Arnaud Bertrand Profile picture
Mar 1 30 tweets 17 min read
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". Image
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" Image
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". ImageImageImage
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"

Whole video worth watching:
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."
More recently, right before war broke out, this is famous economist Jeffrey Sachs writing a column in the FT warning that "NATO enlargement is utterly misguided and risky. True friends of Ukraine, and of global peace, should be calling for a US and NATO compromise with Russia." Image
It's fair to say there has rarely been a conflict that so many strategic thinkers from the other camp saw coming and warned against for so many years, yet had their advice ignored.

This begs the question: why?
If people reply with his other relevant examples of high profile figures who warned about what was coming, I'll add them to the thread.

Thank you @PromisesRust, this is former United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi ⬇️
Thank you @laurenibsolm!

CIA director Bill Burns in 2008: "Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for [Russia]" and "I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests"
Thank you @lt3066!

Malcolm Fraser, 22nd prime minister of Australia, warned in 2014 that "the move east [by NATO is] provocative, unwise and a very clear signal to Russia". He adds that this leads to a "difficult and extraordinarily dangerous problem".
Thank you @itjohnstone!

Paul Keating, former Australian PM, in 1997: expanding NATO is "an error which may rank in the end with the strategic miscalculations which prevented Germany from taking its full place in the international system [in early 20th]"
Thank you @GrayConnolly!

Former US defense secretary Bob Gates in his 2015 memoirs: "Moving so quickly [to expand NATO] was a mistake. [...] Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching [and] an especially monumental provocation"
Thank you @SamScottish5!

Sir Roderic Lyne, former British ambassador to Russia, warned a year ago that "[pushing] Ukraine into NATO [...] is stupid on every level." He adds "if you want to start a war with Russia, that's the best way of doing it."
Thank you @OiseauDeGuerre!

This is Pat Buchanan, in his 1999 book A Republic, Not an Empire: "By moving NATO onto Russia's front porch, we have scheduled a twenty-first-century confrontation."
Image
Thank you @ArjenPolku!

This Wikileaks cable from 2008 by Bill Burns when he was ambassador to Russia. I know I already have Burns in the thread but what I had was from his memoirs so it makes sense to put him twice.
Image
Thank you @LedaAlepi!

This is British journalist @Itwitius, former Sky News foreign affairs editor, in his 2015 book Prisoners of Geography: for Russia "a pro-Western Ukraine with ambitions to join [EU or NATO] could not stand" and "could spark a war".
Thank you @dekathlos!

In 1997, 50 prominent foreign policy experts (former senators, military officers, diplomats, etc.) sent an open letter to Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion.

It's a "policy error of historic proportions" they write
ImageImage
Another one, George Beebe who used to be the CIA's top Russia analyst who in January this year linked Russia's actions in Ukraine directly to NATO expansion, explaining that Russia "feels threatened" and "inaction on [the Kremlin’s] part is risky".
Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato Institute's senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies, wrote in a 1994 book that NATO expansion “would constitute a needless provocation of Russia.”

Today he adds "we are now paying the price for the US’s arrogance".
Thank you @TonySim79012667!

This is Frank Blackaby, former director of SIPRI, writing in 1996 that "any Russian Government will react, militarily as well as politically to [NATO’s expansion]" and that it makes "Europe drift [...] towards Cold War II".
ImageImageImageImage
Thank you @mystery_dave!

This is legendary journalist @johnpilger who wrote this article in 2014: theguardian.com/commentisfree/…

He describes Ukraine as having become a "CIA theme park", a situation that he foresaw would lead to "a Nato-run guerrilla war"
Image
Chinese experts also saw it coming long ago. This is Shiping Tang, one of China's foremost International Relations scholars, writing in 2009.
His entire text has recently been re-published in @ZichenWanghere's excellent Pekingnology substack: pekingnology.substack.com/p/ukraine-as-a… Image
This is Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych in 2015.

He says that if Ukraine continues down the path of joining NATO "it will prompt Russia to launch a large scale military operation [...] before we join NATO", "with a probability of 99.9%", likely "in 2021-2022".
I haven't updated this thread for a while but when I saw that even the Pope agrees with this, I had to add it ⬇️

"Pope Says NATO Might Have Provoked Russian Invasion of Ukraine"
wsj.com/livecoverage/r…
And another one: Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.

"We kicked [Russia] when they were down, we expanded NATO. [...] It was a blunder of monumental proportions [and] a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Even legendary Soviet dissident Solzhenitsyn saw NATO expansion as "an effort to encircle Russia and destroy its sovereignty".

He says Russia could never "renounce our unity" with the "Russian population in Ukraine" (original: noblit.ru/node/1041)
nytimes.com/2006/05/03/new…

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More from @RnaudBertrand

May 17
So let me get this straight: the US will jeopardize a deal 2-year in the making to waive IP rights on Covid vaccines - badly needed by so many countries - because China isn't the only nation in the world specifically excluded from the deal?

That's evil, no other way to put it...
That's the sneaky footnote the U.S. wants included in the agreement 🔽

Guess what? China is the only country in the world that is a "developing country Member who exported more than 10% of world exports of COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2021"...
It would also set a bad precedent.

It was unequivocally good that China made such efforts to export vaccins while the US and Europe were hoarding theirs. This would effectively punish China for this and as such send exactly the wrong signal: next time hoard as well, don't help.
Read 4 tweets
May 16
Wow, this story is potentially very explosive 😲

Added bonus: gives more insight on how the UK decided to ban Huawei from its networks.
According to the leaked emails it's former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove who claimed he'd "[fed] briefings on national security to Boris" and that he "was reasonably confident that the Huawei decision will be reversed".
Ironically Dearlove is the same MI6 chief who was blamed by the official UK Iraq Inquiry for providing unverified intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This of course ultimately led to the UK participating in the Iraq war.
Read 4 tweets
May 16
Dominique de Villepin remains one of the French politicians with the best take on the geopolitical situation in the world today.

He was France's Prime Minister under Chirac, especially famous for his opposition to the Iraq war

A small 🧵 on what he says
To him, the main reason why we're currently seeing such distrust towards the West is "because of the shameful example we’ve set these past 20 years".

He says: "Let’s not forget: the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, the Libyan war, the wars in Sahel and all of this for what?"
He says "We still haven’t drawn all the lessons from those military interventions and in particular from the U.S. intervention in Iraq and the lie that triggered it. We need at some point to face the truth. The whole world needs to know that we won't commit these errors anymore."
Read 12 tweets
May 16
This is quite an extraordinary piece by @guardian, revealing the massive and worldwide propaganda campaign run by the UK during the Cold War.

Some incredible and deeply disturbing revelations in there.

A small 🧵
theguardian.com/world/2022/may…
They describe the so-called "black propaganda" as much more important in scale "than historians assume" with "efforts [that were] systemic, ambitious and offensive" and "went far beyond merely exposing Soviet disinformation".
It was run by the Information Research Department (IRD) within the Foreign Office.

As described in the article the unit's activities "mirrored the CIA’s cold war propaganda operations".
Read 14 tweets
May 10
When such a consummate diplomat as John Lander, who's been Australia's ambassador to Iran and Deputy Ambassador to China, tells you he's "reduced to despair" and feels like "a voice crying in the wilderness" you might want to listen to what he has to say...

A small 🧵
Here is the whole video:

Lander is extremely concerned by the direction Australia is taking with regards to China and the way it's being manipulated into becoming a U.S. proxy against China, which he believes is against his country's interests.
He finds "the idea that Australia must prepare for war" with China utterly "alarming", the result of a "process of ramping up the China threat" which is a "repetition of the yellow peril, which was a repetition of the white Australia policy". "It was always Sinophobia", he says.
Read 8 tweets
May 8
Very worrying sign of the direction the US is taking.

The State Dpt removed from their website the fact they recognize that Taiwan is part of China (under PRC gvt) and that they don't support Taiwan independence.

Left: 3rd May. Right: today, 8th May (state.gov/u-s-relations-…)
Their position that "the Government of the [PRC is] the sole legal government of China [and] Taiwan is part of China" had been in place since 1979 when the U.S. established full diplomatic relations with the PRC.

The very foundation of the relationship is being destroyed.
In the case of Russia, James Baker's famous “not one inch eastward” assurance to Gorbachev about NATO expansion was not written down so they have that excuse.

In this case it was written down ⬇️, yet they're still backing out from it...
Read 4 tweets

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