Pentagon Leaks Show Washington 'Dissidents' Want 'Offramp' From Ukraine 'Disaster'
16:06 GMT 11.04.2023 (Updated: 12:45 GMT 13.04.2023)
© AP Photo / Alex BrandonThe Department of Defense Seal is seen on the podium before Pentagon spokesman U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Washington.
© AP Photo / Alex Brandon
The leak of US defense assessments of Ukraine's long-promised military offensive has caused turmoil in Washington and Kiev. Retired US diplomat James Jatras, an adviser to the US Senate Republican leadership, and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, explain the motives behind it.
Pentagon officials behind the leak of Ukraine's battle plans are looking for an "offramp" from the escalating proxy conflict with Russia, two former Washington insiders have said.
Pundits have speculated that the Pentagon reports on Ukrainian battle plans leaked to Telegram channels and heavily reported in the US mainstream media are a US smokescreen to misdirect Russia, a convenient excuse for ending costly support to Volodymyr Zelensky's Kiev regime or even a Moscow psy-op fake.
Retired US diplomat James Jatras told Sputnik that the leak "indicates that there are some dissident voices within the US government who are not comfortable with the direction of policy."
Those elements "would like to slow it down or maybe even change its course" but are still "a distinct minority within the establishment," he stressed.
The Senate adviser said it was significant that the leak came from the Department of Defense, not his old employer, the State Department.
"There are people within the military who realize that we're moving toward a potential disaster in Ukraine. Those are more realistic people," Jatras said. "They're familiar with the hard facts of military power," while the State Department and the White House "believe their own propaganda."
10 April 2023, 18:48 GMT
Other former US military and intelligence officers have argued that the leaks are the result of frustration over Washington's backing of Ukraine. But the ex-diplomat said that came from "further down the chain of command," and "primarily within the military."
He also disagreed that the leak complicated the US plans for the conflict, since the consensus in Washington was that Ukraine just "needs to roll the dice" and create "the appearance of making some sort of progress."
At that point the US will either up the ante with its support for Kiev or announce "some kind of a peace proposal" based on the illusion that they "go to the table with an advantage on Ukraine’s side," Jatras predicted.
The "danger" was that Russia might grant the West a "face-saving gesture" in return for a peace deal that meets its demands of de-militarization, de-Nazification and no NATO membership for Ukraine.
"These are fundamentally dishonest people here," Jatras cautioned. "They would not keep any word or any assurance any more than they lived up to the Minsk Agreement."
As for the timing of the revelations, the Republican advisor said the intention was likely to was to slow down or change the direction of policy," pointing to a US "tradition" of leaks from the establishment all the way back to the Vietnam War.
But he noted that "none of those things made much difference in the direction of American policy. It still took years for the policy establishment to be ground down by having reality catch up with them"
Jatras said more leaks could follow, but only if there was a "really disastrous development on the ground in Ukraine." While some neoconservative Republicans want to switch focus to a confrontation with China over Taiwan, "leaving Ukraine would not be as cost free for American prestige internationally as was our loss in Afghanistan."
Retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern told Sputnik that he did not accept either claims that the documents were part of a disinformation effort.
"This is somebody who has access to highly sensitive information, probably at the Joint Chiefs of Staff level, who decided, my God, you know, if the American people knew this, maybe we could stop this terrible, inexorable drift toward wider war in Ukraine and perhaps including nuclear weapons," McGovern argued.
"The Ukrainians are upset, of course, because it shows that we're spying on them. But, you know, surprise, surprise, we do that on everybody," the former Langley insider pointed out. "Precisely the same thing happened when high level people leaked information, which became too embarrassing for the president to widen the war. In that case, in Vietnam."
11 April 2023, 15:07 GMT
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office has already said that Kiev's plans for the long-advertised spring counter-offensive will have to be re-written following the leak. McGovern took that as proof that Ukraine isn't ready for a major operation.
"Zelensky himself said three weeks ago 'We can't do a spring counteroffensive unless we get the weapons that we need' and everyone knows that the weapons that they need, although promised, won't get there in time," McGovern pointed out. "So this is kind of a way to rationalize."
The former intelligence official argued the real reason for the leak was that "people in Washington are trying to find their offramp" and need to "expose the lies that have been told by people like the defense secretary, people like the head of the CIA."
"There's a hopeful sign here that these leaks will shut the Americans into thinking, whoa, wait a second, we've been lied to about this war. Ukraine is not winning," McGovern said. "Maybe it's time to sit down, do something sensible and negotiate."
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