Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC–65 AD) was a Stoic philosopher of ancient Rome and tutor to emperors. Known for his philosophic works and essays dealing with thorny moral and political issues, Seneca used philosophy as a compass to navigate the challenging terrain of life. Recently, as I was reading a new translation of Sentences from Seneca, it struck me that some of Seneca’s teachings may apply to the tragic conflict that is still unfolding in Ukraine. In the spirit of bringing the wisdom of the past to bear on the present, I offer four of Seneca’s sentences as ways of illuminating the problems of the war. [Read more…] about ACURA’s Krishen Mehta: Learning from Seneca…in the context of the Russia Ukraine War
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Western-led sanctions on Russia don’t extend to medical supplies, but ordinary Russians will soon go without needed medications anyway. Starting in 2024, the American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. will halt exports to Russia of Zepatier, a drug used to treat hepatitis C. Merck has also already stopped supplying Russia with vaccines against chickenpox, measles, rubella, and mumps, as well as with Raltegravir, a medicine used to protect HIV-affected people against developing AIDS. [Read more…] about ACURA ViewPoint: Krishen Mehta: US Sanctions Policy Endangers Global Public Health
On April 7th, ACURA’s Krishen Mehta discussed his important article entitled “Why Much of the Global South Isn’t Automatically Supporting the West in Ukraine,” which was published on February 28, 2023 in CounterPunch.
Krishen Mehta is a former partner at Price Waterhouse Cooper, and served in their New York, London, and Tokyo offices. While in Tokyo he was in-charge of the firm’s US tax practice in Asia, with oversight for offices in Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and India. Krishen is currently a Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University, co-teaching a course on Global Trade, Tax, and Social Justice.
In October 2022, about eight months after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the University of Cambridge in the UK harmonized surveys that asked the inhabitants of 137 countries about their views of the West, Russia, and China. The findings in the combined study are robust enough to demand our serious attention. [Read more…] about ACURA ViewPoint: Krishen Mehta: The Ukraine War viewed from the Global South
Today humanity’s existence is threatened by the danger of nuclear war and the destruction of our natural environment, which is resulting in “climate chaos” and widespread pollution. The purpose of this essay is to clarify the implications of this reality, what humanity must do to preserve itself, and in particular the role that the people of the United States must play, because we are writing from the United States. [Read more…] about ACURA ViewPoint: Dr. Eli Schotz and Krishen Mehta: Partners in Survival: Reviving the “McCloy-Zorin Agreement”
Over the past month, the world has sought collective relief from its myriad crises in the Tokyo Olympics, a celebration of friendly competition among young athletes from virtually all nations. With the Games behind us, we return to the real world of limited engagement — a world in which global athletes and others, especially those from the Russian Federation, cannot obtain visas to study in the United States, to visit even in life-or-death situations, who find business opportunities obstructed or closed completely, and who cannot enjoy cultural exchanges. [Read more…] about ACURA ViewPoint: David C. Speedie and Krishen Mehta: Opening Doors, Opening Minds
Coming from a developing country, I have a somewhat different view of sanctions because it has enabled me to see the actions of the US from both a positive and a not so positive perspective. [Read more…] about ACURA Viewpoint: Sanctions and Forever Wars by Krishen Mehta
Krishen Mehta, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, is now Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University… [Read more…] about Krishen Mehta
We are concerned about the recent news relating to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, and believe that it may be another attempt by certain interested parties to worsen the already strained US-Russia relations.
Even those who despise President Putin know that he is not insane. [Read more…] about David C. Speedie and Krishen Mehta: The Navalny Case: Usual Suspects, Actual Culprits?
David Speedie writes that, “the sage advice of John Quincy Adams two centuries and more ago about not going forth seeking monsters to destroy, the United States, or at least its political leaders, seem in need of an external threat to tackle and defeat.” His full article here: [Read more…] about David C. Speedie and Krishen Mehta: Russiagate and the New “Conspiracism”
History is full of ‘blame’ that has gotten us nowhere. In fact, it has damaged both sides: those that assert blame and those on the receiving end.
As we all know, the U.S. imposes some form of Sanctions against 39 different countries, including Russia, thus affecting over one-third of the world’s population. These Sanctions cause immense humanitarian suffering, are a violation of international law and are especially immoral at times like these when we are facing a global pandemic.
Dear Congressman Schiff,
I was surprised to hear your opening statement today at the Impeachment hearings that just commenced. [Read more…] about Letter to Congressman Adam Schiff from Krishen Mehta
The American Committee for US-Russia Accord condemns the arrest and detainment of the American journalist Evan Gershkovich by Russian authorities on espionage charges.
The arrest of Mr. Gershkovich is an affront to the values of free inquiry and will only increase the already dangerous level of tension between the United States and Russia.
We call for the unconditional release of Mr. Gershkovich. We further call for all parties to the conflict to engage in meaningful dialogue to put an end to this war which has cost the lives of so many.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editorial director and publisher of The Nation.
Ellen Mickiewicz, James R. Shepley emeritus professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University
Jack F. Matlock, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991
John Pepper, former Chairman and CEO of The Procter & Gamble Company
Nicolai N. Petro, Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island
Cynthia Lazaroff, founder of Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy
Christopher Dyson, Executive Vice President of the Dyson-Kissner Moran Corporation
Bernadine Joselyn, a former US foreign service officer, served as Blandin Foundation’s founding director of Public Policy and Engagement
Krishen Mehta, Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University
David C. Speedie, former Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on U.S. Global Engagement at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
James W. Carden, former advisor to the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission
The American Committee for US-Russia Accord expresses its utter condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and asks for an immediate halt to military actions; the withdrawal of Russian troops; and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
ACURA has worked for many years to improve mutual understanding between Russia and the United States and has invited the West to build a new security architecture that wouldn’t exclude Russia.
We believe Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine goes against Russia’s own real strategic interests.It puts at risk the peace built since 1945 on the European continent, and also harms the long-term future of Russia.
We stand with Ukraine, the people of Russia, and all those in the world who call for peace.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, President of ACURA; publisher and editorial director of The Nation
James W. Carden, former advisor to US Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission; Senior Consultant to ACURA
Bernadine Joselyn, founding director of Public Policy and Engagement for Blandin Foundation
Marlene Laruelle, Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) and Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University
Cynthia Lazaroff, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy
Anatol Lieven, Senior Research Fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Jack F. Matlock, Jr., career US diplomat who served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991
Krishen Mehta, former partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Global Justice Fellow, Yale University
John E. Pepper, former CEO of Proctor and Gamble
Nicolai N. Petro, professor of political science, University of Rhode Island
David C. Speedie, was Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on U.S. Global Engagement at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York from 2007 to 2017.
Ending The Ukraine Crisis Requires Negotiation and Compromise
This is, in a very real sense, the defense of the United States,” proclaimed an editorial in The Washington Post.
“The Administration has not made enough of the point that we are [at war], fundamentally because our own vital interest is at stake. . . . The stark fact remains that this is a struggle about the organization of the world.”
The editorial appeared on September 5, 1966.
As we now know, the war in Vietnam which the Post was then making the case for would drag on for nearly another decade, needlessly killing and wounding hundreds of thousands civilians and soldiers.
Having learnt nothing from the subsequent wars of choice waged in our name, the American media and foreign policy establishment has again embarked on a crusade to embroil us in yet another foreign adventure, this time against Russia. The difference this time, as opposed to prior conflicts, is that the stakes are vastly higher, because in any conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers there exists the very real possibility, through accident, miscalculation or mistake, that the crisis could go nuclear.
Succumbing to the misguided pressure campaign undertaken by the Washington media and foreign policy establishment; by the former military and intelligence officials who are regularly given space and airtime on key outlets; and not least by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle – the Biden administration is now weighing options to deploy thousands of troops to Eastern Europe and the Baltics, in addition to the shipments of lethal aid that were sent this past week to Ukraine.
We believe these moves by the administration, to meet Russia’s provocations with provocations of our own, are deeply misguided. Indeed, given the balance of forces in the region, they are reckless in the extreme.
Still worse, they send exactly the wrong message to Kiev: Don’t negotiate, we are in this fight with you.
But what we owe Ukraine are not arms and fulsome assurances of support: We owe it the truth.
And the truth is that Ukraine has absolutely no national strategic importance to the U.S. and the only way out of the current crisis is for the parties to return to the negotiating table.
The roadmap towards a resolution is difficult yet clear: We recommend the US and its NATO allies in Europe forswear Ukrainian membership in the alliance. If this proves diplomatically impossible for the West, a moratorium on adding new members should be put in place for 10 to 20 years. We also recommend that the Normandy format, which includes not just Russia and Ukraine but Germany and France, reconvene in a neutral, non-aligned country and set specific markers for the implementation of the Minsk Protocols which will provide autonomy for the Russo-phone breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine in return for the reestablishment of Ukrainian sovereignty over its border with Russia.
In addition, we would urge the Biden administration and its partners in Europe to undertake a study of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 which provided for Austrian neutrality as it sat on the frontier between the Warsaw Pact and NATO at the height of the Cold War. We believe the treaty could serve as a useful blueprint for establishing a Ukrainian state that is both at peace with itself and with its neighbors, both east and west.
The American Committee for US-Russia Accord Board of Directors:
Katrina vanden Heuvel, President of ACURA; Editorial Director and Publisher of The Nation magazine
James W. Carden, Senior Consultant to ACURA; former Advisor to the Special Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. State Department
Christopher C. Dyson, Executive Vice President, The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation
Bernadine Joselyn, founding Director of Public Policy and Engagement, Blandin Foundation; former Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department
Cynthia Lazaroff, award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth
Anatol Lieven, PhD, Senior Research Fellow on Russia and Europe, The Quincy Institute
Jack F. Matlock, PhD, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union 1987-1991; U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981-1983
Krishen Mehta, former Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Senior Global Justice Fellow, Yale University
Ellen Mickiewicz, PhD, James R. Shepley emeritus professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University.
Nicolai Petro, PhD, professor of political science, University of Rhode Island; former special assistant for policy in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, U.S. State Department
David C. Speedie, former Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on U.S. Global Engagement at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York
Sharon Tennison, founder and President of the Center for Citizen Initiatives
The American Committee for US-Russia Accord
A call for a new era of diplomacy and engagement between the U.S. and Russia
The dangerous and in many ways unprecedented deterioration in relations between the United States and the Russian Federation must come to an end if we are to leave a safer world for future generations.
For many years now, relations between the US and Russia have been marked by sanctions and counter-sanctions; the passage of ”foreign agents” designations on media outlets and NGO’s; the curtailing of people-to-people exchange programs; and the end of cooperation in areas of mutual interest such as counter-terrorism, drug interdiction, and the environment.
The Trump era and Russiagate brought about an unprecedented credulity among the media and the Washington punditry — or perhaps more, a willingness to assign blame to Russia for the outcome of the 2016 election [this has now been discredited]. It has now in turn given birth to two much more dangerous phenomena: an escalating militarism reminiscent of the darkest days of the Cold War; and a dangerous erosion of the decades-long bilateral arms control regime negotiated even during that Great Power standoff.
These developments imperil not just the two principal players, but are a threat to global peace, prosperity, even survival. They must be addressed. This will not be easily accomplished: hostility toward Russia profits some–it fuels the military-industrial complex and strengthens the hand of the hard liners in both Russia and the United States. It throttles diplomatic engagement and obliterates the space for dissenting views from the dominant anti-Russia narrative.
Still worse, the Trump era continued a dangerous deterioration of the decades-long bilateral consensus on arms control that had been established between the two countries during the first cold war.
For a just and secure future, these trends will have to be reckoned with – and then reversed. We believe cold wars are inimical to US national security – indeed they are inimical to global peace and prosperity. They empower the military-industrial complex and the war parties on both sides. Nationalist fervor rises, diplomacy is sidelined, and the space for dissent closes.
As for diplomacy, in an unfortunate continuation of the downward spiral that began under Presidents Putin, Obama and then accelerated under Mr. Trump, both countries have recalled their ambassadors home, an unprecedented move that was not even done at the height of the first cold war. We might do well to recall that during the Cuban missile crisis, the Soviet Union and the U.S. kept their Ambassadors in place. And good thing they did: the backchannel Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy established with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin was one of the reasons the crisis was solved peacefully.
With this history in mind, we, the undersigned, call for an end to the cycle of recriminations between the U.S. and Russia.
We believe that it is imperative that both the US and Russia abandon the cold war mentality that has plagued the relationship over the past decade and initiate a process of dialogue and diplomacy leading to the normalization of relations between the two countries.
For too long, as our esteemed board member, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock reminds us, there has been too much emphasis on summits as solutions in themselves. Successful ones have to be prepared quietly. Both sides have to want them to succeed and they cannot if one is convinced that the other side is out to remove the leadership of the other country.
Instead we need to find ways to “do no harm” and halt the deterioration of relations and the seemingly endless cycle of recriminations. We need to start thinking in new and creative ways – in short, it is time for a new approach – one that focuses on conciliation.
For such an approach to succeed, the U.S. might focus more on getting its own house in order, and less on lecturing Russia on “human rights.” We might valuably differentiate between contentious issues that are vital to our national interests and those that are not. We might usefully recognize that Russia has its own national security issues of concern, especially in its own neighborhood.
In the spirit of detente, a concept that launched our committee in 1974, we propose taking the following steps to build trust and facilitate dialogue:
i. We urge the Biden Administration to reopen the Consulates and reverse its recent decision to halt Visa services for most Russians.
ii. President Biden should invite President Putin to join him in reaffirming the declaration first made by President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev at their 1985 summit in Geneva that “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” This went a long way during the Cold War to reassure the peoples of the two countries and the world that even though we had deep differences we were committed to never fighting a nuclear war. It would go a long way to do the same today.
iii. Reengage with Russia. Restore wide contacts, scientific, medical, educational, cultural and environmental exchanges. Expand people-to-people citizen diplomacy, Track II, Track 1.5 and governmental diplomatic initiatives. In this regard, it is worth recalling that another of our board members, former US Senator Bill Bradley, was the guiding force behind the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), based on his conviction that “the best way to ensure long-lasting peace and understanding between the U.S. and Eurasia is to enable young people to learn about democracy firsthand through experiencing it”.
There is so much more we need to take on, but we believe these would serve as the foundation for progress in other areas down the road. To make progress on arms control and establishing rules of the road for cyber, we should take these steps to reduce tensions, and to rebuild trust. We should recognize that we do have areas of common interest: in combating climate change, fighting terrorism, and working together to address global public health challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
We believe that the time has come to resurrect diplomacy, restore and maintain a dialogue on nuclear risks that’s insulated from our political differences like we did during the Cold War. Without communication, this increases the likelihood of escalation to nuclear use in a moment of crisis.
We must sustain diplomacy and a dialogue with Russia — or explain to future generations why we took no action — at a time so fraught with peril.
Christopher Charles Dyson, Executive Vice President of the Dyson-Kissner Moran Corporation, Member of the Board of the American Committee for US-Russia Accord (ACURA)
Cynthia Lazaroff, Founder of NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth, Member of the Board of ACURA
Anatol Lieven, Sr. Fellow, The Quincy Institute, Member of the Board of ACURA
Jack F. Matlock, Former U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, Member of the Board of ACURA
Donald F. McHenry, Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Member of the Board of ACURA
Krishen Mehta, Sr. Global Justice Fellow, Yale University, Member of the Board of ACURA
Ellen Mickiewicz, Professor Emeritus, Duke University, Member of the Board of ACURA
John Pepper, Former Chairman and CEO of The Procter & Gamble Company, Member of the Board of ACURA
Nicolai N. Petro, Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island, Member of the Board of ACURA
David C. Speedie, Sr. Adviser and Member of the Board of ACURA
Sharon Tennison, Founder of Center for Citizen Initiatives, Member of the Board of ACURA
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher and Editorial Director of The Nation, Member of the Board of ACURA
William J. Vanden Heuvel, Former Ambassador to the United Nations, Member of the Board of ACURA
This Russia salon was led by Katrina vanden Heuvel and featured ACURA Board Members addressing a wide range of topics: Nicolai Petro on Ukraine; Cynthia Lazaroff on the Nuclear Peril; Krishen Mehta on our Sanctions Addiction; David Speedie on Russia and China; with thoughtful closing remarks by Ambassador Jack Matlock. The event also featured questions and comments from the Committee’s John Henry, Chas Freeman and Bruce Fein.
Tonight’s Russia salon will be led by Katrina vanden Heuvel and will feature Nicolai Petro, Cynthia Lazaroff, Krishen Mehta, David Speedie and Jack Matlock (former all-star February 2015 salon speaker at the National Press Club.) The topic could not be more timely or urgent. Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85325069326