Ukraine War: “There are far more losers than winners“

In a short interview, the former U.S. government official Lawrence Wilkerson says that some people in the United States want “to use Ukraine to effect regime change in Russia, to re-assert U.S. hegemony over W. Europe, establish it firmly over E. Europe, and then use a united Europe (minus Russia) to challenge and if necessary fight China.“

By Lars Schall

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, born 1945, is a Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. His last positions in U.S. government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Richard N. Haass (who is nowadays the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, CFR), and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02).

Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 as a colonel, and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University.

Would there be a war in Ukraine today without NATO expansion eastwards and U.S. interference in Ukrainian affairs in 2014 and after?

Actually, US interference began in 2005-06, as the CIA began support operations for, essentially, the neo-Nazis operating in E. Ukraine.  But to your specific question, the answer is no, or better reflecting the unstable situation in much of eastern Europe, there would not be the present conflict.  Who knows otherwise what the instability might have led to. 

The Wall Street Journal reported recently: German Chancellor Scholz „told Mr. Zelensky in Munich on Feb. 19 that Ukraine should renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality as part of a wider European security deal between the West and Russia. The pact would be signed by Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden, who would jointly guarantee Ukraine’s security.“ (1) Mr. Zelensky declined this offer, and two days later the Russian invasion began. Your comment?

I cannot say categorically that had the deal so described been implemented there would have been no invasion, but I must say I am strongly inclined toward that conclusion. 

Is it of interest that there was a secret CIA training program in Ukraine to prepare for the Russian invasion, (2) and also that CIA director William J. Burns wrote in 2008 as then-US ambassador to Moscow a cable, which stated regarding Russia’s position of NATO membership of both Ukraine and Georgia, „Njet means Njet“? (3)

Yes, it is of interest.

Now that we have a war, is it the aim of the U.S. to prolong the war? Niall Ferguson wrote not so long ago: „(T)he Biden administration ’seeks to help Ukraine lock Russia in a quagmire without inciting a broader conflict‘ … I conclude that the U.S. intends to keep this war going. … I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that  ‚the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.‘ Again and again, I hear such language. It helps explain, among other things, the lack of any diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire.” (4)

I don’t think it is President Biden’s aim, but it is clearly the aim of the neo-conservatives and others around the President — such as Victoria Nuland — as well as many Members of the U.S. Congress, and outsiders such as John Bolton.  It’s their purpose to use Ukraine to effect regime change in Russia, to re-assert U.S. hegemony over W. Europe, establish it firmly over E. Europe, and then use a united Europe (minus Russia) to challenge and if necessary fight China. 

Who are the winners and losers of this war so far?

War profiteers, fossil fuel magnates, bankers — to a point — advocates of a return to building tactical nuclear weapons, politicians who relish war and its assurances of political power, media owners and their writers and TV hosts who propagandize the war, and others are the „winners“.  The losers are plentiful, starting sadly enough with the innocent men, women and children of Ukraine; certainly the Levant and North Africa are losers, both of which have become increasingly dependent for grains and other staples on Ukraine and Russia and much of the world on Belarus for potash — if the war persists and agricultural exports — as now — are seriously affected; citizens in the West and elsewhere affected by soaring prices for fossil fuels, and ultimately and disastrously by the long-term effects on markets and economies in general.   In short, there are far more losers than winners but, again sadly, the losers have less say in such political matters as war. 

When it comes to the sanctions of the West, is the West shooting in its own foot?

Yes, but perhaps in both feet.

Another consequence is that Russia will get more involved with China than ever before. What would a strategic partnership between both countries mean in the next years vis-à-vis the „New Cold War“?

If the neo-conservatives achieve their most profound hopes — some sort of dissolution of the Russian state, as occurred beginning in 1917 — it will be immaterial except for perhaps the long term should Russia ride it out, recover and become a more or less serious ally to Beijing.  But before that time the Neo-Cons hope to have beaten China.  

When did the „New Cold War“ begin according to your reading?  

The moment the inexperienced and completely politically-motivated (read: do anything for power and more power is even better) William J. Clinton ascended to the throne, er, Oval Office, and brought with him the Goldman Sachs/CityGroup plunderer-of-the-globe-for-profit, Robert Rubin.  In my 22-year study of the U.S. presidency and particularly of fateful decision-making (those decisions that result in war or serious covert operations), the greatest weakness is inexperience.  Unfortunately, our „democracy“ routinely elects such neophytes.

One final question. When it comes to the media coverage of the war, do you think a certain statement by Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) remains valid: „A large part of the news received in war is contradictory, an even larger part is false, and by far the largest is subject to a fair amount of uncertainty.“

Unquestionably true, particularly today as the media of the world’s most powerful nation and its only state power constantly at war, the United States, has become in essence a fourth arm of the government.

Sources:

(1) Cf. https://www.wsj.com/articles/vladimir-putins-20-year-march-to-war-in-ukraineand-how-the-west-mishandled-it-11648826461

(2) Cf. https://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-secret-cia-training-program-in-ukraine-helped-kyiv-prepare-for-russian-invasion-090052743.html

(3) Cf. https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08MOSCOW265_a.html

(4) Cf. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-03-22/niall-ferguson-putin-and-biden-misunderstand-history-in-ukraine-war?sref=qD0EKJAt

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