JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Just WHY Did The U.S. Deep State Declare War On Russia?
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

Yesterday, I mentioned David Goldman’s scorn in his recent Asia Times piece (Mike Pompeo’s four China mistakes in one sentence, January 31, 2024) for what I called ”our foolish and feckless China policy.”

I was still chuckling over Goldman’s critique when I settled down to watch Tucker Carlson interviewing Vladimir Putin on X.

The interview actually confirmed David Goldman’s scorn for our foreign policy elite. Our post-Soviet Russia policy was equally foolish and equally feckless.

Putin’s main beef is NATO’s eastward expansion, with our apparent intention to continue it all the way across Ukraine to Russia’s borders.

Given the facts of mid–20th century history and the instability of Russia in the immediate post-Soviet years, you can’t blame the Baltic and East European states wanting to be in a defensive alliance.

Why did we have to be part of it, though? —in fact the lead decision-maker in it, sometimes overriding the wishes of European countries, according to Putin?

A sensible U.S. foreign policy would have been to leave NATO the week after the Warsaw Pact was dissolved in February 1991. The Europeans, who far exceeded Russia in population and wealth, and included two—count ’em, two—nuclear powers could then have handled the Eastern Question as they saw fit.

We, meanwhile, could have developed friendly, helpful relations with Russia as they got back on their feet after the Soviet fiasco.

They would be just another big, distant nation we could have commercial relations with, like India or Brazil.

Why didn’t we take that path? Because the architects of our foreign policy are, as David Goldman tells us, terminally stupid.

And who, exactly, are those architects? Our Presidents?

Well, here is Putin speaking about the year 2000. It’s at 30m52s into the interview:

At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President, Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him, “Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?” Suddenly, he said, “You know, it’s interesting. I think so.” But in the evening when we met for dinner, he said, “I’ve talked to my team. No, no, it’s not possible now.”

Somewhat later, at 36m20s in, Putin describes a visit to the USA in 2007, when he met with then-President George W. Bush and his dad in Kennebunkport, Maine. He suggested to the President and his team that Russia, the United States, and Europe all work together on a missile-defense system. Quote:

They said it was very interesting. They asked me, “Are you serious?” I said, “Absolutely” … “We need to think about it”, I’m told. I said, “Go ahead, please.”

That ended with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting Putin in Moscow and, further quote from Putin, quote: ”In the end, they just told us to get lost.”

These exchanges prompted Tucker Carlson to say, quote:

So twice you’ve described U.S. presidents making decisions and then being undercut by their agency heads. So It sounds like you’re describing a system that’s not run by the people who are elected.

”That’s right,” says Putin; and of course it is.

Presidents propose, but unelected apparatchiks dispose.

The USA is an administrative state. Bureaucrats make the key decisions. Why did we not quit NATO in February 1991 when the Warsaw Pact dissolved itself? Because there were too many ”iron rice bowls” at stake—too many flunkeys with cozy, well-paid jobs exercising authority over lesser flunkeys.

Please don’t think I was nodding along in agreement to every single word Putin said. For one thing, my Russian isn’t good enough. For another, I assume that, as a trained KGB officer, Putin’s devotion to the truth is less than total. There were definitely some eye-rollers in there.

For example, he tells Tucker Carlson at 57m3s that, quote:

The German troops, even the SS troops, made Hitler’s collaborators do the dirtiest work of exterminating the Polish and Jewish population. Hence, this brutal massacre of the Polish and Jewish population.

When Putin says ”Hitler’s collaborators” there, he is referring to Ukrainian Nazis, of which there were indeed some. Did any of them collaborate in the Katyn Forest Massacre of 1940, when more than twenty thousand Polish military officers and intellectuals were murdered by the Soviet secret police?

I suppose it’s possible; but the Massacre was ordered by Stalin and his Politburo. So far as we know from postwar investigations and trials, the murderers and their superiors were rank-and-file Soviet NKVD personnel, not especially Ukrainian.

The NKVD was of course the direct ancestor of the KGB, of which organization Putin was a faithful employee for fifteen years.

But why were there Ukrainian Nazis willing to fight against Russia?

I did a Ctrl-F on the entire transcript of Tucker’s interview with Putin, first looking for the word ”Holodomor,” then just for the word ”famine.” No hits in either case.

The Holodomor was the great Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s—another one of the fruits of Stalin’s policies. Several million Ukrainians starved to death. You couldn’t blame the survivors for bearing a grudge against Russia less than ten years later.

So a mixed review, Putin-wise.

But on the other side, let’s be thankful for small mercies: at least Tucker didn’t ask about UFOs..

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

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