Posted by: Dr Churchill | June 19, 2022

Lady Liberty

She was The Model for the Statue of Liberty.

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s model for the Statue of Liberty was the beautiful Frenchwoman Isabelle Boyer, who was first married to the American industrialist Isaac Merrit Singer – of sewing machine fame – and later to the Duke of Campo Selice of Luxembourg.

In 1878, the 36-year-old Duchess de Campo Selice attracted the attention of the sculptor who forever immortalized her features in the face of Lady Liberty.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | June 10, 2022

Addiction

“Put a rat in a cage and give it 2 water bottles. One is just water and one is water laced with heroin or cocaine. The rat will almost always prefer the drugged water and almost always kill itself in a couple of weeks. That is our theory of addiction.

Bruce K Alexander comes along in the ’70s and said:

“Well, hang on. We’re putting the rat in an empty cage. It has nothing to do. Let’s try this a bit differently.”

So he built Rat Park, and Rat Park is like heaven for rats. Everything a rat could want is in Rat Park. Lovely food. Lots of sex. Other rats to befriend. Colored balls. Plus both water bottles, one with water and one with drugged water.

But here’s what’s fascinating: In Rat Park, they don’t like the drugged water. They hardly use it. None of them overdose. None of them use in a way that looks like compulsion or addiction. What Bruce did shows that both the right-wing and left-wing theories of addiction are wrong.

The right-wing theory is that it’s a moral failing, you’re a hedonist, you party too hard. The left-wing theory is that it takes you over, your brain is hijacked. Bruce K. Alexander says that it’s not your morality, it’s not your brain; it’s your cage.

Addiction is largely an adaptation to your environment.

Now, we created a society where significant numbers of us can’t bear to be present in our lives without being on something, drink, drugs, sex, shopping… We’ve created a hyperconsumerist, hyperindividualist, isolated world that is, for many of us, more like the first cage than the bonded, connected cages we need.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. And our whole society, the engine of it, is geared toward making us connect with things not people.

You are not a good consumer citizen if you spend your time bonding with the people around you and not with consuming stuff.

In fact, we are trained from a young age to focus our hopes, dreams, and ambitions on things to buy and consume.

Drug addiction is a subset of that.”

–Credit: Johann Hari

Yours,

Dr Churchill

Posted by: Dr Churchill | June 5, 2022

Democracy Institute

Some thirty years ago, I founded the Democracy Institute in Washington DC and to this day we are still convening great events, conferences and we bring people together in order to work on all aspects of building our Democracy here in our own country, yet also in order to strengthen Democracy for the global arena of conflicting political systems of Governance.

As of now the Democracy Institute http://www.DemocracyInstitue.net has assembled a lot of support for our Campaigns but it also has enabled us to foretell the future in ways great and small.

Methinks that coming out of this war we will have to develop a new system of Stability mechanism and a Dynamic Equilibrium system of a community of Democratic nations that will provide Peaceful Power levers to augment Democracy’s reach into the future of People’s lives throughout the world.

In that regard the United States must lead as the beacon of Democracy and organize a group of Democratic parliaments in order to preserve this experiment we call DEMOCRACY for our children and for all those People still suffering under the boot of tyranny throughout the world.

We ought to do this because their liberation is intertwined with our Liberation and thus we might have a chance to preserve Government by the people, for the people and from the people for a few more years to come.

I envision this style of a Democracy Institute group of parliamentarians from the Great Liberal Democracies of the West — coming together in seasonal Conferences like the ancient “Delphi Alliance” of democratically inspired nation states.

And they will be a strong force made up of determined democracies acting as a group of active parliaments from the world’s liberal democracies coming up to the stage as the Group of Ten, “DI-10” followed by a larger group with smaller nations as a group of 20 [“DI-20”] and then a group of thirty “DI-30” and so on so forth.

These groupings will foster great strength through unity in enhancing trade alliances, economic cooperation and defense agreements, as well as giving a healthy dose of competition to the totalitarians and the fascists across the globe.

Amongst the group members will also develop mechanisms that will allow the Democracies to rise up to the highest grouping by enhancing their own Democratic processes at home and making contributions to the project of the Democracy abroad.

This is the objective of the Democracy Institute, for all of us who would be thrilled to be working together in order to expand Democracy; in order to raise economic opportunities for democratic states, and in order to stop the treat of war stemming from the Totalitarian states who seek to control and oppress our world.

And in God’s good time, one day — these groups of Democracies acting in unison, they will see the threatening clouds of war coming from the advancement of the fascists who always use the tools of “division and conquering” they will be stopped by our forces of Good fighting the Evil who is always bent in their hope of destroying Democracy.

We see this tragedy unfolding within our country, these Democratic United States of America, when we observe our enemies who seek to destroy us by sowing internal division, discord and internecine strife — hoping that it will lead to a civil war and our complete destruction.

We see this in many countries across the globe, where we see border incursions, criminal activities, cyber warfare and naked warfare stemming from the fascists who seek to undermine the whole project of Democracy across the globe, and not just the Democratic countries that are their daily target as they seek to satisfy their uncouth and illicit appetite for rape & pillage, for domination & division and for hate and death.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Please reach out to me if you wish to become a volunteer, and a supporter of the “DI” because in these trying times — I cant see anyone amongst us wouldn’t want to become a member of the Democracy Institute, working to save our country from totalitarianism.

And if you want to spread Democracy in our own country — join me here too:

http://www.Churchill2022.com

PPS:

Indeed, we have experienced headwinds — yet it appears that whatever event occurs, we could pause, reason, and then respond, for the good of the People and Democracy itself.

Most importantly — we should not react from emotions un-tempered by reason.

Because although our emotions or judgements may be flawed and not based on reason — we cant help ourselves but be affected seriously by them.

And in these times of trials — we are mindful that we are also based on modern evolutionary biology and thus we have “built-in” and pre-programed instincts for survival and reproduction…

Therefore, most often these emotions are not helpful in today’s environment where the stresses of life, pandemics and war, cause all of us to freeze, fight or flight.

Methinks, we have to pause before we react and apply reason and respond based on our principles, our own truth and our personal virtue.

And then we see that we solve problems instead of connecting with more issues.

Cheers

Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 15, 2022

Good Friday Peace

And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew:

“THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS”

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying: “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ “

Having said this — He breathed His last.

–Luke 23:38-46 NKJ

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Good Friday.

What a great day to recall the Good Friday back in 1989 that brought Peace to all and sundry on another Good Friday effort at Peace that I participated into diplomacy many years ago…

A diplomatic effort that brought Peace to Ireland and ended the Civil War, and so today I hope for a reprieve and a Peace Deal in Ukraine by the Grace of God.

Back in the day it was called “The Belfast Agreement” and today known as “The Good Friday Agreement,” because it was reached on Good Friday, 10 April 1998 and Peace ensued over Easter…

May we hope for some kind of miracle by the time Orthodox Easter arrives next week in Ukraine?

Let us pray for PEACE and may God Bless all of the people affected by this conflict…

Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 14, 2022

This New Book of mine is your Gift today…

For the next five days you can read my latest Book SOCRATES for free.

In return I only ask that you write a Good Karma review:

Go ahead and read it here (during the next five days is free for You) at the “Kindle by Amazon” site or their Mobile App: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XSDWFB3

Of course you can buy the hard cover or the digital and the paperback book as well.

Read, enjoy and give me your comments herewith — yet please do not forget to write a review for this New Book at the Amazon site of the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XSDWFB3

Thank You

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

If you are moved to write a review — please keep to the ideas of karma and positive thought because we all hope for more positive energy and hope in this world.

Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 14, 2022

An Old Book…

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. ~Aldous Huxley

(Book: Brave New World https://amzn.to/3KIFbEy)

Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 14, 2022

Celebrate Life, Close your eyes, Fall in love and Stay there…

I am going to be blunt with you because if we all live a little longer — we will celebrate life together, and if not, then curtains it is.

Yet, because I’m mostly optimistic about our future even as we face headwinds that might scupper our chances for a reprieve from this awful malaise we are traipsing through right now — I hope and pray for us.

Having said that — I must admit that I am also moderately optimistic about our Peace, because the prospects of a stalemate victory in the war in Ukraine right now are not so good.

After all the carnage and the bloodshed — we are drawing to an end by default.

Think of it…

God, what a world.

What a heartbreak.

What a bloody freak show this has been.

Years of crises and hurt, and we are all still here moaning about tomorrow.

This is completely ruining all of our carefully crafted plans.

We are bereft of hope, and since I was going to celebrate our Age of Peace at the end of the pandemic through the grace of God, and that had given me the perspective that almost everything sorts itself out in the end.

But now all that is upended.

Because at the tail end of the pandemic — Ukraine erupted upon us when the war started, and although I was hoping that good will, decency, charity and love always conspire to bring light into the darkest corners, eventually that proved to be a bridge too far.

Then again for a moment in time, the coming of the crucifixion of Jesus, seemed like a big win for the Romans, and so seems the crucifixion of Ukraine, a temporal victory for Russia.

But like everything else — all is not what it seems to be. Same as humans who forget that turning older, maturer and wiser, not only means that you weren’t born yesterday and you’ve lived through hell and hight water, but it also means that you’ve seen all the horrors of war, all the awfulness of man, you’ve seen dear friends literally ravaged by cancer, you’ve lost children, you’ve Mother and Lover, and you still live on, shaken to the core in a series of unspeakable losses. I’ve even suffered assassination attempts that went unpunished, my dog died, my love is gone…

Really, to not just use theological terms — God Help Me because it is just too frigging much.

And by now, regrettably, I am seriously uninterested in a vigorous debate about the existence of God or evil, or even a pep talk.

So where does that leave me?

Glad you asked, because the answer is simple.

A few very best friends with whom you can share your truth. That’s the main thing. By now, you know that the whole system of our lives works because we are not all nuts on the same day.

You call someone and tell them that you hate everyone and all of life, and they will be glad you called.

They felt that way three days ago and you helped them pull out of it by making them laugh over a cup of tea. You took them for a walk, and laughed together.

Also, besides our friends, getting outside and looking up and around changes us: remember, you can trap bees on the bottom of Mason jars with a bit of honey and without a lid, because they don’t look up. They just walk around bitterly bumping into the glass walls. That is all of us.

All we have to do is look up and fly away. So we look up. In all of my years on this earth — I have never seen a boring sky. I have never felt blasé about the moon, the birdsong, or white pages needing to be filled with my writing.

This spring it is a crazy drunken world having a fiesta just outside our windows now, and its almost too much beauty and renewal to take in.

The world is warming up.

Well, how does appreciating spring can help the people of Ukraine?

If we believe in chaos theory, and the butterfly effect, that the flapping of a Monarch’s wings near my home can lead to a weather change in Tokyo, then maybe noticing beauty — flapping our wings with amazement, changes everything in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

It means goodness is quantum.

Even to help the small world helps.

Even prayer, which seems to do nothing — means everything to the world at large.

And because everything is connected — we are here together now.

But quantum is perhaps a little esoteric in our current condition. Well, mine: I’m sure you’re just fine, because I think infinitely less esoteric stuff now, but much more abstract.

Probably best to have both feet on the ground, ogle the daffodils, take a sack of canned good over to the food pantry, and pick up trash, because this helps our insides enormously.

This next Sunday I will celebrate the absolutely astonishing miracle that I was even born. As Fredrick Buechner wrote, “The grace of God means something like, Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”

I will celebrate that I have shelter a family, and good friends and I can have warm socks because I’ve got feet to put into them, and that God found a way to turn the madness, the pain, the loss — all into Grace.

So come Sunday — I’ll shake my head with wonder, which I do more and more as I age, and look bright eyed at all the beauty that is left in this world, and all that still works, after so much has been taken away.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

So celebrate life with me now.

Step outside and let your mouth drop open looking at the beauty.

Feed the poor with me, locally or, if you want to buy me something, please make a donation to UNICEF instead.

Do this and I will invite you to my party because it will not be the same without you.

So,

“Close your eyes, fall in love, and stay there.”

–Rumi

Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 12, 2022

The rubble over the Ruble….

The Russian ruble has completely recovered from the drop suffered from the Ukraine war related sanctions imposed by the West, because people are buying it and using it as a storehouse of energy, value and gold trading proxy.

But what is it about the ruble that has attracted the attention of the world?

And can the Ruble threaten to dethrone the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world?

If the answer to the above question is NO – then why are the financial markets raining cash to the exits?

On March 25th when Russia began buying gold from banks at a fixed price of 5,000 rubles (roughly $61) per 1 gram, it effectively created a gold-based exchange rate of 81 rubles to $1 and helped support the Russian currency at that time against freefall.

Now, that the Central Bank of Russia has officially tied the Russian ruble to gold as of March 28th of 2022 — the Ruble has seen its highest value during this year of instability.

The rate is 5,000 rubles per gram of gold ingots.
There are 28 grams in each ounce 28 grams for 5,000 rubles per gram is 140,000 rubles.

Are you following me this far?

The conversion rate of rubles into US dollar is 100 rubles, 90 pounds, for each US dollar.

If the rubles are tied to gold at 5000 rubles per gram, and there are 28 grams per ounce, which means that an ounce of gold would cost 140,000 rubles, then the conversion into US dollars means that gold costs 1400 dollars per ounce when used the rubles, instead of 1,928 dollars by ounce using the dollars.

If seen from the perspective of a financial market FOREX trader — Russia just wiped out about 30 percent (30%) of the US dollar value worldwide, when it comes to the market for gold ingots.

Because right now it seems to me that people all over the world are literally throwing their money on the Ruble exchanges and liquidating dollars and euros in order to do this.

And thus it seems that what Russia just did, is the financial equivalent of detonating a nuclear bomb in the financial and Forex markets.

Let me explain why this is worrisome for some.

Since, the Central Bank of Russia anchored the ruble to gold as a follow-up action to the Sanctions and the Western recourses of the war in Ukraine — the game has thickened with the Ruble gaining an all time high value.

Then it came to pass that last week, Russia said it would sell OIL and GAS only in . . . . Ruble

This means that Russian oil and gas are anchored in gold with rubles acting like a gold proxy currency.

Since Europe, badly needs Russian oil & gas — will now have to pay for its supplies by either buying rubles from Russia using gold, or paying for the oil and gas with gold itself — we now have in effect a new balance of payments.

Currently, the FOREX rate for Ruble to Dollar is around 100:1

But … with 5,000 Rubles now equivalent to a gram of Gold, and oil being priced directly into Gold, we will see a massive price disturbance in the FOREX markets, in terms of how much Gold a Dollar can still buy.

Treasuries of foreign countries, central banks, and corporates, holding T-bills, and dollar denominated U.S. debt, as well as U.S. notes as Reserve Currency — will see an immediate loss and will start using much less Reserve Currency Dollars, and will start unloading them in favour of something more stable, or something that holds its value better and longer term.

Because at this point — basically, any currency anchored in gold will fit into their account, whereas other fiat currencies will not.

This means countries like Japan, India and China – will start unloading their dollar debt as soon as possible, since they are not willing to go down with the Mothership in this battle of the Titans.

And maybe they will move to more stable values like Gold and Cash …

And obviously cash supported by Gold is King.

Yet, the only one world currency that has this is…

The Ruble.

So, when the Bank of Russia, the country’s central bank, surprisingly announced a fixed price for buying gold with Rubles, with a price of RUB5,000 (£45.12) for a gram of gold — this to my knowledge is the first time that a nation’s currency has been expressed in “gold parity” since Switzerland decided to stop doing so back in 1999. 

Enacting gold parity was common practice by the world’s major powers for facilitating international trade payments in the era of the gold standard in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The same was true in a slightly different way during the Bretton Woods era from 1944 until 1971, which was when US President Nixon decided to end the system by removing the link between gold and the US dollar. 

Putin’s new arrangement is envisaged, initially, to hold from March 28 to June 30. It is the latest in a series of rouble-related moves by the Russians, starting with the announcement on March 23 that they would only accept Rubles for European gas instead of euros and US dollars, seemed to me that Russia would at least extend this policy to oil, but it has gone further and signaled an intention to make it apply to all the commodities it exports (others include wheat, nickel, aluminum, enriched uranium and neon). 

The main goal of these moves is to try to ensure the credibility of the rouble by making it more desirable in the forex market, though it also fits into longstanding attempts by Russia and China to weaken the US dollar’s dominance as global reserve currency (meaning it’s the currency in which most international goods are priced and which most central banks hold in their foreign reserves). 

As one can see in the chart below, the rouble collapsed in late February and early March when western sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (the collapse looks like a rise in the chart because it’s showing the number of roubles to the US dollar rather than the other way around). 

Rouble/USD chart

RUBUSD chart
Trading View

After the big drop, the Ruble recovered somewhat, which is typical in such situations (known in the literature as “exchange-rate overshooting”). However, the currency strengthened further after the roubles-for-gas announcement (no matter how serious or implementable the plan actually is – so far, there has been resistance to Putin’s new rules). 

On the back of the gold announcement, the currency has continued to strengthen to about RUB83 to the dollar. As precious metals go — this makes sense if you reflect that the market price of a gram of gold is currently about US$62 (£47.20). That’s fairly close to Putin’s announcement that 1 gram of gold equals RUB5,000, which effectively creates a gold-based exchange rate of RUB81 to US$1. 

Previous gold-based systems

To give a sense of the similarities with the gold standard and the Bretton Woods system, let me draw a historical parallel. The UK’s Coinage Act of 1816 fixed the value of the pound sterling to 113 grains of pure gold, while the US Gold Standard Act of 1900determined that the dollar should maintain a value of 23.22 grains of pure gold. Taken together, the two acts implied an official gold parity exchange rate of £1 = US$4.87. 

It was similar during the post-war Bretton Woods era: 1 ounce of gold was said to be worth US$35, and all other currencies were fixed to and convertible into the US dollar. Gold was at the centre of the system as a way of making money credible. 

No more free-floating rouble…

Of course, attaching the Ruble to a gold standard comes with certain “rules of the game” that Russia will have to abide by. It should be willing to exchange gold for roubles with anyone who wants to do so. 

This was what the US did during the Bretton Woods era, and it led to the system’s demise: with US expenditure rising to wage the Vietnam war, dollar holders became increasingly nervous about the dollar’s value and sought to exchange it for gold. 

Nixon’s unilateral decision to end convertibility was for fear that the US would run out of gold, which would have destroyed the credibility of the dollar. Since that decision, the world has moved to a system of floating exchange rates and the price of gold has steadily risen as world currencies have become weaker in relation to it. The system has effectively been supported by a deal that the Americans struck in the early 1970s to buy oil from the Saudis and give them military support in exchange for the Saudis using the dollars to buy US government bonds. 

Gold price (US$/ounce)

Gold price chart
Gold Hub

The problem for Russia is that if it is willing to exchange roubles for gold, it could soon end up in a similar situation to the US circa 1971. Wars are an abnormal state of affairs which come with huge uncertainty: no reliable forecasts are possible, and markets are liable to overreact to new developments – particularly in the short term. If confidence in the rouble falls again, many investors might decide to withdraw gold from the central bank, which could be extremely destabilising for Moscow. 

The viability of Russia maintaining a fixed rate of roubles for gold is closely related to what happens to demand for Russian energy. If the west can only slowly substitute away from its dependence on Russia’s oil and gas, then demand for roubles will help to keep the currency propped up (especially if the west does end up paying in roubles). 

But if politicians listen to economists and immediately stop importing Russian gas, oil and other commodities, the rouble could fall dramatically – along with the whole Russian economy. As much as this would cause a further spike in prices and pain all round, it may be the most efficient and perhaps even safest way to induce Russia to stop the war.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Since Russia has put its currency on the gold standard — it basically declared the Ruble a hard gold substitute at a fixed exchange rate.

Now, everyone is looking at it, because when a currency is backed by gold rather than the US dollar — it might be seen as becoming more stable and maybe a bit stronger.

As for Russia, with a strong ruble backed by gold — Putin would simply be in a position to insist on payment for Russian commodities in rubles.

So, each time any European country pays Russia in Rubles or gold — it will simply end up strengthening the Ruble’s position even more.

Apparently, with this latest move, the rubble over the Ruble is not over by any means, but a stable currency for Russia means that good things might start to happen soonest.

The ongoing Russian war against Ukraine is a human tragedy on multiple levels, because not only is a devastation on a personal level, since so many Ukrainian people have lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes, their jobs, and their freedoms because of it — but also because half the country has become refugees and the European continent is rocked as a consequence with its economy being destroyed and its energy landscape looking increasingly like roadkill.

Still, on a geostrategic level, all Western Liberal Democracies and their leaders, should have opened their eyes, as their previous assumptions regarding foreign policy and defense strategies related to deterring Russia, have all been upended right now.

Not all of our efforts at Security and Stability in Europe have gone pear shaped though — because to its credit, NATO had moved ahead and deployed a single battalion in each one of the three Baltic states, as well as Poland as a signal of its commitment two years after Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.

Yet, if in February Russia had attacked northwest into the Baltics on short warning, instead of going south into Ukraine — then NATO would not have been able to defend anything and thus would not be able to deny Russian objectives, nor being able to prevent a rapid “fait accompli” that would have brought all these countries back under the Russian yoke.

And in that fantastic scenario, we all lose, because, if that had been the case — the American president and all the NATO leaders would have faced a terrible choice to make, by choosing to accept wholesale defeat, and then rely entirely on sanctions and obedience to the Russian bear, in order to ease back into a working future, or escalate the battlefield destruction with tactical and strategic theatre nuclear weapons, because it would take months to deploy forces and logistics to launch a successful counteroffensive.

Thus in the face of the multitude of Russian divisions literally “walking through” Ukraine’s territory uninhibited, and also followed by threats of Russian nuclear escalation meant to discourage NATO’s resolve to follow through with strategic deterrence — we are already toast and we know it.

And this must be a wake up call for all of us, because the current situation proves that projecting the POWER of defending NATO allies stoutly and effectively on their own territorial ground — is the best weapon in order to deter aggression in the first place. This we all know to be true that FORCE PROJECTION, is a much more credible, cheaper and effective strategy, than pursuing a defensive war, and perhaps losing it, and subsequently hoping for a bloody liberation campaign, after the capitulation of all of our allies in central and eastern Europe.

Indeed, defending NATO allies in order to deter aggression in the first place is a much more credible and much cheaper version of this war scenario, than any campaign to wage war and hope for a bloody liberation after the fact of “Fait Accompli” has been created with the Russian Red Army occupying all of the lands they choose to swallow.

Yet as events precipitated to this conflict, we saw that NATO lacked the political consensus necessary in order to posture the forces sufficient to avoid a rapid defeat in 2014, and onwards in 2016 and since then in 2022 and very much into the future as things seem to go belly-up and our warnings to the Liberal Democracy Leaders, go unheeded.

So I now ask this: Why was NATO only able to agree to deploy four rotational battalions, essentially only a quarter [25% percent] of the recommended as necessary forces to be able to project a strong deterrent force?

The short answer is, because of our wrong assumptions about the relationship of the West to Russia and its allies…

So, now, given the realizations brought about by the recent invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war — the United States and its NATO allies might wish to reconsider the following assumptions and arguments that were raised by various sources in the militaries, in the governments and in the academia the Western Liberal Democracies, over the last several years — not only because they are wrong, but also because when appropriate, they have very limited impact on conventional military deterrence in Europe, and in essence they accomplish the opposite of our goals by making us all look exceedingly weak and posturing instead of dominating the landscape of Central Europe that has been the scene of bloody conflict since time immemorial.

After all — we must remember these imitable words of mine when speaking at the University of War, and when I was paraphrasing both the Duke of Marlborough as well as the winsome words and thought of Winston Churchill, my grandfather — that the enemy has first to be beaten psychologically and then physically.

So here are the main wrongful “assumptions” those well sounding ass-umptions that “make an ass of both you and me.”

They are the seven main ones as follows:

1) The United States Should Not Get Involved in Any More Forever Wars

The assumption here is that the United States and NATO should avoid direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine due to the risk of nuclear escalation. Yet the false choice between extremes of wanton intervention and excessive restraint often ignores defensive deterrence as a rational alternative to prevent war and promote prosperity.

2) A Major War in Europe or Asia Will Not Happen Because of Economic Interdependence

This assumption seems to be confirmation bias, namely believing that dictators would make similar calculations about costs and benefits as democratically elected leaders. Dictators have a surprising risk tolerance and may prioritize strategic gains above economic effects. Additionally, it’s worth noting that support for sanctions may weaken the longer Western citizens suffer because of the effects of these sanctions on shared finance, energy, and supply chains.

3) Basing NATO Ground Forces in Poland and the Baltics Is a Provocative Threat to Russia

There is no political will or military capability in NATO to invade Russia, and Putin knows it. If NATO were to station three brigades to reinforce deterrence in the Baltics, then Russia would still defend at a 10:1 advantage, well above a doctrinal 1:3 ratio for a successful defense. Russian nuclear weapons still make the costs of invading the Russian motherland infinitely greater than any benefits. The excessive fear about provoking Russia with modest ground forces reflects either a diplomatic hope that Putin (who has increasingly behaved as a lying, murdering, war-starting dictator) will negotiate in good faith, or a smokescreen to conceal NATO members’ reluctance to resource readiness and move forces from local districts to Eastern Europe.

4) Russia Will Never Attack NATO Because of Article V

The NATO treaty’s Article V, that says that an attack on one member is an attack on all — is only effective when backed up by joint forces. Naturally these joint forces have to have been trained and ready to defend on day one, of any Russian attack, and of course not being thousands of miles away and many months of preparation and training away from the frontline fight with the advancing enemy forces. Even if Russia were to be defeated in Ukraine, it would seem irresponsible to assume a resulting drift, into another “end of history.”

Because for as long as Russian leaders fear the Western Liberal Democracies and their democratic values, fear their defining & conflicting interests, reject the global safety and security Status Quo, and reject the current “Rules based Peaceful World” and have the immense remaining Soviet style nukes and their Slavic propensity and Russian ingenuity coupled with their incredible engineering capacities to wage war — it seems foolish & rather dangerous to assume that a Russian war will never happen, and as a result we leave the Central European & the Eastern flank of NATO fully exposed and vulnerable to any penetrative battle and sudden attack during a simmering conflict such as Ukraine has been for a few decades already.

5) NATO Can Deter Russia with Airpower; Stationing Ground Forces in Eastern Europe Is Unnecessary

The airpower “hammer” needs a ground “anvil” working together as a joint team. Otherwise, Russian forces could quickly seize objectives and “go to ground” in restricted terrain and cities, raising NATO concerns about civilian casualties. Ukraine has 44 million people and 200,000 soldiers who fought hard to defend and delay the Russian advance. The Baltic States have only 6.2 million people and 22,000 soldiers who could be overrun more easily. It is unrealistic to assume the Baltic states could defeat Russian aggression on the ground while NATO enjoys relative safety with stand-off attacks in the air.

6) The United States Should Cooperate with Russia in a ‘Reverse Kissinger’ Strategy Against China

This theory (i.e., counterbalancing) has been repeatedly contradicted by an ugly fact: The Russian graduates of the KGB School of Government do not agree. The price Putin has demanded in exchange for Russian cooperation is exorbitant: withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe, leaving allies exposed to coercion or invasion. The benefits of Russian cooperation are suspect. Will Russia redeploy its Western forces to the Chinese border? Will Russia halt energy exports and impose sanctions? Will Russia attack China if it invades Taiwan? That doesn’t seem likely. Genuine Russian cooperation to contain China seems unlikely to happen until genuine Russian democracy allows for a reduction in tensions with the West, or when China presents a direct threat to Russia. Neither scenario seems realistic in the near or even distant future.

7) The United States Should Leave European Security to the Europeans in Order to Focus Defense Strategy and Spending on China

As China becomes a superpower seeking to dominate Asia and exercise global influence, it is true Americans can no longer care more about European security than the Europeans. But at the very least, the United States has vital interests at stake when the failure to deter Russian aggression against NATO allies risks nuclear escalation in Europe. Credible deterrence does not require anything close to Cold War force levels—just one allied corps instead of eight might suffice. The American forces already exist; were the decision made to do so, three armored brigades are just based on the wrong side of the Atlantic. The European forces also already largely exist; they are just not trained, equipped, and ready. If the United States wants to achieve a “stable and predictable” security environment in Europe to focus on China, there are more-effective and available options worth considering.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

It is obvious that Russia has invalidated the 1997 NATO – Russia Foreign Relations agreement, with its large-scale invasion of Ukraine, and thus it has unilaterally & fundamentally altered the security environment in Europe. FYI: On May 14, NATO Secretary General Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Primakov announced agreement on the text of the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation,” creating a new relationship between the Alliance and Russia. And now because of the Ukraine war instigated by Russia — NATO is now free to respond accordingly, and of course it is required to move and to base its strategic forces in Central-Eastern Europe. For its part, the United States ought to consider basing the V Corps headquarters, the 1st Armored Division, and supporting enablers in Poland, whereas the NATO allies, could consider growing the battalions in the Baltics to three full brigades.

NATO also would likely need prepositioned equipment stocks to deploy follow-on forces by air, and logistics to sustain joint operations, especially more anti-armor munitions. NATO could also decide to modernize its sensor-shooter systems so targeting data from stealth aircraft, unmanned systems, and special forces can be rapidly sent to Army precision rocket fires before mobile systems can “shoot and scoot.”

Making sure the West is ready to defend and thus deter a larger war that must never be fought is a critically important task.

States often begin wars when they do not accept the status quo and are optimistic they can gain more (or lose less) by fighting than by negotiating. Authoritarian leaders, fearing freedom will lead to democratic change that will weaken or overthrow their regimes, have always sought to crush internal dissent and/or attempt to dominate a regional sphere of influence. These sources of conflict have not changed: Their existence preceded the February 24 invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military.

When the consequences of miscalculation and escalation are so devastating, as we currently see unfolding in Ukraine, it is of primary importance to make sure that not only we are ready to defend our allies and win regional battles, but we must project a Real Forceful & Victorious Coalition of troops, in order to be able to proactively deter a larger war that must never be fought.

Again this type of Detente, is a critically important task worthy of our attention as is the necessary reexamination of all of our assumptions, because it is these ass-umptions that make an Ass out of You and Me in times of Peace and in times of War alike.

PPS:

For your information here is the Russia and NATO founding act and can be found in its entirety here: https://www.nato.int/cps/su/natohq/official_texts_25468.htm

Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation. [Signed in Paris, France on May 14th of 1997]
  • 27 May. 1997

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its member States, on the one hand, and the Russian Federation, on the other hand, hereinafter referred to as NATO and Russia, based on an enduring political commitment undertaken at the highest political level, will build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security.

NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation. The present Act reaffirms the determination of NATO and Russia to give concrete substance to their shared commitment to build a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, whole and free, to the benefit of all its peoples. Making this commitment at the highest political level marks the beginning of a fundamentally new relationship between NATO and Russia. They intend to develop, on the basis of common interest, reciprocity and transparency a strong, stable and enduring partnership.

This Act defines the goals and mechanism of consultation, cooperation, joint decision-making and joint action that will constitute the core of the mutual relations between NATO and Russia.

NATO has undertaken a historic transformation — a process that will continue. In 1991 the Alliance revised its strategic doctrine to take account of the new security environment in Europe. Accordingly, NATO has radically reduced and continues the adaptation of its conventional and nuclear forces. While preserving the capability to meet the commitments undertaken in the Washington Treaty, NATO has expanded and will continue to expand its political functions, and taken on new missions of peacekeeping and crisis management in support of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), such as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to address new security challenges in close association with other countries and international organisations. NATO is in the process of developing the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance. It will continue to develop a broad and dynamic pattern of cooperation with OSCE participating States in particular through the Partnership for Peace and is working with Partner countries on the initiative to establish a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. NATO member States have decided to examine NATO’s Strategic Concept to ensure that it is fully consistent with Europe’s new security situation and challenges.

Russia is continuing the building of a democratic society and the realisation of its political and economic transformation. It is developing the concept of its national security and revising its military doctrine to ensure that they are fully consistent with new security realities. Russia has carried out deep reductions in its armed forces, has withdrawn its forces on an unprecedented scale from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries and withdrawn all its nuclear weapons back to its own national territory. Russia is committed to further reducing its conventional and nuclear forces. It is actively participating in peacekeeping operations in support of the UN and the OSCE, as well as in crisis management in different areas of the world. Russia is contributing to the multinational forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I. Principles

Proceeding from the principle that the security of all states in the Euro-Atlantic community is indivisible, NATO and Russia will work together to contribute to the establishment in Europe of common and comprehensive security based on the allegiance to shared values, commitments and norms of behaviour in the interests of all states. NATO and Russia will help to strengthen the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including developing further its role as a primary instrument in preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict rehabilitation and regional security cooperation, as well as in enhancing its operational capabilities to carry out these tasks. The OSCE, as the only pan-European security organisation, has a key role in European peace and stability. In strengthening the OSCE, NATO and Russia will cooperate to prevent any possibility of returning to a Europe of division and confrontation, or the isolation of any state.

Consistent with the OSCE’s work on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century, and taking into account the decisions of the Lisbon Summit concerning a Charter on European security, NATO and Russia will seek the widest possible cooperation among participating States of the OSCE with the aim of creating in Europe a common space of security and stability, without dividing lines or spheres of influence limiting the sovereignty of any state.

NATO and Russia start from the premise that the shared objective of strengthening security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area for the benefit of all countries requires a response to new risks and challenges, such as aggressive nationalism, proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, terrorism, persistent abuse of human rights and of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and unresolved territorial disputes, which pose a threat to common peace, prosperity and stability.

This Act does not affect, and cannot be regarded as affecting, the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for maintaining international peace and security, or the role of the OSCE as the inclusive and comprehensive organisation for consultation, decision-making and cooperation in its area and as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.

In implementing the provisions in this Act, NATO and Russia will observe in good faith their obligations under international law and international instruments, including the obligations of the United Nations Charter and the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as well as their commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and subsequent OSCE documents, including the Charter of Paris and the documents adopted at the Lisbon OSCE Summit.

To achieve the aims of this Act, NATO and Russia will base their relations on a shared commitment to the following principles:

  • development, on the basis of transparency, of a strong, stable, enduring and equal partnership and of cooperation to strengthen security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area;
  • acknowledgement of the vital role that democracy, political pluralism, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and civil liberties and the development of free market economies play in the development of common prosperity and comprehensive security;
  • refraining from the threat or use of force against each other as well as against any other state, its sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and with the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations Between Participating States contained in the Helsinki Final Act;
  • respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security, the inviolability of borders and peoples’ right of self-determination as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents;
  • mutual transparency in creating and implementing defence policy and military doctrines;
  • prevention of conflicts and settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with UN and OSCE principles;
  • support, on a case-by-case basis, of peacekeeping operations carried out under the authority of the UN Security Council or the responsibility of the OSCE. 

II. Mechanism for Consultation and Cooperation, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council

To carry out the activities and aims provided for by this Act and to develop common approaches to European security and to political problems, NATO and Russia will create the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. The central objective of this Permanent Joint Council will be to build increasing levels of trust, unity of purpose and habits of consultation and cooperation between NATO and Russia, in order to enhance each other’s security and that of all nations in the Euro-Atlantic area and diminish the security of none. If disagreements arise, NATO and Russia will endeavour to settle them on the basis of goodwill and mutual respect within the framework of political consultations.

The Permanent Joint Council will provide a mechanism for consultations, coordination and, to the maximum extent possible, where appropriate, for joint decisions and joint action with respect to security issues of common concern. The consultations will not extend to internal matters of either NATO, NATO member States or Russia.

The shared objective of NATO and Russia is to identify and pursue as many opportunities for joint action as possible. As the relationship develops, they expect that additional opportunities for joint action will emerge.

The Permanent Joint Council will be the principal venue of consultation between NATO and Russia in times of crisis or for any other situation affecting peace and stability. Extraordinary meetings of the Council will take place in addition to its regular meetings to allow for prompt consultations in case of emergencies. In this context, NATO and Russia will promptly consult within the Permanent Joint Council in case one of the Council members perceives a threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security.

The activities of the Permanent Joint Council will be built upon the principles of reciprocity and transparency. In the course of their consultations and cooperation, NATO and Russia will inform each other regarding the respective security-related challenges they face and the measures that each intends to take to address them.

Provisions of this Act do not provide NATO or Russia, in any way, with a right of veto over the actions of the other nor do they infringe upon or restrict the rights of NATO or Russia to independent decision-making and action. They cannot be used as a means to disadvantage the interests of other states.

The Permanent Joint Council will meet at various levels and in different forms, according to the subject matter and the wishes of NATO and Russia. The Permanent Joint Council will meet at the level of Foreign Ministers and at the level of Defence Ministers twice annually, and also monthly at the level of ambassadors/permanent representatives to the North Atlantic Council.

The Permanent Joint Council may also meet, as appropriate, at the level of Heads of State and Government.

The Permanent Joint Council may establish committees or working groups for individual subjects or areas of cooperation on an ad hoc or permanent basis, as appropriate.

Under the auspices of the Permanent Joint Council, military representatives and Chiefs of Staff will also meet; meetings of Chiefs of Staff will take place no less than twice a year, and also monthly at military representatives level. Meetings of military experts may be convened, as appropriate.

The Permanent Joint Council will be chaired jointly by the Secretary General of NATO, a representative of one of the NATO member States on a rotation basis, and a representative of Russia.

To support the work of the Permanent Joint Council, NATO and Russia will establish the necessary administrative structures.

Russia will establish a Mission to NATO headed by a representative at the rank of Ambassador. A senior military representative and his staff will be part of this Mission for the purposes of the military cooperation. NATO retains the possibility of establishing an appropriate presence in Moscow, the modalities of which remain to be determined.

The agenda for regular sessions will be established jointly. Organisational arrangements and rules of procedure for the Permanent Joint Council will be worked out. These arrangements will be in place for the inaugural meeting of the Permanent Joint Council which will be held no later than four months after the signature of this Act.

The Permanent Joint Council will engage in three distinct activities:

  • consulting on the topics in Section III of this Act and on any other political or security issue determined by mutual consent;
  • on the basis of these consultations, developing joint initiatives on which NATO and Russia would agree to speak or act in parallel;
  • once consensus has been reached in the course of consultation, making joint decisions and taking joint action on a case-by-case basis, including participation, on an equitable basis, in the planning and preparation of joint operations, including peacekeeping operations under the authority of the UN Security Council or the responsibility of the OSCE.

Any actions undertaken by NATO or Russia, together or separately, must be consistent with the United Nations Charter and the OSCE’s governing principles.

Recognizing the importance of deepening contacts between the legislative bodies of the participating States to this Act, NATO and Russia will also encourage expanded dialogue and cooperation between the North Atlantic Assembly and the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

III. Areas for Consultation and Cooperation

In building their relationship, NATO and Russia will focus on specific areas of mutual interest. They will consult and strive to cooperate to the broadest possible degree in the following areas:

  • issues of common interest related to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area or to concrete crises, including the contribution of NATO and Russia to security and stability in this area;
  • conflict prevention, including preventive diplomacy, crisis management and conflict resolution taking into account the role and responsibility of the UN and the OSCE and the work of these organisations in these fields;
  • joint operations, including peacekeeping operations, on a case-by-case basis, under the authority of the UN Security Council or the responsibility of the OSCE, and if Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) are used in such cases, participation in them at an early stage;
  • participation of Russia in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace;
  • exchange of information and consultation on strategy, defence policy, the military doctrines of NATO and Russia, and budgets and infrastructure development programmes;
  • arms control issues;
  • nuclear safety issues, across their full spectrum;
  • preventing the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and their delivery means, combatting nuclear trafficking and strengthening cooperation in specific arms control areas, including political and defence aspects of proliferation;
  • possible cooperation in Theatre Missile Defence;
  • enhanced regional air traffic safety, increased air traffic capacity and reciprocal exchanges, as appropriate, to promote confidence through increased measures of transparency and exchanges of information in relation to air defence and related aspects of airspace management/control. This will include exploring possible cooperation on appropriate air defence related matters;
  • increasing transparency, predictability and mutual confidence regarding the size and roles of the conventional forces of member States of NATO and Russia;
  • reciprocal exchanges, as appropriate, on nuclear weapons issues, including doctrines and strategy of NATO and Russia;
  • coordinating a programme of expanded cooperation between respective military establishments, as further detailed below;
  • pursuing possible armaments-related cooperation through association of Russia with NATO’s Conference of National Armaments Directors;
  • conversion of defence industries;
  • developing mutually agreed cooperative projects in defence-related economic, environmental and scientific fields;
  • conducting joint initiatives and exercises in civil emergency preparedness and disaster relief;
  • combatting terrorism and drug trafficking;
  • improving public understanding of evolving relations between NATO and Russia, including the establishment of a NATO documentation centre or information office in Moscow.

Other areas can be added by mutual agreement.

IV. Political-Military Matters

NATO and Russia affirm their shared desire to achieve greater stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The member States of NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy – and do not foresee any future need to do so. This subsumes the fact that NATO has decided that it has no intention, no plan, and no reason to establish nuclear weapon storage sites on the territory of those members, whether through the construction of new nuclear storage facilities or the adaptation of old nuclear storage facilities. Nuclear storage sites are understood to be facilities specifically designed for the stationing of nuclear weapons, and include all types of hardened above or below ground facilities (storage bunkers or vaults) designed for storing nuclear weapons.

Recognising the importance of the adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) for the broader context of security in the OSCE area and the work on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century, the member States of NATO and Russia will work together in Vienna with the other States Parties to adapt the CFE Treaty to enhance its viability and effectiveness, taking into account Europe’s changing security environment and the legitimate security interests of all OSCE participating States. They share the objective of concluding an adaptation agreement as expeditiously as possible and, as a first step in this process, they will, together with other States Parties to the CFE Treaty, seek to conclude as soon as possible a framework agreement setting forth the basic elements of an adapted CFE Treaty, consistent with the objectives and principles of the Document on Scope and Parameters agreed at Lisbon in December 1996.

NATO and Russia believe that an important goal of CFE Treaty adaptation should be a significant lowering in the total amount of Treaty-Limited Equipment permitted in the Treaty’s area of application compatible with the legitimate defence requirements of each State Party. NATO and Russia encourage all States Parties to the CFE Treaty to consider reductions in their CFE equipment entitlements, as part of an overall effort to achieve lower equipment levels that are consistent with the transformation of Europe’s security environment.

The member States of NATO and Russia commit themselves to exercise restraint during the period of negotiations, as foreseen in the Document on Scope and Parameters, in relation to the current postures and capabilities of their conventional armed forces – in particular with respect to their levels of forces and deployments – in the Treaty’s area of application, in order to avoid developments in the security situation in Europe diminishing the security of any State Party. This commitment is without prejudice to possible voluntary decisions by the individual States Parties to reduce their force levels or deployments, or to their legitimate security interests.

The member States of NATO and Russia proceed on the basis that adaptation of the CFE Treaty should help to ensure equal security for all States Parties irrespective of their membership of a politico-military alliance, both to preserve and strengthen stability and continue to prevent any destabilizing increase of forces in various regions of Europe and in Europe as a whole. An adapted CFE Treaty should also further enhance military transparency by extended information exchange and verification, and permit the possible accession by new States Parties.

The member States of NATO and Russia propose to other CFE States Parties to carry out such adaptation of the CFE Treaty so as to enable States Parties to reach, through a transparent and cooperative process, conclusions regarding reductions they might be prepared to take and resulting national Treaty-Limited Equipment ceilings. These will then be codified as binding limits in the adapted Treaty to be agreed by consensus of all States Parties, and reviewed in 2001 and at five-year intervals thereafter. In doing so, the States Parties will take into account all the levels of Treaty-Limited Equipment established for the Atlantic-to-the-Urals area by the original CFE Treaty, the substantial reductions that have been carried out since then, the changes to the situation in Europe and the need to ensure that the security of no state is diminished.

The member States of NATO and Russia reaffirm that States Parties to the CFE Treaty should maintain only such military capabilities, individually or in conjunction with others, as are commensurate with individual or collective legitimate security needs, taking into account their international obligations, including the CFE Treaty.

Each State-Party will base its agreement to the provisions of the adapted Treaty on all national ceilings of the States Parties, on its projections of the current and future security situation in Europe.

In addition, in the negotiations on the adaptation of the CFE Treaty, the member States of NATO and Russia will, together with other States Parties, seek to strengthen stability by further developing measures to prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe.

NATO and Russia have clarified their intentions with regard to their conventional force postures in Europe’s new security environment and are prepared to consult on the evolution of these postures in the framework of the Permanent Joint Council.

NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces. Accordingly, it will have to rely on adequate infrastructure commensurate with the above tasks. In this context, reinforcement may take place, when necessary, in the event of defence against a threat of aggression and missions in support of peace consistent with the United Nations Charter and the OSCE governing principles, as well as for exercises consistent with the adapted CFE Treaty, the provisions of the Vienna Document 1994 and mutually agreed transparency measures. Russia will exercise similar restraint in its conventional force deployments in Europe.

The member States of NATO and Russia will strive for greater transparency, predictability and mutual confidence with regard to their armed forces. They will comply fully with their obligations under the Vienna Document 1994 and develop cooperation with the other OSCE participating States, including negotiations in the appropriate format, inter alia within the OSCE to promote confidence and security.

The member States of NATO and Russia will use and improve existing arms control regimes and confidence-building measures to create security relations based on peaceful cooperation.

NATO and Russia, in order to develop cooperation between their military establishments, will expand political-military consultations and cooperation through the Permanent Joint Council with an enhanced dialogue between the senior military authorities of NATO and its member States and of Russia. They will implement a programme of significantly expanded military activities and practical cooperation between NATO and Russia at all levels. Consistent with the tenets of the Permanent Joint Council, this enhanced military-to-military dialogue will be built upon the principle that neither party views the other as a threat nor seeks to disadvantage the other’s security. This enhanced military-to-military dialogue will include regularly-scheduled reciprocal briefings on NATO and Russian military doctrine, strategy and resultant force posture and will include the broad possibilities for joint exercises and training.

To support this enhanced dialogue and the military components of the Permanent Joint Council, NATO and Russia will establish military liaison missions at various levels on the basis of reciprocity and further mutual arrangements.

To enhance their partnership and ensure this partnership is grounded to the greatest extent possible in practical activities and direct cooperation, NATO’s and Russia’s respective military authorities will explore the further development of a concept for joint NATO-Russia peacekeeping operations. This initiative should build upon the positive experience of working together in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the lessons learned there will be used in the establishment of Combined Joint Task Forces.


The present Act takes effect upon the date of its signature.

NATO and Russia will take the proper steps to ensure its implementation in accordance with their procedures.

The present Act is established in two originals in the French, English and Russian language.

The Secretary General of NATO and the Government of the Russian Federation will provide the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Secretary General of the OSCE with the text of this Act with the request to circulate it to all members of their Organisations.

Posted by: Dr Churchill | March 24, 2022

Why Ukraine’s troubles are near & dear to all of us…

We have all been struggling to understand the motivations behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, without being able to assert a rationale, a logical move or the reaction to a maddening Russian resurgence.

Some of us have insisted that Russia has been inspired by some sort of “éminence grise” or a Rasputin type of intellectual figure.

Yet as always reality is not that straightforward.

Simply because there is no such “éminence grise” or a Rasputin type of modern guru that the Kremlin adheres to, but rather there is a geopolitical reality that is far more complex, and of course there are multiple ideological sources who have blessed this invasion, and the resultant war.

Surely there have been many confluent forces that have mediated to this end, such as “trusted people,” the Russian Security Council, the very many groups of high standing Russian generals and similarly worthy military advisers — who are all united in their vision of Ukraine as an orbital country that needs to be brought back into the Russo-Slavic family of nationalities and Peoples, and back within the Socio-economic and political circle of Russia and the Russian Federation of States as it always has been, because the “magnetic pull” of this ancient federation cannot be disturbed by recent world events and misalignments of power

Add to this the cult of the current Tzar “President Vladimir” who spoke about all these matters as his personal messianic vision, during his “Valdai Club” speech, and you have a really clear incentive to act boldly in regards to Ukraine as the Russian armies have already done and have accomplished all of their strategic aims within a month’s time. [Valdai is the Russian equivalent of the annual high-fallutin talking-shop of Davos Switzerland.] 

Back then in September 2021, President Vladimir Putin referenced three influential “éminence grises” or what the crass amongst you would call “Modern Rasputins” such as the religious philosopher Nikolay Berdyaev, the Soviet ethnologist Lev Gumilev, and the thinker of the White émigré community, Ivan Ilyin. Perplexingly so, Mr Putin has never given much away about his readings of Berdyaev and his approaches, but he has been quite explicit on the other two. 

Because indeed President Putin has borrowed from Gumilev his two most famous concepts.

  1. First, the common historical destiny of Eurasian peoples and Russia’s genuine multi-nationality, as opposed to Russian ethnic nationalism.
  2. Second, the idea of “passionarity” – a living force specific to each people group made up of biocosmic energy and inner force. As Putin stated in February 2021, “I believe in passionarity, in the theory of passionarity … Russia has not reached its peak. We are on the march, on the march of development…We have an infinite genetic code. It is based on the mixing of blood.” 

While Gumilev has been a commonplace reference of post-Soviet culture; Ivan Ilyin has remained much more marginal. His recent rehabilitation has been pushed by a group of reactionary thinkers and politicians who want to de-Communize Russian history.

Putin has, on several occasions, referred to Ilyin’s vision of Russia’s supposed unique destiny and the centrality of state power in Russian history. And he has certainly also noticed Ilyin’s furious hatred of Ukraine. For Ilyin, Russia’s enemies will try to pull Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit by hypocritical promotion of democratic values with the goal of making Russia disappear as a strategic opponent. As Ilyin wrote, “Ukraine is the region of Russia [sic] that is most in danger of division and conquest. Ukrainian separatism is artificial, devoid of genuine foundations. It was born from the ambition of its captainsand international military intrigue.” 

Yet to ascribe Putin’s vision of Ukraine solely to Ilyin is to fail to understand that it is commonplace for Russian thinkers to say that Ukraine is an indivisible part of Russia and one of its Achilles heels in its confrontation with the West. The ideological founding fathers of Eurasianism in the Twenties were also virulently anti-Ukrainian: the prince Pyotr Troubetzkoy denounced Ukrainian culture as “not a culture but a caricature”, and Georgy Vernasky explained that “the cultural schism [of Ukrainians and Belarusians] is only a political fiction. Historically speaking it is clear that both Ukrainians and Belarusians are branches of a unique Russian people.” This is a brotherly enmity, and one with many sources. 

Among the contemporary ideologists, Alexander Dugin is also excitedly cited by Western observers as a strong influence on Putin. And Dugin has, indeed, always been a virulent enemy of an independent Ukraine (“Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning,” he wrote in his Foundations of Geopolitics). He called for its almost complete absorption by Russia, letting just the most western regions of Ukraine remain outside Russia’s purview.  

But Dugin does not have the ear of the Kremlin. He is too radical in his formulations, too obscurely esoteric and cultivates a level of “high” intellectual references to the European far-right classics that cannot meet the needs of the Putin administration. He was one of the original promoters of a geopolitical notion of Eurasia and of Russia as a distinctive civilisation in the Nineties, but these themes became mainstream apart from and even against Dugin’s use of them in the following decades. He was never a member of any of the many co-opted civil society organisations, even if he was able to cultivate to some patrons in the military-industrial and security services circles. 

Among the other thinkers advocating for Russia’s imperial mission are two of Dugin’s patrons: the Orthodox monarchist businessman Konstantin Malofeev, who leads the Tsargrad internet channel and the Katekhon discussion group; and Bishop Tikhon, an influential figure of the Russian Orthodox Church, rumoured to be one of Putin’s confessors. 

Both men have worked together to advance a reactionary agenda in terms of “traditional values” (anti-abortion, pronatalism, militarism, cult of Byzantium as the historical role model for Russia, and heavy ideological indoctrination of younger generations) and try to get the ear of the Kremlin. Malofeev has become a central figure in Russia’s outreach to the European far-Right and aristocratic circles, while Tikhon focuses on bridging the gap between the Church and the Kremlin and ensuring their ideological convergence.

This brings us to the Moscow Patriarchate, the institutional body of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has always remained ambiguous in its stance toward Ukraine. On one hand, the Church promotes the notion of canonical territory — that is, the fact that the spiritual territory of the Church is broader than the borders of the Russian Federation and encompasses or encompassed Belarus, parts of Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. In the Church’s worldview, all Eastern Slavic nations form one historical nation with Kyiv as its spiritual cradle. The Church has preceded by a long time Putin’s embrace of the idea of Russian-Ukrainian unity as he declared in his 2021 article. But because the Patriarchate had so many of its parishes in Ukraine, it had also to recognise Ukraine’s sovereignty as a state and tried to avoid the ecclesiastical independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, though this was eventually recognised by the Constantinople Patriarchate in 2018. While we can’t be sure how genuine Putin’s religiosity is, he certainly believes that Russia’s own civilization relies on Orthodoxy as a central cultural kernel.

To this should be added the notion of “Russian World”, vividly promoted by the Church. Originally, the term was meant to promote a deterritorialized Russia, for whom the imperial territory wouldn’t matter anymore, but the notion gradually transformed to express Russia’s narrative about the mission of reuniting “Russian lands”, to which Ukraine would belong.

There are also more underground figures of influence: one of Putin’s closest friends, Yuri Kovalchuk, is known for his conservative and religious views of Russia’s greatness. Kovalchuk is one of the most secretive personalities of Putin’s inner circles, without any status in state institutions. He is the largest shareholder of one of Russia’s main banks, Rossiya; controls several major media channels and newspapers; is said to be Putin’s personal banker; he has built the president’s main palaces. Putin spent a large part of the Coonavirus lockdown with Kovalchuk, who seems to have inculcated in him the idea that history matters more than the present and that Putin needs to think of his own legacy in Russia’s long-term history. 

But even if we could pinpoint the figures who yield doctrinal influence over Putin, that won’t capture what drives him to action, because ideological worldviews are always shaped by broader cultural features than just specific readings.  

The whole Soviet culture has produced over the decades contemptuous narratives on Ukraine’s supposed lack of clear geopolitical identity, painting the region (not even a country: in Russian, Ukraine means “periphery”) as endlessly swayed between competing patrons over the course of centuries. It has cultivated the vision of a deeply entrenched Ukrainian nationalism that was never really “cleansed” of the stain of its collaborationist tendencies during the Second World War and its anti-Semitism. These tropes were part of the political toolkit of the Soviet regime, which repressed many Ukrainians in the name of their “(bourgeois) nationalism”. They were also shared on a more apolitical level through jokes about Ukrainians as “Banderovites” —Stepan Bandera being the main figure of Ukrainian nationalism and collaborationism during the war period. 

These have been updated and re-weaponised in the current memory wars that pit Russia on one side against Poland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine on the others, and which have been fought over since the turn of the Millennium. On the Russian side, these memory wars have accelerated the securitisation of history: since 2012, myriad laws have attempted to institute a historical truth of Russia as the main hero of the 1945 victory, and downplayed the Soviet-German Pact of 1939-1941 and the invasion of the Baltic states along with parts of Poland, Finland, and Romania. They have also punished any alternative remembering of the Second World War or any questioning of the legitimacy of the Soviet leaders’ decision-making.

This securitisation reached its highest level with its engraving into the Constitution, whose new 2020 amendments proclaim that the state protects the “historical truth”. Many state institutions, such as the Military Historical Society, have been playing a central role in hardening memory wars and, therefore, in feeding Vladimir Putin with narratives on Ukraine’s supposed Nazification. 

It is also worth remembering that presidents, even authoritarian or dictatorial ones, do not live outside their own society’s cultural frameworks. Putin has regularly shared the music and the films he likes to watch — Soviet spy classics and contemporary bands with a strong patriotic accent — and one can guess he is watching television.

Like many of his fellow citizens, he is thus probably saturated by political talk shows cultivating anti-Ukrainian feelings, as well as by patriotic movies celebrating the Russian Empire’s greatness and its territorial conquests. There may be no need then to look for a doctrinal text that would have inspired him, as the memory of Russia’s empire and the subordinated role of Ukrainians in it permeates so many components of Russian cultural life.

Putin’s worldview has been built up over many years, and is more shaped by his personal resentment toward the West than by any ideological influence. Readings of the classic works of Russian philosophy which insist on Russia’s historical struggle with the West, emphasise the role of Ukraine as a civilizational borderland between both, have simply reinforced his own lived experience. 

So Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine doubtlessly has a highly ideological component, but there is another side to this war coin: low-level intelligence-gathering on Ukraine. Both military advisers and security services seem to believe the war will be an easy win. And it is here that the President’s mask slips. It becomes clear that Putin is an aging and isolated authoritarian leader surrounded by advisers afraid of bringing him a realistic assessment of the likelihood of victory, thereby accelerating Russia dragging a sovereign Ukraine along with the rest of Europe towards the worst catastrophe since the Second World War.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:


In so far that Ukraine has clearly moved on in cultivating its own identity, the Russian People see this as a pivot away from older pan-slavic nationalism, and it is this multiculturalism seen as a veil or even part-justification for expansion of the Russian state, because taking over Ukraine it would create more Russian People.

Albeit of a slightly different ethnicity.

This is in some way similar to how China likes to parade its ethnic minorities in order to pretend that they aren’t subjugated by a Han-Chinese authoritarian regime. Yet, even is this is what drives Putin and undergirds our conclusion that Putin is an isolated and aging Leader — this is still the most likely explanation of this Ukrainian war tragedy

First the whole concept of nationalism is difficult to apply to this new Russian war, which is in fact a main contributor to the Ukrainian tragedy, because we believe in a nation comprising all Russian speakers, which has never in fact existed, or even the much larger historical multi-ethnic territories ruled by the Tzars.

And second, if all nationalism is toxic, then we can really make no judgements about history and governance at all…

But, to those fondly imagining a world government as the answer to this, what earthly reason do we have to think this might not be like a large China?

Or perhaps more realistically a large Afghanistan, undergoing permanent civil conflict?

At least now people can at least to a limited degree imagine or even experience the differences, as they are seen which countries are run better for the benefit of their citizens — and thus we all are able to choose icons of management and Democracy that fits our People best.

I think that Putin’s ideology is a powerful and astute tool that shows us the real reasons that lie behind this attempted subjugation of a nation of Ukraine and it reflects a real & sophisticated sociological explanation – not the only one – of key cultural forces that are causative variables for Russian aggressive growth and expansion.

Because ideas move leaders to do things, even if they are false, dangerous, etc.

As Max Weber said, to paraphrase, it may not be that ideas directly cause historical events; they are like “switchmen” that move the trains of history in certain directions.

Yet as always truth lies in between. Putin is both a visionary and a soldier/politician. His means exist to justify himself cloaked in a higher purpose, his notion of a world historical mission in which he believes. Dictators tend to do that.

Social scientists try to explain human behavior. As ethical beings, we can and should make value judgements, and the task of understanding why people do things, analyzing why they do what they do is one thing, in no way justifies, absolves, or helps their criminal enterprises.

You are simply choosing a different kind of explanatory framework.

Seeking to understand the intellectual, ideological, religious, and cultural influences on President Putin and the Russian leadership’s decision to go to war in Ukraine — you can easily reduce the “Casus Belli” to the easily seen cause of the eastward “NATO expansion.”

Yet this “Casus Belli” does not help us understand the reasons why such expansion might have activated the forces she discusses to move Putin and his acolytes to go to war. A uni-causal explanation such as you propose is simplistic, and, in your terms, “nonsense.”

President Vladimir Putin does not bear any respectable excuse, nor he can attribute any decent reasoning for his invasion of a sovereign country. In fact the general thrust of his invasion of Ukraine, is that he may be guided by irrational, or quasi-religious mystical charlatans whose theories are dangerous myths that nonetheless may be playing a role in unleashing the infamous melancholy of the Russian psyche, and their well known penchant for aggression and bloodshed at the slightest provocation.

Because indeed, there is no way to justify what Mr Putin is doing in Ukraine and it fast becoming the worldwide consensus of the Foreign Policy and Diplomatic community, as well as that of the Future Historians of these conflicts of the 21st century — that it would serve both his and his republic’s best interests — to retreat under a honorable truce and a diplomatic solution…

Feel Free to Join the Discussion:

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: