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“A Policy Error of Historic Proportions”

1997 letter to President Clinton by US cold warriors who opposed Nato expansion

By John Leake | Courageous Discourse | March 17, 2023

When Dr. McCullough and I started this Substack, we agreed that he would primarily focus on COVID-19 scientific-medical scholarship, and I would investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic response is related to other major public policy issues. Occasionally, some of our readers have exhorted me to “stay in our lane”—that is, to remain focused on matters pertaining to the COVID-19 fiasco.

Because Substack is a free speech platform, and because we welcome critical opinions, I have never felt compelled to respond to these exhortations to “stay in our lane.” To some degree, I consider my critics to have a valid point. As Fitzgerald elegantly put it in The Great Gatsby, “Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window.”

On the other hand, I believe my critics are overlooking a point so obvious that it might as well strike them in the head with a baseball bat—namely, the same corrupt government nincompoops responsible for the COVID-19 fiasco are also responsible for every other catastrophic policy blunder they are currently afflicting on mankind.

For example, let’s take the U.S. government’s catastrophic mismanagement of its relations with Russia for the last thirty years. I have closely observed this disaster in the making since I moved to Vienna, Austria for an academic fellowship in 1996. On the plane to Vienna I read the July 15, 1996 Time Magazine cover story about how secret American advisors helped Boris Yeltsin to win that year’s presidential election.

Even at the time I remember thinking it was a bit presumptuous to think that it was perfectly okay for American agents to meddle in a Russian election, and I wondered how Americans would feel if it were reported that Russian agents had provided clandestine assistance to Bill Clinton in his 1996 presidential campaign against Bob Dole.

I read the Time cover story with keen interest, because for many years I’d been an avid student of 20th century Russian history. Yeltsin’s presidency marked the total triumph of American interests with respect to Russia, which had suffered a decisive loss of the Cold War. As I saw it—living in Austria, whose neutrality the Soviets had recognized and respected since 1955—in 1996 it was up to the Americans to welcome and assist Russia in becoming a partner with the West.

The following year, I read the news of how the Clinton Administration had decided to expand NATO membership to the east, ever closer to Russia’s border, and I wondered about the rationale for doing this. Though I’d never really known what to make of Henry Kissinger, I found his “Balance of Power” thesis compelling.

We humans are constantly making assurances of our good will and altruism, but it’s a rare man or woman indeed who doesn’t press his or her advantage if a disagreement arises. This is why the Soviet Premier Khrushchev refused to tolerate U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey, and why President Kennedy refused to tolerate Soviet missiles in Cuba.

I therefore believed I understood why 50 major U.S. foreign policy experts—including top cold warriors such as Robert McNamara, Paul Nitze, Richard Pipes, and Stansfield Turner—wrote a letter to President Clinton on June 26, 1997, stating the following:

We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability for the following reasons:

In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance in the Duma to the START II and III treaties; In Europe, NATO expansion will draw a new line of division between the “ins” and the “outs,” foster instability, and ultimately diminish the sense of security of those countries which are not included;

In NATO, expansion, which the Alliance has indicated is open-ended, will inevitably degrade NATO’s ability to carry out its primary mission and will involve U.S. security guarantees to countries with serious border and national minority problems, and unevenly developed systems of democratic government;

In the U.S., NATO expansion will trigger an extended debate over its indeterminate, but certainly high, cost and will call into question the U.S. commitment to the Alliance, traditionally and rightly regarded as a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy.

Because of these serious objections, and in the absence of any reason for rapid decision, we strongly urge that the NATO expansion process be suspended while alternative actions are pursued. These include:

—opening the economic and political doors of the European Union to Central and Eastern Europe;

—developing an enhanced Partnership for Peace program;

—supporting a cooperative NATO-Russian relationship; and

—continuing the arms reduction and transparency process, particularly with respect to nuclear weapons and materials, the major threat to U.S. security, and with respect to conventional military forces in Europe.

Russia does not now pose a threat to its western neighbors and the nations of Central and Eastern Europe are not in danger. For this reason, and the others cited above, we believe that NATO expansion is neither necessary nor desirable and that this ill-conceived policy can and should be put on hold.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post is the first in a series about the war in Ukraine.

March 17, 2023 - Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , ,


  1. There was a period during Reagan’s first term when ice-cold relations between Washington and Moscow had the potential of melting away. It was 1983, and Gorbachov and Reagan were meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland at what was billed as a major powers summit. It was then that Reagan approached Gorbachov again on the question of joining the United States in the mutual development of new and advanced technologies that represented the potential of rendering nuclear weapons obsolete. But for the second time, Gorbachov said no.
    Reagan wasn’t through. He was persistent in his quest to end the nuclear terror inherent in the MAD doctrine. Reagan decided to bring up the matter during a televised address on NBC, on March 23, 1983. But one of his advisors, James Baker III, removed it from his speech before he went on the air. Reagan found out about it and reinserted it. I remember watching President Reagan on TV that day. I can’t remember what he opened with but I can remember when he started talking about a new US strategic defense strategy. I knew exactly what he was referring to because I was with the LaRouche organization from 1975 to 1983. Lyndon LaRouche and his associates had already begun examining and promoting the development of ballistic missile defense systems employing “new physical principles” as far back as 1977. At that time, following an announcement by Major General George Keegan, retired chief of U.S. Air Force Intelligence, that the Soviet Union was making rapid strides towards the development of high-energy beam weaponry as a military application of breakthroughs in their fusion research program, Lyndon LaRouche called for the immediate mobilization of scientists in the United States to replicate these breakthroughs in plasma physics and high-intensity laser beam technology that became the Strategic Defense Initiative. Vice President Bush led the effort to replace Reagan’s SDI with a ‘Kinetic’ system of General Danny Gramm’s. A missile shooting at a missile. Biden has promised the Patriot Missile System to Ukraine. Russia’s military is using a laser weapon mounted on a truck to shoot down drones. Israel has a laser defense system called the “Iron Beam”. These developments have been achieved because of the “power of ideas” of Lyndon LaRouche.


    Comment by Thomas Lee Simpson | March 17, 2023 | Reply

  2. I completely agree with JohnLeake on this issue. It is important to stay focused on COVID-19 and other public policy issues, but it is also important to express your opinions on COVID-19 without afraid to speak out. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue in more detail.


    Comment by Kathy Brown | March 19, 2023 | Reply

    • Covid and research into creating a synthetic SARS disease began in earnest on April 25, 2003. CDC applied for a SARS patent on that date. Five years later it was approved. DOD became interested in developing it further into a bioweapon. For the next twelve years, gain-of-function research was ongoing at the UNC lab under the direction of Ralph Baric. Funding was supplied through grants issued by several government agencies in addition to DOD’s 15 million. NIH, NIAID, HHS, DHS, NSF, and the notorious EcoHealth Alliance, all gave millions toward this effort.
      Sometime between 2017 and 2019, a plan was hatched to foster a global Pandemic in which media hype would create the need for a vaccine countermeasure. That countermeasure to be was designed during the same period between 2003 and 2019 by Sanofi Pharmaceutical Co. Sanofi applied for a patent for its mRNA anti-SARS vaccine only three days after CDC applied for its patent on SARS. Dr. David Martin called it a case of Racketeering under US RICO laws. Create a virus while simultaneously creating a countermeasure. Next, release in a nation you intend to target for destruction in the future. In this case, it was released in Wuhan, China where conveniently a level 4 lab existed. It also received funding from EcoHeath Alliance, and Malthusians such as Bill Gates, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Peter Daszak of EcoHealth was in it for the money, whereas Gates and Rockefeller Foundation were in it to create a bioweapon that if released in major populated cities would drastically reduce global population. China was a victim of choice by these fascists which included the same warmongers that regime changed Trump. Once Trump was out and the idiot Biden put in, the Miltary-Industrial complex behind the permanent war policy could provoke Russia into invading Ukraine. Their insanity was demonstrated to friend and foe alike by blowing up the Nordstream pipelines.
      As for Covid and the mRNA, Pfizer (which purchased Sanofi) pocketed 13 billion while Moderna which never made a profit before took in 9 billion. More than 280 billion crossed Fauci’s desk. Fauci was the bag man for this operation. “China did it” is a cover for these money-grubbing murderers and Malthuseans who designed a Covid19 bioweapon “Made in America” at a laboratory in North Carolina. Get Dr. Richard Flemming’s Book on the subject, “IS COVID19 A BIOWEAPON? His book lists all the grants that funded the project carried out at the UNC-Chapel Hill Lab.


      Comment by Thomas Lee Simpson | March 20, 2023 | Reply

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