Feb. 14—In a long and very direct address today on the American Committee for U.S.-Russian Accord’s “ACURA Viewpoint,” the last U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock (1987-92) presents the entire history, which led from the end of the Cold War to the present obvious threat of superpower hot war. Matlock begins by saying he “cannot dismiss the suspicion that we are witnessing an elaborate charade” by Biden to “prevent” a non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine. And later he notes that Biden campaigned for President in 2008 on the line, “I will stand up to Vladimir Putin,” a particularly absurd posture at that time, but most of his piece is tracing the mistakes of U.S. and NATO policy which turned Russia from virtual NATO ally to adversary in what could become an all-out nuclear war.
First, ignorance around nuclear weapons. Matlock admits that as a Moscow embassy staffer in 1962, he translated Khrushchev’s messages to JFK in the Cuban Missiles Crisis, and he and his colleagues were unaware of the actual nature of the settlement of that crisis, and would have cheered for American bombing of Russian sites in Cuba—which would have been fatal to several major cities including Washington, D.C.: “It is quite dangerous to get involved in military confrontations with countries with nuclear weapons.”
But for the most part, the hubris of “we won the Cold War,” against which both Pope John Paul II and Lyndon LaRouche warned. Matlock quotes his own testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997 when the Clinton Administration proposed the expansion of NATO: “I consider the Administration’s recommendation to take new members into NATO at this time misguided. If it should be approved by the United States Senate, it may well go down in history as the most profound strategic blunder made since the end of the Cold War. Far from improving the security of the United States, its Allies, and the nations that wish to enter the Alliance, it could well encourage a chain of events that could produce the most serious security threat to this nation since the Soviet Union collapsed.”
Matlock proposes a "common sense" approach: "What President Putin is demanding, an end to NATO expansion and creation of a security structure in Europe that insures Russia’s security along with that of others is eminently reasonable. He is not demanding the exit of any NATO member and he is threatening none. By any pragmatic, common sense standard it is in the interest of the United States to promote peace, not conflict. To try to detach Ukraine from Russian influence—the avowed aim of those who agitated for the “color revolutions”—was a fool’s errand, and a dangerous one. Have we so soon forgotten the lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Now, to say that approving Putin’s demands is in the objective interest of the United States does not mean that it will be easy to do. The leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties have developed such a Russophobic stance (a story requiring a separate study) that it will take great political skill to navigate the treacherous political waters and achieve a rational outcome.
President Biden has made it clear that the United States will not intervene with its own troops if Russia invades Ukraine. So why move them into Eastern Europe? Just to show hawks in Congress that he is standing firm? For what? Nobody is threatening Poland or Bulgaria except waves of refugees fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and the desiccated areas of the African savannah. So what is the 82nd Airborne supposed to do?"