This evening in Geneva, informal talks began between the United States and Russia, at a supper with U.S. delegation leader, Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, and Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister, and their teams, at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament. Tomorrow, the formal talks ensue, on the topic of security, between the U.S. and Russia. On Jan. 12, in Brussels, NATO and Russian officials will meet on security. On Jan. 13 in Vienna, the U.S., Russia and other member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will meet.
On the eve of this historic week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke this morning on two Sunday TV interviews, unfortunately reiterating his litany of charges against Russia, his false history of Europe, and his crazed assertions about what he claims is in the interest of the United States, e.g., backing Eurasian nations against Russia—Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine and now Kazakhstan.
In turn, Minister Ryabkov today told TASS, speaking of the Russian readiness to discuss the two draft security documents that they have provided for discussion and action: “Honestly speaking, I really doubt that our American colleagues are ready for such a talk, judging by the signals that we have been hearing in recent days…. But it would be naïve to expect progress, given the revised public presentation of the position that we see today, right before the start of contacts.”
The Schiller Institute and collaborators in recent years, have done everything in their means to prevent this state of brinkmanship expressed by the Blinken position, which is, in fact, the classic, deadly British Great Gamesmanship in Eurasia. Now is not the fitting moment to prognosticate what exactly will happen in the discussions tomorrow and this week. But it is time to redouble our efforts to engage everyone possible to understand what is going on, and what they can do to stop the drive to Armageddon.
An important initiative comes from the United States. Fifteen organizations—including religious, veteran, diplomacy and other groups—issued an open letter Jan. 8 to President Joe Biden, on what kind of negotiations should go on with Russia this week, to the joint interest of all nations and peoples. The letter was also sent to Blinken, and Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The letter is titled, “Further Strengthen Diplomatic Efforts and Avert War,” and is circulating through the channels of the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord. The bipartisan authors call on the U.S. to reject expanding NATO, and say: “It is in the interests of the United States, the region, and the world to address these and other root causes of tension with Russia as part of an ongoing strategic dialogue.” It states: “Continuing engagement is necessary to avert a military conflict that will harm the interests of the United States, harm innocent civilians in Ukraine, and risk spiraling into a potentially catastrophic war between the world’s two leading nuclear powers.”
What is called for is statecraft in service of the common good, which in the face of war, is life itself. Look at Afghanistan, for the threat of mass death from famine, disease and weather. Some days ago, a fierce storm system hit south of the Hindu Kush, bringing snow and freezing temperatures in Kabul and neighboring provinces. To the east in Pakistan, over Jan. 6-7, the storm system dropped up to four feet of snow very fast, and trapped thousands of tourists in their cars in the scenic mountain area some 22 miles north of Islamabad, in the popular winter resort town of Murree. So far 22 are dead. Emergency crews are working hard, and this is rightly highly publicized.
However, in Kabul, a city of 4.5 million, the frigid weather and lack of food are creating mass death circumstances, but the “news” remains almost completely blacked out.
On Jan. 7, the Afghan government issued a direct world appeal by video. Acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Barada said, “In various places right now, people do not have food, accommodation, warm clothes or money….The world has to support Afghan people without any political bias and carry out their humanitarian obligations…. We call for the international community, NGOs and all the countries not to forget our poor people.”
The situation underscores the role of the Schiller Institute and collaborators to make known the reality of the crises, and the reality that nations collaborating can solve them all. Plans are being made final for a Schiller Institute international conference on the Afghanistan emergency within the coming 10 days.
Circulate everywhere the Schiller Institute Memorandum (Dec. 31, 2021) “Are We Sleepwalking into Thermonuclear World War III?”