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Monday, June 01, 2009

Appeasement Galore: ‘Don’t Admit the Ukraine into NATO’

First, they stripped us of our nuclear arsenal, the world’s third-largest. Then, they promised us that “sweet harvest.”

Now that we have neither the nukes nor the harvest, some of them don’t mind us being harvested by a nuclear Russia.

Check out this brilliant appeasement article, written by Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute.

Eland states my country’s name as “the Ukraine.” Most English-speaking Ukrainians consider such usage insulting or ignorant. To us, “the Ukraine” means a territory, not a country, and underscores centuries of Russian domination. Since independence, Ukraine has persuaded the U.N. and the U.S. to drop the article and switch from Kiev (the Russian name) to Kyiv (the Ukrainian name).

So either Mr. Eland knows little about Ukraine, or
the Ukraine” carries a coded message from the Independent Institute.

By the way, Obama said the Ukraine” during the presidential debates. To me, this came as a shock. How could the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on European Relations say that? Hadn't he mentioned his visit to Ukraine in The Audacity of Hope?

Two weeks before the election, Obama described
the Ukraine as being ready for a NATO Membership Action Plan. He wrote this in a letter to the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, in an apparent bid to court Ukrainian American voters. Since then, however, despite reassurances old and new, he must have changed his mind.

Indeed, U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine, in practical terms, is all about chicken Kiev change.

It can be summarized by the following quote from Don’t Admit the Ukraine into NATO:

In any honest assessment of U.S. security goals, the faraway Ukraine is not strategic to the United States. To Russia, given its history of being invaded by foreign powers, the Ukraine, a large neighboring country, is much more strategic than even its small Baltic neighbors.

So “the faraway Ukraine” is no longer as “strategic” as it was in 1993-1995, when Washington was twisting our strategic arms? And Ukraine has never been invaded? Not even by Russia?

In other words, “disarm and disown.” That’s the policy. Wait, how about this one: Wasn’t Czechoslovakia more strategic to Germany than it was to France and Britain when they signed the Munich Agreement?

A fool and his nukes are easily parted. When Ukraine — lulled by the “end of history” — gave up its nuclear deterrent, it did one hell of a foolish thing. It gave up power and got poverty in return. The IMF loans we received in exchange for our 5,000 warheads did not help us to the “sweet harvest” that U.S. President Bill Clinton promised us. Instead, they helped our President Kuchma convert his sweet reform rhetoric into an overnight billion dollar fortune for his family.

And guess what? Bill Clinton, who now runs a foundation, has been quite friendly with the Kuchma family, even after his wife became secretary of state. Talk about the peace dividend.

Contrary to Western clichés, Ukraine did not just “inherit” its nuclear arsenal from the USSR. Ukraine invented and ingested a huge part of that arsenal. Ukraine produced some of the deadliest ICBMs in the Soviet nuclear forces and, on orders from Moscow, deployed them on its territory. Ukraine paid the price of collectivization, industrialization, Chernobyl and grabitization.

Now, what benefits did Ukraine get from its denuclearization? Or, in a narrow sense, what did “friends of America” in Ukraine get from “friends of Ukraine” in America? Prosperity? No. A ticket to Western Civilization? No. Constant threats from Moscow? Yes. A bunch of appeasement artists from Washington? Yes!

So what should Ukraine’s story tell Iran and North Korea?

A. Hey, why don’t you drop your weapons like Ukraine did?
B. Hey, why don’t you follow Ukraine into the NPT and the MTCR?
C. Wanna be bossed around?
D. Wanna get your chicken change?

Finally, what effects would Russia's appeasement-induced adventurism have on U.S. security goals?



Anonymous said...


1) I wouldn't assume that this article necessarily reflects the mood in Washington. There is a serious debate going on here by people who know Ukraine and Russia well, despite what side of the argument they favor.

2) I've never heard of (until now) this organization. They are based in California and have a branch here in DC to look important.

3) Eland knows obviously little about "the" Ukraine and bases his views on other op-eds in the media. Therefore, it is okay to brush it off since he is not an influential voice in US policy in the region.

Anyway, I encourage you to write back and point out his argument as one going against the goals of the Independent Institute -- oversimplification of a complex issue.

elmer said...

Taras, I'm not sure how you found the article, but you're probably giving it more notoriety than it got elsewhere.

This is yet another liberal appeaser - not the first time that appeasement to Russia has reared its ugly head.

And yet another "empire" builder - categorizing the US as an "empire" - in order to sell a book.

The article is hogwash, and I'm amazed at people like this, who believe that everyone ought to tiptoe around Russia, and allow Russia to throw yet another one of its perpetual sulking temper tantrums, and to rebuild it's empire.

The geographic middle of Europe is in - Ukraine.

The author of the stupid article probably doesn't know that.

The entire democratic free world, based on the Orange Revolution, looked forward to welcoming Ukraine into the fold of democratic, free, independent sovereign states.

This guy want to impose Russian totalitarianism on Ukraine. Rather odd, considering that an overt goal of the US is to spread democracy for purposes of US national security (democratic nations are viewed as inherently more stable and beneficial to US security) - sometimes at the point of a gun.

So, the reason not to let Ukraine into NATO is because Sakaashvili acted "irresponsibly" in Georgia, and because Russia invaded Georgia.

Doesn't make sense.

He may have a degree, Taras, but he learned nothing.

Also, you might be interested in this article from Ukrainian Pravda:

Ukrainian Canadian said...

Oh Taras, why do you fall for these articles and give them your viewers traffic?

Not to be confused with the news publication, this group is a think-tank out of the U.S. which claims to promote libertarian ideals but are really mouthpieces for their secret corporate sponsors - big oil, tobacco, chemical and munition companies. These are the same companies that were backing John McCain in the US Presidential election, oh wait wasn't he using the same PR firm as Yanukovych? See the connection? And not too surprisingly, Obama is not the hero everyone thought he'd be.

Ukrainian Canadian

Lingüista said...

I tend to agree with your assessment of the situation -- though I wonder what having nukes around might do in Ukrainian 'hothead' politics.

Obama was elected to take care of American interests. There was this idea that America has to be this 'beacon of freedom' that supports all good causes everywhere, regardless of relevance to pragmatic foreign policy goals. Apparently this is something Obama wants to change: less rhetoric about "improving the world" and more about improving the US.

This is sad, of course, for those states who feel threatened by Russian 19-centurish expansionism. But it does make sense for the American public; and they are the ones who elected Obama and who he is ultimately responsible to.

Maybe the European Union?

Taras said...

Thank you for your comments, guys!

My blood boils every time I read articles like this, no matter who writes them. I feel the impulse to trot out the same old lines, an impulse I can't resist.

I found this article thanks to a Twitter friend of mine who aptly commented on it. I purposefully chose not give a hat tip because I didn’t want to entangle a well-meaning American in my criticism of wrong-headed U.S. foreign policies:)

Keeping in mind that hindsight is always 20/20, I would argue that Ukraine:

1. Should have either traded its arsenal for a Marshall Plan, not for the Kuchma Plan, or

2. Should have kept some of the arsenal to main a deterrent capability.

Nukes require a high degree of responsibility. Even Pakistan, whom many consider a “failed state,” has to behave in a relatively responsible manner. The U.S. has provided Pakistan with over $10B of military aid since 2001. Some of this money may have helped the Pakistanis build more nukes, while some of it may have helped them build the necessary safeguards.

I recently learned that an Egyptian billionaire responsible for the death of his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced to death. I guess tourist revenue teaches countries to respect the rule of law, at least from time to time. Egypt, a country with many problems, wants to be perceived as a country that does not tolerate violent crime, no matter how powerful the criminals may be.

Unfortunately, in this regard, Ukraine is neither Pakistan nor Egypt.

In my assessment, the U.S. government behaved far more selfishly and irresponsibly toward Ukraine in the ‘90s than it has behaved toward Pakistan during the last few decades. That’s despite the fact that Ukraine’s contribution to global security greatly exceeds Pakistan’s.

The Clinton administration extracted long-term benefits from Ukraine in exchange for IMF loans that helped create long-term problems for the country. Those loans over-empowered the ruling Ukrainian elite while Washington under-engaged ordinary Ukrainians. This combination of over-empowerment and under-engagement contributed to corruption and low living standards, which in turn resulted in Ukrainians being snubbed as third-class citizens in the West.

The friendship between Bill Clinton and the Kuchma family offers living proof of Washington's priorities in the '90s. Today, America’s image stands nothing to gain from this friendship as far as ordinary pro-Western Ukrainians repressed by Kuchma are concerned. I hope Obama does not join the club.

McCain’s Party of Regions connection certainly did raise questions, but his overall image appeared to be more supportive of Ukraine.

I’m not sure I want to bother the Independent Institute if it doesn’t have enough influence in Washington:)

I just discovered two books by Eland:

Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty

An Exit Strategy for Iraq

I wonder if the last book covers Ukraine.

Anyway, this new coalition we’re about to witness makes the Romanian scenario a not-so-remote possibility. Maybe it’s the only way we can join NATO and the EU.

If Romania — perhaps the most unsuccessful country in the Warsaw Pact — can do it, so can Ukraine.

elmer said...

Taras, I can understand your reaction, but Leopolis is right - it doesn't reflect official government policy, and this is a marginal leftist organization, and Eland knows little about Ukraine, or why it is indeed important to European security.

And he's trying to sell a book.

Sadly, this looks like one of those leftist groups in the US who are trying to resurrect the sovok union in the US.

Complete with answering to "headquarters" in Maskva.

Lingüista said...

Taras, what is the Romanian case you mention? How exactly do you see it happening?

The impression I have is that Ukrainian politics looks so messy, it's hard to see how there could be good prospects of joining NATO.

Who do you think will come after Yushchenko? Yanukovich? Tymoshenko? And what will this person's stance be with respect to NATO?

Also, what can be done about the anti-NATO stance of so many (some say the majority) of the population of Ukraine, more in line with Russia?

Taras said...

There comes a point when tyranny can no longer be tolerated.

Romania proved that in 1989. That same year, China had proved otherwise. Ukraine, as the Orange Revolution suggests, may be somewhat closer to Romania than to China.

I don’t know who will come after Tymoshenko, Yanukovych and Yushchenko. The first two oppose Ukraine’s membership in NATO; the last one supports it, but has done very little to make it happen.

On the one hand, I see NATO as the gateway the EU. On the other hand, I realize that Ukraine will never join NATO until Ukrainians have balanced and objective info about it.

elmer said...

In the case of Romania, the people took out the dictator head of government, and executed him and his wife on the spot.