How can we save Ukraine and the Ukrainians from the fate NATO has dictated to them?
Craig Murray is a British former diplomat, political activist, human rights campaigner, blogger, and whistleblower
Cross-posted from Craig’s website
There can be few safer indicators of the views of the globalist “liberal” Establishment than reports of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which prefers to be known as Chatham House.
Chatham House’s principal funding comes from the UK, US, Canadian, German, Swiss, Japanese, Swedish and Norwegian governments, the World Bank and the EU, and from corporate “philanthropists” including IKEA, Bill Gates, George Soros, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, BP, Chevron, Shell, and ExxonMobil. I could go on.
In other words, Chatham House is absolutely rolling in the dosh controlled by states and the super wealthy. It is headquartered in the palatial residence of the imperial expansionist Prime Minister William Pitt, and has expanded out over time into two great adjoining mansions.
(In 2022 it also, despite all the petroleum bungs, received its largest grant from the MAVA Foundation, a Swiss environmental charity, which was that year closing down and disbursing all its funds).
So Chatham House is a pretty infallible guide as to what those who control western “democracies” are thinking. And when it comes to Ukraine, what they are thinking is terrifying.
Chatham House has released a report which “makes the case for dramatically increased Western military assistance to Ukraine, and argues against concessions to Russia”.
The report is organised as a list of nine “fallacies” which the authors are concerned that Russian propagandists have successfully insinuated into Western thinking, and sets out to refute each of them.
This is rather a high risk approach as, taken together, the nine “fallacies” on the face of it make a cogent and convincing argument against the escalation of the war.
But, convinced of the protection of their amulets of invincible self-righteousness, the authors plunge right in to their refutations.
I do not intend to go through them all. I merely seek to illustrate the intellectual paucity of this lavishly funded enterprise.
The task of debunking the first “fallacy”, that all wars end in negotiation, is given to James Sherr OBE, an American careerist Russophobe who is currently Head of Vilification at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (I definitely got the Institute right but I may have mistranslated his title a bit).
Estonia has of course much in common with Ukraine. It gained its national freedom on the collapse of the Soviet Union and it has subsequently put state resources into honouring Nazi Holocaust participants.
Two of the three Estonian Waffen SS officers in this photo have had official plaques to them unveiled in modern Estonia, reported with approval and no sense of controversy in the state media.
I thought I might mention this in case anyone thinks it unfair that Ukrainian Nazis were spotlighted by another Waffen SS member being given a standing ovation by the Canadian parliament. It is only fair to point out that a lot of Ukraine’s closest supporters are riddled with Nazi sympathy also.
Anyway, what does Estonian state employee and US citizen Dr James Sherr, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, former Fellow of the UK Defence Academy, have to tell us about the “fallacy” that all wars end in negotiation?
The first problem is that they don’t. It is true that the majority of wars do not end in absolute victory. Ceasefire, armistice and stalemate terminate most conflicts, even if the ‘peace’ is infirm or short-lived. But where the stakes are absolute, as they were in the Napoleonic wars, the US Civil War and the Second World War, armed conflict usually ends in the victory of one side and the defeat of the other. Negotiation, compromise and reconciliation are undertaken with new regimes only after old regimes are defeated and removed. The Franco-German reconciliation invoked by Emmanuel Macron would have been inconceivable had the Nazis remained in power.
Sherr goes on to argue that the stakes in this war are absolute. It is an existential war for Ukraine because Russia seeks to destroy it entirely, and it is an existential war for Russia because, he argues, Putin believes that Kiev is the cradle of the Russian soul.
Having defined it as an existential war, he says that it follows that it must be escalated up to total war and total victory.
It is very plainly an argument to escalate the war to achieve regime change in Russia:
Negotiation, compromise and reconciliation are undertaken with new regimes only after old regimes are defeated and removed.
Sherr is perfectly happy to contemplate millions of deaths. Look at his comparisons; the Napoleonic Wars entailed 3 million combat deaths, the US civil war about 700,000 combat deaths and the Second World War about 15 million. In each case you can probably more than double that for total civilian deaths caused by those wars.
Let me be absolutely plain: Sherr is saying this is the kind of total war he wants against Russia, rather than a more limited one.
Strangely enough Sherr does not reference those more recent great western wars for regime change, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which also resulted in the deaths of millions. Possibly even he realises the end results have not been entirely desirable.
But is this war really existential for either Ukraine or Russia? The truth is that ever since Ukraine became independent in 1991 it has been unstable, deeply divided over whether to look west to the EU or look east to Russia. The political and linguistic division broadly at the Dnieper runs deep into history.
Modern Ukraine is a failed state that collapsed into civil war in 2014 after twenty years of political tension between openly pro-Western and pro-Russian political forces which were remarkably evenly balanced.
Up to and including 2014, both the Western powers and Russia engaged in all forms of political interference, espionage and chicanery to try to win Ukraine. Back in 1996 when I was First Secretary in the British Embassy in Warsaw, I helped author a paper for the Cabinet Office which said that Poland was now secured to the West, but the hinge of history would be the Ukraine. I discussed it with George Soros in person (he bought me a pizza).
I cannot share the outrage of many on the left at the “colour revolution” of 2014. Both Russia and the West had been playing a dirty game. Yanukovych was more or less kidnapped by Moscow to disavow the EU Association agreement. The ensuing 2014 coup was just the US being more adept at winning the dirty game, of which I as a former player well know the rules, or lack of them.
The subsequent annexation of Crimea and reinforcement of the Donbass was the Russian counter-move. That ended the hope that a united Ukraine would ever be pro-Russian. The civil war rumbled on ever since until the larger Russian invasion. The extreme discriminatory measures against the Russian speaking population post-2014 ended the hope that a united Ukraine would ever be possible.
Chatham House itself illustrates that Ukraine was nothing but this East/West conflict playground. In 2023 the “Chatham House Prize” for international relations was awarded to Ukrainian President Zelensky. In 2005 the inaugural “Chatham House Prize” had been awarded to President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, openly for turning Ukraine from a pro-Russian to a pro-EU foreign policy.
A country where it is a prize-winning achievement to win a narrow majority for pro-western policies, against the wishes of the other half of the country which wants a pro-Russian foreign policy, is not a viable long term political entity.
At no stage in this post-Soviet story did Ukraine ever become a viable state. It was a poor, undeveloped and undeveloping, east-west power game venue. Both sides were rigging elections and the oligarchs and their pet politicians oversaw massive corruption, on a mind boggling scale.
Which corruption has no way lessened, and has battened on vast flows of “assistance” from the west.
There has never been a Ukraine under the rule of law and proper democratic government, to which to now return. What does Sherr think will be the attitude of the Russian speaking half of the Ukrainian population if his massive, blood-drenched, total war does bring about the total defeat of Russia?
Ukraine has now banned Russian as an official language, banned all Russian speaking newspapers, banned the pro-Russian political parties, banned teaching in Russian in schools, banned Russian books in libraries and banned the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet Russian is the first language of about 40% of the population.
Is the plan that the total war will result in such genocide that Russian speakers in Ukraine will be no more? Will they all be ethnically cleansed? Or after so much death and destruction, will they just quietly live as second class citizens, and abandon resistance? Is that the plan?
In truth, the best opportunity for a functioning and more efficient Ukrainian state is, now we are in this hot war, for it to lose the Russia-leaning areas and become a more homogeneous and unified entity, with a much greater chance of being at peace with itself and of sorting out its colossal governance problems.
A smaller, better, Ukraine that quickly finds its way into the EU would benefit the great majority of pro-Ukrainians and provide a more stable future for Eastern Europe. In time, it would come to be seen as a blessing.
A negotiated land-for-peace deal, with genuinely free referenda conducted under UN supervision to determine borders, has always been possible and is now essential.
That is what diplomacy is. Yes, mankind can conduct its affairs through total war, inflicting death, maiming, rape, hunger, disease and long term poverty on a massive scale. Or compromise can be reached. That there are those who argue for the former over Eastern Ukraine is sickening to me.
The other problem with a total war is of course that it might be your side which loses. If Sherr wants total war and no negotiation, he is of course accepting the possibility that Russia will conquer all of Ukraine – and would have no right at all to complain of that outcome.
In which case what would become of the Ukrainians? One thing is for certain, a massive wave of refugees would be launched right across Europe.
The practical problem with Sherr’s call for total war is that Ukraine really does not have the population numbers to sustain to victory a total war against Russia. It is just going to run out of people, as indeed the much trumpeted counteroffensive appears to have done.
The extreme escalation of western weaponry which Chatham House proposes, might indeed get round the population problem and tip the balance by inflicting simply massive casualties on Russia, but it is an incredible gamble to believe that so much hurt could be inflicted on Russia without risking nuclear annihilation.
It is improbable that China will permit these lunatic western warhawks to risk the entire future of humankind. Sherr is not of course alone – each section of the report has a different author, and some of them are even more unhinged. Please feel free to discuss further in the comments.
A diplomatic settlement to the Ukraine war terrifies western power structures because it will underline the decline of western hegemony and the increasing influence of BRICS and other non-western voices.
The actual destruction of Russia as an independent power has become essential to the apostles of empire, as a means of maintaining a psychological ascendancy for a few more years. They really do not care how many die for that. Do we really want to follow Dr Sherrangelove and his fellow Chatham House ideologues down this path?
Remember that list above of who pays for Chatham House and who wants all this death. I can see how it benefits them. But, dear reader, how does it benefit you?
An independent Ukraine, shorn of the Eastern provinces that have never wished to look westward, is in the long term much more feasible and viable than some kind of military Valhalla created by an epic war of conquest.
A negotiated and equitable end to this conflict is perfectly viable. It always has been so. The people of Europe have to reject the military industrial complex, the war profiteers and the blazing-eyed ideologues – and look for a fair peace.
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