Russia, Russia, Russia
Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine ( an action which Senile Joe Biden and his State Department all but dared Vladimir Putin to take in the weeks preceding the “minor incursion” ) has predictably released the neocon warhawks and reflexive Russophobes from their cages and brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The neocons are calling for massive military aid to the Zelensky regime in Kiev, the establishment of a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine and even sending in American ground troops. Any of these moves would, of course, escalate the crisis to the point where Moscow would be tempted to launch either devastating nuclear attacks on the West or even cyberattacks to crush our banking system and obliterate our power grid, plunging us into darkness and chaos.
Is it worth it? Is saving the Zelensky regime worth triggering World War III? Do we really help Ukraine by killing hundreds of millions of people around the world through a thermonuclear confrontation with Putin? Does it really matter to the United States which group of corrupt kleptocrats holds the reins of power in Kiev? The fact is that Ukraine is one of the most corrupt nations on the planet. In 2012, Ernst & Young ranked Ukraine among the three most-corrupt nations of the world—alongside Colombia and Brazil. In 2015, The Guardian called Ukraine “the most corrupt nation in Europe”. United States diplomats described Ukraine under Presidents Kuchma (in office from 1994 to 2005) and Yushchenko (in office from 2005 to 2010) as a kleptocracy, according to WikiLeaks cables.
Bribery in Ukraine is pervasive and widespread. Everyone from politicians, businessmen, and police to judges and even university professors are on the take. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has stated that corruption is a “significant obstacle” to doing business in Ukraine. In 2008, Transparency International estimated that 30 to 50 percent of all Ukrainians had faced government corruption. Juhani Grossmann (working for an a.o. Management Systems Internationalproject ) claimed in 2009 that Ukrainians paid the equivalent of more than $400 million in bribes annually. The previous year, he claimed that the figure was $700 million. Former President Viktor Yanukovych stated in 2011 that corruption had become an immediate threat to the constitutional rights and freedoms of Ukraine’s citizens.
Is it any wonder that America’s own political crime families, like the Clintons and Bidens, have been neck-deep in bizarre business dealings in Ukraine for years. One wag even called Ukraine an “ATM machine” for corrupt Western politicians. Could Russia’s invasion even be connected somehow to the revelations regarding the Biden family’s involvement there, such as Hunter Biden’s drawing $80,000 a month from a Ukrainian energy company? Could there be a connection between Biden mothballing our own oil and gas industry while empowering and enriching Putin’s? Is Joe getting 10% of the billions of additional revenue flowing to Vlad each day?
Vladimir Putin’s stated reason for his invasion of Ukraine is that the latter might join NATO, placing Western armies and bases right on his border. It would be the equivalent of Russia placing troops on the Mexican or Canadian border. Both Ukraine and Georgia have been angling for NATO membership for more than a decade and it is NATO’s unwarranted expansion into Eastern and Central Europe and even to the Baltic republics which is Putin’s excuse for his bellicosity.
It is impossible to analyze the Russia-Ukraine situation without a discussion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its history over the last seventy years.
NATO was formed in 1949 for the sole purpose of preventing the Soviet Union from invading Western Europe. The Soviet military alliance was called the Warsaw Pact and its control of most of the Eastern and Central European countries that FDR had surrendered to Joe Stalin at Yalta was judged a menacing threat to the freedom of France, Germany, Britain, Italy and the other nations of Western Europe. NATO was not created to start wars, interfere in other nation’s civil wars or internal affairs, or project its military assets outside of Europe. At least that’s what we were told. Thoughtful American leaders like Ohio’s Senator Robert Taft were more skeptical. He believed NATO might actually provoke a new war by feeding Russia’s historic paranoia about encirclement. A paranoia not without some justification. The bear has indeed been invaded throughout history, most notably by Napoleon’s France in the 19th century and Hitler’s Germany in the 20th-century.
Now, from a logical standpoint, when the Soviet Empire imploded in 1989 and the Red Army withdrew, what was the continuing justification for NATO’s existence? To deter a Soviet threat that no longer existed? To confront a Red Army that was demobilized? Even President Trump — as a candidate — said NATO was “obsolete.” And, so it was. And, the failure of the West to act reciprocally and terminate that military alliance has been the main contributor to the distrust and mistrust of Moscow today, along with its own fearful military actions, meddling abroad, and other destabilizing activities.
President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State Jim Baker made a deal with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. In exchange for accepting the reunification of Germany on U.S. terms, NATO would expand “not one inch” to the East. Did we keep that promise? No. NATO started with 13 member states in 1949. Today, there are 29, including the old Soviet client states in Eastern Europe as well as the Baltic republics right on Russia’s front porch. Even Turkey is a member. The tiny state of Montenegro is a member, meaning American boys and girls are committed to fighting and dying for a country they could not find on a map.
The old father of post-World War II “containment” George Kennan called the expansion of NATO to absorb the former Warsaw Pact countries a “tragic mistake, opining:
“It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are –but this is just wrong.”
The expansionist NATO—whose membership policies now resemble more of a country club than a military alliance – has also been feeling its oats since the end of the Cold War. NATO intervened in Serbia in 1999 as President Clinton led a 78-day bombing campaign on a nation that had done nothing to us, except that it was a Russian ally. NATO ventured into the Afghanistan war in 2001, even though Kabul is a few miles away from Berlin. NATO continues to build up permanent land, sea, and air forces near Russian territory, along with missile defense installations in Poland. And, the dangling of NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine was a leading cause of the Georgia-Russia War of 2008 as well as the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 which resulted in Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a defensive move to counter continued NATO encroachment and a U.S. supported coup against the pro-Russian government in Kiev led by President Yanukovych.
So, here we are. A legacy of over thirty years of broken promises, propping up corrupt governments, shady financial dealings, and poking the Russian bear. Now, the people of Ukraine are suffering and bleeding, for no fault of their own. Isn’t it time to stop the killing and start a process of de-escalation which can only happen the day the West’s leaders recognize and appreciate the lessons of World War I and the vision of America’s first President George Washington that “entangling alliances” are a threat to the security and well-being of every nation. It’s time to consign NATO to the dustbin of history, just as the Warsaw Pact was thirty years ago.
Dr. James Veltmeyer is a prominent La Jolla physician and author of “Physician on a Mission: Dr. Veltmeyer’s RX to Save America.”He was voted “Top Doctor” in San Diego County in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Dr. Veltmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by visiting his website at drveltmeyer.com
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