by Arnaud Bertrand
Most fascinating thing about the Ukraine war is the sheer number of top strategic thinkers who warned for years that it was coming if we continued down the same path. No-one listened to them and here we are.
Small compilation of these warnings, from Kissinger to Mearsheimer.
The first one is George Kennan, arguably America’s greatest ever foreign policy strategist, the architect of the U.S. cold war strategy. As soon as 1998 he warned that NATO expansion was a “tragic mistake” that ought to ultimately provoke a “bad reaction from Russia”.
Then there’s Kissinger, in 2014 . He warned that “to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country” and that the West therefore needs a policy that is aimed at “reconciliation”. He was also adamant that “Ukraine should not join NATO”.
This is John Mearsheimer – probably the leading geopolitical scholar in the US today – in 2015: “The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked […] What we’re doing is in fact encouraging that outcome.”
This is Jack F. Matlock Jr., US Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991, warning in 1997 that NATO expansion was “the most profound strategic blunder, [encouraging] a chain of events that could produce the most serious security threat […] since the Soviet Union collapsed”
This is Clinton’s defense secretary William Perry explaining in his memoir that to him NATO enlargement is the cause of “the rupture in relations with Russia” and that in 1996 he was so opposed to it that “in the strength of my conviction, I considered resigning”.
This is Noam Chomsky in 2015, saying that “the idea that Ukraine might join a Western military alliance would be quite unacceptable to any Russian leader” and that Ukraine’s desire to join NATO “is not protecting Ukraine, it is threatening Ukraine with major war.”
Stephen Cohen, a famed scholar of Russian studies, warning in 2014 that “if we move NATO forces toward Russia’s borders […] it’s obviously gonna militarize the situation [and] Russia will not back off, this is existential”
This is famous Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner, in 2018, who says that NATO expansion in Ukraine is unacceptable to the Russian, that there has to be a compromise where “Ukraine, guaranteed, will not become a member of NATO.”