By VFP Advisory Board Member Colonel Ann Wright, US Army (Retired)
We’ve seen this before. The U.S. creates a situation, digs in its heels and makes ultimatums—and tens of thousands die.
I resigned from the US government in 2003 in opposition to another war-President Bush’s war on Iraq in which followed that war playbook.
We’ve seen it in Afghanistan and Iraq and now it may be over Ukraine or Taiwan, and oh yes, let’s not forget multiple missile tests from North Korea, ISIS fighters rioting and escaping from prisons in Syria, the millions in Afghanistan who are starving and freezing after the US chaotic withdrawal and refusal to unlock Afghanistan’s frozen financial assets.
Add to these dangers, the emotional and physical damage done to the US military’s own military forces by the poisoning of the drinking water of 93,000 persons, mostly the families of US Navy and Air Force personnel in the Indo-Pacific command in Hawaii, from an 80-year-old leaking jet fuel tanks that have leaked into drinking water wells that, despite warnings over a 20 year period, the US Navy has refused to shut down, and you have a military that is stretched to a dangerous point.
From the US military policy makers in Washington, to the boots on the ground in Europe and the Middle East and those in ships and aircraft in the Pacific, the US military is at a breaking point.
Instead of slowing down and backing off, the Biden administration led by a very aggressive Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a go-along Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and President Biden seems to have given a dangerous green light to escalation on all fronts at the same time.
While US war mongering has hit a speed button on steroids, both Russia and China are calling the diplomatic and military hands of the United States at the same time.
President Putin deployed 125,000 to the border of Ukraine bringing to a head the Russian Federation’s demand that the US and NATO finally after 30 years of poaching former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO despite the promise of President H.W. Bush that the US would not, that the US and NATO formally declare that NATO would not recruit Ukraine into its military forces.
On the other side of the world, in Asia- Pacific region, President Xi of China is responding to the US"Pivot to Asia" that has thrown out the 50-year US policy of diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China and yet continuing, but not publicizing, economic and military support of Taiwan. The "One-China" policy was begun decades ago in the 1970s under the Nixon administration.
The US"Pivot to Asia" began after withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and a drawdown of US military from Afghanistan, when the Obama administration needed another military confrontation for the appetite of the US military offense (not defense) corporations.
The innocuous sounding "Freedom of Navigation" naval missions to stake out US domination of the South China Sea have morphed into a NATO naval mission with ships from the United Kingdom and France joining the US armada in China’s seaside front yard.
US diplomatic missions to Taiwan that had not happened in 50 years began under the Trump administration and now have the highest-ranking US government officials in five decades making highly publicized trips to Taiwan as a stick to poke in the eye of the Chinese government.
The Chinese government has responded to the US actions in the South China Sea by constructing a series of military installations on small atolls in a line of defense and sending its own naval vessels into its own coastal waters. China addressed increased US military equipment sales to Taiwan and the US publicity of its deployment of US military training personnel to Taiwan by sending fleets of up to 40 military aircraft at a time the short 20 miles across the Straits of Taiwan from the mainland of China to the edge of the Taiwan air defense zone forcing the Taiwanese Air Force to activate its air defense system.
Back to the other side of the world, after orchestrating and supporting a coup in Ukraine in 2013 (remember Victoria Nuland, now State Department’s Under Secretary for Policy, who 7 years ago as an Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs) identified the US sponsored Ukrainian coup leader "Yats is our man." The US sponsored coup in Ukraine precipitated the vote of the residents of Crimea that invited the Russian Federation to annex Crimea.
Despite US media reports to the contrary, there was no Russian military invasion of Crimea following the coup in Ukraine and before the people’s vote in Crimea. Not a shot was fired in the lead-up to the vote in Crimea. A Russian military was already in Crimea under the 60-year agreement between the Soviet Union/then Russian Federation that provided for the stationing of Russian military in Crimea as a part of its Black Sea Fleet. The Fleet’s only access to the Mediterranean is through the Black Sea ports of Sevastopol and Yalta.
68 years ago in 1954, Soviet Premier and ethnic Ukrainian Nikita Khrushchev transferred control of Crimea to the Ukraine, on the 300th anniversary of Russian-Ukrainian unification.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine signed three agreements in 1997 governing the status of the Black Sea Fleet. The fleet was divided between Kyiv and Moscow. Russia received more of the warships and paid Ukraine’s cash-strapped government $526 million in compensation. In exchange, Kyiv also agreed to lease Crimean naval facilities to the Russian portion of the fleet for $97 million annually under a lease that was renewed in 2010 and expires in 2042.
Additionally, under the agreements, Russia was allowed to station a maximum of 25,000 troops, 132 armored combat vehicles and 24 pieces of artillery at its military facilities in Crimea. As a part of these agreements, Russian military forces were required to “respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, honor its legislation and preclude interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.”
The US and NATO countries responded with strong sanctions to the Crimea annexation. Even more sanctions have been placed on the Russian Federation over the separatist movement in the Dombass eastern area of Ukraine by ethnic Russians who feel their heritage is not respected by the Ukrainian government including stopping teaching of Russian in schools and lack of resources for their region, the same complaints that residents of Crimea had.
The Russian Federation maintains that no Russian soldiers are a part of the separatist movement, which I suspect, mirrors claims that the US has made during its support of groups throughout the world.
125,000 Russian military personnel have been deployed on the border of Ukraine in a move by Russian Federation as a part of its very public demand that NATO not recruit membership of Ukraine. Russia has complained for decades that the agreement of President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Gorbahev that NATO would not allow former Warsaw Pact countries that neighbor Russian into NATO has been violated with the admittance In 1999 Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, and in 2004 Romania, Bulgaria , Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Baltic countries of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania joined NATO. The most recent member states to be added to NATO are Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020.
Only Belarus, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Serbia of the former Warsaw Pact countries are NOT members of NATO.
Not all members of NATO are onboard the US confrontation with Russia. As 40 percent of the heating gas for Europe comes from Russia through Ukraine, European leaders are rightfully worried about a chilly local reaction when their homes get chilly without heat.
The US has responded to the Russian demand that Ukraine not become a member of NATO with a strident NO, has sent a dramatic and public increase in weapons to Ukraine and has put 8,500 US military on high alert.
In the western Pacific, armadas confront each other, fleets of aircraft fly in close proximity and North Korea short-range missile testing continues. Attempts at de-toxing the water supply of 93,000 families whose water was poisoned from an antiquated underground jet fuel storage tanks only 100 feet above the aquifer of Honolulu.
The US politicians, think-tank pundits and government war makers have created a war atmosphere on many fronts.
The US military is stretched to the point that the possibility, if not probability, of an incident/accident occurring that can set off a chain of events that will be disastrous for the world is explosively high.
We demand true discussion, dialogue, diplomacy on steroids instead of warmongering to save the lives of the innocent civilians that are at stake around the world.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was also a US diplomat and served in US embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq. She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.
Ways to Take Action:
- Watch the Emergency Webinar: "Is the U.S. going to war with Russia over Ukraine?" featuring VFP Advisory Board Members Medea Benjamin (CODEPINK) and retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson.
- Email the White House:
- President Biden, we cannot risk a military confrontation between the United States and Russia, the world's most heavily armed nuclear nations. Do not send more troops to Eastern Europe to provoke Russia into a regional or world war that would spell disaster. Instead, call for a moratorium on NATO expansion, pull back our troops and missiles on Russia's borders, and seek a negotiated solution to the current crisis. Ukraine's people are divided and must decide their fate without U.S. intervention. After the fall of the Soviet Union, we could have dissolved NATO to ensure peace, but instead added 11 more countries once Soviet republics or Warsaw Pact members to NATO, forging closer ties between Russia and China and continuing a Cold War that threatens to break out into a hot war. Do not listen to the warmongers in Congress or in your administration. Advance peace through diplomacy.
- Call your House Member on the Capitol Hill Switchboard (202) 224-3121
- Dear Representative _________
As your constituent in zip code _____, I urge you to write or sign on to a Member of Congress letter to President Biden, urging the President not to send more troops and weapons to Eastern Europe to risk war with Russia. Additionally, I ask you to NOT sign on to Congressman Meek's dangerous legislation H.R. 6470 to further embroil the U.S. militarily but to introduce legislation supporting a moratorium on NATO expansion.
- Dear Representative _________
For other sample language check out this letter from VFP Chapter 102 in Milwaukee to Members of Congress!