In general, these days – and long before Putin invaded Ukraine – I have been opposed to alliances and supra-national organizations (NATO and UN, eg). They tend to hamstring national policy and, especially as they’ve been construed after WWII, they are usually a one-way street: we take on an unlimited obligation to defend other nations without reciprocity. We can see what that has got us: weak “allies” in Europe and around the world. We are committed to the defense of nation after nation and they are not committed to rise to our defense. So, on the whole, I would end all alliances and withdraw from all international organizations.
But if we are to retain them, then they have to be iron-clad and reciprocal. If we’re going to rush to Poland to defend them from Russia, then I want the Poles to send an army to help us fight China. Any such alliance should really be spelled out: how much GDP is spent on defense, what sort of military force each party is to maintain as a bare minimum and plans already made for deployment anywhere around the world as circumstances warrant.
Furthermore, if we go to war with any nation, then I want us to impose the full financial cost of the war on them after they are defeated. No more free rides: no more forcing us to go to war and then after putting us through death and destruction, we rebuild them. No: they can rebuild themselves while also shelling out 10% of their annual GDP to us for 50 years after the war.
Aside: I’m tired of the American Empire.
As for Ukraine: the Russians seem to still be grinding ahead with some big gains in the south and nearly none in the north. I think the Russians took too big a bite of the apple: going after geographic locations rather than seeking to destroy Ukrainian military power. But I suspect there’s a reason for this: Putin wants the Ukraine physically intact as far as possible. A great deal of Ukraine’s military force is concentrated in point defense of major cities: to quickly destroy this military power would have taken massive, destructive bombardment of the cities. This is cruel, but clever tactics on the part of the Ukrainians – they are essentially using their civil population as a human shield, knowing that any civilian killed by Russia will be written down as a war crime, thus increasing sympathy for Ukraine internationally. But I suspect we are getting close to the end: the increasingly shrill calls for a NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine (which would amount to a de-facto declaration of war by NATO against Russia) indicates that the Russians do have air supremacy and the Ukrainians are simply being ground down by superior weight – unless the pressure can be removed, it is only a matter of time.
On the other hand, some are saying that Russia is running out of first-rate material. Not so sure about that: and in second-rate material, Russia is well supplied – but that second-rate stuff is old style artillery, the use of which would cause immense destruction and loss of life. Meanwhile, there is some growing domestic opposition in Russia. Putin better wrap this thing up pretty quick. I don’t think his power is at risk, but the longer the war drags on, the more difficult it will be for him.
What has astounded me is the number of voices on the Right who are taking Ukrainian propaganda at face value. All of a sudden, they’re quoting MSM sources as if they are reliable. I think this is psychological for some of them: being overtly pro-Ukrainian provides distance from the allegedly pro-Russia Trump and supporters (a ridiculous view, but it exists out there). In short, it allows these people to make friends with their Progressives pals again. There is one thing which can save the Democrat’s political bacon in November: the GOP signing on to a Biden war for Ukraine. I think some on the right are willing just that: they fear the sort of GOP which is likely to emerge after the mid-terms…far more Trumpist, far more America-First, far more conservative (they despise GOP moves to enact pro-life and ant-CRT laws at the State level). They hate people like Greene and Boebert; and they can see in the GOP candidates more and more like them. And they hate them because the more we get people like that, the more the GOP will be forced to enact laws the GOP base wants. A war with Russia may deflect or at least delay that.
The joke of the week is that Putin is going to get the Nobel Prize for medicine for having cured Covid. Its like it dropped off a cliff, isn’t it? People were asking where the ubiquitous Fauci had got to and one guy looked it up: basically reduced to appearances on public access cable. The (political) Science has spoken: Covid is political death for Democrats and so we won’t be hearing much about it. At least, not right now: if Ukraine folds in the next week to ten days, they might have to bring it back to distract us from rising prices. We’re up a bit more than 20 cents a gallon for gas in the past week while oil and food staples climb to near-record highs.
In the world of unintended consequences: people around the world are looking about for alternatives to financial securities which can be frozen or seized. You know: like the Russian assets have been. A lot of people thought it cool the way Apple Pay was shutdown for Russians with a flip of the switch at Apple…but a lot of us were like, “WTF – they can freeze me out of my money if they decide they don’t like me”. America is kept going financially by people buying our bonds…and they will keep doing that, at least for now. But if you’re a foreign government or rich guy, do you want your money tied up in an asset that the United States can destroy at a whim? If the world does stop buying our bonds, then we’re financially ruined. And I mean completely. It would make the Great Depression look like a minor correction: one of the strength of Rule of Law societies is the security of wealth under it…that no matter what happens, your property is safe unless you actually break the laws of your host nation (or the host nation of your assets). Now, its funny to watch them seize yachts of Russian oligarchs…but where was the law in that? Some decree of some official. No court. No charges. No conviction: just stroke of the pen, your property is gone.
And that brings me to a point I’ve made recently and for years: national wealth is not dollars. It is what you make, mine and grow. Russia doesn’t just provide us oil, but also fertilizers and other crucial materials. Of course, a huge amount of our manufactured goods come from overseas. Suppose these people decide not to take our dollars in payment? What do we have then? We don’t even seem to make basic things like screwdrivers and scissors any longer.
Gold standard, guys: we have to get back on the gold standard. If our money is backed by gold, everyone on God’s green Earth will accept it no matter how much they hate us. And we must go back to Protection. No more of this “free trade” chimera…massive tariffs to force a rebirth of American farming, manufacturing and mining.