I always consider it a privilege to be invited for a virtual chat with popular podcasters, like Stephen Gardner and Judge Napolitano. Both have strong, enthusiastic supporters. I found Stephen’s audience particularly surprising. My first chat with him garnered more than 1 million views. I am sure it was not my “good looks” that attracted the audience. I’m just another old guy with a beard.
This is so much better than doing a 6 minute hit on MSNBC with Keith Olbermann (yes, I did that show several times, sorry) or Wolf Blitzer. We actually get to have a substantive discussion. My principal motivation for doing these is to try to educate the public. I was talking late last night with one of my old high school buddies (I have known him for 55 years so that makes him a genuine old friend). We have different political points of view on most issues but can still have calm, rational chats without rancor or insults. Thanks Don! That is rare these days.
While discussion the latest on Ukraine my friend began reciting the Washington establishment meme about Putin being a reincarnated Stalin hell bent on conquering Europe. I mentioned a point, which I discuss with Stephen, about the fact that Russia — on at least two occasions — expressed interest in joining NATO. My friend expressed shock and surprise, and stated that he had never heard such a thing. Thank God for Google. I pulled up the following article and sent him this link:
Vladimir Putin wanted Russia to join Nato but did not want his country to have to go through the usual application process and stand in line “with a lot of countries that don’t matter”, according to a former secretary general of the transatlantic alliance.
George Robertson, a former Labour defence secretary who led Nato between 1999 and 2003, said Putin made it clear at their first meeting that he wanted Russia to be part of western Europe. “They wanted to be part of that secure, stable prosperous west that Russia was out of at the time,” he said.
The Labour peer recalled an early meeting with Putin, who became Russian president in 2000. “Putin said: ‘When are you going to invite us to join Nato?’ And [Robertson] said: ‘Well, we don’t invite people to join Nato, they apply to join Nato.’ And he said: ‘Well, we’re not standing in line with a lot of countries that don’t matter.’”
Can you imagine what the world would be like today if the West had invited Russia to become part of NATO? The whole raison d’être for NATO would have disappeared. Instead of seeking a lasting peace with Russia, the United States and NATO rebuffed Putin’s overtures. I think the reason is pretty simple — how can the United States justify an ever increasing defense budget if you no longer have to think about going to war with Russia? What a shame. There are now more than 400,000 dead Ukrainians and 50,000 Russian KIAs who would probably be alive today if Bill Clinton or George W. Bush had seized the moment and showed some genuine leadership.