Editors’ note: Below is an exchange between the Freedom Center’s Shillman Fellow Daniel Greenfield and Ted Belman, the editor and publisher of Israpundit.org. We hope our readers will find this dialogue/debate hosted by Frontpage to be thought-provoking and informative. See our previous exchange between Joseph Puder and Daniel Greenfield on Israel’s ‘Balancing Act’ in the Russia-Ukraine War.
Clearly, the US is the Aggressor in the Ukraine War.
By Ted Belman
On Dec 21, 2021, I co-authored with Alexander Markovsky, a friend of mine, Ukraine, NATO, and the Most Fateful Error of American Policy, though Markovsky dominated the input.
“After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, NATO, in a violation of the verbal agreement between Secretary of State James Baker and Russian Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, launched a massive expansion to the east.
“This expansion can be seen from Moscow only as a strategy to encircle Russia and turn its neighbors into hostile countries. As long as Russia was economically and military weak, the process proceeded unabated. NATO has grown from 16 countries before the reunification of Germany, to 28 today.”
Our next article was on January 14, 2022, If USA and Russia are Implacable Foes, all Lines of Inquiry Lead to NATO.
“In 1961, as a young academic Henry Kissinger had an opportunity to interview President Harry Truman. He asked the President what in his presidency had made him most proud. Truman replied, “That we totally defeated our enemies and then brought them back to the community of nations.”
“Unfortunately, the U.S. chose not to emulate Truman’s achievement. With the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, the military threat to Western Europe had ended, but NATO alliance did not disband itself. Mission accomplished was not good news for the military alliance — it needed new enemies and a new mission for self-preservation.
“Indeed, NATO had no difficulty adjusting to the emerging world order. A new enemy was invented — Russia was to be treated as a descendant of the “evil empire.” The concept of an alliance was quietly converted into a doctrine of collective security. The difference is that while alliances are aimed at a specific threat and define the obligation of each partner in case of belligerency, collective security is an ambiguous concept that defines no specific threat and is designed to resist any aggression anywhere in the world. In this new mission NATO equated peace and security with expanding democratic gains and proliferation of American values.”
“After the restoration of the economy and years of heavy investment into the modernization of its armed forces, Russia feels strong enough to confront what she considers as a serious threat to her security. […]
“A glance at the map of Europe shows that if Ukraine and Georgia became members of NATO, Russia would be almost entirely flanked by NATO on its European border.
“This irrevocable fact of geography forced Putin to demand from America a security guarantee that Ukraine and Georgia would never be accepted into NATO. To demonstrate that he meant business, he assembled a sizeable military force in the proximity to the Ukrainian border.
“Moscow caught Western allies at the moment of maximum weakness. The geopolitical environment has dramatically changed in Russia’s favor. European Union is in a state of economic weakness and political uncertainty. Obsessed with Global Warming or Cooling or a vague Climate Change it has shut down its nuclear and coal fired power plants and is depended on Russian gas to keep its industries running and homes warmed.
“European members of NATO have degraded their military capabilities and are totally dependent on the U.S. for their defense. “
On Feb 26, 2022, I wrote The pot is calling the kettle, black, in which I accused the US of being the bad guy, not the Russians. I listed all the reasons for doing so beginning with:
“After the fall of the USSR, the US invaded Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq , and Libya. She overthrew Mubarak, the long standing ruler of Egypt and installed its own regime and attempted to do the same with Syria. She expanded NATO eastward after promising not to do so. She handcuffed Israel, thereby violating its sovereignty, and demanded she cease settlement construction and back the two-state solution.”
In the first article recited, we wrote:
“He (Putin) made it perfectly clear that he would not allow Ukraine to join NATO. To resolve the issue peacefully, he suggested to President Biden that the U.S. would offer Russia a guarantee that Ukraine would not be admitted to the NATO military alliance. But NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, rejected the idea and affirmed a NATO right to bring more countries into the alliance. Unless the situation changes, Moscow will have no choice but to invade Ukraine.
“There is little risk for Moscow in doing such an invasion, either militarily, politically, or economically.”
Today we see how right we were. Russia is winning the war, Putin remains very popular and Russia has overcome the worst sanctions ever.
All this is confirmed by
In an analysis of the events leading up to this war, we must reference the CIA orchestrated Maidan Coup (2014) and the failed Minsk Agreements.
In my article, Ukraine: The right of self-determination supersedes sovereign inviolability, I discuss the Maidan Coup of 2014 and the Minsk Agreements which followed.
“The 2014 CIA masterminded coup, sometimes referred to as the Maiden uprising, which removed the pro-Russian head of state, Viktor Yanukovych and installed a pro-West head of state is not mentioned (by the West). That’s OK in their book, but best forgotten. They (the West) take no responsibility for the bombardment by Ukrainian Army of the citizens of the Donbass since then, killing over 14,000. Nor do they acknowledge the role of the Nazi Azov Battalion which Ukraine made part of their army and which did most of the killing.”
At this time Russia annexed Crimea and separatists declared independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbas in eastern Ukraine. As a result the West sanctioned Russia and began the bombardment by the puppet Ukrainian Army, killing 14000 Ukrainians over the ensuing years.
The Minsk Agreements, between Ukraine and the separatists, which were signed in 2014 and 2015 attempted to restore peace to the region or so we were told.
“Moscow may see Minsk II as a way to guarantee its central security demand – that Ukraine is never allowed to join NATO. Washington and NATO have already rejected that demand.”
Because of this rejection, Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence.
In Dec 2022, we learnt of the real intention of the Minsk Agreements.
“In an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit last week, former German chancellor Angela Merkel revealed the West’s real intention behind its negotiation with Russia and Ukraine to promote a ceasefire in 2014. She admitted the Minsk agreements were an “attempt to give Ukraine time” and that Kiev had used it “to become stronger.””
Evidently it was the goal of the West to build up the Ukrainian Army so that it could repel a Russian attack which was expected.
Russia recognized their independence in Feb 2022 and began what it called, a “special military operation.” The West called it an invasion.
The fact that the West is now heavily involved in the supply of weapons and money to Ukraine, even though Ukraine‘s application to join NATO has now been rejected, suggests the Russia’s fears were well founded. Russia didn’t imagine that NATO would attack her even if Ukraine wasn’t a member of NATO.
The stated goal of the US is regime change in Russia and extending US hegemony.
Some may see this as a good thing and others not. Clearly the growth of BRICS (Russia and China trigger global shift from US through BRICS!) suggest the rejectionists are in the majority. Most people in the world reject US hegemony and the New World Order. They prefer Nationalism to Globalism. They prefer a multi-polar world rather than a uni-polar world.
The USSR was feared because it wanted to extend Communism throughout the world. Now the US is feared because it wants to dominate the world in the name of “democracy” as defined by the NWO.
In my article, Ukraine: The right of self-determination supersedes sovereign inviolability above mentioned I wrote:
“The Charter of the United Nations came into force in 1945, in which Article 1 includes reference to self-determination. This meant, for the first time, self-determination was recognised in an official international legal document, affirming that it was an existing right. However, the lack of definition and detail as to what self-determination entails provided in the Charter left little ability for the right to be applied, particularly in relation to secession. But, the 1966 International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) transformed that by providing a substantive definition about what is encompassed in the right to self-determination;
‘All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’.
‘The ICCPR was ratified by Ukraine on Oct 12, 1973 so it is bound by it.
‘This right of self-determination therefor supersedes the sanctity of sovereignty.
‘Surely, the residents of the four provinces and the Crimea have the right of self-determination as legalized by this Treaty. They speak Russian as their mother-tongue and think of themselves as Russian.
‘These residents have not only overwhelmingly voted “yes” in their respective referendums recently held, they also voted “yes” in the 2014 referendum. They previously voted overwhelmingly for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian candidate for the presidency in 2010.
‘The West called these referenda “shams” and said they were “unconstitutional” and “lacked legitimacy”. The above noted right of self-determination was not conditional on whether or not it was “constitutional”. Thus it is ipso facto, legal.
‘In calling the referenda “shams”, the West is in fact, recognizing the right of self-determination providing the referenda are properly held.
What say you?
Ted Belman is the editor and publisher of Israpundit.org and has been for 20 years. He made aliya from Canada in 2009 and now lives in Jerusalem.
Daniel Greenfield Responds:
‘America First’ or ‘Blame America First’.
Americans spend too much time blaming themselves for what other peoples do.
“Clearly, the US is the Aggressor in the Ukraine War,” Ted Belman writes.
The Ukraine War is the latest episode in a conflict going back centuries that predates the United States, never mind NATO, Putin, Zelensky or any of the bit players in this current drama.
But the one thing Americans can count on in any war, anywhere in the world, no matter who it involves and how long the rival tribes, nations or religions were squabbling back when George Washington was a baby… is that we’ll get blamed for it.
Every day, Americans are told that by Zelensky and Ukraine’s propaganda machine that if we don’t immediately dispatch ICBMs and all our F-22s, we’ll get the blame for the war, and Putin and Russia’s propaganda machine declares that we’re responsible for Russia’s ancient conflict with its varying neighbors: all of whom are united in hating Russia over its various invasions.
Americans shouldn’t listen to the hysterical ‘Blame America’ First propaganda from either side.
Belman claims that NATO’s “expansion can be seen from Moscow only as a strategy to encircle Russia and turn its neighbors into hostile countries.”
Even the briefest trip across Eastern Europe would easily reveal what the locals think of Russia. They tend to hate it and it’s not because America brainwashed them to hate Mother Russia.
Russia’s neighbors were always “hostile countries” and not because of anything America did.
Poland’s populist conservative government announced that it’s sending a dozen of its MIG–29 jets to Ukraine. Poland and Ukraine have their own ugly history that they’re looking past because of their mutual fear of a Russian invasion.
President Andrzej Duda, whom no one would accuse of being woke, had pledged to defend Poland against “LGBT ideology” and claimed that it was worse than Communism, is worried about a Russian invasion. Poland got a preview of that when Putin’s allies in Belarus began shipping over Iraqi migrants and sending them en masse across the border into Poland.
Poland was repeatedly invaded by Russia throughout its history including when Stalin and Hitler teamed up to carve up the country. All of this happened long before NATO existed.
NATO has nothing to do with a history of territorial conflicts between Russia and its neighbors that predate the United States.
Let alone NATO.
Belman’s article is premised on the idea that the only possible reason that Russia would invade Ukraine or any of the other countries it used to rule is because of NATO’s expansion.
That’s strange because Russia has been invading and conquering its neighbors long before NATO, America or this website even existed.
Anyone paying attention to Russian politics would know that its political elites bemoan losing their ill-gotten Communist empire and want it back.
You don’t have to put a Ukraine flag on your profile or worship Zelensky to know that
Putin’s consistent theme from his earliest interviews was complaining that the USSR had turned what should have been Russian dominions into republics and is obsessed with reclaiming them.
That doesn’t mean that we’re obligated to intervene in local territorial conflicts, but neither should we fall for propaganda from either side that tries to blame this historic conflict on us.
Americans, unlike any other people in the world, spend a lot of time blaming themselves for what other peoples do.
And our enemies take advantage of that.
We’re so easy to guilt because we can be convinced that Shiites and Sunnis or Russians and Ukrainians slaughtering each other since time immemorial is somehow America’s fault.
And the more we help, the more they blame us.
After saving Russia’s ass in the 1920s with massive food shipments during a famine and then again in the 1940s when we supplied Russia with everything from trucks to boots to milk enabling it to survive the invasion by its former Nazi allies, America got no gratitude.
And we still don’t.
After WWII, America allowed Russia to conquer, enslave and terrorize all of its neighbors, only drawing the line part of the way through Germany. We did nothing during uprisings in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. But after the fall of the USSR, the Russians decided to blame us for taking away their empire.
Russian propaganda claims that all of its neighbors would be happily living under their rule if somehow we hadn’t turned the Poles, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and many others against Mother Russia.
To believe that, you also have to believe that all of the national groups that spent centuries fighting against Russian rule were manipulated by Americans using time machines.
Russia blaming America because its neighbors hate it is the lamest excuse ever.
America isn’t responsible for 600 years of Russian and Eastern European history.
Had the United States never existed, Russia would still be invading its neighbors, not because of NATO, but because its leaders are convinced that they are entitled to an empire.
What’s going on now is what has been happening for centuries..And will likely continue happening for centuries whether there are czars, premiers or presidents in Moscow, and whatever the rest of the region looks like.
NATO isn’t some vast conspiracy to invade Russia, as Russian nationalists claim, it’s a mostly useless drain on our resources that serves little purpose except to give some of Russia’s neighbors the false hope that we might help them. (We won’t.) NATO’s existence isn’t a threat to Russia except when it decides to invade its neighbors. And really not even then.
The only reason Russia is obsessed with NATO is because it wants to invade and conquer its neighbors.
That says more about it than it does about us.
Territorial conflicts aren’t necessarily one-sided and there’s a long ugly history of ethnic infighting, colonization, population transfer, and cultural purges that make for few heroes.
Russia isn’t necessarily always the villain and its neighbors aren’t necessarily always the good guys. Ukraine does have a Nazi and an antisemitic past that strongly influences its present. But then again so does Russia and much of the region.
There are sensible arguments for why none of this is our business.
Blaming America is the worst possible way to make those arguments. Ukraine isn’t opposed to Russia because of something that happened a decade ago. The CIA didn’t invent Ukrainian nationalism last week. If we want to understand what’s going on, then the only way to do it is by understanding what the Russians and Ukrainians actually think. Not what they say to manipulate us.
America is awash in Ukrainian and Russian propaganda. Don’t trust the propaganda.
Putting America First means not seeing ourselves through the eyes of either the Ukrainians or the Russians, not believing ‘Blame America’ propaganda, and putting our national interests first.
Russians and Ukrainians fighting each other for centuries isn’t our fault, but we can always count on getting the blame for it anyway.
Americans shouldn’t fall for it.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.