This is perhaps the best I have yet read on this - apparently complete.

Congratulations !

Where can it now be further published ?

NYT ? (!)

The Nation ?

Prospect in the UK?


Stephen Fry - skype stephenfry sfrysfry@gmail.com

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Thank you Stephen!

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It is time to say no to killing. No to war. No more. No more endless cycles of killing and revenge.

This is the powerful message of "Testament of Youth," brilliantly rendered here on film.


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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023Liked by Matthew Hoh

An obviously well-researched primer on the origins of this conflict, Matthew. Robert Parry would be proud. Now if only facts mattered to our greedy, sleepwalking leadership.

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Thanks Gene, that’s very high praise.

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Thank you! This gives a lot of background and context I lacked, but it confirms what I've thought since the beginning. That being however wrong Russia was to invade, and they were, the US is not in a morally superior position from which to cast judgement. The war in Ukraine is a boy scout camp compared to the US invasion of Iraq.

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I don't think we are at a point where we can, or should, compare wars as some form of comparative hierarchy. I wrote this which gets into a bit about the damage of the war but also the lasting legacy the war will put upon the people and environment of Eastern Ukraine.https://matthewhoh.substack.com/p/no-other-option-eastern-ukraine-must

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Good points. "My war is worse than yours" is dismissive of the many victims involved. My point was the US has a far worse track record than Russia, but I see my comments lacked discernment and clarity. I appreciate your third option perspective on this.

In reading your second post, I see again how far behind I am on some of the details. BRICS for instance I have a knee jerk reaction on, but not fully informed.

Thanks again.

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An excellent post. Thanks a lot, Matt. A actually became of it through a German translation so it has some international reach. All the global crises seem to have a simple cause: The rich and the powerful (the RIPs) want to retain or expand their power at any cost. Or in the words of Chris Hedges:

"A discredited ruling class, which has disemboweled the nation for its corporate masters and whose primary mission is the perpetuation of permanent war, has no intention of carrying out reform. It will not permit an exchange of ideas or allow its critics a platform. It knows it is hated. It fears the rise of the neofascists its dysfunction and corruption have spawned. It seeks to perpetuate itself only through fear —— fear of what will replace it."

I wrote about it here: https://www.wewillbearwitness.org/p/the-mendacity-of-the-elites

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Thanks Henrik. That’s a great piece.


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"(it appears the Russians did the same, preparing their economy to protect it from the inevitable US sanctions," is this a violation of the Minsk II accords. Wht you have written suggests that it is.

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Yes, both sides violated the Minsk II Accords in differing ways and pointed to the other side’s failure to uphold the agreement as validation for their own violations.

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Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023Liked by Matthew Hoh

Thank you for putting the truth out there. The mainstream media will continue to ignore it, as per their owners' commands, but it will come out in time. There's no stopping it.

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Thank you my friend! Hopefully, people will not only understand the history but move to stop this war as well as prevent future wars with China, Iran, North Korea, etc.

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Great piece, though I question the notion that anyone ever venerated Strobe Talbott.

Also, don’t forget US recognition of independent Kosovo in February 2008. Even Saakashvili complained to Rice that this provoke dangerous reaction from Moscow.

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Haha. Perhaps I should have italicized "venerated" to ensure a satirical/tounge in cheek quality ;)

Thank you for pointing that out about Kosovo. I've amended the essay to include that point.

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Overall I think this is a powerful piece. But there are some glaring omissions: 1) In December 2021, Putin and the Russian government put forward comprehensive proposals for talks designed to establish a new, European-wide security infrastructure that would respect the national security rights of all nations. If the US and NATO were not hell-bent on boxing Russia into a corner to provoke war, that would have been the moment to use those as proposals as the start for meaningful negotiations. Instead, the US and NATO blew them off, simply ignored their existence. This is missing from your summary of what led to this proxy war, a war that has been designed and planned for by the US, NATO and Ukraine for a very long time, but certainly starting with the 2014 coup. 2) Jake Sullivan might be the most despicable and pathetic character among the cabal of neocons running the proxy war. After issuing warning after warning when he was ambassador to Russia about how Russia would react to NATO overtures for Ukrainian membership, he is now leading the charge. Two other despicable and pathetic characters would include Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, who now both openly admit that the Minsk II negotiations were nothing more than a grand deception, a ruse to buy time to arm and train Ukraine for eventual war. This is diplomatic duplicity at its most egregious. 3) So, given this track record, could someone please answer the following question: What more could Putin and the Russian government have done to get the US and NATO to change course? It seems to me they tried everything possible in the way of diplomacy, but were rebuffed over and over again. By February 2022 they only had 2 choices left: a) do nothing (essentially surrender) and accept whatever the US and NATO wanted, regardless of the threat to Russian national security, or b) act. If the tables were turned, if all that has transpired in Ukraine were to take place in Mexico, for example, are you going to tell me that the US response would be, "Mexico is a sovereign country, and they are free to join a Russian/Chinese military alliance and base Russian and Chinese missiles in their country?" Give me a break!!!

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I concur, and as Ray McGovern has pointed out recently, while everyone feels compelled to say that Putin had other options (including Matthew), no one has been able to articulate to him what those options were (including Matthew). The bad faith of the west was and is so blatant, it is hard to see what options there were other than letting Ukraine crush the Donbas and let NATO butt up to Moscow's doorstep.

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I reference the negotiation attempts in late 2021 and 2022, as well as the admissions of Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko, although I don't provide as much detail as maybe required.

Certainly, armed invasion and occupation were not the only option available to Russia. Launching a preemptive or preventive war is a violation of international law and offends the Nuremberg Principles. If we are to hold the US accountable for its military invasions and occupations, we must do so for other nations.

There were certainly many other options available to Russia, including an energy blockade of Europe, a naval blockade of Ukraine's ports, continued diplomacy, including through the UN, OSCE, EU and ICC forums (yes Russia could have joined the ICC), and strengthening alliances with other nations, as they are now doing, to weaken US hegemony. David Swanson, more than a year ago, provided 30 non-violent examples of options:


Now there is a great difference between available options and desired options. Certainly the Bush White House had other options in 2003, but chose invasion and occupation, just as the Obama White House in 2009 chose escalation in Afghanistan. In both cases, Bush and Obama claimed they had no other option than military aggression/escalation. If/when the US and Israel attack Iran, such a "no other options" argument will be provided as well.

While currently successful in achieving its limited territorial goals, Russia has set forth long term strategic and political events that undermine its objectives. NATO cohesion is at a point greater than any time since 1991, its armies are modernizing and being funded at historic post Cold War highs, and NATO membership has expanded to include along Russia's Finish borders (Swedish and Finnish public support for NATO membership, as has Ukrainian public support for NATO membership, has increased markedly since Feb 2022).

Russia cannot fully subjugate Ukraine. The war is stalemated, and unless Russia can achieve a WWII style victory (which I feel is very unlikely) in two years time, Ukraine's military will be reconstituted with modern NATO equipment to include long range strike aircraft and missiles.

So not only was it not their only option, it also wasn't their best option as success is a demolished and evacuated portion of Eastern Ukraine, an expensive occupation, a war of attrition, that will ultimately have a domestic political cost, and a strengthened and rejeuvenated NATO. Such a an enemy may be politically beneficial to Putin, but I don't think it is strategically sound in the longer term.

Finally, as a matter of principle, I won't support any nation that launches a cross border invasion and occupation. The suffering and destruction, and potential unknown and unintended consequences, far outweigh any good/evil narrative that can be offered for such a war.

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Jun 7, 2023·edited Jun 8, 2023

The system won't allow my response in one post so I apologize for the additional replies.

Matthew, thank you for your very thoughtful response. I am reluctant to post a long comment as I certainly don’t want to make appear that I am on a rant or to suggest that I can’t find common ground with you. It would not be apparent in my first comment, but (I was raised Mennonite) I am about as anti-war as anyone can be. So, I find it a little troubling within my own conscience that I find myself wanting the Russians to win this war outright for the sake of humiliation to the US and NATO.

One thing all the one sided, propaganda driven media coverage and outright lies told by our administration has exposed by focusing on Russia’s brutality and “war crimes” is just how horrific the technologies of war have become. “Weapons of mass destruction” are the order of the day even though we (USA) like to pretend we can confine such a term to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons while ignoring thermobaric, cluster bombs, and all other manner of horrors now delivered at supersonic speed.

Since you reference David Swanson’s list, I feel compelled to address it having attempted to consider carefully each point. Rather than make a broad comment, here are my thoughts (for what they are worth) on each:

1 Continued mocking the daily predictions of an invasion and created worldwide hilarity, rather than invading and making the predictions simply off by a matter of days.

I would first of all describe the invasion predictions as an acknowledgement after the fact that the US knew that Russia was fully aware of degree to which the Ukraine military was poised to escalate the attacks on the Donbas. (I certainly found nothing hilarious in the run up to the invasion and am bothered by his use of the term). On this point, as many others have pointed out, when Russia went in they defied our standard launch of “shock and awe” warfare. The record stands pretty solidly on the fact that such a tactic did in fact lead to early treaty proposals scuttled by the West.

I do believe that the Russians should have made one last push to bring in UN peacekeeping forces. I don’t believe that they could have prevailed on this point, but at least it would have been on record as being dismissed out of hand as the US sees to it with anything conciliatory towards its “enemies.” Once scuttled, it would certainly appear to be less a violation of international law to intervene.

2 Continued evacuating people from Eastern Ukraine who felt threatened by the Ukrainian government, military, and Nazi thugs.

I just find this offensive. It suggests that people should just willingly give their homes, properties and livelihoods because the bullies want them out of their neighborhood. Certainly, the war has brought much of this about as war refugees, but refugees are never willingly displaced. I recently met a young and amazing Ukrainian woman working on a cruise ship. Her family all speaks Russian. Her brother is trying to learn Ukrainian because as he told her, “I feel it’s the only way I might survive.” That the West has aided and abetted in this attack on ethnic Russians is utterly appalling. So is expecting them to pack their bags and leave their country.

3 Offered evacuees more than $29 to survive on; offered them in fact houses, jobs, and guaranteed income. (Remember, we’re talking about alternatives to militarism, so money is no object and no extravagant expense will ever be more than a drop in the bucket of war spending.)

I don’t know a single Western country that couldn’t do better in helping in humanitarian relief over military spending. The US being the poster child in this regard. That said, this really is disconnected from any deterrent to the attacks on the Donbas and lust for reclaiming Crimea.

4 Made a motion for a vote in the UN Security Council to democratize the body and abolish the veto.

I’m all for big changes to the Security Council, but to suggest that any proposal from Russia before the war would even be considered is naive at best. That group wouldn’t even authorize an independent investigation into the Nord Stream destruction. And the UN as whole votes every year to condemn the sixty-year-old blockade of Cuba. The last vote getting two “No” votes (the US and Israel) and one abstention (Ukraine). This speaks volumes to the ineffectiveness of the institution.

5 Asked the UN to oversee a new vote in Crimea on whether to rejoin Russia.

The whole world knows well enough that Crimeans are not only historically Russian but far better off now that they are reunited to Russia. The US and therefore the UN have no interest in UN sponsored referenda in either Crimea or the Donbas. They know the answer to the question is not the answer they want and thus will never be asked.

6 Joined the International Criminal Court.

I see no legitimacy in this organization. They have ignored US war crimes wholesalely. Until it is a viable entity where every nation is held accountable, it is meaningless. It seems to me, to be a member of the UN, a country should also be judged by some international court derived from member nations.

7 Asked the ICC to investigate crimes in Donbas.

See item 6 response.

8 Sent into Donbas many thousands of unarmed civilian protectors.

This aligns somewhat with my Item 1 response. Some kind of peacekeeping troops were needed—and long before 2022! Many thousands of unarmed civilian protectors can’t stand between an escalating Ukrainian army and the civilian population forever. Not even for very long. Gandhi and King knew well how to use non-violent actions to stand up against brutality, but neither faced a NATO back war machine. On this point it seems fitting to bring up just how entrenched our proxy war plans were well before the invasion. Many examples could be recalled, but just let me note one. Adam Schiff stating in 2020 on the need to arm Ukraine, “…so that we can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

9 Sent into Donbas the world’s best trainers in nonviolent civil resistance.

See item 8.

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Matthew Hoh

10 Funded educational programs across the world on the value of cultural diversity in friendships and communities, and the abysmal failures of racism, nationalism, and Nazism.

A worthy undertaking, but I don’t see how this connects to a US/NATO backed Ukrainian army and a Ukrainian government systematically trying to wipe ethic Russians (including the Orthodox churches), eliminating political parties, and controlling the press.

11 Removed the most fascist members from the Russian military.

How is this a strategy to resolve NATO expansion, the attacks on the Donbas or anything else pertinent to the invasion? I’d be happy to see us do our own housekeeping in this regard.

12 Offered as gifts to Ukraine the world’s leading solar, wind, and water energy production facilities.

Perhaps along with China this will happen if Russia wins the war. The US had and has no intention of willingly allowing either country to help Ukraine. This is another complete non-starter in averting the war.

13 Shut down the gas pipeline through Ukraine and committed to never building one north of there.

I’m not sure I understand this one. Swanson begins to drift into climate change initiatives and as stated before are complete non-starters in averting the war.

14 Announced a commitment to leaving Russian fossil fuels in the ground for the sake of the Earth.

See Items 12 & 13.

15 Offered as a gift to Ukraine electric infrastructure.

See Items 12 & 13.

16 Offered as a gift of friendship to Ukraine railway infrastructure.

See Items 12 & 13.

17 Declared support for the public diplomacy that Woodrow Wilson pretended to support.

Lavrov, as much as we might not like to admit it, is a statesman and the long litany of statements by he and Putin over the last 15+ years make it quite clear that they worked diligently for public diplomacy. As the Minsk accords proved, they were working with insincere actors acting in bad faith.

18 Announced again the eight demands it began making in December, and requested public responses to each from the U.S. government.

I very clearly recall Blinken stating emphatically that the Russian proposals were non-starters. Biden had his meeting with Putin which in characteristic fashion said one thing in the meeting and was contradicted immediately after. It is so pitiful that the elites in Europe ignored their own security concerns at our behest and headed straight into war.

19 Asked Russian-Americans to celebrate Russian-American friendship at the teardrop monument given to the United States by Russia off New York Harbor.

I have no idea what point is being made here.

20 Joined the major human rights treaties it has yet to ratify, and asked that others do the same.

A noble goal but not a strategy to address the Ukrainian/US/NATO aggression.

21 Announced its commitment to unilaterally uphold disarmament treaties shredded by the United States, and encouraged reciprocation.

It is good that Swanson acknowledges that the US that has been and continues to be the bad actor in respect for treaties. Russia has stated their willingness to abide by treaties, but can’t be expected to allow US inspectors into their facilities when it is not reciprocal and when US arms are flowing into the conflict. Certainly, the US would love to see Russian capabilities in this present moment. They are learning just the same and finding out that in the value for money department, they put our MIC spending to shame.

22 Announced a no-first-use nuclear policy, and encouraged the same.

It is the US that has not done this.

23 Announced a policy of disarming nuclear missiles and keeping them off alert status to allow more than mere minutes before launching an apocalypse, and encouraged the same.

This is exactly why Putin has been speaking out for years against NATO expansion and the facilities now installed in Poland and Romania. Russia adhered to nuclear treaties and almost certainly would have entered additional treaties had NATO not expanded east and had the US not taken on its belligerent posture towards Russia (and now China). Still, like so many other statements, this does not address the actual Ukrainian conflict leading up to the invasion.

24 Proposed a ban on international weapons sales.

Is this a recommendation to the world’s biggest arms dealer—the US? If not, it should be. Otherwise, I don’t see how it is at all pertinent to the actual Ukrainian conflict leading up to the invasion.

25 Proposed negotiations by all nuclear-armed governments, including those with U.S. nuclear weapons in their countries, to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons.

A great item for the “to do” list but the US has zero interest in such agreements.

26 Committed to not maintaining weapons or troops within 100, 200, 300, 400 km of any borders, and requested the same of its neighbors.

Russia did request this of its neighbors. That is the point of their European security framework. These neighbors became NATO members all the same and the US has dangled the NATO carrot to Ukraine for years. The result—nuclear missile capable facilities on Russia’s border.

27 Organized a nonviolent unarmed army to walk to and protest any weapons or troops near borders.

This seems like a repeat of item eight, and my response is the same.

28 Put out a call to the world for volunteers to join the walk and protest.

Where are the protesters in the US calling on our government to cease the funding and allow for a peace deal? Charity begins at home and so does changing the global war machine.

29 Celebrated the diversity of the global community of activists and organized cultural events as part of the protest.

Join me in a chorus of “Kumbayah” as Nuland/Blinken/Sullivan/Milley/Austin/Biden declare their love for the Russian and Ukrainian populations and American lays down its arms. I hope I live to see it, but we don’t appear to be tending towards peace anywhere anytime soon. War with China anyone?

30 Asked the Baltic states that have planned nonviolent responses to Russian invasion to help train Russians and other Europeans in the same.

Who is in charge of doing such training for the Ukranazi troops, Zelensky and NATO at large? Whoever it is they are several years late to their calling.

In conclusion, to quote Lincoln, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is not democracy.” One look at Ukraine and we see how ludicrous it is to suggest Ukraine, since 2014, is any kind of democracy. We shouldn’t over simplify the long term stated goal of the US to weaken Russia. As far as the Lindsey Grahams of the world are concerned, the dead on either side are all to the good—“the best money we ever spent.” Thus is how far America has risen in its hubris and sunk in moral authority as the great global hegemon.

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Jun 7, 2023·edited Jun 7, 2023Author

Wow, Tom, this is very impressive. Thank you for taking the time to lay out your thoughts on this. You should post this as an essay on your site, I would share it.

I couldn't agree more strongly with the tone and tenor of your last paragraph. Although I do believe Zelensky's election was legitimate, as corrupt as the country is and not negating the strength of the far-right, ultra nationalists, corrupt industrialists, oligarch and foreign powers in controlling Ukrainian decision making post 2014, as I believe Yanukovych's election in 2010 was also legitimate.

Cornel West entered the US presidential race this weekend. He has described the US as being at the intersection of "might makes right" and "greed is good". I can't think of any better description for this war in Ukraine with its reasons for being rooted in megalomania and commercial greed.

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Jun 8, 2023·edited Jun 8, 2023Liked by Matthew Hoh

Matthew, I appreciate the kind words, and I concur that "peace candidate" Zelensky's election, like that of Yanukovych before the coup, was legitimate.

The hero worship of Zelensky sickens me--and has from the earliest days of the war. An heroic statesman would have gotten the troops killing in the Donbas out of the region (standing up to the Uka-Nazis), yielded to the reality that Crimea is now reunited with Russia, declared neutrality, and most important of all, thrown out any and all American “advisors” and refused any military aid--or died trying! That he did none these and instead played (and continues to play) a loosing game of Russian roulette with a fully loaded pistol (and one hell of a pistol it is with its unlimited bullets and bombs) against his own people is as despicable as it gets. It may be true that only 10% of their military troops are actual Nazis, but the influence they have had on Zelensky and the push towards antagonizing Russia can't be ignored in any true accounting.

I've followed Dr. West for many years--going back to his conversations with Bill Buckley on Firing Line. I'm not exactly sure what his candidacy will bring about, and I can't quite picture him in a "Commander-in-Chief" role, but it will be interesting to observe. My own initial pick for a ticket was Kucinich/Hoh! True statement! Now Dennis is working with RFK Jr, and I am following that quite closely. I think what would make that campaign most interesting would be if the team could garner a new slate of "Kennedy Democrats" to stand in the primaries against the DNC machine. If he ends up being one man against the machine, it will all be for naught once again. You certainly know this firsthand from the good democracy lovers in NC! Press on!

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Thank you for this, TomG - a remarkable service for debunking the "Putin had alternatives" trope.

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Are you sure that this assertion of yours is valid, in light of recent events? -- " NATO cohesion is at a point greater than any time since 1991, its armies are modernizing and being funded at historic post Cold War highs." Well, NATO and the US have seriously depleted their arsenals of weapons, and the ammunition for those weapons cannot begin to match Russian production. And, as for "cohesion," the big NATO gathering in Vilnius will be interesting.

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The idea that Putin had other options other than invade are erroneons. What evidence is there that he had any other choice when confronted with the existential threat of NATO taking Russia's most important naval base and putting nukes just a couple minutes' striking distance from Moscow? Had Putin not invaded, Russia's hawks would have gotten rid of him and put someone in power that would stand up to NATO and respond to the existential threat to Russia.

NATO wanted to wage a proxy war on Russia, using Ukraine as cannon fodder, in order to weaken Russia. They knew exactly what their provocative actions would lead to, and did it anyways. The responsibility for this travesty lies with NATO - primarily with the US which is in obviously in charge.

Those in the West who have supported this proxy war need to be jailed and made examples of, and those responsible for allying us with Nazis in Ukraine need to be charged with treason and made and example of.

Our sociopathic leaders have absolutely zero regard for our collective futures and seek only the aggrandizement and solidification of their own power. They are, in essence, tyrants just as evil as Hitler or Stalin and must be dealth with sternly and publicly.

We need to make it clear to the world we don't support Nazis and aren't part of this world-ending death cult, and we need to teach the next generation in our own countries that allying with Nazis is something that comes with the most serious of consequences.

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Thank you for this essay. You condemn Russia's invasion. What would you have them do?

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Thank you for the essay. You condemn Russia's invasion. What would you have them do?

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Thank you for this essay. You condemn Russia's invasion. What would you have them do?

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"Many in...Moscow have desired this war for decades" I read through this screed hoping to find some offer of evidence for that absolutely astounding claim. There was absolutely none. Was Hoh trying to cover his ass, or what?

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I supported your run for Senator from North Carolina, because I have admired your courageous actions over the years.

I don't understand your need to condemn the Russian Federation BEFORE you enumerate

the West's relentless provocations.

You declare, "An attempt at understanding the Russian perspective ... certainly does not imply the Russians had no other option but this war."

You and David Swanson and Medea Benjamin and many others insist on claiming that the Russian Federation had "other options."

Ray McGovern, Garland Nixon, Scott Ritter, Alexander Mercouris and others would strongly disagree.

David Swanson put out a list of THIRTY "other options." The number 30, in itself sounds like a smart-aleck insult, and the options he has concocted range from impractical, to fanciful, to somewhat silly.

In your own essay here, you claim that the Russian Federation had "other options," but you seem to feel no obligation to tell us even one of those options. I want to respect you, but your cavalier assertion, and your careless failure to back it up with any examples, undermines your integrity and contributes nothing to the campaign for a negotiated settlement.

How does the self-righteous condemnation of Russia give them any incentive to engage in dialogue?

And, let's be honest -- what you call "provocations" were really threats to the physical security of the Russian Federation -- real threats, that had to be met with the force of arms. You are not alone in fudging the true nature of US/NATO actions with this equivocal term, "provocations."

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Very well done Matthew!

How can we contact you to set up an interview?

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Thank you Nima. My email address is matthew.hoh@icloud.com

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