Bernie Sanders: ‘We Must Do Everything Possible to Avoid an Enormously Destructive War in Ukraine’

by on February 9, 2022 · 3 comments

in Military, War and Peace, World News

By Bernie Sanders / The Guardian UK / Feb. 8, 2022

I’m concerned when I hear familiar drumbeats in Washington demanding we ‘show strength’, when we’re faced with what could be the worst European war in 75 years

Wars have unintended consequences. They rarely turn out the way the experts tell us they will. Just ask the officials who provided rosy scenarios for the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, only to be proven horribly wrong. Just ask the mothers of the soldiers who were killed or wounded in action during those wars. Just ask the millions of civilians who became “collateral damage”.

That is why we must do everything possible to try and find a diplomatic solution to what could be an enormously destructive war in Ukraine.

No one knows exactly what the human costs of such a war would be. But there are estimates that there could be over 50,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine, and millions of refugees flooding neighboring countries as they flee what could be the worst European conflict since the second world war. In addition, of course, there would be many thousands of deaths within the Ukrainian and Russian militaries. There is also the possibility that this “regional” war could escalate to other parts of Europe. What might happen then is even more horrifying.

But that’s not all. The sanctions against Russia and Russia’s threatened response to those sanctions, could result in massive economic upheaval – with impacts on energy, banking, food and the day-to-day needs of ordinary people throughout the entire world. It is likely that Russians will not be the only people suffering from sanctions. And, by the way, any hope of international cooperation to address the existential threat of global climate crisis and future pandemics would suffer a major setback.

We should be clear about who is most responsible for this looming crisis: Vladimir Putin. Having already seized parts of Ukraine in 2014, the Russian president now threatens to take over the entire country and destroy Ukrainian democracy. In my view, we must unequivocally support the sovereignty of Ukraine and make clear that the international community will impose severe consequences on Putin and his associates if he does not change course.

With that said, I am extremely concerned when I hear the familiar drumbeats in Washington, the bellicose rhetoric that gets amplified before every war, demanding that we must “show strength”, “get tough” and not engage in “appeasement”. A simplistic refusal to recognize the complex roots of the tensions in the region undermines the ability of negotiators to reach a peaceful resolution.

One of the precipitating factors of this crisis, at least from Russia’s perspective, is the prospect of an enhanced security relationship between Ukraine and the United States and western Europe, including what Russia sees as the threat of Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (Nato), a military alliance originally created in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union.

It is good to know some history. When Ukraine became independent after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russian leaders made clear their concerns about the prospect of former Soviet states becoming part of Nato and positioning hostile military forces along Russia’s border. US leaders recognized these concerns as legitimate at the time. They are still legitimate concerns. Invasion by Russia is not an answer; neither is intransigence by Nato. It is also important to recognize that Finland, one of the most developed and democratic countries in the world, borders Russia and has chosen not to be a member of Nato.

Putin may be a liar and a demagogue, but it is hypocritical for the United States to insist that we do not accept the principle of “spheres of influence”. For the last 200 years our country has operated under the Monroe Doctrine, embracing the premise that as the dominant power in the western hemisphere, the United States has the right to intervene against any country that might threaten our alleged interests. Under this doctrine we have undermined and overthrown at least a dozen governments. In 1962 we came to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union in response to the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from our shore, which the Kennedy administration saw as an unacceptable threat to our national security.

And 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, Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, declared “the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well”.

To put it simply, even if Russia was not ruled by a corrupt authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the United States, would still have an interest in the security policies of its neighbors. Does anyone really believe that the United States would not have something to say if, for example, Mexico was to form a military alliance with a US adversary?

Countries should be free to make their own foreign policy choices, but making those choices wisely requires a serious consideration of the costs and benefits. The fact is that the US and Ukraine entering into a deeper security relationship is likely to have some very serious costs – for both countries.

We must vigorously support diplomatic efforts to deescalate this crisis and reaffirm Ukrainian independence and sovereignty. And we must make clear that Putin and his gang of oligarchs will face major consequences should he continue down the current path. At the same time, we must never forget the horrors that a war in the region would cause and must work hard to achieve a realistic and mutually agreeable resolution – one that is acceptable to Ukraine, Russia, the United States and our European allies – and that prevents what could be the worst European war in over 75 years.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheselkirks February 9, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Anybody else catch this? Posted three days ago by a news watcher on

Bloomberg News had a headline up for about 30 minutes before it was taken down off their website. It stated “Russia Invades the Ukraine.” It was there for 30 minutes.

Someone jumped the gun. They are reporting the news they want to happen before it happens.

Bloomberg issued an “apology” for posting that headline “by accident.”
We had the largest anti-war protests ever held on this planet before Cheney/Wbush committed war crimes blowing the hell out of Iraq in 2003 based on lies they made up. I was part of the street protest group in Mt. Shasta and gave a speech to the city council on why the City should be against it and declare the city a no-war zone. Which turned out to be a total waste of time and 20 years later Iraq is still destroyed and babies are being born malf0rmed from all the radioactive Depleted Uranium dust spread across that country the US has used in the two Bush Wars.

Sorry Bernie, it doesn’t seem to matter as nobody in the MSM is mentioning that the US paid for the overthrow of the elected president of Ukraine by funding the neo-Fascist coup and the Azov terrorists who fly Nazi battle flags in 2014.

And the woman in the middle of it, Hillary Clinton’s Victoria Nuland wife of neocon extremist Robert Kagan, was seamlessly integrated into working for Biden and I’m sure doing just a wonderful job at what she does so well…

Diplomatic solution? How about the US KEEPS ITS PROMISE to not move NATO one inch east towards Russia’s border? Is that too freaking hard?

Sure is feeling like 2003 all over again. MSM pounding war drums, screeching propaganda, Powell’s cute satellite pictures of ‘Iraqi WMD trucks’ and such convincing diagrams drawn on boards with those ‘oh so serious’ pronouncements of impending doom by ‘respected’ pundit and other government talking heads. Anybody else remember Condolezza Rice’s ‘mushroom clouds’ comments?

Does any of this sound familiar or have we all been too desensitized to all this crap? And nobody is listening in DC anyway. They never are seems like.

Repeating history endlessly in a county whose leaders don’t remember what they ate for lunch last week with the lobbyists of weapons makers doesn’t leave one with a very promising view of the future.



Chris February 9, 2022 at 5:12 pm

I was against the US going to Iraq as much as anyone, even though I was still in the Navy during the start. My question is, what exactly does it mean for an American city to be a war free zone? Is that just something symbolic


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman February 9, 2022 at 10:05 pm

No question Senator Bernie Sanders did a national service by writing this piece for the Guardian. The American press and radio/TV are beating the drums of war with no explanation about past history, so Sanders goes to a British journal to lay out the risks we are taking.

I haven’t seen one word of explanation about NATO’s USA-backed expansion in recent years to the borders of Russia itself. Instead we hear only that Putin is having a nostalgic fever dream about restoring Russian greatness by reconstituting the old Soviet union. No mention of any tacit
agreement between the USA and Russia in 1990-91 for Russia to accept the reunification of Germany in return for our keeping Ukraine out of NATO. No mention either of USA’s subsequent support for overthrowing the Russia-friendly head of corrupt Ukraine and installing the present stand-up comic as president.(I too was shocked to read elsewhere that overthrow-instigator Victoria Newland is working for Biden.)

In 2014 Putin reclaimed Crimea, the port part of Ukraine, and has armies fighting in another district of that country where Russian is commonly spoken. Putin is said to have spent a fortune recently to beef up Russia’s military and navy and has bought new weaponry. We see video now of Russian forces amassed on the many borders of Ukraine.

“Spheres of influence” still exist — we nearly went to war with the USSR after its missiles were placed briefly in Cuba. We may not like Putin, but like us, he’s smart enough not to want neighboring countries to be part of an armed mutual assistance club. Somebody pointed out recently that Finland, another country bordering Russia, deliberately remains independent of NATO. So peaceful co-existence is possible.But you have to want it.

I’m hoping that smart and cool Emmanuel Macron of France will save our bacon.


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