By Wayne Allensworth
A New York Times editorial published last month was one indication of cracks that have appeared in the D.C.-Brussels-Davos Blob’s elite consensus on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has been recently focused on using the Ukrainians as cannon fodder in a war aimed at destroying the Russian army and ousting Putin from the Kremlin.
America and Its Allies Want to Bleed Russia. They Really Shouldn’t, by British correspondent Tom Stevenson, warned that American officials who openly discuss regime change in Moscow and “draining” the Russians, could draw the West into a direct clash with Russia.
Once the Russians decided to withdraw from the region around the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Stevenson explained, the United States and NATO threw caution to the wind. They shifted their focus from helping the Ukrainian defense to attempting to “weaken Russia itself.” Stevenson correctly characterized that move as a “significant escalation”:
“By expanding support to Ukraine across the board and shelving any diplomatic effort to stop the fighting, the United States and its allies have greatly increased the danger of an even larger conflict. They are taking a risk far out of step with any realistic strategic gain.”
Stevenson further noted that Russia sees the war not as one against Ukraine, but against the NATO alliance, which has aided Ukraine “from the outset.” The U.S. has helped Ukraine with targeting, and U.S. officials have bragged about helping the Ukrainians sink the Russian warship Moskva and even kill Russian generals.
Top officials in the West have made the shift in NATO’s aims quite clear:
“The U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, has said the goal is ‘to see Russia weakened.’ The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said Ukraine is defending ‘democracy writ large for the world.’ Britain’s foreign minister, Liz Truss, was explicit about widening the conflict to take in Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia, such as Crimea, when she spoke of evicting Russia from ‘the whole of Ukraine.’ This is both an expansion of the battlefield and a transformation of the war.”
Diplomatic efforts were abandoned, and Stevenson is sure the West supported dropping any real effort at resolving the conflict through talks. “The war,” wrote Stevenson, “was destructive enough in its initial form,” yet is becoming still more dangerous:
“The risk of cities being reduced to corium remains low without NATO deployment in Ukraine, but accident and miscalculation cannot be discounted. And the conflict takes place at a time when most of the Cold War arms control agreements between the United States and Russia have been allowed to lapse.”
And, Stevenson observed, “it is unclear what more there is to gain by weakening Russia, beyond fantasies of regime change.”
And that, dear readers, is exactly the fantasy the Blob and its minions have had in mind for years in regard to Putin, something he is well aware of, and very likely a major factor in his decision to order the invasion. It’s not possible to overstate the fanatical hatred the Blob’s hive mind feels for the Russian president, a hatred I’ve seen matched only by its hatred, fear, and loathing for Donald Trump, another leader who represented all the Blob viscerally rejects. Of course, the Blob hates Hungary’s Viktor Orban as well, but not with the same rabid ferocity it directs at Putin and Trump. The hatred is so great that the Blob’s “Dr. Strangeloves” have even pondered fighting and “winning” a nuclear war. Stevenson correctly called the West’s overheated rhetoric and expanded war plans “reckless.”
It’s remarkable that the NYT published Stevenson’s op-ed. Could some of the globalist Blob’s minions be entertaining second thoughts about the wisdom of seeking a clash with Russia and regime change in the Kremlin?
Russian forces have advanced in Eastern Ukraine, achieving some important strategic aims. They have seized Mariupol, taken Kherson, secured a land bridge to Crimea, and destroyed the vaunted “Ukro-Nazi” Azov Battalion. “Ukro-Nazi,” by the way, is not a misnomer, despite the Blob’s media arm pretending the Russians are hallucinating, but in any event, all this has apparently caught the Blob’s attention. Or perhaps Ukrainian President Zelensky’s admission that his military is suffering heavy losses (50-100 killed daily as of April), even as some decidedly not Kremlin-friendly sources have given more sober assessments of Russian losses — 3,000-6,000, which is nowhere near Ukrainian claims of 30,000 Russian dead — have prompted a reassessment of the regime-change fantasy.
Nevertheless, a Newsweek story released this week might in part have been an attempt by the war party in D.C. to again pump up hopes of regime change. Citing a recent assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, the story claimed that Putin has cancer (though treatment in April improved his condition; an earlier assessment claimed Putin was dying), and that Russian security services had uncovered a plot to assassinate him in March. It’s not hard to guess where most of that material is probably coming from:
“Ukraine’s head of intelligence Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told U.K. Sky News that Putin was in a ‘very bad psychological and physical condition and he is very sick,’ adding that there were plans inside the Kremlin to overthrow the Russian leader.”
We should keep in mind how effective the Ukrainian efforts to control the war narrative have been. Seth Harp, an American journalist in Ukraine, has explained at length why we should be skeptical about war news. The Ukrainians block direct contacts between journalists and their military personnel. Trips near the front are controlled tightly by the military and the Ukrainian intelligence service, the SBU. Western journalists use stories the Ukrainians feed them. What’s more, Western media have provided only cursory coverage of reported Ukrainian war atrocities: the torture and execution of Russian prisoners, the assassination of suspected Russian sympathizers, and arrests of political opposition figures, and the SBU’s history of arbitrary arrests, torture, and “disappearing” its own citizens. Those stories were quickly forgotten even as the media trumpeted alleged Russian atrocities. This has been a nasty war, and both sides have played dirty. But the Ukrainians have been successful in shaping a narrative they want, and Western media have been all too ready to accept whatever they were told.
We should also recall that the Hillary Clinton campaign went to the Ukrainians for help in smearing Donald Trump as an alleged Russian agent. Spreading disinformation is a game the Blob’s players, as well as the Ukrainians, know well.
Your faithful observer has been a dedicated Russia watcher for well over 30 years and has written extensively on Kremlin politics and on the career of Vladimir Putin. Kremlinologists have been reading claims that Putin was terminally ill, had cancer (thyroid or spinal) or Parkinson’s disease, or some other unnamed deadly illness for about 15 years. It became obvious that such material was disinformation aimed at undermining Putin’s image as a healthy, vigorous, and capable national leader. Anything is possible, of course, but some skepticism is called for.
Talk of Putin being ousted from the Kremlin has also been frequent, as have claims of assassination plots. Yet an attempt at a “color revolution” in Russia during the 2011-2012 “protest wave” failed, and Putin has been secure in his Kremlin post. Writing for Foreign Policy, Russian political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya, a Kremlin critic, though not a fanatical Putin hater, explained that despite a Western assumption that Putin is in trouble politically and might face a coup, “the opposite is the case.” Unless Putin becomes disabled, Russian elites moving against him would be “tantamount to suicide.” Russian elites are nervous about the war. But they are more worried “about how to guarantee political stability,” and they see no alternative to Putin. I would add that, according to the Levada Center, an organization not controlled by the Kremlin whose surveys are widely regarded as honest and reliable, Putin enjoys an approval rating of 83 percent.
Newsweek was honest enough to include some caveats about trusting the judgements of intelligence assessments, citing the false reports about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion, as well as claims that Osama bin Laden was dying of kidney disease. And some of its anonymous official sources balked at the idea of regime change in Russia. “A nuclear-armed Russia is still a nuclear-armed Russia, whether Putin is strong or weak, in or out, and not wanting to provoke him or his potential successor into thinking we are hell bent on their destruction is an important part of continued strategic stability,” an anonymous intelligence official told Newsweek.
Signs of elite divisions concerning Ukraine have continued since the publication of Stevenson’s article. On May 31, The New York Times again published an unexpected broadside against U.S. involvement in Ukraine, The War in Ukraine May be Impossible to Stop. And the U.S. Deserves Much of the Blame, by Christopher Caldwell. He blasted the Biden administration for shutting down avenues for negotiations while sending more weapons to Ukraine. Caldwell also sharply criticized Washington for prodding the Ukrainians to escalate the war, leading them to believe they can win.
On May 23, Henry Kissinger appeared by video connection at the Davos World Economic Forum. The meeting was hosted by none other than globalism’s chief front man, Klaus Schwab, who did not bat an eye as the venerable diplomat spoke up for making peace in Ukraine sooner rather than later. Kissinger reminded his audience that he had called for Ukraine to be a neutral state outside of NATO years ago, something he maintained should remain an “ultimate objective” of any peace settlement, one that ideally would return to the pre-war status quo, that is, with Russia retaining Crimea and parts of the Donbass it controlled before February 24. Kissinger observed that pursuing the war beyond that would not be about Ukrainian freedom, but would constitute a war against Russia.
Not surprisingly, an angry Ukrainian President Zelensky brought up the ghost of Munich and appeasement. But very surprisingly, important elements in the globalist configuration your observer has dubbed “the Blob” are apparently no longer supporting a war aimed at destroying Russia or bringing down Putin.
Still, the Biden administration is even now sending High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, to Ukraine. Those systems have a range of 50 miles, and the White House claims that the Ukrainians have promised not to target Russian territory with them, a promise the Russians naturally and understandably doubt. The Kremlin is again warning the U.S. about sending advanced weapons to Ukraine, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that the West is pursuing “total war” against Russia.
With tensions mounting once more, Patrick Buchanan commented that “it may be time to tell Zelensky not only what we will and will not provide but what we believe are the acceptable terms for a truce.”
It’s time to stop encouraging the Ukrainians to continue a war they cannot win, and one that could escalate into a broader, much more dangerous confrontation with an unpredictable outcome.
Wayne Allensworth is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.