This will be a rough-and-ready Ready Room, intended to spray a few current topics out there without going in-depth on any of them. I really mean it this time, so throw rotten fruit if you catch a glimpse of over-analysis out here in the heathery rough.
The first topic is the headline teaser: deployment of the U.S. 101st Airborne to Europe. CBS did a segment this past week in which its crew accompanied soldiers of the 101st on field activities in Romania, just “a few miles” from the border of Ukraine.
A great deal was made of the point that the 101st hasn’t deployed to Europe since World War II.
But it wasn’t clarified that the 101st has been in theater since June 2022, and indeed, its deployment was announced in May 2022, as part of a rotation to relieve units deployed since February 2022 in the U.S. response to the invasion of Ukraine.
A number of sensible Twitter users have posed the question why the 101st has deployed to Europe. The question is especially likely to be asked because the media reporting that erupted after the CBS segment came out has largely omitted the point that the 101st’s units in theater arrived in June – four months ago – and were rotating in to relieve the 82d.
The 82nd Airborne’s Immediate Response Force (IRF) was activated on 2 February for the deployment. The bulk of the troops deployed to Romania. Troops of the 82nd also participated in a NATO exercise in Latvia in May 2022. Deploying an IRF prompts planning to relieve it on a certain schedule, and the 101st was tagged for that movement. (See the Army link at the tweet above.)
So the presence of the U.S. troops in Romania isn’t new. It didn’t just now happen because of Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats, as many are speculating.
But there’s some reason the media are touting the 101st’s presence as if it is a new development. Something to ponder.
An additional note on the Putin nuclear threat. He presumably is trying to intimidate Ukraine and NATO, but I don’t think that’s all he’s trying to do.
Putin is taking big hits in war losses and force reputation, given the way he has waged the Ukraine operation up to now. It’s still up in the air how much he has won, or will. In Ukraine, he could eventually come away with some consolidated territory in Donbas, but the attrition toll to get there has already been high, and would go higher.
If we view every day he hangs on as additional attrition of NATO’s unity and will (and the EU’s as well), we have a more complete perspective. NATO isn’t as unified as the rhetoric proclaims, a point I’ve made a number of times. General unity on admitting Sweden and Finland, for example, has been a way to paper over lack of unity on the more concrete measures that would directly address Ukraine’s military operational situation. The political move of adding two nations to the alliance is a substitute for more effective use of will.
It’s classic alliance behavior. And it means what it usually does: there’s disunity of alliance will, and it needs papering over. Germany’s outlying posture on the Nord Stream pipelines is evidence of that, as are conditions like lack of domestic unity on Ukraine policy in Germany and the UK.
Germany’s interest in buying the nation its own missile defense system is another example. (For this point and the next several paragraphs, most links to earlier background can be found here. Scroll down to the section on Germany and the Arrow 3.)
Geographically, Germany would be one of the best protected European nations inside the NATO missile defense envelope – if the NATO system were on track to function as intended.
But it’s not on track, a point I’ve also made several times before. With the Black Sea under comprehensive Russian military threat, there’s been no U.S. Navy missile defense presence there since before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Back in 2009, Obama canceled the ground-based interceptors that were to go into Poland, and changed the missile defense game plan to putting mobile “Aegis Ashore” batteries in Eastern Europe, along with Aegis BMD ships homeported forward for routine theater patrols. (Aegis Ashore still required development and testing at the time, whereas the originally timelined operational date for the ground–(silo-) based interceptors was 2013.) This whole package was sprung by surprise on NATO and most of (the Democratically-controlled) Congress.
Aegis Ashore is in Romania now, but it doesn’t provide the theater coverage the GBIs would have. It provides less, and especially against IRBMs launched from Russia. The coverage is significantly further compromised by the lack of Aegis BMD ships in the Black Sea, an inherent weakness of Obama’s alternative to the original GBI plan.
This background, surveyed before, is needed to enhance our understanding of what Putin is doing with his nuclear threats. Recall that just before he invaded Ukraine, he was trying to get the U.S. to allow on-site inspection of the launch tubes for our anti-missile interceptors. The Biden administration signified willingness to discuss it.
Putin’s recent nuclear-rhetoric move looks, at least in part, like a ramp-up of crisis-created incentive for the U.S. to make concessions to him on strategic-posture agreements.
The Russians have a history of doing this, most notably in the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. I hate to burst any bubbles on that, but in bald terms, Khrushchev deployed missiles to Cuba, and the Kennedy administration settled the problem by agreeing not to complete the scheduled deployment of an upgraded NATO missile deterrent to Turkey.
The U.S. caved (more here and here), and on a deterrence measure the Alliance was counting on. From that day to this, we’ve never had intermediate range ballistic missiles in Turkey as a theater deterrent. Our nuclear deterrent based in Turkey has been air-dropped nuclear bombs, simpler for Russia to detect in advance and intercept. (As observed in my old articles, Russia nevertheless retained robustly outfitted bases in Cuba, and we spent parts of the Cold War uncertain whether missiles had come back, or might at any moment.)
Our allies were surprised with the withdrawal at the time, and NATO unity on our strategic deterrence posture took a hit. (It was less than three years later, during Lyndon Johnson’s term, that France withdrew from the NATO nuclear command structure.)
It would be no surprise if, after a period of issuing nuclear threats in 2022, Putin were to take an opportunity to mention that tensions could be reduced if the U.S. would make some strategic-posture concessions. Missile defense for the NATO alliance is likely to figure prominently in such a list.
Germany’s flare-up of interest in fielding a national missile defense capability isn’t coming out of nowhere. It’s a good question, meanwhile, what NATO is there for if the alliance can’t manage to have long-envisioned missile defense coverage in place and fully functional, for the day when Russia invades Ukraine and starts threatening to use nuclear weapons.
China gets chipped
This is a subject on which a tremendous amount could be said. The research isn’t done yet – I’m still working another major project on China – so I won’t be commenting much in this update. But it is extraordinarily important, and readers need to be aware of it.
The tweets and their links tell the story. The Biden administration has just body-slammed China’s IT manufacturing industry by prohibiting U.S. suppliers that cater to chip manufacturers from doing business with China’s manufacturers. He’s even threatening to revoke the citizenship of dual U.S.-China citizens who work in China’s chip industry. People with U.S. citizenship were reportedly departing China post-haste, immediately after the regulatory ukase was issued in mid-October.
It’s worth keeping in mind a point the Wall Street Journal made (link below): that this isn’t just a blow to China, but a blow to the U.S. industry sector that supplies chip manufacturing. Some key companies in that sector are losing big chunks of their business with the cut-off of China. In theory, this is going to deal serious hurt inside the U.S. too.
That said, however, Biden is apparently also handing out exemptions to US. suppliers pretty freely. This pattern seems to argue that he’s trying to impress someone with a semblance of U.S. stringency, but not really following through on it. Whom would he be trying to impress? (Obviously, “he” refers to the handlers actually making decisions for his administration.)
The Biden move also leaves Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s biggest chip-maker, in a unique position – more of a target, more of a singular, critical node – at a time when Beijing is ever more aggressively rattling the saber at Taipei. China is one of the customers that, all things being equal, would immediately become much more dependent on TSMC, at least during a tool-up and expansion period for potential competitors in China, or elsewhere, that would last probably a minimum of two-three years.
It takes a certain degree of fatuity to simply assume, after all the weirdness of the Biden family China connections and the administration’s largely incoherent posture on China, that Biden is suddenly just “doing the right thing” and recognizing the threat posed by the Xi regime’s policies. Nothing credibly suggests the Biden administration would move in that direction.
Other things going on at the same time give much food for thought. After months and months of Biden and other Democrats – and media – denying that there was or could have been any foreign cyber-interference in the U.S. 2020 election, an indictment in Los Angeles County has suddenly made it clear that, whether there was or not, there could have been. Tech administrators in China have reportedly had full access to some U.S. vote management systems – systems that were storing information about American poll-workers on servers in China.
Poll-worker information per se may not efficiently facilitate vote tampering. But having the system access reportedly held by Chinese tech workers would.
Wary observers are wondering why this indictment is being brought now, by prosecutors working for Soros-backed radical DA George Gascon. Besides his enterprise to elect radical-left local officials like Gascon (here, here, here), George Soros is also the major funder behind former Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias’s long-running “Litigate the vote” effort (here, here, here), which has positioned the Democrats in recent cycles to use courts to alter voting practices before elections (e.g., in 2020) and instantly intervene with the threat of lawsuits, and the engagement of friendly DAs, in the vote-counting afterward.
But LA County, where the vote is typically expected to go reliably, overwhelmingly for the usual-suspect Democratic candidates, seems an unlikely venue for such activities. It’s not clear why an indictment that puts documented foreign access to U.S. voting systems on record is going forward in October 2022, just before the 8 November election. (The face-off between old-school progressive Karen Bass and centrist Democrat Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayoral race, with outlier Caruso increasingly likely to pull it off, doesn’t seem to warrant a watershed move like officially putting the foreign-interference “thing” out there.)
Meanwhile, a chip-related development jumped out at many people during Nancy Pelosi’s August 2022 visit to Taiwan. Though coverage by U.S. media was muted at the time, one of the small number of high-profile stops on her visit was with chip-maker TSMC. In Taiwan and Asian press coverage, it was a big deal. That’s because it is one.
Watch this space for more. There’s a sense of seeing through a glass darkly: perceiving the rough outlines of a shadow war of some kind going on. The smackdown-level move against China’s chip posture is ham-handed and bellicose: a take-no-prisoners approach, especially since it nominally inflicts serious pain on American suppliers as well as China.
One can’t help wondering if the stage-y removal (un-personing?) of former Chinese premier Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping’s predecessor, at the just-ended CCP conference is connected to these bludgeon-like events.
It looks more like hybrid warfare than like traditional “economic” policy. If so, what war is it, and when did it start? Is the U.S. even in the driver’s seat for it?
Kanye, we’re kind of sorry we’ve gotten to know ye a little better
I’ve been staying off the Kanye West (now self-styled “Ye”) bandwagon, partly because he’s kind of all over the place and there’s no need to court crow dinners, and partly because my opinion on Ye isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit anyway.
But things came to a head last week when truly, categorically antisemitic comments made by Ye on Instagram came to light; e.g., “going Death Con 3 on Jewish people,” blaming them for blackballing folks from the entertainment industry based on an “agenda,” and so forth. Antisemitism watchdogs understandably punched back vigorously, calling him out and demanding apologies.
This issue arose shortly after Ye wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to an event, accompanied by a similarly attired Candace Owens, and a Ye interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson subsequently aired. (And yes, let it be said: if Ye were still expressing exclusively left-wing views, he could get away with more antisemitism. A big reason there’s been exposure and backlash is that he did the interview with Carlson.)
A clip from the interview here:
I saw one of the segments of that interview, and at the time was struck by both a sense that Ye is making a good-hearted, good faith effort to know God better through Jesus Christ, and a foreboding that he would find the way a rocky one, given his personality and vocation.
So it was with regret that I learned of his antisemitic comments, which seem clearly to indicate entrenched, pre-existing views.
At this point, it’s informative to present some background on the influence of flaming antisemite Louis Farrakhan on the rap community. A number of people have stepped forward on social media to point out the consonance of Ye’s antisemitic statements with those of Farrakhan, and conclude that Ye’s cultural rearing in the rap world has a lot to do with it.
(I see YouTube requires you to watch the video there. It’s about 10 minutes on Louis Farrakhan’s unique voice of antisemitic influence, including that on the rap industry.)
I think there’s something to that. Farrakhan’s has long been a known, radical community corner in which antisemitism flourishes, and Ye’s certainly has the look of it. See Ye’s Instagram comment, for example, that “The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew…”
Keep in mind, Farrakhan has been given a pass for decades by many of the same people who are now heaping vituperation on Kanye. That’s not the watchdogs, per se; it’s the pilers-on like those in the entertainment industry now expressing outrage, as catalogued by Billboard at the link above.
My perception of Ye hasn’t changed, as regards the state of his heart or intentions. But he’s badly misguided. It’s obvious that early inculcation of antisemitic views has given him a handicap it will take a lot to overcome.
You can’t be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ and harbor hatred for Jews, however casual or mechanical. The two mindsets are incompatible. This eventually had to come to a head; the trick for Ye will be separating the sense of persecution from an open-hearted review of what God may be trying to tell him.
Ye’s self-maintained burden, and the PR crisis over it, actually remind me of a somewhat similar situation a few years ago with Milo Yiannopoulos, once a leading light of the so-called “alt right.” Yiannopoulos, who had never made a secret of living as a flamboyant gay man (even styling himself a “Dangerous Fa**ot”), was invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an invitation that caused consternation among some in conservative ranks.
The tense situation blew up when Yiannopoulos, apparently thinking no one would mind, described how he had come to be gay through being – as most people saw it – victimized by adult pederasts in his early teens. (The grooming process for him seemed to entail some of the same influences parents now present as examples to genteelly dismissive school boards: the very explicit material and insidious “instruction” their children are being exposed to in the schools.)
People did mind though. They felt Yiannopoulos probably needed to get help. I remember hoping he would, and writing about it at the time: hoping he would find refuge from the prominent voices of the cultural Left that would eat him alive if he elected to recant his lifestyle.
Little was heard from Yiannopoulos afterward; he faded from sight. But I learned recently that in fact he did decide to deal with his past, and ended up repudiating the over-the-top gay persona he had once embraced. He’s renewed and revised his commitment as a Christian in the process, while his trajectory as a political phenomenon has gone off the radar – something he says he’s happier for. (I conclude he did find refuge, though a Google search shows that left-wing media attack him mercilessly for declaring himself “ex-gay” and losing political prominence.)
Whatever happens with Ye’s career in entertainment, I suspect he will need a spiritual transformation that profound to defeat antisemitism. I sincerely hope he has it. His fame is so extraordinary that he could have a positive impact on many, if he found his way out of the vicious spiritual trap of antisemitic hate.
Frankly, that would be a far greater triumph for goodwill toward men than merely drumming him out of his artistic representation with CAA or his industry projects or commercial endorsement relationships. He’ll have to endure the latter, and that’s understandable and appropriate. Antisemitism can’t be mainstreamed or excused with get-out-of-jail-free cards. But the ultimate goal shouldn’t be celebrating the justice of his downfall.
The ultimate goal should be recovery and rehabilitation: a vision beyond punishment and deterrence.
That’s because that’s how it’s supposed to be. I think, from hearing Ye talk to Tucker Carlson, that he has a basic vision of redemption to carry him.
Something or someone needs to break through and show him that that’s what rejecting antisemitism really is: a win-win; a beacon to the shore of redemption, not a dragnet into the iron jaws of punitive justice.
Ye’s most recent statements suggest a posture of defiance. But there’s no victory to be had in clinging to antisemitism as if it’s a virtue. There’s only destruction and despair.
Antisemitism is a bloodthirsty vice people need redeeming from, so that it won’t burden them with a sick need to attack Jews, and thereby cannibalize them and entire societies. I pray that someone or something can show Ye that, and that it will make an outsize difference.
Bonus: Exploding ATMs
This seems like it would constitute an emergency if it’s happened more than once this year.
[Admin note: It appears I’d better prepare for incoming rotten fruit, as discussed way back there in the opening paragraph.]
Feature image: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Felix Garza Jr. (Via Wikimedia Commons)
11 thoughts on “TOC Ready Room 26 October 2022: 101st Airborne in Romania; Kanye, China, and other wonders”
Re China and chips. I have been following this – and while I am sure the announcement about the suspension of even selling medium and high end chips to China, or the technology to make lower end ones had a little bit of “take that”. That being said, supply lines have been shrinking, and capital has been pulling out of China like crazy over recent years. Any damage to US chip companies will be limited in my opinion. Whether this is in response to Xi threatening to shoot down Pelosi’s plane, or just the strategic realization that relying on China for much of anything is a serious mistake. China has relied on a forward standing US policy of guarding the sea lanes. That has ended. We are retracting from the world. China of all nations needed us to support their ambitions. Xi’s own ambitions have ended China’s. Aging rapidly, reliant on huge imports of food and energy over supply lines they cannot defend, poor worker productivity, and massive government corruption; this was never going to end well. China as we know it is ending this decade. They NEED us. We don’t need them hardly at all.
Now, there is still this little red button issue.
From a different lens, B-Team’s Ukraine war is an extension of Russiagate™.
USAPropaganda is so complete that it was a relief to finally glimpse reality: At RCP, Oct. 25, 2022:
https://www.theepochtimes.com/complications-of-the-ukraine-war_4804575.htmlChris Caldwell even highlighted the Nov. 10, 2021
https://www.state.gov/u-s-ukraine-charter-on-strategic-partnership/which reads like a Treaty, mostly noticed at the time by Russia.
imo, THIS is why UK DefMin Wallace flew to DC, and why SecDef Austin finally called Shoigu, (and less likely why 101st Airborne is ‘ready to pounce from Romania’?)
RF’s Real Red Line, from my current favorite twit:
NATO and the EU are fracturing, and the Nov 15-16 G20 Summit will be lit. 16 of the 20 will be talking with Modi, MbS, and, yes, Putin. jRb will be eating papaya ice cream alone.
My esteemed friend, IMO President Putin has only responded to open and veiled Nuclear threats from the 3 year olds in the White House, the British, and certain members of the pathetic EU. A tangent on the British, if I may: England has been fighting above its weight for over a 100 years. Except for “The City of London” England has used the United States as its Piggy Bank of first resort for its survival. They are broke and have been broke since World War 1. We should move on from that Tar Baby in total. On a personal note, Richard Dearlove and his buddy Christopher should be hanging from a lamp post. I surmise the Russians did some under water work on MI-6 cable lines. Very best regards OC.
Lots to think about. I’m busy trying to read up on local races here to make a semi-informed vote, all I’m getting is that all 4 local candidates for mayor here in Newport News want to crack down on “gun violence.” Yeesh.
As to Ye, Farrakhan was on stage for Aretha Franklin’s funeral. Very disappointing. He at least has time to repent.
There was the CHIP Act to reshore chip manufacturing back here. Flawed bill, but it’s something we need to do, especially as we are expending chip guided munitions in Ukraine.
“NATO and the EU are fracturing.” – D4x. Bingo (as you know, I’ve been saying this for many months), and that’s why Putin do what he do: to make that happen.
Nuclear or otherwise, Putin feels, as WR puts it, that he “has only responded to open and veiled threats from the 3 year olds in the White House, the British, and certain members of the pathetic EU.”
Putin has done a bit more than that, but his goal is bigger than Ukraine and security on Russia’s perimeter. He’s talked about this for 15 years. His goal is to redraw the prevailing winds map of geopolitics in the Eastern hemisphere, which for Russia starts with breaking the Atlantic alliance.
Back in those innocent days ca. 2007, he overtly proposed doing away with NATO and developing a set of new understandings across the terrain of the Russia-NATO dyad. IMO, we (NATO) should have been willing to talk about that (i.e., “So, Vlad, give us your thoughts”); first among ourselves (to reassure Poland and the Baltics, in shorthand), then with Russia.
We didn’t have to do it — talk — on his terms, but it would have made a big difference to *listen* to his terms without fear. At the time, sclerosis was already setting in, in NATO, something that became clear within the next 5 years as we started giving NATO commands and functions idiotic new names, because they had no real purpose anymore. Putin had his biased perspective on NATO, but even from our own perspective, the premises and purposes of the alliance needed refreshing.
Instead, we handed Putin the peremptory recognition of Kosovo, on some principle that actually upended the UN Charter in favor of excuses (injustice, vengeance, punishment) for not observing it.
That’s not to downplay the real atrocities that were committed by the Serbian leadership over the previous 15 years. But it was a signal lesson in the unilateralist manner the Western-led “concert of nations” proposed to act from. (The Soviet Union had spent decades trying to use the UN for such one-sided policy enforcement, only to be blocked by the US, with righteous proclamations. Then we did the same thing — for real, not just as a typical lying allegation from Communists about our actions — in Kosovo.)
Putin has never forgotten the lesson, and with a mindless, demented gerontocracy in control of the United States, he’s making his move. His goal is to break NATO, and he’s doing it.
He’s getting it done because NATO is ripe to be broken – and obviously the EU is too. Putin didn’t and couldn’t have brought that about. We’ve done that to ourselves. Too big a topic to go into here.
But one other point kind of brings in what nzlsnt alludes to — obliquely — about the China situation. Many in the West, and God love ’em, are still thinking in terms of straightforward meanings for the actions of entities like the Biden administration. I.e., if Team B does something that looks punitive against China, it must be, in straightforward terms, a punitive move. The punishment must be the purpose.
I don’t think so. At all. Everything has changed in the last decade, and I think most of what we’re seeing now is maneuver — pure maneuver, meant to induce conditions and provoke or preempt reactions, not just respond to perceived ills — rather than old-school, politically banal carrots and sticks.
As D4x in effect highlights, the Russiagate hoax was exactly that: a maneuver campaign to take down the threat called Trump, and also achieve some other objectives in the process. Our minds need to adjust to the reality that when the same people are in charge, they will execute policy the same way, with feral tactical moves, in the shadows, in service of unstated motives. (“Unstated motives” are just about the biggest clues. We haven’t had a meaningful, coherent statement of what US policy is about since Bush 43 left office.)
Having empirically and realistically accepted that, I’m skeptical about every seeming manifestation of US (and most Western) policy on both Ukraine and China. I don’t think a smackdown of China’s chip-related industries is simple punishment or sanction; I think it’s maneuver. EVERYTHING ELSE HS BEEN. Why would this be different?
The same can be said of the bizarre manner in which the US has been funding Ukraine. Somehow the only way to do it effectively is to keep adding to it, month after month, but insisting on a complete absence of accountability, and enunciating NO policy principles or vision for an end-state — then angrily accusing people who want these tokens of good faith of “siding with Putin,” and adding shrieks and groans for intimidating effect.
It’s misguided to look for easy or simple answers to what the maneuver is for, however. I appreciate the thought exercises we get from analysts who come up with theories of what it’s all for and who’s about to do what, but I think it’s a mistake to believe we see everything clearly enough to be certain about specific conclusions. One thing we can say, of course, is that it’s quite illuminating how entangled our current president was with both Ukraine and China over the last decade. That can’t really be coincidence.
Putin started out far readier than we are to recognize when our Western governments are acting like crime syndicates in their execution of policy. Putin’s been paranoid from the get-go; we haven’t. Putin also acts like a glorified crime boss, and we mustn’t forget that. He will never be nice to people he rules over. He and those like him are not our answer.
But none of that needs to cloud our understanding of what we can actually see happening, which is that NATO’s coherence is crumbling, and the EU is turning on its own.
Putin is winning the opening phase of World War III, and whatever happens with Ukraine, it won’t MEAN, when it happens, what we (mistakenly) thought it would mean back in February of 2022. No settlement can come from that. The only thing that will bring a settlement with some staying power is the United States regenerating real, legitimate unity of purpose and will, and deciding what WE want. Merely reacting to what Putin and a cast of hidden shadow actors want will simply be a state of perpetual war.
Holy Cow, Spot On, Accurate, and insightful. I have no illusions about President Putin, but he is sane, recognizes reality, and is as honest and consistent as he can be. He represents Russian interests. That puts him light years ahead of Western Leaders. Would like to give a shout out to Chairman Powell. The rise in interest rates are obviously affecting the US, but he appears to have the WEF, the ECB, Britain, and the EU in his sights. Some large NY banks support him. Not all are woke. Very best regards OC!!!
Oh certainly, Biden and cronies have their hands out for anything and everything. I was surprised by his chip declaration with China, because it was so threatening, and more than just on the surface. I have long doubted China’s stability, and I think in this case Biden is more following the flow and domestic political considerations – and where the money will be made going forward. Realize, China cannot engineer themselves out of a paper bag. And with western capital and human resources essentially banned from this sector, China is hosed. Xi is the exactly wrong leader for China right now He will take the role of China’s Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man.
China no longer is a good investment for anyone, including the political class. They have created huge issues for the ruling class, by refusing to stay in their lane and keep providing diversified value labor for cheap products we use to keep our citizens placated and not watching how much graft we are skimming off the top. With the MAGA movement gaining energy, and the GOPe has failed to stop it, we (ruling class) can’t look that complicit with you (China) anymore. Capital has been flowing out of China since before Covid. Covid accelerated that, and China’s current covid policy that just shuts down random industries makes for a very poor supply base. The amount of industrial activity due to reshoring manufacturing to the US and Mexico is mindboggling. So of course, with every government program to support that, the ruling class finds graft. China is old news – and when I say China won’t survive the decade as we see them now, I don’t mean the CCP won’t still be in control of something called China, just that it will look different, and except for that red button won’t be much of anything. They are beginning their descent into demographic decline the likes of which we have never seen in human history. It won’t be pretty.
As for NATO, I have sympathy for your view about how we might have approached Russia in a post Soviet world. That being conceded, Putin was always publicly asking for more than he had any reasonable expectation to receive, or for it to be even an opening gambit. As long as we allowed him to prescribe security policy for eastern Europe he was fine. I think that is asking a bit much. Russia has as bad of a future as China does, because demographically they are disappearing as well. They point blank don’t have enough people to defend their borders as currently construed. Putin has always known this, and so he has used wars of usurpation to take surrounding areas to shore up invasion points. The problem now is the next points are pretty much in NATO countries. He certainly would like to break up NATO so he could dictate security terms to the Baltics, Romania, and Poland. We would not like that.
Putin has been nibbling at Ukraine for a while, and I have no sympathy for “we overthrew a Russian sympathetic government so it’s OK for Putin to use mercenary style Russian troops to take the Donbass” argument.
Did Biden himself say crazy stupid stuff prior to the invasion? Yes. Putin certainly wouldn’t have been willing to take a chance with Trump in the WH. He saw the dysfunction of the current WH as an opportunity. So, in that respect, Biden is complicit in all of this. But Putin was always looking for his chance. What changed everything was the horror of our security apparatus’ realization that Russia is no longer a first world military power. They may not even be a second world, though I am not sure I even know what that would be. In the event US troops ever met Russian troops in the Baltics, it would have been a quick destruction of Russian units. All the talk of nuclear weapons right now is theater. Destroy every invading Russian unit in 36-48 hours is a bit different. Would Putin launch in that event? I don’t know, but it at least has more plausibility than any of the nuclear chatter being thrown around now. Mostly to try and take the US electorate’s thoughts off about how bad Biden has mangled the US economy.
Our strategic interest is to make sure this is Russia’s last expansionist war, by having Russia consume itself in Ukraine. Whatever Putin thought this would do to the West with Biden in the lead was in error. Germany is actually making significant sacrifices to keep the coalition together, and the nice silver lining is that the Greens in Europe are being routed as total poseurs.
Still chances for bad things. Still graft and corruption in DC and Ukraine. Yet, if Biden (or more realistically his administration) handled everything else as well as they have the Russian Ukrainian invasion, the democrats wouldn’t be facing the next 8-10 years in the political wilderness. Heck, if he hadn’t created a worldwide recession by screwing up the US economy – and presidents often unfairly receive criticism or praise in that regard, but in this rare case Biden actually is to blame for the recession – maybe Putin wouldn’t have taken the leap into Ukraine in the first place.
Comment better than article. 🙂
Now, if you could go ‘just a bit’ further. . . you’re still a ‘little’ outside the strike zone. 🙂
Please! Tell me more!
Well, let’s wait for the US elections, and winter to set in Europe first, nz.
It may be more comfortable to comment then –‘after’ the cracks turn into fissures. . .
I’ll go this far, as usual, Putin and post-1990’s Russia have been totally underestimated and misunderstood by the ‘West’, or shall I more properly state, America’s ruling elites and the empire’s worldwide appointed functionaries are once again totally missing the mark on Russia. Their reaction to Russia’s security concerns was to double down on expanding the empire to the gates of Moscow.
Unfortunately, the USA in J. E.’s statement: “The only thing that will bring a settlement with some staying power is the United States regenerating real, legitimate unity of purpose and will, and deciding what WE want.”, is never going to happen, for the USA that ‘was’, is never coming back. Today’s Democratic party saw to that. The sooner we realize this, the better.
Hmm. Interesting perspective.
Yes, the future will always determine how right or wrong any of us are in our evaluations. I give most credence to a cold winter and no energy in Europe in changing minds, but my guess is what it is going to do, and what it already has started to do is make Europe much less enamored with green energy. Europe in particular is not a great geography for solar or wind, so I laughed as reports came in on the dismantling of a wind farm for coal in Germany. Obviously, this will all take time to happen, but love for traditional energy sources is on the march in the UK as well, and I think France has always loved nuclear and will continue to do so. Europe should have listened to Trump about what Putin would do. He seems to have called that one pretty accurately.
Long term none of this is good for Putin – assuming the GOP takes over the WH in 2024, the price of oil will plummet, reducing one of Russia’s biggest cash cows. Russia has some assets but it is just a commodity economy with barely a third world economy outside of its primary commodity sectors, and even the energy sector required foreigners to run it. He needs them back in country, so that is his incentive to end the war. In the end, my guess is that Putin’s security concerns will still be in place, Eastern Europe’s attachment to NATO, or whatever US led defense structure is in place, will have been strengthened because they watched what happened to Ukraine. Poland in particular has used this opportunity to swap out old Soviet era defense assets for nice shiny new US ones. There will be more US and Israeli theater defense systems throughout the region. None of this is to Putin’s advantage.
As to who underestimated who, that is always an interesting analysis. And always dangerous to do so. An argument could be made that the West did indeed underestimate Putin. It could also be argued that just recently Putin underestimated the West. I believe that to be the more dangerous mistake.
It will all play out in front of us. The next window for a negotiated settlement comes before spring planting, our last chance to stop a global famine. If that doesn’t happen, who knows what act of desperation might come from any of the parties to this conflict. I must assume if we want it to stop – in order to stop the famine – we will make it worth both party’s interests to find a line to draw somewhere, and pretty much force it on both parties. I don’t know if we will care enough to do that, however. In the end, as I noted before, our strategic interest is for Russia to wear itself out in Ukraine and make this their final expansionist war. If the combatants can’t give us a better reason to broker a peace, the status quo doesn’t hurt us at all. Europe of course may have a different opinion. We will see.
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