Jul 29, 2023·edited Jul 29, 2023

If you follow the trail of breadcrumbs, it leads directly to Richard Haass, Tom Graham and Charles Kupchan. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/former-us-officials-secret-ukraine-talks-russians-war-ukraine-rcna92610

I worked for Richard in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at State (1981), with Tom at Embassy Moscow (1989-90 ), and hosted Charles when he came to Embassy Kyiv (1996). None of the three seemed particularly deranged or morbidly interested in self-promotion at the time, but it was a very long time ago, I suppose.

Tom, in particular, has been at this Diplomacy 1.5 thing for a long time with Kissinger Associates, taking many trips to Moscow going back to the early Putin era to talk informally with Russian foreign policy types. Back then, there was nothing particularly wrong with the practice. Nowadays, it's folly of the first water. Richard, recently retired from the Council on Foreign Relations, has just started up this strange practice. I'm not sure where Charles fits in.

I keep thinking that I'm missing something here. These people are too smart and experienced to be dupes, and yet, what they are doing is clearly against the national interest. There is a missing piece to this puzzle, and I don't know for sure what it is. If someone in NSC authorized them to do this, that would explain it, but then the question arises: why is a moron like that working at the NSC, and why is he/she going against the stated White House position? Kompromat is a possible explanation but seems unlikely. Of course, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov could be passing them the crown jewels, but he's not plugged in enough to have them. Maybe there is some other explanation, but I don't know what it is. All paths I see lead to bad outcomes for the US and Ukraine. That's why I keep coming back to ego and bad judgment as playing a critical role.

In any case, they should all stop it immediately. Considering who they are talking with, nothing good can come of it.

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Like you, assuming it's those three (or similarly credentialed individuals), I thought, "there has to be more, right?..." but end up Occam's Razoring back around to what you say: ego, bad judgment AKA stupidity--I'm always a big believer in the S-word. I'm a brick thrower, what can I say? All people are susceptible in the right circumstances. And to further the conclusion, IF there were some hidden crown jewels or bigger game truly at play, wouldn't the administration's response have been subtly different/more nuanced?

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Jul 30, 2023·edited Jul 30, 2023

This personal diplomacy is an often-used method if people are trying to set themselves up for a position in the next administration (i.e., not Biden). It is also used by the once-powerful as a way of maintaining their relevance. For example, Richard Nixon went to Russia in March, 1994 -- just a month before his death -- and then wrote a long letter to President Clinton, kissing up and kicking down, as was his style. https://www.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/nixonletter.pdf?mod=article_inline&fbclid=IwAR1biTHWgjzUjG57BaWKOfI36oSb-V5tZE-_qaa0kkKvJcSqDn7Ud6fOeK0

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By jove, I think you've got it.

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The last thing the U.S. needs right now is wannabe diplomats. Direct diplomacy (witness China recently) is always better except in the rarest of situations.

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Putin will likely be open to legitimate negotiations once he realizes Ukraine is about to take back Crimea. Most 1.5 negotiators are bogus “wannabes” without credentials. Biden/Blinken can have negotiators of any type whenever they want. However more Ukrainian success on the battlefield will be require before

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What if it is not the guys the breadcrumbs point to, but simply Putin trolls deliberately muddying the waters? That’s the first thing that occurred to me. It’s exactly Putin’s lying underhanded style.

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I’ve never been a diplomat nor a federal employee, but I follow the news and have a bit if common sense. Whoever is promoting this 1.5 policy must be a very self centered individual who believes has the answer to everything. He must certainly not read much, be naïve and ignorant about how communism works. But most of all he is somebody that for some reason inclines on the Russian side. It must be someone very irresponsible that wants to seize an opportunity, that couldn’t care less about Ukraine, and lacks the vision to understand the consequences of a Russian victory. I sure many of you can put this puzzle together.

It doesn’t make sense to first support Ukraine who fights for our values, and end up rewarding who tries to destroy them.

Yes, there is a huge risk in standing our ground, but if we want our democracies to survive sooner or later we will have to confront communists. And we have much better chances now than the ones we’ll have in a decade or two if Russia succeeds.

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It's hard to know if 1.5 diplomacy is a bad idea as such but the real trouble is not having 'real' officials doing it adds to the risk of undisciplined mistakes. Quite a lot of them have clearly been made here. I'd like to believe they would have been much less likely to have happened if actual officials been involved.

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I suspect "former US officials" = Edward Snowden.


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What if we shouldn't be negotiating with Putin at all, but should be taking unilateral action to liberate Ukraine by our own methods? Given that the entire Putin regime is a non-stop, never ending, mass production falsehood factory with no credibility at all, what would be the point of trying to reach agreement with them? Why are we still talking about negotiations??

We could secure an 80% victory right now if willing Western nations would flood troops in to the free part of Ukraine to make clear to the Russians that they've never going to get that. NATO membership for Ukraine is desirable, but not necessary. Why are we still talking about NATO membership for Ukraine, when that clearly isn't possible at this time, and is not required to secure most of Ukraine???

These Western troops don't need to be fighting Russians, the Ukrainians can do that. The function of these Western forces would be just to backup the Ukrainians, and make clear to the Russians that no breakout of their forces in to free Ukraine has any possibility of ever working. Plus, there must be about a million helpful things Western forces could be doing behind the front lines.

Almost all the fighting in Ukraine could end now, if the Ukrainians could agree to disengage the Russians, and shift the strategy for liberating occupied Ukraine from military war to financial war. If the Russians were to use a nuke in Ukraine, that would make uniting the world against the Russians in a financial war dramatically easier.

If the military conflict continues with no end in sight, Western support is going to start to fade, and the occupied parts of Ukraine will be further destroyed. The status quo can not continue indefinitely.

I've typed all this on this blog a number of times already. To no response. So I have two questions for the group I'd hope to see addressed:

1) What am I not getting?

2) What are you not getting?

Thank you.

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I felt like I was seeing the newspaper article version of the Chris Reeve toast scene in Remains of the Day. https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkxj7FM0hM79NOJ_aSBqFolCx-P5bX6LNwh. One would presume these people AREN'T amateurs (which makes their stance all the more inexcusable), but damn if they don't come across like they are.

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