I’m hardly a fan of Henry Kissinger.
I’ve never thought that much of the man while I was on the right or the left.
The former secretary of state is a globalist at best. But he explained the correct path for Ukraine while both Barack Obama and Joe Biden were doing nothing about Russia’s threat until it was too late.
His words were prescient, given that he was writing this in 2014, when Russia was preparing to gobble up Crimea on the eve of its invasion and occupation.
It was in an essay called, “To Settle the Ukraine Crisis, Start at the End.”
Apparently, none of the geniuses in the Obama-Biden administration were awake.
His advice was remarkably simple; if only it had been heeded.
“Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation,” he begins. “But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.”
He continued: “Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But 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. Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.”
Kissinger was a German Jew who immigrated to the U.S. He recognized that if either Europe or the U.S. ignored Ukraine’s historical and ethnic ties to Russia, it would be at their peril:
“The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet – Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean – is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.”
He continued: “The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.”
When Kissinger wrote his essay, Ukraine had been independent for just 23 years. Before that, it was under some kind of foreign control since the 1300s.
Rather than intervene in Ukrainian affairs and attempt to tip the balance of power in favor of the pro-West faction, a “wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.”
Reconciliation? Did we try it? I don’t think so.
To sum up his evenhanded approach to this long simmering catastrophe, Kissinger advised that Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.
Ukraine should not join NATO. And it should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people.
Kissinger was also cognizant that both the U.S. and Europe need to show greater appreciation for the historical and ethnic ties binding Russia and Ukraine while never ceding Ukraine’s sovereignty to Russian control.
In retrospect, the war could have been avoided – by statecraft, if the “grown-ups” didn’t ignore all the signs and dangers.
The U.S. should have done more sooner, for example, preparing the Ukrainians militarily – as Donald Trump did after Obama sent them blankets. And if Biden was the “expert” on Ukraine in the Obama administration, he should not have seen it as his personal honeypot with Hunter preying on it.
This was predictable. Nobody was paying attention – except the greedy.
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