From the Ukraine to the Nuclear Holocaust is But a Step

The Ukrainians blow up a bridge. Putin calls it terrorism and in retaliation rains down a bunch of bombs on Ukrainian cities…and then nitwits in the West start calling for direct strikes on Russia.

Not liking where this seems to be heading.

As I’ve said all along, there is zero American strategic interest in who governs the Donbas or, indeed, all of Ukraine. It wouldn’t change the balance of power against us in the least. On the other hand, Poland, Germany and Romania (and, to a lesser extent, France, Italy, Spain and England) have a vested interest in the matter. Combined, they have land forces numbering about 170,000 – and reserves can be mobilized to make them larger. France, Italy, Spain and Britain can back that up with about 380,000 troops (once again, more when fully mobilized). This doesn’t count air and naval forces. Nor economic power. That is more than enough to deter Russia – especially as Europe’s population and industrial power is larger than Russia’s so in a long war, Europe wins no matter what the Russians do (and France and the UK are nuclear-armed, so that balances against Russia’s nuclear weapons). Quick and cool-headed diplomacy backed by a credible threat of force likely would have gotten the Russians to back down.

So, why wasn’t that done? Because while quick and cool-headed diplomacy backed by credible force would likely get Russia to back down, it wouldn’t certainly do so. In other words: the Europeans might have to fight. They don’t want to. And I don’t think they want to ever: not even if their homelands were at stake. Certainly not for the Donbas. Europe is so sunk in narcissistic sloth and cowardice that I doubt there is the plain courage to stand up to a bully…so, they asked us to step in and they are pouring weapons into Ukraine hoping that somehow the 41 million Ukrainians can defeat 145 million Russians (do the math, guys).

The chances that anyone will use a nuke are low, but as I pointed out previously, they are rising all the time. The whole concept of using nuclear weapons being unthinkable was something implanted by propaganda to make sure, first and foremost, that the United States never took advantage of its overwhelming superiority in that area. I still doubt that Putin will use them – he can put into uniform about 3 million soldiers and that should be more than sufficient to deal with Ukraine. But you never can tell – there are stories rolling around that US and NATO special forces are boots on the ground assisting the Ukraine on the battlefield. If they are, it is likely intel that they are providing – data on Russian strength and intentions obtained from our satellites and human intelligence capabilities. If this is so, and if such manages to route a significant Russian force thus opening up Russian territory to Ukrainian invasion, things could get dicey very fast.

It is a very delicate situation right now and I very much doubt that our political or military leadership has a clue how to end it. They want victory, of course – or at least something that can be presented on TV as a victory (our Ruling Class lives and dies by how things appear on TV): but nobody – not NATO and not us – wants to put in the real effort necessary to secure a victory. Its all just a hope.

But Putin isn’t hoping – he’s trying to win. Like all Russian leaders he’s confronted with the fact his Russian people simply aren’t good at things which require organization and timing. So, he seems to be turning to the tried-and-true Russian method of just pounding his way through to success. You hope that Ukraine has produced a general who can confound Putin’s plans – and swiftly, but without seeming a mortal threat to Russia. And you hope that nobody at State or DoD is contemplating something like a covert attack on Russia’s military infrastructure by American forces.

I don’t know how it will come out – but literally anything is possible given the level of stupidity and ignorance our leaders have. Let’s just pray for peace – that somehow God grants us mercy and this war just blows over.

Russo-Ukraine War (Part 2)

The Russians continue to grind slowly ahead:

Not a lot, but no apparent ability by Ukraine to stop the advance. There was a story that Poland would turn its old Mig-29s over to us and then we’d hand them off to Ukraine. I don’t know who came up with that stupid idea but my bet is the Russians told us they wouldn’t go make believe on it and so the idea was scotched by DoD.

Pudding Brain banned the import of Russian oil without, of course, any effort to ramp up American production: no, he’s going hat in hand to Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia to beg them to boost production. This does require him to lift the sanctions on Venezuelan oil. I guess this means that whether or not you’re a bad guy depends on the Narrative of the Moment. And right now that Narrative is Putin Bad.

Read that a restaurant in Brazil will stop offering Beef Stroganoff. This is ridiculous. But, also, think about it: this level of xenophobia against Russians has been generated globally and in mere weeks. And you know they can turn this on anyone who displeases them. Heck, we already saw it: they turned it on Trump and got the whole world to hate him. I mean, the whole world open to Western propaganda, that is. Places where this is lacking or where there remains independent press were more friendly to Trump (India, Israel, eg).

It occurred to me that while Putin is in the wrong – starting hostilities unless you are faced with obvious and imminent attack is morally wrong – we are not looking at it from his perspective. And I thought we were always supposed to do that? I guess not. At least, not in come cases. But Putin’s perspective is Russian. This doesn’t make it right, but it does make it something we should understand.

First thing: that massive nation we can see on the map looming over Europe and Asia looks a lot different from the inside. It is all frontier. Vulnerable frontier. Open to attack at scores of points at any given time. And then outside the Urals and the Volga River, Russia lacks any obvious defensive line: it is all flat, open country easy to traverse by an enemy.

Second, there have been attempts to conquer Russia from Europe. The most recent is the most telling, but prior to it there were French, Swedish and Polish efforts along these lines. Russians don’t see Europe as the home of brothers and sisters…but rather as the home of rapacious conquerors who must be kept at bay.

Third, the Russians don’t see the Ukrainians as a different nation. It was called “little Russia” in Imperial times. Here:

That is a 1904 map. And I’m not saying the Russians are right nor that Ukrainians don’t have a right to be – just pointing out relevant historic facts. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you and I believe about it – in this case, the crucial person is Putin and what he believes. And I read his article just before the war: he asserts very firmly that Ukrainians are Russians. And he further believes that the only reason there is a Ukrainian identity apart from Russia is because of influence peddling from the West. Also, he’s probably only barely heard of Stalin’s famine in the area (its not like Soviet textbooks covered it when Putin was growing up); and even if he did, he would probably view it as a sad necessity. Ukraine was liberated from the Muslims by Russians. Kiev is the cradle of Russian civilization. The Battle of Poltava which secured Russia as a Great Power was fought in Ukraine. In other words, there are solid reasons for the Russians to believe what they believe.

Anyways, that would be the Russian perspective – and now add to it the entire world becoming overtly hostile not just to Putin, but to Russians and all things Russian, and you’ve got the perfect potion to turn even Putin-doubters into loyalists.

It ain’t just oil – Russia and Ukraine both provide a lot of wheat on the global market. We here in the USA will be fine – I’m confident our wheat and corn farmers can see how things are going and are doing what they can to maximize production. But for the poor in Africa and Asia, this could spell famine.

Ilhan Omar (D-MN) made a statement against cancel culture a few weeks back and I was all, “busted clock, twice a day”. Well, the “twice” just happened when she pointed out the risks of willy-nilly flooding Ukraine with weapons without accountability and the presence of militia groups of, shall we say?, questionable loyalty. If she’s right about a third thing, I’ll faint dead away. What you’ll find strange (ie, not strange at all) is that the MSM seems to have forgotten to cover Omar’s statement on this. Almost like she went off script and is, at least temporarily, aligned with White Supremacy or some such.

The Russo-Ukraine War

As I sit down to write, there are reports that Kiev is surrounded and not surrounded and that Zelenesky has agreed to talk and not agreed to talk. In other words, nobody really knows what is going on. This is the most talked-about but least reported-on war I’ve ever seen. I think this is because we lack any real war correspondents – people who would actually go into the combat zones and see what they could see. Those old reporters would get things wrong from time to time, but not usually: the willingness of people to pay them to risk their lives for a story was dependent upon accurate reporting. These days, the reporters all stay where they can get an easy TV hookup and a drink after their daily 20 minutes of broadcasting the latest rumor they picked up over lunch.

The MSM is filled with stories of glorious Ukrainian victory. Social media has a plethora of accounts putting out alleged video of the fighting. But I’ve literally seen the exact same picture described as Russian and Ukrainian troops surrendering. Part of our problem here is that there’s no physical difference between Russians and Ukrainians and their military equipment is similar. Anything can be anything and none of us can really tell if a particular armored column driving through a non-descript Ukrainian town belongs to either side.

That said, the Russians clearly have advanced, and in some cases pretty deep into Ukrainian territory. The eyes of the world are fixed on Kiev but the real action is the Russian advance out of Crimea towards Mariupol in the east and Odessa in the west. Especially towards Mariupol because if the Russians get there, we might find a significant portion of the Ukrainian army is encircled. And that might be why Zelensky wants to talk (if those reports are correct): work a deal before the Ukrainian army in the east has to capitulate (in the face of Russian air power, a withdrawal is probably not feasible).

Part of the problem the world has in dealing with this is that we don’t know Putin’s intentions. He hasn’t really stated them. My thinking when it started is that he wanted the line of the Dnieper: essentially taking the part of Ukraine where ethnic Russians make up the bulk of the population. That still might be it – with the moves towards Kiev and Odessa merely to obtain bargaining chips to obtain Ukrainian agreement to surrender the Donbas. But there is a chance he wants the whole of the Ukraine. That, I think, would be foolish on Putin’s part as he’d be taking control of a hostile population and pretty much force Poland and Romania into massive military build up and close alliance.

Naturally, the Democrats are trying to pitch this in a manner which forces us to back them politically. We have to rally ’round the flag, right? If recent polling is correct, that isn’t happening: Pudding Brain is cratering to his lowest ratings yet. I know some people who have become emotionally invested in opposing Putin and this has made them turn the Ukrainians into pure heroes. I’m not having any of that. The Ukrainian government has been corrupt to the bone since it was set up after the fall of the USSR. They had 8 years to prepare for this and it doesn’t look like much was done – they should have had layered defensive positions and a plan to mobilize the entire population at need. But I guess giving no-show jobs to Hunter Biden was the best they could do. I am sympathetic to their plight, but only to an extent – the people of Ukraine are ultimately responsible for the sort of government they endure. If they truly loved their country, they would have made sure that no matter what else happened, national defense was carried forward with conviction. They didn’t and now Ivan is knocking at the gates.

On the other hand, I also know people who are making a hero out of Putin and so they cast aspersions on the Ukrainians. Putin’s propaganda is that he’s only going in to rid Ukraine of neo-Nazis. This is based upon the Azov Battalion of the Ukrainian militia and the actions of Ukrainians during WWII.

The Azov Battalion originated in the 2014 conflict – and it clearly has links to white nationalist groups and some of its symbols are obviously based on Waffen-SS symbols. But I doubt they hope to revive a Nazi empire. The symbols they use are more for anti-Russian than pro-Nazi reasons. This is because during WWII quite a lot of Ukrainians did work with the Germans against the Soviet government. They also fought the Germans quite a bit. In the end, the outside observer can only look with a bit of sympathy on people who were caught between Nazis and Bolsheviks. If you were Ukrainian in 1941 you had family members who had been starved to death, murdered or otherwise brutally oppressed by agents of Soviet power. It wasn’t just a portion of the population: all of them had reasons to hate the USSR with a white hot passion. In come the Nazis and the Bolsheviks are gone…the Nazis then proceed to murder, rape and loot to their hearts content. This did cause some Ukrainians to become pro-Soviet partisans…but quite a number let that Nazi brutality roll right off their backs and they became ant-Soviet partisans. If you ever wanted to know how bad Stalin’s rule was, there’s your answer: some people would rather help Nazis if that meant keeping Stalin out.

And they kept up the fight – for ten years after the end of WWII, Ukrainians continued a forlorn struggle against Soviet power. Without any outside support they were eventually crushed…but the memory of them endured and their symbols remained potent to Ukrainians who remember and dislike Russian rule. And, so, there you go: the Azov Battalion. So, I don’t put much stock in pro-Russian claims that Ukraine is a neo-Nazi hotbed.

I think that this is one of those events where we’re just going to have to see how it comes out. It is, though, a war I want no part of. I don’t even want to arm the Ukrainians at this point as I’m concerned that we’ll just end up supplying the Russians as we did the Taliban. The Europeans can provide all the aid Ukraine needs – let them do it. Keep our soldiers home – at most I’m ok with providing humanitarian relief.

War

With Ukraine in the news I’ve been pondering a lot about our general view of the world. One thing that has been striking a jarring note for me is the assumption that we bear some sort of responsibility for Ukraine. That Ukraine as an independent nation is something that we must secure.

Why?

To be sure, some say that in Ukraine’s deal to give up nuclear weapons, we pledged ourselves to Ukraine’s defense. But, we really didn’t: we pledged to rush right off to the UN if Ukraine was attacked – a UN which, of course, has a Russian veto and so the whole thing was quite toothless from the get-go. But even supposing we had an agreement to come to Ukraine’s defense, does this then relieve Ukraine from the obligation to defend herself?

Seems to me that if I were a Ukrainian patriot with a neighbor like Russia, I’d put a high priority on national defense. I realize that Ukraine is poor, but the Israelis were dirt poor in the 1950’s and their first priority was a military second to none because they had hostile neighbors who could attack at any moment. A Ukraine filled with people committed to the Ukrainian national ideal would have a very powerful army, thickly layered defenses and a reserve force made up of the entire adult population in arms. You know – be so well armed that even a successful foreign invasion would drown in blood. Do that, and the chances of that foreign attack diminish remarkably.

Ukraine’s active military is a little more than 200,000. Reserves about 250,000. To defend 230,000 square miles and 41 million people. That’s not a lot. That’s not nearly what you need. It isn’t nearly what you’d have if the Ukranian people really gave a damn. To give you a comparison, when Israel was attacked in 1973, out of an Israeli population of about 3 million, the Israelis mobilized about 400,000. That’s 13 percent. That can’t be sustained for long (your civil economy starts to collapse), but when your life is on the line, you do it. You’d think that 41 million Ukrainians could have 4 million ready to mobilize in a life-and-death emergency. And they would, if Ukrainians really cared – because Russia is right next door and the President of Russia believes that Ukraine is an integral part of Russia.

And if the Ukrainians won’t do it – won’t even show willing to do it – why in heck does anyone else have to care? Because wars of aggression are wrong? Well, yes they are – nobody ever has a moral case for starting a war, or setting things up so that the only way out is for someone to start shooting. But lots of things are wrong – the way some Arab countries treat women is wrong. What China is doing o the Uyghurs is wrong. The slave trade in Africa is wrong. The drug lords running rampant in Mexico and Central America are wrong. Lots of things are wrong which war, successfully prosecuted by good guys, could set right. But do you want to?

Who wants kids from Ohio and Alabama to head off to the Donbas to keep the Russians out of lands largely populated by ethnic Russians? Or send them off to Xinjiang to liberate the Uyghurs from China? Or even clear out the drug lords from Ciudad Juarez? If anything, I’d rather help the Mexicans dispose of the cartels – but before I hazard American blood on anything, I’d like to know for certain why we’re doing it and what we get out of it.

The first thing to keep in mind about the world is that it isn’t neat and tidy. There isn’t a completely right answer in purely human affairs. Often, there’s just a least-bad answer. The unification of Italy and Germany into nation-States was an utter disaster for the world and, most especially, Italy and Germany. The freeing of the peoples of the Austrian Empire was a disaster for the peoples of the Austrian Empire. I mean, I dig that Poles didn’t like officious Austrian overlords (who would?) but the officious Austrians kept a cavalry barracks at Oświęcim, not a death camp at Auschwitz. I guess what I’m saying here is think carefully about what you want before you act.

What I want, first and foremost, is a free and independent United States. If I’ve got that, then I am very satisfied with the world. Naturally, I understand that the United States cannot live in isolation from the world. People and trade flow around and ambitious people with wicked minds are here, there and everywhere. I do have to keep an eye on things. I will, at times, be forced to fight. But when I fight and how I fight must refer back to my first principle: a free and independent United States.

Now, as I consider Ukraine I note that it was firmly under Russian rule from 1776 until 1917 and then, again, from 1921 until 1991. At no time during those periods was Russian rule in Ukraine a threat to American freedom and independence. It just wasn’t. Sure, from a geopolitical standpoint it would have been advantageous to the US to have an independent Ukraine all through the Cold War…but it wasn’t a necessity as proved by the fact that all through the Cold War we didn’t have an independent Ukraine. If Russian rule is reimposed in Ukraine, what ill effect will this have on American freedom and independence? I can’t see any.

“But Russia might go on and attack more!”

They might. Baltic States, Poland. On and On. I note that Poland was under Russian rule from 1791 to 1918 with no ill effect on American freedom and independence. I’m very sympathetic to the Poles as they have put up with a lot. But does my sympathy for Poland extend to sending American kids to die there? Make your case, if you’ve got one. I can’t. I could not look an American kid in the eye and tell him that his death along the Bug River will keep America free and independent. I couldn’t say it because it wouldn’t be true.

Don’t get me wrong, there can be existential, global threats. Communism was such, as was Nazism. They both proposed the whole world as their jurisdiction. Fantastic as it sounds, the USSR considered the American Communist Party as the legitimate American government and Hitler had named Goebbles to be Gauleiter of America. Fighting such things anywhere is what you have to do because if they win anywhere, they are step closer to overthrowing American independence and freedom. But Putin is no Hitler or Stalin. He does not represent a global ideology at permanent war with all dissenters. He may be a bastard twenty different ways, but he’s not an existential threat.

I agree there are non-existential threats which still must be confronted. Radical Islam. Chinese imperialism. And even a bit of Russia’s aggression are causes of concern, sometimes grave concern, which could make fighting them necessary. While I don’t think Ukraine rises to such a level, I do hold that Russian meddling in the United States is a problem. But far more than Russian meddling I find the threat in Chinese and Islamist meddling to be a huge threat – especially given how much money Islamists and Chinese have to bribe Americans to betray their own.

In wanting to contend with such threats, I can agree to enter into mutual defense pacts with other nations. I can agree to military action and even full scale war. I do believe that if China attacked Taiwan, that is worth us going to war over – because of China’s meddling in the United States such a conflict, successfully concluded by China, would simply put us in a worse position vis a vis China and so allow them to interfere in our internal affairs even more.

It would, naturally, be to Taiwan’s advantage to accept our aid against China. If we win, they win. But even in such a clear cut case of fighting for American interests, I still want a clear goal and a clear payoff for our expenditure of treasure and blood. We can’t go out to bleed and die just to help – we have to be compensated for our efforts.

Suppose we had to go to war with China. Fine. It would be a years long and very expensive war in blood and treasure. I believe that even as ruined as we are right now, we would prevail in the war (China isn’t nearly as powerful as advertised). And that would be good. But we can’t do it like we did after WWII. That was a horrendous mistake: we helped our defeated enemies return to the world of competition with us. No. No, no, NO!. They had to pay. Heck, that war cost so much they should still be paying. We go to war with China and win, then for a century China should be paying us.

I’m deadly seriously here – after a war with China, I’d want every bit of gold and silver and art turned over to us and a 10% tax on China’s GDP for a century paid to us. Maybe even take some land from them: move the Chinese out and Americans in. The main thing is that they pay us for putting us through the trouble. We do not want to own the world. We do not want the world to do what we say. Yeah, maybe from mid-century on we’ve had some jerks who dreamed of such, but that wasn’t the American people. We just wanted to be left alone to hold our own. My view is that if you do things to us which force us to go fight you, then you’re going to pay. You’re not just going to lose the war, you’re going to be humiliated and then forced to work very hard to send money to us for a very long time.

It is time we got out of the dream world. All this UN, NATO, treaties and arms limitation garbage since WWII has been the answer provided by dimwits who never understood the world. The world is a real place. People do things in it. Good and bad. We can’t cure all bad and we don’t have the right to, anyway. Our primary duty is to look after ourselves – to make only temporary alliances at need, to make sure they are reciprocal (our blood to defend them, their blood to defend us) and when we defeat an enemy we don’t occupy and rebuild them…but we do make them pay. Through the nose. With usury. In blood and treasure.

An American Foreign Policy

Bismarck allegedly once said that there is a special providence for fools, drunkards and the United States of America. If he did say it then it was because he could see how very lucky the United State was and is: moated east and west by oceans and with harmless neighbors north and south, the United States could always pick and choose which foreign affairs to take an interest in. Meanwhile, Bismarck’s Prussia-become-Germany had to contend with Russia, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Britain and a host of smaller powers all on German’s doorstep or very close by. It was a nightmare maze to navigate through (made more nightmarish by Bismarck, but he didn’t see it that way). Bismarck died in 1898 – which, as it turns out, was the year the United States decided that being blessed by geography just wasn’t going to cut it.

There was nothing particularly wrong with ejecting the Spanish from Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898. There was also no particular need to do it. But at least it fell in line with the general idea of the Monroe Doctrine and a long-held American ideal that the Americas should no longer be the colonial possession of Europeans. But that wasn’t really why we went into that war: it was merely the excuse. The reason we went into the war was because a segment of American political leaders felt it was vital for America to enter global competition. The concept, boiled down, was that if we didn’t force our way on to the world stage, we’d start to decline as a nation. Cuba was the excuse – but all along what was wanted was Manila and the gateway to China.

And so we did it – and placed ourselves in the position of caring about China and that meant dealing with Japan and Britain and Russia and fussing about who would govern what in the western Pacific and east Asia. I think that most of us were taught that this was fundamentally a good thing – that the USA had to get involved. But now that I think back on those lessons in high school history, they never did get around to telling us why we had to do it. It was just an assertion that as a mature great power, we should be involved and if we didn’t, disaster would follow.

I try to think of what disasters would have been worse than Communist China, the Korean and Vietnam wars (not to mention things like the battles of Okinawa and Saipan) had we stayed home. Remember, Pearl Harbor was struck because it based the American fleet which was set to relieve the American garrison in the Philippines…but if there wasn’t an American garrison there? If the Spanish still ruled Manila or the Filipinos fully ruled themselves at that time? What would be the reason for attacking the American fleet at Pearl Harbor? Can’t really think of one.

Now, one can argue that Japanese rule of the Philippines and Indonesia would be bad. No real argument there. But China’s rule of Tibet is bad – anyone saying we have to go to war with China to free Tibet? The point I’m making: the supposed need for the USA to expend blood and treasure to save foreigners from oppression seems a little selectively applied. Either it is our policy, or it isn’t. If it is, then it is time to war with China. If it isn’t…then what the heck have we been doing for the last century? Being involved. And that seems to be it.

I bring all this up because now people are telling us we have to confront Russia in Ukraine. Saw a Tweet from a bluecheck Neocon today basically comparing the situation to Hitler’s rise to power. I’m really rather tired of that sort of thing – Hitler was a unique threat which will never arise again. The peculiar circumstances of his rise no longer exist and can’t be replicated. Hitler, of course, stepped into the European power vacuum opened by the overthrow of the Hoehzollern’s of Germany and the dissolution of the Hapsburg Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. That particular situation has now been absorbed into the European equilibrium (mostly by Stalin, as it turns out: he moved whole populations around in 1945 to make the nations of central Europe compact ethnic nations no longer having a biological title deed to lands outside their borders: some times brutality can get things done). It should also be noted that the power vacuum was largely created by us – it was our insistence on the overthrow of the Hohenzollern’s and the dissolution of the Hapsburgs which created the vacuum. Had we stayed out, the Franco-British would have had to engage in a negotiated peace in the middle of 1918.

Anyways – we’re once again being told we must get involved. The safety of the world is at stake!

Really? How so?

How, that is, does Putin absorbing the Donbas really alter the world in some intrinsically negative manner? That plenty of people in the area don’t want to be ruled by Putin I take as a given. But I don’t understand our interest in it. Seems to me that if Putin is trying to re-cobble together the Czarist Empire then Ukraine should be looking to Poland and the Baltic States to form a coalition to stop it. I doubt much that Putin wants a general war. He’d like to detach the Donbas with minimal fighting. But Poland and Ukraine with 80 million people against Russia’s 146 million is probably far more than Putin wants to tangle with. Ukraine can probably get at least some interest – if not direct help – from Turkey, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Germany, France and Britain; all of whom have a varying interest in keeping Russia curbed (the closer they are to Russia, the greater the interest). A bit of firm diplomacy by Ukraine should easily be able to get Russia to back off.

That they don’t seem to be able to do this and that they lack sufficient arms to stand up to Russia is a problem. But how is it an American problem? Ukraine has been independent for 30 years: that was plenty of time for them to measure up a possible Russian attack and prepare the means to meet it. I get it that they are wracked by corruption (including corruption where they have paid off Americans – most infamously Hunter Biden – for influence) and have rather floundered around with an aging military force…but, once again: how is this an American problem? In fact – given how corrupt Ukraine is, what benefit to the people of the Ukraine in our propping up their corrupt system which didn’t even prepare the military means to defend Ukraine?

America needs an American foreign policy. That is: a policy which locates what the American interests are and then vigorously defends them. Far more worrisome for America than Russia attacking Ukraine is China buying influence throughout Latin America. It is a problem if, say, Panama’s government is purchased by China and closes the Canal to our ships. It is, then, in our interest to see to is that the government of Panama retains sufficient independence to prevent such an occurrence.

I’m completely done with this idea that America must be involved in this, that or the other foreign land. Outside the Americas, our interests are few and mostly relate to seaborne trade…which is menaced only by China’s rising fleet. We should be working on ensuring we can swiftly put China’s fleet at the bottom of the sea…but we’re working on whether or not to send troops to Ukraine, which doesn’t help us in any way against China. It isn’t like Ukraine will send troops to help us against China. Forget about that. We pull Ukraine’s chestnuts out of the fire here and then ten years from now we go to war with China, do not look for a Ukrainian army to help us out – more than likely we’ll see Ukraine selling war materials to China.

After 124 years, it is time to write off America as a global power. It hasn’t worked out for us. It has cost us a fortune in blood and treasure and those who don’t hate us despise us. Our position in the world couldn’t possibly be worse had we, in 1898, decided to not care about who ruled in Cuba. And it probably would be a lot better. At all events, it is time to give it a try. Try an American foreign policy: cross us in our interests and we’ll kill you. Not attacking our interests? Good luck and God bless.

The Real World is Knocking at the Door

Wow! Two in a day. When was the last time I did that? But, I’m kinda at an impasse in figuring out the last chapters of Book VII in the Mirrors series and, also, I’m rather furious. So, here we go!

I upset a friend today – don’t know her personally as she’s a Twitter friend but she’s a nice, interesting, right-of-center lady with a fascinating background and lots wise and insightful things to say. What I said was this:

Guys: if you’re not willing to do a bit of shooting pour encourager les autres, this won’t get fixed. Only the thought that they may be shot in a fortnight will concentrate the military mind and get them off working a lobbying gig and back to learning how to fight.

And:

Why does the general who screwed the pooch get let off when the private he ordered to die in a badly planned and executed op is dead or legless? You want to be a general? Cool. Win or die. If it’s a defeat, better die in the battle or by your own hand. Don’t come back.

A bit harsh to modern sensibilities, but I think it needed to be said. I intend to say a lot more of it. We’re not quite at the point of aux armes, citoyens, but we’re pretty close. I was advised to not be so worried about it…and that law, Constitution and Courts will get us through.

Bad news: they won’t.

And that is why I am, indeed, worried. We don’t have a functioning government. The Media are mere regime propagandists. We have, in short, no way to fix this prior to the 2022 and 2024 elections and the part most at risk at the moment – the Executive – not before 2024. We don’t have people in charge – and we can’t get people in charge – who understand the gravity of the situation or, if they did, have the desire to help the United States out of it. The only calculation any of them are making is how to retain their own political viability. They have not, ever, had a thought for the United States or her people and they aren’t suddenly going to have one now.

And I know that seems a rather bleak assessment, but it won’t be the first time its happened. The most recent time it happened in a major power was France in 1940. Do you want to know what the Prime Minister of France, Paul Reynaud was concerning himself with in the last days before the French surrender? Getting his mistress and a suitcase full of government cash into Spain while angling for an ambassadorship to the US from Petain. At a time when the PM should have been bending every effort to defend France, he was making sure he had money for himself and his side piece and maybe a sinecure from the incoming collaborationist regime. And, mark this, Reynaud was in the PM’s office because it was thought that he was the most energetic French leader who would put up the best fight against Hitler. Compared to the other people in the council, he was a lion of defiance…the rest were even mores so into figuring out how to wind up in power and wealth even if it was under Nazi rule.

The collapse of France in 1940 stunned the world. But it had been in the cards for decades – all it took was Hitler to push open the door and it all fell apart. It was only, after all, kept together because the French people, who largely despised their government and leaders, couldn’t coalesce around a sole option to do away with the Ruling Class. Sound familiar?

No institution in the United States is respected. None can be trusted. We all know for certain or at least strongly suspect that everyone in the upper reaches is merely feathering their nests and doesn’t give a damn about the people of the United States. Our military is proving itself, in front of our eyes, incapable of mounting operations. We can’t even be sure that if we placed our troops into battle that they would know what to do. I hope they can. You do, too. But how much training have they really been doing since 2009? Sure, Trump for 4 years…but none of us suspected the rot we’re seeing and so Trump might not have, either. All it takes, now, is for someone to push in the door.

And that is foreign and domestic. Our government lacks legitimacy and not just because of the vote in 2020 – but because no one really believes it is representative of what the American people want. Are you going to fight for them? But our bigger worry is in the foreign sphere: what enemy of the United States is going to have the least fear of us right now? The only calculations they are making in Beijing, Moscow and Tehran is how much money it would cost them to do whatever they want. China’s leaders are thinking terms of, “if we invade Taiwan, global markets will probably drop 25% in a day or two and that will cost the exchequer X yuan: but we gain Y yuan by taking Taiwan’s assets.” If Y is greater than X, they’ll move. They have no worry about our response because we’ve just shown we can’t make one. Today Team Biden is fumbling around trying to explain away what might be thousands of US citizens still stuck in Afghanistan…with the underlying statement being that we can’t get them out. We lack the means to do so.

We won WWII and then we immediately entered a fantasy land and the more the world started to fall apart (and it has been falling apart since 1956) the more the Ruling Class gave us the functional equivalent of Bread and Circuses. I hope everyone enjoyed 50 years of pretending the bill will never come due, because it just has. The real world is back and it isn’t even pissed off…its just the real world where things happen and you have to deal with them, or die.

Good luck to all of us! Say your prayers. Hope that nothing really bad happens until after January 20, 2025.

The Case for Diplomatic Can-Kicking

In light of the cease-fire that Trump has negotiated in Syria, Ace has some interesting comments. Do read the whole thing, but this is what I’m thinking about:

Is everything fixed, then?

Let me answer that with a question: Is anything ever fixed?

When I was younger and less experienced — and had seen less war — I was a big believer in the Rumsfeld Doctrine, “if the problem seems unsolvable, enlarge it,” that is, don’t chew about the edges if chewing about the edges doesn’t solve things, but go for the whole sandwich if need be.

I also believed the empty Neocon slogans about appeasement and Hitler and Clinton “just kicking the can down the road” in Iraq.

The empty sloganeering went like this: If we don’t permanently solve our diplomatic/military crises once and for ever, then we’re just “kicking the can down the road” and deferring problems until later.

It is very difficult to permanently solve problem – by war or diplomacy. But if you can get the shooting to stop for a significant period of time and allow people to get on with their lives, you’ve done well. We don’t know what will come out of the Syria deal – the problem is most emphatically not solved because most Kurds live in Turkey and Iran and while this is so, at least a portion of the Kurd population will pine for unity with their brothers. But, maybe this deal with allow the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds to start building a life and, just perhaps, rising stability and wealth will make the Kurds outside Turkey less willing to tangle with the Turks? Who knows; and maybe in 5 or 10 years there will be another crisis…and if there is, our job will be to assess our interests and only if we feel there is something crucial concerning us should we offer more than our good offices.

Kicking the can down the road is also not entirely a bad thing. In 1878, the Great Powers of Europe were at loggerheads over what to do with Turkish territory conquered by the Russians in a recent war. Russia, the victor in the war, naturally wanted to have everything her own way. But Austria and Britain weren’t keen on Russian domination in the Balkans. The Germans were at cross purposes because they were trying to keep on good terms with both Russia and Austria. Turkey, naturally, wanted to recover the lost territories. In the end, the British Prime Minister Disreali brokered a settlement which gave Russia some of what she wanted but not total domination of the Balkans.

What is interesting at the time was that the Austrian government was a bit divided on what to do – some arguing for peace even if Russia got advantage, others wanting war to the knife to push the Russians back. The “war to the knife” side saw that whatever deal was made, if it didn’t totally push Russia out, it would just be kicking the can down the road. That the basic problem would remain and would eventually flare up again. And, they were right. The 1914 war was started in roughly the same area and over roughly the same issue: who was to dominate the Balkans? An argument could have been made that the issue should have been fought to a finish in 1878 rather than 1914 – but, had it happened in 1878 then it doesn’t mean that peace and reason would then become triumphant. The aftermath of the actual war to the knife is now known and it isn’t pretty. But by making peace in 1878, the peoples of Europe were spared a major war for 36 years. That is quite a long time, actually. It was a pity that when 1914 came there were no Statesmen of the stature of Disreali (nor any generals who could win the war quickly), but who could foresee that? But even if someone had negotiated an 11th hour agreement in 1914 (as they did the year before in 1913 after the Balkan nations had fought Turkey), it still wouldn’t have solved the problem. Until Russia surrendered her desire for domination of the Balkans, war was always a prospect in the area.

As Ace also points out, World War Two is a bit unique. We were clearly attacked out of the blue and without just cause. Our enemy in Hitler was a purely evil man who had to be destroyed. And we unleashed unlimited power against the enemy – the destruction we wrought was only limited by our capacity to deliver it to the enemy. Had the war in Europe gone on past August of 1945, then Berlin would have been nuked rather than Hiroshima. The level of violence was really astonishing – especially after the allied armies broke into Germany. It is fairly well known how the Russians behaved – and orgy of rape, murder and pillage – but less well known is what the Anglo-American and French forces did. There wasn’t the mass rape and murder that accompanied the Russian invasion (though the French – via their Algerian troops – did permit a great deal of rape as revenge for German rapes in France) but the slightest resistance was met with overwhelming firepower; a great deal of looting went on; Germans were kicked out of their houses to provide billets for allied soldiers. It was a crushing, overwhelming defeat – a defeat so complete that the militarist Germans simply gave up on the concept. But, such a thing is unlikely to repeat itself: both in having such a purely evil enemy and having a political situation where ruthless application of power is possible.

So, can kicking isn’t a completely wrong thing to do. In fact, it is probably the best we can accomplish in most circumstances. With the hope that if its kicked far enough, it will be replaced by some other problem down the road. Because until the End, there will always be problems. There will always be people who feel they have been cheated and/or who think they have a right to someone else’s belongings. Because of this, war will always be in prospect and will, at times, break out. Our job is to permanently have a military ready to fight and then first try our hardest to broker a settlement and, failing that, give the enemy such a lesson about American power that they’ll shy away from trying it a second time. Other than that, we can only wait and see what happens and then deal with it as it arises.

In light of this, permanent alliances and international bodies are a blind ally: they commit us to certain actions even though future events might make a mockery of our commitment. Think about Turkey: suppose we had decided to fight them? Well, as they are NATO allies, that would technically require Spain to go to war against us in defense of their NATO ally Turkey. We hope for friendship – or at least tolerable relations – with all nations; but we can never tell what the future will bring. And, so, we can’t tie our hands in advance – we have to be free to decide as situations arise how we will deal with them.

They say we had to get into NATO and the UN because the world was changing and this is what we needed – but precisely because the world is changing (and always has and always will) it was wrong to get into them. It is time for us to disentangle ourselves and just move forward on the path which seems best to us at the time. It is time, that is, to start kicking the can down the road rather than rushing to war.

Russia, China and American Foreign Policy

China is the biggest threat we face as a nation – a couple people aside from me have started to pick up on that. Part of the catalyst seems to be the discovery that Senator Feinstein employed a Chinese spy for 20 years.

I don’t go for conspiracy theories, but the bottom line is that the only nation that benefits from enmity between the United States and Russia is China. China – which hacks our government and private computer systems on a regular basis. Which has used pirated technology to rapidly catch up with us in advanced military hardware. Which is building bases in the South China Sea. Which claims sovereignty over some small, Japanese islands. Which is building a blue water navy, including a first-class, nuclear powered fleet air arm. Which has pressured Google into making a search engine which suppresses subversive (to China) speech. Which spends vast sums, open and disguised, to lobby the American government. If China wrote the script, nothing would work better for them than the intense national angst over supposed “Russian meddling” in our elections.

To be sure, Putin is acting stupidly in not recognizing that his nation’s hold on Siberia is ultimately dependent upon alliance with us. If, by some means, China can ever neutralize us in world affairs, then Russia will find itself forced to disgorge vast tracts of Asia to China (quite a lot of which was at least theoretically under Chinese rule in the 18th and 19th centuries). If you’re thinking, “Russia has nukes”, well, so does China – and much more powerful and accurate nukes, thanks to us via either Chinese theft of American idiocy (especially during Bill Clinton’s Administration). Will Russia be willing to see Moscow and Saint Petersburg nuked in order to prevent a Chinese army from taking Vladivostok? I doubt it.

In my view, confronting China takes first place in American foreign policy issues – above issues like combating Jihadism, and vastly more important than stopping Putin from annexing areas of the former USSR which are mostly populated by ethnic Russians. To be sure, Russia always has to be confronted: from reading history, that is just how it works. Leave the door open, and they’ll push in. I’d advise Russia that any attempt to annex the Baltic States, invade Poland or push beyond the Donbass in Ukraine would be considered an act of war by us. But I also think we should enter negotiations with the Russians to permanently settle the current issues with internationally recognized boundaries and Russian sovereignty over the territories they currently hold. To give force to our declaration that we’re not kidding about forbidding further Russian expansionism in Europe, I’d be willing to place US forces semi-permanently in Poland, the Baltics and Ukraine.

That done, it would be time to make a deal with Russia regarding holding China back. I doubt we’d get an outright military alliance with them, but we could engage in certain agreements to make sure that China felt unsure if Russia would stay out if we ever got into conflict with China while at the same time letting China know that if they did try an invasion of Siberia, Russia would find a friend in us. The ultimate purpose of US foreign policy, you see, should be the encirclement of China with nations bound to come to each others assistance if China moves in any direction. To this end, we strengthen our alliances with Japan and South Korea and build, as rapidly as possible, full-blown alliances with India and Vietnam. NATO could remain in ghostly existence, but I don’t see NATO ever coming to our aid against either Russia or China, and if we’re allied with Poland, etc, then the powers most concerned with Russia (and most likely to fight alongside us in a war with Russia) are already bound to us.

Most importantly, it is time for a bit of reality to enter into our foreign affairs – reality which has been absent for more than 100 years. There is no love between nations – never has been, never will be. It is all a matter of interests…and the interests of the United States are in direct conflict with the interests of China. I happen to believe that eventually they will strike militarily – they can’t get rich fast enough to satisfy the growing desires of their own people and the whole justification for the Chinese government is, “allow us to be in charge, we’ll make things ever better for you”. Eventually, crunch time will hit when the Chinese government will either have to surrender power due to a financial crisis in China, or they’ll strike out militarily in hopes of cutting the Gordian knot. I do believe, though, that a wise, tough American foreign policy can make it so that China never feels safe enough to attack us…and that means that China as to be brought to a position where war with us means war with everyone around them. Even with their vast manpower, an alliance between the USA, India, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea is too much to handle, especially if we have Russia looming over their norther border at the time China chooses to strike.

Another part of this reality is to hang it up on “Putin is a dictator”. Of course he is – but democracy doesn’t exactly flourish in China, either. In fact, truly free nations are becoming somewhat of a rarity these days. Even in the Western world, in most nations, you have to watch what you say lest the wrath of the government be directed against you. Our primary interest isn’t to defend the ragged end of a dying democracy in France or Germany, but to defend our own freedom. And if defending that freedom means taking our friends (temporarily) where we find them, then so be it. I’m not, you see, particularly keen on seeing America’s youth dying to a defend an European “democracy” which will fine or imprison you for speaking out of turn about Islam. I’m especially uninterested because I know that hardly any European nations will put their blood on the line in a major war. Sending a regiment to Afghanistan is fine for them…especially as they mostly keep out of harms way. But anyone who thinks the Germans or Brits will send an army corps to help us defend Taiwan from Chinese attack has rocks in their head.

Cold calculation is what we need, not sentimental attachment to dead and gone agreements. It is what the Chinese are using against us, and it is the only way we can thwart them.

President Trump and a Sane Foreign Policy

Compare and contrast: Donald Trump, called ignorant, stupid and crude by the Expert Class, manages to at least get the ball rolling on a settlement of the Korean War and the de-nuclearization of Korea. The Expert Class (Conservative and Progressive, makes no matter in this case) is the same sort of people who got us into the Korean War without a declaration of war, expended 33,000 American lives – along with many hundreds of thousands of Korean and Chinese lives (as well as blowing everything above a hut in North Korea to pieces) – and then said, “ah, heck with it: lets just settle for a stalemate.” A stalemate which has now gone on for 65 years, continues to cost lives and, until just yesterday, carried a real threat of renewed fighting at any time.

Who is actually dumb? Heck: who is actually insane?

Reading the comments from Expert Class people on social media after Trump concluded the summit, I kept getting angrier and angrier. These people clearly wished that Trump had failed – and are hoping against hope that it will still fail at some future point. I got the distinct impression (and I’m not the only one) that they’d prefer a bloody war to result in Korea, as long as we lost it and they could pin the blame on Trump. Look, I despise the North Korean regime as much as anyone – just as I despise all tyranny, and especially tyranny of the Communist variety, because it is so invariably anti-human. But I also don’t want the sons and daughters of America to die in war unless it is necessary – and I sure as heck don’t want them shoved into another war to bleed and die and then not be allowed to win. I tend to think this is a rather sane way to view things.

Trump is trying to get something better. Maybe the North Korean regime also wants something better? Sure, we can count on it that they will try to wring every advantage they can out of this and you can rely on it that they’re plans don’t include the creation of a pluralist democracy. What can we do here?

1. Nothing and hope that the North Korean regime merely dies, and doesn’t decide to take out South Korea in it’s death throes.

2. Go to war and expend a lot of lives destroying the North Korean regime, and then spend a couple decades rebuilding the place.

3. Try to work a deal where they become a non-immediate threat and are able to slowly build themselves up over time (which does carry a risk that a richer North Korea might eventually become more militarily powerful than a poor North Korea…but, ultimately, that is more South Korea’s problem than ours, and as long as South Korea maintains their first-rate military, such a problem is contained).

I think Option 3 is best. Others can have a different view; I understand and respect that…but what we’re getting from the Expert Class is a clear hope that everything goes to heck in a hand basket, just so they can blame Trump. So, heck with them. They’ve pushed a foreign policy for decades which has proven not just a failure, but an insane failure. Time to move on.

And that, I think, is what President Trump is doing: moving on from the framework of the past. The President is abandoning the post-WWII settlement in favor of a new idea that if we strenuously pursue American interests, good things will follow not just for us, but for the whole world. The Expert Class hates this idea, mostly because they hate the idea of the United States going forward and carrying the world in it’s train. But for those of us who believe we’re the good guys, then we see it is a logical that if we do things to sustain ourselves, that will help us and all the other good guys in the world.

Who benefits from a weak America? Not us. Not the forces of freedom and decency. Who benefits from a powerful America? Us, and the forces of freedom and decency. We’ve tended to go weak ever since WWII. Even under supposedly Conservative governments, we have bent the knee to such things as the UN and have deliberately refused to flex our full power on the world stage. This hasn’t been done for any rational reason – it as been done for the insane reason that our Expert Class doesn’t believe we should be too powerful (you should look into Expert Class commentary after the fall of the USSR…they were worried that without the USSR to keep us in check, we’d destroy the world, because we’re stupid redneck deplorables). As the Expert Class can’t actually make us non-powerful, they have set up a system of treaties, organizations and agreements which says we can’t do things unless the rest of the world agrees we should. We’ve been hobbled and made unable to stay completely out of foreign entanglements while also not being able to finish conflicts once they come up.

We’ve been forbidden to be either Isolationist or Empire. And what have we got for this? Well, the aforementioned Korean War. But, also, Vietnam War. The ongoing Global War on Terrorism (which will hit its seventeenth anniversary this September; keep going and a couple years from now young American men and women who weren’t even alive when the war started will get the privilege of being killed in it). Various other small wars for our own involvement but let’s not forget things like the Bosnian War; the Rwandan genocide; the mass migration of people; the various failed States around the world; the destruction of our own morality (done primarily to crush our spirit and make us docile)…it has all been wrong, and insanely wrong, at that. We’ve really done nothing right. And the people who have done it all wrong are now standing up and telling us we must not follow Trump on this. Nuts to that.

I’m fully aware that Trump might fail. Anyone who attempts anything risks failure – it is in the nature of things. But one thing I can’t see me agreeing to is to keep going on with the same, old insanity. We’ve tried it. We given the smart guys who are supposed Experts their chance…and we’ve got piles of corpses and a demoralized world now prey to the worst among us as a result. No, thanks. I can’t say what, exactly, will work to fix on this, but it will be something other than the insane Experts are prescribing. Maybe Trump has got it figured out? We’ll find out over the next couple years and I’m willing to give him time. And if he fails, I’ll agree to try something else…but not what we’ve been doing. That is over and done with and only Progressives and Never Trump haven’t figured that out.

The Middle East is Changing

So, Iranian forces in Syria attacked Israeli targets and Israel, naturally, responded – a big thing and important in itself, but this struck me:

Bahrain has backed Israel’s right to “defend itself”, following dozens of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian military targets in Syria overnight.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa said on Thursday that it backed Tel Aviv’s military response to attempted Iranian missile strikes on an Israeli army base, early Thursday morning, in the occupied Golan Heights.

“As long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, so any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger,” the minister, whose country is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, said on his official Twitter account…

Bahrain is a tiny country and is allied with Saudi Arabia mostly for protection against Iran. So, no surprise that Bahrain would be pleased to see Iran harmed, but it is massively surprising that an official of the Bahrain government would publicly declare Israel – which, officially in most Muslim countries, doesn’t even exist – has a right to self-defense. This is a sea-change in Arab attitudes.

What I think has really broken the log-jam here is the fact that Trump pretty much dropped the Palestinian issue like a bad habit. As long as our actions in the Middle East were always tied to a theory that we had to remain somewhat neutral in the Arab-Israeli conflict – and thus had to pretend that the Palestinian leadership was a key element – we were tied to a false idea, and thus couldn’t really move. Trump moved; now, everyone is moving. Its been a couple decades since anyone in the Arab world really gave a darn about the Palestinians and while no one would object to a permanent peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, everyone with any sense at all knows the Palestinian leadership has staked out an impossible position (return to the 1967 border, return of “refugees” to Israel and, of course, still rhetoric about marching on Tel Aviv one day), and so there’s no chance of it right now. So, let’s move on until the Palestinian leadership changes.

And as people are able to move on – as people no longer have to pretend that a few fanatics in Gaza have to be appeased in order to do anything – the political realities which have existed at least since the Iranian revolution are rising to the surface…and are being dealt with. I’m not saying they are being dealt with properly – there’s a lot of confusion and an outsider like me really can’t judge all that well – but they are being dealt with. Saudi Arabia is determined to check Iran (wise move, Saudi Arabia) and in that effort, ignoring a powerful Israel which is also determined to check Iran would be foolish. I think we’re still a ways away from an Israeli Embassy in Riyadh…but I don’t think that far away. The times, they are a-changing…and it is Trump, the Agent of Change on Steroids, who is making it happen.