‘Cultural suicide that destroyed the greatness of Europe’

Petr Akopov

The relative calm at the front and the approach of the New Year are helping to energize those who are in favor of preparing negotiations on Ukraine between Russia and the West. Henry Kissinger, the chief geopolitical strategist of the Anglo-Saxon world, published an article “How to avoid another world war” in the British The Spectator. This is not the first time the ninety-nine-year-old veteran of the Atlantic elite has laid out his idea of how the hostilities should end, considering various options, but each time it turns out that Ukraine remains with the West. At the same time, Kissinger’s pathos is that it is necessary to start negotiations in order to fix a new situation, and not to set unrealistic and dangerous goals.
The essence of the current reasoning is simple: Kissinger recalls the First World War (“cultural suicide that destroyed the greatness of Europe”), in which the leaders “got involved like sleepwalkers”, but in 1916 “began to explore the prospects for ending the carnage”, but “since no conceivable compromise could not justify the sacrifices already made and no one wanted to give the impression of weakness, the leaders hesitated to start a formal peace process.” As a result, the war went on for another two years and claimed millions more victims, irrevocably upsetting the established balance in Europe :
“Germany and Russia were torn apart by revolution; the Austro-Hungarian state disappeared from the map. France was bled white. Great Britain sacrificed a large part of its young generation and its economic opportunities for the sake of victory. The punitive Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war, turned out to be much more fragile than the structure that he replaced.”
That is, Kissinger leads to the idea that a protracted war can be a disaster for everyone, and the peace that will come as a result of it will be temporary and bad, so it’s better to end the war as soon as possible. Indeed, Versailles, which humiliated Germany, in fact, led to the Second World War – it is no coincidence that both world wars are now increasingly considered as a single process, speaking of 1914-1945.
All these parallels are necessary for Kissinger to approve two theses: it is necessary to prepare for negotiations and refuse to stake on the fact that after the war Russia will be drained of blood or even fall apart. That is, in his own eyes, he acts as a kind of “dove” against the backdrop of “hawks” who are betting on the defeat of Russia? Partly yes, but the devil, as always, is in the details.
Kissinger explains the need for negotiations by the fact that now is just the new 1916:
“Is the world today at a similar tipping point in Ukraine as winter puts a pause on large-scale military action there? I have repeatedly expressed my support for allied military efforts to prevent Russian aggression in Ukraine. But the time is approaching to build on the strategic changes already made and integrate them into a new structure aimed at achieving peace through negotiations”.
What changes does he propose to fix?
“Ukraine has become a major state in Central Europe for the first time in modern history. With the help of its allies and inspired by its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has stymied Russian conventional forces that have hovered over Europe since World War II. And the international system, including China, opposes Russian threat or use of its nuclear weapons.
This process brought up for discussion the initial questions of Ukraine’s membership in NATO. Ukraine has acquired one of the largest and most effective land armies in Europe, equipped by America and its allies. The peace process should link Ukraine to NATO, however expressed. The alternative to neutrality no longer makes sense, especially after the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO…
The goal of the peace process would be twofold: to reaffirm Ukraine’s freedom and to define a new international structure, especially for Central and Eastern Europe. Ultimately, Russia must find a place in that order.”
That is, what happens? Russia is invited to recognize that Ukraine belongs to the Western bloc, that is, to agree that it has not only been taken away from it part of its historical territory, but also built on this territory a state controlled by the Atlanticists, the main reason for the existence of which is to be anti-Russia. But precisely because of the rejection of such an option, a special military operation began, Russia is categorically not satisfied with such plans of the West. The world has already changed irreversibly after February 24, and we are offered to accept the same thing that we have already rejected, to agree with what we are fighting against. Yes, and to find “their place” in the new old world order.
Absurd, but Kissinger seems to think that all this is very reasonable, realistic and moderate. No wonder, because he opposes those for whom “the preferred outcome is Russia, which has become powerless as a result of the war”:
“I disagree. Russia’s military failures have not eliminated its global nuclear capability, which allows it to threaten to escalate in Ukraine. Even if that capability is reduced, Russia’s disintegration or the destruction of its ability to pursue strategic policy could turn its territory spanning eleven time zones into controversial vacuum.”
It is clear that there is no concern for Russia, but a banal fear of the collapse of a huge nuclear power – well, and an unwillingness to repeat the mistakes of Versailles, that is, to program a new war by excessively humiliating the loser. But it is not clear why Kissinger considers Russia a loser, that is, unable to wrest Ukraine from the hands of the West. And how can he not see that the terms of the truce he proposes are in principle unacceptable to Moscow (not to mention that they cannot be the basis for any sustainable peace): “I recommended a ceasefire line be established along the borders that exist where the war began on February 24. Russia would return its gains, but not the territory it occupied almost ten years ago, including Crimea. This territory could be negotiated after the ceasefire.
If a pre-war dividing line between Ukraine and Russia cannot be achieved through fighting or negotiations, one could consider resorting to the principle of self-determination. Self-determination referendums held under international supervision could apply to areas of particular contention.”
Yes, there are clear contradictions here with the certainty that Ukraine is winning, in the discussions about referendums in the territories annexed to Russia this year. That is, Kissinger is, in principle, ready to leave to Russia what it already controls, if only to fix the main change – Russia’s rejection of the rest of Ukraine and acceptance of its belonging to the West. It is clear that this will never happen, no matter how much effort and time it takes to achieve our goals.
And historical parallels are a very useful thing, especially if you know and remember real historical experience. And then it turns out that the First World War did not start because of European lunatics (that is, Germans, French and Russians), but as a result of a well-built combination of Anglo-Saxons to play off continental powers. And the defeat of Russia in it was the result of a double betrayal – by part of our elites and allies in the Entente, which led to the catastrophe of the February Revolution. Russia has paid dearly for neglecting the lessons of history, and now it will not repeat its previous mistakes, will not back down and stop halfway.