So the accomplished (albeit utterly cold and callous) American statesman speaks out. As he is the most senior of the US foreign policy crew, he has my attention, and I expect that of the rest of the world.
I agree with most of his analysis- see the article. But principle #1 in geopolitics is that, when dealing with diplomats and foreign policy people, look at the actions have done in the past, and the actions they propose. Their words on all other matters do not count.
Below is Kissinger’s proposal.
1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.
2. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.
3. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. Wise Ukrainian leaders would then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. That nation leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.
4. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. To that end, Russia would recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea’s autonomy in elections held in the presence of international observers. The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.
#4 is interesting. What exactly does “rules of the existing world order” mean? Sounds to me like Orwellian-speak for “US Hegemony”. Otherwise, an innocent bystander might be tempted to think that item #1, “Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations”, would apply to all of their provinces, and not produce a de-facto situation of one side dominating the other, as would be the case with a Crimea under Ukranian nationalist control.
For all his wisdom, at the end of the day, it is the same-old. Besides this, I’m pleased and relieved that negotiations are taking place, instead of blind war-mongering.
The history of eastern europe is literally full of this kind of situation.
Country X has multiple ethnicities. They are forced to share a government inside borders drawn along old battle lines, where their grandparents or great-grandparents fought on behalf of an empire that is now long gone. Over the years, the powers that be repeatedly pit one ethnicity against the other, as part of their larger foreign policy strategies, or to to thwart their efforts at declaring independence.
As a result everyone has a strong ethnic identity, and hates their neighbors, and is accustomed to at least one episode of severe violence in each generation.
Seeing Ukraine getting into another acute episode of this syndrome, I look back to the last big version of this, in Europe at least. (lets not get into the middle eastern versions of the same story!) Anyway, it’s Yugoslavia. Serbs and Croatians. Going at it for years, pushed along by whichever European power was prominent at any given time. Communism dies, they both want control of everything inside the borders that they grew up in. They fight, nobody wins. Muslims, albanians, macedonians etc get drawn in. Ethnic cleansing and massacres take place. After several years, they split up and get their own countries.
What if they skipped the war and killing and just split up on day one? Same result, minus the decade of chaos and lives lost. I think Ukraine may be facing a similar situation. Hopefully a civil war can be avoided, but lets just imagine that the country were split along ethnic or cultural lines. I’m not 100% sure of this, but wouldn’t that result in a more stable, and therefore peaceful, situation? It would be pretty bad for minority populations living on the “wrong side”, but recent experiences in Iraq or Yugoslavia show that *IF* the stuff hits the fan, ethnic cleansing happens anyway, and violently. If coexistence is not possible, then a peaceful segregation may be a preferable outcome. After all, this is what we propose for Israel.
[UPDATE: since I learned more about the ethnic distribution, this would most likely mean just Crimea. None of the other provinces have a majority of Russians, though some 17% (~8MM) people in Ukraine are Russian -- they are spread apart pretty evenly, except for Crimea]
In response to this video:
These observations are made without any moral judgments.
(1) This is similar to the outrage expressed about torture. When the US government conducts operations that result in civilian casualties, violations of privacy are much ado about nothing. This may be used as an effective defense by the NSA etc.
(2) be thankful. now workarounds may be built.
(3) This will help distract both China and the US from other forms of destructive activity, as more and more highly qualified hackers are diverted to this arms race. Considering China manufactures most of the electronics in the world, they have a base to fight this fight from. With a credible enemy, we may be able to re-create cold-war prosperity that worked well for both the US and the USSR in days of yore.
(4) these systems will, in some circumstances, make it easier for evildoers to frame good guys. If this happens enough, the signal-to-noise ratio of the spy system may be degraded to the point where it is no longer useful. (this may be a more affordable way for foreign adversaries to fight back).
(5) additional tech jobs will be created as infrastructure has to be replaced.
(6) this will help another generation to adopt a less naiive worldview about power politics and the role of technical professionals, just as 9/11 did.