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Ukraine Report Creates Conflict Within Brookings Institution

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”280″ align=”none” !}

A new report co-produced by the Brookings Institution is not going over well within the think tank. The report calls for an escalation in tensions between the United States and Russia with a recommendation for the US to supply the government in Kiev with $3 billion worth of weapons. The report also had contributions from the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. One of the authors of the report, Michele Flournoy, is expected to be selected as defense secretary should Hillary Clinton win the White House and operates a think tank underwritten by defense contractors.

Brookings Institution fellow and former US State Department official Jeremy Shapiro took direct aim at the report in a piece titled “Why Arming the Ukrainians is a Bad Idea.” While acknowledging it was difficult to write the rebuttal given that his boss, Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott, had co-authored the report, Shapiro nonetheless took apart the report’s bellicose and reckless recommendations:

The Ukrainian calculus is one of immediate desperation. But the United States needs to think for the longer-term. And if U.S.-provided weapons fail to induce a Russian retreat in Ukraine and instead cause an escalation of the war, the net result will not be peace and compromise. There has recently been much escalation in Ukraine, but it could go much further. As horrible as it is, the Ukrainian civil war still looks rather tame by the standards of Bosnia, Chechnya or Syria. Further escalation will mean much more violence, suffering and death in Ukraine.

The report authors counter that if the United States does not stand up to Russia in Ukraine, the Putin regime will be emboldened to make similar mischief all over Europe and beyond. This is the familiar credibility argument that gave us the war in Vietnam, among other misadventures. In fact, U.S. credibility is not enhanced by making bluffs that we will not ultimately fulfill or by embarking on wasting wars that we do not need.

Ouch. That would be a brutal critique from a rival let alone a colleague. Apparently the war party has not secured its own base and the eagerness to play chicken with a fellow nuclear power has limited support even among DC’s deep state intellectuals.

Outside the craven beltway the report has been condemned both from the anti-war left and the libertarian right. Even the right wing publication The National Interest took a skeptical tone with the report and said the effort evident in the report to conflate support for Ukraine and support for sending weapons to Ukraine was promoting a “false equivalence” and that the report overstated Russia’s territorial ambitions.

Though there has been an undeniable Iraq war-esque groupthink on Ukraine, it seems as though there are some within the establishment willing to voice public dissent. The question is whether or not those voices are significant enough to slow down the rush to stupid now taking over DC vis a vis Ukraine. Let’s hope so.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Ukraine Report Creates Conflict Within Brookings Institution

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”280″ align=”none” !}

A new report co-produced by the Brookings Institution is not going over well within the think tank. The report calls for an escalation in tensions between the United States and Russia with a recommendation for the US to supply the government in Kiev with $3 billion worth of weapons. The report also had contributions from the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. One of the authors of the report, Michele Flournoy, is expected to be selected as defense secretary should Hillary Clinton win the White House and operates a think tank underwritten by defense contractors.

Brookings Institution fellow and former US State Department official Jeremy Shapiro took direct aim at the report in a piece titled “Why Arming the Ukrainians is a Bad Idea.” While acknowledging it was difficult to write the rebuttal given that his boss, Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott, had co-authored the report, Shapiro nonetheless took apart the report’s bellicose and reckless recommendations:

The Ukrainian calculus is one of immediate desperation. But the United States needs to think for the longer-term. And if U.S.-provided weapons fail to induce a Russian retreat in Ukraine and instead cause an escalation of the war, the net result will not be peace and compromise. There has recently been much escalation in Ukraine, but it could go much further. As horrible as it is, the Ukrainian civil war still looks rather tame by the standards of Bosnia, Chechnya or Syria. Further escalation will mean much more violence, suffering and death in Ukraine.

The report authors counter that if the United States does not stand up to Russia in Ukraine, the Putin regime will be emboldened to make similar mischief all over Europe and beyond. This is the familiar credibility argument that gave us the war in Vietnam, among other misadventures. In fact, U.S. credibility is not enhanced by making bluffs that we will not ultimately fulfill or by embarking on wasting wars that we do not need.

Ouch. That would be a brutal critique from a rival let alone a colleague. Apparently the war party has not secured its own base and the eagerness to play chicken with a fellow nuclear power has limited support even among DC’s deep state intellectuals.

Outside the craven beltway the report has been condemned both from the anti-war left and the libertarian right. Even the right wing publication The National Interest took a skeptical tone with the report and said the effort evident in the report to conflate support for Ukraine and support for sending weapons to Ukraine was promoting a “false equivalence” and that the report overstated Russia’s territorial ambitions.

Though there has been an undeniable Iraq war-esque groupthink on Ukraine, it seems as though there are some within the establishment willing to voice public dissent. The question is whether or not those voices are significant enough to slow down the rush to stupid now taking over DC vis a vis Ukraine. Let’s hope so.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.