Michael Tracey Profile picture
Feb 6 12 tweets 3 min read
The former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett just confirmed what any rational observer could've surmised: Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement during the early phase of the war — "Both sides very much wanted a ceasefire," Bennett said — but the US "blocked it"
Bennett was one of the few world leaders seen as impartial and trustworthy by both Putin and Zelensky. So when the invasion happened, he quickly took on a role as "shuttle diplomacy" mediator. He said he personally facilitated exchanges between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators
On March 5, 2022 -- nine days after the invasion -- Bennett secretly went to Moscow and met with Putin. Bennet says Putin agreed to two "big concessions" -- renouncing the "denazification" of Ukraine, understood to mean regime change, and renouncing the "disarmament" of Ukraine
Bennett says that simultaneously to this --again, based on his direct, intensive involvement in the day-to-day negotiations -- Zelensky also agreed to a "big concession," and would officially renounce NATO membership

"I say to myself wow, that’s a huge shift," Bennett recounts
Speaking about this publicly for what he says is the first time, Bennett is pressed by the interviewer about what odds of success he had given to a diplomatic agreement last March/April. Bennett insists there was at least an "over 50% chance of agreement"
"Anything I did was coordinated down to the last detail with the US, Germany, and France," said Bennett. As an impartial mediator, he said, it wasn't for him to make prescriptive determinations about the correct policy choice. "I turn to America in this regard," he admitted
Bennett says he was in constant contact with Jake Sullivan, sometimes Blinken, sometimes Biden himself. There was a "decision by the West to keep striking Putin," he says -- and it's clear he's talking about the US as the decisive player. More decisive than even Ukraine or Russia
Because when the rubber hit the road and the parameters of a diplomatic settlement had been mutually agreed upon by both Ukraine and Russia: "They blocked it," Bennett said -- as in the US. "And I thought they were wrong"
Listing some "downsides" of this decision, Bennett cites, for example: the casualties piling up in the war, destruction of Ukraine's infrastructure, negative impact on international food supplies, rise in energy costs, large-scale emigration
The "upside" is what he says is a "statement" that had been made: "President Biden created an alliance vis-a-vis an aggressor, in the general perception. And this reflects on other arenas such as Taiwan"

So on the one hand, mass death. On the other hand, Biden made a "statement"
For some reason it's still controversial in certain quarters to make the trivially obvious, factual observation that US policy from the very beginning has been to *fuel and expand the war* -- not curtail it. So for the nay-sayers, here's yet another piece of "slam dunk" evidence
And as regards Naftali Bennett, please note: I am not "taking him at his word," I am relaying the words he spoke within just the past few days about a critical sequence of events he was personally involved in. Though I'd be curious to hear the theories for why he'd be lying

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More from @mtracey

Feb 1
Supporters of US interventionist policy in Ukraine for the past year sanctimoniously act like they have the obvious moral high ground, as if hundreds of bodies aren't piling up every day, whole cities wrecked, and it's only getting worse. "Isolationists" didn't do that. You did
Of course they'll just keep pumping out the sanctimony: angrily denying that they're responsible for the war effort they're funding, arming, planning, and executing. Like small children, they accept no responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and just shout "Russia"
Lots of deflection by name-calling too: tankie, vatnik, Russian propagandist, Kremlin shill, Putin bootlicker. Rationally examining the consequences of their policy preferences is a big risk for them, so they drown it out wherever possible with name-calling and personal invective
Read 6 tweets
Jan 30
Head of "security studies" at the Marshall Center -- a quasi-academic offshoot of the Pentagon -- declares Russian culture inherently violent, and defined primarily by "rape and torture." Useful insight into the vengeful psychodrama that's really animating these "NatSec" creeps
Maybe @andrewmichta can clarify if his description of Russian culture as inherently violent, barbaric, sexually predatory, thieving, and torturous -- along with his call for its unspecified "expulsion" -- meets the criteria for what would be commonly understood as "genocide""
It's also interesting that "prisons and Gulags" are among the things he claims Russian culture should be "first and foremost" defined by. Wonder how universally he would apply this principle
Read 4 tweets
Jan 29
Dave Rubin just published a 50 minute infomercial with Mike Pompeo that appears to be billed as some sort of interview. To give a sense of the journalistic acumen on display, here's a representative sample of Dave's questions, transcribed for your convenience
"But little old Dave never claimed to be a journalist!"

Whatever, I don't really care what he claims to be, I just know he did a chummy "interview" with the former CIA Director/Secretary of State and possible presidential candidate, and didn't ask a single challenging question
I'm sorry but his questions are also just dumb, like he doesn't really know anything about the relevant subject matter, and doesn't have the interest or ability to ever ask a followup question. Which probably explains why Pompeo swung by the show on his pre-campaign book tour
Read 4 tweets
Jan 29
RAND Corporation identifies chief "impediment" to ending the Ukraine war: "The centrality of Western assistance"

Causing misperceptions similar to what prolonged World War I, they say

An amazing acknowledgment from the Pentagon's in-house Think Tank, but will be largely ignored
It's suggested that the US could address the problem by conditioning further "aid" on Ukraine engaging in negotiations. Odd that most of the media/Congress/etc. wouldn't get caught dead saying this, like RAND Corp. must be some radical outlier organization
Another taboo violated: the report suggests that restoration of Ukraine's full territorial control is not that significant, and imposes costs that far outweigh the benefits
Read 6 tweets
Jan 29
So many fallacies packed into one tweet. "Deterrence" was the supposed rationale for US "defense" policy in Ukraine pre-2022. Given that Russia invaded Ukraine, there's no evidence this policy "deterred" anything, and strong evidence (i.e. the invasion) it had the opposite effect
As far as Russia's military capacity being "wrecked," what's the actual evidence for this, because it's the kind of thing that constantly gets asserted without any real evidence. We're told Russia's capacity is "wrecked"... but they're also gearing up for a giant Spring Offensive
Also: "Fraction of our yearly budget"? The 2021 federal budget was $6.8 trillion. Enormous amounts of money are still going to technically be a small "fraction" of that
Read 4 tweets
Jan 27
Victoria Nuland said yesterday that the US is working on setting up a "judicial mechanism" to prosecute Putin, whom she preemptively declared guilty. Thus confirming that the US is pursuing regime change. If you're throwing Putin in prison, you're changing the regime by force
Also seems like the US dealing a death blow to any potential negotiations. If the US is publicly declaring its intent to remove, prosecute, and imprison Putin, that's effectively a declaration that the war can now only be resolved with the demise of the current Russian government
So it would seem the only options now are unconditional defeat for Ukraine or unconditional defeat for Russia. Because the US is blasting away any conceivable framework wherein some brokered settlement might be agreed among the parties. Ratcheting up the existential stakes to max
Read 4 tweets

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