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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/19/15

Seeking the Truth about Ukraine

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It was President George H.W. Bush's sense of triumph -- as will be shown below -- that compelled him to persuade West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to renege on his crucial promise to Mikhail Gorbachev: no eastward expansion of NATO. And it was the triumphalism of Bush's Secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney, as well as his assistant, Paul Wolfowitz, that led to the promulgation of the infamous Defense Planning Guidance, which became known as the "Wolfowitz Doctrine."

Writing in the September/October 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs, Mary Elise Sarrote noted that, at their meeting on February 10, 1990, Kohl assured Gorbachev that, in return for Moscow's permission to begin the reunification of Germany, "naturally NATO could not expand its territory to the current territory of [East Germany]." "In parallel talks, [West German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich] Genscher delivered the same message to his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, saying, 'for us, it stands firm: NATO will not expand itself to the East.'"

According to Professor Sarrote, "After hearing these repeated assurances, Gorbachev gave West Germany what Kohl later called 'the green light.'" Kohl "held a press conference immediately to lock in his gain." However, he did not mention the quid pro quo -- no eastward expansion of NATO.

(The Soviet Union lost some 27,000,000 men, women and children before defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. By comparison, the U.S. lost some 400,000 during that war. Consequently, permitting the reunification of Germany in return for West Germany's assurance of no NATO expansion eastward was an enormous concession by Gorbachev.)

Professor Sakwa believes, "There was no deal prohibiting NATO's advance since it had appeared utter insanity even to conceive of such a thing" (p.45). But, I'm not so sure. After all, when Kohl met with Bush at Camp David on February 24-25, he was persuaded to back away from his informal agreement with Gorbachev. "Bush made his feelings about compromising with Moscow clear to Kohl: 'To hell with that! We prevailed and they didn't. We can't let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.'" (See click here , pp. 93-94 in print edition)

In May 1990, Gorbachev exposed the bad faith of the Americans and Germans, when he told Secretary of State James Baker: "You say that NATO is not directed against us, that it is simply a security structure that is adapting to new realities. Therefore, we propose to join NATO." Baker refused. (Ibid. p. 95)

The worst consequence of arrogant American triumphalism in the first Bush administration was the "Wolfowitz Doctrine." It came to light in early March 1992, when the New York Times reported the details of Paul Wolfowitz's Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), which had been leaked to the newspaper. Mr. Wolfowitz urged that the United States "must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." In a word, Mr. Wolfowitz had drafted a plan for everlasting American global hegemony. According to Professor Sakwa, "this has been the strategy pursued by the U.S. since the fall of communism" (p. 211).

According to the Times, the DPG stipulated that "the United States should .not contemplate any withdrawal of its nuclear-strike aircraft based in Europe and, in the event of a resurgent threat from Russia, 'we should plan to defend against such a threat' farther forward on the territories of Eastern Europe 'should there be an Alliance decision to do so.'"

As the Times correctly notes: "This statement offers an explicit commitment to defend the former Warsaw Pact nations from Russia." The DPG also suggested "that the United States could also consider extending to Eastern and Central European nations security commitments similar to those extended to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states along the Persian Gulf. And to help stabilize the economies and democratic development in Eastern Europe, the draft calls on the European Community to offer memberships to Eastern European countries as soon as possible." (See click here ) Thus, the DPG proposed aggressive policies that would keep Russian from "even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

Yet, the reality proved to be much more aggressive than Wolfowitz's DPG. Taking advantage of a weakened, inward looking Russia, the Clinton administration urged Warsaw Pact nations to apply for membership in NATO. Thus, not only did aggressive NATO expansion occur long before Russia became a "resurgent threat," aggressive NATO expansion actually provoked Russia into becoming a resurgent threat.

(The triumphalism of the Clinton administration was best expressed by a proponent of NATO expansion, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "[I]f we have to use force it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and see further than other countries into the future"" (Sakwa, p. 227)).

In addition to NATO's relentless territorial expansion came a second type of expansion that was totally consistent with Wolfowitz's DPG. NATO expanded its strategic concept to include offensive war, not only in self-defense of member states that had been attacked, but also to guarantee European security and uphold democratic values within and beyond its borders. In fact, the new strategic concept was put into practice a month before it was announced, when, for the first time, NATO used military force against a sovereign state (Yugoslavia) that had not attacked a NATO member. Russians of every class and political persuasion were livid, but nobody in the West paid much attention.

Russia's compassion and support for the U.S after al-Qaeda's heinous attacks on 9/11 quickly evaporated when President George W. Bush authorized American troops to invade Iraq. Vice President Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz -- the scoundrels behind the DPG -- played critical roles in fostering the worst war crime of the 21st century. According to Professor Sakwa, "after the Iraq war of 2003 Russia became increasingly alienated and developed into what I call a 'neo-revisionist' power, setting the stage for the confrontation in Ukraine." (p.30)

Also setting the stage for the confrontation in Ukraine was the further expansion of NATO. On March 29, 2004, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania joined Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic (which had been admitted in 1999) as members of NATO.

In 2005, after a protest against crooked elections in Ukraine resulted in the so-called Orange Revolution, the Bush administration hurriedly dispatched Daniel Fried, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs to the new government in Ukraine. According to WikiLeaks, Mr. Fried not only communicated the U.S. Government's commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, but also "emphasized U.S. support for Ukraine's NATO and Euro-Atlantic aspirations" (Sakwa, pp.52-53). He emphasized America's support for joining NATO, notwithstanding the fact that Ukrainians overwhelmingly opposed joining NATO.

On February 12, 2007, while the United States was still conducting its criminal assault on Iraq, President Putin aired his grievances about NATO expansion at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy. He said: "I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: 'the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee'. Where are these guarantees?" click here

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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