“Negotiate for Ukraine; fight for our own survival”
An empty slogan. And insofar as it suggests the national security attention must be diverted from the war in Ukraine to concentrate on elections, it is political nonsense.
I have tried many, many times to have you think through what “negotiation” actually means for practical diplomacy and real world balance of power. I haven’t received any indication that you know what sort of agreement you want to be negotiated. A ceasefire? (Like the failed Minsk agreements, or do you have, or think Trump has, a special sauce which would sell a new ceasefire. Do say what it might be.) An armistice? (What will be the borders of Ukraine? Will these be as provisional? Or permanent?) A peace treaty? (settling borders, sovereignty, international recognition…) If you have any economic bribe, or military threat - from Europe or America - that can induce the parties to sign a treaty - please say what they might be. If you have any mechanism in mind for enforcement of the agreement, any sanctions clause to make the agreement binding on Russia, and security assurances to Ukraine so that it can protect whatever remains of its territory, sovereignty and independence from future repossession by Russia, do tell us what they may be.
If you don’t, then I can’t even say that we agree to disagree. Policy debates are all about the probabilities of the “better” future proposed by the policy being realized, and what the betterment means substantively. Yes, not all the consequences of government action are unforeseeable, but many are. It is entirely predictable that laws or policies will exacerbate the problems that they seek to solve. I do not see that America’s stopping arms supplies to Ukraine while it is at war will save lives, enhance the probabilities of a stable world order, curb Putin’s imperialist aggression, bring an electoral win for Republicans, return the political culture to Reaganite positive patriotism and the economy to Trumpian winning, or save the constitutional Republic. Quite the reverse, in each case.
I will make a prediction: the political pressure to stop America from supporting Ukraine from the anti-war mob - mostly leftists ideologically wedded to unilateral nuclear disarmament for America - will cause a pre-election volte-face in the Biden admin. It is already giving more rhetorical military support than it is delivering in weapons. But there will be more talk of about talks, more Milley double-speak (i.e. America’s arsenals are being run down, which puts America’s national security at risk, he says, but his saying so - which is itself not “helpful” to national security - is not linked to his belief that the war will only be ended through talks) , more op-eds about the unthinkability of escalation; more head-shaking at quagmire and endless war. The Biden admin will be as vehement in their hypocritical moral righteousness to end the war (“saving Ukrainian lives”) as they were in supporting Ukraine to fight it (“saving democracy”). Their talk of talks will be as void of substance as your talk of talks has been. If the talks happen, we will see another Minsk agreement flutter in the breeze, only to be breached and war break out again.
If a Democrat were to be in power when the Minsk 2 (or is it 3?) ceasefire breaks and war breaks out again, the administration, if it is fancies America bound by the Budapest Memorandum, would have options in honoring its “security assurance” obligations. Like Obama it could send blankets, REMs and night-goggles, and pay lip service to the righteousness of Ukraine defending its sovereignty or even less. By then (2024), America may be have been re-imagined as an agency of the UN, have given up its veto in the Security Council or put it at the service of the developing nations bloc and their claims for climate equity. If Trump is elected to power again, would he send lethal weapons again? Would he stick up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and condemn the hitherto failed ceasefire agreements? Could he fulfill his election promise of stopping the war in Ukraine by brokering the best-deal-evah on Day 1 without arming Ukraine - and encouraging Europe to Ukraine - as a demonstration of America’s negotiating strength? Again, I ask what bribes or threats, military or economic, could Trump deploy to stop the war and hold the peace for a longer period than his four-year term in office.
Who will you vote for faced with a choice between an anti-war Democrat promising immediate talks to stop the war, to fix the immigration, to get to the root causes of poverty and crime, and re-purpose government and the economy for DEI, business for ESG, and America as facilitator for globalism, and Republican who believes America should continue to send arms to Ukraine to stop the Russian onslaught, that the Mexican border should have a wall, that police forces should be funded, that all lives matter, that the poor are not below the law, nor Democrat apparatchiks above it, that America’s superpower is essential to the defense of the nation as a free, democratic Republic.
America cannot negotiate for Ukraine. Nor can it broker a peace between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine is a client state, to which America has given “security assurances” under the Budapest Memorandum, itself a side-deal to Russian/American nuclear disarmament/non-proliferation arrangements. America certainly cannot in good faith, while pretending to be governed by international law, threaten to withhold military aid as a means of blackmailing Ukraine to surrender to Russia, to whom Ukraine’s nukes were given at the insistence of the Americans as a condition of America support for Ukraine’s independence. Russia has consistently used bi-lateral nuclear treaties to control American foreign policy and extort diplomatic concessions. Every pull-back of American security strength in Europe - the withdrawal of missile defense from Poland, for example - has been extorted by Russia by promising to void, or freeze, or not to enter into, nuclear treaties. Russia has the (socialist) American establishment’s number: Nuclear disarmament is more important to America than preserving a nuclear deterrent to Russian aggression. When Putin proclaimed, after the 2022 invasion had turned sour, that Russia would use nuclear force should a conventional war be an imminent existential threat to his nation (i.e. he threatened a first-strike), the European powers informed him that they would not respond with nuclear weapons, but prosecute a maximal conventional war - throw everything they have at Russia, except for tactical nukes. The nuclear deterrence baby thrown out with the MADD bathwater. This promise to spank Putin, resulted in Putin doubling-down on nuclear disarmament extortion: he “froze” the nuclear treaty with America. Cue the foreign affairs community (State Department, foreign policy lobbyists and think-tanks, Mearsheimer) into “negotiation” overdrive: America must withhold arms to Ukraine, so that Putin will unfreeze the nuclear disarmament agreement. The old Kremlin-promoted CND dream of a nuclear free planet (actually only America) must be kept alive at all costs. If Russia uses the Treaties to extort military concessions from the west in order to make its own military aggression less risky and costly, that is an acceptable price to pay. Dreaming the nuclear disarmament dream saves billions more lives on paper than can possibly be lost by Russian aggression to repossess the former soviet oblasts, and even fewer lives will be lost if Ukrainians just stop fighting and accept that they are Russian.