of the New Deal, and then Italy promoted a third alternative, fascism. The great Anglo-Saxon capitalists chose to support a new regime, close to fascism, Nazism. They thought that Germany would attack the USSR, thus preserving their interests threatened by both Bolshevik collectivisations and US economic reforms. However, nothing worked out as planned, since Italy, Germany and Japan formed the Axis with their own logic and the war was not started against the Soviets, but against the great fortunes that prepared it.
In the collective imagination, we do not hold responsible the great Anglo-Saxon capitalists who supported Nazism at its beginning. On the contrary, we remember the British and American people as having participated in the victory.
From this experience we must learn that the most skilful plans can escape their promoters. Peace was threatened by the alliance of three very different regimes, Fascism, Nazism and Hakkō ichiu. None of the international relations scholars and other geopoliticians of the time foresaw this union. All of them, without exception, were wrong.
What these three ideologies had in common was that they wanted to change the world order without regard to the human consequences of their actions. This does not mean that their opponents were democratic and peaceful, far from it, but only that they refrained from exterminating entire peoples.
Let’s not mistake the adversary. We must be very vigilant, not to a particular type of political regime, but to the fact that states governed by men capable of the worst ever unite. The current danger is neither fascism, nor Nazism, nor Hakkō ichiu, three ideologies marked by their time and which do not correspond to anything today. What we must protect ourselves from, above all, is a global alliance between ideologies capable of the worst.
This is exactly what is about to happen: the current leaders of the US State Department, the government in Kiev and the next government in Tel Aviv have no limits. The union of the "Straussians", the Ukrainian "integral" nationalists and the Israeli "revisionist Zionists" can, without any qualms, plunge the world into a Third World War. Fortunately, the CIA does not share their ideas, the government in Kiev is constrained by Russian military intervention, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s coalition has not yet formed its government.
Professor Leo Strauss (1899-1973). Although he wrote extensively on natural law and Jewish philosophy, he left nothing about his political conceptions, which he reserved for certain of his students. Numerous testimonies have made his "oral" thought known to us.
The U.S. "Straussians”
This small group of about a hundred people controls the foreign policy of the United States, including the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, his deputy, Victoria Nuland, and the National Security Advisor, Jacob Sullivan.
It is in line with the thinking of the Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss "Russia declares war on the Straussians” for whom democracies showed their weaknesses during the 1930s. The only way to ensure that the next anti-Semitic regime does not massacre them is for the Jews to set up their own dictatorship; to be on the side of the hammer and not of the nail.
The "Straussians" have already shown what they are capable of by organizing the 9/11 attacks and by launching various wars to destroy the "wider Middle East".
It is amazing that, despite the controversies that tore the US ruling class apart during the Bush Jr. administration, most of today’s politicians are unaware of who the Straussians are.
The poet Dmytro Dontsov (1883-1973). He created a mythology that inspired millions of Ukrainians to fight the Russians. A secret agent of the Second and Third German Reichs, he participated in the supervision of the extermination of Jews and Gypsies in Europe as administrator of the Reinhard Heydrich Institute, before being whitewashed by the Anglo-Saxon secret services.
The Ukrainian "integral nationalists”
This is a group comprising hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions. It originated in the First World War, but solidified during the interwar period, the Second World War and the Cold War “Who are the Ukrainian integral nationalists ?”.
They identify with the poet and criminal against humanity Dmytro Dontsov. They see themselves as Vikings ready to fight the last battle against evil, that is, according to them, against Russian civilization.
The term "integral nationalist" should not be misleading. Dontsov chose it in reference to the thought of the Frenchman Charles Maurras. Dontsov was never a patriot, nor a nationalist in the classical sense. He never defended either the Ukrainian people or the Ukrainian land. On the contrary.
The Ukrainian "integral nationalists" have, since 1919, shown what they are capable of. They have murdered more than 4 million of their fellow citizens, including 1.6 million Jews. Since 2014, they have waged a civil war that has cost the lives of about 20,000 of their fellow citizens. They also, in 1921, amputated their land from Galicia and Volhynia to pay in advance the Polish army against the USSR.
They made an alliance with the Straussians, in 2000, during a big congress in Washington, where the Straussian Paul Wolfowitz was the guest of honor.
It is very dangerous to claim, as NATO does, that the "integral nationalists" are marginal in Ukraine. Certainly, in the spirit of this organization, it is only a question of discrediting Russia’s discourse and mobilizing for Ukraine. But these people are now murdering, without trial, those of their fellow citizens who find themselves in Russian culture.
It is particularly dangerous to participate in the delirium of the "integral nationalists" as the Bundestag has just done by adopting a resolution on the "Holodomor", i.e. the "genocide by hunger". The famine of 1932-33 was by no means caused by the Soviets in general, nor by Joseph Stalin in particular. It affected many other regions of the USSR than Ukraine. It is a climatic catastrophe. Moreover, in Ukraine itself, it did not affect the cities, but only the countryside because the Soviets decided to manage this shortage by feeding the workers rather than the peasants. To give credence to the myth of a planned genocide is to encourage anti-Russian hatred as the Nazis once encouraged anti-Jewish hatred.
Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), founder of the Jewish Legion, then of the Irgun. He called for Israel to extend over the entire British Mandate territory, i.e. over the current State of Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the Kingdom of Jordan.
Israeli "revisionist Zionists”
The "revisionist Zionists" represent about 2 million Israelis. They have managed to form a parliamentary majority by uniting several political parties behind Benjamin Netanyahu.
They claim to be inspired by the Ukrainian Vladimir Jabotinsky, the man who claimed that Palestine is "a land without a people, for a people without a land". In other words, Palestinian Arabs do not exist. They have no rights and must be expelled from their homes.
In September 1921, Jabotinsky formed a secret alliance with the Ukrainian "integral nationalist" anti-Semites, the first link in the developing Axis. This union aroused the indignation of the entire Jewish diaspora and Jabotinsky was expelled from the World Zionist Organization. In October 1937, Jabotinsky formed a new alliance with the anti-Semites of Marshal Rydz-Smigly, number 2 in Poland behind Józef Piłsudski. He was again rejected by the Jewish diaspora.
At the very beginning of World War II, Jabotinsky chose Bension Netanyahu, Benjamin’s father, as his private secretary.
It is appalling that, 75 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, most people continue to lump together different, and often opposing, views solely on the basis of the religion of those who profess them.
Revisionist Zionism" is the opposite of the Zionism of Nahum Goldman and the World Jewish Congress. It has no concern for the Jewish people and has therefore not hesitated to form alliances with anti-Semitic armed forces.
The "revisionist Zionists", including Menahem Beguin and Ariel Sharon, have shown what they are capable of with the Nakba; the forced expulsion of the majority of the Arab population of Palestine in 1948. It is this crime, whose memory haunts both Arabs and Israelis, that makes peace in Palestine impossible to this day.
Benjamin Netanyahu formed an alliance with the Straussians in 2003 at a large closed-door congress in Jerusalem «Sommet historique pour sceller l’Alliance des guerriers de Dieu». Since the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, of whom he has become a personal friend, Netanyahu has also renewed Jabotinsky’s alliance with the "integral nationalists".
The Axis is constituted.
The common ideology of the new Axis
Just as Italian Fascism, German Nazism, and Japanese Hakkō ichiu had little to do with each other, so did the Straussians, the "integral nationalists," and the "revisionist Zionists" think differently and pursue distinct goals. Only the Nazis were so anti-Semitic as to seek to kill an entire people. The fascists despised the Jews, but did not seek to exterminate them. The Japanese never engaged in this hatred and even protected the Jews in their own country and in the territories they occupied. In the same way, today if the "integral nationalists" are obsessively against Russian culture and wish to kill all Russians, men, women and children, the Straussians despise them without wishing to exterminate them, and the "revisionist Zionists" pursue other objectives.
Each of these three isolated groups represents a danger to specific populations, but all three together threaten all of humanity. They share a cult of violence and power. They have shown that they can engage in wars of extermination. All three consider that their time has come. However, not only do they have to overcome their internal oppositions, but their axis is still uncertain. For example, the Straussians have just warned the "revisionist Zionists" about the possible expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
After the Second World War, modern international law was established with the idea of countering "war propaganda" United Nations General Assembly Resolution 110 of November 3, 1947 and Resolution 381 of November 17, 1950 “Condemnation of propaganda against peace”. International legislators, i.e. sovereign states, soon agreed that war could only be fought against by ensuring the "free flow of ideas" resolution 819 of 11 December 1954 “Strengthening of peace through the removal of barriers to free exchange of ideas".
In recent years, however, we have witnessed an extraordinary backsliding that deprives us of the thoughts of others, exposes us to war propaganda, and ultimately leads us to a global conflict.
This phenomenon began with the private censorship on social networks of the incumbent president of the United States, and continued with the public censorship of Russian media in the West. Now the thoughts of others are no longer seen as a tool to prevent wars, but as a poison that threatens us.
Western states are setting up bodies to "rectify" information that they consider falsified (Fake News)“The West renounces freedom of expression”, by Thierry Meyssan. NATO is considering the creation of a unit, called Information Ramstein, which will be responsible for censoring not Russian information sources, but Russian ideas within the 30 member states of the Atlantic Alliance "A ’Ministry of Truth’ soon to be created within NATO".
This is a complete reversal of the values of the Atlantic Alliance, which was founded in the wake of the Atlantic Charter, which incorporated President Franklin Roosevelt’s "four freedoms". The first of these freedoms was the freedom of expression.
However, before the invention of the Internet, when the United States and the Soviet Union had just guaranteed the "free circulation of ideas" with the Helsinki Agreements, the United Nations and more particularly its agency in this field, UNESCO, were worried about "information imperialism". The technical superiority of the West allowed them to impose their view of the facts on developing countries.
In 1976, during the Nairobi conference, the UN raised the question of the functioning of the media with regard to "the strengthening of peace and international understanding, the promotion of human rights and the fight against racism, apartheid and incitement to war.
Former Irish Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Seán MacBride formed a 16-member commission at Unesco. It included the Frenchman Hubert Beuve-Mery (founder of Le Monde), the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (Nobel Prize for Literature) and the Canadian Marshall McLuhan (communication theorist). The United States was represented by Elie Abel, then dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, and Russia by the director of the Tass agency, Sergei Losev. Only the fifth and final part of the report (Communication Tomorrow) was the subject of a general debate. The MacBride commission discussed the draft of the other parts, but could not question their final wording. In any event, its report, issued in 1978, seemed to be a consensus.
In fact, by pointing out that the same facts can be perceived differently and by opening up the question of the means of the media of the North and those of the South, he was opening a Pandora’s box. At the same time, Unesco was confronted with the propaganda of the South African apartheid regime and the propaganda of Israel, which denies Muslim and Christian cultures. In the end, the United States and the United Kingdom ended the debate by withdrawing from Unesco. We know today that the British Empire had ensured its intellectual domination by creating news agencies. Whitehall closed the Information Research Department (IRD) just before the MacBride report was published "Britain’s secret propaganda war, Paul Lashmar & James Oliver, Sutton". But the war against Syria has shown that the whole system has been reconstituted in another form “The fabrication of the myth of the "Syrian revolution" by the United States. Westerners continue to falsify information at its source.
In forty years, the media landscape has been transformed: the emergence of international television news channels, websites and social networks. At the same time, there has been a huge concentration of media in the hands of a few owners. However, none of the problems listed in 1978 have changed. On the contrary, with the unipolar world, they have become worse.
The journalistic profession today consists of either writing agency reports or contextualizing the news for the media. News agencies are factual and unsourced, while the media offer commentary and analysis by referring to news agencies. Contextualization requires a great deal of historical, economic and other knowledge, which today’s journalists are largely lacking. The immediacy of radio and television does not give them the time to read books and even less to consult archives, except during in-depth investigations. Commentary and analysis have thus become considerably impoverished.
The dominant ideology in the West, which tends to become "global", has become a religion without God. There are now only two camps: that of the Good and that of the apostates. Truth is determined by a consensus among the elites, while the people reject it. Any criticism is considered blasphemous. There is no more room for debate and therefore for democracy.
The alternative press has become just as poor because it relies on the same data as the international media: news agency reports. It is indeed enough to control AFP, AP and Reuters to impose a vision of the facts on us. You can season it according to this or that tendency, Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, etc., but it will always be the same dish.
Since the September 11 attacks, those who challenge the official version of events have been called "conspiracy theorists ». Since the election of Donald Trump, those who contest the data of press agencies are accused of distorting reality and imagining Fake News. Journalists, after refraining from relaying the thoughts of "conspiracists", i.e. dissidents, try to correct Fake News with Checked News.
Yet, at the same time, belief in the versions of the mainstream media has collapsed. In the United States, the Gallup Institute has been measuring trust in the print media since 1973 and in the broadcast media since 1993. Trust in newspapers has fallen from 51 percent to 16 percent, and trust in radio and television has fallen from 46 percent to 11 percent.
The only solution is to increase the number of news agencies, i.e. the sources of information. Not to make them numerous, but diverse. Only then will we realize that the way an event is reported determines the way we think about it.
For example, today the three news agencies mentioned above present the conflict in Ukraine as a "Russian invasion". They claim that Moscow has not been able to take Kiev and overthrow President Zelenky, but commits war crimes every day. This is one way of looking at it. We don’t have the means to publish dispatches all the time, but we publish a weekly identical bulletin. Our criterion is different. We refer to "International Law" and not to Western "rules". Therefore, we describe the same conflict as the application of the Security Council resolution 2202 and the "responsibility to protect" the oppressed populations since 2014. The events are the same, but for some the way they tell them leads to think that the Russians are wrong, while ours leads to think that the Russian position is legal. To tell the truth, there is another difference: we interpret the facts over time. For us and for the Security Council, there has been a civil war in Ukraine for eight years with 20,000 deaths, the three major agencies pretend to ignore it. For us, the "integral nationalists" have a long criminal history, having cost the lives of 4 million of their fellow citizens, the Western agencies also pretend to ignore it “Who are the Ukrainian integral nationalists?”.
This difference can be applied to all subjects. For example, the major news agencies tell us that the West has imposed sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. We do not read events in this way. Once again, referring to "International Law" and not to Western "rules", we note that the decisions of the Anglo-Saxons and the European Union violate the UN Charter. These are not "sanctions", since there has been no judgment, but economic weapons to wage war against Russia, just as castles were besieged in the past to starve those who had taken refuge there.
Each difference in the interpretation of events provokes another. For example, when we point out that the Western pseudo-sanctions have not been endorsed by the Security Council, we are told that this is quite normal since Russia has a veto right in the Council. This is to forget why the UN was organized the way it was. Its purpose is not to say what is right, but to prevent wars. This is precisely what allowed the Council to adopt resolution 2202 to resolve the civil war in Ukraine. However, the West, despite the commitment of Germany and France, did not apply it, forcing Russia to intervene.
We could go on endlessly with this double reading. The important thing to remember is that the presentation of the facts radically changes the way they are perceived. To conclude, I invite you to found news agencies that describe the facts in their own way and not in the way of our leaders. It is in this way and not by glossing over biased information that we will regain our lucidity.
The Ukrainian president addressing the G20.
I was talking to an open-minded leader of the European Parliament in Brussels ten days ago, and I listened to him tell me that the Ukrainian conflict was certainly complex, but that the most obvious thing was that Russia had invaded that country. I replied by observing that international law obliged Germany, France and Russia to implement resolution 2202, which Moscow alone had done. I continued by reminding him of the responsibility to protect the populations in case of failure of their own government. He cut me off and asked me: "If my government complains about the fate of its citizens in Russia and attacks that country, will you find that normal? Yes," I said, "if you have a Security Council resolution. Do you have one? » Disconcerted, he changed the subject. Three times I asked him if we could talk about the Ukrainian "integral nationalists". Three times he refused. We parted courteously.
The question of the responsibility to protect should have been nuanced. This principle does not allow for a war, but for a police operation, conducted with military means. That is why the Kremlin is careful not to refer to this conflict as a "war", but as a "special military operation". Both terms refer to the same facts, but "special military operation" limits the conflict. As soon as his troops entered Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that he did not intend to annex this territory, but only to liberate the people persecuted by the Ukrainian "Nazis". In a previous long article, I pointed out that, if the expression "Nazis" is correct in the historical sense, it does not correspond to the way these people call themselves. They use the expression: "integral nationalists". Let’s remember that Ukraine is the only state in the world with an explicitly racist constitution.
The fact that international law gives Russia the upper hand does not mean that it has a blank check. Everyone must criticize the way it applies the law. Westerners still find Russia "Asian", "savage" and "brutal", even though they themselves have been far more destructive on many occasions.
Reversal of the situation
Now that the Russian and Western points of view have been clarified, it is clear that several events have prompted a Western shift.
We are entering winter, a harsh season in Central Europe. The Russian population is aware, since the Napoleonic invasion, that it cannot defend such a large country. Therefore, they learned to use the vastness of their territory and the seasons to defeat their attackers. With winter, the front is frozen for several months. Everyone can see that, contrary to the discourse that the Russians are defeated, the Russian army has liberated the Donbass and part of Novorussia.
Before winter fell, the Kremlin withdrew the liberated population living north of the Dnieper, and then withdrew its army, abandoning the part of Kershon located on the north bank of the Dnieper. For the first time, a natural border, the Dnieper River, marks a border between the territories controlled by Kiev and those controlled by Moscow. However, during the interwar period, it was the absence of natural borders that brought down all successive powers in Ukraine. Now Russia is in a position to hold on.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ukraine has been able to count on unlimited aid from the United States and its allies. However, the mid-term elections in the USA have removed the majority of the Biden administration in the House of Representatives. From now on, Washington’s support will be limited. Similarly, the European Union is also finding its limits. Its populations do not understand the rising cost of energy, the closure of certain factories and the impossibility of heating normally.
Finally, in some circles of power, after admiring the talents of the actor Volodymyr Zelensky as a communicator, they begin to wonder about the rumors about his sudden fortune. In eight months of war, he became a billionaire. The imputation is unverifiable, but the scandal of the Pandora Papers (2021), makes it credible. Is it necessary to bleed to the four veins not to see the donations arrive in Ukraine, but disappear in offshore companies?
The Anglo-Saxons (i.e. London and Washington) wanted to turn the G20 in Bali into an anti-Russian summit. They had first lobbied for Moscow to be excluded from the Group, as they had succeeded in doing at the G8. But if Russia had been absent, China, by far the world’s largest exporter, would not have come. So it was Frenchman Emmanuel Macron who was responsible for convincing the other guests to sign a bloody declaration against Russia. For two days, Western news agencies assured that the matter was in the bag. But in the end, the final statement, while summarizing the Western point of view, closed the debate with these words: "There were other points of view and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions. Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we know that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy. » In other words, for the first time, the West has failed to impose its worldview on the rest of the planet.
Worse: the West imposed a video intervention by Volodymyr Zelensky as they had done on August 24 and September 27 at the United Nations Security Council. However, while Russia had tried in vain to oppose it in September in New York, it accepted it in November in Bali. At the Security Council, France, which held the presidency, violated the rules of procedure to give the floor to a head of state by video. On the contrary, at the G20, Indonesia held an absolutely neutral position and was not likely to accept giving him the floor without Russian authorization. This was obviously a trap. President Zelensky, who does not know how these bodies work, fell into it.
After having caricatured Moscow’s action, he called for its exclusion from the... "G19". G19 ". In other words, the little Ukrainian gave an order on behalf of the Anglo-Saxons to the heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the 20 largest world powers and was not heard. In reality, the dispute between these leaders was not about Ukraine, but about whether or not to submit to the American world order. All the Latin American, African and four Asian participants said that this domination was over; that the world is now multipolar.
The Westerners must have felt the ground shake under their feet. They were not the only ones. Volodymyr Zelensky saw, for the first time, that his sponsors, until now absolute masters of the world, were letting him down without hesitation in order to maintain their position for a while longer.
It is likely that Washington was in league with Moscow. The United States realizes that things are turning against it on a global scale. It will have no hesitation in blaming the Ukrainian regime. William Burns, director of the CIA, has already met Sergei Narychkin, the director of the SVR, in Turkey. These meetings follow those of Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, with several Russian officials. However, Washington has nothing to negotiate in Ukraine. Two months before the conflict in Ukraine, I explained that the core of the problem had nothing to do with this country, nor with NATO. It is essentially about the end of the unipolar world.
So it is not surprising that a few days after the G20 slap in the face, Volodymyr Zelensky contradicted his American sponsors for the first time in public. He accused Russia of having launched a missile at Poland and maintained his words when the Pentagon indicated that he was wrong, it was a Ukrainian counter-missile. The idea, for him. was to continue to act in line with the Treaty of Warsaw, concluded on April 22, 1920, by Symon Petlioura’s integral nationalists with the regime of Piłsudski; to push Poland to go to war against Russia. This was the second time Washington rang a bell in his ears. He did not hear it.
Probably, these contradictions will no longer manifest themselves in public. Western positions will soften. Ukraine has been warned: in the coming months it will have to negotiate with Russia. President Zelensky can plan his escape now, because his bruised compatriots will not forgive him for deceiving them.
The only way Ukrainians will see anything approximating a holiday season is if a ceasefire can be arranged by New Year’s Day, and it just might happen, regardless of President Volodomyr Zelenskiy’s repeated assertions that there will be no negotiations with Russia until it withdraws all its troops from all occupied territories, including Crimea. There are several reasons for the possible ceasefire.
First, the Russian hammer is about to fall on Ukraine. The gloves are coming off; electric energy stations, bridges, and even ‘decision centers’ such as central Kiev’s government buildings are being targeted. Russia is one or two more massive bombing attacks on Ukraine’s energy and transport infrastructure from permanently disabling Ukraine’s electricity, water, and railroad systems. With ‘only’ 50 percent of Ukrainian electricity infrastructure knocked out by the first three widespread bombings of electricity grid components, demonstrations are already breaking out in Odessa and other places over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with Zelenskiy sending the Ukrainian KGB, the SBU, in to break up the protests and banning coverage in media. The Office of the President was reportedly recently informed by technicians that the electricity system has entered the stage of ‘arbitrary and uncontrolled imbalance,” and one official has urged Ukrainians to be prepared to leave the country in winter. What will the sociopolitical situation be like when these critical infrastructures are in complete collapse and temperatures are 20 degrees colder? Russia will be moving closer to the strategy of ‘shock and awe’, fully destroying all infrastructure – military or otherwise – as the US did in Serbia and Iraq and will likely take less care now to avoid civilian casualties.
After the infrastructures are completely destroyed or incapacitated, Russia’s reinforcements of 380,000 regular and newly mobilized troops will have been fully added into Russia’s forces across southeastern Ukraine. Even without these reinforcements, Russian forces continue to make small gains in Donbass around Ugledar, Bakhmut (Artemevsk), as withdrawals from and stabilization of the fronts in Kharkiv and Kherson have led to a redeployment and thus concentration of forces in Zaporozhe, Donetsk, and Luhansk. A winter offensive by some half a million troops will make substantial gains on those three fronts and multiply Ukrainian losses in personnel and materiel`, which are already high. This could lead easily to a collapse of Ukrainian forces on one or more front. On the backs of such a success Russian President Putin might also make another attempt to threaten Kiev by moving a much larger force in from Belarus than the small 30-40,000 force that advanced and then withdrew from Kiev’s surrounding districts in the first months of the war.
Second, the West is suffering from Ukraine fatigue. NATO countries’ arms supplies have been depleted beyond what is tolerable, and social cohesion is collapsing in the face of double-digit inflation and economic recession. All this makes Russia the winner on the strategic level and is forcing Washington and Brussels to seek at least a breathing spell by way of a ceasefire. This is evidenced by the plethora of Western leaders calling on Zelenskiy to resume talks with Putin and the emergence of the ‘Sullivan plan’. Most recently, rumors have it that new British PM Rishi Sunak used a package of military and financial aide he announced during his recent trip to Kiev to cover up his message to Zelenskiy that London could no longer bear the burden of leading the European support for Kiev and that Kiev should reengage wirh Moscow. There has been a several day delay in the fourth round of rocket sorties against Ukrainian infrastructure, suggesting Putin is waiting to to see if Zelenskiy will cave and offer talks before unleashing the major assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure and the Russian winter offensive.
Third, Ukraine’s greatest political asset – Zelenskiy himself – just got devalued, putting at even greater risk Ukraine’s political stability. The Ukrainian air defense strike on Poland (accidental or intentional) and the Ukrainian president’s insistence that it was a Russian air strike, despite the evidence and nearly unanimous opposing opinion among his Western backers, has hit Zelenskiy’s credulity hard. Zelenskiy’s insistence on the Russian origins of the missile and technical aspects of Ukrainian air defense suggests that the event may have been an intentional Ukrainian false flag strike on Polish/NATO territory designed to provoke NATO or Poland into entering the war. Some in the West are beginning to wake up to the dangers of Ukrainian ultranationalism and neofascism, not to mention the growing megalomania of Zelenskiy, who has appeared on ore than one occasion to be willing to risk the advent of a global nuclear winter in order to avoid sitting at the negotiating table across from Putin. Some may now come to understand that claims that Putin wants to seize all Ukraine and restore the USSR if not conquer Europe are yarns spun by Kiev to attract military and financial assistance and ultimately draw NATO forces into the war. There remains a danger that Kiev’s dream of a NATO intervention might come to fruition is the following temptation. NATO has declared that a defeat of Ukraine in the war is a defeat for NATO, and NATO cannot be allowed to lose a war to a Russia because that would accelerate the coming of the end to U.S. hegemony. It cannot be excluded and may even be likely that should Kiev appear to be losing the war that Polish forces, NATO or some ‘coalition of the willing’ will move military forces into western Ukraine up to the Dnepr but do so without attacking Russian forces. This would force Russia to cease much of its military activity or risk attacking NATO forces and a larger European-wide war. This or something like it is probably already being considered in Washington.
For now, in order to keep the West on board, Zelenskiy is rumored to be pushing Ukrainian armed forces commander Viktor Zalyuzhniy to start a last pre-winter offensive in northern Donetsk (Svatovo and Severodonetsk) or Zaporozhe in order to put a stop to the West’s ceasefire murmurs and reboost support. At the same time there is talk of continuing Zelenskiy-Zalyuzhniy tensions over the latter’s good press and star status in the West. Tensions first emerged over disagreements of previous offensives and Zalyuzhniy’s earlier entry on the Western media stage. On the background of the deteriorating battlefield and international strategic situation, such civil-military tensions are fraught with the potential for a coup. Much of Zelenskiy’s strategy and tactics is driven more by political than by military considerations. Not least among the former is Zelenskiy’s political survival, which any ceasefire or peace talks requiring Kiev to acquiesce in the loss of more territory certainly will doom. Neofascist, military, and much of public opinion will not brook the sacrifices made in blood and treasure bringing only additional ones in Ukrainian territory. Others will ask why was not all of this averted by way of agreeing to Ukrainian neutrality and fulfilling Minsk 2 could have avoided it all.
We may be reaching the watershed moment in the Ukrainian war. No electricity, no army, no society. But here, as with any Russian occupation of central or western Ukrainian lands (not planned but perhaps a necessity at some point down the road for Putin), a quagmire awaits the Kremlin. Russia can not allow complete societal breakdown and chaos to reign in Ukraine anymore than it could tolerate a NATO-member Ukraine with a large neofascist component next door. All of the above and the approaching presidential elections scheduled in Moscow, Kiev and Washington the year after next make this winter pivotal for all the war's main parties.
More bad news: the newly created U.S. coordination center in Stuttgart for Ukraine operations as a landmark on the way to WWIII
Earlier today I received an email from my good friend Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Francis A. Boyle regarding the creation in Stuttgart of a new U.S. coordination center for war operations in Ukraine headed by a 3-star general. The news item seems to have been sidelined this past week by Western mainstream coverage of the Russian withdrawal from Kherson and entry of Ukrainian forces into that city. However, judging by Boyle’s interpretation, there is every reason to put a spotlight on this issue and to seek the broadest possible discussion in Alternative News electronic and print media.
I offer the following quote from Boyle’s email with his permission:
The story below is a pure cover story by the Pentagon. You do not need a 3 Star General and a Staff of 300 to keep tabs on U.S. Weapons in Ukraine. This is a War Command to wage war against Russia. The last time I dealt personally with a 3 Star General was when I lectured at West Point on “Nuclear Deterrence” in their Senior Conference on that subject in front of, among others, the 3 Star General in Charge of War Operations at the Pentagon. The Pentagon puts a 3 Stars General in Charge of War Operations—not Inventory. And you do not need a Headquarters Staff of 300 to do an Audit. It’s a War Headquarters Staff. We are going to war against Russia unless the American People can figure out some way to stop it!
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of Law
STUTTGART, Germany — A three-star general will lead a new Army headquarters in Germany that will include about 300 U.S. service members responsible for coordinating security assistance for Ukraine, a senior U.S. military official said this week.
I refer those unfamiliar with Francis Boyle to his brief biography in the University of Illinois website:
https://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/faculty-profiles/francis-boyle/ To that I can add, that his ‘political science’ studies for the Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard were primarily in Russian/Soviet affairs, and that in his time at Harvard he worked under many of the same professors as did I. In this sense, Boyle is a well qualified Russia expert, even if his primary listing at Illinois is as defender of human rights. He is also particularly noteworthy this year for his efforts to promote among several key Congressmen the articles of impeachment against President Biden that he has drafted; the charges – waging undeclared war on Russia in violation of the Constitution. So far that has gained little traction, but when the new Congress with Republican majority takes its seats in 2023 the prospects of finding sponsors may be significantly improved.
Notwithstanding the worrisome or alarming news above, I close this essay with a glimmer of hope that the world has not yet gone completely mad. From my volunteer translator in Germany, I have learned about the start of what should be a nationwide “Ami Go Home” movement in the Federal Republic. It will begin with mass demonstrations in the East German city of Leipzig on 26 November. The protests are inspired by the thinking of Oskar Lafonteine, a German politician who held leading positions in the SPD and later in Die Linke: namely the notion that it is high time for the United States occupation forces to leave Germany so that the country may recover its sovereignty. Those new to German politics may more easily identify Lafonteine as the husband of the eloquent Opposition member of the Bundestag Sahra Wagenknecht. It behooves me to add that per the advice of my translator when he forwarded to me news about the ‘Ami Go Home’ demonstration that the actual organizers are not on the German Left but, on the contrary, on the Hard Right. This interpretation has been reconfirmed by a well informed reader living in Berlin. Call this yet another ‘impersonation’ or imposter phenomenon if you will. We are living through interesting times.
Intellectual curiosity can takes us in unexpected directions. This particular journey started with my learning that the word “Cajun” is a contraction of “Canadian”.
Nine years after Culloden, 300 British troops under Lt Col John Winslow entered the town of Grand Pre in Acadia, Nova Scotia. They constructed a palisade fort which enclosed both the church and cemetery. They then summoned all males aged ten and over to the church to hear a proclamation. Disarmed and surrounded, the Acadians were all registered, then told they were to be deported immediately.
Here is that register. Remember many of these were children as young as ten years old. About a quarter did not survive the brutal deportation.
[788 names listed]
In the next year 40% of the 15,000 population of Acadia were forcefully deported, deliberately dispersed to British colonies around the globe, in such dreadful conditions that over 1,200 died on the journeys. Males over ten, and females and small children, were bundled into separated random groups and those groups sent off to different destinations.
In Grand Pre itself, the British troops burnt down the church and destroyed the homes, and then smashed the system of dykes and sluices that the Acadians had built for their highly productive agricultural system.
Almost all of the remaining Acadians were dispersed over the next few years. Traveling through the wilds, some who left “voluntarily” eventually found their way to Louisiana. Hence “Cajun”. In 1758 it was made illegal in Nova Scotia for Catholics to own land. In 1759 a further Act was passed:
“An Act for the Quieting of Possessions to the Protestant Grantees of the Lands, formerly occupied by the French Inhabitants, and for preventing vexatious Actions relating to the same.” The legislation prohibited “any troublesome or vexatious Suits of Law” by Acadians trying to recover their lands and made it illegal for any courts in the province to hear cases brought “for the Recovery of any Lands” by “the former French Inhabitants.”
The preamble to Act recounted the “Manifest Treasons and Rebellions” of the Acadians against a British crown to which they had never in truth had the slightest duty of allegiance.
The Acadians had arrived in modern Nova Scotia from 1608. There were three unusual things about them.
i) From the start they had been focused on land reclamation in the coastal marshlands, rather than moving inland cutting down forests for agricultural land as was the prevalent pattern across North America. Historians have calculated they reclaimed in total 5,261 hectares of land. Their achievements in land reclamation were quite startling, especially as in the Grand Pre marsh they were dealing with tidal flows in the Bay of Fundy of over 15 metres, said to be the world’s highest.
Acadian reclaimed marshland at the town of Saint Pre
Modern scholarship has emphasised that their land reclamation skills were brought with then from the Western French seaboard, and then developed in a local vernacular. The unique feature of Acadian land reclamation, as opposed to French or Dutch, is that it was a communal effort and not dependent on central finance and hierarchical organisation. That is because of their second special feature:
ii) The Acadians arrived as individuals or families with no hierarchy. They acknowledged no nobility and crucially they did not acknowledge any Crown. Occasionally they were obliged temporarily to pay lip service to the French or British crown when military forces passed through, but until their deportation they were never successfully subjected to any central authority.
iii) They enjoyed consistently friendly relationships with the local Mik’maq nation and intermarried without apparent prejudice on either side, developing a large Creole component. Historians have generally explained this as due to Acadian agriculture being on reclaimed land and thus not competing for resources. However that ignores the fact the salt marshes they were reclaiming were themselves a very valuable source of food for the Mik’maq – birds and eggs, fish shellfish and crustaceans, samphire etc.
I rather tend to the view that it was the lack of hierarchy and crown allegiance that also led to good relationships with the native people. The Acadians made no claim to conquer the land, impose a new king or create a state. They were just settling non-aggressive farming communities.
Historians are at pains to counter the idyllic portrait of the Acadians. We are told they were very poor, lived in squalid conditions, tended to inbreed, left no cultural legacy and were often led by their Catholic priests. There is validity in all those points, but in the historical context such criticisms cannot help but come over badly. The imperfections of a society do not justify genocide.
In reading about the Acadians, I was struck by this passage:
“When the first New England colonists came to Nova Scotia five years after the Acadians were expelled, they encountered a landscape littered with bleached bones of livestock and burned ruins of houses.”
Anyone who has hill walked in the Highlands of Scotland knows just how frequently you come across the low walls of the base of old homes, often grouped together in small settlements, and sometimes in desolate moor many miles from the nearest habitation or cultivated land. These of course date from the Highland Clearances, some contemporary with the genocide of the Acadians.
One obvious fact had leapt out at me since childhood. The depopulation of the Highlands was a political choice, and the vast managed hunting estates were perfectly capable of supporting large populations through livestock and arable in the past. The notion they can only sustain grouse and small numbers of deer is evidently nonsense.
I am currently researching a biography of the Jacobite General George Murray, and was looking at a journey he took from Blair Atholl to Braemar. There is absolutely no public road there any more – not within twenty miles of most of his route – and the places he stayed including manses seem to be wiped from the map. There was a population – indeed he later raised troops there.
Go to google maps, trace a straight line Blair Atholl to Braemar (yes, obviously you can get there the long way round) and see what you can find today in the middle. But this is not wilderness, it is completely habitable and was populated.
I could recount a thousand or more atrocities across the history of the British Empire as bad as the Acadian genocide. Many are completely forgotten, like the massacre of the Murree tribe in Balochistan under a flag of truce, or the Sierra Leone Hut Tax war. Some are startlingly recent, like the Chagos Islands. But I recount the Acadian story because of its resonance to the Scottish Highlands, with that justification of treason and rebellion, and because of the furious denial in recent days after Scottish colonisation was asserted in the House of Commons.
The tone of much of that reaction is essentially that white people were not the victims of Empire. Well, I give you the Acadians. It is also worth pointing out the very basic fact that there was never the kind of expulsion and depopulation anywhere in England that occurred in both Scotland and Ireland. What happened to the Gael was much worse than effects of agricultural enclosure.
It is Armistice Day today and Remembrance Sunday shortly. What was in my childhood an occasion for reflection, grief and thanksgiving for peace has been turned into an orgy of militarism.
We are supposed to think of those who “gloriously” gave their lives for Britain, perhaps while shooting up Afghan civilians in a village or destroying the infrastructure of Iraq. Have a look through that list of names from the town of Grand Pre, and wonder which ones were ten year old boys separated from their mothers. Ponder which died on their hideous deportation journeys. The victims of Empire deserve remembrance too.
Please read this story, and note your reaction. Then read Expulsion of the Acadians - Wikipedia; Does knowing more context affect your judgment of these events?
Recently, I argued that Russia was provoked into beginning the ‘special military operation’ (SMO) by a series of events stretching from initial NATO claims of its goal to expand to Ukraine, NATO-Ukrainian cooperation, the Western-cultivated and ex post facto fully supported Maidan revolt (despite the neofascist Ukrainian element’s false flag snipers terrorist attack) to which Putin responded by annexing Crimea, Western support for Kiev’s attack on Donbass (including civilians), deeper Western and NATO involvement in Ukraine, Kiev’s failure to implement its obligations under the Minsk Donbass peace accords, and much else [see Gordon M. Hahn, Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and the ‘New Cold War’ (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Books, 2018); https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/24/coercive-diplomacy-phase-2-war-and-iron-curtain-descended/; https://gordonhahn.com/2016/01/21/report-the-russian-american-reset-nato-expansion-and-the-making-of-the-ukrainian-crisis/; https://gordonhahn.com/2016/03/09/the-real-snipers-massacre-ukraine-february-2014-updatedrevised-working-paper/; and https://www.academia.edu/37784742/Shooting_of_Maidan_Protesters_from_Maidan_Controlled_Locations_Video_Appendix_C_2018_?email_work_card=title%5D. As far as I am concerned, the ‘West/NATO expansion provoked the Ukrainian crisis and war’ is an incontrovertible fact.
More recently, I also argued, Putin decided to call off coercive diplomacy begun in spring 2021 and escalated in autumn through January 2021 by massing tropps at the Ukrainian border, when the West rejected Moscow’s appeals to end NATO expansion and sign a draft treaty on security agreements for Kiev and a European security architecture (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/31/putins-coercive-diplomacy/). The West’s rejection was accompanied by a major escalation in the Ukrainian military attacks along the Donbass line of contact and a threat by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy to abandon the Budapest Memorandum, implying an attempt to acquire nuclear weapons (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/24/coercive-diplomacy-phase-2-war-and-iron-curtain-descended/). Zelensky said at the annual meeting of the Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2022: “I, as president, will do it for the first time. But Ukraine and I are doing it for the last time. I am launching consultations within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been asked to convene them. If they do not happen again or if their results do not guarantee the security of our country, Ukraine will have the right to think that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and that all the comprehensive decisions of 1994 are being questioned” (“Speech by Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the 58th Munich Security Conference”, by Volodymyr Zelensky, Voltaire Network, 19 February 2022). The Munich conference is attended by all the leaders of the NATO alliance and other parties interested in European security issues, and yet not one Western leader questioned the appropriateness of what would be a violation not just of the Budapest Memorandum but of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That these immediate provocations were a direct cause of Putin’s decision to begin the SMO is not possible to prove, but the thesis is highly plausible if not likely a fact. Putin responded to Zelenskiy’s nuclear demache, saying that the only thing Ukraine needs is a uranium enrichment system, but this technical issue “is not an insoluble problem” for Ukraine, especially given the support Kiev enjoys from some nuclear powers (www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/putin-says-minsk-agreement-on-ukraine-exists-no-more/2510573). Incidentally, this is not only pertinent to Putin’s February decision but also provides some context for the struggle surrounding the Zaporozhe Nuclear Power Plant.
Now new evidence suggests that perhaps, perhaps, the West and Kiev intentionally or not engaged in additional provocations that prompted Putin’s SMO on 24 February 2022. For example, former President Petro Poroshenko has suggested that Kiev never intended to follow through on the Minsk accords and sought only to buy time for Ukraine to strengthen its military through training and weapons supplied by the West for an offensive to take back Donbass and Crimea. In a June interview to Radio Free Europe’s Ukrainian language service and the German Deutsche Welle, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the Minsk accords were intended to “delay the war” and “create powerful armed forces”: “Our goal was to, first, stop the threat, or at least to delay the war – to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces” (www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/272589263/minsk-deal-was-used-to-buy-time-ukraines-poroshenko). Then in an August 2022 interview advisor to Zelenskiy and his Office of the President of Ukraine, Aleksei Arestovich revealed that in December 2021 the Ukrainian armed forces deployed additional troops to the Donbass contact line under the cover of a training exercise “despite the damage (the deployment) did to the economy” (https://t.me/UkraineHumanRightsAbuses/8504). Perhaps this is what led Zelenskiy to tell the Ukrainian tntelligence services a month before Putin’s SMO began the following: “”We have learned to deter and counter external aggression quite effectively. I am convinced that the time has come to move to offensive actions to defend our national interests” (www.president.gov.ua/en/news/zovnishnya-rozvidka-vidigraye-vazhlivu-rol-u-protidiyi-zagro-72517). Then throw into the mix the aforementioned exponential increase in firing across the contact line undertaken by Ukrainian forces first and Zelenskiy’s threat to pursue nuclear capability.
I am saying ‘provoked Putin intentionally or not’ because we do not know what Moscow knew about these new deployments. Moscow did claim that Ukraine was preparing an attack on Donbass, especially after the SMO began, even claiming that it discovered documents proving Kiev was planning an attack. But it remains unclear whether these Russian claims pertain to the newly revealed secret depoloyment. Certainly, Moscow would had Donbass and Ukraine crawling with intelligence operatives and well-covered with electronic and satellite data collection and would likely have observed the ‘secret’ deployment. Then the issue might be whether Kiev and/or the West wanted Moscow to uncover the deployment, so as to provoke Putin into attacking. Or perhaps they did not want this, but Russian intelligence nevertheless did discover it, which along with other immediate challenges noted above prompted Putin’s decision to begin the SMO.
If the provocation theory is correct than it would also be correct that the West wanted Putin to invade, and if that is so then it would be logical that the West would want the war to continue. We now know that the West directly intervened with Zelenskiy to prevent Russia and Ukraine from finalizing a tentative agreement that would have ended the war in April. A recent article in the establishment flafship foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs written by two rusologists with deep ties to the ruling Democrat Party-state revealed this: “According to multiple former senior U.S. officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries” (https://archive.ph/kxfbG and https://raheemkassam.substack.com/p/russia-and-ukraine-came-to-peace?fbclid=IwAR0n03z7v-tJOjIOFC4_eXZCjvzyJbwzcgjycFbFigo9a9LV_FOA439_o74). This is one piece of evidence that the West wants the war to continue. NATO expansion and weakening Russia trump international security and Ukrainians’ well-being. The West’s massive supply of weapons, intelligence, military expertise, training, strategic planning, and financial support and Washington’s and Brussels’s lack of any effort in the diplomatic sphere to encourage negotiations further demonstrate that the West wants the war to continue.
At the same time, there is reason to believe that Zelenskiy himself may have been manipulated by the West, there is a new video circulating that shows French President Emmanuel Macron in discussion over the phone with Zelenskiy as the Russian invasion began on February 24th. Zelenskiy can be heard pleading with Macron to organize US President Joe Bden and European leaders to make a phone call to Putin and urge him to stop the military action, claiming that if this is done, then Putin “will stop” (https://t.me/stranaua/62507). On the other hand, Zelenskiy’s suspicions regarding Biden’s and other US officials’ claims of an imminent invasion and reports that Russia engaged in a massive bribery and recruiting campaign among Ukrainians before the war, which would have almost certainly led to some reporting the effort to the authorities and tipping off the possibility of a Russian invasion suggest that the Ukrainian leadership should have been well aware of the likelihood of an attack. Yet Zelenskiy showed no desire to negotiate with Putin on the key issues Moscow sought to have addressed: NATO expansion, direct talks between Kiev and the Donbass, the incomplete Minsk peace process, and so on.
In sum, there is some reason to believe that the escalation of the Donbass war ordered by Putin in February has a more interesting pre-history and causal chain than might be assumed even those who understand that Putin did not wake up one morning and decide to seize Ukraine in some master plan to ‘reestablish the Soviet Union’ and other such delusions. At any rate, the new war’s start needs more investigation and its origins are likely only to be revealed many years from now.
About the Author
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu
Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.
Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.
Last week on October 19 the US Navy announced that “General Michael ‘Erik’ Kurilla [lead image, lower right] , commander of CENTCOM, conducted a visit aboard the USS West Virginia [top], a U.S. Navy Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine at an undisclosed location at sea in international waters in the Arabian Sea. Kurilla was joined on the USS West Virginia by Vice Admiral Brad Cooper [lower left], commander of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and NAVCENT.”
The Fifth Fleet and the Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) are headquartered at Bahrain on the Persian Gulf. From Bahrain down the Gulf to the Masirah Island airbase, off Oman, is a flight distance of 1,047 kilometres. From Masirah to the West Virginia and its escort was within helicopter flight range.
Two days later, the Pentagon reported that “on October 21, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu. Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine.” They spoke again on October 23, according to Austin’s spokesman, because Shoigu had “requested a follow up call.”
Less than 24 hours elapsed before Austin telephoned his Kiev counterpart, Alexei Reznikov, to “reiterate[d] that the United States rejects the public and false allegations by Russia about Ukraine and any attempt to use them as a pretext for further Russian escalation of its unlawful and unjustified war against Ukraine.”
The same day, in the Moscow evening, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a communiqué confirming that “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke with Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov today by phone. The military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open. In accordance with past practice, the specific details of their conversation will be kept private.” RIA, the Russian state news agency, reported that in their conversation the generals “discussed the possibility raised by Moscow that Ukraine might use a ‘dirty bomb’.”
“The call took place shortly after a similar conversation between Gerasimov and his British counterpart.”
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the British chief of staff, announced that Gerasimov had requested their conversation. According to Radakin, he had “rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict, and he restated the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine. The military leaders both agreed on the importance of maintaining open channels of communication between the UK and Russia to manage the risk of miscalculation and to facilitate de-escalation. The conversation followed the Defence Secretary’s call with his Russian counterpart yesterday and a call between the Foreign Ministers of France, the UK, and the USA last night.”
That preceding call of foreign ministers, involving Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the US, produced a joint statement of “committ[ment] to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes. Earlier today, the defense ministers of each of our countries spoke to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu at his request. Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”
Blinken then telephoned his Kiev counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, to repeat both parts of the message – that the Ukraine should not escalate to using a nuclear weapon, and that Russia should do likewise.
In case there was hardness of hearing or weakness of command and control in Kiev, or ambiguity between what Reznikov and Kuleba thought they were hearing from Washington and London, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had met Austin at the Pentagon on October 18. They then telephoned to talk again on Sunday, when they “reaffirm[ed] the U.S.-UK defense relationship and the importance of transatlantic cooperation. Their conversation today was a continuation of their discussion at the Pentagon last week, which covered a wide range of shared defense and security priorities, including Ukraine.”
Austin telephoned Kiev again yesterday to repeat to Reznikov that he should make sure the allegation of a Ukrainian nuclear weapon escalation was “false”; and that the allies had given Moscow this assurance in exchange for Moscow’s undertaking against “further escalation” – read Russian nuclear response.
At the same time yesterday, Vzglyad, the Moscow security publication, published its assessment of the escalating nuclear threat to Russia from the US, as the Kremlin, Defence Ministry, General Staff and the Stavka see it now. A translation into English follows.
Left to right: General Valery Gerasimov; General Mark Milley; Admiral Sir Tony Radakin; General Lloyd Austin.
The US has shown its readiness to launch a nuclear strike on Russia.
October 24, 2022
Text: Alexander Timokhin
Does the United States have the ability to instantly, within a few minutes, launch a disarming and unreciprocated nuclear strike on Russia? For decades, it was assumed that no, any US attack would cause an immediate similar response from the Russian armed forces. But now there is reason to believe that Washington has come to a different conclusion – and brazenly demonstrates it.
On Thursday, October 20, an exceptional event took place in the Arabian Sea. It was publicly announced that Michael Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, paid a visit to the Ohio-class West Virginia SSBN (submarine with ballistic nuclear missiles), which specially surfaced in the Arabian Sea. This submarine, like all its ‘sister ships’, is armed with 24 Trident II ballistic missiles, each of which can carry 10 warheads at a maximum, which in total gives the vessel an ammunition supply of 240 strategic nuclear warheads.
But the fact is that the purpose of such vessels is always to be secretive and never to reveal the location of their patrol. The fact that now the location of this SSB [ballistic missile submarine] is expressly highlighted, it is impossible to understand otherwise than a special signal. It is difficult to remember when earlier in this way any American military commander so clearly and openly visited a boat at sea on combat duty. All this is directly related to the nuclear deterrence system that exists between Russia and the United States.
Nuclear deterrence and nuclear attack
Nuclear war, the preparation for it and its conduct, is not as simple as the average person thinks. Let’s briefly list the key concepts.
When two sides – in this case, Russia and the United States – both have nuclear weapons, and the means of their delivery to enemy territory, a missile attack warning system, and the technical capability to launch ballistic missiles after this system detects the launch of enemy missiles, then a simple missile attack becomes suicide for the attacker. If the United States or Russia launches their ballistic missiles at the enemy, the enemy will be able to launch their missiles before the attacking side’s missiles reach their target.
Such a strike, when a counterattack is carried out before the enemy’s missiles have reached target, is called a ‘counter-counter’ [ответно-встречным]. It is applied with the help of intercontinental ballistic missiles based in deep underground silos and ready to launch immediately.
The problem is that the interval from launch command to the counter-strike takes time. And besides, it is necessary that someone from among the leaders who have the authority to order such a strike would be physically able to do it — that is, would be alive, conscious, and so on.
This vulnerability can be exploited by delivering a so–called обезглавливающий удар (for Americans, the term is decapitation strike). A strike aimed at destroying the leadership. There are various ways to prevent or to balance the consequences of such a strike — we will not list them, nor the methods of their application (not only by missile strike).
In addition to the decapitating blow, there is such a thing as a disarming blow (удар обезоруживающий — counterforce strike). Its goal is to attack the nuclear arsenal of the victim country in such a way that the enemy, even with a workable leadership, simply does not have time to launch its missiles in response. To do this, the time for which the blow is struck should be less than the enemy needs to make a decision and pass the order to the launchers.
Therefore, in addition to providing a retaliatory nuclear strike, the country’s nuclear forces have been invested with the means of ensuring the guaranteed possibility of a retaliatory strike. Which will be produced even if the enemy struck first, and all his missiles hit their targets before at least something was launched in response. The most common way to ensure a retaliatory strike is strategic submarines. As a result, the enemy’s attack in any case causes a counter-counter or retaliatory strike. Nuclear war turns out to be a dead end; it cannot be won; and even the initiator who has attacked successfully also dies.
This principle is called “mutually assured destruction”. It was this, and not anything else, that guaranteed the absence of major wars on our planet since 1945.
However, today the situation is somewhat different. The number of nuclear warheads has become such that the exchange of nuclear strikes cannot lead to the guaranteed death of all living things. The number of carriers of nuclear weapons has fallen to such numbers that even after a massive, all-out strike, wildlife, untouched cities and towns, and people will remain in the Northern Hemisphere. A nuclear war without the death of all participants has become possible.
The second problem is the combat stability of the Russian nuclear forces in their current configuration. Russia was able to revive the Missile Attack Warning System (SPRN). The missiles that are supposed to retaliate and counter-strike are regularly updated.
But now our fleet has fewer ships than Japan. There is no possibility to intercept or block all dangerous waters with the operations of Russia’s anti-submarine forces. And this means that, as in the case of the Arabian Sea, the Americans and the British who can hold the area, will be free to manoeuvre there in order to strike from locations where the missiles can reach us too quickly. For example, in the Northern, Norwegian, Barents, Mediterranean and Arabian Seas.
Russian strategic submarines are few in number today compared to the Soviet times. Together with the qualitative superiority of the US Navy, this creates an environment where the Americans can destroy our submarines immediately before the attack begins. This, alas, is a fact known to specialists. At the same time, 44% of all strategic nuclear warheads in Russia are placed on submarines. And almost all of them are in two (!) fleet bases vulnerable to the first strike. The Russian strategic aviation has never learned to fight like the American one, and it is not a means of guaranteed retaliation.
The combination of these factors creates a technical opportunity for the United States to launch a successful disarming nuclear strike against Russia without receiving a significant blow in response. At the same time, the intensity of anti-Russian propaganda is such that the western man in the street will not have to justify anything — from that perspective everything is already prepared. And right now there is the hint of the possibility of such a strike when the West Virginia surfaced in the Arabian Sea.
Chinese factor, flight time and impact mechanics
Some experts believe that the American SSB was carrying out tasks to put pressure on China during the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] Congress. On the one hand, it is indeed easy to attack China from the Arabian Sea ‘from the rear’ – the approach of missiles to its populated areas will be from its deserts in the west of the country.
But there is no logic in such pressure. The Americans don’t know exactly where the Chinese have missiles. In addition, China does not have its own full-fledged SPRN [missile attack warning system]. The Americans can organize a sudden strike on this country with Pacific submarines from other directions. They simply do not need to threaten China from the Indian Ocean, and without this, they have a full array of threats.
In contrast to China, the coordinates of Russian underground launchers and the corridors along which mobile installations moved until recently are known to the Americans extremely accurately. We gave them all the information ourselves during mutual inspections of each other’s missile positions. Thus, the strategic missile submarine in the Arabian Sea is a hint not to China, but to Russia. At the very least we should not rule it out.
In order for the strike on our country to be successful, it must be delivered faster than we will have an alarm, an assessment of the situation for the command to launch. To do this, the distance from which the strike is carried out must be about 3,000 kilometres, otherwise the flight time of the missiles will be too long. So now let’s look at the map.
When the SSB is deployed in the northern part of the Arabian Sea, it just happens to be at about such a distance from the installations of the 31st Missile Army of the RVSN [Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, HQ Orenburg] and some parts of the 33rd Guards Army of the RVSN [Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, HQ Omsk], which allows the submarine to deliver the same disarming blow in the minimum flight time.
It is clear that such a task cannot be solved by one submarine. And it is clear that such a task cannot be solved solely from the Arabian Sea. But no one is talking about ‘one’ and ‘only’. The deployment of SSBMS in this sea area is not a preparation for a strike against Russia. But this is a demonstration that technically the United States can strike such a blow if it sees fit. And they’re not bluffing.
There is one technical aspect that is little-known to the layman. A ballistic missile can fly not only along the normal trajectory for itself, when the payload is lifted into the upper point of the trajectory and drops down from there. In addition to ballistic trajectories, missiles can also fly along the so-called flat (depressed in English terminology). The meaning of the flat trajectory is that the rocket goes very low, not even rising to 300 kilometres. With such a trajectory, ranges and accuracy suffer greatly, the dispersion of combat warheads increases, but this turns out to give a serious gain in flight speed to the target and a very small flight time.
If during a strike from the Arabian Sea, for example on the 13th missile division [13th Orenburg Red Banner Rocket Division] in the Orenburg region, employing a conventional trajectory, the flight time of the missiles is comparable to the time required for making a decision and passing the command for a counter-strike. However, when striking from there by a flat trajectory, the picture changes dramatically, and not in our favour.
At the same time, there are ways to compensate for the dispersion of interceptors. Firstly, these are the new fuses in the W76-2 combat warheads, which allow for time-synchronized detonation of the warheads, preventing them from flying past the target. Secondly, there is the mutual overlap of the affected areas when working on a target from several submarines. Thirdly, the US has made progress in hypersonic gliding attack warheads.
A clear sign of the ambition of the United States to deliver such disarming strikes sometime in the future would be evidence that they are firing missiles along flat trajectories, and there is such evidence. Since 2015, three videos of such tests have been filmed by random eyewitnesses – and have become publicly available.
The Americans are clearly working on launching missile strikes using such schemes. And now they are showing us their readiness to bring a strategic submarine to the point of a salvo ‘at point-blank range’. Across Russia.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. One still needs to deploy a sufficient number of submarines to strike. It is necessary not to frighten the enemy and not to cause an emergency exit to the sea of all its strategic missile carriers, not to cause the dispersal of strategic bombers, tankers and cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. What is necessary is that that the mobile ground-based missile systems do not have time to ‘run away’ too far for the inconspicuous B-2 and B–21 bombers, which will go in the second wave to mop up those remnants of the strategic missile forces that would have survived the missile strike – unless the [US] launch team still did not pass through the [Russian] system known as Perimeter [western name, Dead Hand] or otherwise.
It’s all very complicated, and the risks of loss of surprise are very high. But their chances of success are not zero. With the visit of West Virginia to our ‘soft underbelly’, the Americans clearly show how far they are willing to go if they deem it necessary. The Americans are sending an extremely clear signal – for them, nuclear war is no longer unthinkable, and not impossible.
Propaganda makes you stupid. We know that the Ukrainian integral nationalists have committed abominable massacres, especially during the Second World War. But we don’t know what they have been doing on our doorstep for the last thirty years, including the civil war they have been waging for the last eight years. Our own stupidity allows us to endure the war cries of our political leaders on the side of these criminals.
Voltaire Network | Paris (France) | 27 October 2022
Slava Stetsko, the widow of Nazi Prime Minister Yaroslav Stetsko, opened the 1998 and 2002 sessions of the Verkhovna Rada.
When war comes, governments always believe that they must boost the morale of their people by showering them with propaganda. The stakes are so high, life and death, that debates get tougher and extremist positions become popular. This is exactly what we are witnessing, or rather how we are being transformed. In this game, the ideas defended by some and others have nothing to do with their ideological presuppositions, but with their proximity to power
In the etymological sense, propaganda is just the art of convincing, of propagating ideas. But in modern times, it is an art that aims at reconstructing reality in order to denigrate the adversary and magnify one’s own troops.
Contrary to a widespread idea in the West, it was not the Nazis or the Soviets who invented it, but the British and the Americans during the First World War 1.
Today, Nato coordinates efforts in this area from its Strategic Communication Centre in Riga, Latvia 2. It identifies the points on which it wants to act and organizes international programs to carry them out.
For example, NATO has identified Israel as a weak point: while former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a personal friend of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his successor, Naftali Bennett, recognized the validity of Russian policy. He even advised the return of Crimea and Donbass and, above all, the denazification of Ukraine. The current Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, is more hesitant. He does not want to support the fundamentalist nationalists who massacred a million Jews shortly before and during the Second World War. But he also wants to stay on good terms with the West.
To bring Israel back into line, Nato is trying to persuade Tel Aviv that in case of a Russian victory, Israel would lose its position in the Middle East 3. To this end, it is spreading the lie that Iran is Russia’s military ally as widely as possible. The international press is constantly claiming that Russian drones are Iranian on the battlefield, and soon the medium-range missiles will be too. Yet Moscow knows how to manufacture these weapons and has never asked Tehran for them. Russia and Iran have repeatedly denied these allegations. But Western politicians, relying on the press and not on mere reflection, have already imposed sanctions on Iranian arms dealers. Soon Yair Lapid, son of the president of the Yad Vashem memorial, will be surrounded and forced to side with the criminals.
The British, on the other hand, traditionally excel in activating networked media and enlisting artists. MI6 relies on a group of 150 news agencies working within the PR Network 4. They convince all these companies to take up their imputations and slogans.
The founder of Ukrainian integral nationalism, Dmytro Dontsov, had an obsessive hatred of Jews and Gypsies. During the World War, he left Ukraine to become a director of the Reinhard Heydrich Institute. It was this institution, based in Czechoslovakia, that was responsible for planning the extermination of all Jews and Gypsies at the Wannsee Conference. He ended his days peacefully in the United States.
They are the ones who successively convinced you that President Vladimir Putin was dying, then that he had gone mad, or that he was facing strong opposition at home and that he would be overthrown by a coup. Their work continues today with cross interviews with soldiers in Ukraine. You hear Ukrainian soldiers say they are nationalists and Russian soldiers say they are afraid but must defend Russia. You hear that Ukrainians are not Nazis and that Russians, living under a dictatorship, are forced to fight. In reality, most Ukrainian soldiers are not "nationalists" in the sense of defenders of their homeland, but "integral nationalists" in the sense of two poets, Charles Maurras and Dmytro Dontsov 5. This is not the same thing at all.
It was only in 1925 that Pope Pius XI condemned "integral nationalism". At that time Dontsov had already written his Націоналізм (Nationalism) (1921). Maurras and Dontsov defined the nation as a tradition and thought their nationalism against others (Maurras against Germans and Dontsov against Russians). Both abhorred the French Revolution, the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and denounced Jews and Freemasons relentlessly. They consider religion as useful for the organization of society, but seem agnostic. These positions lead Maurras to become a Petainist and Dontsov a Hitlerian. The latter will sink into a varègue (Swedish Viking) mystical delirium. The next pope, Pius XII, repealed the condemnation of his predecessor, just before the war broke out. At the liberation, Maurras was condemned for intelligence with the enemy (he was a Germanophobe), but Dontsov was recuperated by the Anglo-Saxon secret services and exiled to Canada, then to the USA.
As for the Russian soldiers we see interviewed on our TV news, they do not tell us that they are forced to fight, but, unlike the integral nationalists, they are not fanatics. For them, war, even when defending their own, is always a horror. It is because we are repeatedly told that Russia is a dictatorship that we understand something else. We do not accept that Russia is a democracy because, for us, a democracy cannot be an authoritarian regime. Yet, for example, the Second French Republic (1848-1852) was both a democracy and an authoritarian regime.
We are easy to convince because we know nothing about Ukrainian history and culture. The most we know is that Novorossia was ruled by a French aristocrat, Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis de Richelieu, a personal friend of Tsar Alexander I. He continued the work of the Prince of Ukraine. He continued the work of Prince Grigori Potemkin who wanted to build this region on the model of Athens and Rome, which explains why today Novorossia is still of Russian culture (and not Ukrainian) without ever having known serfdom.
The Bibi Yar memorial in Kiev. 33 771 Jewish Ukrainians were shot in two days, on September 29 and 30, 1941, by the Ukrainian Waffen SS and Reinhard Heydrich’s Einsatzgruppen. This massacre was celebrated as a victory by the mainstream nationalists. Today, the Ukrainian government has named the main avenue leading to it after the integral nationalist Stepan Bandera, "in honor" of the greatest criminal in its history.
A few months after his election, on May 6, 1995, Leonid Kushma, the second president of the new Ukraine, went to Munich to meet with Slava Stetsko, the widow of the Ukrainian Nazi prime minister. He agreed to the introduction of an explicit reference to Nazism in the new constitution: "preserving the genetic heritage of the Ukrainian people is the responsibility of the state" (sic).
We are unaware of the atrocities in Ukraine of the interwar period and the Second World War, and have a vague idea of the violence of the USSR. We ignore that the theoretician Dontsov and his disciple Stepan Bandera did not hesitate to massacre all those who did not correspond to their "integral nationalism", first the Jews in this Khazar country, then the Russians and the Communists, the anarchists of Nestor Makhno, and many others. The "integral nationalists", who had become admirers of the Führer and deeply racist, returned to the forefront with the dissolution of the USSR 6. On May 6, 1995, President Leonid Kuchma went to Munich (to the CIA offices) to meet with the leader of the integral nationalists, Steva Stesko, the widow of the Nazi prime minister. She had just been elected to the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), but had not been able to take her seat because she had been stripped of her Ukrainian citizenship. A month later, Ukraine adopted its current constitution, which states in its Article 16 that "preserving the genetic heritage of the Ukrainian people is the responsibility of the state" (sic). Subsequently, the same Steva Stetsko twice opened the session of the Rada, concluding her speeches with the war cry of the integral nationalists: "Glory to Ukraine!
Modern Ukraine has patiently built its Nazi regime. After proclaiming the "genetic heritage of the Ukrainian people", it enacted various laws. The first one grants the benefit of human rights by the state only to Ukrainians, not to foreigners. The second defines who the majority of Ukrainians are, and the third (enacted by President Zelensky) who the minorities are. The trick is that no law speaks about Russian speakers. Therefore, by default, the courts do not recognize them the benefit of human rights.
Since 2014, a civil war has pitted the integral nationalists against the Russian-speaking populations, mainly those of Crimea and Donbass. 20,000 deaths later, the Russian Federation, applying its "responsibility to protect," launched a special military operation to implement Security Council Resolution 2202 (Minsk Agreements) and end the martyrdom of Russian speakers.
President Zelensky and his friend, Benjamin Netanyahu. The latter is now making support for Ukraine his main election campaign theme. Netanyahu is the son of the private secretary of Zeev Jabotinsky, a Ukrainian figure who allied with the mainstream nationalists against the Bolsheviks. He tried to put the Ukrainian Jewish community at the service of these anti-Semites, but was unanimously denounced within the World Zionist Organization, of which he became a director.
Nato propaganda tells us about the real sufferings of the Ukrainians, but it does not mention the eight years of torture, murder and massacres that preceded it. It talks about "our common values with Ukrainian democracy", but what values do we share with the integral nationalists and where is the democracy in Ukraine?
We do not have to choose between one or the other, but only to defend peace and therefore the Minsk Agreements and resolution 2202.
War drives us crazy. There is a reversal of values. The most extremist triumph. Some of our ministers speak of "stifling Russia" (sic). We do not see that we are supporting the very ideas we believe we are fighting against.
Some readers have commented in direct emails to me that they have taken comfort from my writings insofar as I have been a moderate voice, avoiding alarmism over the often troublesome daily news in and around the Russian war with Ukraine, or more properly speaking today, Russia’s proxy war with NATO in and about Ukraine.
For this very reason, I hesitated whether to share with readers the deep pessimism that overcame me a couple of days ago over our chances of avoiding nuclear Armageddon. This followed my watching the latest Solovyov political talk show on Russian state television. I have used this show regularly as a litmus test of the mood of Russian social and political elites: that mood has turned black.
Whereas in the past, going back six months or more, I had reported on the open contempt which leading and highly responsible Russian academics from university circles and think tanks were showing for the American political leadership in their statements on the political talk shows, this contempt has moved into an actionable phase, by which I mean that serious, God-fearing Russians are so furious with the rubbish propaganda coming out of Washington, repeated with bullhorns in Europe that if given the chance they would personally “press the button” and unleash nuclear attacks on the United States and Britain, in that order notwithstanding the possibility, even probability of a return strike, which, however enfeebled, would be devastating to their own country. That is to say, deterrence as a policy is fast losing its psychological impact on the Russian side of the argument.
Whatever the words of the Biden Administration about nuclear war being ‘off the table,’ America’s aggressive and threatening behavior, including the ongoing ‘training in nuclear weapons’ currently going on in Europe under U.S. direction, has made rational and very serious Russians ready to give it a try.
One of the most sober-minded international affairs experts to appear on the Solovyov show, Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Near East think tank, contained his rage with some difficulty, saying only that while he had once held some sympathy for the United States, he would see its utter destruction now with little regret; he left no mention where his feet are pointed when he added that he could say no more on air for fear that he will be censored and his words removed from the video.
For these reasons, I have given to this essay addressed to the Collective West, and in particular to the fomenters of world disorder in Washington and London, a title that fits the current situation.
As we have seen from even before the launch of the ‘special military operation,’ Russian talk programs identify by name individuals in the Biden team whose outstanding stupidity, obtuseness and rank ignorance they find unbearable, with the likes of Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Lloyd Austin among those coming in for special mention. We are left with the impression that when Biden calls in his advisers to the Oval Office, he, senile dimwit that he is, is the bright light in the room. The Russians conclude from this that they have no one to negotiate with.
Now the naming of idiots in high places carries over to all discussion of European Union and British leaders. The denunciation of incompetence, rank stupidity and, yes, neo-colonialist or fascist mindsets among European leaders was well reflected in the latest Solovyov show. The most discussed whipping boy was the EU’s commissioner on external action, Josep Borrell, who seems to be speaking to the world daily and acknowledges no limits on what he may proclaim, as if it were official EU policy in defense as well as diplomacy.
The Solovyov show put up on screen a brief video recording of Borrell expounding smugly on Europe’s privileged position as ‘a garden of liberal democracy, good economic prospects and social solidarity’ which is surrounded by ‘the jungle.’ That jungle reference fits in well, Solovyov remarked, with the colonialist mindset of Rudyard Kipling and is deeply offensive to the Rest of the World, of which Russia is a part. More to the point, Borrell was also notorious in Russia this past week for his statement that any use by Russia of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be met by a massive non-nuclear attack from Europe which would ‘annihilate’ the Russian army. However, Borrell was not alone in the stocks: other European leaders who were decried for their stupid policies this past week included German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emanuel Macron.
So you have no bomb shelter? Then, as the Russians said decades ago, it is high time to throw a bed sheet over your shoulders and slowly walk to the nearest cemetery.
One of the two latest fake news stories being disseminated simultaneously and ubiquitously in Western major media this past week is that Russia is considering using against Ukraine ‘tactical nuclear weapons,’ meaning warheads with a destructive force equivalent to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs mounted on cruise or medium range ballistic missiles. Our print and electronic media speculate on the numbers of warheads Russia currently possesses (2,000 or more), as if that would make any difference in an assault on Ukraine.
Rubbish say the Russians on Solovyov’s show: we have no need of nuclear arms to finish off the Ukrainians. The only nuclear forces we would deploy in the current situation are strategic arms, and they are directed against….Washington with the help of the Sarmat and Poseidon delivery systems.
The other major fake news disseminated massively by Western media in recent days was the allegation that the Russians are seeking to freeze the Ukrainians to death by their strikes against power generation infrastructure. Images of Stalingrad were evoked by our broadcasters. A similar freeze is said to be inflicted on Western Europe by the cut-off of Russian energy supplies to the EU.
More rubbish say the panelists on the Solovyov program. The attack on the electricity grid in Ukraine is not directed against civilians per se; it is intended to halt rail deliveries of advanced weapons systems and munitions coming into Ukraine at the Polish border and being moved by train to the fronts in the east and south of the country. Without these inputs, the Ukrainian army will be kaput and the war can come to an early conclusion with the capitulation of Kiev. As regards the EU, whatever chill out may be coming this winter is due solely to the unprofessional and ignorant decisions of the Commission on imports of Russian hydrocarbons that have been blindly followed by the Member States without due consideration of consequences for their own populations.
The Collective West speaks of ‘sham’ referendums in the four Ukrainian oblasts that have now been reintegrated into (or annexed by, depending on your politics) the Russian Federation. In this spirit, in the middle of the past week the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a U.S. sponsored resolution refusing to recognize the legality of this annexation. Among those who voted against Russia were such prominent ‘friendly states’ as Serbia and Hungary. One hundred forty states voted with the United States; four states, including the pariah regimes in Venezuela and North Korea, joined Russia in voting ‘nyet,’ and thirty-five states abstained.
The United States trumpeted this victory at the UN over the mischievous and rules-breaking Russians. EU chief of diplomacy Borrell was also gloating, though he expressed regret that 20% of the member states had not voted for the resolution.
The Russians, for their part, insist that this vote was a sham, given the carrots and sticks that U.S. and European diplomats used to get the results desired. Blackmail of all kinds was applied, say the Russians. Morever, the number of states in each tally tells only part of the story: among the 35 abstaining countries were India and China, which between them alone account for 35% of humanity.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, on the next day the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg adopted a resolution condemning Russia for its alleged aggression against Ukraine with a bill of particulars several pages long and including a call for the 46 member states to declare Russia a ‘terrorist state’ as Zelensky had requested of them. The vote as published was said to be 99 for the resolution, 1 opposed. No mention was made in the announcement of vote results that the actual number of deputies in PACE is 306. The point was not missed by the Solovyov panel, who here too cried ‘foul.’
Putting aside these two votes that garnered so much attention in the propagandistic Western media, there were other international developments bearing on the relative standing of Russia in the global community which Western media chose to ignore, but Russia media, featured prominently.
I think in particular of the three days of summitry in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The first of these gatherings brought together 27 heads of state from across Asia, running from Israel and Palestine, Qatar and the Emirates in the west to Korea in the east. Let us remember that a goodly number of the participants were from countries that voted against Russia in the UN General Assembly. Their presence in Astana gave the lie to the notion that they were expelling Russia from polite society.
The key personality at the meeting of 27 was clearly Vladimir Putin. Film footage on Russian television showed him in animated conversation with these leaders in group and bilateral formats. Of these the most significant was likely the face-to-face with Turkish president Erdogan, during which the two discussed immediate steps to implement the Russian proposal that a new pipeline be added to Turk Stream so as to greatly increase possibilities for delivering gas to Europe by this southern route through the Balkans. In this concept, Turkey will become a major gas hub, which represents fulfillment of a long-held dream by the Turkish leader.
In its capacity as hub, Turkey would be able to mix Russian gas with flows from Azerbaijan and possibly later from Turkmenistan, so that the product sold as a Turkish export would be bullet proof against American or European sanctions. The additional line could probably be laid down within a year, that is to say, more quickly than the problematic repairs to the damaged Nord Stream 1 pipelines.
The next day in Astana, another summit was held between leaders of the Community of Independent States. This reduced circle of members was also of great importance insofar as it confirms Russia’s standing as facilitator of diplomatic solutions between member states experiencing armed conflict with one another, the Azeris and Armenians being first in line. And the final summit, among the leaders of Central Asian republics with Russia had yet another important agenda: agreeing security measures to defend against spillover into their region of the developing civil war in Afghanistan, where the U.S. and Britain are aiding extremist groups seeking to overthrow Taliban rule. From the body language of leaders, it would seem that Putin’s ear was much in demand. Relations with Kazakhstan leader Tokaev appeared to be solid once again after a trying period of several months earlier in the year.
In considering the meaning of these gatherings, I think that a remark made several days ago on another Solovyov show and with regard to the decision of the Saudis and Gulf States to snub the insistent demands of Biden that oil production be raised: the decision to make common cause with Russia came not out of pity for the weak but out of Realism, namely the assessment that Russia will win the military contest with NATO/Ukraine. These rulers in Opec, like the rulers who came to Astana this past week, back winners not prospective losers.
If I may draw any positive conclusions from the otherwise bleak analysis in the foregoing, they are that Russia is successfully resisting massive U.S. and E.U. pressures, and that the world is realigning before our eyes in a more multi-polar and democratic direction. And yet, the fears of miscalculations on one side or another in this tense and unparalleled contest mean Armageddon constantly threatens in the background.
Dear readers, to my great regret, I am once again duty bound to walk the streets bearing the sign ‘The End of the World is Nigh’.
I watched the news digest program Sixty Minutes yesterday on Russian state television’s smotrim.ru platform. Before turning the microphone over to the panelists in talk show format, the first 30 minutes of the show presented a hair-raising video montage of excerpts from US, German, European, British news reporting about dirty bomb accusations, about the current exercises of the aircraft carrier George Bush Sr. in the Eastern Med and its loud message to Mr Putin about nuclear attack capabilities, about the 2400 American ground assault troops just delivered to Romania and placed at the border with Moldova, ready to move in there and, one may safely assume, to continue up into Ukraine to face off with Russians around Odessa – Nikolaev at a moment’s notice. Well, the impression of this pending escalation was overwhelmingly that we are on the cusp of the war to end all wars. The US is game for it, whatever Biden mutters to the contrary reading from his teleprompter. The Russians are game for it. And so here we go!
On a less dramatic note but one from the same musical composition, I have just felt obliged to add a Postscript to my last essay on Rushi Sunak, noting that I was wrong about the kind of marching orders he has from the City of London: while he replaced most of the Truss cabinet ministers, he has retained Ben Wallace at Defense. Note that Wallace is calling for large increases in defense spending to support Britain’s contribution to the Ukrainian armed forces at the same time that Sunak is about to wield the knife on social services in the name of a balanced budget and austerity in times of inflation. The Sunak premiership will not last a year, assuming we have a year ahead of us before all hell breaks loose. He shares with Macron a background in working for US international bankers and the fact of being the youngest head of government in his respective country in two centuries. He also apparently shares the status of political lightweight, but unlike Macron, his position is very fragile because of British constitutional practices. I say that these developments fall in line with the general musical composition, because they show that the marching orders he had received from those who installed him in power, the City of London, are as ideologically driven as the newspaper they all read daily, the viciously anti-Russian Financial Times. And so I conclude that in the U.K., too, Capital is as removed from the real world as the lightweight and incompetent politicians who rule over us on the Continent.
What I cannot understand is how India, China and other big, serious players on the world stage do not take note that the rising escalation in the Russia-NATO confrontation and the lurch towards nuclear exchange will mean the end of life on the planet, their lives as well as ours. Why are they all silent? And where is the United Nations before the looming Armageddon? When General Assembly votes are dictated by one global hegemon and its lackeys, the U.N.’s relevance to keeping the peace is vitiated.
The avoidable tragedy of WWI is something that is foremost in my thoughts every time I stay in my Pushkin apartment outside Petersburg. We live 200 meters away from an entrance to the Catherine Palace park and less than a kilometer from the separate palace which Nicholas II used as a family home. Each time there I wonder to myself how they could have been so foolish as to throw European civilization to the winds, and, as regards the tsarist family, to throw away their own lives. Now I see similar foolishness daily watching the news, whether it is Russian news or Western mainstream broadcasters. I see the growing likelihood of our collective suicide in the weeks if not months before us.
Among patriotic Russians, there has long been a lot of criticism about the way the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine has been waged. People say that Putin has been too soft on the Ukrainians, that he should have destroyed the energy infrastructure in the first days of March, without waiting seven months and allowing the escalation to reach its present critical point. However, that is to ignore the political dimension of war making. And it is to ignore the reality that public opinion is a major restraint on what its President can or cannot do, irrespective of constitutional provisions and supposed authoritarianism at the top.
The Russian public was not ready to accept an all-out war on Ukraine in February. The personal, familial and historic ties binding the Russian and Ukrainian peoples together were simply too strong. Russians, including those in power, could hold out the hope that once the campaign ended, the sides would kiss and make up. It took all this time, it took the crossing of all Russian red lines in terms of attacks on the Russian homeland by artillery and rockets from across the border with Ukraine, it took the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines and the terrorist attack on the Kerch bridge for the Russian people to be psychologically prepared to murder Ukrainians by the tens of thousands of soldiers on the battlefield as you do in any normal war and to inflict great hardships on the civilian population.
However, the Kremlin cannot be let off so easily for its share of the blame as the world teeters towards nuclear war. I find it incredible that the professional intelligence analyst Vladimir Putin, whom all of our biographers describe only in relation to his KGB career, could have allowed himself to be so misled by his own intelligence advisers about Ukrainian capabilities and intentions before he decided to go in and denazify, demilitarize Ukraine on 24 February. That was a miscalculation of colossal proportions that resulted in serious military setbacks in the opening weeks of the war, which in turn emboldened United States and NATO decision-makers to go for the jugular and finally ‘take out’ Russia. I will say no more.
In the first part of this essay, I gave my interpretation of the background of the current confrontation in Korea. I argued that, while the past is the mother of the present, it has several fathers. What I remember is not necessarily what you remember; so, in this sense, the present also shapes or reshapes the past.
A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.
In my experience as a policy planner, I found that only by taking note of the perception of events as they are differently held by the participants could one understand or deal with present actions and ideas. I have tried to sketch out views of the past as we, the North Koreans and the South Koreans, differently view them in Part 1 of this essay.
Now I want to undertake a refinement of the record I have laid out. I want first to show how our perception, the interpretation we place on the events that swirl past us, adds a new and formative element to them. Whether consciously or not, we tend to put events into a pattern. So the pattern itself becomes part of the problem we face in trying to understand events. Staking out a path – an interpretation or a theory of what random bits and pieces mean or how they will be interpreted and acted upon by others — is a complex and contentious task.
Getting it wrong can lead us astray or even be very dangerous. So the interpreter, the strategist, must always be tested to see if his interpretation makes sense and the path he lays out is the one we want to travel. I will make this explicit below.
My experience in what was certainly the most dangerous situation America ever experienced, the Cuban Missile Crisis, led me to believe that at least in a crisis how we think about events and what we remember of the past often determines our actions and may be the deciding difference between life and death. So here I will begin with the mindset that underlay American policy for the last half century.
Anyone who reads the press or watches TV is beset with countless scraps of information. In my experience in government service, the deluge of information was almost paralyzing. Some of my colleagues joked that the way to defeat our adversaries was to give them access to what passed over our desks every day. It would immobilize them as it sometimes immobilized us.
How to separate from the flow the merely interesting from the important and how to relate one event to others were demanding tasks. Making them useful has been undertaken by strategists time after time over the last several thousand years. Machiavelli is the best known among us, but he was far from the first. [I have dealt with these issues in detail in Neighbors and Strangers: The Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).]
Theory of Deterrence
The latest and arguably the most persuasive recent attempt to develop a sort of framework or matrix to bring some sense of order and some ability to understand events has been the theory of deterrence. While “just a theory,” it set American policy toward the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It was developed to understand and deal with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but it will determine much of what America tries to do with North Korea today.
President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation regarding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
To simplify and summarize, Cold War strategists led by such men as Henry Kissinger, Thomas Schelling and Bernard Brodie believed that ultimately relationships among nations were mathematical. Deterrence thus meant gathering the elements that could be added up by both sides. If country “A” had overwhelming power, country “B” would be deterred in its own interest from actions that were detrimental to them. Failure to “do the sums” correctly in the “game of nations” was to “misplay.”
Emotion and even politics had no role; in the real world. It was realpolitik that governed. Put another way, the weak would add up their capabilities and would necessarily give way to the strong to avoid being destroyed.
The great Greek historian Thucydides long ago set the tone: “Right, as the world goes,” he wrote, “is only in question between equals in power; the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Only by acting in this mindset would the national interests, the real interests, of each country be preserved and peace among nations be achieved.
Deterrence worked reasonably well up to and including the Cuban Missile Crisis. But during that crisis, as some of the theory’s critics had long held, a potentially fatal flaw became evident.
The flaw is that “national interest” – what can be added up or quantified as the assets and what gives it its strength — is not necessarily always coincident with “interest of government.” That is, governments may not always be guided by a rational calculation of national interest. There are times when leaders cannot afford, even if they precisely add up the figures, to act according to such slow-moving impulses as national interest. They may be subject to quite different and more urgent impulses. They may be emotional or otherwise be irrational, fearful of their lives or worried that they would lose their positions, or they may be driven by public opinion or by the different calculations of such other centers of power as the military. Being guided by the abstract calculation of national interest may then be impossible.
Let me illustrate this from my experience in the Cuban Missile Crisis, then in a war game the Department of Defense (DOD) organized to reexamine the Missile Crisis and finally in a meeting in Moscow with my Russian counterparts.
In the Missile Crisis, both President Kennedy (certainly) and Chairman Khrushchev (probably) were under almost unbearable pressure not only in trying to figure out how to deal with the events but also from the warnings, importuning and urging of their colleagues, rivals, supporters and from their military commanders. Whether either leader was in danger of overthrow of his regime or assassination is still unknown, but both were at least potentially at risk because the stakes were, literally, the fate of the world and opinions on how to deal with the possibility of ruinous war were strongly held.
Obviously, the loss to both of their nations in the event of a nuclear exchange would have been catastrophic so the national interest of both was clear: it was to avoid war. But how to avoid it was disputatious. And it was not nations that were making decisions; it was the leaders, and their interests were only in part coincident with national interest.
We were lucky that at least Kennedy realized this dilemma and took steps to protect himself. What he did is not well understood so I will briefly summarize the main points. First, he identified General Lyman Lemnitzer, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), as the main hawk. Lemnitzer was pushing him toward a nuclear war and had shown his hand by presenting a “black” plan (“Operation Northwoods”) to be carried out by the JCS to trigger war with Cuba.
[Curiously, “Operation Northwoods” is hardly known even today. It was described by the eminent scholar on intelligence James Bamford in Body of Secrets (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 82 ff, as the “launching [of] a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an-ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.” Provocations were to be manufactured: hijacking of aircraft, murders and the explosion of the rocket that was carrying astronaut John Glenn into space. Lemnitzer lied to Congress, denying the plan’s existence, and had many of documents destroyed. Although he was dismissed as chairman of the JCS by Kennedy, the organization he formed within the JCS continued to plan covert actions. It would have been surprising if Kennedy did not worry about a possible attempt on his government.]
Fearing a Coup d’Etat
Apparently realizing that the plan could easily have been turned into a coup d’état, Kennedy removed Lemnitzer as far from Washington as he could (to Europe to be the NATO commander). Kennedy also assembled a group of elder statesmen, most of whom had served under the Eisenhower and Truman administrations in positions senior to the current military commanders and were identified as conservatives — far from Kennedy’s image as a liberal.
President John F. Kennedy meeting with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev on June 3, 1961, in Vienna. (State Department photo)
Ostensibly, he sought their advice, but in practice what he sought was their approval of his decisions. He also was careful to instruct the public in his speech on the Monday, the first public acknowledgement of the crisis, that he was firmly in control and was determined to protect American interests.
Then, in the solution to the crisis, removing the American missiles from Turkey, he pretended that their removal was not a price he had to pay to end the crisis. Thus, in several ways, he neutralized potential critics, at least during the crucial time of the Crisis. But, not long afterwards, he was assassinated by persons, forces, or interests about whom and whose motivation there is still much controversy. At minimum, we know that powerful people, including Lemnitzer, thought Kennedy had sold out national interest in pursuit of the interest of his administration.
At the same time in Moscow, Mr. Khrushchev probably risked his life by accepting the humiliation imposed on his regime by the forced withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba. Apparently, for of course we do not know, he felt less immediate danger than Kennedy because the Soviet system had always distrusted and guarded against its military commanders. A Lemnitzer there would probably have been “disappeared,” not just sent into a polite exile. And hovering beside each of the senior officers of the Soviet army was a political commissar who was responsible to the civilian administration – that is, to the Communist Party leadership – for the officer’s every move, every contact, almost every thought. The military did what the civil leadership told it to do.
I presume Khrushchev believed that he had his colleagues with him, but that cannot have been very reassuring given the record of the Politburo. And, when he died, Khrushchev or at least his reputation paid a price: he was refused the supreme accolade of Soviet leadership; he was not buried with other Soviet heroes in the Kremlin Wall. That we know; what we cannot know is whether or not he thought he was, or actually was, in danger of being overthrown.
What is clear is that he was strong enough – and faced with no blatant or destructive action by America – that he was able to surmount the “interest of government” to protect “national interest.” In short, he was not backed into a corner.
Were it not for the strength and bravery of both men, we might not have survived the Missile Crisis. Obviously, we cannot always be so served. Sometimes, we are apt to be dependent on weaker, more timorous and less steady men. This is not an abstract issue, and it has come back to haunt us in the Korean confrontation as it surely will in other confrontations. Understanding it may be a matter of our survival. That was not just my view but was also was even then the nagging worry of the DOD.
Thus, in the aftermath of the crisis, the DOD sought reassurance that deterrence had worked and would continue to work. That is, it sought to test the theory that leaders would add up the sums and be governed by what they found rather than by political, emotional or other criteria.
A Nuclear War Game
To this end, the DOD commissioned the conflict strategist Thomas Schelling to design and run a politico-military war game to push the experience of the Missile Crisis to the extreme, that is to find out what the Russians would they do if they were dealt a severe, painful and humiliating nuclear blow?
A scene from “Dr. Strangelove,” in which the bomber pilot (played by actor Slim Pickens) rides a nuclear bomb to its target in the Soviet Union.
Schelling’s game pitted two small teams of senior, fully-briefed U.S. government officers against one another in the Pentagon. Red Team represented the USSR and Blue Team the U.S. Each was provided with all the information Khrushchev would have had. Shortly after assembling, we were told that Blue team destroyed a Red Team city with a nuclear weapon. What would Red Team do?
Since it was far weaker than the United States, by the deterrence theory it would cave in and not retaliate.
To Schelling’s exasperation, the game proved the opposite. It showed that action only in part depended on a rational calculation of national interest but rather in circumstances of crisis, would be governed by the political imperatives faced by the government. I have discussed this in detail elsewhere, but in brief, the members of Red Team, who were among the most experienced and gifted men from the State Department, the White House, the CIA and the DOD, chaired by the very conservative admiral who was Chief of Naval Operations, decided unanimously that Red Team had no option but to go to general war as fast and as powerfully as it could.
Shelling stopped the game, saying that we had “misplayed” and that if we were right he would have to give up the theory of deterrence. We laid out the reasons for our decision.
That decision was taken on two grounds: the first was that acquiescence was not politically possible. No government, Russian or American or other, could accept the humiliation of the loss of a city and survive the fury of those who felt betrayed. Even if at ruinous cost, it would strike back. This is a lesson apparently still unlearned.
Indeed, it could cause the death of each person reading this essay if applied in real life in a nuclear first strike as I will shortly make clear in discussing the Korean crisis.
The second basis for the decision was that, despite Kissinger, Schelling and other “limited nuclear war” advocates, there is no such thing as limited nuclear war in the real world. A nuclear strike would inevitably lead to retaliation, nuclear if possible, and that retaliation would lead to counter-retaliation.
In the war game, Red Team realized that if Mr. Khrushchev were to retaliate for America’s destruction of Baku by incinerating St. Louis, it would have posed a challenge, regardless of who was at fault or what the odds of success were, that Kennedy could not have ducked. He would certainly have been overthrown and almost certainly assassinated if he had not responded. He almost certainly would have destroyed a second Russian city.
Tit-for-tat had no stopping point. Each response would lead to the next and quickly to general war. So Red Team went immediately to the best of its bad options: hitting back immediately with everything it had: in short, we opted for general war.
Fortunately that scenario was not tested. In the real Cuban Missile Crisis, no city was incinerated. Neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev was pushed beyond “calculation.” But it was a very close call. My own hunch, from having been one of the 25 or so civilians closely involved in the real-life crisis, is that Kennedy and his team could not have held firm much longer than the Thursday or Friday of that terrible week.
The implications are clear – and terrifying – but neither Shelling nor other Cold Warriors have accepted them. We are still today approaching the conflict in Korea with the mindset that our war game showed was fatally flawed.
The last test of the result of the war game came when I lectured on strategic planning and participated in a seminar on the Missile Crisis with the members of the then principal advisory group to the Politburo, the Institute of World Economy and International Affairs of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In a word, my opposite numbers there agreed with the analysis I have just laid out: Khrushchev could not have accepted an American nuclear attack. He would have responded even though he realized that the overwhelming advantage – the “numbers” – were against him.
They also agreed that in practical terms there was no such thing as limited nuclear war. A “limited” nuclear strike would be, inevitably, the first step in a general war.
Lacking Wise Leaders
I will speculate below on how the actual events of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the result of the war game might apply to the current conflict in Korea. Here let me anticipate by saying that we have no reason to believe that the men who will decide the issue are of the caliber of Kennedy and Khrushchev.
President Donald Trump, speaking in Warsaw, Poland, on July 6, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)
Both Kennedy and Khrushchev were strong, pragmatic, experienced and well supported men. In today’s conflict between the United States and North Korea, neither Donald Trump nor Kim Jong Un evince similar attributes. Some critics even question their sanity. But, they will make the decisions, so I focus on them, their motivations and their capacities. I begin with Mr. Trump.
I have never met Mr. Trump and our backgrounds are very different so I am driven to two, admittedly incomplete and questionable, ways of understanding him. The first of these is his own description of his thought process and way of acting. The three characteristics that seem to me most germane to foreign affairs and particularly to the confrontation in Korea are these:
–On November 12, 2015, Mr. Trump declared, “I love war.” In fact, as the record showed, he went to considerable trouble to deny himself the pleasures of going into harm’s way during the Vietnam War. And, now, should he decide to take America to war, he would not put his own life in danger.
In my time in Washington, such “war-lovers from afar“ were often referred to as “chicken-hawks.” They loved to talk about war and to urge others to get into it, but, like Mr. Trump, they never volunteered for action and never, in their pronouncements, dwelt on the horror of actual combat. For them war was another TV episode where the good guys got a bit dusted up but always won.
Mr. Trump presumably meant by the word “war” something very different from real war since he explained, “I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars on my own. I’m really good at war. I love war, in a certain way but only when we win.”
For Mr. Trump, as his actions show, every business deal was a sort of war. He conducted it as what military strategists call a zero-sum game: the winner took all and the loser got nothing. There was little or no negotiation. “Attack” was the operational mode and his opponent would be driven to defeat by the threat of financial ruin. This was the “certain way” he called his many “wars on my own.”
The record bears him out. He overwhelmed rivals with lawsuits against which they had to defend themselves at ruinous cost, convinced them that if they did not acquiesce he would destroy them and was unrelenting. He was very good at it. He made his fortune in this form of “war.” He seems to believe that he can apply his experience in business to international affairs. But nations are not so likely to go out of business as the rivals he met in real estate transactions and some of them are armed with nuclear weapons.
–On several occasions, Mr. Trump set out his understanding of the role of nuclear weapons. In 2015, as a candidate, he was quoted as saying, “For me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.” But I find no evidence that he realizes what “devastation” really means. It is one thing to drive a business rival into bankruptcy and quite another to oversee the burning to death of hundreds of thousands or millions of people and relegating still more to homelessness and starvation in a ruined environment.
One supposes that he is aware of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they are misleading. Modern nuclear weapons are far more powerful: a one megaton weapon, for example, is about 50 times as powerful as the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima. Those of us who dealt with the threat of nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis were aware of the effects of such “standard” weapons.
I see no evidence that Mr. Trump knows what a nuclear war would actually do. Indeed, he is quoted as saying, “what is the point of having nuclear weapons if you don’t use them?” He will find advisers who will tell him that they must be used. The ghost of General Lemnitzer hovers near the Oval Office.
Proud of Unpredictability
–Mr. Trump prides himself on unpredictability. Unpredictability was his business strategy. As he told an interviewer from CBS on January 1, 2016, “You want to be unpredictable … And somebody recently said — I made a great business deal. And the person on the other side was interviewed by a newspaper. And how did Trump do this? And they said, he`s so unpredictable. And I didn`t know if he meant it positively or negative. It turned out he meant it positively.”
Graphic for “The Celebrity Apprentice” when it was starring Donald Trump.
Another time Trump said on TV “I want to be unpredictable.” The record shows his use of the ploy, but perhaps it is more than just a ploy. Perhaps it is a manifestation of his personality, so I want to probe its meaning.
Years ago, I was informed that the CIA maintained a staff of psychoanalysts to profile foreign leaders. If the office still exists, the doctors presumably do not practice their arts on American officials, and certainly not on the President. As part of their professional code, psychiatrists are not supposed to diagnose anyone they have not personally examined, and I doubt that anyone will be able to get Mr. Trump to lie down on the coach.
But, as psychiatrists Peter Kramer and Sally Satel have pointed out, Mr. Trump has shown himself to be “impulsive, erratic, belligerent and vengeful” so “many experts believe that Mr. Trump has a narcissistic personality disorder.” Reacting to having such a leader with his hand on the nuclear trigger, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin introduced a bill to establish an “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity” (H.R. 1987) as authorized by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. It has not been acted upon and it allows the President latitude to “pardon” himself.
Since his actions and the efforts of others do not offer much insight, I suggest his actions lend themselves to a perhaps instructive analogy, the game of “chicken.”
–In “chicken,” two drivers aim their speeding cars at one another. The one who flinches, turns aside, or (as Secretary of State Dean Rusk put it to me during the Cuban Missile Crisis) “blinks,” is the chicken. The winner is the driver who convinces the loser that he is irrational, deaf to all appeals and blind to danger. He cannot get out of the way.
In Mr. Trump’s strategy of war, the irrational man wins because he cannot be reached with any warning, argument or advice. Knowing this, the other man loses precisely because he is rational. Three things follow from this analogy. They seem evident in Mr. Trump’s approach to the issues or war or peace:
The first is that irrationality, ironically becomes a rational strategy. If one can convince his opponents that he is cannot be reasoned with, he wins. This has worked for years in business for Mr. Trump. I see no reason to believe that he will give it up.
The second is that the driver of the car does not need information or advice. They are irrelevant or even detrimental to his strategy. So, we see that Mr. Trump pays no attention to the professionals who man the 16 agencies set up by previous administrations to provide information or intelligence.
One example where his professed plan of action flies in the face of the intelligence appreciation is Iran. As the former deputy director of the CIA David Cohen found “disconcerting,” Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that Iran was not abiding by the terms of the Iranian-American deal on nuclear weapons before “finding the intelligence to back it up.” But that is inherent in Trump’s strategy of confrontation. He surely knows – but does not care — that the entire intelligence community holds that Iran has abided by the deal.
In Trump’s mind, intelligence analysts are “back seat drivers” and should keep quiet. By questioning his blindness, they suggest to the driver of the other car that Mr. Trump might swerve aside. Thus, they threaten to destroy the irrationality that is the essence of his strategy.
And, third, what Mr. Trump, the “driver” of the car in the “chicken” confrontation, does need is absolute loyalty. Those who sit beside him must never question how he is driving. Any hint of their trying to dissuade his actions threatens to destroy his strategy. So, as we see almost daily, at any hint of disagreement, he pushes his copilots out of the car. Indeed, at least one hardly even got into the “car” before being pushed out the door.
His actions both in business and in the presidency illustrate these points. He takes pride in irrational actions, shifting from one position to another, even its opposite, on what appears to be a whim. He disdains advice even from the intelligence services and also from presumably loyal members of his inner circle. What he demands is absolute loyalty.
Finally, it seems to me that Mr. Trump has understood, far better than most of us, that the public likes to be entertained. It is bored by consistency. It doesn’t pay much attention to explanation or analysis. And as the financially successful record of the TV industry and the sorry record of the book publishing industry show, the public wants entertainment. Mr. Trump caters to popular taste: every episode is new; every remark, simple; every threat, dramatic; and, perhaps most powerfully of all, he echoes angers, disappointments, hurts, desires that many of his supporters also feel.
This mode of operation worked for Trump in the business world. His image of ruthlessness, determination and even irrationality caused some of the biggest potential rivals to get out of his way and many others to accept his terms rather than risk a collision. It is not Trump or his mode of operation that has changed but the context in which he operates. Citibank with which he clashed did not have nuclear weapons; North Korea does. So how does Kim Jong Un measure up?
Measuring Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un is the third generation of the North Korean leadership. That position is almost beyond the comprehension of modern Westerners. Ruling dynasties went out of fashion in the First World War. But perhaps consideration of “dynasty” can be made to yield useful insights. One who tried to learn what dynastic succession could tell us was the great medieval North African philosopher of history, Ibn Khaldun.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Observing Berber and Arab societies, Ibn Khaldun found that the first dynasty, sweeping in from the desert, was made up of men who were rough and vigorous; their sons still remembered times of struggle and retained their hardihood, but the third generation grew use to ease and settled into luxury. Its leaders kept power by relying on outside forces. The fourth generation lost it all.
The fit to Korea is far from exact, but it is provocative. Kim Il-sung was a guerrilla warrior, not unlike the warring tribal leaders with whom Ibn Khaldun dealt. Sweeping in from Siberia he took power (admittedly with Soviet help), ruled for nearly half a century and established the dynasty; in the second generation, his son Kim Jong-Il came seamlessly to power on his death in 1994. While he shared little of his father’s war-like experiences, he seems to have been a hard man, as Ibn Khaldun expected. But he gives just a hint of the growth of the enjoyment of the new environment. The luxury he enjoyed was exactly what Ibn Khaldun would have predicted. He took as his mistress a beautiful dancer. From this union came Kim Jong Un, the personification of the third dynasty.
Young Kim Jong Un grew up in what was, in Korean terms, the lap of luxury and as a child was allowed to play the child’s game of soldiers. His soldiers, however, were not toys; they were real. There is no certain information, but it is believed that he was made a senior officer in the North Korean army when he was just a child. When he was 12 years old, his father sent him to a private school in Switzerland. Being provided with a personal chef to cook Korean dishes as well as a tutor and a driver/bodyguard, he does not seem to have really been “in” Europe.
He was taken out of the Swiss school when he was 15 and put into a public school in Korea. Those few who knew him have commented that he was intensely patriotic. At his father’s choice, although he was not the elder son, he was singled out as the successor, the man of the third generation.
Despite this unusual background he seems remarkably like an ordinary American schoolboy: he loved sports, particularly basketball, spent a lot of time watching movies and was an indifferent student. This is just about all know about his background. He did not emerge in public until about the time his father was dying.
In 2009, he is thought to have married a beautiful young women who has been variously described as a singer in a popular music group, a cheerleader in a sports event and a doctoral candidate in a Korean university. When his father finally died in 2011, the 32-year-old Kim Jong-un became North Korea’s leader. But on assuming power, he showed himself a more ruthless, determined and absolute ruler than Ibn Khaldun would have predicted.
Almost immediately, he purged his father’s top general among other senior officials, and allegedly he ordered or tolerated the murder of his elder brother whom he must have seen as a potential rival. More generally, he proved himself skillful in organizing the bitter memories of the Korean War among his people to support his regime.
To explain in part the inconsistency of what he did and what was expected of the third generation, I suggest that that he must have constantly had before him lesson of Saddam Husain who lacked nuclear weapons, could not defend himself and was hanged. Watching these events as a young man, Kim Jong Un must have been convinced that he could not afford to give himself up to luxury. As his opponents charge, he may have many vices but sloth is not one of them.
From this sketchy background of the two men whose hands are on the nuclear trigger, I turn to what their choices are. That is, what is the range of policies they must be considering or enacting to accomplish what they say are their objectives.
A map of the Korean Peninsula showing the 38th Parallel where the DMZ was established in 1953. (Wikipedia)
As I understand his objectives, the ruler of North Korea is determined to protect his regime (and of course his own life) and believes he can do so only if he has the capacity to deliver a blow sufficiently painful to any attacker that would deter him.
As Siegfried Hecker, the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who has visited North Korea seven times and toured its nuclear facilities, has written (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 7 August 2017), Kim Jong Un “is determined to develop an effective deterrent to keep the United States out.” His answer is a missile-carried nuclear weapon.
Contrariwise, President Trump’s announced objective (which in general echoes that of previous administrations) is to get the North Korean government to stop its development of both nuclear weapons and missiles. He has, theoretically, a range of policies to effect his objective.
Taking back my former role as a policy planner, I would divide the possible courses of American action, the cost of each and its likelihood of being accomplished as follows:
–The first possible policy is what could be called “bluster and threat without armed action.” This is what President Trump is doing today. His outbursts apparently go over well with his loyal supporters but his words have not apparently at least so far affected Kim Jong Un.
However his words have delivered the worst possible result: it has increased North Korean fear of U.S. invasion, has increased Kim Jong Un’s determination to develop a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and has probably stoked the war fever of the Koreans.
Thomas Schelling, with whom I disagreed on other issues, got this one right. As he wrote in The Strategy of Conflict, “madmen, like small children, can often not be controlled by threats” and “if he is not to react like a trapped lion, [an opponent] must be left some tolerable recourse. We have come to realize that a threat of all-out retaliation gives the enemy every incentive, in the event he should choose not to heed the threat, to initiate his transgression with an all-out strike on us; it eliminates lesser courses of action and forces him to choose between extremes.”
In making that choice, Kim Jong Un hears President Trump. threatening “fire and fury, the likes of which this world has never seen before.” (Kim responded with the threat to bomb America’s air base on Guam island “to teach the U.S. a severe lesson.”)
Mr. Trump said America was “locked and loaded” and its “patience is over.” And, in addition to remarks on the internet and to audiences all over America, he authorized a simulated war exercise (known as Foal Eagle 2017) by some 300,000 troops armed with live ammunition in and around South Korea which, of course, the government of the North regarded as provocative. But the U.S. did not alert its troops in South Korea nor its aircraft on Guam nor its ships at sea that an outbreak of hostilities was imminent. In short, the threat appeared all talk but no action.
Sen. John McCain, a man with some experience in combat, commented that President Trump’s recent fiery rhetoric on North Korea would only ratchet up the heat for a possible confrontation but nothing else.
As the conservative political commentator Anthony Cordesman wrote on August 5, 2017, “One would hope that the North Korean ‘crisis’ is moving away from bluster and counter bluster … [since] gross overreaction and issuing empty threats discredits the U.S. in terms of allies support and is not a meaningful bargaining tool in dealing with fellow blusterers like Kim Jong Un.”
Conclusion: the likelihood of this line of action accomplishing the stated objective of American policy is near zero, but the costs are twofold: first, the threat of intervention forces the North Korean government to accelerate its acquisition of the very weapons America wishes it to relinquish and serves to keep its armed forces on alert lest the Americans convert threat to attack or stumble into war; the second cost is that such a policy undercuts the image Americans wish to project as the upholders of peace and stability even if not always of democracy and independence.
The Limited Strike Option
–The second possible policy would be to attack selected targets, including members of North Korea’s government, with Special Forces and/or drones. Employment of such tactics even in less organized societies, such as Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, have created chaos but have not produced what their advocates predicted.
Near the ceasefire line between North and South Korea, President Barack Obama uses binoculars to view the DMZ from Camp Bonifas, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
North Korea is a regimented state with a high level of “security” comparable to China. In the 1960s, I once was ordered to find out what the CIA might be able to do with this or a similar option to slow down Chinese nuclear development. The CIA was then sending agents into China from secret bases on Quemoy and Matsu. I asked what they found out. The responsible CIA officer replied that he did not know because none ever returned. That experience would probably be repeated in Korea.
Conclusion: the likelihood of such action accomplishing the stated objective of American policy is near zero, but the cost could be catastrophic: An American attack, even if denied and covert, almost certainly would trigger a North Korean response that might provoke an American counterstroke that could escalate to nuclear war.
–The third possible policy would be to encourage North Korea’s neighbors to attempt to coerce it to disarm and/or to scale back its military policy. Such a policy could aim to get China to control the North Koreans and possibly then encourage or allow Japan and/or South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons and so, themselves, pose a threat to North Korea and indirectly to Chinese interests.
Mr. Trump has several times called on the Chinese to effect the American policy on North Korea and has expressed his disappointment that they have not done so. When their own interests were at stake, the Chinese did impose sanctions and cut back on the import of Korean coal, iron ore and seafood. But China can hardly be expected to lend itself to be a tool of American policy. It too has memories of the Korean War and of attempts to weaken or overthrow it. Today, it also sees the U.S. as its rival in the Pacific. So, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump’s saying that “they do Nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue” — will win Chinese support.
If not the Chinese, what about the Japanese? As I have pointed out in Part 1 of this essay, Japan is tarred by the nearly half century of its brutal regime in Korea. Korean “comfort women,” sexual slaves, are still seeking compensation for the misery inflicted on them and their plight is standard fare in Korean media.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been pushing for Japanese rearmament and is known for his hard line on North Korea, is not a good choice to convince North Korea to cooperate with America. Encouraging militarism in Japan will raise bitter memories all over East Asia.
Moreover, were Japan to rearm itself with nuclear weapons or were South Korea to be given them, as Mr. Cordesman thinks Mr. Trump may feel forced to do, the overall and long-range objectives of the United States would be severely damaged: the “cure would be worse than the malady.”
We don’t need more nuclear weapons powers; the political history of South Korea gives little assurance of a “responsible” nuclear policy; and there is no reason to believe that a nuclear-armed South Korea or a nuclear-armed Japan would be more successful than a nuclear-armed America.
Worse, if South Korea and Japan were to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, such action might set off a scramble by other nations to acquire them. The world was already deadly dangerous when only two states had nuclear weapons; the danger of use by design or accident was multiplied when five more states acquired them and if the number keeps on growing accidental or deliberate use will become almost inevitable.
To spread weapons further is against America’s national interest although some of President Trump’s advisers apparently discount the danger and believe enhanced nuclear power at home and selective spread aboard is to the interest both of the nation and of his administration.
Conclusion: the likelihood of getting others to successfully accomplish American objectives vis-à-vis North Korea is near zero. Faced with nuclear-armed South Korea and Japan, North Korea would logically accelerate rather than cut back its weapons program. China has its own policies and is unlikely to serve as an American proxy. Moreover, the costs of giving South Korea and Japan nuclear weapons is potentially enormous.
The Nuclear Option
–The fourth theoretical policy option would be an American or American-led “coalition” attack on North Korea similar to our two attacks on Iraq and our attack on Afghanistan. America could hit the country with almost any level of destruction it chose from total annihilation to targeted demolition. Knowing that they could not prevent attacks, the North Koreans have adopted a policy that sounds very like America’s Cold War strategy against the Soviet Union, mutual assured destruction or MAD. What would this amount to in the Korean conflict?
North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.
The cost of war to North Korea would be almost unimaginable. If nuclear weapons were used, much of North Korea would be rendered unlivable for a generation or more. General Douglas MacArthur had wanted to use the nuclear bomb during the first Korean War in the early 1950s, but even with only conventional weapons used in that conflict, the Koreans suffered casualties, reportedly, of about one in each three persons.
If the U.S. used nuclear weapons this time, millions, perhaps as many as 8 million to 12 million, would be killed and many of the rest of the 26 million inhabitants would be wounded or afflicted with radiation sickness. Once initiated, the attack would have done this damage in minutes or hours. So how would the North Koreans respond?
Their government would order them to retaliate. That is what they are constantly being trained to do. As the Korean War demonstrated, the North Koreans are determined fighters. It would be foolish to expect them to surrender.
The North Korean army is said to be the fourth largest in the world, roughly 1 million men, and is backed up by an active reserve about 5-6 times that many from a potential enrollment of about 10 million. This force is equipped with perhaps 10,000 tanks and self-propelled cannon.
The numbers are impressive but, as in chess, it is position that counts in war. The North is believed to have about 12,000 cannon and roughly 2,300 rockets within range of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Seoul has a population of somewhat more than 10 million people and, in the event of an American attack on North Korea, the North Koreans have said they would obliterate it.
As David Wood wrote on April 18, 2017, “In a matter of minutes, these heavy, low-tech weapons could begin the destruction of the South Korean capital with blizzards of glass shards, collapsed buildings and massive casualties that would decimate this vibrant U.S. ally and send shock waves through the global economy.”
In addition to the South Koreans who would suffer and die, there are about 30,000 US troops in the armistice zone. They, and the hundreds of thousands of dependents, supporters and families of the troops living in Seoul, are hostages to U.S. policy. They also would suffer terrible casualties.
Could the North Koreans carry out such massive counterstrikes? There seems little or no doubt that they could, even if they were subjected to massive first strikes even with nuclear weapons. The North Koreans learned from the first Korean War to use mobile, hard to detect or target, launchers and to go underground to prepared firing points.
Probably many of the North Korean weapons would be destroyed, but there are so many that the surviving pieces could inflict massive casualties. Almost incredible photos, from North Korean television, published in The Sun on April 26, 2017, showed demonstration by hundreds of North Korean artillery pieces and rocket launchers firing into the sea. In the event of war, they would be firing into Seoul.
Then there are the missiles. Japan generally and U.S. bases in Japan and on the island of Guam are within the range of North Korean mid-range rockets. And Alaska and the U.S. West Coast are either already or soon will be within range. Would North Korea use them as a counterstrike? On August 7, as Business Insider reported, “North Korea issued a stark warning to the US: If you attack us, we will retaliate with nuclear weapons.”
Judging from my experience in the Cuban Missile Crisis, I am sure that we would have done so. It is unlikely that Kim Jong Un would do less than John F. Kennedy.
Losing Los Angeles
If in reply to an American attack, the North Koreans struck the United States what would be the result? Loren Thompson speculated in the August 30, 2017 issue of Forbes on “What a Single North Korean Nuclear Warhead Could Do To Los Angeles.” He picked Los Angeles because it is or soon will be in range of North Korean missiles and would be an obvious choice against which to threaten retaliation. With a population of more than 13 million, it is the second largest city in America.
Illustration by Chesley Bonestell of nuclear bombs detonating over New York City, entitled “Hiroshima U.S.A.” Colliers, Aug. 5, 1950.
As I write this, North Korea appears to have demonstrated a somewhat less powerful thermonuclear weapon, about seven times the power of the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima, but Thompson speculates on the result of Los Angeles being hit by a bomb that North Korea presumably will soon have, about 33 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.
Hit by it, all structures, no matter how securely built with reinforced concrete, within a radius of half a mile from ground zero “would be either totally destroyed or rendered permanently unusable.” The enormous pressure created by the fireball would heavily damage the adjoining circle of 2½ to 3 miles. Virtually all civic facilities (electrical grids, water mains, transport facilities, etc.) would be rendered inoperative and civil services (fire departments, police, hospitals, schools) would be destroyed or severely damaged.
A cloud of radioactive materials would be spread over a far larger area. And perhaps as many as a million people would have been burned to death immediately with many more grievously wounded and unable to get help. And that would be only in the first hours or days. In the following days, the wounded, often suffering from burns, hungry, thirsty, terrified and desperate, would limp out of the core area into the suburbs and surrounding towns, overwhelming their facilities.
Los Angeles would be only one target. North Korea would have nothing to lose by using all of its missiles and bombs. Some might go astray or malfunction, but some might hit San Francisco, Seattle, perhaps Denver and more remotely St. Louis, Dallas and perhaps Chicago. If one reached New York, the damage would be far greater than in Los Angeles.
Conclusion: As Steven Bannon, President Trump’s former “Chief Strategist” is quoted as saying, “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
That may explain why he was fired. And retired Lt. General James Clapper, who as the former Director of National Intelligence was not in danger of losing his job, told CNN, we must “accept the fact that they are a nuclear power.”
An attack on North Korea, while almost certainly devastating to North Korea, would be prohibitively expensive for America. Moreover, while it would temporarily prevent North Korea from posing a nuclear threat, it would create another area of chaos, like those created in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Afghanistan. Attacking North Korea is not a rational policy choice.
Trying to Talk
–The remaining policy option is negotiation. What would be negotiable and what not? What would be the modalities? What would constitute success and what would be the result of failure? How could a result be made believable and how could it be enforced?
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres (left) addresses the Security Council ministerial-level meeting on the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs of North Korea. At right is U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Behind Tillerson is U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)
I think we must begin by recognizing that it would be irrational for North Korea to give up missiles and nuclear weapons. Despite the horror with which I view nuclear weapons, they are very attractive to small nations. They level the playing field. A Texas saying from my youth sums it up: Mr. Colt’s invention of the cowboy’s pistol “made all men equal.” The nuclear weapon is pistol writ large. It is the ultimate defense.
For Kim Yong Un to give up his nuclear weapons, while we keep ours and have announced that we intend to overthrow his regime, would be tantamount to his committing suicide. He may be evil, as many believe, but there is no reason to believe that he is a fool.
Could not America offer in the course of negotiations a series of graduated steps in which over time a slow-down and ultimate elimination of missiles and nuclear weapons could be traded for ending of sanctions and increased aid? The answer, I think, is “yes, but.” The “but” is that Kim Yong Un would almost certainly insist on three things: the first is that he would not give up all his weapons and so would insist that North Korea be recognized as a nuclear power; the second is that he not be humiliated in the negotiated cut; and the third is that some formula be worked out to guarantee the deal. I have dealt with the first two issues above; I turn now to the third, how to guarantee the agreement.
The Bush administration invasion of Iraq in 2001 showed that America could create excuses to void any commitment it might make and provide excuses for any action it wished to take. The current push by the Trump administration to renege on the treaty made with Iran and written into American law by the Senate must convince the North Koreans that a treaty with America is just a scrap of paper. He must be convinced that America cannot be trusted.
But, if China and Russia were prepared to guarantee the deal and Japan and South Korea acquiesced to it and also gave up their option to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, that could be the first step in a phased series of steps that might be productive. At the same time, America would have to give up its ineffective sanctions, stop such provocative acts as the massive war game on the frontier and the barrage of threats and undertake a sort of Marshall Plan to lift North Korea out of poverty and hunger.
Conclusion: I am convinced that it will not be possible in the foreseeable future to get Kim Jong Un or any conceivable successor to give up deliverable nuclear weapons. Thus, there can be no “success,” as described in current policy statements by the Trump administration. But, arrangements can be created – by enlisting China and Russia as partners in negotiations and by renouncing threats and such damaging (and ineffective) policies as sanctions – to gradually create an atmosphere in which North Korea can be accepted as a partner in the nuclear “club.”
Failure to move in this direction will leave us, at best, in the limbo of fear and the possibility of stumbling into war. This is obviously a gambit that may fail. What is clear, however, is that none of the alternatives has worked or is likely to work. To embark on this path will require a degree of statesmanship, which we may not have.
How to Do It
If the United States government should decide to try this option, I think the following steps will have to be taken to start negotiations:
First, the U.S. government must accept the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power;
Second, it must commit itself formally and irrevocably to a no-first-strike policy. That was the policy envisaged by the Founding Fathers when they denied the chief executive the power to initiate aggressive war;
Third, it must remove sanctions on North Korea and begin to offer in a phased pattern aid to mitigate the current (and potentially future) famines caused by droughts and crop failures; helping North Korea to move toward prosperity, and reducing fear; and
Fourth, stop issuing threats and drop the unproductive and provocative war games on the DMZ.
Will, or even can, any American administration move in this direction? I think the answer will depend in large part on the education of the government leaders and the public among both of whom the level of ignorance of the real costs of war, especially nuclear war, is politically crippling.
As I have suggested, Mr. Trump has shown no comprehension of the costs of war in a nuclear context. Nor has the general public. The pictures of children on Guam being told not to look at the flash of the fireball reminds one of the ridiculous advice to school children in America in the Cold War to take refuge under their desks.
The reality of a modern war must be explained and taught. I do not know if Korean children are so taught, but their parents or grandparents knew it firsthand. This generation of Americans has never seen war up-close in America although some of their fathers saw it in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, memories fade and Americans today do not want to be informed of the danger of a new war. Escapism is one of the great dangers we face.
In the American tradition, the President is the nation’s teacher. We must insist he perform that task or we could pay the supreme price of falling off the edge into the dark void of nuclear war.
William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.
The U.S. and North Korea are on the brink of hostilities that if begun would almost certainly lead to a nuclear exchange. This is the expressed judgment of most competent observers. They differ over the causes of this confrontation and over the size, range and impact of the weapons that would be fired, but no one can doubt that even a “limited” nuclear exchange would have horrifying effects throughout much of the world including North America.
A Korean girl carries her brother on her back, trudging past a stalled M-26 tank, at Haengju, Korea., June 9, 1951. (U.S. military photo)
So how did we get to this point, what are we now doing and what could be done to avoid what would almost certainly be the disastrous consequences of even a “limited” nuclear war?
The media is replete with accounts of the latest pronouncements and events, but both in my personal experience in the closest we ever came to a nuclear disaster, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and from studying many other “flash points,” I have learned that failure to appreciate the background and sequence of events makes one incapable of understanding the present and so is apt to lead to self-defeating actions. With this warning in mind, I will recount in Part 1 how we and the Koreans got to where we are. Then in Part 2, I will address how we might go to war, what that would mean and what we can do to stay alive.
Throughout most of its history, Korea regarded China as its teacher. It borrowed from China Confucianism, its concepts of law, its canons of art and its method of writing. For these, it usually paid tribute to the Chinese emperor.
With Japan, relations were different. Armed with the then weapon of mass destruction, the musket, Japan invaded Korea in 1592 and occupied it with more than a quarter of a million soldiers. The Koreans, armed only with bows and arrows, were beaten into submission. But, because of events in Japan, and particularly the decision to give up the gun, the Japanese withdrew in less than a decade and left Korea on its own.
Nominally unified under one kingdom, Korean society was already divided between the Puk-in or “people of the North” and the Nam-in or “people of the South.” How significant this division was in practical politics is unclear, but apparently it played a role in thwarting attempts at reform and in keeping the country isolated from outside influences. It also weakened the country and facilitated the second intrusion of the Japanese. In search of iron ore for their nascent industry, they “opened” the country in 1876. Hot on the Japanese trail came the Americans who established diplomatic relations with the Korean court in 1882.
American missionaries, most of whom doubled as merchants, followed the flag. Christianity often came in the guise of commerce. Missionary-merchants lived apart from Koreans in segregated American-style towns, much as the British had done in India earlier in the century. They seldom met with the natives except to trade. Unlike their counterparts in the Middle East, the Americans were not noted for “good works.” They spent more time selling goods than teaching English, repairing bodies or proselytizing; so while Koreans admired their wares all but a few clung to Confucian ways.
It was to China rather than to America that Koreans turned for protection against the Japanese “rising sun.” As they grew more powerful and began their outward thrust, the Japanese moved to end the Korean relationship to China. In 1894, the Japanese invaded Korea, captured its king and installed a “friendly” government. Then, as a sort of byproduct of their 1904-1905 war with Russia, the Japanese seized control, and, in accord with the policies of all Western governments, they took up “the White Man’s burden.” American politicians and statesmen, led by Theodore Roosevelt, found it both inevitable and beneficial that Japan turned Korea into a colony. For the next 35 years, the Japanese ruled Korea much as the British ruled India and the French ruled Algeria.
A map of the Korean Peninsula showing the 38th Parallel where the DMZ was established in 1953. (Wikipedia)
If the Japanese were brutal, as they certainly were, and exploitive, as they also were, so were the other colonial powers. And, like other colonial peoples, as they gradually became politically sensitive, the Koreans began to react. Over time, they saw the Japanese intruders not as the carriers of the “white man’s burden” but as themselves the burden. Some Koreans reacted by fleeing.
Best known among them was Syngman Rhee. Converted to Christianity by American missionaries, he went to the West. After a torturous career as an exile, he was allowed by the American military authorities at the end of the Second World War to become (South) Korea’s first president.
But most of those who fled the Japanese found havens in Russian-influenced Manchuria. The best known of these “Eastern” exiles, Kim Il-sung, became an anti-Japanese guerrilla and joined the Communist Party. At the same time Syngman Rhee arrived in the American-controlled South, Kim Il-sung became the leader of the Soviet-supported North. There he founded the ruling “dynasty” of which his grandson Kim Jong-un is the current leader.
During the 35 years of Japanese occupation, no one in the West paid much attention to Syngman Rhee or his hopes for the future of Korea, but the Soviet government was more attentive to Kim Il-Sung. While distant Britain, France and America played no active role, the near-by Soviet Union, with a long frontier with Japanese-held territory, had to concern itself with Korea.
It was not so much from strategy or the perception of danger that Western policy (and Soviet acquiescence to it) evolved. Driven in part by sentiment, America forced a change in the tone of relations with the colonial world during the Second World War and, driven by the need to appease America, Britain and France acquiesced. It was the tide of war, rather than any preconceived plan, that swept Korea into the widely scattered and ill-defined group of “emerging” nations.
As heir to the dreams of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed that colonial peoples deserved to be free. Korea was to benefit from the great liberation of the Second World War. So it was that on December 1, 1943, the United States, Britain and (then Nationalist) China agreed at the Cairo Conference to apply the revolutionary words of the 1941 Atlantic Charter: “Mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea,” Roosevelt and a reluctant Churchill proclaimed, they “are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.”
At the April-June 1945 San Francisco conference, where the United Nations was founded, Korea got little attention, but a vague arrangement was envisaged in which Korea would be put under a four-power (American, British, Chinese and Soviet) trusteeship. This policy was later affirmed at the Potsdam Conference on July 26, 1945, and was agreed to by the Soviet Union on August 8 when it declared war on Japan. Two days later Russian troops fanned out over the northern area. It was not until almost a month later, on September 8, that the first contingents of the U.S. Army arrived.
Aftermath of War
Up to that point, most Koreans could do little to effect their own liberation: those inside Korea were either in prison, lived in terror that they soon would be arrested or collaborated with the Japanese. The few who had reached havens in the West, like Syngman Rhee, found that while they were allowed to speak, no one with the power to help them listened to their voices. They were to be liberated but not helped to liberate themselves. It was only the small groups of Korean exiles in Soviet-controlled areas who actually fought their Japanese tormentors. Thus it was that the Communist-led Korean guerrilla movement began to play a role similar to insurgencies in Indochina, the Philippines and Indonesia.
As they prepared to invade Korea, neither the Americans nor the Russians evinced any notion of the difference between the Puk-in or “people of the North” and the Nam-in or “people of the South.” They were initially concerned, as least in their agreements with one another as they had been in Germany, by the need to prevent the collision of their advancing armed forces. The Japanese, however, treated the two zones that had been created by this ad hoc military decision separately.
As a Soviet army advanced, the Japanese realized that they could not resist, but they destroyed as much of the infrastructure of the north as they could while fleeing to the south. On reaching the south, both the soldiers and the civil servants cooperated at least initially with the incoming American forces. Their divergent actions suited both the Russians and the Americans — the Russians were intent on driving out the Japanese while the Americans were already beginning the process of forgiving them. What happened in this confused period set much of the shape of Korea down to the present day.
The Russians appear to have had a long-range policy toward Korea and the Communist-led insurgent force to implement it, but it was only slowly, and reluctantly, that the Americans developed a coherent plan for “their” Korea and found natives who could implement it. What happened was partly ideological and partly circumstantial. It is useful and perhaps important to emphasize the main points:
The first point is that the initial steps of what became the Cold War had already been taken and were quickly reinforced. Although the Yalta Conference included the agreement that Japan would be forced to surrender to all the allies, not just to the United States and China, President Truman set out a different American policy without consulting Stalin.
Buoyed by the success of the test of the atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, he decided that America would set the terms of the Pacific war unilaterally; Stalin reacted by speeding up his army’s attack on Japanese-held Korea and Manchuria. He was intent on creating “facts on the ground.” Thus it was that the events of July and August 1945 anchored the policies – and the interpretations of the war – of each great power. They shaped today’s Korea.
Arguments ever since have focused on the justifications for the policies of each Power. For many years, Americans have argued that it was the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, not the threat or actuality of the Soviet invasion, that forced the Japanese to surrender.
Spoils of War
In the official American view, it was America that won the war in the Pacific. Island by island from Guadalcanal, American soldiers had marched, sailed and flown toward the final island, Japan. From nearby islands and from aircraft carriers, American planes bombed and burned its cities and factories. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the final blows in a long, painful and costly process.
The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.
Truman held that the Russians appeared only after the Japanese were defeated. Thus, he felt justified – and empowered – to act alone on Japan. So when General Douglas MacArthur arranged the ceremony of surrender on September 2, he sidelined the Russians. The procedure took place on an American battleship under an American flag. A decade was to pass before the USSR formally ended its war with Japan.
The second crucial point is what was happening on the peninsula of Korea. There a powerful Russian army was present in the North and an American army was in control of the South. The decisions of Cairo, San Francisco and Potsdam were as far from Korea as the high-flown sentiments of the statesmen were from the realities, dangers and opportunities on the scene. What America and the Soviet Union did on the ground was crucial for an understanding of Korea today.
As the Dutch set about doing in Indonesia, the French were doing in Indochina and the Americans were doing in the Philippines, the American military authorities in their part of Korea pushed aside the nationalist leaders (whom the Japanese had just released from prison) and insisted on retaining all power in their own (military) government. They knew almost nothing about (but were inherently suspicious of) the anti-Japanese Koreans who set themselves up as the “People’s Republic.” On behalf of the U.S., General John Hodge rejected the self-proclaimed national government and declared that the military government was the only authority in the American-controlled zone.
Hodge also announced that the “existing Japanese administration would continue in office temporarily to facilitate the occupation” just as the Dutch in Indonesia continued to use Japanese troops to control the Indonesian public. But the Americans quickly realized how unpopular this arrangement was and by January 1946 they had dismantled the Japanese regime.
In the ensuing chaos dozens of groups with real but often vague differences formed themselves into parties and began to demand a role in Korean affairs. This development alarmed the American military governor. Hodge’s objective, understandably, was order and security. The local politicians appeared unable to offer either, and in those years, the American military government imprisoned tens of thousands of political activists.
Cold War in Vitro
Although not so evident in the public announcements, the Americans were already motivated by fear of the Russians and their actual or possible local sympathizers and Communists. Here again, Korea reminds one of Indochina, the Philippines and Indonesia. Wartime allies became peacetime enemies. At least in vitro, the Cold War had already begun.
At just the right moment, virtually as a deux ex machina, Syngman Rhee appeared on the scene. Reliably and vocally anti-Communist, American-oriented, and, although far out of touch with Korean affairs, ethnically Korean, he was just what the American authorities wanted. He gathered the rightist groups into a virtual government that was to grow into an actual government under the U.S. aegis.
Meanwhile, the Soviet authorities faced no similar political or administrative problems. They had available the prototype of a Korean government. This government-to-become already had a history: thousands of Koreans had fled to Manchuria to escape Japanese rule and, when Japan carried the war to them by forming the puppet state they called Manchukuo in 1932, some of the refugees banded together to launch a guerrilla war. The Communist Party inspired and assumed leadership of this insurgency. Then as all insurgents – from Tito to Ho Chi-minh to Sukarno – did, they proclaimed themselves a government-in-exile.
The Korean group was ready, when the Soviet invasion made it possible, to become the nucleus of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The USSR recognized it as the sole government of (all) Korea in September 1948. And, despite its crude and often brutal method of rule, it acquired a patina of legitimacy by its years of armed struggle against the Japanese.
Both the USSR and the U.S. viewed Korea as their outposts. They first tried to work out a deal to divide authority among themselves. But they admitted failure on December 2, 1945. The Russians appeared to expect the failure and hardly reacted, but the Americans sought the help of the United Nations in formalizing their position in Korea. At their behest, the U.N. formed the “Temporary Commission on Korea.” It was supposed to operate in all of Korea, but the Russians regarded it as an American operation and excluded it from the North. After a laborious campaign, it managed to supervise elections but only in the south, in May 1948.
The elections resulted in the formation on August 15 of a government led by Syngman Rhee. In response, a month later on September 9, the former guerrilla leader, Communist and Soviet ally Kim Il-sung, proclaimed the state of North Korea. Thus, the ad hoc arrangement to prevent the collision of two armies morphed into two states.
The USSR had a long history with Kim Il-sung and the leadership of the North. It had discreetly supported the guerrilla movement in Manchukuo (aka Manchuria) and presumably had vetted the Communist leadership through the purges of the 1930s and closely observed them during the war. The survivors were, by Soviet criteria, reliable men. So it was possible for the Russians to take a low profile in North Korean affairs. Unlike the Americans, they felt able to withdraw their army in 1946. Meanwhile, of course, their attention was focused on the much more massive tide of the revolution in China. Korea must have seemed something of a sideshow.
The position of the United States was different in almost every aspect. First, there was no long-standing, pro-American or ideologically democratic cadre in the South.
The Rise of Rhee
The leading figure, as I have mentioned, was Syngman Rhee. While Kim Il-sung was a dedicated Communist, Rhee was certainly not a believer in democracy. But ideology aside, Rhee was deeply influenced by contacts with Americans. Missionaries saved his eyesight (after smallpox), gave him a basic Western-style education, employed him and converted him to Christianity. Probably also influenced by them, as a young man he had involved himself in protests against Korean backwardness, corruption and failure to resist Japanese colonialism. His activities landed him in prison when he was 22 years of age. After four years of what appears to have been a severe regime, he was released and in 1904 made his way into exile in America.
South Korean leader Syngman Rhee
Remarkably for a young man of no particular distinction – although he was proud of a distant relationship to the Korean royal family – he was at least received if not listened to by President Theodore Roosevelt. Ceremonial or perfunctory meetings with other American leaders followed over the years. The American leaders with whom he met did not consider Korea of much importance and even if they had so considered it, Rhee had nothing to offer them. So I infer that his 40-year wanderings from one university to the next (BA in George Washington University, MA in Harvard and PhD in Princeton) and work in the YMCA and other organizations were a litany of frustrations.
It was America’s entry into the war in 1941 that gave Rhee the opportunity he had long sought: he convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to espouse at least nominally the cause of Korean independence. Roosevelt’s kind words probably would have little effect — as Rhee apparently realized. To give them substance, he worked closely with the OSS (the ancestor of the CIA) and developed contacts with the American military chiefs. Two months after the Japanese surrender in 1945, he was flown back to Korea at the order of General Douglas MacArthur.
Establishing himself in Seoul, he led groups of right-wing Koreans to oppose every attempt at cooperation with the Soviet Union and particularly focused on opposition to the creation of a state of North Korea. For those more familiar with European history, he might be considered to have aspired to the role played in Germany by Konrad Adenauer. To play a similar role, Rhee made himself “America’s man.” But he was not able to do what Adenauer could do in Germany nor could he provide for America: an ideologically controlled society and the makings of a unified state like Kim Il-sung was able to give the Soviet Union. But, backed by the American military government and overtly using democratic forms, Rhee was elected on a suspicious return of 92.3 percent of the vote to be president of the newly proclaimed Republic of Korea.
Rhee’s weakness relative to Kim had two effects: the first was that while Soviet forces could be withdrawn from the North in 1946, America felt unable to withdraw its forces from the South. They have remained ever since. And the second effect was that while Rhee tried to impose upon his society an authoritarian regime, similar to the one imposed on the North, he was unable to do so effectively and at acceptable cost.
The administration he partly inherited was largely dependent upon men who had served the Japanese as soldiers and police. He was tarred with their brush. It put aside the positive call of nationalism for the negative warning of anti-Communism. Instead of leadership, it relied on repression. Indeed, it engaged in a brutal repression, which resembled that of North Korea but which, unlike the North Korean tyranny, was widely publicized. Resentment in South Korea against Rhee and his regime soon grew to the level of a virtual insurgency. Rhee may have been the darling of America but he was unloved in Korea. That was the situation when the Korean War began.
Resumption of War
The Korean War technically began on June 25, 1950, but of course the process began before the first shots were fired. Both Syngman Rhee and Kim Il-sung were determined to reunite Korea, each on his own terms. Rhee had publicly spoken on the “need” to invade the North to reunify the peninsula; the Communist government didn’t need to make public pronouncements, but events on the ground must have convinced Kim Il-sung that the war had already begun. Along the dividing line, according to one American scholar of Korea, Professor John Merrill, large numbers of Koreans had already been wounded or killed before the “war” began.
In this July 1950 U.S. Army file photograph once classified “top secret,” South Korean soldiers walk among some of the thousands of South Korean political prisoners shot at Taejon, South Korea, early in the Korean War. (AP Photo/National Archives, Major Abbott/U.S. Army, File)
The event that appears to have precipitated the full-scale war was the declaration by Syngman Rhee’s government of the independence of the South. If allowed to stand, that action as Kim Il-sung clearly understood, would have prevented unification. He regarded it as an act of war. He was ready for war. He had used his years in power to build one of the largest armies in the world whereas the army of the South had been bled by the Southern rulers.
Kim Il-sung must have known in detail the corruption, disorganization and weakness of Rhee’s administration. As the English journalist and commentator on Korea Max Hastings reported, Rhee’s entourage was engaged in a massive theft of public resources and revenues. Money intended by the foreign donors to build a modern state was siphoned off to foreign bank accounts; “ghost soldiers,” the military equivalent of Gogol’s Dead Souls, who existed only on army records, were paid salaries which the senior officers pocketed while the relatively few actual soldiers went unpaid and even unclothed, unarmed and unfed. Bluntly put, Rhee offered Kim an opportunity he could not refuse.
We now know, but then did not, that Stalin was not in favor of the attack by the North and agreed to it only if China, by then a fellow Communist-led state, took responsibility. What “responsibility” really meant was not clear, but it proved sufficient to tip Kim Il-sung into action. He ordered his army to invade the South. Quickly crossing the demarcation line, his soldiers pushed south. Far better disciplined and motivated, they took Seoul within three days, on June 28.
Syngman Rhee proclaimed a fight to the death but, in fact, he and his inner circle had already fled. They were quickly followed by thousands of soldiers of the Southern army. Many of those who did not flee, defected to the North.
Organized by the United States, the United Nations Security Council – taking advantage of the absence of the Soviet delegation – voted on June 27, just before the fall of Seoul, to create a force to protect the South. Some 21 countries led by the United States furnished about three million soldiers to defend the South. They were countries like Thailand, South Vietnam and Turkey with their own problems of insurgency, but most of the fighting was done by American forces. They were driven south and nearly off the Korean peninsula by Kim Il-sung’s army. The American troops were ill-equipped and nearly always outnumbered. The fighting was bitter and casualties were high. By late August, they held only a tenth of what had been the Republic of Korea, just the southern province around the city of Pusan.
The Chinese Prepare
Wisely analyzing the actual imbalance of the American-backed southern forces and the apparently victorious forces commanded by Kim Il-sung, the Chinese statesman Zhou Enlai ordered his military staff to guess what the Americans could be expected to do: negotiate, withdraw or try to break out of their foothold at Pusan. The staff reported that the Americans would certainly mobilize their superior potential power to counterattack.
Seriously wounded North Korean soldiers lie where they fell and wait for medical attention by Navy hospital corpsmen accompanying the Marines in their advance. September 15, 1950. (Photo by Sgt. Frank Kerr, USMC)
To guard against intrusion into China, Zhou convinced his colleagues to move military forces up to the Chinese-Korean frontier and convinced the Soviet government to give the North Koreans air support. What was remarkable was that Zhou’s staff exactly predicted what the Americans would do and where they would do it. Led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Americans made a skillful and bold counterattack. Landing at Inchon on September 15, they cut the bulk of the Northern army off from their bases. The operation was a brilliant military success.
But, like many brilliant military actions, it developed a life of its own. MacArthur, backed by American Secretary of State Dean Acheson and General George Marshall — and ordered by President Truman — decided to move north to implement Syngman Rhee’s program to unify Korea. Beginning on September 25, American forces recaptured Seoul, virtually destroyed the surrounded North Korean army and on October 1 crossed the 38th parallel. With little to stop them, they then pushed ahead toward the Yalu river on the Chinese frontier. That move frightened both the Soviet and Chinese governments which feared that the wave of victory would carry the American into their territories. Stalin held back, refusing to commit Soviet forces, but he reminded the Chinese of their “responsibility” for Korea.
In response, the Chinese hit on a novel ploy. They sent a huge armed force, some 300,000 men to stop the Americans but, to avoid at least formally and directly a clash with America, they categorized it as an irregular group of volunteers — the “Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.” Beginning on October 25. the lightly armed Chinese virtually annihilated what remained of the South Korean army and drove the Americans out of North Korea.
Astonished by the collapse of what had seemed a definitive victory, President Truman declared a national emergency, and General MacArthur urged the use of 50 nuclear bombs to stop the Chinese. What would have happened then is a matter of speculation, but what did happen was that MacArthur was replaced by General Matthew Ridgeway who restored the balance of conventional forces. Drearily, the war rolled on.
During this period and for the next two years, the American air force carried out massive bombing sorties. Some of the bombing was meant to destroy the Chinese and North Korean ability to keep fighting, but Korea is a small territory and what began as “surgical strikes” grew into carpet-bombing. (Such bombing would be considered a war crime as of the 1977 Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions).
The attacks were enormous. About 635,000 tons of high explosives and chemical weapons were dropped – that was far more than was used against the Japanese in the Second World War. As historian Bruce Cumings has pointed out, the U.S. Air Force found that “three years of ‘rain and ruin’” had inflicted greater damage on Korean cities “than German and Japanese cities firebombed during World War II.” The North Korean capital Pyongyang was razed and General Curtis LeMay thought American bombings caused the deaths of about 20 percent — one in five — North Koreans.
Carpet-Bombing the North
LeMay’s figure, horrifying as it is, needs to be borne in mind today. Start with the probability that it is understated. Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky has written that LeMay’s estimate of 20 percent should be revised to nearly 33 percent or roughly one Korean in three killed. He goes on to point to a remarkable comparison: in the Second World War, the British had lost less than 1 percent of their population, France lost 1.35 percent, China lost 1.89 percent and the U.S. only a third of 1 percent. Put another way, Korea proportionally suffered roughly 30 times as many people killed in 37 months of American carpet-bombing as these other countries lost in all the years of the Second World War.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay
In all, 8 million to 9 million Koreans were killed. Whole families were wiped out and practically no families alive in Korea today are without close relatives who perished. Virtually every building in the North was destroyed. What General LeMay said in another context – “bombing them back to the Stone Age” – was literally effected in Korea. The only survivors were those who holed up in caves and tunnels.
Memories of those horrible days, weeks and months of fear, pain and death seared the memories of the survivors, and according to most observers they constitute the underlying mindset of hatred and fear so evident among North Koreans today. They will condition whatever negotiations America attempts with the North.
Finally, after protracted battles on the ground and daily or hourly assaults from the sky, the North Koreans agreed to negotiate a ceasefire. Actually achieving it took two years.
The most significant points in the agreement were that (first) there would be two Koreas divided by a demilitarized zone essentially on what had been the line drawn along the 38th parallel to keep the invading Soviet and American armies from colliding and (second) article 13(d) of the agreement specified that no new weapons other than replacements would be introduced on the peninsula. That meant that all parties agreed not to introduce nuclear and other “advanced” weapons.
What needs to be remembered in order to understand future events is that, in effect, the ceasefire created not two but three Koreas: North, South, and the American military bases.
The North set about recovering from devastation. It had to dig out from under the rubble and it chose to continue to be a garrison state. It was certainly a dictatorship, like the Soviet Union, China, North Vietnam and Indonesia, but close observers thought that the regime was supported by the people. Most observers found that the memory of the war, and particularly of the constant bombing, created a sense of embattlement that unified the country against the Americans and the regime of the South. Kim Il-sung was able to stifle such dissent as arose. He did so brutally. No one can judge for certain, but there is reason to believe that a sense of embattled patriotism remains alive today.
South’s Military Dictatorships
The South was much less harmed by the war than the North and, with large injections of aid and investment from Japan and America, it started on the road to a remarkable prosperity. Perhaps in part because of these two factors – relatively little damage from the war and growing prosperity – its politics was volatile.
To contain it and stay in power, Syngman Rhee’s government imposed martial law, altered the constitution, rigged elections, opened fire on demonstrators and even executed leaders of the opposing party. We rightly deplore the oppression of the North, but humanitarian rights investigations showed little difference between the Communist/Confucian North and the Capitalist/Christian South. Syngman Rhee’s tactics were not less brutal than those of Kim Il-sung.
Employing them, Rhee managed another electoral victory in 1952 and a third in 1960. He won the 1960 election with a favorable vote officially registered to be 90 percent. Not surprisingly, he was accused of fraud. The student organizations regarded his manipulation as the “last straw” and, having no other recourse, took to the streets. Just ahead of a mob converging on his palace — much like the last day of the government of South Vietnam a few years later — he was hustled out of Seoul by the CIA to an exile in Honolulu.
The third Korea, the American “Korea,” would have been only notional except for the facts that it occupied a part of the South (the southern perimeter of the demilitarized zone and various bases elsewhere), had ultimate control of the military forces of the South (it was authorized to take command of them in the event of war) and, as the British had done in Egypt, Iraq and India, it “guided” the native government it had fostered. Its military forces guaranteed the independence of the South and at least initially, the United States paid about half the costs of the government and sustained its economy.
At the same time, the United States sought to weaken the North by imposing embargos. It kept the North on edge by carrying what the North regarded as threatening maneuvers on its frontier and, from time to time, as President Bill Clinton did in 1994 (and President Donald Trump is now doing), threatened a devastating preemptive strike. The Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff also developed OPLN 5015, one of a succession of secret plans whose intent, in the words of commentator Michael Peck, was “to destroy North Korea.”
And, in light of America’s worry about nuclear weapons in Korea, we have to confront the fact that it was America that introduced them. In June 1957, the U.S. informed the North Koreans that it would no longer abide by Paragraph 13(d) of the armistice agreement that forbade the introduction of new weapons. A few months later, in January 1958, it set up nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching Moscow and Peking. The U.S. kept them there until 1991. It wanted to reintroduce them in 2013 but the then South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won refused.
As I will later mention, South Korea joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1975, and North Korea joined in 1985. But South Korea covertly violated it from 1982 to 2000 and North Korea first violated the provisions in 1993 and then withdrew from it in 2003. North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test in 2006.
There is little moral high ground for any one of the “three Koreas.”
South Korean leader Park Chung-hee
South Korean leader Park Chung Hee
New elections were held in the South and what was known as the Second Republic was created in 1960 under what had been the opposition party. It let loose the pent-up anger over the tyranny and corruption of Syngman Rhee’s government and moved to purge the army and security forces. Some 4,000 men lost their jobs and many were indicted for crimes. Fearing for their jobs and their lives, they found a savior in General Park Chung-hee who led the military to a coup d’état on May 16, 1961.
General Park was best known for having fought the guerrillas led by Kim Il-sung as an officer in the Japanese “pacification force” in Manchukuo. During that period of his life, he even replaced his Korean name with a Japanese name. As president, he courted Japan. Restoring diplomatic relations, he also promoted the massive Japanese investment that jump-started Korean economic development. With America he was even more forthcoming. In return for aid, and possibly because of his close involvement with the American military – he studied at the Command and General Staff school at Fort Sill – he sent a quarter of a million South Korean troops to fight under American command in Vietnam.
Not less oppressive than Rhee’s government, Park’s government was a dictatorship. To protect his rule, he replaced civilian officials by military officers. Additionally, he formed a secret government within the formal government; known as the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, it operated like the Gestapo. It routinely arrested, imprisoned and tortured Koreans suspected of opposition. And, in October 1972, Park rewrote the constitution to give himself virtual perpetual power. He remained in office for 16 years. In response to oppression and despite the atmosphere of fear, large-scale protests broke out against his rule. It was not, however, a public uprising that ended his rule: his chief of intelligence assassinated him in 1979.
An attempt to return to civilian rule was blocked within a week by a new military coup d’état. The protests that followed were quickly put down and thousands more were arrested. A confused scramble for power then ensued out of which in 1987 a Sixth Republic was announced and one of the members of the previous military junta became president.
The new president Roh Tae-woo undertook a policy of conciliation with the North and under the warming of relations both North and South joined the U.N. in September 1991. They also agreed to denuclearization of the peninsula. But, as often happens, the easing of suppressive rule caused the “reformer” to fall. Roh and another former president were arrested, tried and sentenced to prison for a variety of crimes — but not for their role in anti-democratic politics. Koreans remained little motivated by more than the overt forms of democracy.
Relations between the North and the South over the next few years bounced from finger on the trigger to hand outstretched. The final attempt to bring order to the South came when Park Geun-hye was elected in 2013, She was the daughter of General Park Chung-hee who, as we have seen, had seized power in a coup d’état 1963 and was president of South Korea for 16 years. Park Geun-hye, was the first women to become head of a state in east Asia. A true daughter of her father, she ruled with an iron hand, but like other members of the ruling group, she far overplayed her hand and was convicted of malfeasance and forced out of office in March 2017.
The Kim Dynasty
Meanwhile in the North, as Communist Party head, Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and president from 1972 to his death in 1994, Kim Il-sung ruled North Korea for nearly half a century. His policy for his nation was a sort of throw-back to the ancient Korean ideal of isolation. Known as juche, it emphasized self-reliance. The North was essentially an agrarian society and, unlike the South, which from the 1980s welcomed foreign investment and aid, it remained closed. Initially, this policy worked well: up to the end of the 1970s, North Korea was relatively richer than the South, but then the South raced ahead with what amounted to an industrial revolution.
North Korean leader Kim Il-sung
Surprisingly, Kim Il-sung shared with Syngman Rhee a Protestant Christian youth; indeed, Kim said that his grandfather was a Presbyterian minister. But the more important influence on his life was the brutal Japanese occupation. Such information as we have is shaped by official pronouncements and amount to a paean. But, probably, like many of the Asian nationalists, as a very young man he took part in demonstrations against the occupying power. According to the official account, by the time he was 17, he had spent time in a Japanese prison.
At 19, in 1931, he joined the Chinese Communist Party and a few years later became a member of its Manchurian fighting group. Hunted down by the Japanese and such of their Korean collaborators as Park Chung-hee, Kim crossed into Russian territory and was inducted into the Soviet army in which he served until the end of the Second World War. Then, as the Americans did with Syngman Rhee, the Russians installed him as head of the provisional government.
From the first days of his coming to power, Kim Il-sung focused on the acquisition of military power. Understandably from his own experience, he emphasized training it in informal tactics, but as the Soviet Union began to provide heavy equipment, he pushed his officers into conventional military training under Russian drillmasters. By the time he had decided to invade South Korea, the army was massive, armed on a European standard and well organized. Almost every adult Korean man was or had been serving in it.
The army had virtually become the state. This allocation of resources, as the Korean War made clear, resulted in a powerful striking force but a weakened economy. It also caused Kim’s Chinese supporters to decide to push him aside. How he survived his temporary demotion is not known, but in the aftermath of the ceasefire, he was again seen to be firmly in control of the Communist Party and the North Korean state.
The North Korean state, as we have seen, had virtually ceased to exist under the bombing attack. Kim could hope for little help to rebuild it from abroad and sought even less. His policy of self-reliance and militarization were imposed on the country. On the Soviet model of the 1930s, he launched a draconian five-year plan in which virtually all economic resources were nationalized. In the much-publicized Sino-Soviet split, he first sided with the Chinese but, disturbed by the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he swung back to closer relations with the Soviet Union.
In effect, the two neighboring powers had to be his poles. His policy of independence was influential but could not be decisive. To underpin his rule and presumably in part to build the sense of independence of his people, he developed an elaborate personality cult. That propaganda cult survived him. When he died in 1994 at 82 years of age, his body was preserved in a glass case where it became the object of something like a pilgrimage.
Unusual for a Communist regime, Kim Il-sung was followed by his son Kim Jong-Il. Kim Jong-Il continued most of his father’s policies, which toward the end of his life, had moved haltingly toward a partial accommodation with South Korea and the United States. He was faced with a devastating drought in 2001 and sequential famine that was said to have starved some 3 million people. Perhaps seeking to disguise the impact of this famine, he abrogated the armistice and sent troops into the demilitarized zone. However, intermittent moves including creating a partly extra-territorialized industrial enclave for foreign trade, were made to better relations with the South.
Then, in January 2002, President George Bush made his “Axis of Evil Speech” in which he demonized North Korea. Thereafter, North Korea withdrew from the 1992 agreement with the South to ban nuclear weapons and announced that it had enough weapons-grade plutonium to make about 5 or 6 nuclear weapons. Although he was probably incapacitated by a stroke in August 2008, his condition was hidden as long as possible while preparations were made for succession. He died in December 2011 and was followed by his son Kim Jong-un.
With this thumbnail sketch of events up to the coming to power of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, I will turn in Part 2 of this essay to the dangerous situation in which our governments – and all of us individually – find ourselves today.
William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.
By John Helmer, Moscow
Two detailed reports appeared in Moscow yesterday describing precisely how the attack on the Crimean Bridge on October 8 was organised and carried out.
The source is the Federal Security Service (FSB), with supporting evidence from the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia, including at least five eye-witnesses and participants, plus telephone interceptions.
The politics of this evidence, and the timing of its publication now, are plain. The humanitarian grain export agreement, promoted by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has been manipulated by the Ukrainians and their NATO allies – excluding Turkey – to conceal weapons shipments for military operations against Russia.
Guterres did the same thing in his conduct of the negotiations to evacuate civilians held hostage the bunkers of the Azovstal complex in Mariupol during the siege of April and May. Guterres lied in his direct talks with Russians officials then. He continued lying to them during the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) negotiations on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in September. His public lying led to the unprecedented condemnation of the Secretary-General by the Russian Foreign Ministry on September 30; Guterres was dismissed as “an instrument of propaganda and pressure on member states”.
In the newly reported interpretation of the FSB’s evidence, the shipping links have been exposed between Odessa and the Danube River ports of Romania and Bulgaria, opening for public discussion in Moscow the future of Odessa in the operational planning of the Russian General Staff. This is to be decided by the Stavka before President Vladimir Putin leaves for the G20 summit conference in Bali on November 15-16, at which President Joseph Biden and Vladimir Zelensky will also be present.
Also obvious is what is missing from these operational reports from the FSB sources. So far there has been no publication of the evidence already gathered by the FSB and military intelligence on the M.O. for coordinating the movement of the truck with its explosive charge on the bridge and its movement in parallel with the fuel train, so that the detonation would coincide and strike the train, magnifying the impact on both road and rail structures.
Reports by Vzglyad analysts, Rafael Fakhrutdinov and Yevgeny Krutikov, follow; they have been translated into English without interpolation, explanation, or comment. Maps and other captioned illustrations have been added to their running text.
HOW THE BOMB WAS TRANSPORTED BY SEA FROM ODESSA
The terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge forces Russia to take Odessa
The ‘Grain Deal’ helped Kiev organize a terrorist attack against the Crimean bridge
October 13, 2022
By Rafael Fakhrutdinov
The terrorist attack against the Crimean Bridge revealed a serious flaw for Russia’s security in the ‘grain deal’. That provided that vessels carrying grain would be inspected only in the Turkish Straits. The ship carrying explosives which left Odessa was able to safely enter the Danube River. This violation of the ‘grain deal’ will not solve the problem – after leaving Zmeiny [Snake] Island, Russia lost control over this sector of the Black Sea. What are the options?
The Federal Security Service has revealed the organizer and perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge – the responsibility has been assigned to the head of military intelligence of Ukraine Kirill Budanov. The FSB has also found out the route of the explosive device which went off on the bridge on October 8.
The first stage of this movement is of particular interest. In early August, the dangerous cargo with a total weight of more than 22 tonnes, camouflaged under rolls of construction film, was transported from the seaport of Odessa along the Black Sea coast and up the Danube to the Bulgarian river port of Ruse, located inland. ‘We see a gross violation of the grain deal. The fact that a military cargo has left Odessa, directed against the Russian Federation, is an obvious violation of the agreement,’ said Deputy Head of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Andrei Klimov.
Recall that the inspection of ships is undertaken in order to exclude the transportation of military cargo. But the subtlety is that the inspection is carried out only at the entrance and exit from the Black Sea. The JCC groups that conduct the inspection are working in harbours in the area of the Turkish Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. But the vessel with the explosives ‘turned off’ much earlier.
As the newspaper VZGLYAD has already noted, the ship, which left Odessa for Ruse, moved on a coastal course along the seashore, and then entered the Danube, where it proceeded through Romanian territory to the Bulgarian port. The Ukraine supports active navigation on the Danube, although this is hampered by the Ukrainian mines installed at the beginning of the Special Military Operation near Odessa and [since February 24] they have been drifting to the Danube delta and out into the Black Sea. The cargo shipment was regulated by the fact that on July 22 in Istanbul, Russia, Turkey and the UN signed a memorandum of cooperation in the supply of Russian and Ukrainian agricultural products to the markets. Ukraine has signed its part of the agreement with Turkey and the UN. The ‘Grain deal’ was concluded for a period of 120 days until November, with the possibility of extension.
Under the terms of this agreement, a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) with the participation of Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine operates in Istanbul to monitor the departure of ships from Ukraine. The main thing to pay attention to is that the JCC is charged with the inspection of ships, in order to exclude the transportation of military cargo.
TURKISH NAVY IDENTIFICATION OF UKRAINIAN MINES IN THE BLACK SEA SINCE FEBRUARY
Source: [https://turkishnavy.net//](https://turkishnavy.net/2022/09/10/mine-scare-in-the-black-sea/) -- September 10, 2022
The main thing is that the vessel sailing from Odessa to Ruse was not subject to verification by Turkish observers as part of the ‘grain deal’. ‘We can’t check such vessels that go along the coast. Especially if the ship was sailing under the Bulgarian flag. Two neighbouring NATO countries, Romania and Bulgaria, are exploiting this,’ said military expert Vasily Dandykin.
According to the Istanbul Agreements, ‘all activities in Ukrainian territorial waters are conducted under the authority and responsibility of Ukraine” (point C of the “Initiatives for the safe transportation of grain and food from Ukrainian ports”). The Ukrainian side focuses on this point, which excludes external control. Due to the lack of control, the cargo was delivered to Bulgaria, and from there to Georgia by sea as a transit to Armenia. The cargo was sealed and was not subject to Bulgarian or Georgian customs inspection.
Website of the UN for the implementation of the grain [agreement](https://news-un-org.translate.goog/ru/story/2022/09/1431761?_x_tr_sl=ru&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc).
Russia did not have the opportunity to control the movement of the vessel along the Black Sea coast from Odessa to the Danube estuary. This is largely due to the terms of the grain agreement. In June, as a gesture of goodwill, Russia withdrew its garrison from Zmeiny Island, which occupies a strategically important position about 35 km east of the mouth of the Danube. From Odessa to Zmeiny is about 120 km, and near the island there is the regular shipping route between the Bulgarian port of Varna and other ports of the western Black Sea region. ‘It has been demonstrated to the world community that the Russian Federation does not hinder the efforts of the UN to organize a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from the territory of Ukraine,’ RIA Novosti reported the statement by the Russian Defense Ministry regarding the withdrawal of our military from the island. After the evacuation of the garrison from Zmeiny, Ukraine resumed navigation on the Danube.
“The military intelligence agency of Ukraine has clearly calculated – why not take advantage of the situation when the Odessa port is unblocked, and deals continue to be concluded with Bulgaria in the field of construction and so on. What is not a convenient moment? The fact that the ports have been unblocked is being quietly used to carry out such operations,’ Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia, said air during the television program, Soloviev Live.
Theoretically, Ukrainian military intelligence could well use a cargo ship with grain going towards Istanbul, said Ivan Lizan, head of the analytical bureau of the SONAR-2050 project. ‘The explosives could also have been offloaded [at a concealed location] during the operation by disabling the vessel transponder. After that, turn the transponder on – and the ship would proceed to Istanbul, where representatives of the UN, Russia and Turkey would have boarded it and checked the cargo ship for any prohibited items, including explosives and weapons,’ Lizan said.
Altering the regime of the ‘grain deal’ – for example, so that Turkey (as the guarantor of the Istanbul Agreements) would have the opportunity to inspect ships not in the Bosphorus, but immediately after they leave the Ukrainian ports – would be problematic, says corresponding member of the Academy of Military Sciences, Alexander Bartosh. ‘Can we, within the framework of the grain deal, oblige Turkey to inspect all vessels leaving the territorial waters of Ukraine, and check all ships? I think this would be very difficult – Ankara itself will not agree to this,’ Bartosz told VZGLYAD. ‘Besides, before that, Turkey would have to hold consultations with its NATO allies, and all this would take a very long time.’
“Nevertheless, this should clearly become a topic for negotiations between Russia and Turkey in the very near future. This is because a terrorist attack was committed on Russian territory, in which the Black Sea countries were involved,’ the interlocutor noted.
Presidents Putin and Erdogan, with their delegations, meeting in Astana on [October 13](http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/69590).
According to Bagdasarov, it is necessary to go further and raise the issue of terminating the ‘grain deal’, the validity period for which, we add, will already expire in November. The expert recalled that Russia has repeatedly criticized the quality of the implementation of these agreements, Vladimir Putin pointed out that the poorest countries, which should be the recipients of supplies, receive from 3% to 5% of all the exported products. ‘A number of countries are interested in this grain deal including Turkey as an intermediary. It is clear that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in receiving this grain, slightly improves his domestic support rating on the eve of the elections scheduled for next year. Why do we need this grain deal?’ the expert asked himself.
‘The decision to withdraw from the grain deal after the circumstances have been revealed will be made by the leadership of our country. At the same time, it is obvious that the West, represented by the United States, the EU and the UN, has not fulfilled its obligations under the deal,’ said Senator Konstantin Dolgov, former Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, and deputy Russian Permanent Representative to the UN.
But if we assume that Russia will withdraw from the deal, then it will be quite difficult to regain control of Zmeiny [Snake] Island and the north-west of the Black Sea as a whole, Bartosh believes. ‘As for the control of the water area in the Zmeiny area, the Russian military may stop some vessel for inspection, but this will be an international scandal, since we do not have an international mandate for such actions. It will also be difficult to take this zone by military means, because it is being shot through by Ukrainian anti–ship warfare means – mobile, disguised,’ the expert points out. ‘They have not been suppressed, and if we could, we probably would have attacked them earlier. In general, the military-political leadership of the Russian Federation will not risk the lives of sailors to try to take control of the waters near this island.’
‘Cancellation of the Ukrainian grain deal would mean the naval blockade of Odessa and the preparation for its potential assault,’ political scientist and former premier of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Marat Bashirov, noted a few days ago in the Telegram channel. The establishment of control over Odessa as one of the potential targets of the Russian operation is also mentioned by Western experts.
At the end of September, the US publication_, National Interes_t, commented in predicting a possible Russian response to the advance of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Kharkov region: ‘Moscow may launch a counteroffensive, focusing on the capture of the Black Sea port of Odessa. This city is the last exit of Ukraine to the Black Sea, and its capture would actually turn the Ukraine into a fully landlocked country. It will also give Russia a stranglehold over Ukraine’s main and vital economic outlet, because most of Kiev’s exports and imports pass through Odessa. The loss of this city would be a colossal economic and psychological blow for Ukraine.’ According to the National Interest, ‘given that Russia has transferred a significant number of troops and weapons from the east of Ukraine to the south, even before Kiev’s offensive in the east,’ there is a high probability that Odessa is now the main target of the Russian Armed Forces.
HOW THE BOMB WAS TRANSPORTED BY ROAD AND TRUCK TO THE BRIDGE
Ukrainian terror came to Russia through Estonia and Armenia
The moment of detention of one of the suspects in the preparation of terrorist attacks on the territory of Russia
October 12, 2022.
By Evgeny Krutikov
With unusual speed the FSB of Russia has revealed the picture of who delivered the explosives that eventually worked on the Crimean Bridge, and how. A lot of people participated in the covert operation, and it was managed by the military intelligence agency of Ukraine. Why did all this become possible and how did the explosives easily slip over several borders at once, including the Russian one?
The FSB has announced the detention of five citizens of Russia plus three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia as part of the investigation into the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge. The organizer of this crime is called the Ukrainian military intelligence. The FSB stated that “the organizer of the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge was the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, its head Kirill Budanov, employees and agents.”
Also on Wednesday, it was reported about the detention in the Bryansk region of a Ukrainian agent who was going to detonate an explosive device at one of the logistics terminals. Another saboteur was detained in the Moscow region with two portable Igla anti-aircraft complexes. Both of them entered the territory of Russia through Estonia; the weapons and explosives were unearthed in caches in the border regions.
According to the investigation, the explosive device which went off in a truck on the Crimean Bridge was camouflaged in rolls under construction plastic film on 22 pallets with a total weight of 22,770 kg. In early August this was sent from the seaport of Odessa to the Bulgarian city of Ruse under contract No. 02/08/2022 between LLC Translogistic UA (Kiev) and Baltex Capital S.A.
The Bulgarian city of Ruse is located not on the Black Sea, but on the Bulgarian bank of the Danube River in the interior of the country. Consequently, the ship, which left Odessa for Ruse, moved on a coastal course along the seashore, and then entered the Danube. Thus, it was not subject to verification by Turkish observers as part of the ‘grain deal’.
And then the cargo was delivered from Bulgaria to [Poti] Georgia by sea in transit for Armenia. That is, it was sealed and was not subject to Bulgarian or Georgian customs inspection. This is a “gray” scheme, according to which contraband is usually smuggled.
“Citizens of Ukraine Mikhail Vladimirovich Tsyurkalo, born in 1975, Denis Olegovich Kovach, born in 1979, Roman Ivanovich Solomko, born in 1971; citizens of Georgia Inosaridze Sandro, a broker named Levan, and a citizen of Armenia Arthur Terchanyan, born in 1985, were involved in organizing the shipment of cargo from Bulgaria to the port of Poti (Georgia), and then to Armenia. From September 29 to October 3, 2022, in Yerevan, at the Transalliance terminal, the cargo was cleared according to the rules of the EEC [Eurasian Economic Commission] and documents were substituted, after which its new consignor became GU AR JI GROUP LLC (Republic of Armenia, Alaverdi city), and the recorded consignee became Leader LLC (Moscow city), according to the FSB report.
However, the cargo did not reach Moscow. On October 4, the cargo crossed the Russian-Georgian border at the Upper Lars checkpoint on a DAF truck registered in Georgia and was unloaded at the Armavir wholesale base of the Krasnodar Territory on October 6.
It should also be noted here that the cargo had already been customs cleared according to the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) rules in Yerevan, and therefore it was not subject to additional customs inspection at the Russian border. By the way, the Georgian side has already managed to disown what had been happening, declaring that ‘no cargo with explosives crossed the Georgian customs border.’ Formally, this is true, since the cargo had already been cleared in Yerevan according to the rules of the EEC, and had nothing to do with the Georgian customs border. To be clear: the customs border is different from the physical one. For transit goods going from one EEC country [Armenia] to another [Russia] through the territory of a country that is not a member of this union [Georgia], it is as if they do not cross the customs space of this transit jurisdiction.
A reproduction photo of the truck cargo and copies of the EEC customs declarations [released](https://southfront.org/russia-revealed-accomplices-and-orchestrator-of-crimean-bridge-explosion-two-more-ukrainian-terrorist-attacks-thwarted/) by the FSB.
In Armavir, the cargo was received by a local company Agro Service, engaged in the cultivation of soybeans. This is a family business, which has been owned by the Azatian family for more than 20 years – the head of the family Samvel and his children — the elder George and the younger Artem. All of them are natives of the city of Makeyevka, Donetsk People’s Republic, who moved to Krasnodar Krai a long time ago.
Samvel the father and oldest son George are mainly engaged in the affairs of their soy business. The youngest, Artem, studied to be a lawyer, but he did not find a place for himself in Armavir and some time ago went to live in the Crimea. To Simferopol to work. It was Artem Azatian who called his father from Crimea on the eve of the terrorist attack and asked him to help some friend of his. The friend had asked him to hold a cargo in his warehouse for literally a day, for which another truck would then come from Krasnodar to collect it. The elder brother George was not sleep-walking but he was very surprised when a truck with foreign (Georgian) license plates drove up to his warehouse.
“The driver handed me a stack of invoices to sign, but I gave them back to him. Why should I read and sign other people’s documents? Father and brother agreed, I helped,” he explained. This is a normal story for the North Caucasus.
George Azatian and a company worker, tractor driver Yuri Postnikov, organized the unloading of pallets from the Georgian truck using a forklift. During the investigation, the FSB took Postnikov’s work gloves in which he had worked on the unloading and reloading. Apparently, the investigation hopes to find traces of explosives on them. But this is unlikely. In the evening of the same day, an Inter company truck from Krasnodar stopped by the warehouse, where the pallets were loaded.
Where did the Inter truck come from, which eventually exploded on the Crimean Bridge?
There is an electronic freight exchange in Russia, ATI.SU, created by one IT company. The exchange’s head office is located in St. Petersburg. It has been operating for more than 20 years, it is a respected structure that is used in 60 countries. It works like this. You need to transport cargo from point A to point B. You don’t have your own trucks or other means of delivery. Then you place an ad-request on this exchange with an indication of the route and the desired dates of loading / unloading. You are contacted by independent carriers, of which there are a dime a dozen in the country: people buy a vehicle (often a truck) or some other cargo vehicle and earn money on it.
You choose the carrier you like and enter into an electronic contract with him. There is a feedback system and reviews about customers and carriers. Very often, this exchange is also used by large regional transport aggregator companies which receive a certain order in a region where at that time they don’t have their own vehicles. A convenient thing.
This system is similar to the one called bareboat charter in seaborne shipping. This is when the customer hires just the vessel without a crew for cargo transportation. Then the captain is hired, and he hires the crew. At the same time, it is only known that it is necessary to transport cargo from point A to point B, but what kind of cargo it is – even the captain does not necessarily know this. And often he doesn’t want to know.
In the case of an electronic transportation exchange, the driver also does not know what he is carrying. That is, in theory, he should know. Because he has the invoices and all other documents, but in reality the driver sees only bags or boxes. Freight forwarders usually do not look into the cargo. Another feature of such a system — carriers often do not deal with the actual manufacturer of the cargo, but with intermediaries or stockists detached from the sale and purchase deal. In our case, such intermediaries unwittingly turned out to be Samvel and Georgy Azatian who had been asked in a fraternal way to hold someone else’s cargo in their wholesale warehouse for a day.
At the height of the bombing of aircraft by various Palestinian groups in the 1970s and 1980s, airports expressly announced: do not take other people’s belongings or parcels with you on board. By the end of the 1980s and in the 1990s, such memos were already distributed in the USSR, and then in Russia. But how can you refuse a loved one?
And on the eve of the terrorist attack, an offer appeared on this electronic freight exchange from a certain transport company from Ulyanovsk ‘TEK-34’ to transport cargo from Armavir to Simferopol. A non-existent company was indicated as the recipient of the cargo in Crimea. The fact that it does not exist, this turned out much later.
The TEK-34 company was registered in the Volgograd region by a citizen of the Russian Federation Alexei Orlov, but it last showed signs of life in 2018. Then it was bought out in 2020 by Oleg Antipov, a resident of Ulyanovsk, on whose behalf the announcement was placed on the electronic exchange. Antipov has not been detained and is actively cooperating with the investigation. He claims that he was framed and ‘his conscience is clear.’
And it was like this. ‘On October 7 of this year, with the assistance of Roman Solomko, a citizen of Ukraine, Vladimir Vasilyevich Zloba, born in 1987, and five other resident citizens of Russia, the documents for the cargo were changed again, the sender indicated LLC TEK-34 (Ulyanovsk), and the recipient was a non–existent company in the Republic of Crimea,’ the FSB reports.
That is, professional hackers hacked the website of the TEK-34 company and placed an ad on the electronic transportation exchange on behalf of Oleg Antipov.
A private trucker named Mahir Yusubov, born in 1971, a resident of Krasnodar, responded to the ad. The vehicle, of the same Inter company, was recently re–registered to his own nephew, 25–year-old Samir Yusubov, who is currently abroad.
The fact is that trucker Mahir Yusubov got into an accident somewhere near Kazan some time ago and he has remained in debt to someone. To keep himself out of harm’s way, Yusubov says he re-registered the truck to his nephew so that his creditors wouldn’t take it away. If they would come, they would find he has nothing. That is why at first the initial suspect was the young Samir Yusubov, although the driver of the truck, 51-year-old Mahir, clearly visible on the video at the checkpoint at the Crimean Bridge, did not even look like the young and athletic Samir in body build. A few days later, Samir Saimur ogli Yusubov officially stated that he had nothing to do with the incident.
The owners of the Armavir warehouse, the Azatian family, and trucker Mahir Yusubov did not contact each other in any way. The Azatians only knew the number of the truck which would come to pick up the cargo. Also out of the scheme is the Georgian trucker who delivered the cargo across the Russian border to Armavir. Armenian soybean producers, a poor Azerbaijani trucker, and a Georgian driver are the entire Caucasian international that was remotely manipulated by Ukrainian military intelligence.
For all of the eight hours that Mahir Yusubov drove his truck from Armavir towards the Crimea, he was constantly contacted by a Ukrainian intelligence officer who called himself Ivan Ivanovich. For communication, an anonymous electronic number purchased on the Internet was used, as well as a real phone number registered to a citizen of Ukraine, a resident of Kremenchuk, Sergei Vladimirovich Andreichenko, born in 1988.
Most of the people involved in the scheme were used by Ukrainian intelligence and kept in the dark. Nevertheless, the investigators emphasize that their investigation of the terrorist attack continues. All of its organizers and accomplices, they say, ‘including foreign citizens, will be brought to justice in accordance with Russian law.’
There is reason to believe that now the greatest interest for the investigation is the ‘acquaintance’ of Artem Azatian, who ‘asked in a brotherly way’ to hold the cargo in his family’s warehouse in Armavir. Why the Ukrainians needed him, it is now clear. A truck with Georgian license plates at the checkpoint of the Crimean Bridge would not just be inspected – it would be taken apart down to the nuts and bolts. That would have been so even early on a Saturday morning. And so here was a local trucker, his own truck, Krasnodar plates. To be sure, the unfortunate Mahir Yusubov had repeatedly traveled across the bridge to the Crimea before.
The “acquaintance” of Azatian Jr. could well have been formed on the basis of a common origin – remember that the Azatian family came from Makeyevka, Donetsk — or a childhood or teenage acquaintance. This method has been used by Ukrainian intelligence for many years. A person is approached by his childhood friends, classmates. Even quite sane people can be deceived by such nostalgia.
The Ukrainian scheme used numerous loopholes, not only in the organizational system of cargo transportation, but also in the legislation and even in the international agreements. The cargo was sent to Bulgaria by the Danube River, not by sea. Georgia is a smuggler’s paradise, where all kinds of brokers have been working for years with entrances and exits around the ports of Poti and Batumi. Russian customs and border guards cannot control how goods and cargo are cleared in Yerevan. After the Armenian customs clearance, the goods become free to move throughout the Eurasian Economic Commission area.
Yes, such operations are costly, since the cargo set sail and then traveled for a month. They are risky, because anything could go wrong at any moment. The more people who participate in the scheme, especially when they are in the dark, the greater the chance of failure. The forklift driver Postnikov could have made a mistake when he was working on the loading in the warehouse – if he had dropped the very pallet where the fuse was, half of Armavir would have blown up.
Another point is that preliminary intelligence work had been carried out. Someone had to find out that Artem Azatian had a father and an older brother, and they have a warehouse in Armavir. The rest is not so difficult, although it requires clever planning. If we assume that the truck from Yerevan to the Crimean Bridge was remotely controlled by one employee of the Ukrainian special services (the notorious ‘Ivan Ivanovich’), then everything is quite simple.
It’s this simplicity which is frightening – for example, both of the Ukrainian terrorists who were detained on Wednesday after they crossed the Russian border from Estonia; and the one with the MANPADS who drove the rockets in his car. The Estonian border raises questions. It is worth recalling that [Natalia] Vovk, the Ukrainian citizen who is suspected of the murder of Daria Dugina, also fled from the Russian Federation to Estonia.
The detention of a Ukrainian terrorist with anti–aircraft missiles in the Moscow region is a separate story. He wanted to hit something or someone. If we are talking about passenger planes, then this is obviously the preparation of an act of international terrorism. Given these many alarming signals, it can be assumed that there may be more such groups or lone terrorists. They are controlled from a single center (GUR MO of Ukraine); they are dangerous because they are hard-bitten, relentless.
The main method for dealing with them is agent intelligence, as well as unwinding communication chains. Closing the Estonian border or normalizing customs relations are more political than counterintelligence actions.
- Nazi “hero” of Ukrainian nationalists murdered 100,000 Poles
- The Banderites’ unspeakable torture and mass murder of civilians
- US supports neo-Nazis resurrecting Bandera’s reign of terror
“The Snake From His Lair.” Ukrainian poem. Photo credit: Public domain
**“The Snake from his Lair”
Do you recognize this snake?
The bloody devouring beast is crawling.
His protection is a spidery sign,
His name is Stepan Bandera.
His name is Judas, Cain.
These are the deeds of his snaky hands:
Fires and blazes over our land,
The spilled blood of innocent children.
And the people stood up to defend.
The country gave its verdict:
To crush the serpent in his lair
And pull out his sting and fangs.**
The above poem, written in Ukrainian on a poster in the years following World War Two, provides only dark glimpses of a time many in this age appear to have forgotten.
Generations after the end of that bloody war, which claimed an estimated 27 million Soviet lives, the fangs of the murderous Nazi, Stepan (or Stefan, or Stephan) Bandera maintain their venomous grip on Ukraine.
Even Bandera’s Wikipedia page, at the time of this writing, still notes that Bandera, a leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), was a mass murderer, though his devotees, the Banderites, seem to be doing all they can to scrub information about his pogroms from the internet.
Screen-print of Stepan Bandera’s Wikipedia page.
Indeed, today Bandera is practically worshipped by Ukrainian nationalists, who have named streets after him and erected statues in his honor, in some cases on the very pedestals where statues once memorialized the Soviets who gave their lives driving the Nazis back to Berlin. Bandera’s cold eyes even gaze out from Ukrainian postage stamps, a fact not missed by purveyors of internet memes.
Ukrainian postage stamp featuring Bandera, used in a meme.
Statue of Bandera in Ukraine. Photo Credit: The Times of Israel
This may not mean much to you if you are American or even western European. But to those in many former Soviet republics whose grandparents and great-grandparents sacrificed everything to rid the land of Bandera’s ilk, and to Jewish descendants of Holocaust survivors, the honoring of this Nazi collaborator said to be responsible for the mass murder of 100,000 people in Poland is offensive beyond words.
The poorly-reasoned argument that “Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jew, so how can he be a Nazi,” is a figurative slap in the face of Jews outraged about the resurrection of Nazi heroes in Ukraine. A simple cursory search on Google reveals reams of horrified headlines in Israeli media concerning the rise of nationalism in Ukraine and the honoring of Bandera and other Nazi leaders.
In 1941, Bandera mobilized Ukrainian troops, outfitted them in standard Wehrmacht infantry uniforms with the blue and yellow ribbon of Ukraine on their shoulders, and followed them as they rolled into Poland on June 22, 1941, launching Operation Barbarossa.
And that was only the beginning of Bandera’s reign of terror.
Polish victims of a massacre committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the village of Lipniki, Wołyń, 1943. Photo credit: Public domain
Between 1943 and 1945, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (abbreviated UPA in Ukrainian) slaughtered thousands of Poles in towns and villages throughout Wołyń, a region in Nazi-occupied Poland that is now part of present-day Ukraine.
It’s estimated that during this period, more than 100,000 Poles died at the hands of radical Ukrainian separatists, members of Bandera’s OUN and its military arm, the UPA. Their goal was simple: Eradicate all non-Ukrainians from future Ukrainian lands.
On June 16th, 1944, the UPA attacked a train carrying women and children. Few survived. Photo credit: IPN
Victims of the train attack taken away to be buried. Photo credit: KARTA Center
The most horrific genocidal massacre, known as “Bloody Sunday,” was carried out on July 11, 1943 when right at dawn, Ukrainian insurgent detachments, aided by local Ukrainians, simultaneously surrounded and attacked 99 Polish villages in the Kowel, Włodzimierz Wołyński, Horochów and Łuck districts. They brutally slaughtered Polish civilians and destroyed their homes.
Whole villages were burned to the ground and property was looted. Investigators estimate that as many as 8,000 people — mostly women, children, and elderly — were killed on that day alone.
Their remains are still being found today.
The remains of an estimated 300 people were found by archaeologists in 2011 at a mass grave in the village of Ostówek in Ukraine where they were massacred in 1943 by the UPA. Photo credit: Darek Delmanowicz/PAP
And it didn’t end there.
It didn’t even end when Hitler’s armies withdrew in 1944.
The mass murders continued. Between 1943 and 1945, Poles were murdered in 1,865 different places in the Wołyń region. Hundreds of Poles were murdered in each of the communities of Wola Ostrowiecka, Gaj, Ostrówki and Kolodno.
The murders were carried out with shocking brutality. People were burned alive or thrown into wells. Axes, pitchforks, scythes, knives and other farming tools were used instead of guns to make the massacres look like spontaneous peasant uprisings.
The Ukrainians tortured their victims with a cruelty scarcely imaginable. People were scalped. Their noses, lips and ears were chopped off. Their eyes were gouged out, hands cut off, heads squashed in vices. Women’s breasts were sliced off and pregnant women were bayonetted in the belly. Men’s genitals were cruelly hacked off with sickles.
The Polish “Association of Memory of Victims of Crimes of Ukrainian Nationalists” (SUOZUN) is putting together a forensic reconstruction of the events surrounding the Wołyń Massacre. The evidence they have collected is shocking, revealing children that were run through with stakes, people’s throats sliced open, their tongues pulled out through their necks. People sawn in half with a carpenter’s saw. A child nailed to a door.
One woman, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, had her abdomen cut open, the fetus removed and replaced with a live cat, which was sewn inside of her. Another pregnant woman’s uterus was cut open and filled with broken glass.
According to some Polish historians, even the German butchers were shocked by these atrocities and began to protect the Poles from the Ukrainian “axe.”
The bloody frenzy of torture and murder continued well after the Nazis had left the region, only now the Ukrainian militants attacked citizens of Soviet Ukraine, specialists such as agronomists, engineers, doctors, and teachers sent in by the government to restore the republic after the war. Though the majority of these people were ethnic Ukrainians, the nationalists killed them and any villagers who cooperated with them.
These atrocities were ordered by the head of the UPA, a former Wehrmacht captain named Roman Shukhevich, who is now idolized by many Ukrainians. “The OUN should act so that all those who recognized the Soviet government are destroyed. Not intimidated, but physically destroyed! Do not be afraid that people will curse us for cruelty. Let half of the 40 million Ukrainian population remain — there is nothing terrible in this,” he wrote.
Wołyń is a region that was once part of Nazi-occupied Poland and is now part of present-day Ukraine. Photo credit: Public domain
Stepan Bandera. Photo Credit: Public domain
Polish President Andrzej Duda lays a wreath at the Wołyń Massacre memorial in Warsaw, 2019. Photo credit: Tomasz Gzell/PAP
In July of 2019, Polish President Andrzej Duda laid a wreath at the Wołyń Massacre memorial in Warsaw and gave a speech about the future of Polish-Ukrainian relations:
“If we are talking today about the building of relations between our nations, between the Polish and Ukrainian people, between our states — and let me stress here, that we want […] these to be the best possible relations — there is one thing known for sure. We need remembrance so that what happened then, will never repeat itself between our nations and our people.”
He added: “The Ukrainian side should permit the exhumations, which are necessary to mark the graves, so that the descendants [of victims] can know the places, where they can go to light a candle. And this is the condition under which the massacre could be commemorated in Wołyń.”
Bandera’s Vile Legacy Continues
Ukrainian nationalists today are not exhuming the victims of Bandera, they are resurrecting Bandera himself, perpetuating his sadistic crimes upon the blood-stained fields and communities of Eastern Ukraine.
Russian media and independent journalists have reported a wide range of atrocities committed against Russian-speaking civilians and Roma people as well as the tortures inflicted upon Russian prisoners of war.
There is video evidence of Russian captives screaming in pain as they are shot in the legs and left to bleed out and die with no medical assistance. One Russian soldier was crucified and then burned alive. The luckier ones have returned to Russian-controlled lands bearing the scars of their torture, like swastikas carved or burned into their flesh, and nightmarish memories which will never fully fade away.
The footage of these atrocities is only shocking to those unfamiliar with the brutal and inhumane tactics of the Banderites, who are picking up from where they left off in the 1950’s after the Soviet occupation of Ukraine forced their movement underground.
Civilians in the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk have been struggling for independence from their Banderite overlords since 2014, when the coup known as Maidan tore Ukraine apart. The Russian-speaking population which makes up the majority in the region known as the Donbas, in Eastern Ukraine, have been under attack for eight years by the neo-Nazis in Western Ukraine, who spread the ideology of Bandera and the Nazis, with support from the United States and other NATO countries.
If you want evidence of US involvement, there is no lack of that to be found. You can begin with the leaked conversation, intercepted by Russian intelligence, of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, where they plan the Maidan coup as casually as you might plan a dinner party.
Western media reacted to Victoria’s explosive comment, “Fuck the EU,” but ignored the real meat of the conversation, which was the naming of the puppet leaders subsequently installed in Kiev.
And there was certainly nothing casual about the bloodletting inflicted on minorities of Ukraine once the Banderites seized power.
Anti-government protesters clash with police at Independence Square on February 19, 2014 in Kiev. Photo credit: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images
The initial Maidan protests were violent and terrifying. Video footage and photographs from the so-called “Revolution of Dignity” show police bullied and attacked, in some cases shielded by medics who were trying to prevent the mob from massacring them. A TV channel captured another medic, a supporter of the revolutionaries, refusing to allow people to call an ambulance for a police officer who had lost an eye in the fighting.
Kiev journalist Sergey Rulev described his brutal torture at the hands of the Banderites:
“Four people beat me. There was a woman in a headscarf with them, who kicked me in the groin without saying a word. Then they dragged me to the occupied Ministry of Agriculture, where they searched me, took away my documents, a press pass, accreditation to the Verkhovna Rada, business cards, two phones, and two cameras. When they dragged me back to Khreshchatyk, I started screaming and calling for help. I fell to the ground and was kicked again, but no one reacted. At about noon, I was dragged into the burned-out House of Trade Unions. In the lobby, I was immediately beaten up. In the courtyard, unknown people in camouflage fatigues bound my hands, stripped me to my underwear, and continued to beat me… After that, the four of them pinned me to the floor, injected something into my arm again, and said, ‘Now you’re going to talk to us, bitch! Which special services do you work for?’”
While he was tied up, a woman began ripping out Sergey’s nails with pliers. He later identified her as Amina Okuyeva, a medic in the “Eighth Hundred” who was later awarded the title “People’s Hero of Ukraine,” after she joined what Ukrainian nationalists refer to as the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” and fought for the neo-Nazi Kiev-2 and Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalions.
Young people take part in a nationalist march on Stepan Bandera’s 109th birthday, in Lvov. Photo Credit: Sputnik/Stringer
From the first days of its existence, horror stories emerged about the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” and atrocities committed by the Banderites in Donbas. Though authorities and media ignored these stories at first, eventually the cries of international human rights organizations could no longer be silenced and some of the most egregious cases had reached the courts.
Though there were some convictions in those days, a lot of people got away with serious crimes on the grounds that they were “Patriots of Ukraine.” For example, a “Right Sector” nationalist named Sergey Sternenko who was convicted of abducting one man and killing another, had his seven-year sentence reduced to one year probation on the merits of his “patriotism.”
Given this climate, it’s not surprising that 48 people were burned alive in the Trade Union Building in Odessa in May of 2014. And those responsible still await justice.
Perhaps the most horrifying crime committed by the Banderites was the creation of a “prison” in the refrigerator of the airport in Mariupol in June of 2014, which jailers referred to as “the library.” Inside, residents of Mariupol were raped, beaten or tortured to death if they were suspected of harboring any sympathies for Russia or the unrecognized republics in Donbas. The “library” was run by members of “Right Sector” and “Svoboda” (Freedom) party. One of them named Yuri Mikhalchishin, a nationalist who goes by the pseudonym “Nahtigal88” (referring to the letters “HH,” denoting Heil Hitler), openly asserts that he has followed the teachings of Mein Kampf since he was 16.
The United States’ decades-long support of the Banderites
The US political agenda in Ukraine is no secret. You can read all about it in a study produced by RAND Corporation, a DC think-tank which explored how NATO could over-extend Russia by applying economic sanctions and using Ukraine, Syria and other countries to stage proxy wars. You can download the extensive 354-page study for free, directly from RAND Corp’s site, or you can download the 12-page briefing here.
Cover of the RAND Corporation briefing “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia.” Photo credit: RAND Corp.
An excerpt from the RAND Corporation briefing “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia.” Photo credit: RAND Corp.
Bear in mind that this study was published in 2019, well before Russia began its “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine in February of this year, and yet it explores the possibilities of providing lethal aid to Ukraine.
But US support of neo-Nazis in Ukraine goes back much further, to the years following World War Two. And you can find the evidence of that on the CIA’s own website.
Secret documents declassified in 2007 tell of the Banderites’ association with the CIA in the years following the war, of the CIA’s early interest in retaining Bandera as an asset followed by their eventual discard. His followers’ blatant loyalty to the recently-defeated Nazis of the Third Reich was a political millstone around the CIA’s neck, which in those days was not as robust and muscular as it is now, to brazenly support neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
The entire sordid story of the CIA’s affair with Bandera is encapsulated in a thirty-three-page “draft working paper,” which is great late-night reading if you enjoy having nightmares about Nazis.
I leave you with the following screen prints taken from that document, and I will continue this investigative report on Stepan Bandera in my next article.
To be continued…
About the author:
Deborah Armstrong currently writes about geopolitics with an emphasis on Russia. She previously worked in local TV news in the United States where she won two regional Emmy Awards. In the early 1990’s, Deborah lived in the Soviet Union during its final days and worked as a television consultant at Leningrad Television.
The Nightingale’s Bloody Roost
- The wanton atrocities of Bandera and Shukhevich
- Bandera’s assassination by a love-torn KGB spy
Ukrainian auxiliary police execute a mother and child in Miropol, USSR, 1941. Photo credit: static01/nyt.com
“The OUN values the life of its members, values it highly; but — our idea in our understanding is so grand, that when we talk about its realization, not single individuals, nor hundreds, but millions of victims have to be sacrificed in order to realize it.”
— Stepan Bandera
In part one of this investigative report, we took a look at just some of the atrocities committed by Stepan Bandera and his followers — Nazi collaborators who tried to purge all Jews, Romani, Poles and Russians from future Ukrainian lands.
There was, as you saw, no crime too vile for the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists — the OUN. The sheer brutality of these crimes cannot be over-emphasized, and bodies are still being dug up today.
Exhumed remains of OUN victims, Poland, 1990s. Photo credit: kresky.pl
One of the most comprehensive articles I came across while researching Bandera was published by Covert Action Magazine, in three parts. I highly recommend this article, written by Evan Reif, to anyone who is serious about understanding these dark chapters of Ukraine’s history. Much of the information to follow was gleaned from this seminal work. Reif’s article delves more deeply into the origins and history of the OUN, which I will summarize here.
The OUN was founded in 1929 from the ashes of the Ukrainian Military Organization, the UVO. The UVO was formed in 1920 by right-wing Austro-Hungarian veterans of the First World War. The UVO waged a terrorist campaign against the Soviets and the Poles, operating primarily in western Ukraine, which was occupied by Poland in those days.
The Polish government at that time was an unpopular far-right regime which implemented land reform and language laws. However, it was not the government which the UVO primarily targeted, but civilians. The Ukrainian militants worked like bandits, hitting villages, towns, and small farming communities. They tortured, raped, killed, looted, burned everything to the ground, and moved on. They knew better than to attack the military or police, which might have decimated their numbers. They were a scourge on the countryside, waging a war on farmers and peasants — men, women and children of all ages.
It was in the early 1920’s when the UVO began its official collaboration with the Germans. From 1921 until 1928, the UVO received millions of marks in aid from Germany. Due to pressure from the Soviet and Polish governments, the leaders of the UVO were eventually moved to Berlin and when the Nazis came to power, the collaboration continued.
As the years went by, the OUN took center stage, led by ever-younger, more radical members, and the UVO fell to the wayside, its role diminished. One of those young leaders was Stepan Bandera, a fascist since childhood. Bandera was born on January 1, 1909 to a Greek Catholic family, the son of a priest.
Bandera in his Plast uniform. Photo credit: Wikipedia
Original “Plast” symbol. Photo credit: Livejournal
As a child, Bandera was a member of “Plast,” a fascist youth group. That group has been reestablished in recent times, though its webpage makes it appear friendly enough, with wholesome pictures of children learning scouting skills, canoeing, and performing good deeds for the community. The same symbol appears on Plast uniforms today, only without the swastika of old. But the topic of fascist indoctrination of children in Ukraine will have to be reserved for another article.
As a young adult, Bandera moved up quickly in the ranks of the OUN, first serving as the chief propaganda officer in 1931, at the age of 22. He quickly became the second in command of the OUN in Galicia 1932 and was named head of the OUN National Executive in 1933.
Bandera was a rabid fascist who despised Jews, communists, Gypsies, Hungarians, Poles and Russians. He wanted to reclaim lands which had not been Ukrainian for centuries and violently purge all non-Ukrainians from the territory. Bandera radicalized the OUN, adding to its membership, making it larger and more efficient. In 1934, members of the OUN-B (the B denoting Bandera’s leadership) assassinated Polish foreign minister Bronisław Pieracki by shooting him at close range with a pistol.
Bandera was captured by Polish authorities and sentenced to die with other OUN leaders, but the death sentence was commuted to life and when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Bandera was released. The Nazi Abwehr, German intelligence, employed Bandera and the OUN in 1940 and began preparing for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the USSR.
Bandera and the OUN were chosen by the highest-ranking German officers including Adolf Hitler, who instructed them to carry out brutal reprisals and terrorism against civilians in the Soviet Union. General Erwin von Lahousen testified about this at the Nuremburg trials.
But Bandera’s antagonistic personality style and his demands for Ukrainian independence at any cost split the OUN in two, with Bandera leading the OUN-B, and Andriy Melnyk, who favored a more subservient role with the Nazis, leading OUN-M.
The rift between the two groups became violent. The most radical members joined with Bandera and launched terrorist attacks against the elderly Melnyk’s group. Though OUN-M survived the war, it was clear that Bandera, and not Melnyk, now controlled the Ukrainian fascist movement.
Under the leadership of the Wehrmacht, two OUN units were formed, code-named “Roland” and “Nightingale,” led by Roman Shukhevych, a mass murderer commemorated on Ukrainian postage stamps in 2007. The two units, alongside Nazi forces, were sent to Lvov in 1941.
Roman Shukhevich on a Ukrainian postage stamp in 2007. Photo credit: Wikimedia
The Nightingale’s Bloody Roost in Lvov
Under specific orders to slaughter Jews, Poles and Russians, Nightingale entered the city of Lvov in 1943. It was a city of about 500,000 people, more than half of them Polish Catholics, with a Jewish population that had swollen to as much as 160,000 as refugees flooded in from Nazi-occupied Europe. Only twenty percent of the city was Ukrainian.
Hitlists in hand, the OUN began its bloody harvest on June 30th, abducting Polish professors suspected of harboring “anti-Nazi views” and torturing them in dorm-rooms for hours before executing them and raiding their apartments, which were then taken over by SS and OUN officers.
And that was only the first blood.
Next, Nightingale began a holocaust which lasted over a month. The group seized a castle on a hilltop overlooking Lvov and set up its “roost” there, rounding up Jews and ordering them to clear the streets of corpses and debris from bombs. That very first night there were random murders of Jews and the looting of their homes and property.
In the days before the attack, the OUN had circulated leaflets in Lvov telling the residents “Don’t throw away your weapons yet. Take them up. Destroy the enemy… Moscow, the Hungarians, the Jews — these are your enemies. Destroy them.”
A woman desperately attempts to flee attackers in Lvov. Photo credit: Wikipedia
The more bloodthirsty and criminal members of the population apparently took the advice to heart, and in the bloody weeks that followed, thousands of Jews were terrorized throughout the city. Women were driven into the streets where they were stripped, raped and murdered. Men were kicked and beaten with fists and clubs. Throngs of nationalists threw trash at them as Nazi photographers went around gleefully filming the horror.
The Wehrmacht was eager to document these atrocities which were published in newspapers or shown in news reels back in Germany, to prove that the Nazis were serious about their plans to exterminate the untermenschen — the undesirables.
On that first bloody day alone, up to 5,000 Jews were massacred by the OUN, the Nazis and those who supported them.
Nazi photographers document atrocities in Lvov. Photo credit: Vintag.
Jewish man attacked in the street in Lvov. Photo credit: Wikipedia
The Einsatzgruppen came next. These were “professional” killers. Nazis who had already “cleansed” many villages, towns and cities in Poland and the USSR. They went door to door, dragged out their targets, marched them to pits which had already been prepared, forced them to their knees and executed them with bullets to the head. Nightingale and the OUN militias assisted them every step of the way, loading Jews onto trucks, then driving them to stadiums and executing them en masse with machine guns.
The Nazis stole everything of value, down to the gold fillings in their victims’ teeth, and sent it back to Germany where the money was used to fund industrialists who made enormous profits from Nazi extermination programs.
Thousands of people were slaughtered each day as Nightingale’s bloody talons tore into Lvov. As leaders of the OUN, including Shukhevich and Bandera, reigned in their high castle above the city, making their plans for an independent, Nazi-aligned Ukraine, the streets of Lvov and the surrounding region flowed with blood. By the time the Red Army arrived to liberate Lvov in 1944, only around 150,000 people remained and only 800 of them were Jews. The rest were either murdered or shipped off to the Belzec concentration camp, a slaughter-house so efficient that fewer than a dozen survivors were ever found.
The First Deputy Chief of the OUN under Stepan Bandera was Yaroslav Stetsko, who was named the first prime minister of the short-lived “Independent State of Ukraine” in 1941. In his “Act of Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood,” he wrote:
“The newly-formed Ukrainian state will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian People to free itself from Muscovite occupation.”
Photo credit: Twitter
But…but… Bandera was sent to a concentration camp, so he couldn’t be bad!
Though the establishment of an independent Ukraine angered the OUN’s Nazi allies, who did not agree to it, it is grossly inaccurate to proclaim the OUN innocent of wrongdoing or to claim it was not a fascist organization. Even if the group had never collaborated with the Nazis, which it did, the OUN is guilty of enough atrocities against Jews, Poles, Russians, communists and Romani people to blacken its name forever in history as a brutal fascist organization.
In part one of this article, we looked at what the OUN did in Wołyń, where at least 100,000 people were massacred, most of them women and children. This was how the OUN operated. With brutality and hatred and no mercy whatsoever. They were violent fascists in their own right even if they had not collaborated with the Nazis. But of course, they did.
A Ukrainian Jew named Moshe Maltz wrote in his journal, later published as a memoir, while he was hiding from the Banderites:
_“Bandera men … are not discriminating about who they kill; they are gunning down the populations of entire villages.… Since there are hardly any Jews left to kill, the Bandera gangs have turned on the Poles. They are literally hacking Poles to pieces. Every day … you can see the bodies of Poles, with wires around their necks, floating down the river Bug.”
_After the declaration of Ukrainian independence, tensions rose until the Nazis arrested Bandera, Stetsko and other leaders of the OUN, and sent them to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943.
Bandera, however, was not treated like a Jew, a Russian or any other untermensch. He was given a two-room suite with paintings and rugs and was not forced to perform any labor. He wore no uniform, ate with the guards and did not even lock his cell door at night. And he was allowed to have conjugal visits with his wife.
After less than a year, in 1944, Bandera was released and the Nazis recruited him, along with Stetsko, to carry out terrorist acts against the Red Army, which was now advancing on Germany.
The OUN did take minor retaliatory action against the Nazis in 1943, but it was slight compared to the campaign of terror the organization had previously waged against the Poles, Jews, Romani and other minorities.
Once again, it was civilians who bore the brunt of the OUN’s cruelty. In 1943, the Ukrainian nationalists killed around 12,000 “Germans” — mostly farmers and peasants under Nazi control. Only around 1,000 of these victims were actual Wehrmacht. Indeed, Soviet partisans reported that the OUN only engaged with Germans when the Germans mocked or attacked Ukrainians.
The Nazis handled this by simply transferring the more expendable Polish collaborators to the region to fight the OUN. And following the Soviet victory at Stalingrad, the OUN renewed its pact with the Nazis and reaffirmed the Soviets as their common enemy. There were little skirmishes between Nazis and OUN after that, but they were insignificant in the overall scope of their greater collaboration.
In 1943, the SS formed its Galicia Division, which incorporated members of the OUN. Modern Ukrainians have attempted to whitewash Galicia’s reputation, and marches in honor of this SS unit are a common sight in western Ukraine today.
Ukrainian youth marching with the banner of the Galicia SS in 2018. Photo credit: RIA Novosti
_“Russian Ukraine cannot be compared to Austrian Galicia… The Austrian-Galician Ruthenians are closely intertwined with the Austrian state. Therefore, in Galicia it is possible to allow the SS to form one division from the local population.”
— Adolf Hitler, 1942.
_The OUN continued its terrorist rampage in western Ukraine until Soviet occupation of the region drove the fascist movement underground. In 1944, the OUN merged with other nationalist groups to form the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, the UHVR, headed by Ivan Hrinioch, who had previously served as a chaplain in the Nightingale unit. Roman Shukhevich was killed in a raid by Soviet forces in 1950, bringing an end to the UPA for all intents and purposes.
But there always seem to be willing sponsors available to support Ukrainian fascists. If not overtly, then covertly.
Mykola Lebed became the foreign minister for the UHVR. As head of the OUN secret police, he was a known sadist and collaborator of the Germans, according to the US army. He later became a collaborator of the CIA, according to 1953 documents declassified in 2007.
But Bandera’s antagonism and volatility split the UHVR just as it had split the OUN previously. In 1947 Bandera and Stetsko fought with Lebed and Hrinioch over the issue of the largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. Bandera demanded a purely Ukrainian state, purged of all Russian influence. Lebed and Hrinioch insisted that the help of eastern Ukrainians was needed for the success of the movement. Bandera expelled them in 1948, which led to the breakup of his brief courtship by the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA.
It was not long after the war when US Army Counterintelligence found Bandera in the American occupation zone, hiding from the Soviets who wanted him to face trial for his crimes. In 1946, the Soviets made a failed attempt to capture him in Munich, where he was working under the protection of Reinhard Gehlen, a Nazi spy-turned-CIA agent. Gehlen helped countless Nazis to escape justice, including Adolf Eichmann, with the full support and backing of the CIA. In 1946, he was paid $3.5 million and he had 50 employees including 40 former SS. The CIA, in turn, used the Nazis as assets.
Bandera and the OUN secret police, the SB, formed by Lebed, served as assassins for MI6 as part of “Operation Ohio,” as it was codenamed. They hunted the refugee camps in post-war Germany for their targets, which included thousands of communists and anyone who might know too much about the OUN’s brutal reign of terror. Their terrifying reputation as hitmen earned Lebed the codename “Devil.”
The CIA valued Bandera as a potential asset because of the respect he commanded among the fascist underground. But he was far too extreme, unruly, and downright dangerous to work with, as he was uncooperative and often refused to use encrypted communications. He was just too much of a risk for the CIA to gamble with.
By 1954, the CIA forced MI6 to stop working with Bandera. That same year, Bandera was finally removed from OUN leadership. However, the CIA and the Germans continued to protect him from assassination attempts. He was guarded by Gehlen’s SS, the CIA, and the US Army Counterintelligence Corps.
The Soviets, meanwhile, had made repeated attempts to extradite Bandera so he could face trial for his war crimes. Every attempt was refused, so the KGB tried on several occasions to assassinate him, in 1947, 1948, 1952 and 1959.
Bandera continued his work for Gehlen for the remainder of his life, which ended in 1959 when a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashinsky finally succeeded in killing him. Stashinsky was an experienced assassin who had infiltrated the Bandera group in 1957 as a “German” and had already eliminated another leader of the OUN, Lev Rebet, using the same technique he was about to use on Bandera.
On October 15th, he followed Bandera to his home at Kristmanstrasse 7 in Munich where the mass-murderer was living under a false name. As his target reached the porch, Stashinsky quickly swallowed an antidote, then approached Bandera, who was struggling with the lock on the door. He asked his quarry if the key was working alright, and when Bandera raised his head to answer, Stashinsky blasted him in the face with a double-barreled cylinder loaded with ampoules of potassium cyanide. The instant he pressed the trigger, the powder charge broke the ampoules and the poison flew out. Bandera inhaled the toxic mist, causing his heart to stop. He collapsed, blood pouring from his mouth, and cracked his skull on the stairs.
The antidote protected Stashinsky, who quickly walked out of the entryway and disappeared into the night.
Initially, the cause of Bandera’s death was believed to be a stroke, which had caused him to fall. But investigators later discovered the traces of potassium cyanide in his system. The name of his assassin was unknown until 1961, when love led Stashinsky to his eventual capture.
Bohdan Stashinsky, upper right, and a diagram of the specially-made poison gun he used to kill Bandera. Photo credit: RBTH
Cupid’s arrow captures a spy
In Moscow, Bohdan Stashinsky was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. His handlers at the KGB, against their better judgment, also gave him permission to marry Inga Pol, an East German who had strong anti-communist leanings.
The couple settled in Moscow, but Inga returned to Germany to give birth to their son. Only four months later, their infant son died, and Stashinsky was allowed to go to the funeral in Germany. But he used the opportunity to flee to the west, instead.
On August 13, 1961, Stashinsky and his wife sneaked out of their house, leaving behind an unburied coffin containing their dead son. The smitten Stashinsky had confessed to his wife, against KGB instructions, of his involvement in the assassination of Bandera. Inga feared for her husband’s safety and convinced him to flee.
Stashinsky gave himself up to police in West Germany and was handed over to the CIA. He gave them detailed information about his activities in the KGB including the assassination of Stepan Bandera. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and Inga divorced him in 1964.
After his release in 1967, Stashinsky disappeared. Some sources claimed he stayed in the US and others claimed he fled to South Africa, perhaps changing his appearance with plastic surgery.
But no one knows if the man who killed Bandera is still alive today.
Bohdan Stashinsky and his wife, Inga. Photo source: RBTH
About the author:
Deborah Armstrong currently writes about geopolitics with an emphasis on Russia. She previously worked in local TV news in the United States where she won two regional Emmy Awards. In the early 1990’s, Deborah lived in the Soviet Union during its final days and worked as a television consultant at Leningrad Television.
Beginning in 1949, the German Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss taught at the University of Chicago. He soon formed a small group of Jewish disciples from among his students. He taught them orally, which was quite different from his writings. According to him, the democracies had shown their inability to protect the Jews from the Nazi final solution. To prevent this tragedy from happening again and the hammer from falling on them, his disciples had to be on the other side of the handle.
He advised them to build their own dictatorship.
Organizing his followers, Leo Strauss called them his "hoplites" (soldiers of Sparta). He trained them to disrupt the classes of some of his fellow teachers.
Several of the members of this sect have held very high positions in the United States and Israel. The operation and ideology of this grouping were the subject of controversy after the attacks of September 11, 2001. An abundant literature has opposed the supporters and opponents of the philosopher. However, the facts are indisputable .
Anti-Semitic authors have wrongly lumped together Straussians, Jewish communities in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. However, the ideology of Leo Strauss was never discussed in the Jewish world before 9/11. From a sociological point of view, it is a sectarian phenomenon, not at all representative of Jewish culture. However, in 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu’s "revisionist Zionists" made a pact with the US Straussians, in the presence of other Israeli leaders . This alliance was never made public.
One of the characteristics of this group is that they are ready for anything. For example, they wanted to return Iraq to the stone age. This is indeed what they did. For them, all sacrifices are possible, including for themselves, as long as they remain the first; not the best, the first !
In 1992, an advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the Straussian Paul Wolfowitz, wrote the Defense Planning Guidance. It was the first official US document reflecting the thinking of Leo Strauss [(#nb4 "The 1976 report of the "B Team" accusing the USSR of wanting to dominate (...)")]. Wolfowitz was introduced to Strauss’ thought by the American philosopher Allan Bloom (a friend of the Frenchman Raymond Aron), but he himself only briefly knew the master at the end of his teaching in Chicago. However, the US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, recognized him as "one of the great Straussian figures" .
In the context of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Wolfowitz developed a strategy to maintain US hegemony over the entire rest of the world.
The Defense Planning Guidance should have remained confidential, but the New York Times revealed its main lines and published extracts . Three days later, the Washington Post revealed further details . In the end, the original text was never made public, but a version edited by the Secretary of Defense (and future Vice President), Dick Cheney, was circulated.
It is known that the original document was based on a series of meetings in which two other people, all three Straussian, participated: Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon’s "thinker" (who was replaced three years after his death by Arthur Cebrowski), Albert Wohlstetter, the thinker of the atomic deterrence strategy, and his son-in-law Richard Perle, the future director of the Defense Policy Board. The Defense Planning Guidance was written by a student of Wohlstetter, Zalmay Khalilzad (future ambassador to the UN).
The document speaks of a new "world order [...] ultimately supported by the United States", in which the sole superpower would only have temporary alliances, depending on the conflict. The UN and even NATO would be increasingly sidelined. More broadly, the Wolfowitz Doctrine theorizes the need for the United States to block the emergence of any potential competitor to U.S. hegemony, especially "advanced industrial nations" such as Germany and Japan. Particularly targeted is the European Union: "While the United States supports the European integration project, we must be careful to prevent the emergence of a purely European security system that would undermine NATO, and particularly its integrated military command structure. The Europeans will thus be asked to include in the Maastricht Treaty a clause subordinating their defense policy to that of NATO, while the Pentagon report recommends the integration of the new Central and Eastern European states into the European Union, while giving them the benefit of a military agreement with the United States that would protect them against a possible Russian attack .
For thirty years, this document has been patiently implemented.
– The Maastricht Treaty includes a paragraph 4 in Title V, Article J4, which stipulates: "The policy of the Union within the meaning of this Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework. These provisions have been included in the various texts up to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union.
– The former Warsaw Pact member states have almost all joined the European Union. This decision was a choice imposed by Washington and announced by Secretary of State James Baker just before the European Council meeting that endorsed it.
In 2000, Paul Wolfowitz was, together with Zbignew Brzezinki, the main speaker at a large Ukrainian-US symposium in Washington, organized by Ukrainian "integral nationalists" who had taken refuge in the USA. There he pledged to support independent Ukraine, to provoke Russia to go to war with it, and ultimately to finance the destruction of the resurgent rival of the USA .
These commitments were implemented with the passage of the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 on April 28, 2022 . Ukraine is now exempt from all arms control procedures, including end-use certificates. Very expensive weapons are leased by the USA to the EU to defend Ukraine. When the war is over, the Europeans will have to pay for what they have consumed. And the bill will be heavy.
Victoria Nuland and Anthony Blinken in John Kerry’s office
Although the European elites have benefited from their alliance with the United States so far, they should not be surprised that the United States is now trying to destroy them under the Defense Planning Guidance. They have already seen what Washington was capable of after the 9/11 attacks: Paul Wolfowitz forbade countries that had expressed reservations about the war, such as Germany and France, to conclude contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq .
At present, the rise in the price of energy sources and their increasing scarcity threaten not only the heating and transportation of individuals, but above all the survival of all their industries. If this phenomenon continues, it is the economy of the European Union as a whole that will suddenly collapse, taking its population back at least a century.
This phenomenon is difficult to analyze because the prices and availability of energy sources vary according to many factors.
First, prices depend on supply and demand. As a result, they have risen with the overall economic recovery from the end of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Second, energy sources are the main targets of speculators. Even more so than currencies. The world price of oil can be multiplied by 2.5 just by the effect of speculation.
So far, everything is usual and known. But the Western sanctions against Russia, following its application of the Minsk II Agreement, for which it was the guarantor before the Security Council, have broken the world market. From now on, there is no longer a global price, but different prices according to the countries of the sellers and the customers. There are still prices quoted on the stock exchange in Wall Street and the City, but they bear no relation to those in Beijing and New Delhi.
Above all, oil and gas, which were abundant in the European Union, are starting to run out, while globally they are still in overabundance.
All our reference points have been turned upside down. Our statistical tools, designed for the global market, are not at all adapted to the current period. We can therefore only make assumptions, without any means of verifying them. This situation allows many people to talk nonsense with an air of authority; in fact, we are all evolving at a guessing pace.
One of the current factors is the reflux of dollars which were used for trade and speculation and which are no longer usable for these transactions in certain countries. This mostly virtual currency is leaving Russia and its allies to go to or return to the countries where it is still used. This is a gigantic phenomenon that the Federal Reserve and the US military have always wanted to avoid, but which the Straussians in the Biden administration (Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his deputy Victoria Nuland) have deliberately provoked.
Wrongly convinced that Russia has invaded Ukraine and is trying to annex it, the Europeans forbid themselves to trade with Moscow. In practice, they still consume Russian gas, but they are convinced that Gazprom will cut off their gas supply. For example, their press announced that the Russian company was closing the Nord Stream pipeline, although it had announced a three-day technical interruption. Normally, gas pipeline deliveries are interrupted for maintenance for two days every two months. Here, Gazprom was hampered in its maintenance by the Western blockade, which prevented the return of the turbines it had sent for repair to Canada. However, the population understood that the evil Russians had cut off their gas on the eve of winter.
The European propaganda aims to prepare public opinion for a definitive closure of the gas pipeline and to put the responsibility on Russia.
In this case, the leaders of the Union are simply implementing the directives of the Straussians. In doing so, they are scuttling European industry to the detriment of their citizens. Already some energy-intensive factories have reduced their production or even closed.
The process of decrepitude of the European Union will continue as long as no one dares to oppose it. To everyone’s surprise, a first pro-Russian demonstration was held on September 3 in Prague. The police admitted to 70,000 people (for a country of 10 million), but there were probably many more. Political commentators despise them and consider them "Putin’s useful idiots". But these insults do not mask the unease of European elites.
Energy experts consider power cuts throughout the Union inevitable. Only Hungary, which has previously obtained exemptions, could escape the rules of the single energy market. Those who can produce electricity will have to share it with those who cannot. It doesn’t matter whether this inability is the result of bad luck or short-sightedness.
Brussels should start with voltage reductions, then cut off at night, and finally during the day. Individuals will have difficulties to maintain elevators, to heat their homes in winter, to cook if they use electric plates and, those who use trains, buses or electric cars, should have difficulties to move. Energy-intensive businesses, such as blast furnaces, are expected to close. Infrastructures are expected to become impassable, such as long tunnels that can no longer be ventilated. Above all, electronic installations designed for continuous operation will not be able to withstand repeated interruptions. This will be the case, for example, for antennas that are essential for cell phone networks, which will be thrown away after three months of this treatment.
In third world countries where electricity is scarce, battery powered leds are used for lighting and UPS to power low consumption machines, such as computers or televisions. But these materials are currently not available in the EU.
The EU’s GDP has already fallen by almost 1%. Will this recession continue as the Straussians plan, or will the citizens of the Union interrupt it, as part of the Czech people are trying to do?
The Straussians will go all the way. They have taken advantage of the decadence of the United States to take over the real power. Since a junkie, never elected, can use official planes galore to do business all over the world , they have quietly moved into the shadow of President Biden and are governing in his place. European leaders, on the other hand, are either blind or too committed to stop, acknowledge their thirty years of mistakes and turn back.
What to remember:
- The Straussians are a fanatical sect ready to do anything to maintain the supremacy of the United States over the world. They imagined the wars that have plagued the world for the past thirty years and the one in Ukraine today.
- They persuaded the European Union that Moscow wanted to annex first Ukraine and then all of Central Europe. With that, they convinced Brussels to stop all trade with Russia.
- The energy crisis that is beginning is leading the European Union towards electricity and power cuts that will wreak havoc on the way of life of its citizens and on its economy.
The UK and Commonwealth may be mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II yesterday. I am in mourning as well, but for a very different reason: the gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein air base in Germany yesterday reshuffled the deck on Western military and financial assistance to Ukraine, raising contributions to the ongoing holy crusade against Russia from still more nations and adding new, still more advanced precision strike weapons to the mix of deliveries to Kiev. It was an open summons to the Kremlin to escalate in turn, as were the test firing the same day of a new intercontinental rocket, the Minuteman III, from Vandenberg air base in California and the unannounced visit to Kiev yesterday of not only Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was featured in Western media accounts, but also other top officials of the Biden administration. The most notorious member of this delegation was surely Blinken’s deputy, Victoria Nuland, who had stage managed the February 2014 coup that put in power in Kiev the Russia-hating regime that Zelensky now heads.
The Russians may be compelled to take the bait due to the course of military action on the ground. As now becomes clear, they have just suffered some losses in very heavy ground and artillery fighting these past few days around Kharkov. The Ukrainian gains were facilitated by the advanced weaponry recently arrived from NATO countries, by the targeting data they are receiving from the U.S. and from off-stage tactical direction from NATO officers. By ‘take the bait,’ I mean the Russians may escalate to all out war on Ukraine. This question figured prominently in yesterday’s major news and political talk show programs of Russian state television. I will go into these matters in some detail below.
Regrettably, all of the foregoing also obliges me to revisit the critique I published a couple of weeks ago on the latest essay in Foreign Affairs magazine by John Mearsheimer. His overarching message on the dangers of our stumbling into a nuclear war is better substantiated by the latest developments, even though I believe that Mearsheimer failed to identify the several successive steps that lie ahead before we find ourselves in such a war. Mearsheimer oversimplified Russian options to deal with setbacks on the ground. This also will be a central issue in my narrative below.
Finally, in this essay I will direct attention to the second dimension of the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the entire Collective West: the economic war being waged on the Russian Federation via sanctions, which now far outnumber those directed against any other country on earth. This war, as I will argue, is going well for the Russians. More importantly for us all, it is the sole area in which the peoples of Europe may have a say in putting an end to the mad policies being pursued by their national governments under the direct pressure of Washington.
Over the past ten days, we have witnessed the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive which was preceded by so much anticipation in Western media. A reversal of Russian fortunes in the war was predicted, leading to the stalemate or outright defeat for Russia which Mearsheimer and some other analysts in the US foreign policy community feared would trigger a nuclear response from the Kremlin.
In fact, the Ukrainian counter-offensive got off to a very bad start. It opened in the south, in the Kherson region. Kherson, which is predominantly Russian-speaking, was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to the Russians and it has strategic importance for ensuring Russian domination of the Black Sea littoral. However, first results of the Ukrainian attacks there were disastrous for the Ukrainian armed forces. It soon was obvious that they had deployed new recruits who had little or no military experience. The infantry attacked across open terrain where they were easily destroyed in vast numbers by the Russian defenders of Kherson. I have heard the figure of 5,000 Ukrainian casualties in the Kherson counter offensive. Obviously the Russians were jubilant, though there were reports of some Ukrainian reservists being withdrawn from the field of action for redeployment elsewhere.
What followed was something the Russians evidently did not expect, namely a well prepared and implemented assault on their positions around the northeastern city of Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city. Kharkov was briefly surrounded by Russian forces at the start of the war, but was left in relative peace as the Russians refocused their strategy on taking the Donbas and avoiding major urban warfare except in one place, Mariupol. Exactly what the Russian game plan has been was recently explained in a remarkable paper published by a certain ‘Marinus’ in the Marine Corps Gazette. See https://www.imetatronink.com/2022/08/a-former-us-marine-corps-officers.html
A couple of days ago I picked up the following amidst the chatter of panelists on Evening with Vladimir Solovyov: “yes, we made some mistakes, but it is inevitable in a war that mistakes are made.” As from the latest news on the apparent loss of Balakliya and surrounding villages on the outskirts of Kharkov, we can see that the Ukrainian tactics were precisely those which Russia had been using so effectively against them from day one of the ‘special military operation,’ namely a feint in one war zone followed by all-out attack on a very different region. Of course, the ‘feint’ around Kherson, if that is what it was, entailed the cynical sacrifice of thousands of young and not so young Ukrainian foot soldiers. But the resultant distraction prevented the Russians from bringing up sufficient manpower to successfully defend their positions around Kharkov, which include the strategically important city of Izyum.
Izyum is close to the Russian-Ukrainian border southeast of Kharkov and is a major logistical base for munitions and weaponry that are sent onward to support the Donbas operation. The latest information on the Russian side appears to be that the Russians have now dispatched large numbers of reservists to this area to hold their positions. They also speak of intense artillery duels. We may well assume that both sides have experienced heavy loss of life. As yet, the outcome is unforeseeable. Meanwhile, Russian war correspondents on the ground in Donetsk insist that the Russian advance towards Slavyansk, in the center of the former Donetsk oblast, is continuing without pause, which suggests that the strikes on their munitions stores claimed by the Ukrainians have not been totally effective. If Slavyansk is taken in the coming few weeks, then Russia will quickly assume control of the entire territory of the Donbas.
In last night’s talk show program, host Vladimir Solovyov said that this latest push in the Ukrainian counter-offensive was timed to coincide with the gathering at the Ramstein air base, Germany of top officials from NATO and other allies under the direction of the visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. If the Ukrainian efforts were failing in the field, then the cry would go up: we must provide them with more weapons and training. And if the Ukrainian efforts in the counter-offensive were succeeding, those in attendance at Ramstein would hear exactly the same appeal to aid Kiev.
Though Evening with Solovyov, on air from about 23.00 Moscow time, offered viewers some few minutes of video recordings from the opening of the Ramstein gathering, far more complete coverage was provided to Russian audiences a few hours earlier by the afternoon news show Sixty Minutes. Here, nearly half an hour on air was given over to lengthy excerpts from CNN and other U.S. and European mainstream television reporting about Ramstein. Host Yevgeni Popov read the Russian translation of the various Western news bulletins. His presentation clearly sought to dramatize the threat and to set off alarm bells.
For his part, Vladimir Solovyov went beyond presentation of the threat posed by the United States and its allies to analysis of Russia’s possible response. He spoke at length, and we may assume that what he was saying had the direct approval of the Kremlin, because his guests, who are further removed from Power than he is, were, for the most part, allowed only to talk blather, such as the critique by one panelist of a recent pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia article in The New York Review of Books by Yale professor Timothy Snyder, who counts for nothing in the big strategic issues Russia faces today.
So, what did Solovyov have to say? First, that Ramstein marked a new stage in the war, because of the more threatening nature of the weapons systems announced for delivery, such as missiles with accuracy of 1 to 2 meters when fired from distances of 20 or 30 kilometers thanks to their GPS-guided flight, in contrast to the laser-guided missiles delivered to Ukraine up till now. In the same category, there are weapons designed to destroy the Russians’ radar systems used for directing artillery fire. Second, that Ramstein marked the further expansion of the coalition or holy crusade waging war on Russia. Third, that in effect this is no longer a proxy war but a real direct war with NATO and should be prosecuted with appropriate mustering of all resources at home and abroad.
Said Solovyov, Russia should throw off constraints and destroy the Ukrainian dual use infrastructure which makes it possible to move Western weapons across the country to the front. The railway system, the bridges, the electricity generating stations all should become fair targets. Moreover, Kiev should no longer be spared missile strikes and destruction of the ministries and presidential apparatus responsible for prosecution of the war. I note that these ideas were aired on the Solovyov program more than a month ago but then disappeared from view while the Russians were making great gains on the ground. The latest setbacks and the new risks associated with the Western policies set out at Ramstein bring them to the surface again.
Solovyov also argued that Russia should now use in Ukraine its own most advanced weapons that have similar characteristics to what NATO is delivering to the other side. As a sub-point, Russia should consider neutralizing in one way or another the GPS guidance for U.S. weapons. Of course, if this means destroying or blinding the respective U.S. satellites, that would mean crossing a well-known U.S. red line or casus belli.
Next, in the new circumstances, Russia should abandon its go-it-alone policy and actively seek out complementary weapons systems from previously untouchable countries, such as Iran and North Korea. Procurements from both have till now been minimal. On this issue, a couple of panelists with military expertise were allowed to explain that both these countries have sophisticated and proven weapons that could greatly assist Russia’s war effort. Iran has unbeatable drones which carry hefty explosive charges and have proven their worth in operations that are unmentionable on public television. And North Korea has very effective tanks and highly portable field artillery which are both fully compatible with Russian military practice, because the designs were based on Chinese weapons, which in turn were copies of Russia’s own. These weapons also have shown their worth in the hands of unnamed purchasers in the Middle East. Moreover, North Korea has a vast store of munitions fully compatible with Russian artillery. It was also mentioned in passing that insofar as Kiev has mobilized in the field many Western mercenaries and covert NATO officers, Russia should also recruit from abroad, as for example, whole brigades from North Korea available for hire.
If any of these ideas put out by Solovyov last night are indeed implemented by the Kremlin, then the present confrontation in and over Ukraine will truly become globalized, and we have the outlines of what may be called World War III. However, I note that the use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, does not figure at all in the set of options that official Moscow discusses in relation to the challenges it faces in its Ukraine operation. Such a possibility would arise only if the NATO forces being sent to the EU’s ‘front line states’ grew in number by several times those presently assigned and appeared to be preparing to invade Russia.
Before Ramstein, before the news of Ukrainian successes on the ground in the Kharkov sector, I had plans to write about a very different development this past week that coincided with a different calendar: the end of summer vacations and return to work of our national governments. With the return, our presidents and prime ministers would finally have to address the critical state of the European economies, which are facing the highest inflation rates in decades and an energy crisis brought about by the sanctions on Russian hydrocarbons. Speculation was rife on what exactly they would do.
I was particularly struck by several articles in the 7 September edition of The Financial Times and planned to comment on them.
For months now, the FT has been the voice of Number 10, Downing Street, at the vanguard of the Western crusade to crush Russia. Their editorial board has consistently backed every proposal for sanctions against Russia, however hare-brained. And yet on the 7th their journalists ran away with the show and cast doubt on the basic assumptions held by their bosses. One article by Derek Brower in the “FT Energy Source” newsletter has the self-explanatory title “The price cap idea that could worsen the energy crisis.” As we saw today, Brower’s concern was misplaced: finally, the EU could not agree a price cap policy. This notion, promoted from the United States by none other than the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, is in full contradiction with the practices of the global hydrocarbon market, as even a few EU leaders understood, depriving the initiators from the Baltic States of their hoped for consensus.
Another article of the 7th in FT, by Valentina Pop, Europe Express Editor, analyzed quickly and competently the problems facing European policy-makers in their bid to alleviate the pain to households and industry that the latest electricity and heating bills would otherwise present, given that they are several times higher than just a year ago and are unaffordable by large swathes of the population. Pop identified the key issue thus: how to provide aid quickly to those most in need given the constraints and resources available to the various government bureaucracies: “Some capitals will take many months in determining which households require help” she says. Of course, ‘many months’ of patience in the broad population will not be there.
But the most surprising article in this collection from the 7th was in the “Opinion Lex” section of the paper which was nominally about how Russian banks have weathered the storm that broke out when the EU sanctions on their industry first were laid down shortly after the start of Russia’s ‘special military operation.’ Indeed, VTB and other major Russian banks have returned to profitability despite it all. The author finds that ‘sanctions are biting less than western politicians hoped.’ Not only did the expected banking crisis not materialize, but the ruble is at five-year peaks and inflation is falling. Moreover the official Russian financial data behind these generalizations is said to be sound by independent and trustworthy market observers. The key conclusions are saved for last: “Russia has shown it can bear the pain of western sanctions. Western Europe must endure reprisals as robustly, or concede a historic defeat.’ The ‘reprisals’ in question are the complete shutdown of Russian gas deliveries through Nord Stream I until Europe lifts its sanctions.
It is interesting that even the Opinion article by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg published on the 7th in FT carries the following grim warning: “We face a difficult six months, with the threat of energy cuts, disruptions and perhaps even civil unrest.’ [emphasis mine]
To be sure, here and there in Europe, there are a few clever administrators who find promising solutions to the pending crisis of energy bills. In her first day in office, Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced one such solution: to immediately freeze the maximum energy bill per household at the present level of 2500 pounds sterling per year and then to turn around and agree with the power companies a subsidy for them to cover their losses.
This is fine for nipping in the bud possible ‘civil unrest.’ But the question remains how Britain will finance the estimated 150 billion pounds this will cost in the first year alone. If a similar solution were approved in the EU, the overall cost would surely approach the 800 billion euros of assistance borrowed to cover losses attributable to the Covid pandemic a year ago. But whereas the Covid aid was financed by collective borrowing of the EU, no such solidarity is likely to deal with the energy crisis, given that Germany, the Netherlands and other northern Member States oppose this becoming a general practice and will apply a veto. The British solution, however clever it may be, will hardly be available to many countries in the EU on their own given their high state indebtedness.
Then there is the second question of what to do to assist industry. Failure to give industry proper relief will result in company closures and rampant unemployment, which finally also sparks political protest. In any case, such solutions do not deal with the knock-on effects of vastly increased government borrowing to finance the energy subsidies, something which in the best of times always reduces capital available for other government services and capital available to private business for investment and job creation.
These various problems in dealing with the energy crisis that Europe created for itself by imposing sanctions on Russia may well be intractable and may well lead to spontaneous protests in a number of European countries this fall.
There is,no anti-war movement on the Old Continent to speak of. So popular protests over the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma being imposed from the chanceries on the people without anything resembling public debate may be the salvation of us all if they induce war mongering politicans to resign.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022
In October 2011 and February 2012 the US-led NATO organisation, with the backing of the Gulf autocracies, tried to secure UN Security Council resolutions, which in all probability would have served as a pretext for an invasion of Syria.
These efforts replicated the deceptive game that America, Britain and France had played in obtaining a resolution regarding Libya, on 17 March 2011, which they immediately violated in bombing that country. By the autumn of 2011, Russia and China knew that US-NATO were attempting the same subterfuge again, in their desire to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Moscow and Beijing therefore vetoed the resolutions.
Not put off by these setbacks, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lobbied heavily in 2012 for an attack on Syria. Clinton said she had the support of former CIA director Leon Panetta, and felt the Americans should have been “more willing to confront Assad”; she stressed “I still believe we should've done a no-fly zone”, the green light for a US-NATO invasion as was the case in Libya.
Clinton said she wanted to “move aggressively” against Syria and drew up a plan to do so, but it was never implemented (1). She had previously supported the US-led invasions of Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011).
In their policies towards Syria, Washington and NATO were adopting a similar stance to terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda, which was supporting the drive to oust Assad. On 27 July 2011, the new Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined his solidarity with the extremists. Zawahiri called for Assad to go, and expressed regret that he could not be in Syria himself. “I would have been amongst you and with you” he said, but he continued that “there are enough and more Mujahideen and garrisoned ones” present in Syria already. He described Assad as “America's partner in the war on Islam”. (2)
Zawahiri did not mention that the Syrian president had opposed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Assad was, in fact, the first Arab leader other than Saddam Hussein to condemn the attack. Less than 10 days into the invasion Assad predicted, “The United States and Britain will not be able to control all of Iraq. There will be much tougher resistance”. He said of the Anglo-American forces “we hope they do not succeed” in Iraq “and we doubt that they will – there will be Arab popular resistance and this has begun”. (3)
The revolts that began in Syria, during the spring of 2011, would have lasted for only a couple of months but for outside intervention that radicalised it (4). Syria did not have to endure the ensuing years of warfare, yet the foreign powers – notably the imperial triumvirate of America, Britain and France – had sustained it with the assistance of their allies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, not to mention the jihadist groups. The opening protests in March 2011 were not against Assad to start with, but had been directed towards deficiencies at the provincial level.
Neil Quilliam, a scholar who specialises in the Middle East, said of the disharmony in Syria which began in the southern town of Daraa: “The rebellion as it started was very localized. It was much more to do with local grievances against local security chiefs – it was about corruption at the local level” (5). The unrest was erroneously depicted in the West as aimed at Assad's government. It was then exploited by the US-NATO powers to attempt regime change in Syria for geopolitical reasons.
Israel's military intelligence website, DEBKAfile, reported that since 2011 special forces from the British SAS and MI6 were training anti-Assad militants in Syria itself. Other UK personnel from the Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), units of the British Armed Forces, had also been training combatants in Syria from 2011. Moreover, that same year French foreign agents of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), and the Special Operations Command, were encouraging unrest against Assad. (6)
As 2011 advanced, the anti-Assad revolts were infiltrated by rising numbers of Al Qaeda fighters. On 12 February 2012, in an eight minute video Zawahiri urged jihadists in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to come to the aid of their “brothers in Syria” and to give them “money, opinion, as well as information”. Zawahiri said that the America was insincere in demonstrating solidarity with them. (7)
Also in February 2012, Hillary Clinton admitted that Zawahiri “is supporting the opposition in Syria” and she intimated that the US was on the same side as him (8). Clinton promised that the Americans would continue to provide logistical help to the insurgents, so as to co-ordinate military operations.
Zawahiri's demand for jihad against Syria was supported by Al Qaeda's number two, Abu Yahya al-Libi. He was an extremist from Libya who had participated in the recent conflict against Muammar Gaddafi, alongside numerous other terrorists. Al-Libi said in a video from 18 October 2011, “We call on our brothers in Iraq, Jordan and Turkey to go to help their brothers [in Syria]” (9). By late 2011, there were links between the jihadists who overthrew Gaddafi, and those attempting to inflict a similar fate on Assad.
With the Russian and Chinese vetoes on the UN resolutions, Washington was unable to launch a large-scale invasion of Syria, but the goal of president Barack Obama and his allies remained that of regime change. Through 2011 and beyond, the leaders of America (Obama), Britain (David Cameron), France (Nicolas Sarkozy) and Germany (Angela Merkel) separately called for Assad to leave, disingenuously raising concerns over the Syrian people's plight.
Merkel for example, who had supported the US invasion of Iraq, said on 18 August 2011 that Assad should “face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people”. This allegation was repeated by other Western leaders, and likewise the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. It was completely false.
Less than six months later the English journalist Jonathan Steele, citing a reliable poll, noted that 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to remain as president. Steele wrote that this inconvenient reality “was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go”. (10)
For the West and its allies, as envisaged, Assad's fall would increase US power in the Mediterranean and Middle East, while delivering a blow to Russian, Iranian and Chinese influence. The Kremlin would have to abandon its naval base in Tartus, western Syria, pushing Russia out of the Mediterranean. Supply routes through which weaponry was delivered to Hezbollah, in nearby Lebanon, would also be eliminated.
With a Western-friendly regime in Syria, the noose would have been closed tighter around Iran. There are vast amounts of oil and gas beside the Syrian coastline in the Levantine Basin. However, Syria was a more difficult and complicated problem for US-NATO than the likes of Libya. In Syria the West was confronting the interests of Russia, China and Iran, three countries with ample resources and powerful militaries.
Meanwhile, the terrorists were starting to wreak havoc. Germany's intelligence agency BND informed the Bundestag (parliament) that, from late December 2011 until early July 2012, there were 90 terrorist attacks perpetrated in Syria by organisations tied to Al Qaeda and other extremist groups (11). The “moderates” were unleashing suicide and car bombings against Syrian government forces and civilians. One suicide raid on 18 July 2012 killed Assad's brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat, and the Syrian defence minister, General Dawoud Rajiha. The Free Syrian Army, supported by US-NATO and the Gulf autocracies, claimed responsibility for this atrocity. (12)
The jihad only harmed and delegitimised the insurgents' aims, and effectively that of the West. The Syrian public could see, about a year into the war, that considerable numbers of those trying to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic were extremists. The terrorism ensured that defections to the opposition almost came to a halt.
From now on, the majority of military personnel remained loyal to Assad. More terrorist assaults in early October 2012 killed 40 people, consisting of four car bombings which damaged Aleppo's government district. This further undermined the insurgents. Al-Nusra Front, tied to Al Qaeda, took responsibility for these insane acts which served no purpose but to inflict bloodshed on innocent people. Suicide bombings grew in frequency.
The atrocities shocked Syria's populace and bolstered sympathy for Assad. The Syrian president undoubtedly reacted to the terrorist rampages with an iron fist; his response may have been influenced too by the ongoing threat of a US-NATO invasion, as Western politicians continued to call for his resignation.
Israel's head of military intelligence, Major-General Aviv Kochavi, informed the Israeli parliament in mid-July 2012 that “radical Islam” was gaining a foothold in Syria. Kochavi said, “We can see an ongoing flow of Al Qaeda and global jihad activists into Syria”. He was worried that “the Golan Heights could become an arena of activity against Israel” which was “as a result of growing jihad movement in Syria” (13). The Golan Heights, 40 miles south of Damascus, is Syrian territory under Israeli occupation since 1967. Kochavi felt that Assad “won't survive the upheaval”.
The Western-backed Free Syrian Army in part comprised of mercenaries recruited from Libya, along with Al Qaeda, Wahhabi and Salafist extremists. As the Al Qaeda boss Zawahiri had demanded, the radicals entered Syria from neighbouring Lebanon and NATO state Turkey, and were focused on prosecuting a sectarian war – through massacring Syria's ethnic groups such as the Alawites, Christians, Shia and Druze; that is, those mostly supportive of Assad whom the jihadists considered to be heretics.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), an anti-Assad entity based in Istanbul, Turkey, was established in August 2011. It had been organised by the special services of the Western powers, and was supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to replace secularism with Islamism in Turkey, and he became centrally involved in fanning the flames of war in Syria. The Turks were acting as a US-NATO proxy force.
Erdogan allowed the Free Syrian Army to use Turkish bases in Antakya and Iskenderun, located in the far south of Turkey and beside the Syrian frontier. With Turkey's assistance, NATO arms were smuggled to the terrorists waging holy war on the Syrians. US intelligence agents were active in and around the southern Turkish city of Adana. (14)
Islamic jihadists arrived in Syria from distant European countries, such as Norway and Ireland; 100 of them alone entered Syria originating from Norway. Radical muslims of Uyghur ethnicity from Xinjiang province, north-western China, were fighting in Syria at the side of Al Qaeda from May 2012. The Uyghur militants belonged to the terrorist group, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), and also the East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association, the latter organisation centred in Istanbul. Al-Libi, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, publicly championed the TIP's terrorist campaign against China's authorities in Xinjiang.
In all, jihadists from 14 African, Asian and European countries were estimated to be present in Syria from early in the conflict (15). They came from such states as Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc. This was partly a consequence and spillover of the March 2011 US-NATO invasion of Libya. In early 2012, more than 10,000 Libyan mercenaries were trained in Jordan, bordering Syria to the south. The militants were each paid $1,000 a month by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in order to encourage them to participate in the war on Syria. The Saudis were shipping weapons to the most extreme elements in Syria, something which Riyadh never denied.
In early August 2012, Assadist special forces captured 200 insurgents in an Aleppo suburb in north-western Syria. Government soldiers found Saudi and Turkish officers commanding the mercenaries. During early October 2012, in another district of Aleppo (Bustan al-Qasr), Assad's divisions repelled an attack and killed dozens of armed militia. They had entered Syria through Turkey and among them were four Turkish officers. Beside the American air base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, the jihadists received special training in modern weapons of war: anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers and US-made stinger missiles.
NATO aircraft, flying without insignia or coat of arms, were landing in Turkish military bases near Iskenderun, beside Syria's border. They carried armaments from Gaddafi's arsenals, as well as taking Libyan mercenaries to join the Free Syrian Army. Instructors from the British special forces continued to co-operate with the insurgents. The CIA, and contingents from the US Special Operations Command, were dispensing with and operating telecommunications equipment, allowing the “rebels” to evade Syrian Army units (16). The CIA was flying drones over Syria to gather intelligence.
In September 2012, nearly 50 high-ranking agents from the US, Britain, France and Germany were active along the Syrian-Turkish frontier (17). The Germans, at the behest of their intelligence service BND, were operating a spy service boat 'Oker (A 53)' in the Mediterranean, not far from Syria's western coastline. On board this vessel were 40 commandos specialising in intelligence operations, using electromagnetic and hydro-acoustic equipment. As Germany is a NATO member, these activities were most probably undertaken in agreement with Washington.
The Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) stationed two other intelligence ships in the Mediterranean, 'Alster (A 50)' and 'Oste (A 52)', collecting intelligence on Syrian Army positions. The BND president Gerhard Schindler confirmed of Syria that Berlin desired “a solid insight into the state of the country”. (18)
The German ships' point of support was Incirlik Air Base, which is home to 50 US nuclear bombs and hosts the Anglo-American air forces. The German vessels' mission was to decipher Syria's telecommunications signals, intercept messages from the Syrian government and chiefs of staff, and to uncover Assadist troop locations up to a radius of 370 miles off the coast, through satellite images.
Germany had a permanent listening post in Adana, southern Turkey, where they could intercept all calls made in Syria's capital Damascus (19). Merkel's government inevitably denied accusations that the German Navy was spying in the Mediterranean; it is the type of activity that few countries claim responsibility for.
1 The Week, “Hillary Clinton: I would have taken on Assad”, 7 April 2012
2 Joby Warrick, “Zawahiri asserts common cause with Syrians”, Washington Post, 27 July 2011
3 Jonathan Steele, “Assad predicts defeat for invasion force”, The Guardian, 28 March 2003
4 Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, The Second Cold War: Geopolitics and the Strategic Dimensions of the USA (Springer 1st ed., 23 June 2017) p. 283
5 Sarah Burke, “How Syria's 'geeky' president went from doctor to 'dictator'”, NBC News, 30 October 2015
6 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 246
7 Martina Fuchs, “Al Qaeda leader backs Syrian revolt against Assad”, Reuters, 12 February 2012
8 Wyatt Andrews, “Clinton: Arming Syrian rebels could help Al Qaeda”, CBS News, 27 February 2012
9 Reuters, “Islamist website posts video of Al Qaeda figure”, 13 June 2012
10 Jonathan Steele, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from Western media”, The Guardian, 17 January 2012
11 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 269
12 Matt Brown, “Syrian ministers killed in Damascus bomb attack”, ABC News, 18 July 2012
13 Space Daily, “Assad moving troops from Golan to Damascus: Israel”, 17 July 2012
14 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 264
15 Ibid., p. 265
16 Philip Giraldi, “NATO vs. Syria”, The American Conservative, 19 December 2011
17 Hürriyet Daily News, “There are 50 senior agents in Turkey, ex-spy says”, 16 September 2012
18 Thorsten Jungholt, “The Kiel-Syria connection”, Die Welt, 20 August 2012
19 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 268
Dmitry Trenin: Six months into the conflict, what exactly does Russia hope to achieve in Ukraine? — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union
For about six years after the second Minsk Agreement was signed in 2015, the Kremlin tried hard to get that accord implemented. It would have ensured the autonomous status of Donbass within Ukraine and given the region influence on national politics and policies, including in the issue of the country’s geopolitical and geo-economic orientation. From the very start, however, Kiev was unwilling to cooperate on the deal’s implementation, seeing it as a win for Moscow. Washington, in pursuit of a policy to contain Russia, encouraged such an obstructionist stance, while Berlin and Paris, formally the guarantors of the agreement (alongside Russia), had no leverage in Kiev and ended up embracing the Ukrainian position.
Vladimir Zelensky’s election to Ukraine’s presidency in 2019 initially appeared to be an opening for peace, and President Putin made a serious effort to get the Minsk agreement off the ground. Kiev, however, soon backtracked and took an even more hardline position than before. Nevertheless, until mid-2021 the Kremlin continued to see as its goals in Ukraine a resolution of the Donbass issue essentially on the basis of Minsk, and the eventual de facto recognition of Crimea’s Russian status. In June of last year, Vladimir Putin, however, published a long article on Russian-Ukrainian relations which made it clear that he viewed the current situation as a major security, political, and identity issue for his country; recognized his personal responsibility; and was resolved to do something to strategically correct it. The article did not give away Putin’s game plan, but it laid out his basic thinking on Ukraine.
Last December, Moscow passed on to Washington a package of proposals, which amounted to a list of security guarantees for Russia. These included Ukraine’s formal neutrality between Russia and NATO (“no Ukraine in NATO”); and no deployment of US and other NATO weapons and military bases in Ukraine, as well as a ban on military exercises on Ukrainian territory (“no NATO in Ukraine”). While the US agreed to discuss some military technical issues dealt with in the Russian paper it rejected Moscow’s key demands related to Ukraine and NATO. Putin had to take no for an answer.
Just before the launch of its military operation, Moscow recognized the two Donbass republics and told Kiev to vacate the parts of Donetsk and Lugansk then under Ukrainian control – or face the consequences. Kiev refused, and hostilities began. Russia’s official reason for unleashing force was defending the two newly recognized republics which had asked for military assistance.
Shortly after the start of hostilities Russia and Ukraine began peace talks. In late March 2022 at a meeting in Istanbul, Moscow demanded that Zelensky’s government recognize the sovereignty of the two Donbass republics within their constitutional borders, as well as Russia’s own sovereignty over Crimea, which was formally incorporated into the Russian Federation in 2014, plus accept a neutral and demilitarized status for territory controlled by Kiev. At that point, Moscow still recognized the current Ukrainian authorities and was prepared to deal with them directly. For its part, Kiev initially appeared ready to accept Moscow’s demands (which were criticized by many within Russia as overly concessionary to Ukraine), but then quickly reverted to a hardline stance. Moscow has always suspected that this U-turn, as on previous occasions, was the result of US behind-the-scenes influence, often aided by the British and other allies.
From the spring of 2022, as the fighting continued, Moscow expanded its aims. These now included the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, meaning not only the removal of ultra-nationalist and anti-Russian elements from the Ukrainian government (increasingly characterized by Russian officials now as the “Kiev regime”), but the extirpation of their underlying ideology (based around the World War Two Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera) and its influence in society, including in education, the media, culture and other spheres.
Next to this, Moscow added something that Putin called, in his trademark caustic way, the “de-Communization” of Ukraine, meaning ridding that country, whose leadership was rejecting its Soviet past, of the Russian-populated or Russian-speaking territories that had been awarded to the Soviet Ukrainian republic of the USSR by the Communist leaders in Moscow, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. These include, besides Donbass, the entire southeast of Ukraine, from Kharkov to Odessa.
This change of policy led to dropping the early signals about Russia honoring Ukraine’s statehood outside Donbass, and to establishing Russian military government bodies in the territory seized by the Russian forces. Immediately following that, a drive started to de facto integrate these territories with Moscow. By the early fall of 2022, all of Kherson, much of Zaporozhye and part of Kharkov oblasts were being drawn into the Russian economic system; started to use the Russian ruble; adopted the Russian education system; and their population was offered a fast-track way to Russian citizenship.
As the fighting in Ukraine quickly became a proxy war between Russia and the US-led West, Russia’s views on Ukraine’s future radicalized further. While a quick cessation of hostilities and a peace settlement on Russian terms in the spring would have left Ukraine, minus Donbass, demilitarized and outside NATO, but otherwise under the present leadership with its virulently anti-Russian ideology and reliance on the West, the new thinking, as Putin’s remarks in Kaliningrad suggest, tends to regard any Ukrainian state that is not fully and securely cleansed of ultranationalist ideology and its agents as a clear and present danger; in fact, a ticking bomb right on Russia’s borders not far from its capital.
Under these circumstances, in view of all the losses and hardships sustained, it would not suffice that Russia wins control of what was once known as Novorossiya, the northern coast of the Black Sea all the way to Transnistria. This would mean that Ukraine would be completely cut off from the sea, and Russia would gain – via referenda, it is assumed – a large swath of territory and millions of new citizens. To reach that objective, of course, the Russian forces still need to seize Nikolaev and Odessa in the south, as well as Kharkov in the east. A logical next step would be to expand Russian control to all of Ukraine east of the Dnieper River, as well as the city of Kiev that lies mostly on the right bank. If this were to happen, the Ukrainian state would shrink to the central and western regions of the country.
Neither of these outcomes, however, deals with the fundamental problem that Putin has highlighted, that is to say, of Russia having to live side-by-side with a state that will constantly seek revenge and will be used by the United States, which arms and directs it, in its effort to threaten and weaken Russia. This is the main reason behind the argument for taking over the entire territory of Ukraine to the Polish border. However, integrating central and western Ukraine into Russia would be exceedingly difficult, while trying to build a Ukrainian buffer state controlled by Russia would be a major drain on resources, as well as a constant headache. No wonder that some in Moscow would not mind if Poland were to absorb western Ukraine within some form of a common political entity which, Russia’s foreign intelligence claims, is being surreptitiously created.
Ukraine’s future will not be dictated, of course, by someone’s wishes, but by the actual developments on the battlefield. Fighting there will continue for some time, and the final outcome is not in sight. Even when the active phase of the conflict comes to an end, it is unlikely to be followed up by a peace settlement. For different reasons, each side regards the conflict as existential – and much wider than Ukraine. This means that what Russia aims for has to be won and then held firmly.