I’ve previously plugged John Mearsheimer’s views on Ukraine here, with generalized agreement but many misgivings. I have fewer misgivings about Chomsky’s views, which are in the same anti-interventionist ballpark as Mearsheimer’s, at least as regards Ukraine, but without the problematic realist baggage. This interview with Nathan Robinson in Current Affairs seems the best of the bunch that I’ve seen.
This passage, in particular, hits home:
I don’t know if you saw it. But a couple of days ago, there was a very important interview by one of the most astute and respected figures in current U.S. diplomatic circles, Ambassador Chas Freeman. A very important interview. He pointed out that the current U.S. policy, which he bitterly criticized, is to “fight Russia to the last Ukrainian,” and he gave us an example: President Biden’s heroic statement about the war criminal Putin—[Biden’]s counterpart as a war criminal. And Freeman pointed out the obvious: the U.S. is setting things up so as to destroy Ukraine and to lead to a terminal war.
In this world, there are two options with regard to Ukraine. As we know, one option is a negotiated settlement, which will offer Putin an escape, an ugly settlement. Is it within reach? We don’t know; you can only find out by trying and we’re refusing to try. But that’s one option. The other option is to make it explicit and clear to Putin and the small circle of men around him that you have no escape, you’re going to go to a war crimes trial no matter what you do. Boris Johnson just reiterated this: sanctions will go on no matter what you do. What does that mean? It means go ahead and obliterate Ukraine and go on to lay the basis for a terminal war.
Those are the two options: and we’re picking the second and praising ourselves for heroism and doing it: fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian. Sometimes this becomes—I don’t know if the word is comical or grotesque. A couple days ago—I’m sure you saw this—Hillary Clinton suggested that we pull the Brzezinski trick. [In 1998], Brzezinski, who was Carter’s National Security Advisor, had an interview in France, in which he bragged about how they’d drawn Russia into the war in Afghanistan [starting the 1979-89 Soviet-Afghan war]. Whether he was just boasting or whether it was true, nobody knows, but it doesn’t matter much. What he said is that as National Security Advisor before the Russian invasion, he had convinced Carter to send arms to an insurgency that was attacking the pro-Russian government in Afghanistan, figuring this would draw the Russians in.
And then, the Russians—in fact, as we now know definitively from released Russian archives—recognized pretty quickly that they’d made a mistake and wanted to get out. But the U.S., following Brzezinski in its brilliance—this is Reagan now—organized radical Islamist fanatics from all over the world, including Osama bin Laden, to carry out the fight to ensure that the Russians stayed in, killing maybe a million Afghans and wrecking the country.
Brzezinski was asked about that by the interviewer. He said, Do you think this was worth doing? He said, Look, what’s the fate of Afghans as compared with the importance of bringing down the global enemy? That’s us. That’s Hillary Clinton a couple of days ago, saying let’s do that. Let’s draw the Russians into Ukraine, fight a harsh guerrilla war, be really tough on them. It’ll exhaust them, destroy them, we’ll bring them down. Of course, on the side, Ukraine will be wiped out. Okay, that’s us now, at the liberal end of spectrum. I’m not talking about Josh Hawley, you know.
But read the whole thing, and tell me what you think.