ACURA’s Anatol Lieven: What war with Russia over Ukraine would really look like

Recent days have seen a new flurry of Western media reports that U.S. intelligence believes that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine early in the new year. These reports have already led to warnings by NATO and Washington that Russia would pay a heavy economic and political price in the event of a war.

Russia, for its part, has denied the dire nature of the reports, blaming “a targeted information campaign,” according to Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, on Monday. “This is building up tension.”

Nevertheless, this should also lead to a determined and sincere new effort by the United States and leading European governments to find a reasonable compromise with Russia over the Ukrainian disputes.

Ted Galen Carpenter: NATO Arms Sales to Ukraine: the Spark That Starts a War with Russia?

The United States and its NATO allies are busily arming Ukraine and engaging in other actions that encourage the leaders in Kiev to believe that they have strong Western backing in their confrontation with Russia and Russian‐​backed separatists.

Daniel Larison: Anne Applebaum is peddling a democracy trope that no one is buying

She writes, “If Americans don’t help to hold murderous regimes to account, those regimes will retain their sense of impunity.” This is true, but it applies most of all to those governments that the U.S. arms and supports. The authoritarian governments that the U.S. has the most influence over are the ones that Applebaum ignores.

AXIOS: The media’s epic fail

A reckoning is hitting news organizations for years-old coverage of the 2017 Steele dossier, after the document’s primary source was charged with lying to the FBI.

Why it matters: It’s one of the most egregious journalistic errors in modern history, and the media’s response to its own mistakes has so far been tepid.

Outsized coverage of the unvetted document drove a media frenzy at the start of Donald Trump’s presidency that helped drive a narrative of collusion between former President Trump and Russia.

From the Archives: Stephen F. Cohen: What We Still Do Not Know About Russiagate (Sept. 2019)

Long before most, Professor Cohen saw through the Steele Dossier and the ensuing Russiagate scandal for what it actually was. As Cohen noted, “it must again be emphasized: It is hard, if not impossible, to think of a more toxic allegation in American presidential history than the one leveled against candidate, and then president, Donald Trump that he “colluded” with the Kremlin in order to win the 2016 presidential election – and, still more, that Vladimir Putin’s regime, “America’s No. 1 threat,” had compromising material on Trump that made him its “puppet.” Or a more fraudulent accusation.”

Reuters: Putin says West taking Russia’s ‘red lines’ too lightly

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the West was taking Russia’s warnings not to cross its “red lines” too lightly and that Moscow needed serious security guarantees from the West.

In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech, the Kremlin leader also described relations with the United States as “unsatisfactory” but said Russia remained open to dialogue with Washington.

ACURA Viewpoint: David C. Speedie: A Gratuitous Swipe at Gorbachev

In the ‘Life and Arts’ section of the Financial Times published Nov 13, Alec Russell takes a gratuitous passing swipe at Mikhail Gorbachev.  In comparing Gorbachev’s role in the end days of the Soviet Union with that of the recently deceased F.W. De Klerk in the end of apartheid in South Africa, he writes:

“Unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, with whom he is often compared for their starting to dismantle an unjust system, he saw that once you begin you have to keep going.”

It is true that Gorbachev did not see an immediate final curtain for the USSR.  But as at least two American experts who perhaps knew him best–Jack Matlock, Reagan’s ambassador to Moscow and the late Professor Stephen Cohen, with whom Gorbachev developed an enduring friendship–have written extensively, Gorbachev’s twin assaults of openness and reform meant a de facto death knell for the Soviet system.

Most importantly, Gorbachev’s approach has been proven correct; it would have provided a soft landing for a 70-year-old entity, as opposed to the decade of chaotic deprivation and decline under Yeltsin, so welcomed, and indeed abetted, by the West and to which today’s Russia is undoubtedly a reaction.

David C. Speedie serves on the ACURA board and was formerly a Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on U.S. Global Engagement at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York.


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