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Ukraine's decoupling was foolish and dangerous
by Noam Chomsky and Oscar Lafontaine
Promote peace, don't fuel conflict. There are only two ways to end a war. Either with a negotiated settlement. Or with the annihilation of one side or the other. That's how wars end, unfortunately, when there is no negotiated settlement. Anyone with a modicum of reason, let alone humanity, must therefore understand that there must be a diplomatic solution.
"Ukraine's decoupling was foolish and dangerous".
"It was a clear case of a broken promise": Putin at Vostochny Cosmodrome
American great intellectual Noam Chomsky on ways out of the Ukraine crisis, Vladimir Putin's war crimes, and the West's culpability.
by Pierre Heumann
[This article published on 4/23/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

Noam Chomsky is one of the best-known and most influential thinkers of our time. For years, the now 93-year-old was considered the most cited living person in the world. As a linguist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky's research laid the foundations for a new understanding of language. He has received dozens of honorary doctorates around the world and is a member of leading academies in North America and Europe.

Chomsky has become famous worldwide not only for his scholarly contributions, which have inspired researchers far beyond the field of linguistics to think in new ways, but above all as a political activist and thinker who has been tough on U.S. politics. He accuses the academic and journalistic establishment of concocting arguments for the political and economic elites with which they can justify their power.

Chomsky grew up as the son of Jewish parents in a working-class neighborhood of Philadelphia (see box on story). The simple circumstances of his origins have shaped his view of the world to this day. Where he sees injustice, he speaks out with sharp criticism - for example, against Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians or against the United States after the invasion of Iraq. When he sees fundamental rights endangered, he raises his much-heard voice.

We reach Chomsky via Zoom to talk to him about right and wrong in the Ukraine war, Putin's misdeeds and Biden's mistakes, the risks of a third world war and the strategies for ending violence. It quickly becomes clear that Chomsky is as committed as ever.

Weltwoche: Mr. Chomsky, you are 93 years old. In the course of your life, you have repeatedly dealt with crises and published proposals for their solution. So here's a question for you: How would you end the war in Ukraine?

Noam Chomsky: There are only two ways to end a war. Either with a negotiated settlement. Or with the annihilation of one side or the other. That's how wars end, unfortunately, when there is no negotiated settlement. Anyone with a modicum of reason, let alone humanity, must therefore understand that there must be a diplomatic solution.

Weltwoche: That sounds like an accusation that the West is not doing enough to find a peaceful solution.

"The attempt to disconnect Ukraine from Russian influence has been foolish and dangerous."

Chomsky: Washington is unfortunately trying to inflame the war in Ukraine to the point where Putin and a small circle around him have their backs to the wall and nothing left to lose. They know that they are accused of genocide because of the war in Ukraine.

Weltwoche: Are negotiations still possible at all?

Chomsky: There is only one way to find out: You have to try.

Weltwoche: What would your diplomatic solution look like?

Chomsky: A central conflict is the Crimean peninsula occupied by Russia. Kiev must accept that this issue is off the table for the next few years. Crimea will remain with Russia for the time being. We may not like that. But the residents of Crimea obviously like it, as polls show. Still, the United States says, "We will never allow Ukraine to lose Crimea." This attitude leads to a permanent conflict. Another conflict issue is the Donbass region. Extreme violence has been occurring there for eight years, on both sides. The Ukrainians are shooting, the Russians are also shooting, and both are laying landmines. We know this from OSCE observers on the ground who report regularly. You can read the reports, they are public. The observers do not try to get to the bottom of the violence - that is not their task - but they note a radical increase in violence. The problem of Donbass must therefore be solved.

Weltwoche: What do you have in mind?

Chomsky: Of course, it is more convenient to speculate about Putin's twisted mind and write that he is trapped in paranoid fantasies and surrounded by sycophantic courtiers who talk after his mouth. Then there is no need to think about peaceful solutions. But I could imagine a federation with great autonomy in the Donbass. This would require, as in Crimea, a referendum under international supervision. What the decision would be in Donbass, we do not know. But the result of the vote would, of course, have to be accepted by both sides.

"The term 'third world war' is misleading. It would mean the end of human society."

Weltwoche: There is a debate in Europe about whether and what weapons should be supplied to the Ukrainians so that they can defend themselves against Russia.

Chomsky: Helping Ukraine to defend itself I consider legitimate. Of course, the aid has to be carefully measured so that the conflict doesn't escalate further. However, I don't think you asked the question correctly. The right question would be: What is the best thing that can be done to save Ukraine from a grim fate, from further destruction? As I said, that would only be possible with a negotiated solution.

Weltwoche: Because otherwise a third world war threatens?

Chomsky: The term "third world war" is misleading. It would mean the end of human society. People will survive, but among the lucky ones will be those who can die quickly. This is because the country that strikes the first blow would be destroyed by the enemy, even if it can still retaliate in a nuclear fashion. Therefore, everything must be done to prevent this from happening because it would essentially be the end. Yet, amazingly, in polls, over a third of the American people say they are ready for war, even if it means nuclear war. They listen to the crazies in the U.S. Congress, certifiable crazies, who ask, for example, "Why don't we impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine?" Fortunately, the Pentagon, the peacekeeping element in the U.S. political system, vetoes that. Indeed, imposing a no-fly zone would mean bombing Russian air defense installations in Russia, i.e., attacking Russia. The Russians would have two options to respond. They could say, "Thanks, we liked that," or they could attack the positions from which they were bombed.

Weltwoche: Who could get negotiations going?

Chomsky: There are two countries in particular that would have to play an important role in this: one is China, the other is the United States. China is holding back, it doesn't want to participate in the negotiations.

Weltwoche: Why is Beijing refusing?

"There are two countries that have an important role to play: One is China, the other is the U.S."

Chomsky: The Chinese government is behaving like most countries in the world. The U.S. is a rogue state, by a large margin the leading rogue state in this world - no one even comes close to us. And yet we call for war crimes trials against others without batting an eye. We even publish commentaries by the most respected columnists who are outraged and ask the rhetorical question: How can we deal with a war criminal? This hypocrisy is unacceptable to many. Not even for China.The reactions of the more civilized part of the world are therefore interesting. They condemn the invasion, say it is a terrible crime. But the basic reaction is: what is actually new? Didn't the U.S. also commit war crimes in Afghanistan or Iraq? The U.S.-European position on the war against Ukraine is therefore shared only by a minority. This is shown by a look at the long list of states that stand apart in the sanctions. Europe, the U.S. and Japan and a few of its former colonies are on board, but not the rest of the world.

Weltwoche: That almost sounds as if you want to relativize Putin's invasion.

Chomsky: No, it is criminal, a terrible war crime. But it is comparable to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Stalin's invasion of Poland during World War II, to name just two examples. So I am not justifying Putin, but I am trying to understand what is behind it. Only then can we know what we should do now at this minute to get closer to a solution.

Weltwoche: Where would you start yourself?

Chomsky: Perhaps Putin was serious about what he and his allies have been demanding loud and clear for years. That NATO should not accept any more members, especially not Ukraine and Georgia. If there had been no expansion of the alliance after the end of the Cold War, there would be no basis for the current crisis. I am not saying that, but, for example, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock, one of the few serious Russia specialists in the U.S. diplomatic corps. He wrote shortly before the invasion that the crisis could be easily resolved "with common sense." It is in the United States' interest to promote peace, not fuel conflict. Trying to disconnect Ukraine from Russian influence was foolish and dangerous.

Weltwoche: Specifically, what are you accusing the United States of?

Chomsky: Look at the official position of the White House, which, by the way, Europe blindly follows. It is, "No negotiations." You can read that on the White House website. Even though it has not been widely reported in the U.S. or Europe, you can be sure: The Russians read the White House website. The door is also open, from Washington's point of view, for Ukraine to join NATO. That's why there are Ukrainian-American military exercises and arms deliveries to Ukraine, to shore up the strategic alliance. For the Russians, that leaves only one conclusion.

Weltwoche: Which one?

Chomsky: That the U.S. has not taken Russian security concerns seriously for the past thirty years. For example, when Gorbachev agreed to the reunification of Germany, the West committed itself not to expand NATO east of Germany. That was binding and unambiguous. But in 1999, NATO accepted Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary into NATO. Yeltsin protested against this. He was right: it was a clear case of a broken promise. The Russians accepted NATO's expansion, but drew a red line: neither Georgia nor Ukraine should become NATO members. Yet the U.S. continues to supply weapons to Ukraine and organize joint military exercises. Thus, we are violating written promises to the Russians. To understand the enormity, imagine if Mexico were offered membership in a military offensive system run by China. China would supply Mexico with heavy weapons and train Mexican soldiers.


Politics of Confrontation
America drives Europe to a nuclear war
by Oscar Lafontaine
[This article published on 4/29/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

The Ukraine war is really about a dispute between the USA and Russia. In his book "The Only World Power," published in 1997, the former security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, praises the unprecedented U.S. military apparatus as the only one that has a global radius of action. Of course, he said, Russia and China do not agree with U.S. hegemony. Therefore, he said, the U.S. must do everything possible not to allow a Eurasian challenger to emerge that could bring the Eurasian continent under its rule.

Ukraine, he said, is the geopolitical linchpin in the pursuit of this goal. Without Ukraine, Russia would no longer be a Eurasian empire. However, if Moscow were to regain control over Ukraine, with its significant mineral resources and access to the Black Sea, Russia would automatically acquire the means to become a powerful empire spanning Europe and Asia.

If one adds to these considerations the core statement of a lecture given by the head of Stratfor, George Friedman, in Chicago on February 3, 2015, according to which the main goal of U.S. policy for centuries has been to ensure that there is no cooperation between Russia and Germany, then one knows what the goal of NATO's eastward expansion was.

Billions for a puppet

One also understands why U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland freely admitted years ago that the United States had spent five billion dollars to install a puppet government in Kiev that suited them. It then becomes clear why Washington has been doing everything possible for years to prevent the supply of coal, oil and gas from Russia to Europe.

n this context, it is also more than plausible when the renowned U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs warns that the U.S. strategy amounts to a long war in Ukraine with thousands of deaths. He recommends that Europe go its own way and bring up a neutral Ukraine with autonomy for the Donbass as a negotiated solution. It is astonishing to what extent politicians and journalists in Europe, especially in Germany, fail to recognize these geostrategic connections and blindly follow the fire-threatening U.S. strategy of further heating up the Ukraine war. It is dangerous because the U.S. obviously does not want to follow the advice of its former president John F. Kennedy, according to which a nuclear power should never be put in a situation from which it can no longer find a face-saving way out.

It is a great disadvantage that a government is now in charge in Germany in which the leading politicians have little experience in foreign policy. In addition, the largest opposition party, the CDU, is led by former Blackrock lobbyist Friedrich Merz, whose former employer is earning handsomely from the rise in the share prices of defense companies.

It is astonishing to what extent politicians in Europe blindly follow the fire-threatening U.S. strategy.

The SPD lacks détente politicians who, like Brandt or Bahr, still knew that security in Germany and Europe can only be achieved together with the nuclear power Russia. In the FDP, too, no politician of the stature of Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who as foreign minister always had the danger of a nuclear war limited to Europe in mind, is to be seen for miles around. Even Guido Westerwelle still had the courage to give the USA the cold shoulder during the invasion of Libya. Which FDP politician would be trusted to do that today?

Baerbock's fascist language

The most consistent and dangerous U.S. vassals in the federal government and the German Bundestag are the Greens, whose erstwhile foreman Joschka Fischer pushed Germany's participation in the war in Yugoslavia, which violated international law, with his later business partner Madeleine Albright. One thought it could not get worse, but the new foreign minister Annalena Baerbock already uses fascist language and wants to "ruin" Russia. By her own admission, she stands on the shoulders of the recently deceased Madeleine Albright, who justified the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of U.S. sanctions. Imagine the screams of the Greens if Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov justified the deaths of 500,000 Ukrainian children, on whatever grounds.

In this muddled situation, it is not enough for Olaf Scholz to delay arms deliveries. Increasing arms deliveries is the mantra of the Biden administration, which wants to weaken Russia at any cost, without regard to the deaths that will occur if arms deliveries continue. Does anyone seriously believe that Russia, a nuclear power, can afford to lose the Ukraine war given the state of world politics? The fanatical arms suppliers in the Bundestag will, whether they realize it or not, be jointly responsible for the daily increasing number of dead. How long is the war supposed to last? As long as the war in Afghanistan? Why don't German politicians learn from the failures of the U.S.-led wars of intervention in which the Bundeswehr has participated?

There would be a chance, albeit a small one, if the re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, together with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, were to fall into the arms of the U.S. warmongers, as François Hollande and Angela Merkel once did, and seek a negotiated solution on the basis of the proposals already advocated by Volodymyr Selenskyj - neutrality for Ukraine and autonomy for the Donbass. The Ukrainian president will not be a reliable partner in this, because he will be repeatedly pressured by the U.S. and the far-right in Ukraine.

The rivalry between the world powers of the U.S., Russia and China is forcing Europe to try everything to avoid being drawn into a nuclear confrontation between these great powers. Charles de Gaulle had recognized this danger for France and therefore rejected an integration of French forces into the U.S.-led NATO because he did not want to rely on the willingness of the U.S. to use its nuclear forces in the event of a confrontation with the Soviet Union even if Moscow threatened a counterstrike on major U.S. cities. Therefore, he insisted that France build up its own nuclear force. "States have no friends, only interests," was his maxim, and when it came to life and death, i.e., war, he was convinced, the decision could not be left to others.

Stable peace thanks to détente

Like de Gaulle, Chancellor Willy Brandt knew that he would only be able to implement his policy of peace and détente in the face of opposition from Washington. Convinced that this was the only way to secure peace in Europe, he implemented his Ostpolitik step by step. The U.S. was very upset, as evidenced by a telephone conversation between Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, in which Kissinger blatantly wished cancer on Willy Brandt.

At present, an adventurous discussion is going on in Germany. The policy of détente, the attempt at good cooperation with Russia, was the cause of the current development. Seldom has the truth been turned upside down like this. Never before has it been so clear to what extent U.S. propaganda determines the media and the political debate in Germany. The truth is different. In the mid-sixties the policy of détente began, it led to a stable peace in Europe and brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany and Eastern Europe. In the 1990s, the policy of confrontation began with NATO's eastward expansion and the increasing encirclement of Russia. It led to the war in Yugoslavia, which was illegal under international law, and to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, which was also illegal under international law.

If a negotiated peace cannot be reached soon, the danger of a nuclear war will increase, because those responsible in Moscow have their backs to the wall and the haremers in Washington have believed for years that a nuclear war could be limited to Europe.

Oskar Lafontaine was chairman of the SPD and finance minister of the Federal Republic of Germany.
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