Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev

Three days ago, former U.S. diplomat William R. Polk, who served President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, warned that the West was risking a similar crisis in reverse by pressing NATO forces aggressively onto Russia’s borders. He has now added this postscript about the need for wise leaders.

By William R. Polk

Several recipients of my analysis of and policy recommendations on the Ukrainian crisis have hit on a serious point — my suggestion that in the course of the process aimed at ending the crisis Ukraine should be considered for membership in the European Union. A few people have doubted that Russia would be prepared to allow it. Their attitude is necessarily at this point uncertain or unknown.

Since everyone agrees that the crisis is very serious and I believe this may be a crucial piece of any solution, let me explain my suggestion:

President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation regarding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation regarding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

–To succeed in the major objectives, which I believe are to (a) prevent a slide back into the Cold War, (b) prevent further actual and potential clashes between Russia and the West and between Russia and Ukraine and (c) help in the limited way we can to make Ukraine into a viable and reasonably healthy and secure nation-state, we need to put together a package;

–That package cannot be seen by any party — the leaders of the governments of the U.S., the EU, NATO, Russia or Ukraine — as a humiliation; so there must be something in a successful negotiation and outcome for everyone. As we all know from our daily experiences at our individual level, lopsided deals don’t work or last very long;

–I believe that the Russians will demand, and are right to do so, that Ukraine forswear joining NATO and that we — the EU and the U.S. — affirm clearly and unequivocally that commitment and our obligation not to encourage it;

–I believe that the leaders of Ukraine, the U.S. and probably of the member states of the EU will seek and feel they will need for their own domestic political purposes some sort of at least cosmetic reward for their commitment on the NATO abstention;

–For Ukraine to be reasonably secure and reasonably progressive and (hopefully) less corrupt and politically unattractive in the future, it is going to require two things: on the one hand, an infusion of money and opening of trade and, on the other hand, both a role model to which it can relate and a friendly critic. Of course, it must do the job itself or the job will not be done. We outsiders cannot do it for Ukraine. And the job will be difficult.

Ukraine has a weak, corrupt and tyrannical government. The U.S. is, apparently, willing (not for the sake of Ukraine but for domestic politics) to supply or arrange most of the needed money but, again on the one hand, its record in “nation building” is appalling and nearly uniformly unsuccessful and, on the other hand, direct American intervention in Ukraine would certainly be opposed by Russia. Ergo, the only feasible agency to advance these goals is the European Union;

–Is the EU or are its member states capable? Few outside observers think it is; many insiders agree. But, there are precedents that argue for optimism although they are now half a century out of date  (e.g. the work of Hans Schuman, Paul Spaak and Jean Monnet that led to the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the formation of the European Economic Community.)

Some of their work was carried on by informal groups like the Table Ronde, but statesmen of their stature were and are hard to find and public interest groups like the Table Ronde do not seem to have taken up this issue. However, I believe, that history — that when faced with the challenge, Europeans will rise to the occasion when given the opportunity and faced with the challenge.

As in Napoleon’s army, every soldier carried in his pack a marshal’s baton. Batons will be available if the “soldiers” will carry them. If they do not, we must seek other actors, but they too will be hard to find at least in the near term;

–Will the Russian government allow or accept such moves (Ukraine joining the EU and the EU performing a sort of mini-Marshal Plan venture in Ukraine)? I am sure that the immediate answer will be “no.” But I also believe that the answer can become “yes” under appropriate circumstances.

What are they? The short answer is negotiation. As I pointed out in the paper on the Ukrainian crisis to which you refer, I have helped to negotiate two such crises, both of which were far more emotional and far more complex than the current impasse. So my experience tells me that whatever the initial reactions, there are ways to work toward a consensus.

The key elements on the Russian side are (a) the end of sanctions, (b) probably help in alleviating its currency and fiscal problems, (c) the end of the NATO threat and (d) agreement that Crimea will remain Russian in some cosmetically acceptable form.

Additionally, it would be beneficial to them and certainly to the EU and the U.S. if we could stand down the nuclear weapons on their frontiers and in eastern Europe from at least their “hair trigger” status or, better yet, removing them. Thus, we have in our hands the “tools” with which to work out a deal that could meet the Russian demands in return for their meeting ours;

–What do we really want and, more crucially, what do we really need? Those two need to be distinguished. What many Westerners, particularly the American neocons and those who are in the arms business and/or for various reasons hate the Russians want is to humiliate President Vladimir Putin and thus, necessarily at the present time, the Russians. This is a foolish, self-defeating and very dangerous objective.

What we really need is actually very little. If we are sensible, hard-headed and hopefully wise, we should try to a) stop and reverse the descent into another Cold war, b) halt further spread or upgrading of nuclear weapons and delivery systems and (c) return to peaceful competition in place of military and espionage confrontation. Such confrontation could lead us again to the brink of an almost unimaginable war as I wrote in my essay on the crisis. If we are wise, we will act in such ways as will make it less likely;

–Is the U.S. capable of wise actions? I confess that I have my doubts. It is so appealing in domestic politics to “stand tall” and take a loud public stance. It pays off for politicians (to get elected), military officers (who get promoted) and arms manufacturers (who get rich). Both American political parties wallow in war rhetoric because they think, and unfortunately I fear that they are right, the public loves it. We are rich in arm-chair generals and television soldiers.

It will take acts of statesmanship to avoid giving sway to the fun of Russia-bashing. I look around and find few statesmen. My dear friend Senator George McGovern was one of the last, and he was roundly defeated and is now dead. So, I suspect and fear we are unlikely to think and plan better ways;

–If we do not, what will happen? Having been intimately involved in the only serious confrontation with nuclear weapons in hand, I know how hard it is to keep one’s sanity. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, we were all exhausted. I presume the Russians were too. Many on both sides were all for having a go at one another.

Then, at least some of even the hawks knew how easy it was to move from conventional conflict to nuclear war either by design or by mistake. Or from simple exhaustion.

Fortunately, President Kennedy had his hand on the brake. Robert Kennedy, whom I had known in college and did not like, played an essential supporting role. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara took the role of the technician, without any clear position, but ready to supply the means for a nuclear war if that was decided upon. The rest of us (we were not many) played lesser roles.

During that week, I dealt with a number of senior commanders of our armed forces; they showed, in my conversations with them, surprisingly little knowledge or even information on what was likely to be involved if we pushed too hard. In fact, astonishing as it now seems, few even knew what the main strategic issues were.  This was certainly true of, for example, the senior American naval commander, the chief of naval operations, Admiral Anderson.

Absent Kennedy and absent Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, both of whom reined in their hawks and kept themselves open to the compromise that literally saved the world. We don’t have such men around today. Or at least I have not identified them. So, we are in a very fragile position and all of us need to lend our support to a wise, possible and peaceful policy.

If we do not, God help us.

William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.

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19 comments for “Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev

  1. Paul
    February 27, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you Mr. Polk. God willing, your recommendations will be read in high places, and taken to heart.

    • JWalters
      February 28, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Amen!

  2. Erik
    February 27, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Statesmanship is certainly a factor in diplomatic solutions, but its demise is a symptom of forces such as the warmongering of mass media, MIC, and demagogues elected by the oligarchy. The US would have better statesmen if it had democracy, of which there were more remnants in 1962.

    Kennedy and even Eisenhower had some sense of the responsibilities of office, but LBJ gave the MIC their war in Vietnam despite his better judgment, and no US president since has withheld war from the warmongers unless unaffordable. US politicians are mere puppets of the oligarchy; statesmanship has disappeared because it cannot be elected.

    We may debate the best course in Ukraine, and the disaster of confrontation, but the corruption of US government by economic power is the primary disaster involved, and it cannot be reversed by private debate, public demonstration, revolution, or constitutional amendment. The US economic oligarchy have made war upon the nation, and are traitors, but they have taken the tools of democracy and left us an empty suit of armor, a mad robot swinging its sword wildly. Perhaps it is inevitable that the mad robot be defeated militarily, not that our wishes count in that outcome. Perhaps that is the only historical path to the retoration of democracy in the US.

  3. Zachary Smith
    February 27, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    A few people have doubted that Russia would be prepared to allow it. Their attitude is necessarily at this point uncertain or unknown.

    I can’t imagine Russia caring about EU membership except for the NATO connection. My impression is that most everybody in Russia no longer trusts anything either Europe or the US says. Verbal promises are worth nothing, but are written ones any better on such a vital issue?

    On December 13, 2001, George W. Bush gave Russia notice of the United States’ withdrawal from the treaty, in accordance with the clause that required six months’ notice before terminating the pact—the first time in recent history that the United States has withdrawn from a major international arms treaty.

    What if President Hillary/Walker simply said things have changed and she/he wasn’t going to continue with the agreement?

    The US is a lawless nation now in that it ignores its own war crimes while complaining loudly when the same activities are done by others.

    Posing for a moment as a Russian strategist, I can’t come up with anything which would reassure ME about future US/EU behavior.

    • Dmitriy
      February 28, 2015 at 8:53 am

      On Russian stance about Ukraine:

      The irony is that Russia would be totally okay with independent and rationally acting Ukraine. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case ever since the collapse of the USSR. Even during the reign of Yanukovich, who is somehow considered pro-Russian (was only the case in his pre-election declarations really), the animosity towards Russia continued to grow, along with attempts at rewriting history of past events (WW2, famine and so on). At this point it kind of feels that Ukraine (and Baltic states to an extent) is fully willing to hurt itself if it also harms Russia.

      The fact that US and EU ended up highly involved into Ukraine’s domestic issues doesn’t help to solve issues either, but in the end it’s really just a secondary factor as extreme nationalism has quite a history in Ukraine and would’ve popped up on its own sooner or later, seeing as their government did nothing to alleviate this aspect (more like, inspired it to grow and spread).

    • Dmitriy
      February 28, 2015 at 8:54 am

      On Russian stance about Ukraine:

      The irony is that Russia would be totally okay with independent and rationally acting Ukraine. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case ever since the collapse of the USSR. Even during the reign of Yanukovich, who is somehow considered pro-Russian (was only the case in his pre-election declarations really), the animosity towards Russia continued to grow, along with attempts at rewriting history of past events (WW2, famine and so on). At this point it kind of feels that Ukraine (and Baltic states to an extent) is fully willing to hurt itself if it also harms Russia.

      The fact that US and EU ended up highly involved into Ukraine’s domestic issues doesn’t help to solve issues either, but in the end it’s really just a secondary factor as extreme nationalism has quite a history in Ukraine and would’ve popped up on its own sooner or later, seeing as their government did nothing to alleviate this aspect (more like, inspired it to grow and spread).

    • Bill Bodden
      February 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Trust will be the key sticking point as you have made abundantly clear. Given recent events in Ukraine (Nuland and her “Yats” and NATO expansion, etc.) how Russia can be persuaded to trust the West is the $64 million (or maybe billion) question. We might usefully ask if influential neocons in the US government are interested in a diplomatic solution.

  4. Joe Tedesky
    February 27, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Back in 2013 I thought we had reached a Kennedy Khrushchev moment when Putin intervened on the Syrian chemical attack incident. I was hoping that Obama would nurture a back channel relationship with Putin, and the two of them could then work on making planet earth a better place to live. Now, it appears that hope has all but evaporated into thin air.

    I especially am concerned with this recent murder of Boris Nemtsov, of how the western press will spin this killing in the direction of Putin. Already there is mention of Nemtsov’s assassination being a result of Putin’s government behind this deadly attack. I’m afraid for the sake of working towards a peaceful world that this will not go well for us peaceniks.

  5. dannyc
    February 28, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Mr. Polk,

    I read Violent Politics in the fall of ’08 in an effort to understand what could possibly have been going on in a US occupied Iraq. The American media was mostly covering the war from Washington, assuming that those with the most draft deferments were the experts in counter-insurgency. ISIS ( or something like it) seemed inevitable at the time, with four million Iraqis displaced, 2 million having fled to Syria. As they say, “What could go wrong?” In the Ukraine, Victoria Nuland seems like the bride of draft deferments.

    I’ve been rereading the chapter on Greece for obvious reasons, which makes me question a Ukrainian turn toward the Eurozone. Any financial aid from the European Central Bank or the IMF is suspect. The Ukraine would surrender what little democratic sovereignty they have now for the foreseeable future.

  6. F. G. Sanford
    February 28, 2015 at 7:06 am

    It’s kinda like Buckminster Fuller said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality”. That’s because the existing “reality” isn’t…well, “real”. It’s like stopping a runaway train. Despite what Hollywood movies portray, no “runaway train” has ever been successfully stopped. Sooner or later, they always careen into the roundhouse.

    The Ukrainian corruption (ranked 145 out of 173 countries) is what made it attractive to Monsanto, Chevron, Hunter Biden and Natalie Jaresko in the first place. It was a gang-rape waiting to happen. Then, there’s that little problem with the Nazis. Assimilation into the European Union, with its own rising tide of fascist murmurings, will only lend legitimacy to an already malignant social phenomenon. Crimea is gone for good. A bunch of hyper-patriotic Russians are not going to acquiesce to rule by Nazis who branded swastikas on their buttocks when they were captured by the Azov “Punisher” battalions.

    The assassination of Russian ‘has-been loser’ and marginalized politician Nemtsov would make sense in a certain context. It would be akin to Donald Trump murdering George Clooney “to eliminate the reformist opposition voice”. Putin has no need to engage in such delusional “made in Hollywood” nonsense. But, it plays well with an American audience who believes in runaway train plots. They want a “full, open and transparent investigation” which blames Putin. Kinda like the Warren Commission, but with less credible witnesses.

    So, I’ve decided to cheer on our leadership, support the program, and watch from the sidelines. The sooner this train wreck smashes into the station, the sooner Putin can get on with the “real” job at hand, which is de-nazification of Ukraine. In the meantime, nobody is paying attention to the runaway train in the Middle East, which is the real agenda the Neocons have succeeded in derailing.

    • February 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Thank you F.G. Sanford, between the wisdom we hear from William R. Polk and your analysis, plus the refreshing Consortium News site we are able to at least have a public counter-narrative that wasn’t available in the Cuban Missile Crisis. It, at least, gives one hope.

  7. oooorgle
    February 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

    What continues to baffle me is why any sane person would want a gang of politicians – arguably the most corrupt group of people’ among us – to act as his or her “leaders” or “government”. People are so morally crippled.

  8. Logan Waters
    February 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I believe that we are dealing with a generational sea change here, and one that is not easily walked back.

    I’m old enough to remember the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I lived in NYC at the time, and attended Catholic School. I remember well the day that the nuns suspended classes to pray that we all might not die – die that very day. I remember NYC’s civil defense drills, and later, the air raid sirens that went off every Saturday at noon, when my family moved to suburbia. I remember my heart pounding every time I heard the twin tones of the Emergency Broadcast System, thinking… do we have 15 minutes to live, or is this just another test?

    Newer generations have grown up with no such memories. There are people at the levers of power in DC who were too young to have seen The Day After air in 1983, giving Americans another nuclear shock to the political system. They magically believe that the missiles have been decommissioned, that the threat is no longer real… because they have never been taught to fear the actual truth.

    And so, I note with great sadness that there have been no serious protests about Neocon aggression in Ukraine. Not even in Europe, where the s many will die if America and Russia finally do battle directly. When Ronald Reagan’s deployment of Pershing missiles brought hundreds of thousands into the streets, and this far more serious crisis does not, then the world is in deep, deep trouble. That’s a sea change toward ignorance. And it’s not just ignorance among the public. I’m not even sure that the Neocons driving this madness know what a nuclear warhead can do. Or that ICBMs are unstoppable. Or what a SLBM or MIRV even *is*. I suspect that they actually *are* that stupid, as they blithely lead us off to Armageddon, acting as if Russia is merely another Libya, to be dismembered at will.

    The nuclear lessons have not been passed on, and have not been learned by generations completely unaware that the end of all they know may be mere minutes away. I kinda miss those NYC nuns, and their quiet prayers for all humanity.

  9. February 28, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    In a world that gave us Operation Condor (http://bit.ly/17FOZvG), ‘safe country’ refugee laws (How many countries, I wonder, have them? – http://bit.ly/1E2gfRx), financial blockades (the practice of which is being debated, thankfully – http://bit.ly/1JZKQV4) and JFK’s paradigm shift from focussing on external enemies (pre US-led corporatocracy) to the internal enemy (citizens), the casual reference to ‘statesman’ John F Kennedy, by a progressive, is alarming in the extreme.

    I think Chomsky sums it up nicely in “Rethinking Camelot – JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture.” But the paragraphs leading up to it are perhaps needed, as a counter to force of Camelot propaganda that continues:

    “It seems more than coincidental that fascination with tales of intrigue about Camelot lost reached their peak in 1992 just as discontent with all institutions reached historic peaks, along with a general sense of powerlessness and gloom about the future, and the traditional one-party, two-faction candidate-producing mechanism was challenged by a billionaire with a dubious past, a “blank slate” on which one’s favorite dreams could be inscribed. The audiences differ, but the JFK-Perot movements share a millenarian cast, reminiscent of the cargo cults of South Sea islanders who await the return of the great ships with their bounty,” writes Chomsky on page 147 of “Rethinking Camelot.”

    On pages 145 & 146 he reviews some of the historical record of JFK. Consider:

    “Another common belief is that JFK was so incensed over the failure of the CIA at the Bay of Pigs that he vowed to smash it to bits, sowing the seeds for right-wing hatreds. Again, there are problems. As historians of the Agency have pointed out, it was Lyndon Johnson who treated the Agency “with contempt,” while JFK’s distress over the Bay of Pigs “in no way undermined his firm faith in the principle of covert operations, and in the CIA’s mission to carry them out.”…

    “Under JFK, the CIA Director became “a principle participant in the administration, on a par with the Secretary of State or of Defense.” The enthusiasm of of the Kennedy brothers for counterinsurgency and covert operations, is of course, notorious.

    “The “decline in reputation and standing of the CIA” paralleled the “decline in the abundance and power of the Ivy Leaguers.” LBJ reduced their role in the decision-making process, and Nixon “consciously sought to exclude the CIA from power” because of his contempt for the “Ivy League liberals” who still dominated the Agency, he felt. The Nixon years were “the nadir for the CIA.”…

    “…After the crisis ended, Kennedy initiated a new sabotage and terror program, and still sought to “dig Castro out of there” (memorandum of private conversation, March 1963). US-based terrorist operations continued until the assassination, according to reports from the FBI, which monitored them; though “with the assassination, …the heart went out of the offensive,” Michael McClintock observes, and the operations were terminated in April 1964 by LBJ, who regarded them as “a damned Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean.”

    “One of the most significant legacies left by the Administration was its 1962 decision to shift the mission of the Latin American military from “hemispheric defense” to “internal security,” while providing the means and training to ensure that the task would be properly performed. As described by Charles Maechling, who led counterinsurgency and internal defense planning from 1061 to 1966, that historic decision led to a change from toleration “of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military” to “direct complicity” in “the methods of Heinrich Himmler’s extermination squads.”…

    “These improved modes of repression were a central component of Kennedy’s Latin American policies, a companion to the Alliance for Progress, which required effective population control because of the dire impact of its development programs on much of the population. Related projects helped subvert democracy and bring on brutally repressive regimes in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, British Guiana, Chile, Brazil, and elsewhere… Six military coups overthrew popular regimes during the Kennedy years, ten more later; in several cases, Kennedy Administration policies contributed materially to the outcome…”

    There’s lots more. To be clear, the turn to national security states in Latin America wasn’t only done there, as we see. The new threat to corporatocracy states is the internal threat, namely the people. Here in Canada, everyone’s freaked out at the latest ramping up of the national security state nonsense, with the introduction of Bill C-51 (http://bit.ly/1aC9zyP), about which Craig Forcese and Kent Roach say:

    —————————-=
    We regard the proposed provision as potentially sweeping. We have serious doubts as to its constitutionality. Meanwhile, we have precisely no doubts that it is capable of chilling constitutionally protected speech.

    We do not rehearse all our reasoning in this forum. We provide instead what we regard as a plausible hypothetical:

    A newspaper columnist writing on foreign affairs is asked to present at a conference. It is the columnist’s view that “we should provide resources to Ukrainian insurgencies who are targeting Russian oil infrastructure, in an effort to increase the political cost of Russian intervention in Ukraine”. The columnist knows that her audience will include not just academics and Canadian government officials, but also support groups who may be sending money to those opposing Russian intervention.

    Wisely, she decides to get legal advice. Her newspaper has no in-house experience with the new terrorism offence, and so (at great expense) it retains outside counsel. In a tightly packed five-page opinion letter, that lawyer reasons that if the columnist makes her statement, she will knowingly encourage a course of action that falls within the definition of a “terrorism offence in general”.

    This is because providing resources to a group, one of whose purposes is a “terrorist activity” is a terrorism offence. And causing substantial property damage or serious interference with an essential service or system for a political reason and in a way that endangers life, to compel a government to do something, is a “terrorist activity”. This is so even if it takes place abroad.

    The lawyer acknowledges uncertainty. “Terrorist activity” does not reach acts in an armed conflicts, done in accordance with the international laws of war. The lawyer consults with an international law expert, who opines that the expression “in accordance” with international law could exclude acts of violence by armed groups who lack what is known as “combatant’s immunity” – that is, they are not lawful combatants. Few insurgencies meet the requirements of lawful combatants.

    Fortified with this advice, the original lawyer advises the columnist that since she knows some of her audience may respond to her opinion by sending money to the insurgency, her acts may constitute the crime of promoting or advocating a terrorism offence. He notes that unlike equivalent “promotion” provisions in the hate crimes laws, there is no public interest defence that might apply to this situation.

    The lawyer advises the columnist to change her statement so that it reads: “Ukrainian insurgencies are targeting Russian oil infrastructure, in an effort to increase the political cost of Russian intervention in Ukraine. I take no position on whether this is a good thing”.

    An idea is changed, and an opinion hidden.
    =—————————————————-

    From Sean McCarthy’s Globe and Mail article (http://bit.ly/1Dm6N7A) titled “‘Anti-petroleum’ movement a growing security threat to Canada, RCMP say,” the following:

    —————-o-
    The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation.
    -o—————

    From page 41 of “Rethinking Camelot,” the following:

    ————-+
    Recall that “subversion,” like “concealed aggression,” is a technical concept covering any form of unwelcome internal political development. Thus the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in 1955, outline “three basic forms of aggression”… “Aggression other than armed, i.e., political warfare, or subversion.” An internal uprising against a US-imposed police state, or elections that come out the wrong way, are forms of violence. The assumptions are so ingrained as to pass without notice, as when liberal hero Adlai Stevenson, UN Ambassador under Kennedy and Johnson, declared that in Vietnam the US is defending a free people from “internal aggression.” Stevenson compared this noble cause to the first major postwar counterinsurgency campaign, in Greece in 1947, where US-run operations successfully demolished the anti-Nazi resistance and the political system and restored the old order, including leading Nazi collaborators, at the cost of some 160,000 lives and tens of thousands of victims or torture chambers, and a legacy of destruction yet to be overcome (along with great benefits to US corporations.)

    If you’re okay with JFK, then you’re okay with fascism and it’s work, such as we see in the concerted attack (the Troika) by corporatocracy states, mainly Europe’s hegemon, Germany, on Greece. And you’re okay with the US’s play for Ukraine, which it’s always wanted. Europe is okay with it, except that it’s not so gung-ho for more war (that might disturb the comfort of important people there) in it’s nabe.

  10. Kevin Rinaldi
    February 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Lets be realistic here, the Ukraine is a failed state. When a corporation fails, you close it. The Ukraine should be dissolved. Leave the Crimea in Russia, that’s what the population there want. That one’s easy. Get Poland and Lithuania to create a joint corporation to manage the North and West of the Ukraine as an E.U. project, like the Duchy of Lithuania. For the South and East, one maybe two neutral zones, New Moldava in the south and Novorossiya in the east, whose future can be determined by their inhabitants at a later date.

  11. Ricky Lewandowski
    March 1, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Mr. Polk: excellent analysis and cogent argument for common sense and restraint. What I did not read was how to devolve the territorial sovereignty of Novorussiya. To be realigned with the Ukraine, absorbed into Russia a la Crimea, or to become an independent state? Perhaps discussion of this issue is premature at this point in time, but isn’t this the crux of the conflict? And to go further, what about Mariupol, etc.?

  12. Alan MacDonald
    March 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Yes, William Polk is precisely correct and to be congratulated in this recent article, which corrects the deadly stupid analogy of ‘Economist’ editor, Edward Lucas, (in Politico) six months ago — where he suggested “Channeling JFK” but in a far less analogous situation in Berlin:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/only-obama-can-stop-putin-now-110264.html#.VPSFf2bwOt8

    The following is my comment to correct the Lucas article, and which endorses Professor Polk’s better reasoned, hopeful, proven (by crisis), empathetic, humanitarian, and humane analogy of JFK and Khrushchev in the much more analogous Cuban Missile Crisis. Since my comments bear on the same topic, I have attached them below:

    While Lucas may well be correct that “It’s Time to Channel JFK” regarding Putin, he’s dead wrong about the pivotal event being Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech — which was merely a minor PR comment for the German audience — but which would have reminded both JFK and Khrushchev fondly of their secret agreement as “men of good faith” not to precipitate a Third World War of Empires, not to allow the cancer of “Empire-thinking” to cloud their eyes to humanity, and not to fight about any preconceived ideology of how “The End of History” would be played out as merely a ‘Great Game’ of Empires at the greatest cost to mankind!

    No, Lucas, the only analogy that counts — and which saved the world and humanity —- was the JFK and Khrushchev earlier in October of 1962, which had already burned into each man’s brain like a laser the learning moment that ‘Empire-thinking’ in an age of nuclear weapons is a global death wish, and neither JFK nor Khrushchev as men of good faith wanted the world to end just to satisfy the egos of the sociopathic ‘Empire-thinking’ and ‘Empire-building’ fools and knaves that they each had to deal with and out-smart.

    Yes, “It’s Time to Channel JFK” and Khrushchev as men of good faith, and to pray that Obama and Putin learned from that ‘learning moment’ as Obama so often uses that phrase, and thus to ‘pivot’ away from Empire again for hopefully a last time.

    Obama is now the titular head of the first fully disguised/covert and “truly Global Empire” [Hardt, Negri, Perkins, Milne, Parenti, Hedges, Zinn, Johnson, Chomsky, Berman, Blum, Robinson, et al.], while Putin is the head of the last overt Empire (or “Evil Empire”, as ex-GE corporate capitalist-shill Reagan called the Soviet Empire without any irony of being so stupid not to comprehend that all Empires are Evil).

    But hopefully there is enough change in each man’s road to power, and skill in using it for good, that they may have the ability to recognize their opportunity to change themselves, the deceitful structure they influence, and the courage to do so against the “dark side” (as Cheney said) of EMPIRE wins this insane game — and we all loose.

    “The U.S. state is a key point of condensation for pressures from dominant groups around the world to resolve problems of global capitalism and to secure the legitimacy of the system overall. In this regard, “U.S.” imperialism refers to the use by transnational elites of the U.S. state apparatus to continue to attempt to expand, defend, and stabilize the global capitalist system. We are witness less to a “U.S.” imperialism per se than to a global capitalist imperialism. We face an EMPIRE of global capital, headquartered, for evident historical reasons, in Washington.” [caps added]

    Robinson, William I. (2014-07-31). Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity (p. 122). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

    Liberty, equality, democracy, and justice
    Over
    Violent (and Vichy disguised)
    Empire,

    Alan MacDonald

  13. Alan MacDonald
    March 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Yes, William Polk is precisely correct and to be congratulated in this recent article, which corrects the deadly stupid analogy of ‘Economist’ editor, Edward Lucas, (in Politico) six months ago — where he suggested “Channeling JFK” but in a far less analogous situation in Berlin:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/only-obama-can-stop-putin-now-110264.html#.VPSFf2bwOt8

    The following is my comment to correct the Lucas article, and which endorses Professor Polk’s better reasoned, hopeful, proven (by crisis), empathetic, humanitarian, and humane analogy of JFK and Khrushchev in the much more analogous Cuban Missile Crisis. Since my comments bear on the same topic, I have attached them below:

    While Lucas may well be correct that “It’s Time to Channel JFK” regarding Putin, he’s dead wrong about the pivotal event being Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech — which was merely a minor PR comment for the German audience — but which would have reminded both JFK and Khrushchev fondly of their secret agreement as “men of good faith” not to precipitate a Third World War of Empires, not to allow the cancer of “Empire-thinking” to cloud their eyes to humanity, and not to fight about any preconceived ideology of how “The End of History” would be played out as merely a ‘Great Game’ of Empires at the greatest cost to mankind!

    No, Lucas, the only analogy that counts — and which saved the world and humanity —- was the JFK and Khrushchev earlier in October of 1962, which had already burned into each man’s brain like a laser the learning moment that ‘Empire-thinking’ in an age of nuclear weapons is a global death wish, and neither JFK nor Khrushchev as men of good faith wanted the world to end just to satisfy the egos of the sociopathic ‘Empire-thinking’ and ‘Empire-building’ fools and knaves that they each had to deal with and out-smart.

    Yes, “It’s Time to Channel JFK” and Khrushchev as men of good faith, and to pray that Obama and Putin learned from that ‘learning moment’ as Obama so often uses that phrase, and thus to ‘pivot’ away from Empire again for hopefully a last time.

    Obama is now the titular head of the first fully disguised/covert and “truly Global Empire” [Hardt, Negri, Perkins, Milne, Parenti, Hedges, Zinn, Johnson, Chomsky, Berman, Blum, Robinson, et al.], while Putin is the head of the last overt Empire (or “Evil Empire”, as ex-GE corporate capitalist-shill Reagan called the Soviet Empire without any irony of being so stupid not to comprehend that all Empires are Evil).

    But hopefully there is enough change in each man’s road to power, and skill in using it for good, that they may have the ability to recognize their opportunity to change themselves, the deceitful structure they influence, and the courage to do so against the “dark side” (as Cheney said) of EMPIRE wins this insane game — and we all loose.

    “The U.S. state is a key point of condensation for pressures from dominant groups around the world to resolve problems of global capitalism and to secure the legitimacy of the system overall. In this regard, “U.S.” imperialism refers to the use by transnational elites of the U.S. state apparatus to continue to attempt to expand, defend, and stabilize the global capitalist system. We are witness less to a “U.S.” imperialism per se than to a global capitalist imperialism. We face an EMPIRE of global capital, headquartered, for evident historical reasons, in Washington.” [caps added]

    Robinson, William I. (2014-07-31). Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity (p. 122). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

    Liberty, equality, democracy, and justice
    Over
    Violent (and Vichy disguised)
    Empire,

    Alan MacDonald

  14. chapultepec
    March 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    recommended reading, especially with regard to the role played by Kennedy…

    The Week the World Stood Still
    The Cuban Missile Crisis and Ownership of the World
    By Noam Chomsky
    October 15, 2012

    “…The two most crucial questions about the missile crisis are: How did it begin, and how did it end? It began with Kennedy’s terrorist attack against Cuba, with a threat of invasion in October 1962. It ended with the president’s rejection of Russian offers that would seem fair to a rational person, but were unthinkable because they would have undermined the fundamental principle that the U.S. has the unilateral right to deploy nuclear missiles anywhere, aimed at China or Russia or anyone else, and right on their borders; and the accompanying principle that Cuba had no right to have missiles for defense against what appeared to be an imminent U.S. invasion. To establish these principles firmly it was entirely proper to face a high risk of war of unimaginable destruction, and to reject simple and admittedly fair ways to end the threat (…)

    …In 1962, war was avoided by Khrushchev’s willingness to accept Kennedy’s hegemonic demands. But we can hardly count on such sanity forever. It’s a near miracle that nuclear war has so far been avoided. There is more reason than ever to attend to the warning of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, almost 60 years ago, that we must face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”…”

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