Open Letter from Frmr Reagan Advisor Calls-Out Obama Re. Inexcusable Abandonment of FORMAL, Signed Guarantee of Ukrainian Borders
Dear Mr. President:
If your word (and, by extension, that of the United States) means anything, now is the time to prove it. On Sept. 4-5, you will be attending the NATO Summit in Wales. It will offer you a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the many doubters and scoffers around the world that you, personally, and the United States, as a global superpower, still stands behinds it commitments, and its policies still carry weight. Regardless of how tired we all are in meeting military challenges and aggression, we endanger world peace and the future of our children if we fail to do so. Global interdependencies are so extensive that we can no longer find safety behind oceans. To use an overworked expression: “we can run but we can’t hide.” Thus far, we have been running.
On Dec. 5, 1994, President Clinton and the leaders of Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation signed a Memorandum in Budapest in which Ukraine agreed to relinquish all of its nuclear weapons in exchange for “commitments” and “obligations” to (a) respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine; (b) refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity or independence; and (c) refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate Ukrine’s exercise of its sovereignty. China and France provided similar national security assurances in separate statements; and, five years later, Russia and the U.S. reconfirmed their commitments in a joint declaration.
Although the Memorandum lacks enforcement mechanism, Ukraine was persuaded to abjure its nuclear weapons and super-power status because of U.S., Russian, and UK commitments. Of the signatories, only Russia could have been considered an existential threat to Ukraine at some time in the future, but the joint declaration made that appear very unlikely. The U.S. had “won” the Cold War, was the sole superpower, and its word was good as gold. If its assurances were to have no underlying enforcement implications, then it was simply engaging in a cynical, diplomatic shell game.
We know, Mr. President, that you have made firm and unequivocal commitments of support for Ukraine...as have other top officials in your administration. Those were welcome and reassuring words. But words alone, even those as eloquent and reasoned as yours, have not stopped one of the co-signatories of the Memorandum from tearing it to shreds. In fact, Putin’s actions seem designed to demonstrate that the U.S. is a toothless tiger, that its threats and commitments are hollow, and that the scorn and contempt that he has often shown towards you and the United States are warranted. Is it not obvious that so much of what you hope to accomplish on a global level depends on your and our nation’s credibility?
But despite the words, the limited material support, and the modest sanctions, neither the U.S. nor UK have come evenclose to honoring their implied commitment to come to Ukraine’s assistance. Your insistence, and that of some European leaders, that Ukraine should not be given “lethal” assistance is inexplicable. How, in God’s name, can you and Mr. Biden reconcile your promises to stand with Ukrainians through thick and thin, while, at the same time, refuse to provide them with the means to defend themselves against a modern military machine that is ten times larger? Ukraine has never asked for foreign military personnel to come to its assistance, but how can you possibly withhold supplies Ukraine needs to merely defend itself? I can understand the Germans or the French…..they are always playing shameless double games. But why are you resisting military and intelligence experts as well as political leaders from both parties who are urging you to throw Ukraine the rope it needs to save itself?
You insist that the U.S. act in concert with its European “partners” and with the world community. But neither the EU nor the United Nations committed to Ukrainé’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The U.S. did. Most, if not all of Europe will follow, and NATO is extremely likely to look to the U.S. to take the lead. Trying to keep the various states to act in concert is a little like herding two dozen cats, but restoring peace and the rule of international law in Europe is worthy of a U.S. president. You, more than any other leader on the world stage, are able to persuade the French to hold off on delivery of “Mistral”; work out strategies for alternative sources of energy; provide immediate support to Ukraine of modern lethal weapons, training, and intelligence; and hit hard at the Russian economy with sanctions – either alone or in concert with others.
Mr. President, I have proudly served in our nation’s armed forces for over a quarter century; and I know that Ukrainians would not now be fighting for their survival if they had not given up their nuclear weapons. They trusted our assurances - even if not explicitly defined - to offer protection against aggression. You have already affirmed and shown your intent to honor those assurances. Let’s show the world (in the words of Mark Twain) that the reports of America’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
With kind regards,
George Woloshyn worked in the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. He is a former naval intelligence commander and former director of U.S. National Security Preparedness and a former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Security Investigations. (Kyiv Post)