Only days ago, Henry Kissinger argued in his article in The Spectator, "How to Avoid Another World War," that Ukraine surrender "territory" (no mention of the fate of the attendant humanity) in favor of "peace through negotiation."
His mechanism is not to preserve and protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the victim and the "rules-based international order" that we champion, but the opposite—to preserve and protect the invading, terrorist state. How would this prevent another world war? It would catalyze it.
Kissinger calls for "a ceasefire line along the borders existing" as of Feb.24, 2022. (Note "borders"—the only "borders" are the internationally recognized ones that Russia breached in 2014.) He characterizes Russia’s advances after Feb. 24 as "conquests," but the territory it invaded in 2014 is labelled less kinetically as "occupied nearly a decade ago," inducing the reader to also subliminally acquiesce to the legitimizing inertia of time.
Russia would not "disgorge" the latter, which would be subject to "negotiation." But what is there to negotiate other than a result that would approve Russia’s overarching crime of aggression, outlawed by the international community? (At least in 2014, Kissinger acknowledged that Russia must recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Crimea.) Further, Russia should not be "rendered impotent by the war," as it has made "decisive contributions to the global equilibrium for half a millennium." A possible dissolution of Russia would create a "contested vacuum."
First, Putin can, in a nano-second, eliminate every specter that Kissinger laments could befall Russia if the successful Ukrainian defense continues. Yet Kissinger remains silent instead in effect blaming the victim. There is not a word about accountability, justice or reparations for the war crimes, atrocities, and genocide committed by Russia.
Second, territory is hardly the issue. Russia’s is the largest country on the planet, occupying an entire third of Asia and 40 percent of continental Europe. Only one of its sub-regions, Kolyma, is the size of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan (combined) or, if you prefer, larger than France, Spain, Japan, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Greece, Sweden and North Korea (also combined). Its European portion is the size of India and Turkey combined. Russia doesn’t need more lebensraum.
Russia openly and proudly declares its war against Ukraine as genocidal. Mere "ethnographic material" was the name given to Ukrainians as Stalin was scything millions out of existence in the genocidal starvation of 1932-33.
At that very time, Washington extended diplomatic recognition to -and rewarding - the genocidal regime. Today, Stalin’s cheerleader labels Ukrainians as "satanists." “Your task is to wipe the Ukrainian nation off the face of the earth.”
Israel’s Golda Meir understood: "They say we must be dead. And we want to be alive. Between life and death, I don’t know of a compromise."
Third. How is any cease-fire or other agreement to be enforced? Gerald Ford, one of the presidents that Kissinger had advised, said upon the signing of the 30,000 word Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Accords): "History will judge this conference, not by what we can say here today, but by what we do tomorrow, not by the promises we make, but by the promises we keep."
A score of multi-lateral and bi-lateral agreements have been shredded. Now is precisely their enforcement phase, yet Kissinger doesn’t address the issue and simply calls for yet another "agreement."
Washington hectored Kyiv to surrender its nuclear arsenal to, yes, Russia: 176 ICBM’s armed with 1,240 nuclear warheads, 44 strategic bombers armed with 1081 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and an unspecified number of tactical nuclear .
In the infamous 1994 Budapest Memorandum Russia "negotiated" and "agreed" "to respect the Independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine . . .to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine" . . . [and] to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to [its] own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty."
Clear enough. Some of the very same missiles, though without the nuclear warheads, are now raining down on Ukraine. What now?
Fourth. Kissinger somersaults the history he himself uses to introduce the piece – one-third is about the purported precedent of WWI, and the conditions that led to peace talks.
He ignores the circumstances as the template for relentless Russian international predation and our inability to comprehend the blood lust, with the resulting betrayal of a natural ally.
Kissinger doesn’t mention that President Wilson’s Fourteen Points were deemed inapplicable to Ukraine, which was dismembered, with the lion’s share tossed to Russia. At the Paris Peace Conference the Ukrainian delegation was denied a seat. Its letter to Georges Clemenceau, President of the Conference, of Feb. 18, 1919 was stark:
"[T]he Bolshevik Government of Russia has sent its troops against Ukraine and broken the Ukrainian front near the frontier of the Ukrainian Republic. Now they are advancing into the heart of our country and the Bolshevik Government has not only no intention of fulfilling the conditions laid down by the Peace Conference at Paris to establish a truce, to retire its forces and to cease all military action; on the contrary, it has just developed its military offensive to destroy the independence of the Ukrainian Republic.
“One knows that the traditional history of Russia was always, and through the present, an imperial policy, and now she wishes to pass over the body of independent Ukraine to put one hand on the Dardanelles and Suez and the other on the Persian Gulf."
This, after Russia had in 1918 recognized, "without qualification or condition" Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and on the same day invaded the country.
Kissinger is focused on the preservation of Russia, as was Washington after WWI.
Oblivious to the reality of what "empire" implicated, then Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby verbalized U.S. policy: "Russia’s interests must be generously protected," that the U.S. maintains unimpaired its faith in the Russian people in their high character" and that they will "join in upholding peace and orderly justice."
Better if Kissinger had used WWII as the paradigm; the lessons of Western appeasement and strategic witlessness would have been more stark. We financed the Iron Curtain for Moscow, measuring it from Berlin to the Sea of Japan, and indirectly helped to lay the foundation for communist China.
It was a cosmic swathe of territory and humanity that Hitler couldn’t have dreamed of. At least the aftermath of WWII was the "rules-based international order." It’s on the block today.
It’s either worth saving or it isn’t. Capitulating to Putin, who worships Hitler’s erstwhile partner, Stalin, will indeed bring predictability.
Recognized as the embodiment of American diplomacy, Kissinger put China on her feet, in the process betraying Taiwan.
He was wrong about “detente,” which brought us close to strategic disaster – and it took Ukraine gaining independence to set the headstone for the “USSR” of 1991, thereby ensuring recoupment of our global primacy.
Resurrecting a point in his doctoral thesis would have far better served Kissinger’s purpose of avoiding another world war.
It was incorporated in his A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822: "Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective of a power or a group of powers, the international system has been at the mercy of the most ruthless member of the international community."
This was cited in 1973 by the Nobel Prize committee upon its award to Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho for negotiating the "ceasefire" in Vietnam.
It ended with the shambolic helicopter flight off the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon in 1975, a prequel to the betrayal of the Kurds and Afghans in 2021.
If we were to walk Kissinger’s path millions of Ukrainians would be no more. Again. We would slingshot "Back to the USSR," reverse the tortuous recovery of our global deterrence credibility, institutionalize nuclear blackmail, and greenlight a conga line of tyrants.
The "rules-based international order" would draw to a close.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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