By following the Truman Doctrine, Brian Terrell says the U.S exploits and dishonors the very real aspirations of people for peace and self-determination.
By Brian Terrell
In April 1941, four years before he was to become president and eight months before the United States entered World War II, Sen. Harry Truman of Missouri reacted to the news that Germany had invaded the Soviet Union:
“If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.”
Truman was not called out as a cynic when he spoke these words from the floor of the Senate. On the contrary, when he died in 1972, Truman’s obituary in The New York Times cited this statement as establishing his “reputation for decisiveness and courage.” “This basic attitude,” gushed the Times, “prepared him to adopt from the start of his Presidency, a firm policy,” an attitude that prepared him to order the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with “no qualms.”
Truman’s same basic “let them kill as many as possible” attitude also informed the postwar doctrine that bears his name, along with the establishment of NATO and the C.I.A., both of which he is credited with founding.
A Feb. 25 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times by Jeff Rogg, “The C.I.A. has backed Ukrainian insurgents before — Let’s learn from those mistakes,” cites a C.I.A. program to train Ukrainian nationalists as insurgents to fight the Russians that began in 2015 and compares it with a similar effort by Truman’s C.I.A. in Ukraine that began in 1949.
By 1950, one year in, “U.S. officers involved in the program knew they were fighting a losing battle. … In the first U.S.-backed insurgency, according to top secret documents later declassified, American officials intended to use the Ukrainians as a proxy force to bleed the Soviet Union.” This op-ed cites John Ranelagh, a historian of the C.I.A., who argued that the program “demonstrated a cold ruthlessness” because the Ukrainian resistance had no hope of success, and so “America was in effect encouraging Ukrainians to go to their deaths.”
The “Truman Doctrine” of arming and training insurgents as proxy forces to bleed Russia to the peril of the local populations that it was purporting to defend was used effectively in Afghanistan in the 1970s and ’80s, a program so effective, some of its authors have boasted, that it helped bring down the Soviet Union a decade later.
In a 1998 interview, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski explained,
“According to the official version of history, C.I.A. aid to the Mujaheddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention… We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.”
“The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border,” Brzezinski recalled, “I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’ Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”
Asked in 1998 if he had any regrets, Brzezinski retorted, “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?” How about supporting Islamic fundamentalism and arming future terrorists? “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”
In his LA Times op-ed, Rogg calls the 1949 C.I.A. program in Ukraine a “mistake” and asks the question, “This time, is the primary goal of the paramilitary program to help Ukrainians liberate their country or to weaken Russia over the course of a long insurgency that will undoubtedly cost as many Ukrainian lives as Russian lives, if not more?”
Viewed in light of United States foreign policy from Truman to Biden, the early Cold War debacle in Ukraine might better be described as a crime than a mistake and Rogg’s question seems rhetorical.
The clandestine C.I.A. training of Ukrainian insurgents and NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe cannot justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, any more than the clandestine C.I.A. training of the Mujaheddin in 1979 justified Russia’s incursion and 10 years’ war in Afghanistan. These are, however, provocations that provide necessary excuses and rationale for such actions. From Truman’s response to the Nazi invasion of Russia to Biden’s “support” for Ukraine under attack from Russia, these policies show cynical and callous distain for the very values that the United States pretends to defend.
Globally, through its armed forces but even more through the C.I.A. and the so-called National Endowment for Democracy, through NATO muscle masquerading as mutual “defense,” in Europe as in Asia, as in Africa, as in the Middle East, as in Latin America, the United States exploits and dishonors the very real aspirations of good people for peace and self-determination. At the same time, it feeds the swamp where violent extremisms like the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Syria and Iraq and neo-Nazi nationalism in Ukraine can only fester and flourish and spread.
The Right to Join NATO
The claim that Ukraine as a sovereign nation has a right to join NATO today is like saying that Germany, Italy and Japan had the right as sovereign nations to form an Axis in 1936. Founded to defend the West from Soviet aggression after World War II under the judicious “let them kill as many as possible” leadership of Truman, NATO lost its ostensible reason to exist in 1991. It doesn’t appear to have ever realized its purpose of mutual defense against outside aggression, but it has often been used by the U.S. as an instrument of aggression against sovereign nations. For 20 years, the war of attrition on Afghanistan was waged under NATO auspices, as was the destruction of Libya, just to name two. It has been noted that if NATO’s existence has a purpose in today’s world, it can only be to manage the instability that its existence creates.
Five European countries host U.S. nuclear weapons on their own military bases kept ready to bomb Russia under NATO sharing agreements. These are not agreements among the various civilian governments, but between the U.S. military and the militaries of those countries.
Officially, these agreements are secrets kept even from the parliaments of the sharing states. These secrets are poorly kept, but the effect is that these five nations have nuclear bombs without the oversight or consent of their elected governments or their people.
By foisting weapons of mass destruction on nations that don’t want them, the United States undermines the democracies of its own purported allies and makes their bases potential targets for preemptive first strikes. These agreements are in violation not only of the laws of the participating states, but also of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that all NATO member states have ratified. NATO’s continued existence is a threat not only to Russia, but to Ukraine, to its members and to every living being on the planet.
It is true that the United States is not solely to blame for every war, but it bears some responsibility for most of them and its people may be in a unique position to end them.
Truman’s successor as president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, may have been thinking particularly about the U.S. government when he said “people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”
The security of the world at this moment of heightened threat of nuclear destruction demands the neutrality of the countries of Eastern Europe and reversing the expansion of NATO. What the United States can do for peace is not to impose sanctions, sell weapons, train insurgents, build military bases around the world, “help” its friends, issue bluster and threats. It can only help by getting out of the way.
What can U.S. citizens do to support the people of Ukraine and those Russians whom we rightly admire, those who are in the streets, risking arrest and beatings for loudly demanding that their government stop the war?
We do not stand with them when we “Stand with NATO.”
What the people of Ukraine are suffering from Russian aggression is suffered daily by millions around the world from U.S. aggression. Legitimate concern and care for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees is meaningless political posturing and to our shame if it is not matched by concern for the many millions left homeless by U.S./NATO wars. If Americans who care would go to the streets every time our government bombs, invades, occupies or undermines the will of the people of a foreign country, there would be millions of people flooding the streets of U.S. cities — protest would need to be a full-time occupation for many, even as it now seems to be for so very few of us.
Brian Terrell is an Iowa based peace activist who has spent more than six months in prison for protesting targeted assassinations at U.S. military drone bases.
This article is from Common Dreams.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
According to Joyce and Gabriel Kolko (as cited in my comment above with an incorrect date of publication
which should read 1972): There were many drafts for the presentation to Congress in 1947. All references
by others to the United Nations were cut by Truman.
Well laid out. Thank you very much. How appropriate to go back to the u.S. president who used the first atom bombs on people & cities.
His rationale of “ending the war” & “saving lives” by murdering tens of thousands of innocent civilians (back in the day when that supposedly was prohibited) probably didn’t seem that outrageous to u.S. citizens looking for an easy way to avoid coming to grips with their own government’s massive war crimes.
And it’s been “no qualms” about disseminating all manner of bombs ever since for the empire of bases. While those who prosecuted various wars knew at some point that they were unwinnable, they kept that knowledge secret and the wars going on & on. Ex.: Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan. (And is the Korean War technically even over yet?)
It still seems about a toss-up though, whether those who’ve been in charge are more like aging ivy league boys playing at gangster or actual gangsters masquerading as political operatives.
History major and recently retired teacher here: the No Child Left Behind Act killed social studies education in the U.S. That was partly its purpose, I believe. (Its more obvious purpose was funneling public funds to corporations that produce standardized tests.) By installing a test-and-punish model for all schools dependent on federal funding, and assessing only reading and math learning outcomes, it sidelined both science and social studies i.e. history, geography, civics. STEM infused resources for science education over the ensuing decades and clawed back some time for that, but social studies remains largely ignored in K-5 classrooms in public schools.
My obvservation may seem off topic but I believe it explains the extreme susceptibility of the U.S. public to propaganda and belief in false narratives about Russia, the former USSR, and the true U.S. role in geopolitics.
I don’t think your observation is off topic at all. You are quite right. And it is deliberate. Those who are ignorant of history can easily be fooled by government lies and distortions because they have no point of reference to refute the lies. When I was in school (back in the 1960s) at age 12 our social studies assignment was the Nixon/Kennedy debates in 1960. We were required to watch the debates on television, take notes and then discuss the most recent debate in class and ask questions. A far, far cry from the classrooms of today, where 12-year-olds can barely read, let alone understand politics.
No, not off-topic at all. You make a great connection that hasn’t been made before.
Democracy cannot defeat Deepocracy. Even if mainstreamed propaganda isn’t 100% effective, no one elected is ever able to alter the course they’ve set against our will.
What a monster would an unleashed, ruthless US hegemon be? Germany is still an occupied country, Cuba still is blockaded and all over the globe, they enforce their demands with sanctions and regime change. Maybe again like at the end of WW Russia sacrificed the most, and to this day the so-called victors will not honor the Russian nation. Even in victory, the US is cheap. In Afghanistan they are more than a sore loser, they are evil. They lost, what do they expect to gain with draconian sanctions, starving young children and their families, what for?
One thing in Truman’s defense. A month after JFK was assassinated, Truman published an op-ed in the WaPo where he said the CIA had strayed from its original information-gathering role by engaging in operations.
The timing and message make me wonder whether Truman suspected that his creation had a role in the events in Dallas.
I disagree with the article in one respect. As much as I–and I assume we–all hate war, Russia was fully justified in attacking the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin has been very patient, while the U.S./NATO has closed in on Russia. He has futilely tried to negotiate with the U.S. and the Ukraine. He is protecting Russia from a full takeover by “the West.” “The West” mainly comprises the old colonial powers and their offspring. These colonial powers have invaded regions/countries all around the world, committed genocide against the people of those regions, enslaved the people of those regions, and sole their resources and wealth. This is likely why most countries around the world haven’t imposed sanctions on Russia. Of course, “the West” having run out of enough resources to support their population centuries ago, want access to the ample resources of Russia. As the U.S. has openly stated (when it is not lying), complete full-spectrum economic and military dominance in all areas of the world is the ultimate goal. Rather, ensuring the security interest of all nations should be the goal.
Agree, thank you. I believe Russia was left with no choice but to invade Ukraine. The fault for this war lies fully on the shoulders of US imperialists.
Point taken. It is true. I am against war, but this whole scenario was planned decades ago by the U.S.
With many thanks to Brian Terrell. I have been trying to get similar facts about the Truman Doctrine (1947)
across in several pervious comments in these spaces. A profound analysis of the doctrine and how it was made up
can be found in Joyce and Gabriel Kolkos’ book “The Limits of Power” (1072), Ch. 12. Terrell expands on the Kolkos’
analysis for subsequent applications . One might even find further information in the kind of feelings and actions
in American society that lead to such legislation (The “Red Scare”, The 1924 limits on immigration are only
a few examples of many).
Excellent, albeit obvious, article concerning realities the corporate media obfuscates. If we could see ourselves in a sacred mirror as we really are based on our acquiescence in our governments actions, decent Americans might be revolted enough to revolt.
Democratic liberals should be ashamed of the Truman Doctrine and united to destroy the American war machine developed to enforce it. Instead they idolize American full spectrum dominance, rationalizing the horrendous misery it creates as spreading democracy. Eliminating the ethnic nationalism that informs American patriotism is the most salient way to end war and save the planet from global warming.
Mr. Terrell with the greatest of respect I’d like to offer to everyone here some advice.
I have worked at understanding all things that occurred after the end of WWII. I have came away with what I consider are a very valuable understanding of what I see is the exact cruces or cruxes of how the U.S. has been led down the road of perdition.
The story is centered around how president after president had been lied to up to the JFK administration.
Eisenhower left office a very concerned man because he knew the leadership of the military and the military industrial complex had gotten out of control. Events spurred on by the general knowledge in DC circles of how congress could be controlled by secrets. Ike according to what I have learned had no idea of the plans to send Francis Gary Powers over the soviet union in a U-2 surveilance aircraft. After which his allegedly told aids he never wanted to lay eyes on Curtis Lemay again.
This is not meant to question anything other than the notion Ike was all-in on the Pentagons secret activities. He clearly wasn’t.
The same cannot be said for Pres. Truman, his predecessor who unleashed an infant entity he knew virtually nothing about because Allen Dulles and Robert Blum would have it no other way.
In Trumans defense he publicly acknowledged the mistake of his actions after JFK was murdered while the CIA stood silently in the shadows. I can produce references but this knowledge is well known to those of us who still hunger for justice for JFK!
That advice: Learn about the early CIA, learn about the JFK murder and learn about that turn down the road to hell. One of the best books available to start with is THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY – An Instrument of Government To 1950, C1990.
Here is why you likely never heard of this book: After the Introduction ends p xxiv last page before the Introduction we find Note on an unnumbered page after which we find 12 unnumbered pages before page 4 ?. I don’t have any proof but something seems a little strange about this. Biut the note is what I wish to focus on here.
RThe reader should be aware that Arthur B. Darling’s history, THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY :AN INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT, to 1950, has a definite and sometimes controversial point of view. Darling blames the State Department, the FBI and what he terms the Military Establishment – especially heads of the military intelligence services- for much of the hardship which the early CIA (and its predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group) endured. He also heavily criticizes the Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report of 1949, which held the Director of Central Intelligence responsible for a major and ongoing failure in intelligence coordination.
Reportedly, Allen dulles (chairman of the Dulles-jackson-Corra Report) did not concur with Darling’s conclusions and, when he became Director of Central Intelligence, restricted access to the history.
Office of the Director of Central Intelligence
Central Intelligence Agency
And so the mendaciousness began in earnest with on Allen Dulles because Darling just reports the facts let your conclusions be your guide to whaqt happened with CIA.
Thank you Brian and the CN crew.
Robert E Williamson, Jr. Whoever you got your information through must have been sleeping through their history classes in regard to the U-2 Incident. You state, “Ike according to what I have learned had no idea of the plans to send Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union in a U-2 surveillance aircraft. After which his allegedly told aids he never wanted to lay eyes on Curtis Lemay again.” Unfortunately, this has no basis in fact. Ike was fully aware of and authorized each and every overflight of the Soviet Union. Curtis Lemay was not in control of the Soviet overflights. Richard Bissell under Allen Dullas at the CIA was in charge of the program. It was a CIA (Civilian) program at the time because a military plane with a military pilot over the former Soviet Union would have been an act of war. Ike did not want to provoke WWIII, he wanted to gather intelligence. Read my book Spy Pilot (www.spypilotbook.com) for the truth of what took place with the U-2 Incident.
Francis Gary Powers Jr., MPA, MA US History
Founder and Chairman Emeritus, The Cold War Museum
Board Member, The SAC and Aerospace Museum
Honorary Board, The International Spy Museum
I consider myself to be humbly corrected.
Doing this on May 1 1960 seemed to me to be the epitome of bad judgement that should have been a very antagonizing event for the Russians. No disrespect intended to your father he was following orders.
I will definitely obtain your book.
Obviously I will get Mr. Powers’ book, I need to read it.
Here is hoping I didn’t “poison the well” with respect to trying to drum up interest in Arthur B. Darling’s book. Early in what I wrote here I actually was seriously mistaken for the first time , when I make this comment fifth line), “The story is centered around how president after president was lied to up to the JFK administration.” , a poor choice of words here, leading to a total misrepresentation of what I was trying to communicate.
The problem was more that the administrations were not being told about “everything” CIA was doing, an in too many cases nothing about their “work’. Brings the topic of black propaganda to mind. Another practice that got completely out of control as can be witnessed to this day.
This is a great difference, I said “I knew” about Ike and LeMay, obviously I knew no such thing. I was Not having a good day, was I.
None of this changes what Truman said later about CIA or what happened to JFK while he was in office. We all must never forget that.
The reason I included the “NOTE” in my commnet above is because it actually describes how Darlings points of view were seen by some. Notice they describe his views as being controversial, which not doubt they were, but never the less the story he tells in his history is factually correct. I read where Mr. Darling was viewed as being biased. My question is when did facts become a basis for claiming someone is biased?
The process used by Allen Dulles & Blum simply does represent good government work by someone in his position. The same can be said for those the USAEC. What this book does is reveal how the troubled institution got itself into all that trouble.
In my opinion the creation of the CIA in the image adored by Dulles and Blum resulted in a secret arm of government that poisoned this democracy from day one.
I can speculate that many of the murderous right wing governments in Latin and South America over the years has been the work of CIA pushing an agenda desired by the NEOCON’s and their predecessors.
Always letting others do the dirty work and then have the utter chutzpah to claim ‘victory’.
Before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 I did everything I could think of as a law-abiding US citizen to be heard to make a difference – as did millions of others. Though the propaganda wasn’t quite as thick and impenetrable as with this current conflict, it was nearly so. I wrote letters to the editor of my local paper once a month (all they would allow); I sent letters and messages to all my US Reps. and Senators, and finally to all sitting Senators. I made myself a royal pain in the ass to my family, friends, neighbors – anyone’s ear I could catch. I was in DC on that cold winter morning when approx. 600K marched to try to stop the invasion. That lot of us and millions more were completely ignored.
The current POTUS was then the Senator from the minority party that twisted the arms of the other minority Senators to vote for the second AUMF, the one that conferred the veil of legitimacy onto a damned illegal act – the eventual invasion of Iraq.
I agree with TP Graf and have said same here several times now: none of this will end until the US ability to pursue and prop up empire is defeated – decisively. No “peace movement” materializes because those that would organize it understand that it would be a Quixotic endeavor that would find no populous surface for traction.
The cure now must and will come from without. The US ridicules diplomacy with its “rules-based order” that can be deciphered as: “we make the rules that are convenient in the moment, and we expect others to obey our orders.” If Biden today doesn’t quite say that to Xi, he will at least pretend that he did for the propaganda press later. His “angry face” of determination is not comical, it is sadly pathetic.
“The clandestine C.I.A. training of Ukrainian insurgents and NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe cannot justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, any more than the clandestine C.I.A. training of the Mujaheddin in 1979 justified Russia’s incursion and 10 years’ war in Afghanistan.”
I keep hearing people say this as if it’s the necessary thing to say to be “reasonable” rather than “extremist”. But what no one seems to follow that up with is, so what else should Russia have done in either case? I’m not as familiar with the Afghanistan situation, but Russia has been trying to negotiate better solutions in Ukraine all along.
I believe that it’s reasonable to suspect that if Russia hadn’t acted now, and just let the situation unfold for a while longer, something much worse could have been necessary to ensure Russia’s survival. Like an all out war involving more than just Ukraine, with a much greater chance of it involving nuclear weapons.
Amen. This was a fight coming to them, that had been brought to them by the coup. If they had waited until Ukraine had attacked and tried to fight a limited engagement it would have turned out worse than it will.
This collision course became inevitable when US installed Aegis Ashore in Romania. Fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian is just the latest chapter, most recent reincarnation of the Georgia program.
I agree. It’s no big secret that the goal of the US is to break Russia up into smaller, more easily exploitable pieces like it did Yugoslavia. So according to US peaceniks, Russia is required to lay down and die for the US globe spanning empire. Any rational person knows that’s never going to happen and the more Washington attempts to increase the pressure, the closer we come to lights out.
We are at a breaking point in international brinkmanship. The way it’s looking, it’s the US and it’s vassals that are about to be broken up. Not a moment too soon for the survival of life on earth.
I don’t understand. “It’s no big secret that the goal of the US is to break up Russia into smaller…pieces”. What? Where is the evidence of that? Where is the evidence that Ukraine was ever going to attack Russia. They gave up their nukes willingly. They are a much smaller country. This makes no sense to me on it’s face and sounds like paranoia. I agree about the United States doing war crimes and horrible regime change and unjustified wars all over the world. I have been in the streets and doing other work to protest many if these actions. Yet, none of that means simply by default that the US is primarily responsible or in the wrong in this situation. Whatever the history, at this point Putin must be stopped from this mass murder. I know history is very complicated but given what I have seen these last few weeks there is no way Putin is not the bad guy here.
If Eisenhower truly believed the American “people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it,” then it seems to me it was a hollow sentiment, wishful thinking or an opportunity squandered. (I was alive then, but too young to discern if the latter was true.) I do not believe the majority of Americans spend a moment of their day contemplating what a peaceful nation might look like let alone actually work (and vote) to see it come to fruition.
To borrow from MLK, “…it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name.”
Sadly, I feel we shall only come to a new realization when our backbone is broken. Whatever passes for a peace movement in this country is most impotent. And the Russia-Ukraine war fueled and ignited by “US” is proving the pathetic level of disconnect we in this country have to our own evils.
“What the people of Ukraine are suffering from Russian aggression is suffered daily by millions around the world from U.S. aggression.”
Excellent post up to the last paragraph. Brian Terrell obviously has noble intentions but when he obligingly denounces “Russian aggression” he plays right into the hands of US warmongers, whose script requires the demonization of Russia to manufacture consent for war.
I can’t say this enough: any demonization of Russia for defending itself against US/NATO aggression brings us closer to nuclear war, whether that demonization is intentional or not.
It is completely surreal to demand that Russians look the other way while US/NATO turn Ukraine into an impregnable, hostile, nuclear missile base on Russia’s borders, within a few minutes strike-time of Russia’s major cities. No one can realistically expect the Russians to sit on their hands while US/NATO completely undermine Russia’s defenses, turning Russia into a sitting duck to be destroyed at will.
Yes, that’s how far the Overton Window has moved (or maybe it was always that far right). The “both sides” arguments like Terrell’s that seek to understand but not condone Russia’s actions are already seen as wildly extremist, Putin loving, freedom-hating rantings of lunatics. When, in fact, the actual correct position is even further away – Russia was justified in invading Ukraine and the Ukrainian nationalists, the U.S. and NATO are 100% to blame.
Russia was wrong to attack Ukraine at a time of peace. Russia is not morally due any extra level of security just because it’s a powerful nation with a powerful military. Every other nation in the world has to live with risk; and Russia (and the US of course too) are not special … consider Pakistan and India for example: should India have attacked Pakistan during the brief period when they had nuclear supremacy?
That said, living in the real world we do, which is a world where the strong do what they want and the weak suffer what they must, it should have been realized by Ukrainians that they were once again auditioning for the role of sacrificial lamb and they should have taken easy steps to keep themselves as strong as possible, given where they are situated. The correct path would have been Finlandization: declaration of strict neutrality and attempt to recover the Donetsk areas through better treatment of the resident populations, which I really think Russia would have supported. Sadly, their leaders took the money and sold their country for cannon fodder.
But Russia did not attack in “a time of peace”: Donbass has been under siege for 8 years with 14,000 casualties!
If that was peace then Russia has been even more peaceful in its attack!
Yes, a “declaration of strict neutrality” and “better treatment of the resident populations” would have prevented the whole problem, but Ukraine refused that for 8 years.
Re Donbass – first, we must acknowledge that the area was/is no Russian territory. Thus, the long simmering and deadly conflict there was technically an internal Ukrainian matter. But having said that, it is also true that countries do have the right to stop obvious massacres from taking place and I would certainly agree that Russia could not stand by and watch the Ukraine army just roll over Donbass. But do we all not agree that had Russia limited its move into Ukraine as a Donbass operation, even “greater” Donbass, the ability of the west to propagandize would have been much more limited?
More generally, I’m afraid there’s a tendency for those of us who see what the USUK has been up to for these many decades to confuse what’s understandable with what’s right or moral. Of course it’s understandable that a great power like Russia will respond as it has … it had a need and ability to maximize its security as conditions deteriorated along a critical border. However, the fact that it’s understandable does not make a full scale invasion of a foreign nation right! It is simply not right, understandable as it is, to enhance your own security at the cost of invading another nation. That’s Dick Cheneys 1% Doctrine, which I’m sure you’d all be against.
Russia could have mobilized and readied for Ukraines donbass invasion telling the EU powers that would not be tolerated, it could have used its own sanction powers to force regime change in Ukraine (cut off the gas), and many other things. The options, in other words, were not do nothing versus full scale invasion.
I agree Caliman. Like many of us, I find the actions of the US military since WWII to by-and-large be reprehensible. I protested in 2003 against the US’ criminal invasion of Iraq and continue to donate to our local Peace Action group, and follow several anti-war blogs — not that any of this makes me a hero or even an activist, but I note it so that others appreciate the depth of my antithesis to US militarism. The US has along history of invasions—I recall reading that after the Bay of Pigs debacle that Secretary of State Dean Rusk ‘justified’ it by listing over 100 US invasions since the founding of the US (see Wm Blum’s “Killing Hope” for the list). Since then, Vietnam and Iraq have been major illegal invasions carried out by the US, and the current US ‘defense’ budget is an obscenity, with the 700+ bases throughout the world. I could go on, but I think that sample should demonstrate that I’m no gung-ho American ‘exceptionalist’.
While I believe that the US invasion of Iraq was at-least 2 or 3 magnitudes worse (ie; more illegal, less justifiable) than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the US reaction displays a sickening double-standard, that doesn’t legitimize Russia’s actions. Both are ‘pre-emptive’ wars, though different in scale and justifiability, but crossing that line without full UN authorization is wrong. As you correctly noted, there were other courses of action available, and even doing nothing would’ve resulted in LESS killing of civilians.
Caliman: If “Russia was wrong,” what, in your view, would have been right? How should Russia have responded to two decades of relentless expansion of a hostile military alliance, ever closer to and ultimately on its borders?
“That said, living in the real world we do…”
Caliman, I agree with everything you say in your second paragraph, but your first paragraph strikes me more as theoretical generalizations that don’t apply to the specific case of the government of Ukraine allowing itself to be used as a cat’s paw by the US/NATO, for the purpose of dangerously undermining Russia’s nuclear deterrence capabilities. Or as you very aptly phrased it in your last sentence: “…their [Ukraine’s] leaders took the money and sold their country for cannon fodder.”
“Russia was wrong to attack Ukraine at a moment of peace”. Peace for who???-not for the DonBass Russian speaking Ukrainians with 60,000 western Nazi Ukrainians ready to continue torturing and killing them.
Yes, exactly so. I’m getting really tired of leftists repeating what I call the Required Confession: one MUST declare loudly and more than once Putin’s utter evil and constant criminal intent. God damn it! Mr. Terrell didn’t need to say a word about Putin; his essay alone would tell any thinking person what he thought about wars of aggression, war in general, and imperial lunacy. But no. The Required Confession is what the whipped Left reflexively feels the need to do, and reveals their impotence and capitulation in the face of the relentless propaganda drive afoot in the US.
Wow. Count me in as one who believed the “official history” that the US didn’t begin backing the Mujaheddin until after the Soviet invasion – until now. Thanks for clearing that up! Yes, provocations are US.
(One slight correction is in order which does not diminish the veracity of this fine article: Truman could not have reacted to the news of the Nazi invasion of Russia in April of 1941 since it didn’t happen until June 22nd of that year, two months later.)
The New York Time’s article Harry Truman’s statement refers to only mentions the year 1941, not the exact date.
Good catch. But the NY Times reported that:
A prominent member of the Senate of the United States of America who is now President of the United States, Mr. Truman, stated on the day after Germany’s attack upon the USSR:
“If we see that Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.”
36 New York Times, June 24, 1941.
That attitude (of the U.S.) has not changed. And it never will as long as the U.S. itself is untouched by war.
The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998)