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Roger Waters Responds To Mrs. Olena Zelenska of Ukraine – OpEd

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Mrs Zelenska’s Sept 5 tweet

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It is Russia that invaded Ukraine, destroys cities and kills civilians. 

Ukrainians defend their land and their children’s future. If we give up – we will not exist tomorrow. 

If Russia gives up – war will be over.

Dear Mrs Zelenska,

Please excuse my tardy reply to your twitter response to my open letter. I am in the middle of a North American tour. I confess I never dreamed you would respond personally, I am bowled over, so thank you. I note what you say, but I’m fairly sure that ‘giving up’ just like that, is not an option that any side is considering. I feel I’m getting to know you a little, I see that you, like me, trained as an architect, so maybe we have a common interest in building things. That is good because we all need to focus on building something now, and obviously that something is peace in your country. My research leads me to believe that peace in the Ukraine is what the vast majority of the people of the Ukraine voted for when they elected your husband as President. And that majority expected him to use his huge mandate to negotiate a settlement between the Ukraine and the Russian Federation that would meet the security needs of both nations and provide a credible alternative to this disastrous war. 

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I believe even after hostilities began, last April, two months into the war, such a settlement was on the table, it was in Istanbul wasn’t it? What happened?

You were so close to a ceasefire. I smell interference from Washington, I’m quite prepared to be wrong of course, but in my experience, if it smells like fish and looks fishy, it’s probably what passes for foreign policy in Washington DC. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. What I am suggesting is that the only sane course is for all sides, and I say all sides, not both sides, because clearly this is a proxy war that involves the USA, so all sides need to agree to an unconditional ceasefire and the beginning of talks. I for one Olena will continue to bang the drum of peace, however unpopular that may be in these bellicose times. The mainstream media in the west seems intent on encouraging public support for escalation of the proxy war between the USA and the Russian Federation that is raging in the Ukraine, even to the point of contemplating playing nuclear chicken. Wow! How very irresponsible of the gentlemen of the press.

Back in 1962 we faced a very similarly deadly situation in the Caribbean. It was called the Cuban missile crisis. The whole human race came perilously close to extinction in a nuclear war, and we all knew it. That crisis came about because the USA, quite rightly, perceived an existential threat because the USSR was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, only a stone’s throw from the US mainland. Today the roles are reversed, it is the USA that seeks, through NATO to install nuclear weapons in Ukraine, right on the Russian border only a stone’s throw from Moscow, and The Russian Federation perceives that as an existential threat. So Ukraine has become today’s Cuba.

That we all survived the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, if only just barely, can be partially explained by two things that happened. The first, and probably most important thing was that, unlike in the current crisis, in 1962 the Presidents of the USSR and the USA, Nikita Khrushchev and John Fitzpatrick Kennedy spoke to one another, repeatedly, soberly, politely and respectfully, on the telephone. 

The second thing was just as crucial and is fascinating, and also, at least in the West, very little known. 

Vasily Aleksandrovich Arkhipov

It is the story of a Russian hero Vasily Aleksandrovich Arkhipov (1926–1998)

Quoting Wikipedia, Arkhipov: “was a Soviet Naval officer credited with preventing a Soviet nuclear launch during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Such an attack likely would have caused a major global thermonuclear response.

“As flotilla chief of staff and second-in-command of the diesel powered submarine B-59, Arkhipov refused to authorize the captain and the political officer’s use of nuclear torpedoes against the United States Navy, a decision which required the agreement of all three senior officers. After his death, Arkhipov has been widely recognized as someone who had ‘saved the world’ with his actions.”

Wow, Vasily, on behalf of the whole human race, thank you for doing the right thing.

I have literally just now, this morning, received an Email from MAPA (Massachusetts Peace Action) reminding me that back in 1962, the two Presidents resolved the crisis by compromising. Khrushchev agreed to remove the Russian missiles from Cuba and as a ‘quid pro quo’ Kennedy agreed to remove American missiles from Turkey! They spoke, they compromised, job done? It’s called diplomacy. What has happened to diplomacy? Why doesn’t President Biden do the right thing and speak to President Putin? Why have the powers that be in the USA steadfastly refused to address Russian concerns vis a vis the potential existential threat of a fully-fledged, nuclear armed, Ukraine joining NATO on Russia’s doorstep? 

Though you and I, Mrs Zelenska, are still trying to communicate to promote peace, albeit through the desperately unhelpful fog of partisan propaganda, every day more Ukrainian and Russian lives are tragically lost. Un-fathomably, the President of The United States of America, speaks publicly, in raucous and bellicose tones, of removing his opposite number in Russia from power. What! Mr President the world is not a unipolar Marvel Comic strip. What are you thinking? The Powers that Be who pull your strings and presumably tell you what to say, have a powerful echo chamber in the whole of the mainstream media, but ‘we the people’ have a voice too, and we will continue to use it, in spite of your efforts to subvert the law, ignore the constitution of the United States, and suppress basic human rights even to the point of imprisoning journalists who actually believe in liberty and democracy. Yes, Mr President, I’m talking about Julian Assange.

More and more we are noticing that US foreign policy, as planned thirty years ago, by The Project For The New American Century, by Wolfowitz and Kagan, Kristol, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocons, has increasingly become, the voice of the school yard bully, “Do as we say or we’ll kick your teeth in.” Really? Do you really think the American Empire should be trying to start a war with Russia? And then China? Are you crazy? ‘We the People’ don’t want that, because ‘We the People’ are not crazy. And the Russian and Chinese people don’t want that either, because they too are not crazy, but by God if you do start one, we better all get ready for a bloody nose because as I recall the Russian people didn’t want a war with the Germans either, but twenty six million of them died giving the Nazis a very bloody nose.  

So where was I Mrs Zelenska, I’m sorry I got a bit side tracked, oh yes, why don’t you prevail upon your husband to ‘do the right thing’, and ‘We the People’ in the USA will try to prevail upon poor old Uncle Joe Biden to do the right thing, and the Russian people will prevail upon the ‘stripped to the waist’ Vladimir Putin to do the right thing, and maybe, together, ‘We the People can prevail upon all our leaders to do the right thing, and maybe we can save the world from the imminent destruction upon which they seem hellbent. Maybe we can prevent The Powers that Be from sacrificing this, our beautiful planet home, on the altar of their deadly unipolar warmongering.  

Love,

Roger Waters

11 thoughts on “Roger Waters Responds To Mrs. Olena Zelenska of Ukraine – OpEd

  • September 16, 2022 at 7:24 am
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    The author is bang on . Everyone wanted peace so Zelensky came in by the wish of the people and his mentor the Americans.Ukraine was so close to a ceasefire in April 2022 but the interference from Washington wanted a prolonged war to defeat Russia! Then Zelensky left the path of peace negotiations with the western help and decided to fight till the end the US Proxy War against Russia .A sad development for all.

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    • September 17, 2022 at 7:57 pm
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      said well Patial RC, in a short way, what Roger Waters says, with documented history. May these blind leaders wake up!

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    • September 18, 2022 at 9:02 pm
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      “Everyone wanted peace” – where does the seizure of Crimea and the creation of proxy states under Russian control (following South Ossetia and Abkhazia, wrested from Georgia) fit into this proposition?

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  • September 17, 2022 at 5:41 am
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    Wonderful article. Isn’t in theory the primary responsibility of the highest level politicians to negotiate, to not extend politics into the realm of war if at all possible? Naw, that’s no fun. We have all those new fancy, really ingenious and very expensive toys. Let’s shoot ’em off. Like in that old movie — you know — Dr. Strangelove. We should all learn to love the bombs in their wild efflorescence. Per Country Joe, “What are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn…Whooppee! We’re all gonna die.”

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  • September 17, 2022 at 3:39 pm
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    Mr. Waters is right to wonder about what ever happened to diplomacy. The Americans seem to be wanting war not as their very last course of action, but as their first course of action, by proxy preferably, but directly if they feel it necessary (what is necessary is in their eyes). To me they seem to be heading for war with China and Iran as well. Unless the U.S. has a big change in its attitude, humanity will likely not survive this decade.

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  • September 17, 2022 at 5:09 pm
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    It’s wonderful that Roger Waters is taking a stand for peace and for truth, by pointing out that the U.S. shares a lot of responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine. That NATO expansion into Eastern Europe was overly aggressive is the opinion of many senior U.S. diplomats and cabinet members, including George Kennan, U.S. Ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, Secretary of Defense William J Perry, Henry Kissinger, and CIA Director William Burns. They warned that pushing NATO right up to Russia’s borders would provoke war. Even the NY Times — which has mostly been a cheerleader for the proxy war with Russia — has published opinion pieces acknowledging American culpability: Thomas Friedman opined that the U.S. is not innocent in Ukraine, and Christopher Caldwell wrote that the U.S. aided the 2014 coup in Ukraine that overthrew the pro-Russian government there. RAND Corporation published several reports recommending how provoking Russia in Ukraine was the best way to overextend and weaken Russia, even though it would likely provoke a war. That the United States provoked the war in Ukraine is “glaringly obvious” (in the words of Noam Chomsky), to anyone who researches the recent history there. While I condemn Russia invasion, I also strongly condemn aggressive NATO expansion that was designed to provoke the invasion.

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    • September 18, 2022 at 9:08 pm
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      Some in the USA might have wanted to weaken Russia but others would have wanted a stable, strong and happy Russia as a bulwark against China. So how and why did the “weakener” party win out against the stability party?

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      • September 18, 2022 at 9:26 pm
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        Further to my point above, the Rand report to which I think people are referring (https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB10014.html), reads near the end as follows:
        “Extending Russia for its own sake is not a sufficient basis in most cases to consider the options discussed here. Rather, the options must be considered in the broader context of national policy based on defense, deterrence, and—where U.S. and Russian interests align—cooperation.”

        So the Rand paper was hypothetical (as one would expect from a thinktank that probably also has a plan to invade the UK somewhere in its files). Note that it used the word “defense” and not “attack”. And the possibility of co-operation with Russia was never excluded. That puts a very different spin on it from those who assert an active US policy to provoke and weaken Russia.

        In a country as big and differentiated as the USA, I’m sure every opinion can be found including those who are trying to turn the USA into a state run by the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Among other things, that makes understanding US policy very difficult. I challenge anyone to line up the presidencies of George W Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden and to find much consistency.

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  • September 17, 2022 at 8:03 pm
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    Roger Waters has an excellent point. The US provoked Russia into starting the war in Ukraine by expanding NATO to Russia’s borders. What Waters did not mention was that Ukraine persecutes the Russian speaking population in its country. If Ukraine were a neutral country, that would have prevented a war. I do not like Donald Trump but it was good Russia started no wars when he was in office.

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  • September 17, 2022 at 9:26 pm
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    There will be no peace. Ukraine and the combined West are incapable of it. Russia knows this.

    Russia will comprehensively defeat Ukraine. It is a physical impossibility for Ukraine to defeat Russia, given the overall military balance, and in fact it is a physical impossibility for Ukraine to defeat the minimal forces Russia has so far committed to the war (short of supplying Ukraine with nuclear weapons.)

    There is only one possible outcome. Ukraine will be defeated and Russia will submit terms of surrender. Ukraine’s only possible way out of this is total and unconditional surrender. After which Russia will eliminate the extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis, by deportation and imprisonment if necessary, establish a new Ukraine government – either as an independent state or as part of the Russian Federation, reorient the Ukraine government to be pro-Russian, and then station strategic weapons in western Ukraine to counter the Aegis Ashore installations in Poland and Romania.

    The sooner this happens, the less loss of life will occur. But as I said, neither Ukraine’s leaders nor the leaders in the West will do this. So the end result will be the annihilation of Ukraine’s military forces to the tune of hundreds of thousands of lives. This is on Zelensky, Biden, Boris Johnson, and the rest of the fools who think the West can defeat and break up Russia.

    That ain’t gonna happen.

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  • September 18, 2022 at 4:16 pm
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    This is a beautiful letter, but in the interests of truth and understanding, I need to quibble with a central point. Mr. Waters says his research led him to believe the majority of Ukrainians expected their new President to use his overwhelming mandate to negotiate a settlement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. False! The Russian Federation was not a party to the conflict at that time. Zelenskiy’s mandate was to negotiate peace between the government in Kiev and the break-away republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, against whose people successive governments in Kiev had been waging a bloody war since 2014. His mandate was to honour Minsk II, the Agreement inked between Kiev and the LDPR, brokered by France, Germany, and Russia, signed by President Poroshenko, and ratified by the UN Security Council.

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