By: Jeffrey Winograd
Part III – Javelins For Ukraine And Deep State Opinions
It was a bit strange to read Adam Schiff’s claim that “Americans can read for themselves how President Zelenskyy sought more weapons critical to Ukraine’s defense….” Schiff seems to be suggesting that during the July 25 telephone call between President Trump and Zelenskyy the Ukraine president was requesting a wide array of weapons.
However, a careful reading of the totality of his words makes it clear that Zelenskyy was specifically referring to Javelin anti-tank weapons. Furthermore, he told Trump: “It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine.”
At this point, it is informative to look at a sampling of what the news media is saying about the manufactured dispute over security assistance and Javelins for Ukraine. Of particular interest, we can also see the interaction between the Fourth Estate and the establishment Deep Staters.
For this, here is a quick look at Defense News, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, Defense One (a property of Atlantic Media) and the New York Times to see who they use as sources.
On Sept. 25, Defense News reported on “the latest scandal threatening to take down President Donald Trump.” Specifically, there was a focus on the “freeze” Trump placed on a $391 million military aid package for Ukraine ($250 million via the Pentagon and $141 million from the State Department).
The author first turned to Mark Simakovsky, who served as chief of staff in the Defense Department’s office focused on Europe and NATO during the Obama administration. “As a political signal, there is no more important ally to Ukraine than the United States, and the United States’ aid dwarfs aid from other countries,” Simakovsky said. “The sharpness and abruptness with which this was frozen surprised many in government, and I think now we are seeing why,” he added. The author opined that Simakovsky was “convinced Trump was trying to exercise leverage over Zelenskyy for personal political gain.”
Next up was James Townsend, who had served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy. “When Trump was elected, the first thing they did was send in the Javelin. It wasn’t exactly high-end, but we were very happy, and they built on a very firm foundation,” Townsend said. “Playing games with them now is nuts because we want to keep this trajectory upward,” he added. He still had more to say. “Javelins were considered a step up, and the concern was what the Russians were going to step up on their end. It wasn’t that there was a lot of tree hugging [in the Obama administration], it was to go up a notch if they go up a notch.”
Not to be outdone by other publications regarding the Javelin, the authors of an Oct. 3, 2019, article in Foreign Policy turned to Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. “I see these more as symbolic weapons than anything else, It became this sort of embodiment of U.S. support for Ukraine,” Charap said.
The next expert to chime in was the aforementioned James Townsend. Without attributing a direct quote to him, the author stated Townsend felt that the Obama administration chose not to provide Javelins and other lethal weapons to Ukraine “due to fears that they could fall into Russia’s hands or prompt Moscow to escalate.” In addition, there were concerns that the untrained Ukrainian military could not handle sophisticated weapons, he said.
Foreign Policy also went to Michael Carpenter, who had served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Eurasia under Obama. He observed that the Javelins are not deployed in the combat zone but were housed hundreds of miles away in western Ukraine. “If the Russians know that the Javelins are not there, the deterrent effect is negated,” Carpenter said. He did note that the Javelins could be transferred should there be an attack.
Now let’s turn to NPR and an October 24 broadcast cohosted by Ailsa Chang, who then brings on correspondent Greg Myre. The topic is U.S. assistance to Ukraine and why it matters. Things began well enough as Myre said: “Now, the Trump administration is often criticized as being too soft on Russia. But in this particular case, Trump did take a tougher position than his predecessor and has been sending lethal aid – rifles, grenade launchers and, a weapon we’ve been hearing a lot about, Javelin missiles.”
Next to come in Myre’s report was Edward “Ned” Price, who was introduced as being on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. He was questioned about the importance of U.S. and European Union aid for Ukraine. Price said: “This is to send a signal that Russia cannot violate one of the key tenets of international affairs, and that is that big countries cannot bully small countries. Our aid has been an integral part of a deterrence against Putin’s worst ambitions.” In other words, Myre concluded, “So [Price] said this controversy over the suspended aid this summer has not helped, sent the wrong signal to Vladimir Putin, that he could keep pushing on the Ukraine.”
Next comes an opinion piece published on Oct. 29, 2018, in Defense One and authored by Jeremy Bash and Mark Simakovsky. Bash was described as former chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department. A real high flyer. Simakovsky was described as a former Russia country director in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
The subject of their article was President Trump’s announced intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. “It was an open secret in Washington that compliance with the INF was lopsided,” the authors wrote, adding that “while the U.S. adhered to the treaty, the Russians quietly research, tested, and ultimately deployed weapons … that violated the INF accord.” They also noted that “the treaty had few fans in Washington.”
At this point, the Bash/Simakovsky tone switched into anti-Trump mode. Why would Trump, who had a “fondness” for Russia, pull out of the INF agreement? They laid out “four major strands” of Trump’s seemingly haphazard foreign policy but focused on the fourth – “which is decidedly pro-Russia [and] this is where his relationship with Putin makes things dangerous.”
What comes after INF withdrawal? “Trump’s track record suggests he will pursue a new deal with Putin, whom he admires and with whom he has already shown a penchant for secret diplomacy in Helsinki,” wrote the duo.
The New York Times is a late entry to this narrative. In a Nov. 11 white-wash Biden article titled “What Joe Biden Actually Did in Ukraine,” the authors sought to explain away as relatively unimportant Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of Burisma and lauded Joe Biden’s anti-corruption efforts.
“The position regarding getting rid of Shokin was not Vice President Biden’s position; it was the position of the U.S. government, as well as the European Union and international financial institutions,” said Amos Hochstein, former coordinator for international energy affairs at the State Department. The authors pointed out that Hochstein was “one of the few administration officials who directly confronted Mr. Biden at the time about his son.”
To sum up the point I am trying to make, journalists writing about security assistance for Ukraine, as well as a variety of other publications, frequently share a short-list of go-to experts.
What the Fourth Estate often does not tell readers is what these experts are doing while out of the government.
Wait until Part VI to learn more.