Got into a little Twitter flare up over just who is the Putin stooge in this election – Hillary or Trump? Team Hillary was all afire on Monday with dark hints about Trump’s nefarious ties to Putin…and Never Trump quickly seconded her charges, apparently forgetting Hillary’s little Bribes-For-Uranium deal with Russian “businessmen” who would make Don Corleone blush. But the underlying thing here is just how much a threat Putin’s Russia poses.
Now, to be sure, Romney was quite right in 2012 that Russia was no partner of the United States – was, in fact, working diligently against American interests in Europe and the Middle East. Romney was ridiculed for that by all Democrats – someone quipping that the 1980’s called and they wanted their foreign policy back, I believe. Fast forward to 2016, and all of a sudden our Democrats are more vigorously anti-Kremlin than Reagan was 30 years ago. What changed? Electoral politics – a foreign bogey-man is always useful in politics, if you can somehow tie your opponent to same. It is a bit of a stretch to tie Trump to Putin – the closest connections seem to be with a person who used to work for Trump’s campaign – but off they go, and the MSM gladly helps Team Clinton out. But is Russia all that much a threat? Let’s take a look:
USA – 324 million
Russia – 143 million
Fit for military service (males):
USA – 59 million
Russia – 21 million
Carriers – USA 10, Russia 1
Amphibious assault ships – USA 9, Russia 0
Cruisers – USA 22, Russia 4
Destroyers – USA 63, Russia 21
Ballistic Missile Submarines – USA 10, Russia 4
Attack Submarines – USA 52, Russia 18 (plus some old diesel boats rusting around).
I could go on like that – not much of a military threat to the United States. Given that Russia’s GDP is somewhat less than South Korea’s, they aren’t going to become a big threat any time soon. On the other hand, there’s China, with a GDP about 9 times that of Russia and 314 million men fit for military service…perhaps China might be a bigger worry? You know, given the number of men they can put under arms just about equals our population? Given that they are challenging our supremacy in the western Pacific and the South China Sea? Given that they have said that their national policy is to displace us? Maybe we should be a little more concerned about China?
Naw, can’t have that – too many of our largest corporations and banks are heavily invested in China. Conflict with China would be bad for business – theirs, not ours. Doesn’t really help us that cheap consumer goods are made in China…does help the Chinese and the corporations which invest there, of course…and, so, Russia’s the bad guy…China’s just this thing, and if you please ignore the fact that they are engaged in building a blue water Navy specifically to challenge us, that would be great.
It has been my conviction for many years now that if WWIII ever comes, it will start in Asia, not in Europe. I doubt the Europeans will even involve themselves in World War Three, if they could in any way scurry out of it. The battle will be between the United States and China, and whatever allies each can gather. We’ve got Japan and South Korea because they’ve got no choice – and when push comes to shove, we’ll probably have India, as well. But it would be tremendously useful for us if at least a good portion of China’s military force is looking over it’s should, to the north – to Russia, that is. And, of course, Russia can’t hold on to Siberia without our aid.
Now, I don’t like Putin, either – but he’s also not forever. And foreign policy can’t be dictated by personalities – it always has to be dictated by interests. Right now, Putin sees his chance to cobble together a bit of the old Russian Empire – our weakness is his chance. But think about what he’s doing – he’s grabbing those border areas which are largely Russian in population. He’s also working out plans and programs to get Russia’s population increased via natural means (there’s even a move to ban abortion in Russia). Putin is trying to get together as much manpower as he can – just in case of war, when Russia will need every soldier it can put into uniform. Russians, for instance, make up 17% of Ukraine’s population – about 8 million people, or about 800,000 males fit for military service. Having those Russians in Ukraine does Russia not the least bit of good – having them in Russia, does. As it turns out, most of the Russians live in precisely the areas of Ukraine where Putin is exerting military force on the sly. You don’t have to like it – but you should at least understand why it’s happening.
Our interests lie in keeping China boxed in – a China able to rampage over the world represents a threat that Germany and Japan, combined, didn’t represent in 1941. With their population and industrial base – a lot of it formerly our industrial base, before we outsourced it – gives them the ability to wage war on many fronts simultaneously. Our foreign policy job is to make sure that if China ever decides to try conclusions with us that they are, indeed, forced to fight on many fronts. On the seas with us, on land with India – and Russia. And Vietnam, and South Korea, and Japan…and anyone else we can convince to go along with us. In point of fact, India would provide sufficient manpower to completely overbalance China…but India has no easy way to attack China on land – they’d have to go through the Himalayas, an almost impossible task. Russia, though, has easy access to the very heart of China (China has the same to Russian Siberia). In a real war – a World War – a American-Russian-Indian army poised around Lake Baikal is a deadly threat to China…the sort of thing which keeps China from getting into Southeast Asia, or the Philippines.
Don’t give me nonsense about a Russian threat to the United States – they have nukes, but that is about it. On their own, they don’t dare attack us. Eventually, Russia will see that playing around with China just to irritate us is the wrong path…and, in fact, they probably know it and are only doing it to keep us off their back while they re-absorb those former parts of the Russian Empire they think they need. As long as Russia isn’t rolling into Poland, or taking Kiev, I’m not particularly worried about what they are doing. I don’t care, that is, if they absorb some territory largely populated by Russians and only set in non-Russian territory by Stalin as a means to retain control of the various “republics” which made up the old USSR. At the end of the day, Russia will want to hold on to Siberia and the only way they can do that against China – the only nation which covets Siberia – is in alliance with us. An alliance that they and we need…not that we care about Russian rule in Siberia, but we do care about making sure that China, desiring war, is instantly confronted with the fact of war in the north as well as everywhere else. It is essentially a revival of the old policy of Churchill vis a vis Nazi Germany – bind together the lesser States surrounding Germany so that any German attack would result in an overwhelming force being brought against Germany from all directions. No one wanted to do that, and so Hitler was able to pick off enemies one by one…China will do the same, unless we construct a new set of alliances to counter it.
One thing you can be certain about in world affairs is change – it’s always breaking apart and coming together in new combinations. Hanging fast to NATO as if Russia is still poised to burst through the Fulda Gap in central Germany is absurd. I can’t imagine a set of circumstances which move Russia to invade central and western Europe. I also can’t imagine a set of circumstances which would see a British army come to our assistance as we tried to repel a Chinese attack on Japan…and Britain is a solid ally; as for France and Germany, they’d probably be selling China military material and demanding we don’t sink their ships transporting it to China! These are new times, with new issues – and trying to jam them into the times of 50 years ago won’t work. We need, as in all things, to think anew and act anew…and giving up the Russian bugbear and turning our full attention to China is one of them. We also need new policies towards Iran, but even that is a lesser threat than China, in the long run.
China is the challenge – we must rework our trade with China so that we’re not longer helping them build the industrial sinews to war with us. We must rebuild our own industrial strength so that if we have to go to war, we’ve got at least most of what we need right here in the USA. We need a new system of alliances geared towards modern challenges. We need a much larger Navy, a much larger Air Force. We need to be working on ever more advanced military technologies so that we can outgun a China we won’t be able to out-man. We need, first and foremost, to shake free of the geo-political shackles of the past. This isn’t 1956 – it’s 2016.