Klaatu barada nikto.—The Day the Earth Stood Still
Dear Friends + Interlocutors,
It has occurred to me, at this point in the Ukraine conflict, that the only thing stopping it from escalating into a full-scale traditional world war among the great powers—like, say, the Great War (1914) or the Second World War (1939)—are nuclear weapons. This is worrisome.
All the ingredients are there. In the Great War, Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia because Serbian terrorists had assassinated the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne and his wife on Serbian territory. When Belgrade rejected the demands, which were reasonable, Vienna bombed Belgrade and invaded Serbia.
First an impasse, then war. A war that spread all over Europe and which the U.S. later joined.
In the Second World War, Germany under Hitler attempted to negotiate with Poland an arrangement whereby the German city of Danzig, cut off from Germany by the Versailles treaty, could reunite with Germany via an extraterritorial road and rail link over Polish territory, which territory was formally East Prussia.
Egged on by London and Paris and by Franklin Roosevelt, sitting in faraway Washington, the Poles refused. A tripwire. Another impasse, then war. A war which spread world-wide.
In the current case, Moscow demanded that Ukraine become a neutral buffer, like Austria was during the Cold War, and agree not to join NATO. In addition, Moscow wanted two eastern provinces of Ukraine, predominantly Russian, to become self-governing or independent states.
Egged on by Washington and NATO—Washington’s major front organization—Kiev did not agree. Another impasse. War followed.
Actually, there were successful preliminary negotiations known as the Minsk agreements
in 2014 and 2015, negotiated in good faith by the Kremlin under the sponsorship of France and Germany. Subsequently, Ukraine backed out of these accords
, no doubt at the urging of Washington.
Meddling officials and worthless career politicians in Washington feel comfortable in acting foolish and stupid because they think that the presumably impossible nuclear option will keep the conflict localized and serve the purpose of demonizing Russia and Putin.
No downside. Mission accomplished. In the meantime, they can lord it over Russia and whomever they please with sanctions and sanctimony.
At the moment, that formula is working. Washington is winning. So far. Step by step.