Putin Warned The World Of Ukraine, But Nobody Listened

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UNITED States presidents, from George Washington onward, have warned against “entangling military alliances.” Dwight Eisenhower once warned of “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” as “[t]he potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Even Donald Trump said leaders at the Pentagon “want to do nothing but fight wars, so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes, and make everything else stay happy.”

John F. Kennedy warned in 1963 that “while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy — or of a collective death wish for the world.”

Kennedy’s warning echoes, in large part, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, which most mainstream media failed to give much attention to, United Nations expert Alfred de Zayas wrote in a recent article.

Key lessons are quoted below for the objective analysts following the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and for leaders navigating between the US-China competition.

If everyone had read Putin’s 2007 security analysis and implemented what was in there, then we would not be in the dangerous and tragic situation we are in today. It begins this way:

“Sixteen years ago, on 10 February 2007, Russian President Putin delivered a speech at the Munich Security Conference, a clear statement of post-Cold War Russian foreign policy, focusing on the need for multilateralism and international solidarity.”

De Zayas then cites a New York Times article by former US diplomat George F. Kennan that warned against breaking America’s word to Russia by expanding the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) eastward, contrary to the assurances given by former US secretary of state James Baker to ex-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev: “[E]xpanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era. Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations; and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking…”

“Bells should have rung when Putin gave his Munich speech, 10 years after Kennan’s warning, in which Putin calmly expressed concern about: ‘the so-called flexible frontline American bases with up to five thousand men in each. It turns out that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly fulfill the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all… And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Manfred Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.'”

Putin’s “warnings and predictions were not taken seriously. This is perhaps because we have a distorted perception of reality, a kind of solipsism, embedded in our self-centered worldview. Most people in the West remain unaware of Putin’s speech or, for that matter, of the texts of the two proposals that he put on the table in December 2021, two draft treaties solidly anchored in the United Nations charter concretizing the necessity of agreeing on a modus vivendi and building a security architecture for Europe and the world.”

“The mainstream media bears considerable responsibility for failing to inform the public about Putin’s speech and about his repeated offers to negotiate in good faith as required by article 2(3) of the UN charter. It is clear that NATO’s expansion and the weaponization of Ukraine constituted an existential threat to Russia, and that the malevolent demonization of Russia and Putin since the early 2000s entailed a menace, a ‘threat’ of the use of force, which is prohibited in article 2(4) of the UN Charter.”

“Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltzin and Putin repeatedly expressed their wish to turn the page on the US/Soviet Union confrontation and start a new page on cooperation for the benefit of all humankind.”

“There were some politicians and academics in the West who also shared the hope that, finally, the world could begin disarmament for development and that both major nuclear powers would reduce their stockpiles and eventually ban nuclear weapons. Imagine if all the financing that went and still goes into the military — military bases, procurement of tanks, missiles and nuclear weapons — became available for financing education, health, housing, infrastructure, research and development!”

“Humanity had a brief moment of transcendental hope. President Bill Clinton smashed that hope when he consciously broke the promises given by James Baker to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand eastward. This was shortsighted hubris, an expression of the conviction that the US was the only superpower and could dictate what to do or not do. Western politicians gloated over the fact that Russia would not be able to do anything about our breach of trust. We cheated, as we so often cheat in international relations. I would even say that we have developed a ‘culture of cheating,’ of taking advantage of the other guy whenever possible. It is perceived almost as cleverness, a secular virtue.”

“And yet, Russia was not threatening anyone in 1997; it wanted to join the West under the banner of the United Nations and the UN Charter, which is akin to a world constitution, the only existing “rules-based international order” the world has. But the US did not share the worldview of multipolarity and multilateralism. And to this day, the US still believes in its own ‘exceptionalism’ and in the imperialist fantasies of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Paul Wolfowitz.”

The complete version of de Zayas’ article is found at https://bit.ly/Putin2007Munich. The original article, published in Counterpunch.org, is not accessible as of this printing.

We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (idsicenter@gmail.com). A similar version was also published in ManilaTimes.

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