Former NSC Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ‘Rx’ For Keeping Ukraine Independent

Former NSC Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ‘Rx’ For Keeping Ukraine Independent

Gerald Seib has an article in today’s (April 30, 2014) Wall Street Journal, “Brzezinski’s Rx For Keeping Ukraine Independent,” — based upon an interview Mr. Seib had with the former U.S. National Security Adviser (NSC). Mr. Seib makes the observation that “few are better equipped to answer that question (how to keep Ukraine independent) than Mr. Brzezinski, son of a Polish diplomat, who spent a lifetime thinking about the geopolitics of Eastern Europe, from posts in government, academia, and eventually, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”

The Stakes In Ukraine: “As those who know him would expect,” writes Mr. Seib, “Mr. Brzezinski has a plan. The Obama Administration and its allies should help Ukraine become a truly independent state — in the center of Europe.” “What is at stake is a secure Europe,” Mr. Brzezinski says. The alternative “is some sort of a Russian imperial enterprise next door, based largely on force, and as a result — probably quite unstable. So, the stakes are really enormous.”

The Approach The West Should Take: “The effort at this point,” Mr. Brzezinski says, “should be simultaneously two-fold: The first objective should be to see whether an accommodation with Russia is still possible, which he believes it could be. The second objective should be to ensure that the Russians, and particularly President Vladimir Putin, understand the consequences of not reaching an understanding with the international community.”

The Goal To Pursue: “The West should seek an understanding that Ukraine is free to pursue its objective to become more European. Under this understanding, Ukraine wouldn’t be a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and full membership in the European Union would still be “some distance away,” as it has been for Turkey for years.”

“At the same time though, Ukraine wouldn’t become a member of the European Union that Mr. Putin is trying to create around Russia’s borders. Instead, Ukraine would have an independent status much like the one Finland enjoys now: “Like Finland, it would have normal commercial relations with Russia, while becoming an increasingly modern European democracy. To reach this goal, we [U.S.] should probably have to put aside the resolution of the Crimean situation, for the moment; and, over the longer run help Ukraine seek to reach a condominium on Crimea — some kind of joint control, or ownership — or, oversight.”

How To Pressure Russia To Accept This Outcome: “This will only be appealing to the Russians, if they realize that their use of force carries the risk of confrontation. Here, I think it is important for the Ukrainians to recognize that they have to be willing to fight for what they want. And, we have to be willing to make it clear that they will not be alone. That means offering Ukraine weaponry — defensive in nature, but suitable for urban warfare. I would be willing to promise it to them now; and, then provide the weaponry — depending on the circumstances that unfold. Among other things, Ukrainians need help from the West to re-create their army, and be able to engage in protracted urban resistance.”

On The Usefulness Of Economic Sanctions: Mr. Brzezinski says, “I think [President Barack] Obama has played it prudently — with respect to the sanctions piece. Mr. Putin’s Russian friends already have felt real pain: even the Russian President has acknowledged that sanctions brought some of his allies to “tears.” More broadly, Mr. Brzezinski says: “The Russian economy now, is in no shape for expanding sanctions. I think there are strong elements at the top of Russian society that understand this risk. It could be a catastrophe for Putin. So, the scope of sanctions should keep escalating.”

On Other Sources Of Pressure: On other sources of pressure on Russia: Mr. Brzezinski said “I don’t think it is going to be easy. But, the Russians have to ask themselves, even if Putin won’t, — what are the consequences of a nation of 45M people turning hostile.” “Already,” Mr. Brzezinski says, “Mr. Putin has to be concerned about the seeds he has sown next door. He has created widespread animus toward Russia in Ukraine. And, Ukraine has never historically been anti-Russian.” And, it could get worse. Mr. Brzezinski notes that Mr. Putin needs to be concerned about the ability of outside forces to stir up trouble for him among Russia’s own large ethnic minorities, particularly its Muslim minorities.”

On How Best To Explore Chances For An Understanding With Russia, Mr. Brzezinski suggests further discussions between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, perhaps escalating to quiet conversations between Vice President Biden and Russian Prime Minister — and former President — Dmitry Medvedev — if the dialogue progresses — and, he suggests that POTUS Obama address the nation on the issues at stake.”

American Foreign Policy Is In Troubling Disarray

It would help if we had a POTUS and a White House that could think along the lines that Mr. Brzezinski has outlined; but, this POTUS has thus far squandered any muscular foreign policy that might well have dissuaded Mr. Putin. Instead, red lines recede to white, China establishes a new air defense zone over the disputed islands in the Pacific, and our allies and adversaries, and others see weakness and a U.S. in retreat. Indeed, as Richard Haass wrote in an Op-Ed in today’s (April 30, 2014) Wall Street Journal, “A Foreign Policy Flirting With Chaos,” “American foreign policy is in troubling disarray. The result is unwelcome news — for the world, which largely depends upon the United States to promote order — in the absence of any other country. And, it is bad for the U.S., which cannot insulate itself from the world.”

“The challenge for the Obama Administration,” writes Mr. Haass, “is not just to ensure American strength and continued internationalism — in the face of growing isolationist sentiment. It is also a case of sending the right message to others. We are witnessing an accelerated movement toward a post-American world, where governments make decisions and take actions with reduced regard for U.S. preferences. Such a world promises to be even messier, and less palatable for U.S. interests, than it is today.”

The sad truth is, even if both Mr. Brzezinski and Mr. Haass are right, we have a POTUS and White House that don’t seem to care about foreign affairs; and, seem more interested in scoring domestic political points with the left-wing of their democratic base, i.e,, Keystone Pipeline — than what is best for the United States. Freedom, is not free. V/R, RCP

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *