Chomsky And Kissinger Agree: Avoid Historic Tragedy In Ukraine

It would usually be difficult to find more polar opposite views to U.S. foreign policy, but when it comes to Ukraine, the anti-war intellectual and the former U.S. Secretary of State have more in common than either might like to admit.
By @PopResistance |
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    The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering sending more weapons to Ukraine — $3 billion worth. The Times reports: “Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday [Feb. 5], is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said.”

    This follows Defense News reporting that this spring the United States will be sending troops to train the Ukrainian National Guard and commence the shipping of U.S.-funded armored vehicles. The funding for this is coming from the congressionally-authorized Global Security Contingency Fund, which was requested by the Obama administration in the fiscal year 2015 budget to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe.

    Meanwhile, January footage from Ukrainian television shows U.S. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, handing out medals to wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

    The slippery slope of U.S. involvement in what is developing into a civil war is based on a great deal of propagandistic statements and inaccurate corporate media coverage, and it calls to mind so many wars started for false reasons.

    The views of Henry Kissinger and Noam Chomsky on this conflict are quite similar, though it’s difficult to find two more polar opposites regarding U.S. foreign policy. Indeed, Chomsky has been a long-time critic of Kissinger for the bombings in Southeast Asia and the various coups against democratic leaders that occurred during his tenure. Chomsky has said that in a just world, Kissinger certainly would have been prosecuted for these actions. (These were the war crimes that CODEPINK recently protested before the Senate Finance Committee.)

    Yet when it comes to Ukraine, Chomsky and Kissinger essentially agree with each other. They disagree with the more hawkish Obama administration and the even more extreme Sen. John McCain — who are both escalating the conflict in their own ways.


    “A threatening situation” 

    Chomsky has described Ukraine as a “crisis [that] is serious and threatening,” further noting that some people compare it to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. In discussing Russia and Crimea he reminds readers that, “Crimea is historically Russian; it has Russia’s only warm-water port, the home of Russia’s fleet; and has enormous strategic significance.”

    Kissinger agrees. In an interview with Spiegel, published in November, Kissinger says, “Ukraine has always had a special significance for Russia. It was a mistake not to realize that.”

    He continues:

    Crimea is a special case. Ukraine was part of Russia for a long time. You can’t accept the principle that any country can just change the borders and take a province of another country. But if the West is honest with itself, it has to admit that there were mistakes on its side. The annexation of Crimea was not a move toward global conquest. It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia.

    When Kissinger says that Crimea is not akin to Hitler and a desire for global conquest by Russia, he is going to the heart of the arguments made by those seeking escalation. Asked whether he believes the West has “at least a kind of responsibility for” the escalation in Ukraine, Kissinger says:

    Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev. All these, and their impact, should have been the subject of a dialogue with Russia.

    In other words, Kissinger blames the U.S. and Europe for the current catastrophe in Ukraine. Kissinger does not begin at the point where there is military conflict. He recognizes that the problems in Ukraine began with Europe and the U.S. seeking to lure Ukraine into an alliance with Western powers with promises of economic aid. This led to the demonstrations in Kiev. And, as we learned from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the U.S. spent $5 billion in building opposition to the government in Ukraine.

    In an October interview on U.S. foreign policy with the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research, when asked about Ukraine, Chomsky says:

    It is an extremely dangerous development, which has been brewing ever since Washington violated its verbal promises to Gorbachev and began expanding NATO to the East, right to Russia’s borders, and threatening to incorporate Ukraine, which is of great strategic significance to Russia and of course has close historical and cultural links. There is a sensible analysis of the situation in the leading establishment journal, Foreign Affairs, by international relations specialist John Mearsheimer, entitled “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.” The Russian autocracy is far from blameless, but we are now back to earlier comments: we have come perilously close to disaster before, and are toying with catastrophe again. It is not that possible peaceful solutions are lacking.

    Kissinger, too, warns of Ukraine as a dangerous situation, describing the potential of a new Cold War and urging the countries involved to do all they can to avoid “a historic tragedy.” He tells Spiegel:

    There clearly is this danger, and we must not ignore it. I think a resumption of the Cold War would be a historic tragedy. If a conflict is avoidable, on a basis reflecting morality and security, one should try to avoid it.

    Chomsky agrees that the Ukraine conflict is high risk but goes further. Speaking to Russia Today (RT), he mentions a risk of World War III and nuclear war, saying the world has “come ominously close several times in the past, dramatically close.” He then describes the current situation in Ukraine: “And now, especially in the crisis over Ukraine, and so-called missile-defense systems near the borders of Russia, it’s a threatening situation.”

    Kissinger is also critical of the economic sanctions against Russia. He takes issue with targeting individuals because he does not see how that ends. Indeed, the criticism of the sanctions also applies to U.S. military involvement in Ukraine. Kissinger tells Spiegel: “I think one should always, when one starts something, think what one wants to achieve and how it should end. How does it end?”


    The virtual takeover of Ukrainian government

    The U.S. has loaded the Ukraine government and key businesses with Americans or U.S. allies. Nuland was caught on a telephone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, picking the next leader of Ukraine. The call is more famous for her closing line — “Fuck the EU” — but in the call she also says that the next leader of Ukraine should be the former banker Arseniy Yatseniuk, who she calls by a nickname “Yats.” Indeed, he has since become the prime minister of the post-coup Ukrainian government.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is identified in State Department documents as an informant for the U.S. since 2006. The documents describe him as “[o]ur Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko.” The State Department documents also report that Poroshenko is “tainted by credible corruption allegations.”

    The most recent top official to join the Ukrainian government is Natalia A. Jaresko, a long-time State Department official, who went to Ukraine after the U.S.-sponsored Orange Revolution. Jaresko was made a Ukrainian citizen by the president on the same day he appointed her finance minister. William Boardman reports further on Jaresko:

    Natalie Jaresko, is an American citizen who managed a Ukrainian-based, U.S.-created hedge fund that was charged with illegal insider trading. She also managed a CIA fund that supported ‘pro-democracy’ movements and laundered much of the $5 billion the U.S. spent supporting the Maidan protests that led to the Kiev coup in February 2014. Jaresko is a big fan of austerity for people in troubled economies.

    Then, there is also one of the most important business sectors in Ukraine: the energy industry. After the U.S.-supported coup, Vice President Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter Biden, and a close friend of Secretary of State John Kerry, Devon Archer, the college roommate of the secretary of state’s stepson, have joined the board of Ukrainian gas producer Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest independent gas producer by volume. Archer also served as an adviser to Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and co-chaired his National Finance Committee. He also serves as a trustee of the Heinz Family Office, which manages the family business.

    This virtual takeover of the Ukrainian government is the opposite of what Kissinger would have liked to have seen. He wrote last March, “If Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.” Unfortunately, it looks like it has been taken over by the U.S., creating conflict rather than a bridge between Russia and the U.S.

    The man who was involved in multiple coups of democratically-elected governments now says the U.S. cannot impose its views on other nations:

    SPIEGEL: In your book, you write that international order “must be cultivated, not imposed.” What do you mean by that?

    Kissinger: What it means is we that we Americans will be a major factor by virtue of our strengths and values. You become a superpower by being strong but also by being wise and by being farsighted. But no state is strong or wise enough to create a world order alone.

    Chomsky has often described how superpowers seek to organize the world according to their interests through military and economic power. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for national self-determination, not domination by super-powers.

    Though Kissinger and Chomsky might be offended at being associated with the political views of the other, as the U.S. rushes headlong into a military conflict between the coup government in Kiev and the Eastern Ukrainian governments seeking their own self-determination, it is notable that both agree this rush to war is a mistake — and one of potentially historic proportions.

    Kevin Zeese is co-director of Popular Resistance and active with the anti-war group, Come Home America.


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    • Josh

      Chomsky has indeed lost it.

      When he and Kissinger agree on forgoing Ukrainian independence to satisfy Russian mafia leader’s interests, especially over human civil rights – blows my mind.

      All you Chomsky lovers are worshiping a senile old man

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    • Bibi

      Our Ukraine is a political party in Ukraine, not “our” as in the US “our”, i.e. what the cable says is that Petro Poroshenko is an insider in the political party, not that he is “our” guy in Ukraine.

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    • Nill Nilsen

      Putin won’t look for the diplomatic decision will believe in military
      defeat of the Ukrainian army so far.

      Refusal of military aid to Ukraine will stop Putin? It is silly. Lack of
      the weapon at the opponent never stopped an aggressor. Arms supplies from Russia
      proceed. Not to provide weapons for Ukraine simply increases Russia’s
      temptation to escalate the intervention

      Russian separatist don’t want a better life for the Donbas residents.
      They are just in it for the fight and don’t care who gets killed.

      If Ukraine receives weapons and Putin will stop the Russian separatist
      will agree about the termination of military operation. Without it any
      diplomatic decision waits for a fate of the Minsk and Budapest Memorandum.

      • TecumsehUnfaced

        A strange collection of assumptions you present here. They need to be securely supported, or they will appear just plain silly.

        • electronmigrant

          Yes. Dreamers who just as Kissinger explains don’t know how this ends or do they? They know how they would like it to end but that does not make it reality. Russia put together the basis of the Minsk accord. Yet Kiev refuses to comply with their own signed agreement. They are now wishing to conscripts little girls to send to the front I say wish because so far they’ve had a desertion rate of 30 to 67 percent depending on which reports you wish to believe. Sending more weapons will be absolutely useless. What is next ? Conscripting Grandmothers ? Kiev knows even today that they have no way of fighting their way to victory. The goal is to draw the US into fighting this for them. That means the US taking on Russia on their border. I don’t think we need to develop this scenario further. The US needs to listen to Merkel, Kissinger and others and tell Kiev they need to negotiate a settlement.

          • shalik

            The fact that Ukraine can’t win doesn’t mean that they should just give up. Baltic countries have been fighting guerilla warfare with Soviet Russia, they have been fighting infowars with Russia for the past 30-40 years. Poland fought with nazis. Finland fought with Russia.

            Our understanding of integrity and independence in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe does not come from “geopolitical games”, it comes from folk tales and stories of heroes who defended their countries outnumbered 1 to 10 000 if they had to because we know the totalitarian regime of Russia inside out.

            And this website presented itself as independent, yet even the terminology is biased. There is not even a slightest doubt that Russia has been in Ukraine since day 1. Yet they say that a civil war may break out.

            Last time I checked a war between two countries where one is using unconventional warfare is not considered a civil war. It’s simply war. Ukrainians won’t give up. Russia will have to wipe them out in thousands if not millions for them to give in.

            And it’s only right. Not everything is about political games and conspiracy theories. People will defend their country no matter how corrupt their politicians are, no matter who are behind the enemy, in general – no matter what. These countries have not known luxury, all their existence has been a struggle for survival. It’s the environment that people are used.

            • Seva

              Firstly, I don’t think you should promote the fact that Baltic countries fought in allegiance with the Nazis against Russia – it probably won’t help your cause (aside from advocating immorality and evil).
              Furthermore to the above, perhaps have a look at history and tell us how many times Russia was attacked first (by a country/empire), rather than it taking the initiative and attacking other empires/countries, and then tell me who has been historically defending against whom.

              Secondly, perhaps the USSR was a totalitarian regime, but Russia today is no more totalitarian than America – some might argue it is less so.

              Your understanding of integrity and independence sounds a lot like nationalism and potentially fascism. And you fail to consider the vastly outnumbered ethnic Russians who for generations have lived in Eastern Ukraine who are now being eliminated by their own government, whether they’re civilians or military, women/children or men. And you speak of withstanding incredible odds. Where is your integrity that you speak so highly of?

              Perhaps also have a proper read of history (another one in addition to the above) and tell me where Russia was born and what areas were Russian and for how long, and then tell me who is in what country. Kiev is the birthplace of Russia essentially, and you’re speaking as if they’re completely foreign entities to each other. And I’m not even mentioning that there is an entire third of the country who are ethnic Russians and speak Russian. As there has been for hundreds of years.

              Do you also not understand that Ukrainian nationalism and dislike of Russia is almost entirely a result of Western/US intervention? Did you not read this article at all? So the Ukrainians are not even fighting for their own interests (because let’s face it, when is fighting in anyone’s interest?) they are fighting for the interests of the West (EU/US). So this nationalism you’re advocating is really a proxy to US nationalism. Congratulations.

              • electronmigrant

                Ukrainians and Russians are symbiotic, economically, culturally, geographically. Nulander and the Neocons had no business sticking their nose in there. I am certain Putin was caught of guard yes not by Nulander but by how meek Germany and other European leaders reaction to US intervention was.

              • Chuckski

                “Do you also not understand that Ukrainian nationalism and dislike of Russia is almost entirely a result of Western/US intervention?” What about the 6 million Ukrainians killed by Stalin?

                • Seva

                  How does Stalin represent the Russian people/culture exactly? He was brutal dictator who Russians themselves hated and feared. He wasn’t even technically Russian himself.
                  One cannot equate a terrible leader’s crimes with the people of the nation that he administered, or else all nations would hate each other, as all have had terrible leaders at one time or another.
                  Hence my point still stands.

                • Verami

                  Err . . Stalin was Georgian.

                • Balthus

                  Stalin did not discriminate, and many of his cohorts were Ukrainian. In fact, Ukrainians became rather prevalent in the Politburo with Khruschev’s ascension. South of Russia, Trans-Volga Central Russia and many other regions all experienced famine at the same time as Ukraine. These arguments about Ukraine’s victim status used to catch Russians off-guard, just because they were such go-for-it bloated lies concocted by Ukrainian nationalists somewhere in Toronto who always were as detached from real Ukraine as Brooklyn Orthodox Jews are from Israel and who would rather hush up their own shameful upbringing in the ranks of Petliura, Makhno, Bandera and OUN.

            • Balthus

              Are you gonna pick up a gun and fight for a free and independent Ukraine against Russian baddies or just get stoked warmongering on the sidelines? I thought so.

      • Nilus Dionis

        Nill, how many weapons would you say it would take to stop Russia? How about an open Russian aggression against Ukraine – full Russian military force including air-force and navy.

        If all cards get thrown on the table do you think Ukraine will last even with stockpiles of our weapons but without a fully trained army? If you think about it – Putin can take Ukraine today without our military aid and Putin can take Ukraine tomorrow with our military aid – so what is the end goal of providing military support here?

        I believe that unless EU fully cuts of Russia economically with US doing the same there is no stopping Putin against Ukraine. Russia is hurting today but they are still standing – they need to be on their knees economically – the price of a full scale war must be too high just as the price of continuing the offensive.

        If EU is not willing to make the economic sacrifices necessary to achieve its goals, nothing can be done to stop Russia – nothing that would not lead to world war III at least.

        • Rasmus Outzen

          Some simply disagrees that Russia needs to be stopped. Some of us even strongly believe that it is US and NATO that needs to be stopped. And hastily.

          • Nilus Dionis

            So you disagree that a country that permits itself to freely use military force against their neighbor to achieve their economic and political interest is the aggressor and needs to be stopped, right?

            So what you’re basically saying is that if you have 10 dollars and I want you to buy an apple from me and not that other guy but you refuse because you don’t want to do business with me, it’s OK if I, being bigger and and stronger then you, will beat you down like a gangster until my demands are met – that works for you right? Even better, I’ll take the 10 bucks and keep my apple.

            And what is it that you want to stop US and NATO from doing exactly – let’s hear it believer.

            • Nill Nilsen

              Absolutely truly

            • Guest

              Bombing Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. They have f*@cked those countries and peoples so badly, and now they are doing it to the Donbass.

        • Balthus

          You must be Greek, right? What was that about bringing Russia to her knees? You have been bent over and penetrated in all orifices ever since joining the EU, so get back to sucking, Aristotle.

          • Nilus Dionis

            Assumption is a mother of all f-ups Balthus. Just a nickname. Born and raised in Ukraine although back then it was USSR and I am neither Ukrainian nor Russian by heritage,

            Now I live in US and my heart bleeds for those people dying and killing each other…most of us were Russian back then, we spoke Russian, we watched Russian television, we were a part of the same culture and country…this is a tragedy…not in my wildest dreams could I have imaged Ukrainians killing Russians and vice versa.

            Even if I disagree with the way power power changed in Ukraine. Even if US and EU had a hand in it which would be appalling, it was still an internal matter of a sovereign country. Russian had no right to take Crimea and it had no right to attack the east as Ukraine didn’t violate any agreements with Russian even after the change of power. If they didn’t like Ukraine’s politics they should have battled them on a geo-political front with money, energy and politics not war.

            Putin is lying to his own people and Russian needs to be brought down low so the power can change and things start to get better again. Those people have been lied enough to in the USSR days and now they are being lied to and threatened again. This can’t happen again – it must be stopped.

            Nothing excuses Russian aggression against their weak and struggling neighbor – Ukraine deserves a better life too.

            • Balthus

              Choke on that joke. Russia only minds its own business. Ukraine had 24 years to trash its heritage and wealth and concoct a nationalistic narrative, especially in the last 7-10 years, blaming Russia for all its ills. And when it started having blind geopolitical ambitions, being egged on by the West, Russia put her foot down, albeit gently. We’re not responsible for the discord among Ukrainians and the anarchy and the oligarchy. If anything, the USSR’s breakup was could be lauded for being a rather smooth and bloodless event, although almost no one wanted to see it happen.
              Meanwhile in America: Obama seeks war power from the Congress. Adventurism in politics continues. I wonder: how would America react to an ouster of its military base somewhere abroad? Hmmm…

              • Nilus Dionis

                > Russia only minds its own business

                You’re joking right….and who are we? Are you Russian – because if you’re, you know that 80% of what you just said is a bold faced lie. I get why Putin lies on the international stage, but what are you lying for?

                All the USSR republics were second class citizens to Russia although even in Russia away from the big cities things were not that great either. So it is not surprising that republics hit the pavement so much harder and stayed there so much longer. Ukraine is a craphole for sure – they screwed up everything they could after the split away from Russia – I believe that. Russia wasn’t much better but it was always the strongest and was able to clean-up over time and do better and for what to throw it all away with a new dictator in power? Where’s freedom of speech, where’s democracy – even capitalism there is hardly functional.

                And blind geopolitical ambitions is again Ukraine’s internal business – what does gently mean: taking Crimea or waging a war in Donbass?

                Not responsible for discord – are you insane – no you know that’s a lie. Rebels have weaponry that Ukraine doesn’t even have and just where so many skilled soldiers are coming from. Stop being a pretentious pr1ck…you know the truth just as well as I do, just as well as the rest of the world.

                • Seva

                  Does no one read the article that they’re commenting on here?
                  are you completely oblivious to the fact that the US and the EU were messing with the internal politics of Ukraine long before Crimea voted to rejoin Russia? Eg. $5bn of “democracy funding” and facilitating the violent coup a year ago So that Ukraine would join the EU and NATO. And how is a coup by foreign-sponsored ultranationalists in the spirit of democracy? Do you have any comprehension of what you’re even saying?
                  And as far as Americas “democracy” goes, their corruption is so ingrained that it’s legal; the presidential candidate not only takes what amounts to legal bribes the form of donations but did you know the candidate with the highest number of campaign funding from such donors has won every single election? Where is the democracy in that?

                • Balthus

                  I’m Russian-Ukrainian, and I live in the States right now. You don’t need to extol the virtues of “democracy” in a “free country” to me. Your statements about “second-class citizens” are an A-grade pure Colombian horseshit. I won’t even dignify that with an answer. You know what, the whole thing is pointless — arguing with a bigot who thinks that killing civilians and using fig leaves borrowed from an American fig tree to cover up atrocities is an “internal matter”.

      • Balthus

        I’m glad that you’re so single-minded about the welfare of the Donbass residents. Those separatists sure know how to bomb themselves! Your remedy? More weapons, because Ukrainian phosphorus and cluster munitions aren’t accomplishing the job!

        If Russians REALLY get involved, we’ll shove your sh1t so far up your tube, you’ll choke on it.

      • Robert Field

        Thank you for saying that my parents and brother are in it for the fight. They have been under constant artillery fire in Donetsk for over 6 month. My father and brother are now members of the so called “separatists”, our family has lived in the area for over 250 years, my grandfathers defended the city during ww2. The oppolchanie in Donetsk is made up of 95% locals and about 5% Russian ,Serbs, Belloruss, Kazakh,Chechen and a few French and Spanish. But it appears you as a lounge room warrior now more from where you are than we do here in Donetsk. As a hint it has nothing with Putins gang, the real players are Ahmetov and Surkov(whoever sponcers him).