Episode 217: “Ukraine: It’s Time for Realism” with David Goldman and Stephen Bryen

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The Biden Administration – and a majority of Republicans in Congress – persist in their bellicose rhetoric about an “existential war to defend Ukraine” telling the Russians that “we’re going to destroy your regime and dissolve the Russian Federation.” Really? After sending more than $100 billion to Ukraine to fight a proxy war against Russia, have they thought through whether the US is capable of doing this?  They are calling for actions that only a global hegemon might possess. But a hegemon that no longer controls its own borders, has crumbling critical infrastructure, hollowed out military capabilities and is $33 trillion in debt is no longer a hegemon. This is an Administration that left $87 billion of U.S. military equipment behind when it bolted from Afghanistan, let a Chinese surveillance ballon pass unmolested over the entire Continental United States and is led by a Commander in Chief who daily elicits ever stronger labels for cognitive impairment.  It is not to be trusted to lead ever more aggressive actions against Russia and tempt the possibility of nuclear war.  Instead, Americans should demand that we seek to bring about a negotiated peace – if that is even still possible.  To sort out where the war stands now, and how we might bring it to an end, two experienced and insightful observers, Dr. Stephen Bryen and David P Goldman have returned as guests to follow up on our conversation of a few weeks ago.  Stephen Bryen is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and the Yorktown Institute and David Goldman is the Spengler columnist and Deputy Editor for Asia Times and PJ Media. David is also the Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute.  Stephen has over 50 years national security experience including several stints in the Pentagon where he was known as the Yoda of the arms trade. “The global utopians, led by the likes of Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan and Victoria Nuland, have plunged us into a war which could take us into a real catastrophe,” says David. Already, they’ve let take root a Russian coalition with China, Iran, North Korea, and perhaps Turkey and India. Whether or not Vladimir Putin made a costly mistake in invading Ukraine, the big battles right now are going badly for the Ukrainians and the Russians have solidified their gains. “The Ukrainians are out of ammunition,” says Stephen. “They’re out of air power. They’re out of air defenses. Their artillery is running low and it’s a grim situation for them.” By escalating and destroying major Russian infrastructure, you risk widening the war in Europe. And this is not a war, at least a conventional war, that the United States could win. “I don’t think the United States can fight in Ukraine at present without building up all the logistics, all the capabilities,” explains Stephen. “It would take years. It’s not going to happen.”  “American forces haven’t fought a peer in a long time,” reminds David. “The Ukrainians probably fight a lot better than any American unit could at this point, who have only fought goat herders for the past 40 years. So I’m not sure how well American troops would perform, and that would be a real risk to take.” Pursuing this dangerous anti-Russian agenda is not in the best strategic interests of the United States.  “We need a realist foreign policy. Donald Trump, of whom I have a long list of criticisms, managed to get out of office with no real important conflicts with the Russians, with a peace agreement between Israel and some of the Gulf states, and a generally stable world.” “I wish this could be settled. It is crying out for a political settlement. It’s absolutely crying. It’s in our international interests, in our strategic interests, in our leadership interests in the world, which is all important, that we settle this thing,” warns Stephen.  “And the lack of desire by Biden and his people, all of them, to want to settle it, is really disgraceful.” This view – one I share – won’t be found in most of the mainstream media. You may or may not agree with our conclusions, but you should hear the arguments.

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