NATO Provoked Putin: Stoltenberg ‘Comes Clean’ on the Ukraine War. ‘The War Started in 2014’
For years, John J. Mearsheimer, that seemingly ageless, if somewhat chilly presence at the University of Chicago, has been a thorn of irritation to certain establishment ideas. With his pugnacious sense of realist politics, he has little time for the sentimentality that accompanies what he calls the “liberal delusions” of power. It’s all good to feel anguish and worry at the predations of power, but why encourage them when there is no need to?
This somewhat crude summation only does some justice to JJM’s thought process. But it does provide an interesting backdrop to the recent revelations regarding the Ukraine conflict, one that is falling into a horrendous, bleeding stalemate.
In his Foreign Affairs assessment of 2014 on the Ukraine-Russian conflict, Mearsheimer throws in the usual grenades. “US and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border.” He noted the pernicious, meddling roles played by such characters as US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland, who revealed in 2013 how the US had invested more than $5 billion since 1991 to aid Ukraine achieve “the future it deserves.” This involved the spearheading efforts of the National Endowment for Democracy.
As Russian tanks moved into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Mearsheimer proved unrelenting: Russia had been needlessly provoked into “a preventive war”. While not permissible in just war theory, “Russian leaders certainly saw the invasion as ‘just’, because they were convinced that Ukraine joining NATO was an existential threat that had to be eliminated.” The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was so enthusiastic at the views of the realistic scholar, it endorsed his 2014 Foreign Affairs contribution.
For taking such a stance, dreamy liberal humanitarians and neoconservative provocateurs came to detest Mearsheimer. The New Statesman would suggest that he became, as a consequence “the world’s most hated thinker.” Anne Applebaum, in her usual neoconservative biliousness, wondered “if the Russians didn’t actually get their narrative from Mearshimer [sic] et al. Moscow needed to say West was responsible for Russian invasions (Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Ukraine), and not their own greed and imperialism.”
And there it is https://t.co/w36xrl4Vvc
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) March 1, 2022
Mearsheimer was already representative of a field filled with foreboding assessments about what an eastern strategic expansion against Russia would do, warmed by the almost throwaway assurances from US Secretary of State James Baker to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. At that point, the still extant Soviet Union had 380,000 troops stationed in East Germany. Baker’s suggestion: Why not remove those troops if NATO did “not shift one inch eastwards from its position”?
The following day, Baker repeated the formula to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl via letter:
“Would you prefer to see a unified Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no US forces, or would you p
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