Ukraine: are we absolutely sure we want a wider war? Part II

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It has become quite mainstream now to portray Russia as an evil regime, about to invade Western Europe, that needs to be defeated at any cost (i.e. nuclear war … even though some such advocates don’t understand that implication). Until recently this was seen as a fringe conspiracy theory.

Sure, Russia has a pretty appalling power structure with a lawless mafia-ised system clustered around the Presidency, with it’s tentacles around Europe, Mid East and Africa. It is also technologically advanced, especially in military and space spheres, and has vast natural resources, managed centrally. Russia is not Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. It is formidable, and limiting its ‘ethnic Russians’ propagandised mischief-making, (eg Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Donbass and the Baltic States), without getting to a counterproductive World War, requires a sophisticated carrot-and-stick approach.

What should be of great concern to Western Europe in particular, however, is that US foreign policy, and security institution propaganda, which the UK follows, has been controlled by an EU-phobic neoconservative group in DC that has vehemently opposed the idea of a post-1991 Peace Dividend, and were furious about US promises in the 90s that NATO would not expand Eastwards to Russia’s borders. They opposed normalisation of relations with Russia, preferring the pursuit of the US as a unipolar hegemon with no rivals, as repeatedly expressed by the notorious neocon Robert Kagan … over 30 years. They have close links to the US arms industry. The life’s work of Robert’s wife Victoria Nuland, recently ‘fired’, was to use Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia as a rival, leading to the coup in 2013/4, which bypassed the EU and installed anti-Russian nationalists in power in Kiev.

This all outflanked a politically sclerotic Russia, and Russia’s failure led to its calamitous Donbass invasion, now increasingly destabilising the Russian regime.

The objections to neocon policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Saharan Africa, Yemen and elsewhere, and now Ukraine, is not primarily because such views are pacifist or appeasing, but because these neocon military-only foreign policies always end up severely weakening the West. They all fail. The real winner in Iraq is Iran. The real winner in Afghanistan is China. The real winners in Syria are Russia and Iran. The real winner in Saharan Africa is Russia. The real winners in Libya are Turkey and Russia. The real winner in Somalia is Turkey. The real winners in Yemen are Iran and Syria.

The Ukraininan military was by far the best in Europe, apart from Russia, and Russia’s current advance West in and around the Donbass is grindingly slow and costly for both sides. Nuland’s plan has failed and she is out. All this UK talk of ‘Russia must not be allowed to win’ is naive and ill-informed, implying nuclear war in Europe, leaving the US untouched? This latest neocon project has resulted in the world seeing the West as weak, and Western military weaponry as inferior.

The next failure will be China. Neocons are busy bigging up the prospect of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. It is prudent to take precautionary measures and, ye,s a militarily surrounded China is obsessed with controlling the South China Sea, but the Beijing regime is dependent on economic growth for it’s survival, and a war with Taiwan and the US would destroy that. Neither side has an interest in war, despite what the US neocons say.

It is time for the West to accept that the neocon way is not the path out of the Thucydides trap. The military-first US neocon foreign policy, which the UK follows, has to be jettisoned. Some uncomfortable compromises over Ukraine are unavoidable, but a global settlement with guarantees for all sides is the only way to avoid a wider, possibly nuclear, war. We have had Minsk 1, Minsk 2, the Israel-Turkish mediated agreement, the ‘Zelensky starting position’, and the Chinese peace proposals. It is time for a more comprehensive globally-backed Minsk 3.

In ‘Part 1’ I saw an accusation in the Comments in effect that those who oppose nuclear war in Europe are cowards. I have seen this line before. But most of those securocrats bigging up the threat of a Russian attack on Western Europe, will not personally have to fight, and presumably will be safe in their bunkers or in the USA. Very few of them have ever been in harm’s way on behalf of Western interests, unlike some of us, and probably never will be.

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance.

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  • “The life’s work of Robert’s wife Victoria Nuland, recently ‘fired’, was to use Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia as a rival, leading to the coup in 2013/4, which bypassed the EU and installed anti-Russian nationalists in power in Kiev.”

    It is a shame that the author did not elaborate further on this point as outside of LDV there has been a significant amount of propaganda and misinformation spread in relation to this (for example, misrepresenting telephone conversations between Nuland and others). I would be keen to understand more about Nuland and this supposed coup from the perspective of the author.

    Secondly, use of “Kiev” is an antiquated term that harks back to a time when Ukraine did not exist as an independent country. Ukrainians, in an attempt to de-Russify Ukraine, have switched to “Kyiv”. I am sure this was in error but can hopefully be corrected as it doesn’t sit well with me given Russia is currently mid-invasion of Ukraine and committing unspeakable crimes.

    “…the Beijing regime is dependent on economic growth for it’s survival, and a war with Taiwan and the US would destroy that. Neither side has an interest in war, despite what the US neocons say.”

    The action’s of China speak volumes, for example, building on a military training site a life size replica of Taiwan’s Presidential Office which has been expanded more recently to include the surrounding road network. It would be absolutely foolish to think China is not serious about trying to invade Taiwan.

  • David Allen 9th Apr '24 - 8:14pm

    A very thought-provoking article.

    The West are, of course, the good guys. We fought Nazism. We defeated the evil USSR and brought down the Berlin Wall. We stand for democracy and human rights. Our global rivals are dictatorships.

    And yet – We are also, of course, the rich guys. We speak softly and carry a big stick, all around the globe. We easily rolled back the Russian “empire” by inviting downtrodden Poles and Ukrainians to join us and share in our wealth, thus achieving a very bloodless conquest – until Russia decided to fight back.

    Russia was, of course, horribly in the wrong. But that does not mean that the West were wholly in the right.

    We keep kidding ourselves that we are always the good guys. Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Putin and Hamas are evil enemies to be fought. Netanyahu is on our side, so let’s overlook his faults.

    We need to see ourselves as others see us.

  • Steve Trevethan 9th Apr '24 - 8:50pm

    Thank you for opposing the binary fallacy that because we are the “good guys”, those whom we oppose are totally the “bad guys”.

    Over recent years, China, for all its shortcomings, has greatly reduced the hunger in its population (Please see international ratings on the Internet): we, for all our virtues, have increased hunger in our population as shown by food bank usage.

  • Chris Moore 9th Apr '24 - 10:04pm

    No one in the previous comments was advocating nuclear war, Paul.

    We should help Ukraine resist Russia; only in this way will any peace treaty be on remotely equal terms.

  • Matthew Radmore 9th Apr '24 - 11:08pm

    We don’t want a wider war. But we need to contain Russian aggression. The invasion has to come at a cost otherwise everything is at stake.
    We are supposed to be Liberal Democrats. This century has seen both Liberty and Democracy in decline. Yes, some of that has been at the hands of neo-cons and neo-libs, but probably less than half.
    If we don’t defend European style mixed economy imperfect democracies, then we may as well pack up now, the future is at stake.
    It is our highest duty to stand firm in the face of the evil and outrageous nuclear blackmail from Putin. It really is beyond acceptable. We want peace and freedom not fear and slavery.

  • For those that haven’t been following this especially closely and may not always spot Russian propaganda (or something that has been influenced by it in this case), there are at least FOUR RED FLAGS in this article.

    1/ references to Victoria Nuland, who has been the subject of a number of pro Russian conspiracy theories based off of straw-maning or removing context from things she’s said.

    2/ refering to euro maidan as a coup. In reality the opposition had signed a deal with the president to let him stay in power but he fled the country when his security service abandoned him (seemingly under direction from Russia who were were opposed to a deal with the opposition).

    3/ refering to the provisional government that took power before holding elections as anti Russian nationalists. The mainstream opposition parties were never anti Russian or nationalist, but much propaganda has been made to suggest that they are, (or to exaggerate the role of the Ukrainian far right)

    4/ actually calling for a return to or renegotiation of the Minsk agreements which Russia violated as soon as they were supposed to come into effect before openly lying in claiming they hadn’t signed it.
    To prevent Russia using another agreement as a stalling tactic before resuming the war, it would require other countries to provide Ukraine with security guarantees, but this would put us at war with Russia if/when they broke the deal.

    And obviously straw-maning those with differing views as wanting nuclear war is also problematic.

  • For those wishing to learn more about the details of how this conflict began and how the russian narrative doesn’t stack up, the best most detailed explanation I’ve seen so far is this series of videos here:

  • This is all very interesting, but we need to start with an analysis of what our own politics has been in our country. For example how much of the money that has flowed out of Russia through London has influenced anyone in the U.K. State. Then we need to focus on what we should do about it. My view is we need to look at how to build a participatory democracy in our own country, and look for ways of working with people with similar aspirations in other countries.

  • William Wallace 10th Apr '24 - 11:13am

    Paul: I share your scepticism about the NeoCons, but don’t share your interpretation of post-Cold War East-West relations. I worked with some of those now close to Putin in the 1980s, as part of the UK-Soviet Round Table, and after 1990 as an editorial board member of a Russian journal.; and also visited Ukraine and Georgia several times in the 1990s. You ignore Russian efforts to undermine the autonomy of states around it, from Moldova to Georgia, and to reassert the ‘Russian civilizational sphere’, to which regaining control of Ukraine is key. Yes, there may have to be a negotiated end to the current conflict; no, the conflict has not resulted from rightwing US designs. Countries that emerged out of the collapse of the USSR wanted to join NATO (and the EU) to guarantee their independence from Russia.

  • David Allen 10th Apr '24 - 4:24pm

    “The conflict has not resulted from rightwing US designs. Countries that emerged out of the collapse of the USSR wanted to join NATO (and the EU) to guarantee their independence from Russia.”

    That’s true, but it’s not the whole of the truth. Yes, the West achieved a massive bloodless conquest when Eastern European countries overthrew the Russian yoke and voluntarily chose freedom and economic advancement through “national defections” to the West. But the West could not reasonably expect Russia to simply swallow that humiliation, and put up with an increased potential military threat from the West, without doing something about it. What Putin chose to do was terrible, but he could hardly have done nothing.

    The mirror image of Eastern Europe is South America, where it is a US yoke which has been imposed from Chile to Cuba for many years, and it has been Russia’s turn to exploit anti-US resentment for their own purposes. Was the US intensely relaxed when Cuba went Red? It was not. Did the US “undermine the autonomy” of surrounding South American states, in order to reassert a US-led civilisational sphere? You bet they did.

    What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The Pope got it right. Russia is primarily to blame for the Ukraine catastrophe, but Russia was also “somehow provoked”.

  • Mick Taylor 10th Apr '24 - 5:27pm

    Let me see. You live in a communist controlled country, Bulgaria or Romania for example. It’s a pretty depressing sort of place to live with precious little freedom and imprisonment for those who don’t like the regime. An opportunity arises to become a democracy of sorts. Do you take it?
    The answer was a resounding YES. In Romania, they shot the previous president on Christmas Day along with his wife on live TV after a perfunctory trial.
    Did the West encourage this? In reality very little because it came as a great surprise to most people.
    Russia chose not to try and stop the break up of their Easter block as they had done in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. How can this be provocation by the West?
    Of course, Putin now chooses to see it as a plot by the West because it suits his narrative, but in reality the USSR surrendered their satellite countries with little more than a whimper.
    Should the EU have refused applications from former communist states? I don’t think so.
    The realpolititik is that Putin is a dangerous nationalist and nothing the West can do will appease him. Going to war will solve nothing and just cost a lot of lives and devastation.

  • George Lund 10th Apr '24 - 9:50pm

    I’m surprised at ldv for providing a platform for this. We need a debate about how to tackle the Russian problem, but accusing those in favour of decisively helping Ukraine of seeking nuclear war is purple and beyond nonconstructive.

  • “I’m surprised at ldv for providing a platform for this.”

    Well, we ought to be surprised when a liberal advocates censorship of ideas…

    Nobody is “seeking” or advocating nuclear war, and nobody is accusing anyone else of doing so. The issue is one of risk-taking.

    Many wars happen when Side A thinks it obvious that Side B should understand and accept Side A’s position, but strangely, Side B just don’t see it that way at all. Oops, we’re at war! Not my fault guv, it was totally unforeseeable, wasn’t it?

    Many in the West think Russia should be totally relaxed about the transfer of ex-USSR territories into the Wetern sphere of influence. When Castro similarly brought the enemy to the gates of the US and accepted Russian missiles, the US was not at all relaxed. Kennedy handled that crisis effectively. Putin, facing a somewhat comparable threat, has handled it very badly.

    We are where we are. Chris Moore is quite right to say “We should help Ukraine resist Russia; only in this way will any peace treaty be on remotely equal terms.” But neither appeasement and the large-scale loss of Ukrainian territory to Russia, nor an outright victory for Ukraine (if achievable), would be ideal outcomes. Both, if in different ways, would be destabilising. Both would keep Putin’s ambition and anger on the boil.

    Avoiding war isn’t simple. We should work for it. Nonchalantly ignoring the risks is the way to perdition.

  • Putin is a tyrannical dictator. He has shown his hand on numerous occasions, from Georgia to Syria to Ukraine and now Moldova.

    We can hazard a guess why he chose to invade Ukraine when he did (for me, Covid seems to have sent him finally round the maniacal bend) but we know from how we runs Russia and what he allowed to happen to residents of Bucha and Irpin that not opposing Russian forces will leave all of Ukraine and Ukrainians subject to a regime of terror. If we believe in liberty and freedom that should be the unacceptable line that we hold.

    Others have debunked the other myths spread anote Ukraine’s history since 1991, but let’s just say that in that time it has faced numerous obstacles to becoming an independent democracy, most of them created or fuelled by Putin and Russia. This is its biggest obstacle yet, but it is one they are meeting, and are asking for our help to do. We should, we have a moral obligation to do so.

  • Continued…

    Two final points. The number of times Russia and Putin have threatened other states with nuclear annihilation are legion (and legendary); it’s a threat they always use, because they know it creates fear. But they haven’t once done it. Primarily because they know its effects will impact Russia as much as those they were used against, and more interestingly because their is a high likelihood that their nuclear weapons have a high probability of failure… As we saw with the early days of the war, Russian maintenance regimes are very, very poor.

    And Xi is desperately and determinedly seeking a way to ‘absorb’ Taiwan, as he has done with Hong Kong and Macao. He might be stayed at the present by other concerns, but it is his and China’s stated policy, and there is no reason to disbelieve him.

  • @Tom Hardy, 10th at 11.10

    Dear Tom, I am brought up short by your suggestion that “we need to look at how to build a participatory democracy in our own country, and look for ways of working with people with similar aspirations in other countries.”

    That sounds a bit Lewis Carolly to me, If I may say so? Is it me, round the bend — or you, behind the curve?

    Almost certainly it is me, marbles all over the place at 85. But yours may be a double-bluff, I suspect and hope?

    But you won’t catch me so easy. The one Nation or State that needs to redesign its electoral processes is ours: we are the country that must wake up and insist on something pretty like the Frenchman’s Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. And those qualities can be found and promoted in a National Income Dividend (aka “UBI”).

  • The one certainty of war is that both sides will lay on propaganda as thick as treacle making it extremely difficult to get a balanced picture of their causes and progress.

    With that in mind what is the lesson learned from the calamitous invasion of Iraq? The we (the collective West) should be less ready to promote wars or that we need better and more pervasive propaganda?

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for my money by far the best of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls, has some trenchant observations about context of the war that should give pause for thought.

  • Serious Gordon, you think this man is a suitable candidate for a Lib Dem to promote…

  • Mark,

    I note you attack the man, not the substantive points RFK is making, namely that:
    (1) Russia “tried repeatedly to settle, on terms that were very favourable to Ukraine and us. The major thing they wanted was for us to keep NATO out of the Ukraine”.
    (2) That US policy in this is driven mainly by the profit-seeking behaviour of big defence contractors and financial firms.
    (3) The end result will be disastrous for Ukraine.

    Those points are correct even if our media mostly manages to gloss over them.

    Incidentally, I didn’t say RFK was a “suitable candidate”, only that he is “best of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls”. That is in the context of an extraordinarily weak field where frontrunner Biden will be 82 on inauguration day which would make him and the oldest President in US history if elected. Also, he is seen by many as having significant cognitive issues, and is fighting swirling and, AFAIK, so-far unrefuted allegations of very debateable business dealings.

  • Gordon. As far as I’m concerned I’m quite happy for any country that meets its requirements to join NATO. Surely that’s up to the voters in ukraine rather than putin.

  • Russell,

    A major point that RFK correctly makes is that Ukrainian voters DON’T get to make substantive decisions. Those are driven in part by the US aggressively moving to encircle and confront Russia (yes, I know that’s the opposite of what the media say but, like Iraqi WMDs, that is fake news) and in part by events within Ukraine.

    Most countries like to call themselves democracies; in practice there is a spectrum from North Korea which is officially the ‘Peoples Democratic Republic…’ (as if!) to slightly flawed democracies like ours where unequal funding, unequal media access, and FPTP voting make it hard for challengers. In the US there is zero correlation between what government delivers and what the voters want and but there’s a near-perfect correlation with what billionaires want.

    Zelensky was elected on a platform of peace, gaining 73% of the vote overall and an absolute majority in all but four voting districts. Once in office, he flipped to war and went on to imprison, and then beat up, the leader of the largest opposition party.

    Not what the voters wanted!

  • Zelensky “flipped to war”. Just like Churchill in 1940. How dare he! Considering how difficult it is for opposing views to be expressed on LDV on other issues (what can I possibly mean?) I’m surprised that putin apologists are allowed free reign here.

  • Any country with “Democratic” in its name isn’t. This is true both historically and in the present. It really doesn’t matter what the electoral system is in North Korea, as there’s only ever one name, one party on the ballot paper.
    “Free speech” arguments really make no sense when talking about what does and doesn’t get posted on this site. Most likely it was an editorial decision to put this article up, perhaps to spark debate. And, as I understand it, the editorial nature of the LDV team’s role means the legally site is liable for what gets posted here, hence caution on certain issues where debate can get heated.

    My impression is that contrarian views on foreign policy, especially Russia vs Ukraine, are most commonly held on the political extremes of both left and right (as well as those like sp*ked where it isn’t always clear which end of the political horseshoe they occupy). The same type of people were cheering the militant Serb nationalists in the Bosnian war. The kneejerk anti-westernism and fondness for strongmen appeals at both ends.

  • Iraq is nothing like Ukraine. The Iraq War was started by the US (with UK joining in) with the express intent of regime change. The US-led coalition won the war but lost the peace, so there is something in the idea that the West needs to promote liberal values better than it often does.

    The Ukraine war was started by unprovoked Russian aggression. There are no (official) foreign troops involved, and no-one is suggesting effecting regime change in Russia. Indeed the only one trying to effect regime change is Putin, in Ukraine.

  • Given brexit and Trump maybe “United” should be treated with as much suspicion as “democratic”?

  • David Allen 13th Apr '24 - 1:46pm


    Robert F Kennedy may have made valid comments about Ukraine, but it would have been better to have taken up those arguments, rather than appearing to endorse RFK. Kennedy is an anti-vaccine zealot who makes Trump look almost reasonable by comparison.

    And yes, the West have made important mistakes in Ukraine, but “Zelensky flipped to war” is just an incredible remark. Putin marched in with his tanks! Zelensky didn’t have a choice to make.

    If you want to understand why the West should stop uncritically believing its own propaganda, please read the OP.

  • Paul Reynolds 13th Apr '24 - 4:29pm

    Thanks for all the well-informed comments and widely differing points of view. I wish to touch upon 2 points raised; nuclear war and Russian propaganda.

    The point about the prospect of nuclear war is not that only a few few officials and politicians call explicitly for nuclear conflagration, it is that so many imply it, sometimes not realising what they are saying, (including UK parliamentarians). If folks say ‘Russia MUST be stopped, by any means’, without saying anything about how, they are giving license to use nuclear weapons.

    As Russia’s grinding but accelerating push Westwards continues, can advocates of a return to 1991 Ukraine borders explain exactly how without nuclear weapons ? If they can, only then are they not arguing for nuclear war.

    In addition, we have 2 military-political problems, which can lead to nuclear war.

    One is mission creep (as per Afghanistan, Iraq etc). For example, some F16s get shot down so we then have F35As vs SU57s … and so it goes. Or we have NATO trainers/operators attacked and we then have full Brigs on the front line. Mission creep is one fear that many senior experienced people share.

    The second is ‘victory-round-the-corner-disorder’. In Afghanistan from personal experience the war was lost by 2007/8 (although some of the gains were salvageable via negs). But the Western forces couldn’t accept reality, so we unpatriotically dragged it out for a further 13 years or so, leading to humiliation. The things we can do to strengthen our negotiating position in Ukraine vis Russia are limited and risky, but we have to deploy them in short order and choose a way out soon. Focusing on Russia’s vulnerabilities is more patriotic then stumbling into nuclear war.

  • Paul Reynolds 13th Apr '24 - 4:30pm

    I absolutely agree with the earlier point about Russian state propaganda. There’s a lot of it about, especially focused on Germany. For example; ‘Ukraine was never a real country’, ‘the Ukrainians are all Nazis revering Bandera’, ‘NATO wants nuclear weapons on Russia’s borders’, ‘Russia is a benevolent power’ (!) and ‘NATO’s equipment is all inferior’. All nonsense of course but many people swallow this stuff.

    However, the one failsafe way to weaken and dilute the fight against Russian propaganda is to accuse anyone who questions some aspects of the standard Western narrative, of being a Russian propagandist. Our strength is our democracy and open debate. We should not throw it away. Through debate we can avoid the catastrophic mistakes of … Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Saharan Africa, Libya, Syria et al. The same people in change of those catastrophes have been in charge of Ukraine policy. ‘Trust me’ doesn’t fill one with confidence, neither do the mendacious narratives used to excuse disasters in each of these failed ‘wars of choice’.

    Those that follow closely the twists & turns of the war know that the Ukrainian Donbass front line fortifications were mostly built in 2013/4. That is not Russian spin. A key dimension to the war is that Zelensky, whose TV programme was funded by Zolomoisky, was originally elected on a platform of peace with Russia, after one of his predecessors was overthrown. That is not Russian spin. US neocons rejected the post-Soviet ‘Peace Dividend’ after 1991 and Vicky Nuland was put in charge of elimination Russia as a rival (as per PNAC, led by her husband) That is entirely a matter of record.

    For want of ‘something to say’, invertebrate UK politicians unknowingly promoting nuclear war is not helping avoid the blind self-defeating military-only path we seem to be on.

  • @Paul. In 1991 85% of voters and two thirds of adults voted for Ukrainian independence in the Donbas (Donbass, like Kiev, is the russian spelling). It was the spring of 2014 when russian intelligence agencies initiated destabilisation of that area. Despite this provocation, from what I can gather, Zelensky was quite prepared to negotiate with russia on the Donbas. Of course he wanted peace. Who wouldn’t? On the nucelar weapons issue: I’m not aware of any serious politician in the west who’s threatened the use. More than can be said of putin.

  • Peter Chambers 14th Apr '24 - 8:34pm

    > but Russia was also “somehow provoked”

    A fun mental exercise is to substitute “British Empire” for Russia or Soviet Union, and “Eden” for Putin, and see how much sense the result makes.

    …but the British Empire was also somehow provoked.

    Should Eden have had A-bombs loaded into Vickers Valiants and doubled down on Suez, as he might have felt provoked? (hardly!)

    The mighty often feel right, and the fearful hesitate to confront the bully as he might not like it. Eden had to stop after the shock he received, if only due to the strength of public opinion at the time of Suez. At some point Empires have to accept that time is up.

  • David Allen 15th Apr '24 - 1:23pm

    Peter Chambers,

    Eden was trying to retain “British Empire” dominance in Suez, a continent away from the UK. Putin is trying to regain territory which was inside the USSR when he was born. There’s a bit of a difference! Globalisation notwithstanding, what most scares any nation with pretensions to power and influence is an enemy at the gates. Castro and the Bay of Pigs scared the hell out of the good ol’ USA for that very reason.

    None of which remotely justifies Putin’s appalling reaction to Western “provocation”, but it should guide the way we seek to go forward.

  • Sorry not to have replied to others sooner; I’ve had a hectic few days with little time or brain space left.

    David Allen.

    How strange that those dissing RFK have made no attempt to tackle the subject of the clip I posted, only to attack him for his views on vaccination which is a total red herring.

    As for “flipped to war”, not good phrasing, I agree, but written in a great hurry. I’m sure Zelensky was perfectly genuine in his campaign but even politicians with the biggest majorities aren’t immune to circumstances. That can be anything from rival politicians (the worst often in your own party), difficult economy, conflicting advice, international pressures, oligarchs, and the rest. In a state that was already deeply divided the pressure must have been irresistible, especially for a novice politician. “Was flipped” would have been better but still not great.

    Also, as you say later, “what most scares any nation…. is an enemy at the gates etc. Very true which is why the “unprovoked war” meme is nonsense. Russia would think of the US’s bad habit of starting wars, note that it unilaterally revoked the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty (important to Europe and Russia but not US because of the ranges covered) allowing it to put nukes within 5 minutes of Moscow if/when Ukraine joins NATO, predatory oligarchs (experienced under Yeltsin, see also RFK) and bad echoes of WW2.

  • Peter Hirst 19th Apr '24 - 2:17pm

    It is untrue to say that war has never solved anything but its gains are so ourweighed by its horrors that it might as well be true. What might be truer is that nothing has been gained by war that might have been achieved by negotiation much quicker, easier and at less cost to all sides.

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