In The Beginning
Not One Inch East
There’s so much going on, even with the Great Russo-Ukraine Information Vacuum, that I haven’t written what I really wanted to write about Ukraine. This has been a time of tremendous self-reflection and personal upheaval for me. A good thing! I’d like to share what I’ve learned to random passersby. It amuses me to think that a future historian stumbles upon this website in an Internet archive of dead web pages.
This is what I’d say to someone who knows nothing about Ukraine:
"History didn't start on February 24, 2022. This is a fight between two Slavic peoples that goes back to the 9th century and the founding of a Slavic Orthodox Christian state in Kiev, or Kyiv, however you pronounce it. It's been complicated by many factors since then and the modern form of Ukrainian nationalism didn't take shape until the 19th century. It's not our fight. American boys (and girls) shouldn't lose their lives over it, and our current position of fighting to the last Ukrainian while egging them on is shameful and deceitful. This has nothing to do with Putin, or liking him, or defending *his* aggression. It's just acknowledging that Russia has an interest in what goes on across their border, as we have an interest in what goes on in Mexico. This was not unprovoked aggression. It was very much provoked. We provoked it.”
Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University…
As late as March 1991, according to the diary of the British ambassador to Moscow, British Prime Minister John Major personally assured Gorbachev, “We are not talking about the strengthening of NATO.” Subsequently, when Soviet defense minister Marshal Dmitri Yazov asked Major about East European leaders’ interest in NATO membership, the British leader responded, “Nothing of the sort will happen.”
I should add that one dissenter, Mark Kramer, claims that no such assurance was given, but his paper looks to me like 23 pages of double-talk.
Joshua Shifrinson’s rebuttal: Russia’s got a point: The U.S. broke a NATO promise.
In early February 1990, U.S. leaders made the Soviets an offer. According to transcripts of meetings in Moscow on Feb. 9, then-Secretary of State James Baker suggested that in exchange for cooperation on Germany, U.S. could make “iron-clad guarantees” that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.”
Read the entire linked website, read books, judge for yourself. I say that the Blob lied to Russia, flagrantly and repeatedly. By 2008, the new guy (Putin) had become sick of our bullshit, but I get ahead of myself.
On February 5, 1997, George Kennan, Mr. X himself, the father of containment, wrote a much-remarked upon article in The New York Times, entitled “A Fateful Error”:
But something of the highest importance is at stake here. And perhaps it is not too late to advance a view that, I believe, is not only mine alone but is shared by a number of others with extensive and in most instances more recent experience in Russian matters. The view, bluntly stated, is that expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.
Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking. And, last but not least, it might make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to secure the Russian Duma's ratification of the Start II agreement1 and to achieve further reductions of nuclear weaponry.
Here is a list of member countries, by date. There were distinct growth spurts. After 1997, NATO expanded five times.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was dissolved by plebescite, and Russia fell into a demographic and social abyss, helped along by Uncle Sam.
6.9.2022 note: I do not agree with Larry Johnson that the article in the Times indicates that our intel is “screwed up.” The article is a both a cover-up for gross incompetence on our part and a preparation for disengagement. The whole shit-show is run out of Washington; they can hardly be ignorant of their own intelligence. What happened was this: the Blob got high on its own stash of hopium after the first month of Russian fuck-ups. Things went better than expected. It really looked as if “our guys” were gonna win! We’re flying high again, so soon after Afghanistan!
The Russian mistake was based on (as I previously noted) Russkie dismissal of
Palestinian Ukrainian nationalism. But they adjusted, reality set in, and the Ukrainians acted like Ukrainians, so the Blob needs a face-saving exit strategy.
“We were misled,” sounds a lot better than “We fooled ourselves.”
(And screwed over the Ukes.)
“Russia ratified START II on 14 April 2000, making it conditional on preserving the ABM Treaty. When the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty on June 13, 2002, Russia withdrew from START II one day later. Thus, START II never entered into effect.” Which country has a habit of withdrawing abruptly from treaties?