Kissinger, a dyed-in-the-wool politician, brings realism to the Ukraine debate – and confirms a “conspiracy theory”

Henry Kissinger, New York, 2009. Source: Wikipedia, Photo: Shankbone, CC BY 3.0

Berlin, Germany (Weltexpress). Henry Kissinger is regarded as an old hand of a realistic US foreign policy that is at odds with the current policy of Biden and the collective West, which is shaped by ideological “values”. This is made clear by Kissinger’s latest article, in which the politician simultaneously confirms a political conspiracy that is dismissed by the West as a conspiracy theory.

The US and its NATO allies are facing increasing difficulties in their bid to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, much less to the extent that the Ukrainians want and need if they are to stand a chance on the battlefield. There, hundreds of thousands of fully trained and well-equipped Russian soldiers are in the process of joining their comrades at the front in the Donbass and elsewhere with their heavy weapons. This factual situation, however, contradicts the notion desperately nurtured by Western politicians and mainstream media that the Ukrainians are capable of winning this war and retaking Crimea.

As recently as last week, General Salushniy, Ukraine’s military commander-in-chief, had bluntly admitted in an interview with the British Economist that his army was bleeding, running out of ammunition and equipment and lacking the means to carry out major offensives. For the two brigades that are now only at his disposal for such operations are not nearly enough. Rather, he says, he needs 300 tanks, 500 artillery pieces and 800 armoured personnel carriers before he can think of any kind of major offensive, especially a possible attack against Crimea.

Experience shows that there are still realists in the Pentagon and among the traditionally conservative civilian US security and military experts who are well aware of the rapidly deteriorating military situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately, they represent only a small minority. They can still do little against the common front of the so-called “values-oriented” warmongers of neo-conservative hawks in the Republican Party and liberal hawks in the Democratic Party. These ideologically fanatical Russia-haters hold key positions, especially in the US State Department, the White House and the National Security Council, as well as in the CIA and NSA. They dictate the political narrative to the Western media and run the partially demented President Joe Biden like a puppeteer runs his puppet.

Nevertheless, advocates of a realistic, non-ideologised foreign policy are trying with increasing success in articles and commentaries – primarily in conservative US media – to reach broader layers of the US security policy establishment and win them over to their position. They do this, among other things, by first emphasising that the Ukrainians have become completely politically reckless; for example, on the basis of the attempted assassination of the Russian commander-in-chief, General Gerassimov, or through the wild and confused talk about plans to reconquer Crimea. Nevertheless, everyone knows that this would only be possible after Russia’s unconditional surrender. Such a surrender, however, would probably be prevented by the use of Russian nuclear weapons.

To the extent possible, these realists are also signalling to Ukraine that it is not in the United States’ interest to support Ukrainian plans to retake Crimea, or to equip Ukraine with missiles that have ranges deep into Russian territory, or to assassinate senior Russian government officials.

In the meantime, there are a number of comments from those “realists” who advocate negotiated solutions with the Russians. These usually include a demand for a return of the Russian military to the ceasefire lines in the Donbass from before the fighting began on 24 February 2022. This means that the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics continue to exist unchanged on the territory they have controlled for the past eight years. Opinions differ as to what should happen to the rest of the territory that the Russians have conquered. However, most argue that it should be returned to Ukraine. The future of Crimea should also be negotiated.

Now one of the most respected realists among US foreign policy experts, the almost 100-year-old Henry Kissinger, has made some remarks in the British magazine The Spectator on what he sees as an urgent need for a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine conflict. These go beyond previous thinking on a number of points and are almost certain to worry the Ukrainian leadership as much as the united front of neo-conservative and liberal US hawks.

Before we look at Kissinger’s article in detail, let us turn to what is probably the most important passage, in which the old master of US foreign policy confirms a claim always dismissed by the collective West as a conspiracy theory or Russian propaganda ploy as a real-existing project of the elitist Western hawks.

In this passage, Kissinger says „the goal of a peace process (in Ukraine) would be twofold: to confirm the freedom of Ukraine and to define a new international structure, especially for Central and Eastern Europe. Eventually, Russia should find a place in such an order. ” And then comes the exposing sentence:

“THE PREFERRED OUTCOME FOR SOME IS A RUSSIA RENDERED IMPOTENT BY THE WAR.

Kissinger is obviously referring to statements by neoliberal and neoconservative hawks of the collective West, of whom the leaderships not only in Washington but also in most other NATO countries are riddled with.

In the next step, Kissinger sharply distances himself from these warmongers and their project of dismembering Russia. He points out that this would be incredibly dangerous, create an enormous power vacuum, threaten global peace and, in the extreme case, Russia would counter such a development with nuclear weapons.

“I disagree (with those who want to render Russia powerless through war),” Kissinger writes and continues: “For all its propensity to violence, Russia has made decisive contributions to the global equilibrium and to the balance of power for over half a millennium. Its historic role should not be degraded. Russia’s military setbacks have not eliminated its global nuclear reach… “

“Even if this (nuclear) capability is diminished, the dissolution of Russia or destroying its ability for strategic policy could turn its territory encompassing eleven time zones into a contested vacuum. Its competing societies might decide to settle their disputes by violence. Other countries might seek to expand their claims by force. All these dangers would be compounded by the presence of thousands of nuclear weapons which make Russia one of the world’s two largest nuclear powers.“

Regardless of whether Kissinger really believes that this kind of dismemberment and disintegration poses a real threat to Russia – what makes this part of the article really interesting is the fact that Kissinger thus confirms the assumption that there are quite a few people in the political caste of the US, the UK and other NATO countries who see the dismemberment of Russia as a desirable goal. In other words, Kissinger confirms that such a project exists and that neoconservative and liberal hawks do indeed have such a plan. At the same time, Kissinger’s article exposes the sheer ruthlessness and wild and highly dangerous ambition of these people.

This is so important because the articles and comments that spoke of such plans were always denounced as conspiracy theories. In the past, whenever the Russians talked about a Western plan to turn Russia into a colony, to break it up and do everything possible to subjugate and exploit the motherland, the Russians were insinuated that they were paranoid, that these fears were unfounded, that the West and NATO had only good intentions towards Russia. And now Kissinger has shed light on this and confirmed that the Russian concerns were well-founded and continue to be so. This is by far the most important part of Kissinger’s article.

In the remaining parts of his 1000-word article entitled “How to avoid another world war” of 17 December 2022 in The Spectator, Kissinger takes up topics on the conflict in Ukraine that are taboo in current Western discourse. These include, for example, the assertion of the peoples’ right to self-determination through a referendum. First, however, he drew a parallel between the current conflict in Ukraine and the First World War in August 1916.

Kissinger begins by stating that the „First World War was a kind of cultural suicide that destroyed Europe’s eminence”. Europe’s politicians had “sleepwalked” into a conflict “that none of them would have entered had they foreseen the world at war’s end in 1918”. Kissinger goes on to write:

“In August 1916, after two years of war and millions in casualties, the principal combatants in the West (Britain, France and Germany) began to explore prospects for ending the carnage. In the East, rivals Austria and Russia had extended comparable feelers.”

“Because no conceivable compromise could justify the sacrifices already incurred and because no one wanted to convey an impression of weakness, the various leaders hesitated to initiate a formal peace process. Hence they sought American mediation. Explorations by Colonel Edward House, President Woodrow Wilson’s personal emissary, revealed that a peace based on the modified status quo ante was within reach. However, Wilson, while willing and eventually eager to undertake mediation, delayed until after the presidential election in November. By then the British Somme offensive and the German Verdun offensive had added another two million casualties.”

“The Great War went on for two more years and claimed millions more victims, irretrievably damaging Europe’s established equilibrium. Germany and Russia were rent by revolution; the Austro-Hungarian state disappeared from the map. France had been bled white. Britain had sacrificed a significant share of its young generation and of its economic capacities to the requirements of victory. The punitive Treaty of Versailles that ended the war proved far more fragile than the structure it replaced.”

After this unprecedented failure of diplomacy, Kissinger asks: “Does the world today find itself at a comparable turning point in Ukraine..?” He then stresses that he, too, has “repeatedly expressed my support for the allied military effort to thwart Russian aggression in Ukraine”. Nevertheless, he says, now “time is approaching to build on the strategic changes which have already been accomplished and to integrate them into a new structure towards achieving peace through negotiation.”

With this last sentence, Kissinger goes much further than where anyone else in the US realist camp has ventured so far. Indeed, Kissinger does not want to build on ideology and wishful thinking, but on the basis of the reality already created by the war, i.e. on “strategic changes already accomplished”, “achieving peace through negotiation”.

Kissinger then explains that Ukraine “has become a major state in Central Europe for the first time in modern history. Aided by its allies and inspired by its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, …” Ukraine has “acquired one of the largest and most effective land armies in Europe, equipped by America and its allies”. This process “has mooted the original issues regarding Ukraine’s membership in NATO.”

Therefore, a peace process should “link Ukraine to NATO, however expressed. The alternative of neutrality is no longer meaningful, especially after Finland and Sweden joined NATO” says Kissinger, who shows with the last sentence that he too – probably as a result of his advanced age – has lost touch with reality in some areas, especially since he saw a balance of power as the prerequisite for lasting peace during his time as US Secretary of State.

The expansion of NATO to include Sweden, Finland and a Ukraine of some kind on the borders with Russia is likely to be anything but a contribution to the balance of power and lasting peace from the Kremlin’s point of view. Notwithstanding this, Kissinger points out in the next paragraph of his article that he had already recommended last May “establishing a ceasefire line along the borders existing where the war started on 24 February.”

And then Kissinger formulates a proposal that no one in the West has dared to make before:

“If the pre-war dividing line between Ukraine and Russia cannot be achieved by combat or by negotiation, recourse to the principle of self-determination could be explored. Internationally supervised referendums concerning self-determination could be applied to particularly divisive territories which have changed hands repeatedly over the centuries.”

Until now, the principle of self-determination mentioned here by Kissinger has been taboo in the context of the Donbass and the other regions of Ukraine. This principle was carefully avoided in relation to Ukraine – in contrast to Kosovo, which was helped to “independence” with the help of the unprovoked, brutal NATO war of aggression based on the principle of self-determination. As a NATO vassal, Kosovo can now boast of being a NATO outpost against Serbia and home to the largest US airbase in the Balkans.

However, Kissinger’s idea also includes Russia withdrawing from the areas it has conquered so far, such as the large city of Mariupol or the Kherson oblast (east of the Dnieper), in the hope of a negotiated peace held out by the USA or the West. The regions that Russia has occupied “for almost a decade, including Crimea”, i.e. the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as well as Crimea, would also remain under Russian control only “for the time being”, according to Kissinger’s ideas. For “these areas could be the subject of negotiations after a ceasefire”, Kissinger continues. Obviously, however, he does not see that this ship has long since sailed.

Kissinger’s Western perspective is so narrow that he does not even realize that his ideas of a negotiated settlement violate the axiom emphasized in his article of achieving peace through negotiations on the basis of the “strategic changes already accomplished”.

As the realist he wants to be, he should have asked himself why the Russians should still trust the USA, NATO and also Germany when they have systematically lied to and deceived Moscow for decades, as everyone knows by now. What can one call it when promises made with great sanctity (no eastward expansion of NATO) are kicked into the dirt with a smile and when – as Chancellor Merkel boasted in two recent interviews in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit – the Minsk II agreement was never meant seriously by the contracting parties Germany, France and Ukraine? Rather, the plan from the beginning was to abuse Minsk II, which was elevated to international law by the UN Security Council, in order to deceive Russia and lull the Kremlin into a sense of security, while the West used the time to arm Ukraine.

As a realist, one cannot expect any advance performance from the Russians in this situation. Or should they once again believe the sacrosanct promises of the West and, in anticipation of internationally controlled referendums, return Mariupol, for example, to the fascist ASOW regiment that had established a reign of terror there during the last eight years against all those who did not shout “Slava Ukrajini” [“Glory to Ukraine” – editor’s note], and whose fighters are now praised by the West as upright patriots?

And then there are the liberal and neo-conservative warmongers in the key positions of the collective West. These people cannot and will not contemplate the failure of their Ukrainian adventure under any circumstances. Politically and career-wise, they are so involved in the project of ruining and dividing Russia into several, more manageable, pro-Western states that it would be a disaster for them personally if their war in Ukraine failed. Should Russia, in spite of all this, also trust these people again, or should it instead ignore them and in the further course wrap things up in Ukraine without any say from the West?

Remark:

The above contribution by Rainer Rupp was rendered into English by Christoph Merten.

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