OPINION: Sheldon Richman - When History Begins - Russia, Ukraine & the U.S.

Contrary to what hypocritical U.S. rulers and their loyal mass media suggest, two propositions can both be -- and indeed are -- true:

  1. that Russia has grossly, brutally, and criminally mishandled the situation it has faced with respect to Ukraine, and
  2. that the U.S. government since the late 1990s has been entirely responsible for imposing that situation on Russia

If you want the fine details, you can do no better than to watch my Libertarian Institute colleague Scott Horton's excellent cataloging of the irresponsible misdeeds of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joseph Biden in this recent lecture. If, after absorbing this shocking record of indisputable facts, you are seething at what the U.S. government has done to squander a historic chance for good relations with Russia, you will be fully justified -- and then some. (See also this 2015 lecture by John Mearsheimer, the respected "realist" foreign policy analyst at the University of Chicago.)

To appreciate what bipartisan U.S. foreign policy has wrought, think about 1989 when the undreamt-of virtually bloodless dismantling of the Soviet empire began. At that point humanity was on the verge of a new chapter in which the world's largest nuclear superpowers would no longer confront each other, holding everyone hostage. Think about that, and then learn how the U.S. government blew it deliberately, despite all the warnings that the consequences would be dire. (Over-optimism about what might have been is always a danger. In 1990, when President George H. W. Bush ordered Iraq's Saddam Hussein to remove his army from Kuwait, Bush declared a "New World Order," admonishing, "What we say goes." The Russians no doubt noticed.)

How so? By kicking the Russian people in the teeth repeatedly in all kinds of ways when they were reeling from seven decades of communism. If the U.S. government's intent had been to destroy the chance for this historic turn, it couldn't have done a better job.

Read more at Free Association


Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and the former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation.  He is the author of eight books including Separating School and State:  How to Liberate America's Families (2013), Coming to Palestine (2019) and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other (2020).