Death Wish 2023 261

There can be few safer indicators of the views of the globalist “liberal” Establishment than reports of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which prefers to be known as Chatham House.

Chatham House’s principal funding comes from the UK, US, Canadian, German, Swiss, Japanese, Swedish and Norwegian governments, the World Bank and the EU, and from corporate “philanthropists” including IKEA, Bill Gates, George Soros, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, BP, Chevron, Shell, and ExxonMobil. I could go on.

In other words, Chatham House is absolutely rolling in the dosh controlled by states and the super wealthy. It is headquartered in the palatial residence of the imperial expansionist Prime Minister William Pitt, and has expanded out over time into two great adjoining mansions.

(In 2022 it also, despite all the petroleum bungs, received its largest grant from the MAVA Foundation, a Swiss environmental charity, which was that year closing down and disbursing all its funds).

So Chatham House is a pretty infallible guide as to what those who control western “democracies” are thinking. And when it comes to Ukraine, what they are thinking is terrifying.

Chatham House has released a report which “makes the case for dramatically increased Western military assistance to Ukraine, and argues against concessions to Russia”.

The report is organised as a list of nine “fallacies” which the authors are concerned that Russian propagandists have successfully insinuated into Western thinking, and sets out to refute each of them.

This is rather a high risk approach as, taken together, the nine “fallacies” on the face of it make a cogent and convincing argument against the escalation of the war.

But, convinced of the protection of their amulets of invincible self-righteousness, the authors plunge right in to their refutations.

I do not intend to go through them all. I merely seek to illustrate the intellectual paucity of this lavishly funded enterprise.

The task of debunking the first “fallacy”, that all wars end in negotiation, is given to James Sherr OBE, an American careerist Russophobe who is currently Head of Vilification at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (I definitely got the Institute right but I may have mistranslated his title a bit).

Estonia has of course much in common with Ukraine. It gained its national freedom on the collapse of the Soviet Union and it has subsequently put state resources into honouring Nazi Holocaust participants.

Two of the three Estonian Waffen SS officers in this photo have had official plaques to them unveiled in modern Estonia, reported with approval and no sense of controversy in the state media.

I thought I might mention this in case anyone thinks it unfair that Ukrainian Nazis were spotlighted by another Waffen SS member being given a standing ovation by the Canadian parliament. It is only fair to point out that a lot of Ukraine’s closest supporters are riddled with Nazi sympathy also.

Anyway, what does Estonian state employee and US citizen Dr James Sherr, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, former Fellow of the UK Defence Academy, have to tell us about the “fallacy” that all wars end in negotiation?

The first problem is that they don’t. It is true that the majority of wars do not end in absolute victory. Ceasefire, armistice and stalemate terminate most conflicts, even if the ‘peace’ is infirm or short-lived. But where the stakes are absolute, as they were in the Napoleonic wars, the US Civil War and the Second World War, armed conflict usually ends in the victory of one side and the defeat of the other. Negotiation, compromise and reconciliation are undertaken with new regimes only after old regimes are defeated and removed. The Franco-German reconciliation invoked by Emmanuel Macron would have been inconceivable had the Nazis remained in power.

Sherr goes on to argue that the stakes in this war are absolute. It is an existential war for Ukraine because Russia seeks to destroy it entirely, and it is an existential war for Russia because, he argues, Putin believes that Kiev is the cradle of the Russian soul.

Having defined it as an existential war, he says that it follows that it must be escalated up to total war and total victory.

It is very plainly an argument to escalate the war to achieve regime change in Russia:

Negotiation, compromise and reconciliation are undertaken with new regimes only after old regimes are defeated and removed.

Sherr is perfectly happy to contemplate millions of deaths. Look at his comparisons; the Napoleonic Wars entailed 3 million combat deaths, the US civil war about 700,000 combat deaths and the Second World War about 15 million. In each case you can probably more than double that for total civilian deaths caused by those wars.

Let me be absolutely plain: Sherr is saying this is the kind of total war he wants against Russia, rather than a more limited one.

Strangely enough Sherr does not reference those more recent great western wars for regime change, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which also resulted in the deaths of millions. Possibly even he realises the end results have not been entirely desirable.

But is this war really existential for either Ukraine or Russia? The truth is that ever since Ukraine became independent in 1991 it has been unstable, deeply divided over whether to look west to the EU or look east to Russia. The political and linguistic division broadly at the Dnieper runs deep into history.

Truce of Andrusovo 1667.PNG

Modern Ukraine is a failed state that collapsed into civil war in 2014 after twenty years of political tension between openly pro-Western and pro-Russian political forces which were remarkably evenly balanced.

Up to and including 2014, both the Western powers and Russia engaged in all forms of political interference, espionage and chicanery to try to win Ukraine. Back in 1996 when I was First Secretary in the British Embassy in Warsaw, I helped author a paper for the Cabinet Office which said that Poland was now secured to the West, but the hinge of history would be the Ukraine. I discussed it with George Soros in person (he bought me a pizza).

I cannot share the outrage of many on the left at the “colour revolution” of 2014. Both Russia and the West had been playing a dirty game. Yanukovych was more or less kidnapped by Moscow to disavow the EU Association agreement. The ensuing 2014 coup was just the US being more adept at winning the dirty game, of which I as a former player well know the rules, or lack of them.

The subsequent annexation of Crimea and reinforcement of the Donbass was the Russian counter-move. That ended the hope that a united Ukraine would ever be pro-Russian. The civil war rumbled on ever since until the larger Russian invasion. The extreme discriminatory measures against the Russian speaking population post-2014 ended the hope that a united Ukraine would ever be possible.

Chatham House itself illustrates that Ukraine was nothing but this East/West conflict playground. In 2023 the “Chatham House Prize” for international relations was awarded to Ukrainian President Zelensky. In 2005 the inaugural “Chatham House Prize” had been awarded to President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, openly for turning Ukraine from a pro-Russian to a pro-EU foreign policy.

A country where it is a prize-winning achievement to win a narrow majority for pro-western policies, against the wishes of the other half of the country which wants a pro-Russian foreign policy, is not a viable long term political entity.

At no stage in this post-Soviet story did Ukraine ever become a viable state. It was a poor, undeveloped and undeveloping, east-west power game venue.  Both sides were rigging elections and the oligarchs and their pet politicians oversaw massive corruption, on a mind boggling scale.

Which corruption has no way lessened, and has battened on vast flows of “assistance” from the west.

There has never been a Ukraine under the rule of law and proper democratic government, to which to now return. What does Sherr think will be the attitude of the Russian speaking half of the Ukrainian population if his massive, blood-drenched, total war does bring about the total defeat of Russia?

Ukraine has now banned Russian as an official language, banned all Russian speaking newspapers, banned the pro-Russian political parties, banned teaching in Russian in schools, banned Russian books in libraries and banned the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet Russian is the first language of about 40% of the population.

Is the plan that the total war will result in such genocide that Russian speakers in Ukraine will be no more? Will they all be ethnically cleansed? Or after so much death and destruction, will they just quietly live as second class citizens, and abandon resistance? Is that the plan?

In truth, the best opportunity for a functioning and more efficient Ukrainian state is, now we are in this hot war, for it to lose the Russia-leaning areas and become a more homogeneous and unified entity, with a much greater chance of being at peace with itself and of sorting out its colossal governance problems.

A smaller, better, Ukraine that quickly finds its way into the EU would benefit the great majority of pro-Ukrainians and provide a more stable future for Eastern Europe. In time, it would come to be seen as a blessing.

A negotiated land-for-peace deal, with genuinely free referenda conducted under UN supervision to determine borders, has always been possible and is now essential.

That is what diplomacy is. Yes, mankind can conduct its affairs through total war, inflicting death, maiming, rape, hunger, disease and long term poverty on a massive scale. Or compromise can be reached. That there are those who argue for the former over Eastern Ukraine is sickening to me.

The other problem with a total war is of course that it might be your side which loses. If Sherr wants total war and no negotiation, he is of course accepting the possibility that Russia will conquer all of Ukraine – and would have no right at all to complain of that outcome.

In which case what would become of the Ukrainians? One thing is for certain, a massive wave of refugees would be launched right across Europe.

The practical problem with Sherr’s call for total war is that Ukraine really does not have the population numbers to sustain to victory a total war against Russia. It is just going to run out of people, as indeed the much trumpeted counteroffensive appears to have done.

The extreme escalation of western weaponry which Chatham House proposes, might indeed get round the population problem and tip the balance by inflicting simply massive casualties on Russia, but it is an incredible gamble to believe that so much hurt could be inflicted on Russia without risking nuclear annihilation.

It is improbable that China will permit these lunatic western warhawks to risk the entire future of humankind. Sherr is not of course alone – each section of the report has a different author, and some of them are even more unhinged. Please feel free to discuss further in the comments.

A diplomatic settlement to the Ukraine war terrifies western power structures because it will underline the decline of western hegemony and the increasing influence of BRICS and other non-western voices.

The actual destruction of Russia as an independent power has become essential to the apostles of empire, as a means of maintaining a psychological ascendancy for a few more years. They really do not care how many die for that. Do we really want to follow Dr Sherrangelove and his fellow Chatham House ideologues down this path?

Remember that list above of who pays for Chatham House and who wants all this death. I can see how it benefits them. But, dear reader, how does it benefit you?

An independent Ukraine, shorn of the Eastern provinces that have never wished to look westward, is in the long term much more feasible and viable than some kind of military Valhalla created by an epic war of conquest.

A negotiated and equitable end to this conflict is perfectly viable. It always has been so. The people of Europe have to reject the military industrial complex, the war profiteers and the blazing-eyed ideologues – and look for a fair peace.


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261 thoughts on “Death Wish 2023

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  • Dr Paul

    I don’t think that Craig Murray has differentiated sufficiently between Russian speakers in Ukraine (Russophone Ukrainians) and Russians in Ukraine. A large number of Ukrainians, especially in the east and south of the country, speak — or at least spoke — Russian. (Widespread social mixing between Russians and Ukrainians and the similarities between Russian and Ukrainian led in the east to a hybrid language, but we’ll let that pass.) The problem with the rise and official encouragement of narrow Ukrainian nationalism, which includes the official lauding of Stepan Bandera and other Ukrainian fascist war-criminals for whom there was no place in Ukraine for Russians (or Poles and Jews) meant that Russians in Ukraine felt that they had no place in today’s Ukraine, thus leaving them prey to Russian nationalist agitation. Moscow and local Russian nationalists played on this, and the Russian seizure of the Crimea and Kyiv’s violent response to the formation of the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and then the Russian invasion last year, has forced people in Ukraine to make a choice: are you Russian or Ukrainian; to whom do you owe allegiance: Kyiv or Moscow? This has led to the majority of Russophone Ukrainians siding with Kyiv, losing their traditionally friendly stance towards Russia, and many are starting to speak Ukrainian rather than Russian.

    Putin & Co made the error of ignoring this change last year: if the Russophone Ukrainians had been sympathetic towards Russia and either welcomed or tolerated the invasion, then the Russian invasion force would have been sufficient to force a surrender and to take all the Donbass and the Black Sea littoral.

    I don’t think that Ukraine’s offensive will achieve anything, so the question of how Kyiv would deal with the Russian population in the Donbass and the Crimea — very pertinent if the offensive had any chance of success — isn’t important. However, as it seems that Moscow is intending to go on the attack and satisfy its original war-aims of seizing the entire Donbass and the Black Sea littoral, therefore trying to seize a lot more of Ukraine’s territory and thus occupy land where the population is Ukrainian and whose previously amiable attitude towards Russia has dissipated, the matter of how these people will be treated is a pertinent one.

    • Beast from the Yeast

      It is true that some Russian speakers are attempting to speak Ukrainian and embrace pro-Ukrainian political stance (on social media, if not in real life). However, not to engage in these begaviours is very risky in a totalitarian state overrun by far-right groups. It does not take much to be accused of collaborating with occupiers. Some of my acquaintances joke about hanging Zelensky portraits at home, posting on social media in Ukrainian and setting phone tune to Ukrainian hymn to ward off suspicions of security services and “helpful” neighbours.

        • Beast from the Yeast

          Well, this is not WW2 in any sense. Also, I am not aware of a large German population presence in the UK prior to WW2, so comparison isn’t quite correct one.

          Most cities in the east of Ukraine until recently were almost 100% Russian speaking. Even in Kiev, one could hear far more Russian on the streets than Ukrainian. I do not believe that all of these people suddenly and genuinely adopted Ukrainian. What you are seeing are effects of fear in a totalitarian society.

          In truth, authorities made a lot of effort to deprive Russian speakers their language rights since 2014 (the first law passed after coup d’etat was aimed exactly at this). Who knows how the history would have turned out, if Ukrainian post-coup regime did not try to make their citizens into enemies?

          • JK redux


            Most cities in Ireland (north and south) are almost 100% English speaking.

            Ireland is an independent state.

            Similarly most cities in Canada are almost 100% English speaking (the rest are French speaking).

            Canada is an independent state and not part of the USA.

            Language does not determine statehood.

          • Bayard

            JKR, Eire is not compelling its population only to speak Irish and there is no such language as Canadian, so your examples are somewhat irrelevant. More to the point would be a comparison with the effort of the English authorities in the C19th to stop Irish being spoken in Ireland, Welsh in Wales and Scots in Scotland.

  • Turabdin

    The removal of Russian signage and its replacement with American is suggestive of deep identity malaise. Makes the street look cool and western one might suppose.
    Wear jeans, baseball cap and pepper your language with Americanisms, seen it all before that soft imperialism and the cultural wasteland it creates. Go ask the Hawaiians, the Puerto Ricans or the citizens of the Philippines.
    The airbrushing of the deep anti-Polish element in Ukraine’s nationalism, Lwów/Lemberg was an ethnically Polish and Jewish city, and its visceral anti-Jewish character has been not too discreetly done.
    The Russian-speaking Zelensky’s milk-and-water Jewishness has suited the case well.
    Chatham House view on Scottish independence is that it would be a disaster for the prestige of the residual state. I think one might take that for a «never ever» scenario.
    Softly, softly destroy SNP.

  • Mike Daffern

    “A country where it is a prize-winning achievement to win a narrow majority for pro-western policies, against the wishes of the other half of the country which wants a pro-Russian foreign policy, is not a viable long term political entity” The same could be said about Scottish independence, Craig.

  • Caro

    I fear it’s too late for UN referenda and negotiated peace for land. Russia has the military upper hand and Ukraine is defeated as was Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Mr Biden maybe think about phoning Mr Putin urgently whereupon they will carve up Ukraine in much the same way as did Churchill and Stalin (Biden is no Churchill and Putin is not Stalin or Hitler so you can dismiss this if you prefer to deal in comic book fantasies of goodies and baddies). No doubt it will be underwritten by a Dnepr Wall like the Berlin Wall before it. The negotiated option might have pertained had the Ukrainian counter offensive been in any way successful. Plus the west reneged on Minsk so why should Russia trust the western side? The US neocons are imprisoned in the myth of the defeat of Russia. Maybe Mr Trump will sort it – o what horrors await the middle class Brits chattering around the comfort of their dinner tables! After allowing weapons to pour into Ukraine which have probably turned up in Israel.

  • AG

    Ted Snider from and Responsible Statecraft returning to key issues of UKR/RU via quoting various Lavrov statements, and pointing out that NATO never moved an inch (no pun intended) regarding Russian concerns.

    “Listening to Lavrov”
    Oct. 9th 2023

    -“The US had rejected what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would later call Putin’s “pre-condition for not invad[ing] Ukraine.” Lavrov remarked that “our Western colleagues are not prepared to take up our major proposals, primarily those on NATO’s eastward non-expansion.” But what seemed to really surprise the veteran diplomat was not that the US insisted on its “open-door policy” on Ukraine joining NATO, but that it closed the door on diplomacy: “Neither the United States, nor the North Atlantic Alliance proposed an alternative to this key provision.”

    -“On September 23, at a press conference following the UN General Assembly High-Level week, Lavrov confirmed that crucial point: “we did hold talks in March and April 2022. We agreed on certain things; everything was already initialled.”

    -“during a September 28 interview, Lavrov was less speculative. He said that “in April 2022 . . . Ukraine proposed ceasing hostilities and settling the crisis based on providing reciprocal, reliable security guarantees.” He then clearly said, “But this proposal was recalled at the insistence of Washington and London.”

    -“The Russian recognition of Ukrainian sovereignty was contingent, in part, on Ukrainian neutrality. That neutrality was enshrined in Article IX of the 1990 Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, “External and Internal Security,” that says that Ukraine “solemnly declares its intention of becoming a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs. . ..” That promise was later enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution, which committed Ukraine to neutrality and prohibited it from joining any military alliance: that included NATO. However, the neutrality upon which Russian recognition of Ukrainian sovereignty had been, in part, contingent was removed in 2019 when Ukraine amended the constitution, with neither vote nor referendum, to include a mandate for all future governments to seek as a goal membership in NATO.

    After reminding the reporter that that rescinded promise was “one of the main points for Russia,” Lavrov then went on to add the key line that “In that version, on those conditions, we support Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”

    • JK redux

      Lavrov and his master denied their intention to invade Ukraine up to the moment in February 2022 when they … invaded Ukraine.

      I was one of the many who believed them.

      They are both proven liars. Why should we believe them now?

      • AG

        “Lavrov and his master denied their intention to invade Ukraine up to the moment in February 2022 when they … invaded Ukraine (…) They are both proven liars. Why should we believe them now?”

        What is the accuracy, substance and analytical assessment behind and of such statement in the light of historic records, realities of diplomacy vs. power politics, geopolitical developments and the absolute destructive powers of nuclear weapons?

        • JK redux


          Your comment “What is the accuracy, substance and analytical assessment behind and of such statement in the light of historic records, realities of diplomacy vs. power politics, geopolitical developments and the absolute destructive powers of nuclear weapons?”

          is difficult to interpret.

          However it is a fact that Putin and Lavrov lied when they denied their intention to invade Ukraine before… the invasion.

          Surely you don’t contest this?

          • james

            the western media have been lying to you since at least 2014 over the dynamics of ukraine, but of that you totally ignore… that was a pivotal point which led up to feb 2022, another connection that i am sure you would prefer to also completely ignore..

  • james

    thanks craig… excellent overview and i thank you for stating all this… chatham house has been on my radar for a good many years.. as a canuck, i am embarrassed to read i am indirectly supporting this madness from chatham house as well..

  • Silverback

    There is one huge flaw in the argument that Craig espouses, Putin wants all of Ukraine under his control and if there was a peace based on ceding land he would use time to rearm, recruit and train more cannon fodder for his aims. You only have to look at Chechnya to realise that Putin believes Russia has the right to dominate and control the former eastern bloc states including Germany. Putin will not stop until he is stopped and the West needs to provide the arms to stop his territorial aims.

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