Kissinger: Leave Ukraine to Ukrainians

John Glaser, March 07, 2014

Henry Kissinger, architect of the destruction of Indochina and secretary of state to one of America’s most corrupt leaders, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post yesterday making arguments that, if uttered on any of the cable news shows, would be condemned as anti-American.

Kissinger’s analysis is a balanced one, in contrast to much of what we’ve seen. “Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation,” he laments. “Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.”

The West’s approach to Ukraine has been characterized much like the Russian approach: zero-sum. But, Kissinger advises, “We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction” inside Ukraine.

Kissinger also seems to criticize the superficial and trivial nature of the commentary from pundits and politicians. He says “the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” Furthermore, “the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington.”

Kissinger then proposes four suggestions for how to settle the issue in a responsible (not belligerent) manner that prioritizes “how it ends, not how it begins.”

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.

It’s hard to know if Kissinger has become more reasonable in his old age, or if his tempered approach to the Ukraine crisis is merely an illustration of how degenerate and juvenile our politics has become in the generation that has followed his. For a man that has committed and been complicit in war crimes, it’s troubling that this is the voice of moderation. Either way, his suggestions are the most reasonable yet articulated in the mainstream: leave Ukraine’s future up to Ukrainians, don’t make it a choke point for feckless geo-political competition between the U.S. and Russia.

47 Responses to “Kissinger: Leave Ukraine to Ukrainians”

  1. When Kissinger speaks, I listen with very leary caution………….

  2. Kissinger means well, but his suggestions ignore the realities of what's going on. The February 21st agreement was exactly the kind meant to create a unity government to put them on a path of reconciliation – create a new constitution and then hold an election. It was then immediately violated by the rebels. The EU and US politicians meddling in this have no influence over the rebels. Even the so-called opposition leaders which signed the agreement had no control over the radicals. Kiev is being patrolled by armed gangs. They're in control.
    This is similar to the Syria situation in which US politicians have no influence over the rebels – which makes any agreement impossible.
    The parliament in Kiev has announced May 25 election. It remains to be seen whether a fair election can be held in this atmosphere of terror. After the election a legitimate government may emerge.

  3. The rebels could not allow Yanukovych to remain president any longer, because he could begin an investigation on the snipers.

  4. "The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol."

    Sorry, but Henry the K is being just a little too idealistic (naive?) here. There are simply no "ambiguities" to "remove" about the status of Russian's Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol. It's there and it's going to stay there. It's an essential warm-water port for Russia, Russians have fought and died for it. Vladimir Putin is NOT going to give up Sevastopol and the Crimea any more than Abraham Lincoln was going to give up New Orleans and the lower Mississippi River (and the U.S. Civil War was largely about access to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River's upriver ports).

    It's nice that Henry the K is being "reasonable," but I'll go with the REALISM of someone like Pat Buchanan, which is: MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS!

    Russia is a great power and has a right to warm-water ports and convenient access to the Mediterranean; and Crimea is Russian and is going to remain so, certainly in reality if not technically in name. After all, Vlad's being "reasonable" and not demanding control of the Dardanelles! ;-)

  5. One thing this article gets wrong and falsely throws around – even has done it – is that PUTIN NEVER MADE UKRAINE A ZERO SUM GAME. It was the EU from day one who forced Ukraine to make a "civilization" choice and rejected the three-way talks that Putin proposed. It's important to remember this. It was Putin who proposed three way talks and publicly stated he did not understand why it had to be an either/or situation only to be rebuffed by Brussels. The narrative is now being re-written to make it appear as if Putin, like the EU, gave Ukraine an ultimatum – he never did. It's a lie.

    I do agree with Kissinger on some of his points – particularly in regards to the Putin bashing. Also, I don't think Ukraine will be a part of Ukraine any longer. It's done. If the fascists in Kiev attempt to take it by force, Russia will destroy them. It does not matter if the US/EU recognizes it or not, they can't forcibly take it back without igniting a possible thermo-nuclear war and Russia as well as NATO are both aware of this.

  6. We should all adopt a policy of ignoring war criminals 100%. That would include Obama, Kissinger, and many others. If this were a nation of laws, they would be in prison, so at the very least let's act like they are and not listen to them. Why would we even WANT to listen to war criminals?

  7. “We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction” inside Ukraine. The way to go.

  8. Henry Kissinger is a war criminal, he among other us war criminals needs to be prosecuted by ICC.

  9. He doesn't even mention HITLER once. That man must be wrong!!

  10. Because even someone who was wrong may be right.

  11. Whether Kissinger is a war criminal or not, he is highly intelligent and incredibly experienced.

  12. Which is what Putin has been demanding. Probably none of the players in all of this understand the Ukrainian dilemmas better than Putin but yet the west repeatedly shuts him down.

  13. Wow! It takes reading something by old Kiss to realize just how far things deteriorated since he was lying back in the 70s. After decades of neocon imperialism and Clintonian/Obama "democratic" warmongering, old Henry seems outright dovish. These days he could be a regular contributor to due to his "pragmatic" desire not to create war at every opportunity.
    How many aging progs with hard feelings about old Henry still yearn for the days of M. Albright or laud O's Nobel Peace Prize? Something undeserved Henry shares w/ O.
    Well, any port in a storm. If Henry K counsels peace now, let's heed that. He knows all too well that the blood on ones hands doesn't wash off. Something the newer monsters seem not to have learned.

  14. Of course. Ted Bundy could probably have given you a unique analysis on some topic. So could the Unabomber. So could Charles Manson. So could Hitler.

    Hitler was right on plenty of things, such as his theory on how big lies work on people. However, he didn't drop as many bombs in his lifetime as Kissinger did in just Cambodia. Kissinger dropped more bombs on Cambodia than were dropped in all of WW2 – combined.

    You can listen to the Nixon tape. Nixon is drunk, slurring his words, and takes Kissinger's advice and initiates the campaign of aggression against Cambodia, slaughtering simply an untold number of people, destroying the country, and opening the way for the takeover of the Khmer Rouge, who the USA then intentionally supported as Vietnam tried to save Cambodians from one of the worst regimes of the century!

    Listen to Kissinger all you want. I'll be ignoring him and pushing for his imprisonment.

    There are much better people to listen to than Kissinger. He is unnecessary.

  15. Ha! See above. Thanks.

  16. "You can listen to the Nixon tape."

    Actually, for sake of total accuracy, that's not on tape, though there are lots of related things on tape, such as Nixon/Kissinger discussing bombing Cambodia, and Kissinger laughing about Nixon being drunk, etc.

    The line about Nixon/Kissinger commencing the bombing with Nixon drunk was reported by a Nixon aide:

  17. You're right.

  18. He should and while he's at it, return western Armenia to it's rightful owners, the descendants of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey would not even be a country today were it not for the complicity of the English and French to check Russian power after world war I.

  19. and extremely adept at stroking the insecure ego of Nixon with his psuedo intellectual voice and feigned loyalty. How else could he become so influential and be able to conduct war crimes in Chile with impunity. He found Nixons soft underbelly, dug his claws in and never let go.
    When this old gas bag speaks now , I turn off the sound. He has no credibility and no integrity. The veracity of his words are thus nullified, even though he might be right

  20. You should should note that Mr Kissinger spoke after the happenings in Kiev. He stills he.

  21. I agree with you…It has been total amateur hour with Kerry and Obama. Putin is a person that has the wherewithal and resources to financially cripple the United States overnight (stop using the dollar as a reserve currency) and a million man army at his disposal with the latest weapons. Our response has been pathetic. Not to mention the fact you could hear crickets before you hear any response from Europe/NATO itself. What an impotent organization.

    The bottom line is Putin got pushed and he is the type of guy who pushes back with brass knuckles. If you are not will to break out the brass knuckles, then don't mess with him.

  22. You know, I can't help but wonder if Hank Kissinger, that old reprobate, is trying to atone for his past misdeeds. . . .

  23. End of an era for the West

    The support of neo-nazis in Ukraine destroys the last pretexts and wakes up nightmares of the past

  24. […] John Glaser writes for Antiwar: […]

  25. Is there any war in Ukraine?

  26. All I have to say is that Russia is planning something big as Putin places his chess pieces all over the board. Been viewing videos and even though they aren’t as equipped as the U.S. it looks like Russia is gearing up to take on more then what is being discussed. Currently war is going on all around the globe, if the U.S. doesn’t step up to the plate war may be knocking at the front door. But I can tell you one thing, America both military and civilians very heavily armed. Only time and intelligence will tell. Why can’t we all just get along?!

  27. “We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction” inside the world.

  28. Little late in the game for Grumpy Old Henry to start making sense; altho not so much anti-American as anti-neoWilsonian interventionist. But one need no further bona fides of the Washington Post as reactionary, late 19th-cent. jingoist rag than that it still provides op. space to celebrity fascist Kissinger.

  29. Interesting to compare the remarks of Kissinger (5 March) and Brzezinski (3 March) in the WashPo. Both have problems of objectivity from their times in office, but Henry sounds like grownup, Zbig like an ignorant kid.

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  31. this is a hot issue

  32. […] there were plenty of mainstream voices calling for calm and restraint. Henry Kissinger urged prudence. “Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation,” he lamented, arguing that “the […]

  33. […] there were plenty of mainstream voices calling for calm and restraint. Henry Kissinger urged prudence. “Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation,” he lamented, arguing […]

  34. I hope for a peaceful world

  35. We can do something for Ukraine?

  36. Stop war!

  37. Kissinger meant well I try to listen carefully, but his proposals ignore the reality of what is happening. February 21 agreement is exactly the kind meant to create a unity government to put them on a path of reconciliation, thank you for sharing good information, I'm happy for what I am have

  38. you start games plasy now

  39. Interesting to compare the remarks of Kissinger (5 March) and Brzezinski (3 March) in the WashPo. Both have problems of objectivity from their times in office, but Henry sounds like grownup, Zbig like an ignorant kid.

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