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Rand Paul: Putin may not have an excuse, but he does have a reason [Video]

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

There are not too many cool heads in Congress in the United States these days. Nor are there cool heads in the US’ news media outlets, for the most part.

The American people are steeped in a diet of “Ukraine is always good, Russia and Putin are always bad.” This narrative is so well-developed in the US that even conservative, strongly conservative Americans are getting fooled by it into thinking that (1) Putin had no justification for invading Ukraine and (2) nuclear war is becoming an acceptable means of action to get rid of him.

Of course, the Russian response to these charges, respectively, are (1) We never claimed a “justification” for war, but we have surely been pushed to it by the West’s behavior for the last thirty years, but especially over the time since the Maidan revolution in 2014. And, (2) We won’t strike first, but anyone attacking us will lose, and lose big.

This is not helpful rhetoric in my opinion, but the Russians did NOT start this. They are determined to try to finish it, though, and their perception is valid – they feel they have been backed into a corner over and over, with no way out.

And here is the kicker that many in the USA simply are not aware of: Their own government has been the main party trying to corner the Russians for the last thirty years.

Why?

That is certainly a huge question. But it is probably more important for readers of this piece – both the commentary I offer here and the excerpted American Conservative piece which inspired my writing – to know that there are in fact so many ways that US policy has created the conditions that resulted in the current war, and that the continuation of this policy is what is largely responsible for the economic and social problems that the USA is itself experiencing, and that it may result in near-planetary destruction.

I will offer a few “whats” that I am aware of, and then we jump to a remarkable piece from The American Conservative. That article’s author, Doug Bandow, offers the significant advantage of (1) not being me, and (2) having a very dispassionate view, far less passionate than mine, and therefore probably more accessible to folks who are trying to find real reasoning both to explain how we got here, and what might be done to reverse the course we find ourselves on.

My list of “what got us into this war”, in no particular order of importance comes first:

  1. A maintaining of the definition of Russia as “always and forever the Soviet Union.”
  2. “Once KGB, always bad.” This definition has held for Russia but, strangely, not so for the American CIA.
  3. A general abdication of responsibility each American citizen has to uphold the Constitution of the land. This abdication created an ‘elite’ political class, who we elect to ‘take care of us.’ And, they are. $4.50/gal gasoline, supply chain issues, COVID terror, psychological dysphoria, government programs and more government programs. This is not how the country was founded, folks.
  4. Cultural Marxism and secularism, the gradual rejection in the entire population of Christian obedience to God.
  5. Alongside the abovementioned, the development of an American ‘religiosity’ centered around the idea that ‘I am always right, and that God agrees with me.’ (God-is-my-buddy/copilot-anity)
  6. All the above factors have created an almost automatic reaction to Russia’s moves toward Christianity-centered governance and living (and believe me, Russia has a LONG way to go to get to this!) – that reaction is hatred, horror, fear, and it is very easily manipulated, since our population no longer understands what Christianity really is, just as we no longer understand the founding principles of our nation.

These are my big six reasons.

Now, just to – perhaps? – aggravate some readers, I am going to give my one criticism of the piece that follows, which is otherwise spot on. Perhaps this paragraph is the author’s attempt to not draw fire to himself, but I am an American living in Russia, and like the Russian people, I am now being ostracized and very adversely affected by the behavior of my own homeland. The Western induced “cancel culture” today made its presence known in a way that personally disrupts my family’s security and my own. That is my “full disclosure”, so I hope you all who read my piece understand the frustration behind my critique:

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Here is the bone of contention I have. Mr. Bandow writes:

Of course, this still doesn’t justify Moscow’s actions. Its invasion of Ukraine was criminal. Nor does Russia appear interested in finding a political modus vivendi to end the conflict—hence a fight that could descend into a lengthy but bloody stalemate, devastating what Putin claims as a brother people.

I disagree. Anyone who has ever cornered an animal, even a small cat, knows that when that animal is truly cornered, it will do anything to get out. If you corner a cat, you better watch out because that little cat will leave you bloody if you keep it up. I charge that the Western treatment of Russia, the US’ refusal to give President Putin and his country anything other than sanctions, economic warfare, false narratives in media, and 30 years of blowing off or badmouthing a country that was trying to repair itself after losing 27 million people in WWII – this is a lot like putting the cat in the corner and taking your stance. Giving the idea of expanding NATO to include Ukraine – even if falsely done – was still very provocative, and Ukraine’s president being empowered by the American swan song to start talking about bringing nuclear weapons back into Ukraine – right on the Russian border… well this is ninety miles closer than the Soviet missiles were during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

So, what, pray tell, is “criminal?” about this war? Honestly, folks, I do not see a thing criminal about it from the Russian side.

I see it as a very bad situation for the Ukrainian people, because they are ones suffering the most. The American foreign policy wonks don’t give a flying you-know-what about the Ukrainian people. As you will see from the rest of Mr. Bandow’s really excellent piece, the Ukrainians are little more to the US than cannon fodder that America is freely feeding to the Russian guns. This is an awful tragedy, and made worse because American psyops in Ukraine actually have many of the people there going to the lines to die, and for what? Certainly not for their own nation or culture, but just because Victoria Nuland thinks it is a good idea, and just because Joe Biden in his addled and dishonest brain thinks that the voices in his head telling him to ‘take Putin out’ are worth listening to.

And so on.

Russia’s leadership – and a great many Russian people – feel that this fight is for the preservation of their homeland and they hope for the Ukrainian people, whom they really do love, to come back to their senses. But Russians are very practical: They know that crazy people tend to stay crazy, and that the way to deal with crazy people is to keep them safe from themselves – and others.

That is my single criticism in this otherwise really great piece. Maybe Mr. Bandow put it there to appease someone. I will not.

Now, let’s go to The American Conservative and see what they have to say [This piece has been reprinted here in its entirety, but visit The American Conservative and support Mr. Bandow’s work if you can.]:


Not In My Back Yard, But In Yours

The Biden administration has shifted from seeking to help Kiev defend itself to using Kiev to defeat Moscow.

Russia and Ukraine are at war. So is the U.S., effectively. The Biden administration has shifted from seeking to help Kiev defend itself to using Kiev to defeat Moscow.

Having attacked its neighbor without justification, Russia ought to lose. However, the sanctimonious tirades spewed by U.S. officials ignore Washington’s role in triggering Moscow’s invasion. By violating post-Cold War assurances and expanding NATO, as well as turning the alliance into an aggressive organization that attacked Serbia and Libya, the West encouraged Russia to respond violently. The current conflict almost certainly would not have occurred but for U.S. policy. Indeed, American officials’ arrogant recklessness may have made the conflict inevitable.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, recently made that point when questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Paul emphasized that Washington’s culpability did not excuse Vladimir Putin’s murderous decision, which already has killed thousands and displaced millions. But, as Paul noted, “while there is no justification for Putin’s war on Ukraine, it does not follow that there’s no explanation for the invasion.”

Of course, Blinken disclaimed any responsibility for the disastrous consequences of his policies. After all, U.S. officials routinely deflect blame for any and all foreign policy disasters occurring on their watch. Nothing is ever their fault. Over the last two decades, the Washington war party’s policies have killed hundreds of thousands of people and turned millions into refugees. Understandably, this has made America’s warrior wannabes touchy when anyone seeks to hold them accountable.

For instance, Rolling Stone’s Jack Crosbie penned an article entitled “Rand Paul Brings Putin’s Core Argument Against Ukraine to Congress.” Crosbie contended that, in making the unassailable factual point that Putin warned allied governments that Moscow perceived U.S. policy to be hostile, “Paul denies the self-determination of a country of people who did not ask for war.”

But, of course, that is not what Paul did. Rather, he suggested that in the real world sovereign nations sometimes must exercise restraint or risk losing their independence. In the case of Ukraine, war might have been avoided if Kiev had acknowledged that being next to a great power inevitably imposed some limits on Ukraine’s policies. War might also have been avoided if NATO had admitted that it did not intend to fight for Kiev. Of course, we will never know what would have happened, since Blinken and the rest of the Biden crew preferred to fight the Russians to the last Ukrainian.

Accepting some limits might not have been Ukraine’s preferred outcome, but as President Jimmy Carter noted long ago, life is unfair. The Cold War highlighted the case of Finland, which fought the Soviet Union bravely and then submitted to avoid occupation. There also was Austria, which accepted neutrality to end its division. Americans were not willing to ignite World War III to liberate either one—or Poland, East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, when the people of those countries rose against their communist overlords.

There are similar examples today. Nepal lies between China and India. Who believes that it acts how it wants without considering its neighbors’ views? Who expects America to intervene so that it can do so? Or Mongolia, situated between China and Russia (and before that, the Soviet Union). Was Ulan Bator entitled to declare how much it hated communism? Of course. Should Washington have gone to war on its behalf to protect its right to do so? Only a nut or madman, like the late John McCain, would say yes.

At the risk of being accused of whataboutism, how about Latin America? Has the U.S. ever believed that its neighbors were entitled to exercise their sovereignty without limit? The only proper answer is gales of laughter. Ask them.

As Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz once lamented of his nation, which lost half its territory to an imperialistic U.S. invasion, “so far from God, so close to the United States.” Similar are Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Venezuela, and Colombia, and others. They all suffered Washington’s not-so-tender “embrace.” Of course, this does not justify Russia’s criminal attack on Ukraine. However, no one should be fooled by the pious U.S. posturing and endless American sanctimony. Washington’s utter ruthlessness, and its continuing willingness to invade countries and starve peoples whose governments offend it, remains on display to the world.

Putin was not initially hostile to the U.S. In fact, he offered his cooperation after 9/11. He even told Germany’s Bundestag that “no one calls in question the great value of Europe’s relations with the United States. I am just of the opinion that Europe will reinforce its reputation of a strong and truly independent center of world politics soundly and for a long time if it succeeds in bringing together its own potential and that of Russia.”

However, NATO’s continuing advance, despite multiple assurances otherwise, changed his opinion. Upon disclosing declassified allied documents, George Washington University cited “a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991.” The allies continued to similarly sweet talk the Yeltsin government. Then they violated all their promises.

Defense Secretary William Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton, criticized Putin’s recent behavior, but admitted that “in the early years I have to say that the United States deserves much of the blame.” He explained: “Our first action that really set us off in a bad direction was when NATO started to expand, bringing in eastern European nations, some of them bordering Russia.”

A very different sounding Putin spoke at the 2007 Munich Security Conference. He denounced the U.S. for the “almost uncontained hyper use of force” and “plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts.” (Remember that little debacle in Iraq?) He also cited NATO putting “its frontline forces on our borders,” which, he added, “reduces the level of mutual trust.”

If Blinken had any questions about Putin’s position, the former need only have consulted CIA Director William Burns, who earlier served as U.S. ambassador to Russia. In 2008 Burns wrote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then serving under President George W. Bush: “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players…I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.” In the same year, national intelligence officer Fiona Hill, who later served in the Trump National Security Council, warned Bush that adding Ukraine and Georgia was “a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action.”

Officials more honest than Blinken admitted the peril that Washington’s policy posed to America (and Ukraine). Journalist Zach Dorfman reported: “Over the years, the debate over NATO expansion—and worries about Russia’s reaction to it—has roiled the highest levels of the U.S. government.” A former CIA official told Dorfman that “if we took a serious step toward admitting either country to NATO, we were 100% convinced that the Russians would find some reason to declare war in the intervening [time] between us announcing they were going to get in and them actually getting in.”

The CIA understood that Moscow viewed Ukraine differently than other Eastern European states and considered it to be a red line. Noted the informant: “By last summer, the baseline view of most U.S. intelligence community analysts was that Russia felt sufficiently provoked over Ukraine that some unknown trigger could set off an attack by Moscow.”

In December, Burns allowed: “I would never underestimate President Putin’s risk appetite on Ukraine.” Yet Washington blew Putin off, refusing to close NATO’s door even though the allies had no intention of allowing Kiev to enter. Given the warnings of Burns and others, the administration’s decision was criminally reckless.

Equally bad was Washington’s ostentatious hypocrisy, which so often undermines the moral principles that Americans assert so routinely and confidently. No one, at least no serious person, believes that the U.S. would accept in the Western hemisphere what American officials expected Russia to welcome in Europe.

Imagine [if] China or Russia expanded an anti-American alliance in South America; sought to redirect Central American trade south, away from the U.S.; promoted “color revolutions” in states friendly to Washington; and followed with a street putsch against the elected, pro-U.S. government of Mexico. After which this not-so-friendly power offered alliance membership to the new governments, noting that it was up to them and only them to decide whether they wanted to join.

The result in Washington would be mass hysteria, with wailing and gnashing of teeth followed by a tsunami of denunciations and cascade of threats. The idea that any U.S. administration would have turned the other cheek while cheerfully affirming other nations’ “self-determination” is beyond fantasy. Washington would do what it repeatedly did in the past throughout Central America and the Caribbean: Stomp on any disrespectful, uppity, traitorous neighbors.

Of course, this still doesn’t justify Moscow’s actions. Its invasion of Ukraine was criminal. Nor does Russia appear interested in finding a political modus vivendi to end the conflict—hence a fight that could descend into a lengthy but bloody stalemate, devastating what Putin claims as a brother people.

However, Paul was right to remind those who contributed to Europe’s terrible conflagration of their responsibility. Blinken claimed that the administration “took very seriously” Russian arguments over NATO expansion, but this is simply false. Derek Chollet, counselor to Blinken, admitted that officials refused to discuss what he termed a “non-issue.” This made war Putin’s only option to force the issue.

Blinken’s response, that NATO aspirants have the right “to decide their future and their own destiny,” was nonsense. They have no right to an American security guarantee, while the U.S. had the right, even responsibility, to say no to handing out defense commitments like candy. Indeed, given the tragic consequences evident today, Kiev probably wishes Washington had been forthright.

Rand Paul deserves credit for reaffirming what should be obvious. Maybe history doesn’t repeat itself, but bad decisions do. And many more innocent people will suffer and die unless members of the infamous Blob finally learn from the past.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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Bob Valdez
Bob Valdez
May 12, 2022

“Of course, this still doesn’t justify Moscow’s actions. Its invasion of Ukraine was criminal. Nor does Russia appear interested in finding a political modus vivendi to end the conflict—hence a fight that could descend into a lengthy but bloody stalemate, devastating what Putin claims as a brother people.”

Whether you justify Putin’s actions or not, who are you to do so? Would you have done any different in his shoes?

Photios
Photios
Reply to  Bob Valdez
May 12, 2022

“Nor does Russia appear interested in finding a political modus vivendi to end the conflict”

Russia tried. Hence the Minsk Agreements. Hence the repeated attempts to negotiate a mutual security arrangement for Europe, Ukraine and Russia – all of which were rebuffed.
Oh yes, Russia tried – but the crazies in the State Department did not/do not want one.

Eddy
Eddy
Reply to  Bob Valdez
May 13, 2022

I need someone to explain to us all, precisely what actions the U.S. has ever taken, to consider the concerns expressed by Russia. From where I sit, and my observations over the years since 2014, all the U.S. has ever done is turn a blind eye and deaf ear to ANYTHING emanating from Russia. Plus the FACT their President has made very clear, their objective is to remove Putin from Government. With such an agenda, how can anyone accuse the Russians of being aggressive and guilty of criminal acts, when the biggest criminal act has been committed by the U.S.… Read more »

James Vandermerwe
James Vandermerwe
May 13, 2022

That’s what I have saying for the longest time.
On the world stage of leaders, the only Adult is the President of Russia Vladimir Putin

Furor Teutonicus
Furor Teutonicus
May 13, 2022

As a German who has spent more than 15 years of his life in the USA and with a considerable knowledge of European history, which reaches a little further than Oct. 1917 or Maidan 2014, I allow myself a somewhat different view of the actual events. The greatest evil to mankind is the striving of an unscrupulous clique, which considers itself to be God’s special people, for sole world reign. This of course includes the giant country of Russia with all its treasures. This power clique claims in its traditional guiding literature (Talmud) that the earth and all values belong… Read more »

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