The war porn continues on too much of the corporate media. Too many pundits. Too many self-declared experts without actual expertise or who have ideological axes to grind. Too much politics, not enough talk about how to get to peace. Once again on today's BradCast, we're trying our best to get there. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
On last Friday's show, we spoke with longtime Russia-Ukraine expert and author Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft about his proposed roadmap, of sorts --- and the tough choices for all sides that comes with it --- for peace in Ukraine.
In short (and please read Lieven for a more complete description) it entails....
- Ukraine declaring neutrality (not unlike Austria or Finland after WWII), and that they they will not join NATO or any other military bloc (including Russia's!), while "demilitarizing" offensively, but retaining defensive-only military capability.
- Recognizing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation and allow some form of independence for the Russia-backed separatist regions in the Donbas in the eastern part of the nation. All three territories would then hold internationally observed referenda on who they would like to align with. (This would also likely include revisiting the Minsk II agreement that was brokered in 2015, leading to a a cease-fire in the Donbas region, even as Ukraine has been disinclined to move ahead with the negotiated terms of that agreement, thanks, in part, to opposition from ultra-nationalist factions in its country.)
Lieven's roadmap shares the broad contours --- if not every detail and critical nuance --- with the conditions for cease-fire the Kremlin reportedly putting forward before today's peace talks with Ukraine. That's good news. Or, at least we are choosing to see as such today.
The two parties had their third round of such talks on Monday, with hopes of first reaching an agreement on a temporary cease-fire to allow for humanitarian corridors so citizens can leave besieged cities and allow food and medicine to be brought in. Similiar hopes for cease-fires over the weekend were dashed after just a few hours. Both sides blame the other.
But, even as they struggle to create humanitarian corridors, Ukraine has reportedly agreed to Russia's condition of dropping hopes of joining NATO. But Russia, reportedly, is insisting that all conditions for a treaty be met before they end their lawless aggression. This could take a while --- even as both parties have good reason at this time to find their way to peace as quickly as possible.
We open the phones today to listeners to discuss peace, and whether Ukraine should take such a deal; whether Putin can be trusted to keep it (or whether his interests in reconstituting the Soviet Union or an even more expansive Greater Russian empire would see him continue his march of military aggression); and whether accepting such terms would be the equivalent of rewarding Putin's bad behavior (and war crimes.)
When Lieven opened his article last week on a potential path to peace in Ukraine, he used a quote from Robert Lovett, U.S. Defense Secretary for several years in the early 50s, declaring: "Forget the cheese --- let's get out of the trap." That argument has been cycling through my brain ever since. Today, we get to find out how listeners feel about it when we open the phones for an important conversation: one that was more about peace, for a happy change, than about war...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)