Ideological blinkers prevent a correct U.S. assessment of the Russian successes in the Ukraine war, of the likely outcomes and of what to do now
Yesterday’s edition of the premier Sunday news wrap-up on Russian state television, Vesti nedeli, hosted by Dmitry Kiselyov, marked a turning point in what the Russians are saying officially about their achievements on the ground in Ukraine. It set me to thinking over why Washington is getting it all wrong and how America’s ideological blinkers may lead to very unfortunate consequences on a global level.
Up until now, Russian news has been very quiet about the country’s military achievements in Ukraine. The daily briefings of Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov have only given summary figures on the planes, tanks and other armored vehicles, command centers in Ukraine that were destroyed by high precision Russian missiles plus the names of towns that were taken, without elaborating on their strategic or other value. Otherwise, Russian television programming has been showing only the damage inflicted daily by Ukrainian forces on the city of Donetsk and its suburbs from artillery and Tochka U missile strikes. There is a steady toll of destroyed homes, hospitals, schools and loss of civilian lives. The sense of this programming is clear: explaining again and again to the Russian audience why we are there.
Yesterday’s News of the Week devoted more than 45 minutes to Russian military operations on the ground. The message has changed to what we are doing there. Television viewers were led by the Rossiya team of war zone reporters through the wrecked forests and fields of the Kharkov oblast in northeastern Ukraine as well as in newly liberated parts of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Filming from an armored all-terrain vehicle, they showed us kilometers long stretches of burned out Ukrainian tanks and other heavy military gear as well as dozens and dozens of corpses of Ukrainian soldiers “killed in action” and left behind to rot by their fast retreating comrades and deserters. Then came interviews with Ukrainian prisoners of war, whose faces and words tell a very different story from the heroic encomiums raining down from Zelensky and his entourage. Finally, there were interviews with some of the civilians who were let out of the Azovstal underground complex these past couple of days and made their way to freedom via the humanitarian corridor which the Russians set up each afternoon.
I will deal briefly with each of these segments from last night’s News of the Week. But first, allow me to offer two overall generalizations.
First, the Russian ‘special military operation’ is a millstone that grinds slowly but grinds fine. It is working. The Russians are crushing the Ukrainian forces. It is improbable that any amount of deliveries of foreign equipment to Kiev can make a difference on the outcome of this conflict. Indeed, while critics of the US-led intervention in the conflict claim, correctly, that the deliveries are drawing out the war by encouraging Kiev to fight on, it is also true that the Russians have no problem with that: the longer it goes on, the more territory they can seize, with a view to controlling and ultimately annexing the entire Black Sea littoral. They would thereby ensure that what survives of the Ukrainian state can never again pose a military threat to Russia, with or without NATO help.
Second, the Ukrainian army indeed has NATO trained officers and skilled professionals who may be admirable fighters, as the Western media insist. But it also has a lot of cannon fodder. By cannon fodder I mean overaged recruits dragooned into the forces and also volunteers who are useless to any modern military and are no longer trainable. Most of the prisoners of war shown on Russian television were in their late 50s and even late 60s; they had no prior military experience. One of the latter, with haggard face and scraggly beard down to his chest was asked why he enlisted to fight. The answer came back: “There was no work. So I signed up just to make some money.” After seeing their mates shot dead, is it any wonder that such soldiers raise their arms to surrender at the first opportunity?
The question not being asked is where are all the young and able Ukrainian males? How have they evaded the draft? Given the widely acknowledged corruption in Ukrainian government and society, would it not be strange if some just buy their way out of the war? Are they among the 5 million Ukrainians who have gone abroad since the start of the hostilities? Are they the ones now driving their high priced Mercedes with Ukrainian license plates around the streets of Hamburg? Who in the West records this or really cares about it?
The testimony of the prisoners of war shows that they were misled by their officers. They were told that the Russians would simply slaughter them if they showed the white flag. The testimony of the several women who walked to freedom from the Azovstal catacombs supports the official Russian version of the situation there: they were intimidated by the nationalist warriors who used them as human shields. They were barely fed and were warned that the way out was mined so that they would die in any attempt at escape.
The advance of the Russians on the ground as they finish preparations of the cauldron or total encirclement of the major part of Ukrainian forces in the Donbas is slow, only a couple of kilometers per day. The reason was clear from the reporting last night: apart from the open fields and forests mentioned above, the Ukrainians are in well-fortified bunkers that they constructed over the past eight years and they are situated in the midst of small towns where they have to be flushed out street by street, house by house. Carpet bombing or unlimited shelling would result in heavy loss of life among the civilian population, many of whom are Russian speakers, precisely the people whom the Russians are seeking to liberate.
The reasoning underlying the Russian Way of War in Ukraine has been wholly overlooked or dismissed out of hand by official Washington. American media and senior politicians speak only of Russia’s supposed logistical problems and poor implementation of its war plans. This is so is not because Biden’s advisers are lame-brained. It is so because of the ideological blinkers that the whole foreign policy establishment in the United States wears. The ideology may be called (Wilsonian) Idealism. It stands in contrast to Realism, which is espoused by a tiny minority of American academics.
The distinction is not mere words. It is how foreign policy issues are analyzed. It is about the creation in the United States of a post-factual world that might just as well be called a virtual world.
Idealism in foreign policy rests on the assumption that universal principles shape societies everywhere. It systematically ignores national peculiarities, such as history, language, culture and will. By contrast, Realism is based precisely on knowledge of such specifics, which define national interests and priorities.
Under these conditions, the think tank scholars in the United States can sit at their computers and write up their evaluations of the Russian prosecution of the war in Ukraine solely on what they, the Americans and their allies, would do if they were directing the Russian military effort. They would fight the American way, meaning a start with “shock and awe” followed by vast destruction of everything in the way of their march on the capital of the enemy state to bring about total capitulation in short order. The reasoning of the men in the Kremlin holds no interest for them. Hence, the dead wrong conclusion that the Russians are losing the war, that Russia is not the strong military force that we feared, and that Russia can be successfully challenged and beaten down until it submits to American directions and American definitions of its national interest.
The same problem of a “virtual world” approach comes up now in the discussion among American experts of the likelihood that Putin will use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine and how the US-led West should respond. The possibility that the Russians are winning and have no need for extreme solutions is excluded. The possibility that non-nuclear solutions like carpet bombing might be applied if the Russians genuinely were stymied is excluded.
The latest variation on Russia’s possibly escalating towards WWIII by using tactical nuclear weapons is a reaction to President Putin’s vague threat of a ‘lightning quick’ response to any sign of Western powers becoming co-belligerents by their deeds in support of Ukraine. Curiously, the threat was deemed to mean precisely tactical nuclear attacks, not the launch of the new Sarmat hypersonic and ABM-evading ICBMs, or the dispatch of the deep-sea drone Poseidon to wash away Washington, D.C. in a nuclear explosion caused tidal wave. In any case, the assortment of devastating new weapons systems at Russia’s disposal seems to be ignored by our policy experts. They have settled on just one, about which they speculate endlessly.
The virtual world bubble in which the U.S. foreign policy community exists and flourishes is a disaster waiting to happen. Who will heed the wake-up call of John Mearsheimer and the few policy experts who hold up the Realpolitik standard?
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022
60 thoughts on “America’s ideological blinkers and the Ukraine war”
Masterful and elegant piece, congratulations, you nailed it.
Thank you so much for this article. You observations are essentially consistent with what I’ve gleaned from other sources, but your insights added a lot.
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Any nuclear explosion in the ukraine will be a false flag conducted by the U.S.
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If someone told you during the Beijing Olympics, that Russia would soon launch an invasion of Ukraine, and after 2 months of heavy fighting and perhaps 8,000 Russian KIA, control only Kherson, Mariupol, and not even all of the Donbas Oblasts, how would you react? Would you consider that a good result? Of course not. The war has not gone Russia’s way. That’s not to say Ukraine has not taken more losses than Russia, or that Russia has taken no land at all. But everyone on all sides expected better results from the Russian military. Even the Ukrainians must be shocked at their strong performance.
I personally think Russia can win if the Russian leadership wants to win. But for reasons I cannot fathom, Putin is refusing to provide enough (already available) resources to do so.
The Donbas isn’t Raqqa. Russia doesn’t do American Shock & Awe because she wants her 8 million+ brothers sisters family alive not dead and her cities intact not obliterated and sterilized of human life – unlike the American way of war and the Azov agenda.
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FYI…not only Dondas, Kherson, Mariupol but also pats of Sumy and Kharkiv and most of Zaporizhzhia. That leaves only Odesa and Mykolaiv to seal the nation formerly known as Ukraine off from the coast.
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The Russians have not taken Kharkiv or Sumy. They completely withdrew from Sumy, did they not?And it is not clear that they know how to take those cities in anything other than a Mariupol fashion, which I think the Russians might not have the stomach for. A smallish Soviet industrial backwater like Mariupol is one thing, but razing Odessa or Kharkiv to the ground?
In terms of capturing population centers, after 2 months, it has just been Kherson & Mariupol. Like I said, the Russians didn’t even take the Donbas Oblasts yet. If I posted these sorts of results back in mid February here, everyone would have thought I was crazy. No one expected the Russians to perform this badly, not even their enemies in the West.
Thr maps I see say parts of Sumy & Kharkiv are taken though it is suggested this is to tie down Ukraine forces. And you’re projecting in making stuff up – Odesa hasn’t be razed and Ukraine not Russia did to Mariupol what happened to her…the “backwater” city. You certainly make stuff up don’t you?
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My understanding is Ukrainian “success” has been to slow down the Russians by intermingling with civilians in cities. Many civilized nations surrender cities when they realize they have no hope of winning, but Ukraine has decided to let them be destroyed as that will engender more aid from the West. Russia, to its credit, is mostly avoiding the cities with the exception of Mariupol where the worst anti-Russians have been terrorizing their Russian neighbors for years.
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William Casey (CIA Director 1981-1987): “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
During WWII, Rome was declared an ‘open city’, that is undefended and so not requiring a military assault. Paris was effectively declared an ‘open city’ when its German commander refused Hitler’s orders to level it to the ground.
Zelenskiy and the White West don’t have the humanity to do the same. It is a fact that their strategic plan was to fight this was in ethnic Russian cities as the AFU would be annihilated by Russia if they offered battle in open country. US-NAYOYO tactics required fighting in Russian cities so the destruction and deaths could be blamed on Russia.
H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956): “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
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The bulk of the Ukrainian army is in Donbas. Where else should the Russian army be, if their goal is to destroy that army? Demolishing major cities and conquering the country is what others think Russia should be doing. Can anyone tell us how that strategy has worked out for the US in recent decades?
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And there have definitely been weaknesses exposed in the Russian military that I for one did not expect to see. The Russian air force seems to exist mostly for decoration. Russia is forced for some reason to use their fanciest hypersonic missiles to take out the likes of vintage Soviet Ukrainian MLRS, instead of hitting tactical targets all day every day with air power, like a proper first world military would.
Russia’s vaunted integrated battlefield IT has not allowed them to take out Ukrainian artillery without first taking huge losses from that artillery themselves. Yes America is providing targeting coordinates. But still. You expect more from supposedly the 2nd strongest military on earth.
You are projecting the US concept of how airpower should be used onto Russia.
Big, big mistake.
USSR/Russia never bought into Douhet’s concept that air power alone could be the decisive war winner, the US and UK did, big time. Hence their massive bomber air fleets in WW2 and after. USSR/Russia never maintained strategic bomber fleets on the same scale as the US or UK (to the 70’s)
In contrast, Soviet/Russian air forces primary missions were different.
The Soviet Air Defence Force was a separate service devoted to ensuring the defence of the USSR from air attack, comparable to NORAD.
The Soviet Air Forces primary mission was Frontal Aviation, i.e., direct support of the ground forces.
Soviet Longe Range Aviation, I.e. the heavy bomber force of TU-95s and TU-22Ms and in the late 80’s a few TU-160’s was only about 3% of all combat aircraft. The Soviets/Russians never had a Bomber Mafia comparable to Curtis LeMay’s.
The different conceptions of how and tio what ends air power should be used explian the differences in employment f air power.
Ignorance of, or refusal to acknowledge these differences, or denial of their reality, will inevitably lead to erroneous conclusions.
The problem with using Iskander hypersonic missiles for tactical strikes against (vintage!) Ukrainian MLRS is that Iskanders are expensive, difficult to make, and relatively few in number. American reliance on precision bombing makes sense. America has orders of magnitude more precision munitions than Russia has hypersonic missiles. It is not practical to use such fancy, expensive tech against tactical artillery, and Russia is doing it from I presume a lack of precision munition. Otherwise they would fly high altitude and strike Ukrainian artillery all day every day, and this war would probably be over already.
You consistently avoid addressing the main point: this isn’t Raqqa. Russia is taking back her brothers sisters family. And you also incorrect about Donbas. Considerable gains have happened there. You also ignore Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, Kharkiv Oblasts. You are applying US metrics. Russia isn’t the US.
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What is your definition of “huge losses” from that artillery themselves? From what I have seen, these have been very minimal losses.
You do realise that billions of dollars and millions or manhours of work has been put into preventing Russia gaining a landbridge to Crimea – and this have been a gigantic failure as the landbridge is now effectively a done deal thanks to the great success of the Russian military and LDNR? Kherson, Berdyansk,Mariupol and Melitopol have been taken over by Russia – which should mean that once the Donbass is fully liberated a major and permanent victory for Russia has been achieved.
Kherson, Berdyansk and Melitopol could well have been significant battles had the Kiev regime not been forced to deploy troops to the North and to protect the capital itself,
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Also The Donetsk Republic has now restored the water supply to Crimea (via Mariupol) – much aiding industry and agriculture in Crimea, as well as domestic use.
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“We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so “realistic” that they can live in them. We are the most illusioned people on earth. Yet we dare not become disillusioned, because our illusions are the very house in which we live; they are our news, our heroes, our adventure, our forms of art, our very experience.”
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And people think “Meta” was some gifted fruit of Zuckerberg’s thought processes? No, not at all. An end product of DARPA and the 3 Letter Intel agencies to further divert and subsume critical thinking which might otherwise lead to concerted opposition to the West’s collective and aggressive madness. Its not-so-Great Reset, in other words.
A great analysis as always, thank you! But would you please change Severstal to Azovstal to avoid any confusion?
Where are all the young Ukrainian males? I’m in Prague and I see many of them here, in the metro, in the trams, in the parks and in the shops. Some of them are muscle bound from spending a lot of time in the gym, they also sport a lot of tattoos. Could they be involved with organized crime? Just last week one very drunken one was in the local grocers, trying to get other people to join in with shouting “Slava Ukrajina!” No one joined in, however an American expat tried to strike up a conversation with him in English and broken Czech.
I’ve worked with more professional Ukrainians here in western firms over the years. Post Maidan they were making all efforts to get their teenage children, who would now be young adults, out of Ukraine and into the west.
Meanwhile the Czech government has passed an emergency law, cancelling the prohibition of Czech citizens serving in a foreign military, so long as they are serving in the Ukrainian foreign legion. In other words the neoliberal political class is trying to encourage young Czechs to take the young Ukrainians’ places in the cannon fodder trough.
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@Gilbert Doctorow & @Karel
Thank you for extremely interesting reports on the situation, ‘on the ground’, in Russia, and from Karel in Prague
It would be very useful if a string of correspondants across Europe, especially of course Eastern Europe, could be encouraged to do the same
Perhaps I am mistaken, but I know of very few realistic reports of reactions to the war and the new conditions, both political and material
To give you a penny’s worth – in Central Africa there is widespread sympathy for the Russian predicament, the US and the French have been running wild for far too long, but also incredulity that the various tribes in Europe are at eachother’s throats yet once again
Three CA countries voted against the resolution to suspend the RF from the UN Security Council: given the constant incursions by Rwanda it was not entirely surprising that Congo-Kinshasa voted for the suspension, despite the recent welcome of Russian investment and security co operation against the ADF rebels
Across Central Africa common interest may be found in resistance to US/EU interference, directly or via cut outs such as Rwanda: common cause in mineral extraction as a path to autonomy, and there is the living memory of the solidarity shown by the USSR and Cuba at the time of Independence
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What is Russia doing to thwart the proxy financial war from the West? Russia seems to be putting too much emphasis on military force, instead of using its financial power. Just pricing its gas in rubles for the unfriendly countries… This is a half-hearted attempt.
Russia needs to sell all its resources to unfriendly countries in rubles only. What law allows the West to freeze Russian reserves? Still Russia wants to implement its contracts with adversaries. Why?
Russia wants its allies to pay in adversary’s currency (it wants India to pay for oil in US$) for its resources. It is okay with the EU paying in euros which are converted to rubles. Why not the EU first earn rubles and then pay? Russia has to earn euros to spend. Its earned euro savings have been frozen. Yet it wants to trade in $ & €. Russia comes across LOST.
What has the Russian central bank done to get its investments back? What a failure in its planning to let half its reserve be frozen. It shows incompetence. If Elvira can’t get them back soon, then she better go or resign.
Please share creative moves by Russia to succeed. It should have sold its resources in Rubles long time ago.
Thank you for your perceptive analyses. It never ceases to amaze me how a nation like the USA, whose intellectual classes largely espouse theories which posit the relativity of human cultures and values, can express such blinkered arrogance and cultural chauvinism among its military and political elites. It truly makes me think, along the lines of Stuart Hall’s analyses of post-modern Marxism, that the economy is the prime determinant of human behavior. In the case of the USA, the military industrial complex operates like a giant force field able to bend human perception and consciences. just as gravity does with light and space in Einsteinian relativity. The conflict between the USA and Russia appears to be taking on the characteristics of an ideological struggle between two entirely different visions of human existence, possibly deeper than the previous clash between capitalism and communism. Please keep up the good work!
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Russia has assumed the burden of stopping the totalitarian takeover of the rest of the world. Humanity’s future is on the shoulders of the Russian Atlas.
Excellent writing as usual. And no silly speculation, or criticism of the RF forces of the sort I’ve grown to expect from the more creative interns at Langley commenting here for practice and brownie points. Good English, but attempting to sow doubt about Russian competence, based on American criteria as if they were something grand to emulate. Last time I checked, the A Team had exited Afghanistan in a complete panic, but while also still sitting like open sores on Iraqi soil from which they’ve been asked to leave, and in Syria where they steal oil and flog it to itinerant Turks with a surprisingly large fleet of truck oil tankers and no respect for national borders.
Still, all in all, fairly subtle if rather repetitive commentary from those lads with MAs in English Lit, who might, could just perhaps possibly be, random good ole boys who somehow support Russia, somehow searched for and found this Doctorow website, and who are genuinely trying to get the Russians to gee up because the action so far has been so, well, boooorrrring. Their popcorn supply is running low. America would have had this thing wrapped up in a week, right? And then hung around for two decades failing while peripheral mercenary companies grew rich on Uncle Sam’s dime and did what heavy lifting is needed, now and then when they felt like it No doubt at all, Putin should equip his soldiers with the latest in Palm Beach-style chic sunglasses because it would make them look tougher. Whatever, they’re a hoot to read, these commenters, with the repeated same references to the incompetence of the Russian “supposedly the world’s second best military”. One wonders who’s number one. Must be the A Team, I guess, currently sheltering home in the USA, beating their chests like Tarzan and just a-rarin’ to go.
It’s not clear to me that Russia has been using Iskanders in any huge quantity, not from other sources I check regularly. And the Ukrainians seem to still have a large supply of Tocha B, which for some reason they’re wasting on civilian targets in the Donetsk rather than chomping up Russian tanks. So hey, whatever. Perhaps Sean knows better, and can point us all to reputable sources confirming his statements of wastrel use by the Russians. Since Russian SMO plans have hardly been issued publicly in handy-dandy ,pdf format for the militaries of the world to study, one can only wonder what it is that Sean is “complaining” about, or why he thinks real he-men would just mow down the opposition, and blame civilian casualties on the ever-popular “collateral damage” and too bad about that, but war is war.
I have my own theory at the slowish pace. Mud. And a small attacking force. It’s only just May, and one supposes the ground is none too firm for wheeling massed armour handily around in the open Donbass countryside. So there will be a pause until regular service resumes. Meanwhile, slow and steady is the ethos to scare the Ukrainian Army sitting like ducks in fortified bunkers from the slow moving tsunami gradually approaching them in its own good time. No point erecting artificial timelines for “success” when only the Yankees are in a rush.
Meanwhile, I see the EU countries are apparently unable to read the simple instructions Russia provided to pay for oil and gas imports. Pay in euros to that designated Russian bank, and they’ll change the euros to roubles for free. And here I thought the European education system taught people how to read, but apparently not. A decided snorting outrage at their having to submit to a Russian payment plan has apparently erased reason and logic from their gray matter. They are insulted! And soon they will be overheated and insulted without A/C and then freezing and insulted later in the year. Because it seems that Russia does have sort of fixed dates for forward prepayment of future energy supplies for “unfriendly” nations. And the utility company always disconnects you for non-payment of bills. Perhaps Sean can suggest an alternative plan for Olaf The Tremulous, who I’m reliaby informed is Chancellor of Germany. Otherwise Ramstein might soon putter to a halt as well, while Stolz stands and bleats on misguided principle.
I look forward to the next installment. Petersburg sounds grand.
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To add another point to the contention that Russians don’t know how to fight a war. After all, they lost in Afghanistan (no, they did not), they likely would have lost WW2 against Germany if the US hadn’t bailed them out in time (something a lot of US citizens are taught happened), I guess they even lost in Syria because the USA is still stealing Syrian oil.
This author raises some interesting points:
“the great strategists have always known that the principal object in war is “To conquer and destroy the armed power of the enemy… For only after defeating these can we pursue the other two objects [sources of strength, and public opinion].” Possession of territory does not give victory and the generals pontificating on the cable shows should have learned this after twenty years in Iraq and Afghanistan”
and as to Kiev:
“One hand of the magician threatening Kiev to compel Ukrainian troops to guard it while the other degrades their ability to move to face the real threat. The magician knew how the US and NATO do war and revealed the shiny object sure to distract them….
This legerdemain kept the enemy from noticing what was really happening – the systematic destruction of Ukraine’s fuel and ammunition stocks, military organization and transportation ensuring that the main force stayed in place for its methodical destruction in phase 2.”
Wait and see instead of critiquing something that we might miss seeing parts of to fully understand.
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I guess I’ll take it as a compliment that you think I’m at the CIA lol. I’m just have an amateur interest stemming from partial ancestry from the ex Soviet Union. The things I write here would have me branded as a Russian-sympathizing Orc in Ukraine, by the way.
My guess as to why things haven’t been going Russia’s way are 1) not nearly enough troops on the ground, forget about a 6 pronged attack like in phase 1, they can’t even do an encirclement of the Donbas in phase 2, and 2) an underdeveloped Air Force that prevents them from picking off Ukrainian artillery and other targets, to at least leverage their limited ground troops more.
From my understanding, Russian guided munitions are overwhelmingly modernized dumb bombs. They work well enough when used from low altitudes, but Russia can’t do that because of the enormous number of manpads everywhere. They can fly high altitude in sectors of Ukraine where they destroyed all the S-300s, but they can’t hit artillery or other small targets from high altitudes. So their air force in this conflict is almost just for decoration. Russia is using missiles instead of air power, but they have a limited number of missiles. NATO was doing 1000 sorties a day during the Serbian “special operation” in 1999, obviously Russia isn’t using 1000 missiles a day (more like 25-50 a day).
As a result we are seeing a weird time-warp circa 1980 conflict, but with drones for artillery spotting and generally much more accurate artillery fire than was possible before. The Ukrainians get targeting from commercial drones and from American/Nato satellites. The Russians from a much more robust drone fleet and their own satellites I would imagine.
In this war mostly bereft of air power, Russians use their superior artillery to attrition Ukrainian artillery, but not before taking severe losses themselves. I personally estimate 8,000-10,000 Russian and Donbas republic KIA, which is a small fraction of the western analyst number and which would brand me as a Putin-bot in the Western world. But 8,000 KIA in 60 days is an insane number if you think about it. America had what, 65,000 KIA over 10 years in Vietnam, with much inferior medical care back then?
Oh, also in answer to your question about Russian gas sanctions etc, I actually think Russia has handled the whole sanctions thing masterfully.
In short, Russia has been an enormous capital exporter for the past 30 years. In the form of oligarchs taking most of their liquid assets out of the country, and more recently in the form of the Russian government building up huge $/€ forex reserves.
Now that oligarchs will have more trouble parking money in London, Switzerland etc (not that they still won’t try! Watch Dubai), and more importantly now that Russia can’t keep $/€ reserves, all that money that used to flow out will be sloshing around inside Russia. And in fact a big problem going forward may be a ruble that gets too strong, and interferes with the competitiveness of Russian domestic industry and even agriculture. If it were up to humble ol’ me, I would solve this problem with a Russian development bank focused on financing purchases of Chinese capital equipment for an expansion of Russian productive capacity. And/or a mini-BRI style international development fund. But unfortunately I think Putin will take the easy way out and free capital controls and allow private capital flight overseas, to stem a too high rise in the ruble. Some of that money will (stupidly I think) still go to Europe. But other money will go to Dubai, HK, etc.
I am reminded of the two previous World Wars where merchant shipping paid a heavy toll. Just stop for a second to imagine convoys of LNG tankers if ever things reverted to the old order and foes were determined to isolate and starve whole populations. Or even (better—or worse) the LNG terminals in Europe’s soon-to-be totally reliant EU member nations.
What a potential trap they have constructed for themselves. They are walking the plank of their own volition….
In the Belgian Dutch-language TV programme ‘De Afspraak’ (the appointment), a lively debate took place last night between two Leuven University professors: historian Idisbald Goddeeris and internationally renowned economist Paul De Grauwe. De Grauwe feared Russian expansionism and saw the Russians already in Brussels, Goddeeris insisted on de-escalation and understanding of Russian concerns.
The debate matched well with my new article “How our opinion about the war in Ukraine is being distorted”: https://geopoliticincontext.wordpress.com/2022/05/03/hoe-onze-opinie-over-de-wereld- in-ukraine-is-deformed/
If you want to read this Dutch piece in any other language, you can easily translate it by clicking on the Google translation box in the top right corner.
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During the Cold War, and I am specifically referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis (which I lived through), rational minds said that the Russians would never launch nuclear weapons because they loved their children too. The was the most compelling argument of all, at that time.
However, even then, some were not so “compelled.” Here we are, 60-years later, with this group of our own fanatics, generals and government authorities, saying how a nuclear war is both winnable and survivable.
According to this group, the ones who for the past 80-years, doubled down, picking up where Germany left off after World War II, treating Russia and the Russian people as sub-humans. Demonizing them. Othering them. Bearbaiting them.
What does 80-years of lying, cheating, stealing, two-timing, cold-heartedness, hating your neighbor, and home-wrecking loserdom get you, sitting around a 12-million degree campfire?
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PLEASE, could we have a link to the Russian News special showing the level of destruction from the Russian viewpoint?
I thoroughly enjoy reading fantastical claims of Russian military success where it always rainbows and unicorns.
The part I don’t understand is if: You really believe the stories of Russian success or through some combination of intimidation or compensation you are forced to write these ludicrous compilations of glorious victories.
The Russian campaign is going poorly and will only worsen. We know this because President-for-life Vladimir Putin has told the world repeatedly of Russian failure. You only threaten the use of nuclear weapons if you are losing. The obviousness of this truth and from the third-party reporting of Russian losses is overwhelming.
Apparently you and Scott Ritter are one the few “independent” sources still claiming the Russian dominance. Even Vladimir Putin knows this is laughable.
But clearly Ukraine is also having problems: the campaign by Russia in
the south is going well; the supply of Javelins and Stingers will slow now that their use is far outstripping production and the Ukrainian supply lines to Donbas are much longer than Russia’s.
I have no idea how this knife fight will end though clearly Ukranian civilians will suffer the most.
I look forward to Russian civilian leadership visiting the front lines though given the regularity of military leadership deaths they are probably too frightened.
I see it differently, Allan. The US is losing, in spite of protestations to the contrary, and the panic is obvious with the weekly pledges of billions more aid to Ukraine. Putin and company state the obvious fact that if they take this too far WW III could break out. Meanwhile, the West tries to stop the Russians by intertwining the military defense with the civilian populations, so it takes the Russians longer, but Russian advance has been steady.
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Sure Allan. Whatever you say. The sanctions too are beating the Russian economy to its knees; no doubt revolt is imminent as Putin struggles with 80+% approval poll ratings. And the ruble? It is surely toast in this total information war. For it is at this hour trading at R65:$1. Yup, we got ’em on the run. EZPZ.
“Idealism in foreign policy rests on the assumption that universal principles shape societies everywhere” Attributing idealism to US foreign policy gives an impression of virtue that is utterly false. The word, generally, indicates a positive and even naive attitude to – in this case – international relations. There is no idealism (virtue) in neo-liberalism or neo-conservatism, is there? Regarding “universal principles”, their make-shift ideology of “rules based order” lies as far away from universal principles as evil is far from good.
Martin Jacques: “At the heart of globalization is a new kind of intolerance in the West towards other cultures, traditions and values, less brutal than in the era of colonialism, but more comprehensive and totalitarian.”
Russia’s conduct of the war has minimized civilian casualties. No army can guarantee absence of civilian casualties. Since WWII US domestic, economic, and foreign policy has been to operate a ‘permanent war economy’ in order to support a faltering US economy. In support of US greed, White Western hypocrisy allows commission of racist oppressions, military coups and war crimes, human rights violations, and death squads. The White West won’t acknowledge the greedy contempt in their hearts for anyone who would deny their lies.
Simon Bolivar: “The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America [and the world] with misery in the name of liberty.”
Western conduct since WWII is an endless list of war crimes. The US now, and always, makes allies of the most corrupt, violent human rights abusers as collaborators. Recently, US trained military yahoos have committed 8 coups in West Africa. Of course, military coups are cheaper than honestly negotiating Oil & Gas rights with responsible, democratically elected, popularly supported leadership. ‘Los Zetas’, Mexico’s worst narco gang were trained and armed by US ‘special forces’. Honduras, where democracy was recently restored after a US-OAS coup installed a president and family now facing decades in US prisons for drug trafficking. El Salvador, where ex-President Cristiani is facing murder charges for the executions of 6 Catholic priests, housekeeper, and her young daughter that advocated for negotiations and peace. NAYOYO welcomes military coups and death squads everywhere so long as it favours corporate greed and human rights violations terrify popular dissent. Only the most savage, racist, drug-dealing monsters are embraced as worthy NAYOYO allies because they have NO LOCAL support, and know their lives and future depend on following CIA instructions.
Eduardo Galeano: “My great fear is that we are all suffering from amnesia. It’s not a person. It’s a system of power that is always deciding in the name of humanity who deserves to be remembered and who deserves to be forgotten.”
Western lies and atrocities are endless and stretch back to slavery, Colonialism, and First Nations genocides. It is easily traced through every Presidency and Western country. The US began with Washington, who would rather sell his slaves to support his army than free them so they could fight in his ranks. Here in Canada, RCMP trained cowards routinely set lethal sniper over watch on First Nations protests. Meanwhile hundreds of First Nations children are found anonymously buried in residential school graves operated by ‘Christians’. The UK made noble fortunes from piracy and slavery. Prince Charles lied to Princess Diana so the royals could have a beautiful, compassionate woman reinvigorate their ugly, stupid lineage.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1933: “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
The West doesn’t wear blinkers. It has deliberately blinded itself with arrogant greed and bigotries.
H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956): “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents… the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” = Trump = senile Biden
Bruce Cockburn – Call it Democracy – Russian
Solomon Burke – None of us are free
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I can only add to your take how successful (so far) the Owners have been in installing, with consistency across the notional “West,” a series of eminently forgettable leaders, known not for actual statesmanship, but solely as a successive line of institutionalized mediocrity. Schemers and clowns are all we are proffered as ‘choices’ in our euphemistic democracies. Those true to standing for the people and higher principles are immediately swatted down.
The FT has just issued an article regarding Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. Apparently, the West is dismissing the possibility of major nuclear attacks from Russia and as mentioned in the piece above, speculating instead on the use of tactic nuclear weapons on the battlefield. As I live on that ridiculous small island that would be wiped off by Poseidon (how glorious it would be to die at the hands of a Greek deity), it would be interesting to have an opinion or an assessment on the chance that Russia might actually hit us with that monster. The Italian TV appropriately scared us all with the links to the Russian talk shows with the various simulations. The BBC or Guardian did not even mention them.Typical of GB to keep the cool I guess.
You are right to have concern about the intentional disregard by UK, US and other Western politicians, think tank experts etc for Russian strategic nuclear weapons.. They comfort you by saying that use of such weapons is unthinkable because of mutually assured destruction. So much better to talk about tactical nuclear weapons, especially if their intended targets are in Ukraine. No matter that the Russians are actually winning on the ground in Ukraine and have no need whatsoever to use nuclear bombs to get their way there. Even the suggestion of tactical nuclear weapons being used against London might cause some folks, like yourself, to lose sleep. So better not to mention it. However, these Western media are denying the obvious with respect to strategic nuclear weapons: the Russians not only have a numerical advantage over the US, not to mention over the world at large. But, as I have been saying for two years or more, they have a FIRST STRIKE CAPABILITY, which no one wants to talk about because it seems to be too menacing and for which there is no response in the West. That is to say, the Russians can destroy in their first strike nearly all of the strategic weapons systems of their target country(ies) and safely catch anything that the enemy, meaning Mr. Johnson’s government, Mr. Biden’s government might be able to launch in the face of highly advanced electronic warfare methods that would disorient both controllers and missiles intended for Russia. Mr Putin has saved this threat for last. The Russians have been very careful to go up the escalation ladder only as events require.
Thank you. Interestingly, I asked the same question to my colleagues in the War Studies Department at King’s College (people who are frequently interviewed by the BBC orThe Guardian). In person, they displayed that typical British uneasiness as when somebody mentions something inappropriate. They vaguely said that we should not normalize the discourse around nuclear (or biological) weapon, as the taboo against such weapons is “deep seated”. Not sure this comforts me. But surely, such a huge escalation would bring disaster on earth with consequences even for Russia, I assume. I hope someone else knows about Russia’s first strike capability and tries to prevent it. I definitely do not want to die for Ukraine’s freedom.
On a different note, ex-Duma member S. Markov realised an interview to the Corriere della Sera saying Dmitry Rogozin is trying to convince Putin to use tactic nuclear weapons in Ukraine, to wrap up the military operation. He’s not saying Putin should use it, but consider it.
On a different note, ex-Duma member S. Markov released an interview to the Corriere della Sera saying Dmitry Rogozin is trying to convince Putin to use tactic nuclear weapons in Ukraine, to wrap up the military operation. He’s not saying Putin should use it, but consider it.
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