What does the bolstering of Russian forces in Ukraine mean for Russia and Ukraine? Are Putin’s orders for military call-up an admission that Russia is no longer conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
A damaged poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on the floor of a police station in Kupiansk, Ukraine, on September 26, 2022.ASHLEY CHAN / SOPA IMAGES/LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES
The war in Ukraine has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Putting to rest his own ludicrous claim that the invasion of Ukraine constitutes a “special military operation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a military call-up and staged “referendums” — votes to join Russia — have been conducted in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, there are calls for more weapons from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and even demands that Russia be removed from the United Nations Security Council. The political and military ramifications of these developments are profoundly disturbing, says Noam Chomsky in an exclusive interview for Truthout. They indicate “a plan for a long-drawn-out war of attrition.” Chomsky urges that the U.S. join the rest of the world in calling for negotiations, not because Putin can be trusted, but because negotiations are our best hope for averting disaster. There’s no certainty as to whether this process would result in peace, but as Chomsky says, “There is one and only one way to find out: Try.”
C.J. Polychroniou: Seven months after Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, the war has reached a turning point. It has come home to Russia with Putin’s call for “partial mobilization,” and annexation referendums have been staged. What does the bolstering of Russian forces in Ukraine mean for Russia and Ukraine? Are Putin’s orders for military call-up an admission that Russia is no longer conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
What has come home to Russia is unclear. There are reports of protests and forced conscription, alongside of appeals to defend Mother Russia from yet another Western invasion, which, like those [going] back to Napoleon, will be crushed. Such appeals might have resonance. Historical memories may be deep. What the outcome will be we can only guess.
From the first day, it was a criminal invasion, never a “special military operation,” but the pretense in the Kremlin is still maintained. The mobilization is unlikely to have much effect on the war for some time to come, and what kind of effect is unclear. The failures and incompetence of the Russian military have been a continuing surprise to most well-placed analysts. That may well extend to mobilization, training and supply of equipment. Any meaningful bolstering of Russian forces from these efforts is likely to be well ahead, probably after the winter months. I suppose Russia could move forces from other regions, but whether the leadership has the capability or will to do that, I don’t know.
The mobilization and referenda seem to indicate a plan for a long, drawn-out war of attrition. If the mobilization does succeed in shifting the tide of the war, that increases the risks of inducing the West to up the ante with more advanced weapons, perhaps reaching to Russia itself as President Zelenskyy has requested, so far rebuffed. It’s not hard to envision scenarios that lead on to catastrophic consequences.
That’s just the beginning. The impact of the war goes far beyond: to the millions facing starvation with the curtailing of grain and fertilizer exports, now partially relieved though there is little information about how much; and most important of all and least discussed, the sharp reversal of the limited international efforts to address the looming climate crisis, a colossal crime against humanity.
While huge resources are being wasted in destruction and the fossil fuel industries are gleefully celebrating the opening up of new fields for exploitation to poison the atmosphere even more, scientists are regularly informing us that their dire warnings have been far too conservative. Thus we have recently learned that the Middle East region, not far away from embattled Ukraine, is heating almost twice as fast as the rest of the world, with an estimated 9ºF rise by the end of the century, and that sea levels in the Eastern Mediterranean are expected to rise a meter by mid-century and up to 2.5 meters by 2100. Of course it doesn’t stop there. The consequences are almost impossible to envision.
Meanwhile the region continues to be the global center for heating the world to the brink of survivability and soon beyond. And while Israel and Lebanon may soon be sinking into the sea, they are squabbling about which will have the honor of virtually destroying both of them by producing the fossil fuels at their maritime borders, acts of lunacy duplicated around the world. Escalating the war in Ukraine in the face of such realities reaches levels of imbecility that are hard to capture in words.
Russia hopes to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine with staged referendums. Russia used this tactic before, in 2014, with the Crimean status referendum, although the two situations may be quite different. The voting in the Russian-held Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine is clearly illegal under international law, but I suppose this hardly matters to a power that has launched a criminal invasion against an independent country. What does Russia hope to achieve with the “referendums”? And what happens next, especially since Russia has had a difficult time so far establishing order in the occupied territories?
The referenda in this case lack any credibility. It was different in the case of the Crimea referendum in 2014. For one thing, the Russian takeover of Crimea didn’t happen in a vacuum. For another, there’s reason to suppose that Crimeans looked to Russia more than to Ukraine. Though the referenda were not internationally accepted, it was recognized by many that the results were not very surprising. That’s not the case with the current referenda.
Like the mobilization, the staged referenda indicate Russian plans for long-time occupation and a war of attrition. Though they clearly pose another impediment for negotiations over the fate of the regions where they take place, they may not completely close the window, as Anatol Lieven discusses.
It’s true that international law means as little to Russia as to the other great powers that launch criminal invasions against independent countries, the U.S. well in the lead. With impunity, thanks to its power.
What does Russia hope to achieve? As we’ve discussed, there are two ways to approach this question.
One way is to explore the depths of Putin’s mind, as George W. Bush did when he looked into Putin’s eyes, saw his “soul,” and pronounced it good. And as many amateur psychologists do today, with supreme confidence.
A second way is to look at what Putin and his associates are saying. As in the case of other leaders, this may or may not reflect their hidden intentions. What matters, however, is that what they say can be a basis for negotiations if there is any interest in bringing the horrors to an end before they get even worse. That’s how diplomacy works.
The second way suggests that what Russia hopes to achieve is primarily neutralization of Ukraine and “demilitarization and denazification.” The former means cancellation of the programs of the past years to integrate Ukraine de facto within NATO. That approaches President Zelenskyy’s proposals as recently as last March for neutralization with security guarantees. The latter would be a topic for discussion in serious negotiations. It might be spelled out as an agreement to refrain from placing heavy weapons aimed at Russia in Ukraine, no further joint military maneuvers, etc. In short, a status rather like Mexico.
Those are topics for negotiations — if, of course, there is a serious interest in ending the conflict.
We might recall that most of the world, including a large majority of Germans and much of the rest of Europe, is calling for negotiations now, while the U.S. insists that priority must be to severely weaken Russia, hence no negotiations.
There are other issues to be settled, primarily Crimea and the Donbass region. An optimal solution would be internationally sponsored referenda on the various options that have been proposed. That is presumably not possible now, but a serious effort on negotiations might improve the prospects. Recall that we have good evidence that as recently as last April there were serious Ukraine-Russia negotiations under Turkish auspices and that the U.S.-U.K. opposed them.
As to what happens next, that will depend on choices made by those involved, primarily Ukraine and Russia of course, but we can hardly pretend to be merely observers from afar. See again Lieven’s commentary, just cited.
Lieven is not the only informed analyst who regards peaceful diplomatic settlement as a diminishing but still live option. Another is John Quigley, who has been deeply involved in these issues since the early ‘90s, when he was the U.S. State Department representative in the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] efforts to resolve contested issues in Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR, particularly the status of Crimea and Donbass, his special concern. We have already discussed some of his current thinking, as of June 2022.
Quigley recognizes that though negotiations are currently stalled, “At some point, however, hopefully sooner than later, there will be a negotiated settlement that will need to deal with the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine” as well as Crimea. On Crimea, he recommends pursuing Zelenskyy’s suggestion that perhaps “the two sides could arrange a process of discussion about Crimea, a process that he said could last 15 years.” On Donbass, Quigley writes that “if Ukraine does anything even close to implementing the Minsk agreement [the 2015 Ukraine-Russia agreement under French-German sponsorship which called for a degree of autonomy for Donbass within a federal Ukraine], Russia could say that the aim of its invasion has been accomplished,” and a settlement could be reached.
Only a few days ago, French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been more closely involved in current negotiation efforts than any other figure, expressed somewhat similar views on CNN. In his opinion, at the time of Zelenskyy’s election in 2019, a settlement favorable to Ukraine could have been reached along the lines of the Minsk agreement. He also feels that options for diplomacy remain open.
Whether such assessments are accurate, we do not know. There is one and only one way to find out: Try. That won’t happen, Quigley concludes, if “the U.S. goal is less to force Russia out of Ukraine than to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian” — a “reasonable” assessment he reluctantly comments.
That is the one factor in the mix that we can hope to influence, something that cannot be emphasized too strongly.
President Zelenskyy urged the United Nations (UN) to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by stripping it of its security council veto vote. Just a few days ago, the EU president made similar calls. While, technically speaking, a country can be expelled from the UN for “persistent violation” of the principles of the Charter, isn’t this a misguided proposal? Isn’t it also true that the argument that Russia may not even be a member of the UN is invalid on account of the fact that the continuation of the USSR’s membership by the Russian Federation, which Ukraine itself accepted in 1991, is in line with long established procedures within the UN?
One can easily appreciate President Zelenskyy’s sentiments, but whatever the technicalities may be, the very fact that the proposal is being seriously considered is enlightening. Did anyone consider punishing the U.S. in this manner when it invaded Iraq, to take only one example of its “persistent violation” of the core principle of the Charter that bars “the threat or use of force” in international affairs (with exceptions irrelevant here)? These violations that are not just persistent but extremely serious, matters we need not review even though they are virtually unspeakable in the U.S. mainstream.
We should, I think, keep our minds focused on what should be the central issue for us: U.S. policy. Should we accept the official U.S. position of fighting the war to severely weaken Russia, precluding diplomatic settlement? Or should we press the U.S. government to join most of the world, including Germans and other Europeans, in seeking a way to end the horrors before they bring further tragedy, not only to Ukraine but also far beyond?
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
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Noam Chomsky: The War in Ukraine Has Entered a New Phase
Will Putin pack up his bags and slink away silently to obscurity or worse? Or will he use the conventional weapons that all agree he has to escalate the attack on Ukraine? The U.S. is gambling on the former but is not unaware of the nature of this gamble with the lives of Ukrainians, and well beyond.
Ukrainian firefighters remove debris from a building damaged by Russian airstrikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on September 22, 2022 METIN AKTAS / ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES
Seven months on, the war in Ukraine has entered a new phase. Ukrainian forces are running a counteroffensive in the east and south regions of the country while Russia is still bent on annexation plans. Meanwhile, the West, with the U.S. at the forefront, continues with its explicitly stated strategy of weakening Russia to the point of regime collapse, thereby leaving no room for negotiations. All these developments indicate that peace remains distant in Ukraine and that the war may in fact be poised to become even more violent. Worse, argues Noam Chomsky below in an exclusive interview for Truthout, congressional hawks are increasing the risk of terminal war with the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, which was just recently approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and appears to be modeled on programs from prior to the Russian attack that were turning Ukraine into a de facto NATO member.
Chomsky is institute professor emeritus in the department of linguistics and philosophy at MIT and laureate professor of linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. One of the world’s most-cited scholars and a public intellectual regarded by millions of people as a national and international treasure, Chomsky has published more than 150 books in linguistics, political and social thought, political economy, media studies, U.S. foreign policy and world affairs. His latest books are The Secrets of Words (with Andrea Moro; MIT Press, 2022); The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power (with Vijay Prashad; The New Press, 2022); and The Precipice: Neoliberalism, the Pandemic and the Urgent Need for Social Change (with C. J. Polychroniou; Haymarket Books, 2021).
C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, after seven months of conflict, Russia and Ukraine find themselves in a situation that is hard to get out of. Russia is suffering great losses, and a recent Ukrainian counteroffensive has recaptured dozens of towns and villages in the northeast of the country. Under these circumstances, it seems that neither side is eager to pursue a peace settlement. Firstly, are you surprised by Russia’s problems on the battlefield, and, secondly, do you agree with the statement made recently by the minister in charge of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office that Moscow still has a major advantage over Kyiv and that it can declare victory whenever it wants?
Noam Chomsky: First, let me make it clear that I have nothing original to say about the military situation, and have no expert knowledge in this area. What I know is what’s reported, almost entirely from Western sources.
The general picture is that Russia has suffered a devastating defeat, demonstrating the utter incompetence of the Russian military and the remarkable capacities of the Ukrainian army provided with advanced U.S. armaments and detailed intelligence information about the disposition of Russian forces, a tribute to the courage of the Ukrainian fighters and to the intensive U.S. training, organization and supply of the Ukrainian army for almost a decade.
There’s plenty of evidence to support this interpretation, which is close to exceptionless apart from detail. A useful rule of thumb whenever there is virtual unanimity on complex and murky issues is to ask whether something is perhaps omitted. Keeping to mainstream Western sources, we can indeed find more that perhaps merits attention.
Reuters reports a “western official” whose assessment is that:
There’s an ongoing debate about the nature of the Russian drawdown, however it’s likely that in strict military terms, this was a withdrawal, ordered and sanctioned by the general staff, rather than an outright collapse…. Obviously, it looks really dramatic. It’s a vast area of land. But we have to factor in the Russians have made some good decisions in terms of shortening their lines and making them more defensible, and sacrificing territory in order to do so.
There are varying interpretations of the equipment losses in the Russian flight/withdrawal. There is no need to review the familiar picture. A more nuanced version is given by Washington Post journalists on the scene, who report scattered and ambiguous evidence. They also review online video and satellite imagery indicating that the destroyed and abandoned military vehicles may have been at an equipment hub. Examining the videos, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army Europe, concludes that the destruction was mostly at a staging area where “Russian forces stopped for fuel or were waiting for a mission when they fled,” the total amounting to a tank company that typically has about 10 or 11 tanks.
As one expects in a war zone, there is ample ambiguity, but little doubt that it was a major victory for Ukraine and its U.S.-NATO backers. I don’t think that Putin could simply “declare victory” after this humiliating setback, as the Hungarian prime minister suggests. On the prospects for a peace settlement, so little is reported or discussed that there is little to say.
Little, but not nothing. In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, the major establishment journal, Fiona Hill and Angela Stent — highly regarded policy analysts with close government connections — report that:
According to multiple former senior US officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement. The terms of that settlement would have been for Russia to withdraw to the positions it held before launching the invasion on February 24. In exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.
On dubious evidence, Hill and Stent blame the failure of these efforts on the Russians, but do not mention that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at once flew to Kyiv with the message that Ukraine’s Western backers would not support the diplomatic initiative, followed by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who reiterated the official U.S. position that Washington’s goal in the war is to “weaken” Russia, meaning that negotiations are off the table.
Suppose that negotiations fail or are not even contemplated. What then? The general expert consensus seems to be that there will be a protracted war, with all of its tragic consequences. General Austin and other U.S. officials have held that Ukraine can drive Russia out of all of Ukraine, presumably including Crimea. Suppose the prospect arises.
Then follows the crucial question: Will Putin pack up his bags and slink away silently to obscurity or worse? Or will he use the conventional weapons that all agree he has to escalate the attack on Ukraine? The U.S. is gambling on the former but is not unaware of the nature of this gamble with the lives of Ukrainians, and well beyond. The New York Times reports that:
Some American officials express concern that the most dangerous moments are yet to come, even as Mr. Putin has avoided escalating the war in ways that have, at times, baffled Western officials. He has made only limited attempts to destroy critical infrastructure or to target Ukrainian government buildings. He has not attacked the supply hubs outside Ukraine. While he has directed low-level cyberattacks against Ukrainian targets every week, they have been relatively unsophisticated, especially when compared to capabilities that Russia has shown it has, including in the SolarWinds attack on American government and commercial systems that was discovered just before Mr. Biden took office.
The same report cites Putin’s warning that, “If the situation continues to develop in this way — referring to U.S. participation in the recent Ukrainian counter-offensive — the answer will be more serious.” To illustrate, Putin “described recent Russian cruise missile attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure as ‘warning strikes.’”
The Ukrainian military understands the warning very well. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny had written that Russian cruise missiles “could strike across the country with ‘impunity,’” adding that “limited nuclear war cannot be ruled out.”
As we all know, the escalation ladder from limited to terminal nuclear war is all too easy to climb.
To put it simply, the U.S. position that the war must continue to severely weaken Russia, blocking negotiations, is based on a quite remarkable assumption: that facing defeat, Putin will pack his bags and slink away to a bitter fate. He will not do what he easily can: strike across Ukraine with impunity using Russia’s conventional weapons, destroying critical infrastructure and Ukrainian government buildings, attacking the supply hubs outside Ukraine, moving on to sophisticated cyberattacks against Ukrainian targets. All of this is easily within Russia’s conventional capacity, as U.S. government and the Ukrainian military command acknowledge — with the possibility of escalation to nuclear war in the not remote background.
The assumption is worth contemplating. It is too quickly evaded.
Also worth contemplating is the fact that “Mr. Putin has avoided escalating the war in ways that have, at times, baffled Western officials.” The same puzzlement has been expressed before. The U.S. and U.K. were baffled by the Russian offensive, severely underestimating its scale from the start. “We assumed they would invade a country the way we would have invaded a country,” as one British official put it.
When the U.S.-U.K. invade a country, they go for the jugular, destroying communications, transportation, energy systems, anything needed to keep the country going. To the surprise of the U.S.-U.K. planners, Putin didn’t do that. The press reports that, “In Kyiv and much of the western part of the country, prewar life has largely returned for civilians. People eat in restaurants, drink in bars, dance and enjoy lazy summer days in parks.”
The gamble with the lives of Ukrainians, and far beyond, remains as well, eliciting little attention. Something else that merits contemplation.
It’s also useful finally to reiterate a familiar word of warning. Propaganda never ceases and rises to peaks of intensity at moments of crisis. Triumphant claims are always worth inspection. To take one example, much has been made of India’s alleged break with Russia over the war, based on a few words by Prime Minister Modi at a Samarkand meeting with Putin. The quoted words are “I know that today’s era is not of war.” Omitted is that Modi went on to stress that, “The relationship between India and Russia has deepened manifold. We also value this relationship because we have been such friends who have been with each other every moment for the last several decades and the whole world also knows how Russia’s relationship with India has been and how India’s relationship with Russia has been and therefore the world also knows that it is an unbreakable friendship.”
The Ukrainian government is pursuing backroom negotiations for the delivery of advanced American-made weapons, according to some reports. In addition, President Zelenskyy and his government have put forward a document of long-term security guarantees from the West which would link Ukraine’s future security directly to the presence of NATO forces in the country. Unexpectedly enough, Moscow immediately shut down the proposal and the vice president of the Russian Security Council called it “a prologue to the third world war.” Is the so-called Kyiv Security Treaty a path toward a peace settlement or a sure way not only to keep the conflict going on indefinitely but also to escalate it to a higher level?
It is hard to imagine that any Russian government would tolerate NATO forces in Ukraine. That has been understood for 30 years by high-level U.S. officials who have any knowledge of the region, and it’s even more unlikely now. What Russia might tolerate is a weakened version of this demand: long-term security guarantees with what’s called in diplomacy “strategic ambiguity,” coupled with termination of the plans for NATO membership for Ukraine. In the past, Zelenskyy has suggested something like that. Whether that remains an option, we of course cannot know until an effort is undertaken to reach a diplomatic settlement, as apparently it was by Ukraine and Russia as recently as last April.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was reckless enough, but congressional hawks, a bipartisan collective, are determined to raise the possibility of terminal nuclear war even higher.
The Biden administration, the Pentagon particularly, has been careful not to escalate its participation in the war so rapidly as to elicit the Russian reaction that hasn’t occurred, baffling Washington and London. Congress is another matter. It seems hell-bent on hurtling to disaster. Calls for no-fly zones and other very dangerous initiatives have been blocked by the Pentagon, but plenty of saber-rattling continues. That extends to China, or to keep to the rules, what we should call the “Indo-Pacific area of the North Atlantic” in the light of the decisions at the recent NATO summit.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was reckless enough, but congressional hawks, a bipartisan collective, are determined to raise the possibility of terminal nuclear war even higher.
The act calls for Taiwan to be designated as a “major non-NATO ally.” Taiwan is to be provided with $4.5 billion in security assistance over the next four years, part of establishing “a comprehensive training program with the Government of Taiwan.” The act also seeks “more interoperability between the US and Taiwanese militaries [along with] joint US-Taiwan contingency tabletop exercises, war games and what the bill calls ‘robust, operationally relevant, or full-scale’ military exercises,” Asia Times reports.
Furthermore, the act declares U.S. government policy to be “to provide the people of Taiwan with de facto diplomatic treatment equivalent to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities” and to remove “any undue restrictions” on the ability of U.S. officials at any level “to interact directly and routinely with their counterparts in the Government of Taiwan.”
Former Australian defense official Mike Scrafton observes that “The Chinese cannot but regard this as a provocative de facto recognition of Taiwan’s independence.” Under international law, which regards Taiwan as part of China, it is “a patent infringement of China’s sovereignty and a fundamental weakening of the one-China policy.” Once again, the U.S. “rules-based order,” in defiance of international law, is seen to be nothing other “than preservation of US hegemony.” If passed, “The Act would be a game-changer and reflects the American preparedness to engage in a war that would be disastrous for the region and the world.” It should lead Australia to rethink its commitment to the U.S.-dominated regional system.
The wording of the act seems to be modelled on the programs prior to the Russian invasion that were turning Ukraine into a “de facto NATO member,” in the words of the U.S. military, matters we have discussed elsewhere.
The Biden administration opposes the measure, as it did Pelosi’s action. Even more than that exercise in self-promotion, the Menendez-Graham measure would be a serious blow to the “strategic ambiguity” of the One-China policy that has kept the peace in a volatile region for half a century.
The European Union is pressuring China and India to support the idea of a price cap on Russian oil. Russia, of course, has said that it will not sell oil to countries that impose a price limit, so the question here is twofold: first, how likely is it that China and India will go along with the EU’s suggestion, especially since both countries have not only increased their Russian oil purchases since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but are buying at discounted prices, and, second, what would be the political ramifications in the event that they succumbed to pressure and did go along?
All of this is part of the reconfiguration of global order that has been going on for some time and was spurred onward by Putin’s criminal aggression. A side consequence was to deliver Europe into Washington’s hands. This most welcome gift was provided free of charge by Vladimir Putin when he rejected French President Macron’s last-minute efforts to avert an invasion, at the end with undisguised contempt, a major contribution to Washington’s Atlanticist project of global hegemony.
The core issue at stake, I think, is unipolarity-multipolarity. Since the U.S. took over the reins from Britain 80 years ago, reaching far beyond Britain’s dreams, it has sought a unipolar world, and to a substantial extent it has realized that goal, in ways we need not review. There has always been resistance.
In many ways the most significant, and least discussed, form of resistance has been the effort of former colonies to find a place in the international order: UNCTAD, the New International Economic Order, the New International Information Order, and many other initiatives. These were crushed by imperial power, sometimes reaching the level of assassination (the very important case of Patrice Lumumba) if other means did not suffice. Some elements survive, like BRICS [the economic alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa]. Most significantly in the modern global scene, rising China leads the effort to develop a multipolar order.
Right now, the long-term conflict is manifested in many concrete ways. One is the intense U.S. effort to impede China’s technological development and to “encircle” it with a ring of heavily armed U.S. satellites. Another is the NATO-based U.S.-run Atlanticist project, now given a shot in the arm by Putin’s criminality, and recently extended formally to the Indo-Pacific region. The major competing element is China’s huge development and investment project, the Belt and Road initiative backed by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, encompassing Central Asia and by now reaching well beyond. At an ideological level, the confrontation sets the UN-based international order against the rules-based international order (with the U.S. setting the rules). The latter is adopted with little controversy or even notice in the U.S.
The important specific issues raised in the question find their place within this broader framework. Their resolution depends on how the broad process of reorganization of the international order develops. A highly uncertain matter, one of great portent.
Not in the distant background is a more fundamental matter, which cannot be put aside. Unless the great powers find ways to accommodate to confront the most important threats that have arisen in human history — environmental destruction and nuclear war — nothing else will matter.
And time is short.
Over one night, from Sept. 21 to Sept, 22 ScheerPost
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