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My old friend and colleague J. David Markham joined me today to talk about Russia and Ukraine. We planned to get to other topics, but ran out of time. Although we agree on most things related to Napoleon, David and I disagree on nearly everything else related to geopolitics, so this was a fun episode.


BS 121 Markham Russia
[00:00:00] Cameron: Welcome to a very special edition of the Bullshit Filter. This is episode 121. No Ray with me today, but my The Ray before there was Ray. My pre Ray Ray. My old friend and colleague, J.
[00:00:36] Cameron: David Markham, is joining me today. Long awaited return to the Bullshit Filter for J. David Markham. It’s been, yeah, been on the show in the past, but it’s been quite a few years. We had a very, uh, fun time doing a Napoleon reunion episode. Despite the fact that we were talking about a godawful film a few weeks ago.
[00:00:57] David: and we talked about it for almost as long as the film was.
[00:01:01] Cameron: Yes. And it was a much better use of people’s time too, I think, listening to us than watching the film.
[00:01:06] David: course. Of course.
[00:01:09] Cameron: So, uh, look, uh, I guess the, the, the setup for this is anyone who has followed us on Facebook over the years knows that whilst we agree violently on Napoleon. We tend to disagree violently on pretty much everything else when it comes to politics, and I, so you know where I’m coming from, I’m not coming into this as a debate, I had to spend an hour trying to convince Chrissy this morning that this wasn’t going to ruin our friendship, I think, look, I am I’m I am genuinely interested in trying to understand more about how David thinks about these issues, because I respect you.
[00:01:46] Cameron: You’re my friend, you’re, you’re an intelligent man, you’re a student of politics, and, uh, we have very diverging views on this, and our audience knows my views on this stuff, so it’s, they, I, I don’t need to remind them, and Ray tends to agree with me on everything, because I’ve spent 10 years training him how to think properly. So, uh, I thought it would be useful and healthy and interesting for our audience to hear your views and why your views on some issues diverge from mine. So the things I thought, I mean, the obvious things to talk about, things that we would be talking about on this episode anyway if you weren’t with us is what’s going on in the US presidential election that’s coming up.
[00:02:31] Cameron: What’s going on in US politics at a Federal level. Uh, what’s going on in Israel and Gaza, and what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine. They’re the, sort of, the big, well, there’s a lot of geopolitical issues we could talk about, but I guess they’re three of the big ones that, um, we probably have diverging views on, and which makes it interesting.
[00:02:52] Cameron: Where would you like to start?
[00:02:54] David: I’m gonna guess we do. Uh, you, you, you spent, uh, uh, all those years training Ray. Uh, and the, you, as you know, I had a birthday, uh, a few days ago on Tuesday. It turned 78. So I’m hoping that you will simply accept the wisdom of your elders and, and we’ll, and we will do just fine. And I too, uh,
[00:03:18] Cameron: you don’t look a day under 77.
[00:03:21] David: Yeah, I knew that was coming.
[00:03:23] David: Uh, I, uh, I, I too had some trepidation, uh, about, you know, would we be at each other’s throats and, and, and, and somehow damage, uh, our, our friendship, which my goodness goes back decades at this point. Uh, and I certainly hope not. Uh, You know, I, I also respect you and, and think you’re very intelligent, uh, and, uh, you, uh, I, I, every now and then I’ve, I’ve got a glimpse of some of your political views or, or whatever, and, and yeah, you’re right, I don’t always agree, but I have always prided myself in having friends.
[00:04:08] David: With whom I don’t agree on everything politically, or for that matter, Napoleonically, uh, I think it would be a boring life if you only hung around with people who agreed with you in lockstep, uh, and I say that, you know, with, you know, some of the people The, the Trump accolades who, who, who all, you know, adhere to a very narrow point of view, but also some, some groups on, on the left, you know, who, who do not want to tolerate a divergence of opinion on, on, uh, at least on a large number of issues, uh, I’ve always felt that we have.
[00:04:49] David: a chance to learn, uh, from each other if we have some disagreement anyway, and without getting into fisticuffs, and since you are, I’m guessing, 10 or 15, 000 miles away, getting into fisticuffs would be somewhat difficult, so we’re safe in that regard.
[00:05:09] Cameron: Alright, so where do you want to start? Israel, Russia, or America?
[00:05:15] David: Well, I think we ought to end on a relative high note, so We, I think we should save American politics for the end, because if there’s any area where we might actually find some agreement, it might be, it might be that. And it’s also, if there’s any area where I pride myself as, as being an expert, you know, other than Napoleon and a few other historical areas, you know, I’ve, I’ve been involved in, And, and American politics and so forth for, for many, many, many decades.
[00:05:50] David: And, uh, you know, like to think that I know a fair amount about them. Of course, I follow them very carefully, even though I live in Canada now, but I’ve been told by many Canadians. Canadians are more likely to follow American politics closely than they are even to follow Canadian politics because of course, it’s the, it’s the, it’s the elephant in the room, you know, kind of thing.
[00:06:11] David: I mean, you know, you can love America or hate America or be ambivalent about America. It’s still, you know, an extraordinary, powerful nation with influence around the world and, you know, it, it, you, you, you want to have an idea of what’s going on. So, I guess the, the, the other 2 things, which probably won’t take a huge amount of time, is.
[00:06:37] David: You, you crane and, you know, you’re smiling because, you know, you, I have envisioned that this could be the length of, of one of our normal podcasts, which is to say, you know, a little over an hour, we, we, we, no, we averaged about an hour and 15 minutes on the Napoleon podcast. And then, and then we, we, with occasional exceptions, and then the movie thing was two hours.
[00:06:58] David: So, Hours and 15 minutes. And with the movie itself being two hours and, and, and 45 minutes . So we came, we, if we’d have been paying attention, we could’ve talked another half hour just, just to say we did it. But, uh, uh, so let’s, you know, so you’re thinking two or three hours. I’m thinking an hour and a half maybe.
[00:07:17] David: ’cause I do want to have dinner at a reasonable hour as well. It’s, it’s in the evening here. So let’s talk about Ukraine for starters. Uh, to me. There isn’t a whole lot to say, at least in terms of the, the righteousness of one side or the other, as you know, in 2014, uh, Russia under Vladimir uh Marched into Crimea and simply announced to the world that it was now Russian territory because, of course, it was always meant to be Russian territory, never mind the fact that the United Nations and virtually every country in the world recognized it as part of Ukraine.
[00:08:03] David: And the world didn’t do much of anything about that. Uh, and now I think we’re paying the price, you know, uh, now, uh, two years ago. Uh, he, he marched into Eastern and Southern, uh, uh, uh, Ukraine and announced that this was always supposed to be part of Russia. Uh, and therefore, you know, in fact, he tried to, to take over the whole country.
[00:08:29] David: He had troops marching from the North on, on Kiev or Kiev, depending on how you prefer to pronounce it. Uh, And that didn’t work out so well for him. What he thought might be over in a few weeks and what, frankly, a lot of the people in the world thought would be over in a few weeks, uh, is still going on and Ukraine has taken back a significant amount of territory in previous, uh, efforts, but this latest, uh, uh, thing has, uh, offensive, counter offensive has, has bogged down and now winter is coming on, which makes, you know, either side’s Progress much more difficult just because of the nature of winter fighting.
[00:09:10] David: Much of the world has rallied to the Ukrainian cause, certainly the European Union and NATO and other other people, countries in the world have sent aid. It’s the nature of these things that after a while, people get tired of sending aid if it doesn’t seem to be making a huge difference, and initially it did.
[00:09:33] David: I hope that the United States and NATO countries will continue to give them military and economic assistance. I think we should have learned. Uh, in, in World War II, the lead up to World War II, that, that appeasement, that allowing someone to, to take over all of or part of a country just because they have an excuse that could sound sort of legitimate if you, if you’re, if you’re willing to sort of close your eyes to some facts, uh, how dangerous that can be.
[00:10:09] David: Uh, and, uh, uh, you know, there’s other countries that, that he, Putin may or may not want to, to move in on and, and do the course. So, it’s, it’s good to stand for the rights of people to determine their own future and clearly Putin has other plans. So, you know, that, that in a nutshell is, is, is how I see it.
[00:10:32] David: There’s been a fair amount of barbarity on the part of some of the Russians that has been clearly documented, and there are war crime investigations going on, and there may be some war crime investigations into some of the actions by some soldiers on the Ukrainian side as well. In any war, there’s always a possibility of some of that.
[00:10:55] David: The reports I’ve seen have it pretty lopsided in terms of, in terms of, uh, you know, atrocities or, you know, I mean, it’s, it’s very clear that, that Putin is deliberately targeting infrastructure, the civilian infrastructure, uh, with no concerns at all that, that There are no claims that they’re being used by the Ukrainian military, uh, which is a little bit different from the Gaza situation, which we’ll talk about later.
[00:11:27] David: Uh, but, uh, uh, you know, I think Putin is trying to, to force submission through, through, through terrorism and, and, you know, that’s, uh, to me unacceptable, but I’d like to hear what your, your thoughts are.
[00:11:46] Cameron: So You were talking about what we learned about appeasement in the 30s, and I know, because I’ve heard him say it, that Putin says the exact same thing about what he believes, and Many, uh, Western analysts also believe happened in Ukraine in 2004 and 2014. Uh, and then what was looking like it was going to happen, um, when his discussions with Biden broke down at the beginning of last year about Ukraine entering NATO.
[00:12:27] Cameron: I mean, 2004 and 2014, that seemed to have been, if not. Engineered, then supported by the United States and perhaps other Western powers with the intention of overthrowing it. Uh, pro Russian governments in Ukraine and replacing them with pro Western governments. And, you know, Putin has been very clear about the fact that he and, you know, Russians in general, believe that, uh, they can’t allow that to happen.
[00:13:05] Cameron: That’s an existential threat. to Russia and Russian peoples, both in Russia itself and also the Russian speaking peoples in Ukraine, if Ukraine gets taken over, uh, in a, in a soft, uh, way by Western powers in engineered revolutions, and then joins NATO on top of that, which Russians see as a, as an existential threat to their country.
[00:13:34] David: Well. You know, uh, the, the, the revolutions that you call them were, were, you know, very firmly supported by the Ukrainian people and they were happy to get rid of the, of the pro Soviet leaders. I’ve never seen any, anything to the contrary, you know, Putin. You know, he, he, he may not want Ukraine to, to join NATO, but it’s not his decision to make.
[00:14:06] David: It’s the people of Ukraine’s decision to make through their government. And it’s not an existential threat to, to, to, to Putin. NATO was a defensive organization, uh, and, and, and that’s, that’s its fundamental reason for existence. Oh, and by the way. You don’t want expansion in NATO, so you go ahead and invade Ukraine.
[00:14:31] David: Well, how’d that work out for you, Mr. Putin? Because you’ve got Finland and probably Sweden joining the, the, the NATO now. And, you know, that’s, that’s thousands of kilometers of additional NATO border on your northern flank. And that, You know, I don’t think that Finland or Sweden have any interest in invading Russia any more than anyone else really wants to invade Russia.
[00:14:56] David: I don’t think NATO has any desire to invade Russia. You’re raising your eyebrows, but I’d love to see any evidence you have that NATO wants to invade, you know, uh, and, and countries have chosen, you know, the Baltic countries, other countries, uh, Poland, et cetera, they’ve chosen. Buy the will of their people through their governments to, to, to join NATO because they feared the existential threat from an expansionist Russia, which by the way, those fears have been realized now because it’s not NATO, you know, invading, let’s say, Belarus.
[00:15:36] David: It’s Russia invading Ukraine. So, you know, the, the, the, the proof is, is, is, is, is in, is in the facts. And the facts of the matter are that Russia feels it has the right, number one, to control who does or does not join NATO. And number two, oh, there’s a few Russian speaking people there, and some, some reasonably high percentages of Russian speaking people in, in Ukraine.
[00:16:02] David: But knowing that they speak Russian doesn’t make them Russian. It doesn’t make the country Russian. If they don’t like living in, in a non Russian country, they always can immigrate to Russia, you know, assuming that they accept immigrants of the very people they claim to want to protect, you know. Anymore, you know, there’s a lot of Russian speaking people in Moldova and, and, and Moscow has troops and supplies illegally, I think, in Moldova, you know, trying to intimidate them lest they decide that they would like to, uh, to say join.
[00:16:37] David: Join Rumanian because the language of the country is Romanian, you know, not, not Russian, uh, but I mean, the, the, the weakness to your argument and I understand, I understand your argument and I, and I, and, and, and I, I realize there can be a different point of view about the nature of, of, of NATO or, or the Warsaw Pact or, you know, any, any other so called defensive, uh, military, uh, structure.
[00:17:03] David: Bye. Uh, but the, the weakness of, of, of your argument and those, and those who agree with you is the fact that one country has invaded another sovereign country that was not in, in reality, a significant threat. to them, uh, has never shown any interest of being aggressive militarily, may or may not have decided to join NATO.
[00:17:30] David: And at any rate, that’s the right of a sovereign country. I do not understand how you or anyone can justify one country simply invading another country en masse, trying to take over the entire country and absorb it. In, into Russia, that didn’t work. And so now they are supposedly going to be quote unquote satisfied if they can get the, the Eastern and Southern portions that they now control and, and, and, and keep, uh, uh, the peninsula.
[00:17:59] David: I, I, I do not understand how, how you could justify that. You know, that would, would someone have the right to say, you know, would Singapore have the right to say, we’re going to invade, uh, Uh, Australia, because we, we think that’s really part of the, the, the, the landmass ultimately, or whatever, you know, excuse they would come up with.
[00:18:20] David: Uh, it, our, our, would Australia have the right to invade New Zealand? Because after all, that’s a, that’s a piece of land that’s very close to us and it has historic ties to us. So, of course, you know, uh, and they speak English, so they, they, they must be Australian. I mean, to me, it’s dangerous.
[00:18:38] Cameron: what about the Solomon Islands?
[00:18:43] David: Well, you’ll have to refresh my memory. The Solomon Islands, if I recall, are two things. Number one, very, very, very small. And number two, were taken from Japan, you know, was as part of the, the, the, the, the declared war between Japan And it’s allies in the U. S. and it’s allies. And so, yeah, they, a few islands here and there were, were taken and, and China is trying to take some more north of Japan.
[00:19:11] David: Uh, but I, I don’t think that’s even remotely the same. They were, you know, I don’t know how you can make it a comparison at all.
[00:19:22] Cameron: Well, about a year ago, the Solomon Islands talked about, uh, allowing China to establish a military base there, and the U. S. Ambassador, Daniel Crittenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs said, uh, the U. S. wouldn’t rule out, uh, military action against the Solomon Islands if they allowed China to build a military base there.
[00:19:51] David: Well, and you know, you can, nations routinely saber rattle and so forth and so on, but that’s not exactly the same thing as invading a major country with billions of people in it, as opposed to trying to maintain influence over a small set of islands that has some strategic value. You know, you can disagree with the United States on that.
[00:20:13] David: You can be in favor of China expanding its military might if you want, but you can’t make a comparison between the Solomon Islands and the nation of Ukraine.
[00:20:22] Cameron: doesn’t the Solomon Islands have the right to allow China to build a military base on their country if they want?
[00:20:29] David: I would say that if that’s what they, if that’s what they want, they have a right to do that and, and, you know, I don’t know, obviously, I think you’ve got information on your screen and I, I don’t know very much about the Sullivan Island situation. So I have to concede I, I’m, I’m, I’m ill prepared to, to debate the, the nuances of the Sullivan Islands.
[00:20:50] David: But, uh, uh, again, even if you want to say that, That China should be able to build bases there. You know, that’s not the same as saying China should be allowed to invade and take over the Solomon Islands or anyone else should be allowed to invade and take over the Solomon Islands. Uh, and.
[00:21:11] Cameron: about invading. It was the U. S. that was threatening military action or refusing to rule out military action.
[00:21:19] David: And that might have involved in simply, you know, action against, you know, the one part of the island where the Chinese were trying to build a military base. It does not imply they were going to invade and take over the entire country. And, and, and so again, I, I have a hard time seeing how you could make that comparison.
[00:21:42] David: You can disagree with the US and maybe you’re approach China and you think it’d be great to have a Chinese military base there, but you can’t say that, that a little savor rattling or even military action is the same thing, is invading an entire large country and trying to take it over and absorb it as, as part of your own country.
[00:22:04] Cameron: Isn’t it? Isn’t military, isn’t, isn’t the principle that you’re trying to, um, put forward regarding the Ukraine situation is that Ukraine has the right to join whatever alliance it wants, for whatever alliances it wants, and that Russia has no say in that, even though it’s on their border, and yet the US is claiming the right to interfere with the Solomon Islands sovereign right to form an alliance with China.
[00:22:35] David: or to allow China to build a military base. I think, I think it would be a closer analogy, analogy would be if the United States or NATO, uh, decided to build a, a major military base in Ukraine when Ukraine was not a member of, of NATO. Uh, and I suspect Russia would have had some things to say about that.
[00:22:56] David: That and maybe you arguably somewhat more, more rightfully is unless Ukraine had chosen to, to go to, uh, uh, into NATO. But again, I mean, we can, we can talk around in circles for another hour on this, but I’m just not going to concede that while there may be some small similarity in principle, uh, you, you simply cannot make the, the, the comparison, but, but between saber rattling over the Solomon Islands and China.
[00:23:24] David: Uh, possible linking up, uh, and the blatant invasion with mass destruction, uh, of infrastructure and of, and of people, uh, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has, uh, has started. It’s just, you know, there’s, there, there’s, there’s, there. Really, in reality, extremely different, even though you might be able to draw some kind of theoretical thread that connects them, the reality on the ground and the importance geopolitically of that reality is far, far different.
[00:23:59] David: And I think you know that, honestly.
[00:24:02] Cameron: Well, no, I think the principle is the same thing, but I mean, and you know, I don’t want to get into the US’s recent history of invasions, but you know, it often seems to me that you and many other Americans seem to happily play a game of, it’s okay for the US to invade countries. Uh, or overthrow governments of countries, resulting in massive destruction, displacement, deaths, or support other countries military actions, uh, uh, a la Israel, resulting in massive deaths and destruction.
[00:24:41] Cameron: Um, and, you know, can justify that to the cows come home. But when a country you don’t like does something similar, all of a sudden they’re the embodiment of evil. But I want to quote. Um, somebody who said, uh, was talking about, um, Napoleon and, uh, uh, his invasion of Russia. In 1812, uh, he said probably a little bit like the Russians today didn’t really appreciate the expansion of NATO right up to their borders.
[00:25:20] Cameron: No matter how much America and the NATO allies said to Russia in the 20th century that this is a peaceful movement, not to worry about your old adversary now having their member states right on your border, President Putin and others are not real thrilled with that. Well, it’s very much the same thing in the 19th century.
[00:25:36] Cameron: Russia was used to having, you know, buffer states between them and France, and now all of a sudden, a satellite nation in the French Empire is right on the border of Russia, and they’re not too happy about it.
[00:25:47] David: Well, yes, and I’m sure that’s a quote for me.
[00:25:49] Cameron: J. David
[00:25:50] David: that’s, I’m, I’m sure that’s a quote for me, but, you know, context matters. I’m sure I also went on to point out that, uh, the, the, the, the Duchy of Warsaw, which is the buffer state you mentioned, uh, was a problem, but before it even became closer aligned to, uh, to, to, to the French empire because they never really liked having an independent Polish state there.
[00:26:14] David: And of course the, the real important thing that, that created the situation in 1812 was the continental system, uh, where, you know, they, the Russians were prepared to, to break the continental system. Uh, and, and, and they, they got all their ducks lined up in a row so they could, they could go into, uh. to a war with France.
[00:26:36] David: And so there were, there was, there was a lot more to it than, than, than simply that, but I want to read, I want to reply to, to your earlier remarks. Uh, it’s not true that people like me, as you put it, blithely excuse, uh, American invasions. Uh, the causing great destruction, you know, uh, while, while supporting it, uh, you know, opposing it in Russia and supporting it in, in, in Israel.
[00:27:07] David: Uh, you know, I’m, I’m a very proud decorated Vietnam veteran, but I, I, I opposed the war in Vietnam. I thought that was the, at the time, I thought that was the biggest foreign policy mistake the U. S. probably, uh, ever, ever made. Uh, and then the, the second Iraq war came along and, and I determined that it was the biggest foreign policy mistake that America ever made.
[00:27:35] David: And, and, and I opposed that, that, that invasion vehemently. I didn’t mind the, the, the first one because that was, Kuwait was being invaded and Kuwait was an ally. And you You go in support of your allies and you help them drive out the invaders, but it’s important to point out that even though we had the Republican Guard of Saddam Hussein on the run at the end of that war, uh, we declined to go in and try to establish a new government in Iraq or much less take it over or establish a military presence there.
[00:28:10] David: Uh, we, we, we did not do that. And
[00:28:13] Cameron: Iraq was an ally too, we should point out.
[00:28:16] David: Yeah, it
[00:28:16] Cameron: Hussein was a US ally. You funded his, you funded his attacks on Iran for
[00:28:22] David: Yeah, the, the, the, the fight between, between those two and, and, and, and between him and Iran was, was, you know, supported, supported by us, you know, absolutely, but, you know, you can’t, you, you, you, you can’t have, uh, uh, You know, one of your allies being invaded.
[00:28:41] David: So
[00:28:42] Cameron: Buy another one of your allies.
[00:28:45] David: I don’t know if we were really truly allies with Saddam at that stage or not. That’s, that’s something I’d have to go back and look to see what the diplomatic relationship. was between them. Uh, and you have the advantage over me, uh, in that you have talked about this stuff.
[00:29:01] David: I’m sure on the bullshit factor or filter, uh, before, and, and you’ve obviously done some research. Uh, you’ve got quotes lined up and so forth where, where I’m just sort of doing this as a conversation between friends who, who, who draw on, on pretty good sources of, of, of, knowledge and understanding. Uh,
[00:29:24] Cameron: Okay. So let me,
[00:29:25] David: I, I didn’t go to the trouble of putting it together in any old, uh, quotes from you or whatever,
[00:29:31] Cameron: You’re just, you’re just like Ray then. You’ve done a bit as much prep as Ray normally does. Let me, let me, do you know who William J. Burns is?
[00:29:38] David: I recognize the name, but I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head.
[00:29:42] Cameron: He’s currently the director of the CIA.
[00:29:44] David: Okay.
[00:29:46] Cameron: Um, back in 1995, he was a political officer in the U. S. Embassy in Moscow, and he wrote a memo back to Washington, where he said that hostility to early NATO expansion is almost universally felt across the domestic political spectrum here. In 2008, He was still, had some role, um, in Russia, I think he was the ambassador to Russia at the time or something like that.
[00:30:14] Cameron: He wrote a memo to, uh, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the time. And the title of the memo was, Nyet means Nyet. And in that memo he said, Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all red lines for the Russian elite, not just Putin. In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.
[00:30:43] Cameron: Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences, which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Bernie Sanders gave a speech recently. Where he said, Vladimir Putin may be a liar and a demagogue, but it is hypocritical for the United States to insist that we as a nation do not accept the principle of spheres of influence. For the last 200 years, our country has operated under the Monroe Doctrine, embracing the principle that as the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has the right, according to the United States, to intervene against any country that might threaten our alleged interests.
[00:31:39] Cameron: That is US policy. And under this doctrine, the United States has undermined and overthrown at least a dozen countries throughout Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean. As many might recall, in 1962, we came to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Now, why was that? Why did we almost come to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union?
[00:31:59] Cameron: Well, we did that in response to the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from our shore. And the Kennedy administration saw that as an unacceptable threat to national security. We said it is unacceptable for a hostile country to have a significant military presence 90 miles away from our shore.
[00:32:17] Cameron: Let us be clear, the Monroe Doctrine is not ancient history. As recently as 2018, Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called the Monroe Doctrine as relevant today as it was the day it was written. In 2019, former Trump National Security Advisor, John Bolton, declared The Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.
[00:32:37] Cameron: To put it simply, even if Russia were not ruled by a corrupt oligarchic authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the United States, would still have an interest in the security policies of its neighbors. I want people to think about this. Does anyone really believe that the United States would not have something to say if For example, Mexico or Cuba or any country in Central or Latin America were to form a military alliance with a US adversary.
[00:33:03] Cameron: Do you think that members of Congress would stand up and say, well, you know, Mexico is an independent country. They have the right to do anything they want. I doubt that very much. Countries should be free to make their own foreign policy choices. But making those choices wisely requires a serious consideration for the costs and benefits.
[00:33:23] Cameron: The fact is that the United States and Ukraine entering into a deeper security relationship is likely to have some very serious costs for both countries. That was early in 2022 when he said that. Um, this is before the invasion and, uh, you know, it, it, you know, you say they have the right to do it and you said earlier that Putin thought the war was going to be over very quickly and it was going to be over very quickly.
[00:33:49] Cameron: Very early into his invasion in 2022, uh, Zelensky was ready to meet with him and discuss terms. and come to some sort of a peace agreement until, um, Boris Johnson shuttled in and spent a few days with him and basically told him or convinced him not to sign a peace deal with Putin. And then the U. S.
[00:34:18] Cameron: along with its allies, uh, in Europe. You know, I’ve spent, what, how many hundreds of billions of dollars now? 170 billion, 200 billion to keep the war going. So they could have signed a peace deal, March, April, 2022. Instead, the war’s been drawn out for 18 months. How many tens of thousands of people are dead, millions displaced, infrastructure destroyed because the US and the UK didn’t want Zelensky to sign a peace deal with Putin back in the early days?
[00:34:52] Cameron: And it would have all been over and done with.
[00:34:55] David: well, I, I, I, I dispute a, a fair amount of that. Let me, let me, let me go back a little bit though. You know, it may very well be that this, Mr. Burns and others have, have, have warned that a lot of the Russians don’t like the idea of, of a, uh, of, of, of, you know, Ukraine joining nato. And, and it’s fair enough that.
[00:35:20] David: Ukraine may want to make, take that as part of their consideration, making the decision they, whether they decide to, to, to irritate the Russians and join NATO or appease them, maybe compromise by joining the European Union, but, but which is an economic bloc as opposed to the military bloc that NATO is, but ultimately, I Again, it’s not up to Russia to make that decision or the Russian people.
[00:35:48] David: Uh, it’s up to the Ukrainian people. My recollection is that it was not exactly certain that Ukraine was ever going to actually join NATO. It was much more likely they would try to join the European Union, at least, at least in the shorter term. Uh, and, uh, you know, as far as the peace treaty, I, I, I That’s not the way I remember the early days at all.
[00:36:14] David: Zelensky’s country was attacked. He rallied his forces. He was considered, you know, unexpectedly, because a lot of folks thought he was going to be kind of a lightweight president. You know, he, he didn’t have the strong political background that the, the, some leaders have. Uh, they, they thought that, that he, he, he might turn out to be kind of weak, but he turned out to be a very strong and charismatic leader.
[00:36:39] David: Uh, and, and his forces, uh, pushed back the Russians away from Kiev and, and, and basically chased the Northern folks all the way back to Belarus. Uh, and, and then inspired by, by the, the obvious desire of his people not to be taken over by Russia, then other people, uh, you know, started to, to, to lend support.
[00:37:03] David: Now, did Boris, uh, uh, come in and, and, and, uh, and urge him to stand fast rather than capitulate? Uh, that may very well be, I honestly don’t know, but nothing that I saw and I followed it Very carefully, every day, the news coverage on multiple networks and newspapers was intense, as you well know. Uh, and I don’t recall anything about how, you know, Zelensky was going to willingly surrender a portion of his country.
[00:37:38] Cameron: that’s because it wasn’t covered in the U. S. media. You need to read outside of the U. S. media, so,
[00:37:43] David: I do.
[00:37:44] Cameron: by Pravda in Ukraine. So
[00:37:47] David: Pravda, oh, Pravda is such a good source.
[00:37:51] Cameron: David,
[00:37:52] David: That’s
[00:37:52] Cameron: is, David, David, this is, David, this is Ukranska Pravda, it’s an anti Russian newspaper, slow your roll. In May It reported that, and this didn’t get covered in the West, it reported possibility of talks between Zelensky and Putin came to a halt after Johnson’s visit, according to sources close to close to Zelensky, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, who appeared in the Capitol almost without warning.
[00:38:22] Cameron: Brought two simple messages. The first is that Putin is a war criminal. He should be pressured, not negotiated with. The second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they, meaning the collective West, are not. Three days after Johnson left for Britain, Putin went public and said talks with Ukraine had turned into a dead end.
[00:38:43] Cameron: Foreign Affairs in September, October 2022 said, According to multiple former senior U. S. officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement. Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23rd when it controlled part of the Donbass region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.
[00:39:15] Cameron: So, plenty of news sites in June last year covered the story that Boris was still saying he was worried that Ukraine would make a peace deal with Russia. But this story about how the, uh, negotiations got scuppered didn’t get a lot of coverage in the Western media, only in Foreign Affairs six months after the
[00:39:32] David: know, and you, you, you, you always like to blame the U. S. and in this case, I guess it’s U. S. ‘s ally, Great Britain, but the reality is, so, Boris Johnson went and said, you know, we would prefer to see you in the U. S. Stand fast and stand up to Putin. Okay. That’s his opinion. Russia’s opinion is we would prefer you to capitulate and join us, you know, in our, in our socialist utopia.
[00:40:03] David: Okay. That’s his opinion. Now, Zelensky and his government and, you know, and the people, they have to decide what they feel is best for them. And you could say he was pressured and he was being pressured from both sides, by the way. I mean, Putin was obviously, you know, trying to, to, to say, okay, we, this is our territory now.
[00:40:25] David: You have to accept that. And, and Boris Johnson was apparently trying to say, we really think you should stand up to him because he is in fact, And this is true. In fact, a war criminal, uh, and, and, and, and for you to capitulate to him would be a disaster. And Zelensky has to make his choice. So whether he was pressured or not, the ultimate choice was Zelensky’s and his government’s to make.
[00:40:54] David: And they made the choice probably helped by the fact that they had. somewhat unexpected success, you know, in, in repelling the, the, the Russian invasion. The Russian invasion was not well thought out, as it turns out, sort of strategically and tactically. Uh, they, they, they made a number of mistakes, uh, reminiscent, I suppose you could say, of of the choice of formations that Napoleon chose at the end of the Battle of Waterloo, you know, not necessarily going the way it would have been perhaps a little more effective.
[00:41:28] David: And so as a result, Russians suffered heavy losses, both in the north and also in the south, and now it’s dragged on for a long time. But, you know, we’re talking in circles. The reality is that Zelensky is not going To capitulate and unless he is defeated militarily, if he’s defeated militarily, he may or may not be able to hang on to, to North, uh, Western, uh, Central and Northwestern Ukraine and Odessa, you know, maybe Putin for now, we’ll just stop where he is.
[00:42:13] David: Uh, uh, or, or he, he may have to have further concessions and it’s probably not in the best interest of, of the people of Ukraine who are showing extreme bravery, uh, and determination to maintain their independence. And so again, uh, we’ll end up where we started off in my case, it is my sincere hope. that the U.
[00:42:39] David: S. and its allies will continue to, to support, uh, uh, Ukraine and, and their fight against this illegal, by international law, clearly illegal and, and brutal, uh, attack. And I’m not sure we can have much more to say than, than, than what we’ve said, but
[00:42:59] Cameron: Oh, I’ve got plenty more to say. You said earlier on that, you know, um, you’ve said two things that I think the quote I just read out from Foreign Affairs puts light to. Um, the first is that Putin’s early attacks weren’t successful. Well, Zelensky was ready by the sounds of it to sign a peace deal. So it was successful.
[00:43:19] Cameron: His plan, his initial plan was successful. He seemed to have
[00:43:24] David: he tried, he tried to take Kiev, he tried to take Kiev and he was beaten back. They thought they would, they would lose their capital. They, they attacked the capital from the South and the North. And in both cases, they were repelled. But
[00:43:37] Cameron: Yeah, well, whether or not he was trying to take it or just trying to distract the armed forces of Ukraine while he was doing other stuff depends on what his strategy actually was. We, none of us know what his strategy really was. But the point is that Zelensky sounds, by the sounds of it, by both Ukrainian media and foreign affairs, uh, Zelensky was ready to come to terms very early on in the whole process.
[00:44:02] Cameron: Secondly, you’ve said a number of times that Putin wanted to take all of Ukraine. According to, again, Foreign Affairs, he didn’t. He was ready to settle for back where they were at February 23, which was taking some of the Donbass region. That was his goal, a buffer zone, and also to guarantee, get guarantees from Zelensky.
[00:44:23] Cameron: That Ukraine wouldn’t join NATO. And it sounds like Zelensky was ready to agree to that until the UK and the USA interfered in the process and dragged it out even longer. And in terms of the NATO stuff, let me quote NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
[00:44:42] David: let me, let me, let me respond before I forget. You know, you see, you keep saying, well, it sounds like he was willing to cut a deal. And it sounds like Putin was willing. It sounds like a sound, but you don’t, you don’t have evidence for that. It may seem that way to some people and someone who wrote an article on may have felt that was the way it was.
[00:45:00] David: It was going to come down. Uh, I have a very hard. time believing that, that, that Zelensky was prepared to almost immediately, in your words, uh, sign off on losing most of Southern Ukraine, certainly all of it along the, the coastline, so that Russia would have a land, uh, uh, bridge to, to, uh, to Crimea. To go along with the, the other bridge and, and also his sea routes.
[00:45:29] David: Uh, I, I have a hard time, but you, you, you said, we don’t know really what Putin’s goal was. And it’s presumptuous of me to say he was going to take over all of Ukraine. That I don’t know that for sure. Cause I don’t know. I’ve not looked into his mind and that’s fair enough. It seemed like it was, given the military operation, but you don’t know either what Zelensky was really going to do.
[00:45:56] David: You’ve read some people who say they believe that Zelensky was prepared to sign a peace deal, but they don’t know. You don’t know. And by the way, I don’t know really what was in his mind and the mind of his advisors, what ultimately he was going to do. He was getting advice from both sides. I don’t dispute that, that, that Morris Johnson gave him advice on one side and, uh, as Putin and, and, and, and other people, you know, from, from his branch, uh, Belarus and so forth, I’m sure we’re pressuring him to, to, to.
[00:46:31] David: Take a different approach. The fact of the matter is, regardless of what advice he got and what pressure he had, He chose to defend his country. Russia was pushed back out of the north completely. A lot of the northeast and, and, and sort of south central part of Ukraine was retaken by Ukraine in the first counteroffensive.
[00:47:00] David: In the second counteroffensive, Neither side has gained much. I mean, you know, one side gains, you know, control of both sides of, of, of, of the river at a strategic point. Another side gains a couple of villages, which are bombed out Hulks of themselves. I would say. Any, any, any military strategists would tell you right now.
[00:47:22] David: You know, after some pretty good success in the first counter offensive, it’s basically a stalemate for, for the winter chances of anything other than the occasional ship sinking or, or something along that line, uh, that, that might happen, any, any real land progress is going to be extremely limited and, and until, you know, after the spring, the spring thaws, everything turns to quagmire of mud.
[00:47:49] David: So that, that’s. Slows things down dramatically. And then next summer, either side can decide to, to mount some kind of a major offensive, uh, either, either, either the Russians are pushing North again, or, or, or, or the Ukrainians pushing South at East again, and, you know, time, time will tell how, how that goes.
[00:48:11] David: Uh, we, we just don’t know. Uh, all, all we can do in our minds is decide. For ourselves, do we think that Ukraine should be supported in its fight to maintain its independence, or do you think that they should be encouraged to sign some kind of a treaty, uh, that Putin reports say is allegedly open to some kind of a treaty, as long as he can say he won, and that would mean keeping the territory he now currently controls.
[00:48:47] David: You know, you could make an argument on both sides of that. I think the Ukrainian people at this point have made it pretty clear, and certainly Zelensky and his government, they want to keep going. They want to get back the territory, including Crimea that was taken from them. You know, a reasonable argument can be made that maybe, you know, you should quit while you still have The vast majority of your country, assuming that we can trust Putin’s treaties and we can get, you know, some kind of of guaranteed security from elsewhere, or maybe that Putin has to, you know, Putin gets territory, but maybe Putin has to concede that Ukraine can join NATO because it’s a sovereign country.
[00:49:30] David: You know, there are various configurations of potential deals that could be made. Uh. But my argument is that’s up to Zelensky and his government. They have to make a decision. You and I can, can encourage them from afar and our various respective governments on all sides can encourage them more, more, more importantly, more directly.
[00:49:55] David: But ultimately, it’s going to come down to. Two things. What does Zelensky ultimately want to have happen? And two, are his current allies, which is to say, primarily NATO countries, the United States being the biggest provider of funds, but Germany and Finland and others. Japan is now talking about routing some missiles through the U.
[00:50:21] David: S. so they can be sent to Ukraine. You know, so there’s a fair amount of international support for Defending Ukraine’s right to, to, to, to, to self defense. Um, but again, ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what Zelensky and his government decide is the appropriate thing to do. You and I have, are very good at having good ideas and, and I respect your ideas and, and, and I certainly respect your, your, your research.
[00:50:51] David: Uh, but Zelensky’s not going to listen to you, and he’s not going to listen to me. So we could just have to, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree and, and wait and see ultimately what happens.
[00:51:02] Cameron: Yeah, it looks like, just from the media coverage recently, it looks like the West is starting to pull back from supporting Ukraine. NBC News had a story a couple of days ago, the war in Ukraine is revitalizing Putin as Zelensky struggles with resources and morale. You know, you say the Ukrainians are wanting to defend their country, but Zelensky has had to, uh, arrest and imprison a lot of his leadership, um, that he’s accused of.
[00:51:32] Cameron: He’s accused of betraying the country. He’s, you know, delayed elections. He’s basically Well, you call it
[00:51:40] David: He’s having to deal with corruption and, and, and that’s something that, that, you know, we should all applaud, uh, he’s doing a lot of that in response to the requirements of joining the European Union, you know, while the European Union Requires that a government that wants to join show that it is not full of corruption.
[00:52:02] David: And there were definitely corrupt people in, in, in, in that country as there are in, in, in Russia and elsewhere, there were people making, making money, you know, off of the war and, and, and this, that, and the other thing. You know, no, Hunter Biden’s got nothing to do with it, though, if you’re going to start
[00:52:19] Cameron: Corruption in Ukraine?
[00:52:21] David: yeah, yeah, we’re not going to talk about Hunter Biden.
[00:52:24] David: But that’s, that’s, that’s just,
[00:52:26] Cameron: you’re taking the Joe Biden
[00:52:27] David: is, it has been totally debunked. Uh,
[00:52:31] Cameron: It hasn’t been totally
[00:52:32] David: a, it’s a, it’s a big nothing burger.
[00:52:35] Cameron: It is not an, that’s, that’s, that’s, uh, would be, that’s a convenient way of avoiding a discussion about the facts, but we’re talking about corruption in Ukraine, and that’s very much part of it. And that gets back to, like, this whole thing, you tend to start your storyline with, you know, early 22 or Putin’s invasion of Crimea.
[00:52:54] Cameron: As I said earlier on, from the From a Russian perspective, and many international observers agree, the, the coups in Ukraine in 2004 and 2014 were either engineered by the United States or at least vigorously supported by the United States. Let me quote Ian Traynor. The Guardian’s European editor, writing in the Guardian in 2004, this is after the Orange Revolution, uh, he says, but while the gains of the orange bedecked chestnut revolution in Ukraine’s the campaign is an American creation.
[00:53:33] Cameron: A sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in Western branding and mass marketing that in four countries in four years has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavory regimes. Funded and organized by the US government. Deploying U. S. consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties, and U.
[00:53:54] Cameron: S. non government organizations. The campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box. Richard Miles, the U. S. ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as U. S. ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia. Coaching Mikhail Shashkevili in how to bring down Edward Shevnazi.
[00:54:18] Cameron: Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in Central America, notably in Nicaragua, organized a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hard man Alexander Lukashenko. That one failed. There will be no Kostunica in Belarus, the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.
[00:54:41] Cameron: But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev. The operation, engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience, is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.
[00:55:02] David: Well, yeah, it’s one person’s opinion, and you have a long history of, of blame America. There’s no question about it, uh, you know, every, every bad thing that happens, you, you do your best to trace it back to being, you know, because of a influence or a plot or, or, or, or, or whatever by the United States of America.
[00:55:24] David: Uh, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve been that way as long as I’ve known you, uh, and, and, you know, it’s, it’s okay. You’re, you’re, you’re entitled to that, but I, I reject. The idea that America was behind and a major influencer, it probably did support because the two people that were thrown out, particularly the last one that was tossed out of Ukraine, were notably corrupt and unpopular with the people.
[00:55:59] David: Ukraine is, is, is better off with, with, with Zelensky. And, and by the way, where, where, where did the last guy go? He, he, he, he hightailed it to Russia because he, in fact, was a Russian puppet. You want to talk about, you know, America’s influence. What about Russia’s influence? They, they had their own puppet in, in, in there, Putin’s puppet.
[00:56:19] David: And, and he got, he got overthrown and, and, and, and went, went back to Russia, you know? So, you know, again, I, I, I don’t see. and we’re running low on time, uh, I, I don’t see that we’re
[00:56:33] Cameron: Right on track, as far as I’m concerned.
[00:56:36] David: Well, I don’t
[00:56:37] Cameron: you know about, do you know about the Victoria Newland phone call in 2014 after the Maidon Revolution?
[00:56:46] David: Well, you’re reading from your screen, but no, I, I don’t recall that offhand.
[00:56:50] Cameron: Do you know who Victoria Newland is?
[00:56:53] David: Well, why don’t you tell us all?
[00:56:56] Cameron: People who listen to this show know who she is. She is, I’m looking you up her current role. She is currently, uh, Undersecretary of State. for political affairs since 2021. But in 2014, she was the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs at the Department of State. February 4th, 2014, sort of in the middle of the Maidan revolution, she telephoned Jeffrey Payette.
[00:57:27] Cameron: The US ambassador to Ukraine. Um, and, uh, they had a telephone conversation, um, basically where they were planning on who was going to run the Ukrainian government after the revolution was over. It got bugged. Somebody bugged their telephone call and released it a few days later. Probably the Russians. Um, but it’s very.
[00:57:50] Cameron: Clear in the conversation. This is a famous conversation too, where she said, fuck the eu. Uh, the EU won’t be happy about it, but fuck the eu. Uh, but she, she and Jeffrey Piat were basically talking amongst themselves who was going to be the leader of the Ukrainian government, and I think it was Yook. They decided former European central banker, and he then became the next leader of Ukraine.
[00:58:16] Cameron: So. We have that evidence that she and Jeffrey Piatt determined who was going to be, they were talking about getting Biden on the phone, making the call, sorting it all out, that they, in the middle of the Maidan protests, they were figuring out who was going to lead the country afterwards. So we have, we have like lots of people around the world, there’s lots of scholars who study this region who believe that the U.
[00:58:40] Cameron: S. was involved in overthrowing the country and certainly Putin believes that, many Russians believe that the U. S. overthrew. The democratically elected governments of Ukraine, not once, but twice in, in a decade. Have you watched, um, Oliver Stone’s four hour interview with Vladimir Putin that he did a couple of years ago? I highly recommend it. I’ve recommended it on this show many times just to see, like, it’s four hours of conversations with Putin that he did. I think sort of 2018, 2019, something like that. Um. You know, just to see Putin’s perspective coming out of his own mouth. He is a, he is not a dummy. He is a
[00:59:24] David: he’s not. I agree.
[00:59:26] Cameron: very intelligent, very softly spoken.
[00:59:30] Cameron: He understands history. He understands global geopolitical
[00:59:34] David: Oh, and by the way, he also kills his political adversaries or throws them into gulags and Siberia and so on. So, you know, he may be intelligent and soft spoken, but he’s also a murderous dictator who’s probably guilty of multiple war crimes. So while I agree, listen to him. And I have listened to interviews with him.
[00:59:55] David: I’ve not listened to that particular interview, but I have listened. to, to interviews with him on, on various networks. And I do find it interesting to, to see, you know, and hear, you know, what his perspective is, given that, of course, he’s putting on a show to some extent, I mean, as would anyone being interviewed, any, any leader of any country is putting on a show when they’re being interviewed, you know, by the news media.
[01:00:19] David: And so you have to always take at least a little grain of salt with. with how they come across. They’re going to, they’re doing their best to put their best face forward. And that’s understandable. And again, that’s universal. It isn’t just a Putin thing. Uh, but, uh, you know, again, it’s interesting to know where he’s coming from and it’s, it’s instructive.
[01:00:41] David: And it can provide information that allow you to judge what your response should or should not be and how you should or should not approach relationship with Putin and, and with his Russia, that doesn’t mean that Again, I get back to the fundamental thing. I don’t care what you say about the Solomon Islands or Belarus or Georgia or any of these other things.
[01:01:13] David: Those may be interesting comparisons, and you may or may not agree with what happened in those situations. But we’re talking about Ukraine being invaded by Russia. And what is the world going to do or not going to do about it? We can say what we think they should or should not do, and on that we differ.
[01:01:40] David: I think one thing we agree on is you and I are just going to have to wait and see because there’s a lot of complexities out there as to what happens next in terms of a potential peace treaty. Potential stalemate, potential gains or losses by one side or the other in the, in next summer’s campaign, assuming the things continue, you know, the, the, the effect of more or the same, or, or, or a big cutback in, in, in aid.
[01:02:10] David: Military and financial aid from essentially NATO countries and a few other countries around the world. These are all important factors that are going to determine the ultimate fate of the situation there. And maybe if peace in that part of the world, uh, ultimately, you know, that, that remains to be seen.
[01:02:32] David: Uh, but, uh, I think the whole point of this conversation was for us to sort of expose our points of view and let people hear your point of view and my point of view. I don’t think either one of us really expects we’re going Going to convince the other that, oh, I don’t think Cameron Raleigh is going to say, you know, geez, Markham, you’re, you’re right.
[01:02:54] David: I’ve been wrong all along about this, you know, and I don’t think you expect me to say, you know, Cameron, you’re right. The U. S. is just an abysmal, horrible beast of, it’s always trying to do this, that, and the other thing. And, and, and, and Russia is basically just, Peace loving and trying to preserve the peace by invading it’s next door neighbor.
[01:03:13] David: We’re not, we’re not going to convince each other. So there’s no real point in trying.
[01:03:19] Cameron: let’s,
[01:03:19] David: what we’re trying to do is show our listeners, you know, here, here are our two different points of view.
[01:03:26] Cameron: It’s, it’s, it’s, you know, very lazy, uh, uh, like debate approach always to accuse me of blaming America and hating America and all that kind of stuff. I’ve said this to you for years. My, I don’t hate America. I, you know, my wife’s American, my kid’s half American, a lot of my friends and colleagues are Americans.
[01:03:49] Cameron: I love a lot of things about America. All the films and the music and the books and everything that I’ve consumed over my lifetime is largely American. I’m just a geopolitical realist. I believe that America, like every country, does things that it thinks is, um, supporting, promoting its economic interests at the end of the day.
[01:04:12] Cameron: I think Russia does the same thing. I think, uh, the, the, the monarchs of Europe during Napoleon’s time were doing the same thing. I think Napoleon was doing that. I think that’s basically what leaders of countries generally try and do. And not just political leaders. I’m talking about the, the, the elite, the economic power within the country.
[01:04:31] Cameron: They’re trying to support their rational interests and they, they will often do that at the cost of lives of their own people when they send their own people off to war and often other people. And I think the Ukraine thing, the basic story of what’s happening in Ukraine to me is, the essential story is that since the end of the cold war in the early nineties, when the world became unipolar, In terms of political and military power for a couple of decades, the U.
[01:05:09] Cameron: S. saw it as an opportunity, a once in a lifetime, a once in a century opportunity to take as much as it could in terms of, uh, forming or solidifying its economic block, or its trading block around the world. Part of that was, uh, you know, uh, uh, Taking over, or no, let’s say replacing regimes in countries that were run by governments that weren’t quite friendly to the United States trading bloc, with governments that were friendly to it.
[01:05:46] Cameron: And that was the colour revolutions in the early 2000s, um, you know, Clinton started expanding NATO in 96 after the US and the UK promised Gorbachev that they wouldn’t do it. But, uh, Russia has spent 30 years Trying to, uh, ask NATO and the U. S. predominantly not to expand NATO right up to their border, not to encircle them, and the U.
[01:06:12] Cameron: S. has basically told Russia to go fuck itself for
[01:06:16] David: Well, and by the way, I’m going to, I’m going to interrupt you here. I want to reply to that because you’ve used that term several times. Encircling. They don’t want to be encircled. Take a look at the map. This is not encircling them. This is just Encircling them. Adding someone to an area where they already, you know, have the bulk of NATO nations against them.
[01:06:39] David: They’ve created a little bit of encircling on their own because of their actions leading to Finland and most likely Sweden in the North, you know, but they’re still looking at basically their Western front. They’ve, they’ve got China, they’ve got, they’ve got Asia, they’ve got all sorts of that are nothing to do with any of this on the other two thirds of of their border.
[01:07:03] David: This is not encirclement. It is simply adding bulk, if you will, to the border that they already have with NATO.
[01:07:12] Cameron: well I’m just quoting the
[01:07:13] David: is
[01:07:13] Cameron: of the, I’m quoting the director of the CIA, David, he, he used the word encirclement,
[01:07:18] David: And
[01:07:19] Cameron: so take it up, take it up with the director of the CIA,
[01:07:22] David: director of the CIA is quoting what he says is Putin’s concern. Putin likes to call it
[01:07:29] Cameron: not Putin, all of the Russian elite. He said, not just Putin,
[01:07:35] David: all the Russian elite use that term as well, but it’s still not encirclement.
[01:07:40] David: It isn’t.
[01:07:41] Cameron: David, see, this is the problem. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it’s encirclement. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think NATO is defensive
[01:07:49] David: Well, the map shows that it’s not encirclement.
[01:07:52] Cameron: It, what matters in these situations is what the Russians feel is threatening them.
[01:07:58] Cameron: I mean, again, you, you always, um, you know, you always try to get me to say, which side do I support? Do I, you know, do, do I justify, am I justifying this? Am I supporting that? I don’t, I don’t feel. Like, it’s my job to justify or support anything. What I’m trying to do on this show is understand the levers.
[01:08:19] Cameron: Why are countries doing what they’re doing? It’s not my job to justify. Americans tend to have this very red team, blue team mentality. You gotta pick a side. I don’t have that
[01:08:31] David: That’s probably true.
[01:08:33] Cameron: Yeah, I don’t have that view, you know, I just try and understand why things happen. Why did Napoleon invade Russia in 1812?
[01:08:43] Cameron: I don’t need to take a side, although of course I take Napoleon’s side, that goes without question, but I don’t need to. But, you know, it’s very evident in this case that Russia, since Gorbachev, has been trying to prevent NATO expansion through diplomatic means. For 30 years, they tried to prevent NATO expansion diplomatically and it just failed over and over again.
[01:09:10] Cameron: Jen Stoltenberg, I was trying to quote before the head of NATO, said this recently. The background to the Ukraine invasion was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021 and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us, and was a precondition to not invade Ukraine.
[01:09:31] Cameron: Of course, we didn’t sign that. The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure and all allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO. All the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our alliance, introducing some kind of B or second class membership.
[01:09:53] Cameron: We rejected that, so we went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.
[01:10:01] David: Of course.
[01:10:03] Cameron: So, hold on,
[01:10:04] David: that. We don’t let him dictate to us.
[01:10:07] Cameron: so, the point is, okay, so that’s fine, but this is what happens, if you keep putting enemy bases closer and closer to a country that feels more and more threatened, what do you think’s gonna happen?
[01:10:22] Cameron: Eventually, they’re going to have to do something about it. He can’t just sit there, decade after decade after decade. with diplomacy failing over and over and over and over again when he’s
[01:10:36] David: about signing a
[01:10:38] Cameron: he’s trying to,
[01:10:39] David: with NATO, a non aggression pact with NATO? What Putin
[01:10:42] Cameron: they tried that, they tried that. Gorbachev and Yeltsin and Putin all tried to create new alliances that would bring Russia into NATO in a new kind of alliance. It got rejected over and again. NATO refused to look at entering Russia into a new kind of alliance. Obviously, NATO was set up as an anti Soviet alliance in the first place, so they were trying to create new alliances.
[01:11:11] Cameron: Gorbachev was suggesting that in the early 90s. They’ve been trying that for 30 years too. And they, they, my point is, what do you expect to happen when diplomacy fails? Decade after decade after decade, eventually, this is what guys like John Mearsheimer have been saying for decades. It’s what Chomsky’s been saying for decades.
[01:11:32] Cameron: If the, it’s what. Bloody, um, uh, George Kennan said, you know, George Kennan, the George Kennan, when Clinton, he was still alive. He was in his early nineties when Clinton started enlarging NATO. George Kennan, the creator of America’s Cold War containment strategy. He himself in, uh, 1996, let me get the quote, I’ve got it in my notes here.
[01:12:04] Cameron: Um, hold on,
[01:12:11] Cameron: why does it, ah, I hate it when this doesn’t come up. Uh, yeah,
[01:12:15] David: know the feeling, my friend, trust me. Well, while you’re looking for it, let
[01:12:19] Cameron: from him. Yeah, sorry,
[01:12:21] David: while you’re looking, let me, let me say something, you know, you, several times you said when Clinton started expanding NATO, you know, Clinton doesn’t have the power to expand NATO. Individual countries have to decide they want to become members of NATO.
[01:12:37] David: They have to jump through a number of hoops in order to show that, that they are deserving of it. And then every single country of NATO has to vote approval. That’s why Sweden is not. member of NATO yet. There are still two holdouts, although that appears to be to be coming to to an end now. But every single NATO country has to agree after NATO’s governing body says that, okay, they’ve, they’ve met the qualifications to, to join us, the economic, military, or whatever qualifications.
[01:13:10] David: So to say that, you know, you make a sound like Clinton is moving pieces of Chess on a, you know, chess pieces on a, on a chessboard. You know, he may have been influencing it and maybe encouraging it. There’s no question about it. I don’t deny, and by the way, I don’t generally say that you hate America. I generally say you blame America, you know, for, for, for virtually everything.
[01:13:31] David: I’ve had, I’ve said that once or twice in private conversations, but I didn’t say it tonight. You’ll, you’ll, you’ll notice I was very careful not to say that because I tend to believe that you don’t really hate America. You just, you hate what we do politically and foreign policy and stuff, you know, to
[01:13:46] Cameron: I don’t hate it either. I’m just, I just, I try to understand it. I’m a realist. Here’s what George Kennan said in the mid nineties. He said, of course this is about NATO expansion. He said, of course there’s gonna be a bad reaction from Russia, and then the NATO expanders will say that. We always told you that’s how the Russians are, but this is just wrong.
[01:14:07] Cameron: And this is exactly the point. He was exactly right. The NATO keeps expanding closer and closer to Russia. Eventually Russia reacts to that, and then you go, oh, look at Russia. They’re invading Ukraine. Yeah. Well, they told you for 30 years, stop it, cut it out, or we’re going to have to do something. And you knew that, you understood that, the director of the CIA has known that for decades.
[01:14:34] Cameron: You did it anyway, what you knew was gonna happen, happened, and then you go, Oh my god, look at Russia, they invaded Ukraine. It just, it’s like, it’s just, uh, ridiculous to me that everyone acts surprised when it’s almost like you pushed them into this over decades. You knew this would happen, in fact, I have to think that you wanted it to happen.
[01:14:56] Cameron: So you could use it as justification for more military industrial spending, you know, increasing the sizes of the military industrial complex and, and use it to try and, for regime change in Russia. Why else would you keep doing
[01:15:09] David: well,
[01:15:10] Cameron: want it to happen?
[01:15:11] David: now I find you insulting. Honestly, no one wants the kind of destruction that you’re, that you see in Ukraine right now with the, the, the, yeah, real, well, maybe the Russians do, and maybe Putin does, because he thinks
[01:15:24] Cameron: Then why did, then why did, why did you guys tell Zelensky, if this happened, don’t sign a peace deal, go to war, if you didn’t want to see this destruction happen?
[01:15:34] David: Well, you know, first of all, we, we did not necessarily know that, that, that Putin would deliberately target civilians and civilian infrastructure. But secondly, again, you,
[01:15:48] Cameron: a war is a war, man.
[01:15:49] David: keep, yeah, you keep, you keep saying that you don’t want to justify things. You just want to understand them. But your entire discussion on this, this.
[01:16:01] David: Now, uh, two hours, uh, has been just, yes, it has. Since we first started that we did, we had our conversation about computers for a few minutes before, but you know, we’ve been talking for,
[01:16:15] Cameron: of recorded conversation.
[01:16:17] David: yeah, well, that’s, that’s, that’s a lot. Uh,
[01:16:20] Cameron: an hour a topic.
[01:16:22] David: it, it’s, yeah. And we’re like, we don’t have time to do that. Uh, at any rate. Much of what you’ve done tonight is in fact try to justify
[01:16:32] Cameron: No, I’m talking about
[01:16:33] David: We should have known better.
[01:16:36] Cameron: I’m talking about what Putin’s justification is for it. It’s not my justification, it’s his justification. It’s Russia’s justification. And what America’s justification was for So, helping in large part create the situation in the first place.
[01:16:54] David: Well,
[01:16:55] Cameron: You can’t deny that the US
[01:16:57] David: you, if you say, if you think If you say that, that supporting the, the survival of a democratically elected government of a country from an illegal and immoral invasion with no, in fact, direct pretext, the, I, I, they may not have liked it. The, the, the expansion of NATO, but they had no right to invade any country just because they were afraid it might join NATO.
[01:17:31] David: NATO has not shown any inclination to invade Russia. It’s a defensive organization. It wasn’t even clear that,
[01:17:40] Cameron: about the bombing of Yugoslavia, the bombing of Libya, the bombing of the Bosnian Serb army? NATO’s not defensive. It’s led at least three aggressive actions in the last 20 30 years.
[01:17:52] David: well, we don’t have time to get into those. They were much more complex than simply NATO invading or whatever.
[01:17:59] Cameron: But they did.
[01:18:00] David: great deal of complexity. We need to stick to what we’re talking about and and and
[01:18:06] Cameron: this, this, this positioning of NATO as a purely defensive organization just doesn’t hold water. They’re, they’re, they’ve been an aggressive actor at least three times in the last, you know,
[01:18:17] David: Yes, but, but not in terms of Russia. Russia has no reason to believe. Russia is a lot different than Yugoslavia
[01:18:26] Cameron: you can’t say that. Russia, Russia does believe, the director of the CIA told Condoleezza Rice 15 years ago that Russia believed it. You can’t say they have no reason to believe when they obviously do believe it. So they obviously do have reason to believe it.
[01:18:45] David: let’s, and, and I, I’m going to have to go now, because this is pretty quickly here, because I have, I don’t have three hours, like you apparently do. Uh, we, we, we don’t have, we have three topics. We, I’m not going to do an hour on topic. We’ll do the other topics another time. I’ll be glad to come back and continue this.
[01:19:02] David: But, but the fact that the fact.
[01:19:04] Cameron: a bladder thing? Is it a, is it a bladder thing?
[01:19:06] David: no, it’s, it’s, it’s maybe getting hungry thing and, and, you know, and, you know, it’s, it’s seven o’clock in the evening here now. And, and, and, and I have a wife in the other room who might like to have dinner with me or whatever, but
[01:19:20] Cameron: me an email saying she was looking
[01:19:21] David: yeah, I know she, we have peace and quiet for Aetna.
[01:19:24] David: I know I saw, I saw that, you know, we, we joke about that. She, she told me, oh good, take your time, David. Peace and quiet for Aetna, you know. That’s that’s one of her mantras. You know, I go on a trip, you know, so we’re all good. So peace and quiet for Edna, you know. Uh, but, uh, you know, you, you say you don’t want to, you know, blame or support or, or whatever, but, but you, I’ll just, I’ll close my, my comments by saying.
[01:19:55] David: Even if Russia thought they were being encircled, even if Russia didn’t really want NATO to expand and had said so, the idea that they were going to get inside a treaty where NATO gives up or makes sub partners the eastern portion of NATO is ludicrous. And if Sweden or Finland ever decided they wanted to join, or if Ukraine wanted to join, and they met the qualifications to do that, Russia may not like it, may feel uncomfortable, and maybe the West should do their best to, to mollify Russia and say, listen, you know, we want you to understand, you know, but.
[01:20:42] David: You know, Russia’s been backing out of, of, of various treaties on nuclear weapons, for example, and so forth. So, you know, that’s, that’s a little problematic. Uh, but the bottom line is, we should do our best to make President Putin understand and feel that this is not meant to be a threat. As long as he doesn’t invade us, we’re not going to invade him.
[01:21:11] David: And he’s got plenty of military muscle. You know, to, to make sure that, you know, the U. S. and NATO don’t do something foolish like trying to invade, you know, Russia or Belarus as his good buddy and so on. But, after doing that, the bottom line is Russia had no right by international law to invade Ukraine.
[01:21:39] David: It’s a violation of international law. And I would like to think that you believe that countries should follow international law. And I’m not going to say that, that Putin’s the only country and Russia’s the only country that’s ever violated international law. There are other examples. Of course, you, you can,
[01:21:58] Cameron: including the United States on a regular basis.
[01:22:01] David: Well, I would say it’s possible the United States in some situations, I’d have to really go through and look at the nature of international law because, you know, what you call invasions of America tend to be more nuanced.
[01:22:15] David: There’s nothing nuanced about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s a straight send your armies and other military across the border and try to take it over. Anyway, I have enjoyed this thoroughly. We have, as expected, disagreed. I hope you’re not too disappointed that I don’t want to spend three hours doing this, but, you know, my energy level is not the same as yours, perhaps, and I have, you know, my hunger pains are not the same as yours, and so on.
[01:22:48] David: But let’s do it again, by all means. Uh, and then next time, maybe your cohort in crime, uh, Ray Harris will, will be able to join us. And, and it won’t just be, you know, uh, you beating up on me, it’ll be the two of you beating up on me probably, but, you know, uh, but regardless, I.
[01:23:06] Cameron: he’ll just sit there and chew on his uh, weed gummies and get high and
[01:23:10] David: Oh,
[01:23:11] Cameron: That’s what he normally does.
[01:23:13] David: okay. But no, I, I, I enjoy talking this kind of stuff and I enjoy talking through with you, uh, probably much more than if you actually agreed with me on everything. It’d be nice if you occasionally said that I had a good point to make, you know, I,
[01:23:30] Cameron: you ever make one, I’ll,
[01:23:31] David: That wouldn’t have been too bad, you know, but, but, uh, other than, yeah, other than that, uh, I, I’ve, I’ve enjoyed hearing your points of view and, and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing my points of view, and much more importantly, I hope our, I hope our listeners have found this to be a.
[01:23:46] David: Not only entertaining, uh, but also informative, you know, the two sides with very opposing points of view, making, making their argument for, for their point of view and, and then let, let our listeners decide how, how they come down on the issue. But I appreciate the invitation to do this, my friend, and, you know, you will always be a very dear friend in spite of our disagreements on some political stuff, and, uh, that’s not ever going to change, and I look forward to doing it again.
[01:24:17] Cameron: thank you. It was delightful. Good fun. Thank you, David. Have a good, enjoy your meal. Give my best to Edna.