Episode 227: “It’s Time for the US to Use Its Power to Bring the War in Ukraine to an End” with Stephen Bryen

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The war in Ukraine drags on at a terrible cost for all involved with no seeming end in sight. Some estimate that there have been almost 400,000 total Russian and Ukraine casualties so far, although both sides claim their losses are much lower. 

Ukraine is on the ropes and running out of manpower with its most of its elite forces destroyed. Missiles for its air defenses are depleted. Both sides are dragooning teenagers and old men for their armies. Russia’s military command is in disarray. 

But no one knows what is really going on. A key problem understanding the war in Ukraine is the reliability of sources of information and the fact that both sides specialize in disinformation and fake news. 

To sort through what might be true, and where events are leading us, I’m joined again by an astute observer of the world scene, Dr. Steven Bryen, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and the Yorktown Institute. With over 50 years national security experience, including many stints at the Pentagon where he was known as the Yoda of the arms trade, he’s been following closely the details and the ins and outs of the war in Ukraine.

What was initially sold by the Biden Administration as humanitarian aid to Ukraine has had from the very start a deeper agenda: The White House wanted this war to bring about regime change in Russia.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” declares  Joe Biden. And this: “Our objective is to exhaust and degrade Russian forces so they cannot fight anywhere else in the world,” warned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last year.

So has their proxy war been a smart move? So far, hardly. It ranks right up there with their catastrophic exit from Afghanistan and the mess they’ve made in the Middle East. It’s also driven Russia into the arms of our real geopolitical enemy China. 

“If you want to break up Russia, it’s a fool’s errand, it won’t work,” says Stephen. “Russia’s not going to break up. It’s a big powerful country and a nuclear power. So why tempt the furies with that kind of nonsense? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not in the United States’ national interest. It’s not in the Europeans interest, although you’d never know it from listening to them. Having a war in Europe in this day and age would be a horrible tragedy. It would destroy the West. So why would anyone risk that?”

Henry Kissinger says that conditions are right for negotiations on Ukraine by the end of the year.

“But negotiations won’t start unless Washington wants them to start,” says Stephen. “Or unless Zelensky and his crowd are gone and someone else takes over in Ukraine. But if things stay the way they are, there’s not going to be any negotiations. Biden doesn’t want them. He wants a victory, a total victory over Russia in Ukraine.” 

But if things stay the way they are there will be no victory. This will grind on and on, there’ll be many more dead, more destruction, and let’s not forget the risk of bringing nuclear weapons into play. 

It’s time for the US to use its power to bring the war in Ukraine to an end now. It’s in our interest. It’s in the world’s interest.

This episode is a treasure trove of Stephen Bryen’s nuanced and penetrating insights. I keep bringing Stephen back on for his wisdom and he never disappoints. Well worth your time to listen.

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