British historian Richard Sakwa wrote a book, FRONTLINE UKRAINE: CRISIS IN THE BORDERLANDS, is must read if you want to understand how important Donald Trump’s new path in foreign policy is to having a future free of a devastating war. Trump enters office confronting a significant number of legislators, pundits, media personalities and think tank mavens who are preaching the need for a confrontation with Russia. These are the same people who back putting U.S. troops and tanks on the border of Russia, sending arms to Ukraine and giving surface to air missiles to Islamic rebels in Syria.
It is a volatile, unstable situation. One we have not seen since the ten years that preceded the outbreak of World War I. The flash points today are Ukraine, Crimea and Syria. This is why I am recommending Richard Sakwa’s book to you. He writes in the preface:
“Russia in the 1990s actively engaged with the EU, signing a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 1994, although it only took effect on 30 October 1997 following the first Chechen war, and the next year Russia joined the CoE.
However, another dynamic was at work, namely the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Also established in 1949 to bring together the victorious Western allies, now ranged against the Soviet Union in what had become the Cold War, NATO was not disbanded when the Soviet Union disintegrated and the Cold War came to an end. This was the source of the unbalanced end to the Cold War, with the Eastern part dissolving its alliance system, while NATO in the 1990s began a march to the east. This raised increasing alarm in Russia, and, while notionally granting additional security to its new members, it meant that security in the continent had become divisible. Worse, there was an increasing perception that EU enlargement was almost the automatic precursor to NATO expansion. There was a compelling geopolitical logic embedded in EU enlargement. For example, although many member states had reservations about the readiness of Bulgaria and Romania to join, there was a fear that they could drift off and become Western versions of Ukraine. The project of European economic integration, and its associated peace project, effectively merged with the Euro-Atlantic security partnership, a fateful elision that undermined the rationale of both and which in the end provoked the Ukraine crisis that is the subject of this book.”
Excerpt From: Richard Sakwa. “Frontline Ukraine : Crisis in the Borderlands.”
It is on Syria where Trump’s new policy may pay immediate dividends. Hillary had aligned herself with the neocons, the same “brilliant” people who thought invading Iraq was a dandy idea. Gareth Porter has a great piece on this:
A new coalition of US-based organisations is pushing for a more aggressive US intervention against the Assad regime. But both the war in Syria and politics in the United States have shifted dramatically against this objective.
When it was formed last July, the coalition hoped that a Hillary Clinton administration would pick up its proposals for a more forward stance in support of the anti-Assad armed groups. But with Donald Trump in office instead, the supporters of a US war in Syria now have little or no chance of selling the idea. . . .
The “Combating al-Qaeda in Syria Strategy Group” was formed last July by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), according to the policy paper distributed at an event at the Atlantic Council on 12 January.
The “Strategy Group” also includes Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute and Jennifer Cafarella of the Institute for the Study of War, both of whom have advocated direct US military force against the Syrian regime in support of the armed opposition.
But it was CNAS that had the political clout to bring the coalition together under what appeared to be very favourable circumstances. Michele Flournoy, the founder and CEO of CNAS and a former third-ranking Pentagon official, was reported to be Clinton’s likely choice for secretary of defence during the 2016 presidential primaries. And the June 2016 report of a CNAS “study group” co-chaired by Flournoy was in line with Clinton’s openly declared support for a more muscular US intervention in Syria.
But this is not confined to Democrats and Hillary supporters. It also includes Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. Trump laid down a clear marker yesterday–the age of U.S. intervention overseas is over.
I pray that is true.