19 Comments
Jan 26, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

I see some parallels mentioned in this article, but I’m a little lost.

Didn’t Putin just break a ceasefire of his own making a few weeks ago? What evidence is there to indicate he is willing to negotiate on a good faith basis? This is the article I read recently:

https://www.newsweek.com/russia-breaks-putins-ceasefire-new-attacks-ukraine-1771890

For context: I am someone who is highly critical of the military industrial complex and US foreign policy in general. I don’t think they can be trusted either by any stretch of the imagination. But I want to try to understand both sides of this debate.

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Thanks for commenting! I agree that it's important to challenge the view that Chomsky and others put forward and not just assume that they're making strong arguments. See this piece where I tried to explain: https://join.substack.com/p/the-rising-tide. But let me know if you have any criticisms.

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Jan 27, 2023·edited Jan 27, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

I just read your piece you linked. It does a great job at laying out the devastation of this conflict. These are not criticism per se, rather some questions I have about it. More specifically this point:

“Opposing diplomacy means the risk of extending the war, though. And extending the war poses a whole range of threats.”

1. Why should the US pursue diplomacy if Russia has openly proven they will violate cease fires of their own making? (Devil’s advocate here, obviously I want the US to pursue diplomatic options)

2. What evidence is there to indicate that Russia would not continue to invade Ukraine and hold up their end of the bargain if the US settled on an agreement with them? If Russia ignores their end of the bargain, wouldn’t the destruction continue to happen regardless, and possibly have worse effects?

3. What does Ukraine want in this situation? If they want to continue this war, should we respect their sovereignty? Why or why not?

4. What specific actions can the US take to show to the Russians that they are acting in good faith?

I guess the overarching point is that while the US cannot be trusted, neither can Russia. Given that Russia is right next to Ukraine, and are the first aggressors in this conflict, there is a lot at stake and the only way diplomacy can work is if there’s assurance that the two sides would actually uphold their end of the agreement.

The more I think about this conflict, the more I picture that meme with the two Spidermen pointing at each other.

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On 1, see the final paragraph. It's important to try. And better yet, see the section here (https://join.substack.com/p/stopping-the-killing) titled "Trying".

On 2, it's addressed in the piece you're responding too. But also in my first Lieven interview, since this is a good question that you raise: https://join.substack.com/p/we-can-achieve-peace.

On 3, it's also addressed in the piece you're responding to; Chomsky is more conservative on this and Lieven has a stronger position. And see here too where it talks about "imposing" or "forcing": https://join.substack.com/p/stopping-the-killing. This is a good question; it gets confusing as to what exactly constitutes "imposing" or "forcing".

On 4: I'll get you an answer to that. That's a really good question.

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Jan 27, 2023·edited Jan 27, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

Okay, the picture is becoming clearer now. Thank you.

This all leaves me with 2 questions, mostly building off question 4.

1st and more importantly: In your mind: what does the winning diplomacy deal look like? Some of these articles hinted at some things that could be included. But in your mind, what needs to be given up on the US/Ukraine end, and what needs to be given up on the Russian end to incentivize a fair agreement? Just an organized “Russia get (x) and the US gets (x)” or whatever would help me a lot.

2. Would Ukraine agree with these conditions? Why or why not?

On my end, I would like to try to cut through the finger pointing on this issue, because there is blame to go around with both the US and Russia. I fall into this trap a lot where I debate who is to blame as opposed to what can be done. I want to know the proper conditions for long lasting peace in the area. Your articles have discussed it a bit, and maybe I missed one where this was discussed. But any resources that can help me cut through BS when I talk to people would be awesome.

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1: My first and second Lieven interviews both address this. You start with the official Russian demands. But the annexation messed things up terribly of course; it was a much less daunting situation when I interviewed Lieven in June. And the Ukrainian government has gotten extremely hardline. So that's why my second interview with Lieven is much bleaker than the first one; see the second section titled "Prospects" (https://join.substack.com/p/stopping-the-killing).

2: Again, this is discussed in my second Lieven interview. Their government is hardline. But there are polls (of the Ukrainian people) showing some support for negotiations.

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Feb 7, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

>But there are polls (of the Ukrainian people) showing some support for negotiations.

"Even with sustained Russian bombing of Ukrainian cities, a majority of Ukrainians refuse to surrender. 95 percent of respondents would want to continue fighting even in such a war scenario[use of a nuclear weapon on Ukraine], only three percent support a Ukrainian capitulation. Furthermore, according to the poll, 88 percent of respondents would only accept a ceasefire if Russia were to withdraw all troops from Ukraine, including Crimea. For more than seven out of ten respondents (78 percent), a withdrawal of Russian troops just to the demarcation lines of February 24, 2022 would be unacceptable. Almost three quarters (72 percent) want long-term arms deliveries. A clear majority trust the US and NATO to defend their country more than the EU."

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Jan 27, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

Thank you!

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>I guess the overarching point is that while the US cannot be trusted, neither can Russia.

Even if this were true, the degrees to which they cannot be trusted are not the same.

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Jan 26, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

It is also interesting to consider cases where the shoe is on the other foot as when NATO country Turkey seized part of Cyprus or the mostly Albanian part of Serbia went for independence backrf up by US bombing of Belgrade and building a major American base, Camp Bondsteel, in Kosova and then threatening to protect Kosova against any invasion (by Serbia).

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Jan 25, 2023·edited Jan 25, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

I'm still waiting for the day that you write an article about Ukraine that blames russia for this war and its continuation instead of blaming Ukraine and the West.

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Thanks for commenting! See my latest Lieven piece where we talk about the annexation.

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Jan 25, 2023·edited Jan 25, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

I did. Same anti-western pro-russian talking points.

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I also think it would be kind of comical and silly to write a piece denouncing Russia. The media is full of pieces that blame Russia; why should I add to the chorus?

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Jan 26, 2023Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

Why add to the chorus of anti-western propaganda?

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The only time I've ever been interested in the question of aggression is when someone actually did try to defend the invasion. But it's so stupid to try to say that it wasn't criminal and that it wasn't aggression; obviously it was. Did Putin exhaust every possible diplomatic avenue? Not even remotely close. That's why it seems like it's not worth writing about. And by the way, I don't even think that it matters if you exhaust every diplomatic avenue, does it? I mean, under what imaginable circumstances are you allowed to invade another country?

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You asked me to write a piece about how Russia committed an act of aggression and has done things (like the annexation) that have harmed diplomatic prospects. I'm asking you why I should do this when zillions of such pieces exist. Does that seem like a serious use of one's time? I think it would be silly; people would read it and say "Uhh...why did you write this? I already know all of this".

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On annexation? That's blaming Russia; rightly so, of course, since that annexation was a Kremlin decision that harmed the prospects for a peace treaty. Lieven and I talk about this.

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