Ukraine, and the World Outside US Borders

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse and more simplistic ‘debate’ than the arguments taking place in the US over aid to Ukraine. There are big quality problems with the level of argumentation…on both sides.

On the anti-funding-Ukraine side: Many commentators say we shouldn’t be funding Ukraine’s efforts to protect their own border because we are failing in protecting our own border.

But can anyone really think that the problems with the US border are primarily a matter of resources?  It should be obvious that these problems are a matter of will: the border is largely open because the Biden administration has wanted it open.  If the Biden administration had been provided with $X billion more available for border enforcement, where X is any number, the situation would have been exactly what it has been.

On the pro-funding-Ukraine side: Many commentators seem unable to imaging why anyone would object to US participation in the war (even if only in the form of aid and weapons) other than being a Putin advocate and/or being paid off by Putin–there are a lot of ad hominem arguments accusing people of being in the pay of Putin, or simply of caring about Russia more than they care about their own country.  But there are wars and injustices all over the world, and the US must carefully choose which ones it gets involved in.  Resources are finite, and almost every military intervention carries at least some risk of undesired escalation. US experience with wars in recent decades has not been terribly encouraging.

On the anti-funding-Ukraine side: Sometimes, the argument goes beyond the US border and the assertion is made that the US should not be doing things like the Ukraine involvement until our own country is fixed.  But will there ever be, has there ever been, a time when everything about the US is ‘fixed’?  I note that the US maintained a higher level of military funding (as a % of GDP) during the Cold War than we do today, and yet public infrastructure–from roads to parks to subway systems to school–generally worked better than the corresponding entities do today.

Also on the anti side, it is observed that there is a lot of corruption in Ukraine, and that it is also far from a perfect democracy. These points seem to be true.  But sometimes one needs to support certain countries despite serious differences in values…as we did in supporting the Soviet Union in WWII and in supporting certain unpleasant regimes during the Cold War. The specific situation needs to be considered and analyzed. (And, Indeed, some of the things now going on in Canada and in Western Europe–not to mention in America itself–seem quite contrary to American ideals.)

Those opposed to funding Ukraine often assert that the aid is being provided in order to support American arms manufacturers–Raytheon, especially, tends to be mentioned for some reason–really, this is reminiscent of the 1920s and 1930s denunciations of arms manufacturers as ‘merchants of death.’  But if the political goal was to keep arms manufacturers happy, there are plenty of other projects available, such as the badly-needed building of more ships for the Navy.  And when people denounce arms manufacturers, I always wonder: Are they absolute pacifists? Do they favor having all arms manufacturing done by government agencies?  What would be their plan for ensuring that our forces have what they need to win conflicts and minimize their own casualties?

On the pro-funding-Ukraine side:  It is argued that if Putin isn’t stopped in Ukraine, he will likely invade other European countries. I think this is a very legitimate fear. But it needs to be traded off against the threats from the larger and much more economically dynamic nation of China.  I note that many of the people who harp on the threat from Russia never (or very rarely) have anything to say about China. Does investing resources in Ukraine reduce the threat of, say, a Chinese invasion or blockade of Taiwan? If it points in the direction of reducing the threat for US credibility reasons, how does this trade off against the consumption of US munitions?

Someone said at Twitter that he doesn’t see how anyone who knows the history of the 1930s and 1940s can oppose supporting Ukraine.  But it’s not always 1939, sometimes it’s 1914.  Also, history didn’t stop at the end of the 1940s, and many people have observed the poor outcomes of US military interventions in our century, not to mention the Vietnam War.

The pro-Ukraine people, especially politicians, have been arguing that the money spent mostly goes to US arms manufacturers…this is kind of the flip side of the “it’s all to benefit Raytheon” argument.  If the only objective is to “create jobs” and “put money in circulation”, then that could be achieved equally well by paying people to dig ditches and then fill them up again. There has to be some other benefit.

On the anti-funding Ukraine side, there actually are some people who glorify Russia…not the majority of the anti-Ukraine people, certainly not enough to support a generalized ad hominem argument against the antis–but there are indeed some in that category. The argument that Russia under its current regime is the defender of civilization is not to my mind a very convincing one, unless one’s definition of ‘civilization’ is a pretty strange one. The main effect of these people has been to further poison the entire debate.

Above and beyond the particular issue of Ukraine: there is a world beyond US borders. We don’t get to call ‘time’ just because we have serious internal issues.  When France and Britain decided not to intervene at the time of the German Rhineland incursion in 1936, one of the arguments made by some French politicians was that it would be unwise to interfere with the economic recovery. How did that work out for them?

My own view: We do need to be supporting Ukraine, and we should be doing so a lot more effectively than the Biden administration has chosen to do.  Biden’s initial reaction to the invasion–suggesting that it might be OK if Putin didn’t take too big a bite, and then offering Zelinsky a ticket out–didn’t exactly sound a Churchillian note of defiance. Arms supply has been too little, too late, and not nearly enough has been done to increase US defense-industrial output potential, especially of consumables such as artillery shells and missiles, and to provide better supply-chain resilience against components and materials cutoffs by other countries.  My sense is that the Biden strategy is not to achieve a Ukraine victory, or to force a negotiated settlement on favorable terms, but to drag the war out with the goal of bleeding Russia while minimizing domestic political risk…a cynical and cruel strategy, in my opinion.

The main purpose of this post, though, is not to argue for or against any particular policy, but rather to express concern and disappointment…even dismay…over the extremely poor quality of the arguments being made on both sides of the issue and the generally toxic tone of the debate.

52 thoughts on “Ukraine, and the World Outside US Borders”

  1. I don’t think it’s a question as to whether one is for or against involvement in Ukraine. The larger question is, is it in our national strategic interests to be involved in the first place? I haven’t read a compelling reason for such deep involvement, other than Victoria Nuland has a bug up her butt about sticking to Russia whenever she can.

  2. Part of the reason for the low level of the debate is because many people — especially those who have drunk deeply of the “democratic” Ukraine nonsense — is that they ignore history. The same kind of person who today decries “genocide” in Gaza was quite happy to ignore a decade’s worth of Kiev’s civil war/attempted genocide in the Donbas. Such people seem to think that Russia for one day, completely out of the blue and for no apparent reason, decided to invade a peaceful Ukraine. They are completely ignorant of history.

    Further, Occasional Commentator is correct — no consideration has been given to what are the US national strategic interests. All the US is proving at the moment is that a de-industrialized, deeply indebted, unstable nation with a Woke military could not fight a real war. Is that the message we really want to send to China? — especially when what little military industrial capacity the US has left depends heavily on key components imported from … China?

    At what point would it be reasonable for Russia to decide that a country which is donating weapons and advice to Zelensky’s regime is in fact a belligerent in the war? After all, Iran and China are selling weapons to Russia, while the US is donating weapons to Zelensky. The sad commentary on the low level of statesmanship by the US Political Class is that, if Russia decided to cut off the head of the snake and nuke the belligerent DC Swamp, a very large part of the US population would be happy to look on the bright side — every cloud has a silver lining!

  3. I know why ukraine cant quit i think the europeans who have the bigger stake should support them

    They happen to be the biggest hamas supporters how does that happen

    We also know putin only invaded in 2013 and 2022 as much as was said about trump he kept him at bay

  4. With the footnote that there is another interpretation of Biden’s strategy than “to drag the war out with the goal of bleeding Russia”. We have drained our own war reserves because we have not come close to replacing what we have sent the Ukraine. The goal of “bleeding” may well be aimed at us by the administration.

    However, to your larger point which I largely agree with, that our failures are more of will than resources; we still have the problem of prioritizing how we use what we have.

    It can be argued that we can have distant foreign conflicts that can vitally affect us. And at the same time we can have nearer conflicts that can affect us even more vitally. Our problem with the border is akin to the problems in the Ukraine in type.

    One of the key attributes of national sovereignty and national existence is the definition of national borders and control of them. The war in Ukraine is exactly that. Yet at the same time we have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hostile foreign nationals invading our own borders in violation of our own laws and definition of them. Sovereignty also includes the supremacy of ones own national laws inside your borders. Those invaders are functionally immune from our laws, as we see on a daily basis. And it is arguable that sovereignty includes only having the citizens of a nation being involved in the rule of that nation. There are strong indications that the intent of those in power here are to have those foreign invaders voting in our elections. Indeed, just recently it was revealed that invaders in Mexico are being given leaflets telling them to vote for Biden so that the border will remain undefended.

    If Ukraine falls [not something I am in favor of], what effect will it have on our existence as a nation and people? Conversely, if the ongoing foreign invasion of our own territory continues and is not reversed, what effect will it have on our existence as a nation and people? Where should our priorities be?

    Granting overwhelmingly that it is largely a matter of will, how does concentrating on the Ukraine as the priority affect our ability to marshal the will to defend our homeland? And I also note, that historically all nations and peoples end. There is no guarantee that we will win and survive either way we choose. YMMV.

    Subotai Bahadur

  5. Full disclosure. I have personal, decades-known friends in Ukraine. I care about whether they and their children wake up dead. That leads to several impacts on my evaluations. First, I try to keep clear in my thinking that I may have biased-created blind spots. Second, while I must keep in mind the limits they might have on data and total picture, nevertheless I know that these friends tell me the truth about what they do know, that they do not hide an agenda. I trust their reports about hardship, survival, morale, their descriptions of which of the people they know have died and how.

    David, you illustrate one of the check evaluations I make in listening to people telling what decisions they have made or recommend. Especially when the decision involves both complexity and seriousness. Do they honestly present the complexities? Do they know the counter arguments? I think your conclusion, ie, your view, mostly correct.

    I’d add a few additional observations/arguments, in no order of importance.

    Sometimes I find myself hoping that the U.S. choice to not have done more hinges on recognizing that the U.S. cannot serve as the world’s peace officer. This is not a matter of should/should not, but can/cannot. Resources are finite. Meaning here that reality demands the European countries have to bear some of the bare costs of constraining the bear. They have to realize it is not in their best interest to plan on avoiding the load. In pondering this I have thought about a great irony. What if it turned out the Biden admin’s inaction for whatever reason ultimately served to get Europe united and that, in turn, resulted in an argument for/endorsement of Biden?

    After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine had an arsenal of nuclear weapons.If Ukraine had even one such weapon, it would give Putin pause (ie, bypassing oversimplifications, I’m buying into the MAD–mutual assured destruction–approach that seems to have succeeded for the nearly 8 decades since WWII). But it does not have any such weapons. It does not because it surrendered its arsenal. Other nations, not wanting those weapons to get into uncontrolled hands, persuaded Ukraine to surrender them. That persuasion hinged on those nations having promised to protect Ukraine. Now those nations have a promise they have flagrantly broken. Has the resultant loss of trust no weight in the calculus of aiding Ukraine? Furthermore, what nation will now not have the conviction that it must not surrender its nuclear capability?

    Who invaded whom? Seems a matter of res ips. Beyond debate. But, someone may object, so what? Lots of groups around the world are actively invading neighbors. Legit point. It means the U.S had to decide which invasions are important to U.S. interests. I think Russia invading Ukraine significantly outweighs the danger of some tribal wars in Africa. Imho European history shows what unconfronted Russia will eventually attempt.

  6. Good post, David.

    The Biden people’s response to Russia/Ukraine is parallel to their response to Hamas/Israel: They are bellicose towards Russia while throttling support to Ukraine; and while claiming to support Israel they block Israeli victory. This is a world-class if not galactic level of incompetence. But maybe those idiots in Michigan will vote to reelect President Fossilhead.

    The gist of your argument is of course correct. Lefties and various dopes have been pushing the “we should fund social programs before defense” gambit since as far back as the 1960s at least. I’m sure many people made a variant of this argument in 1930s France. It has always been transparently illogical and ahistorical, yet nominally-educated people who should know better, including teachers and journalists, fall for it in generation after generation.

    Thomas Sowell once wrote a column blaming people who treat social experimentation as a necessity and national defense as a luxury for getting their countries into wars. He wasn’t wrong.

  7. “they block Israeli victory.”

    Why should Israel have a “victory” if they are too stupid to prevent hang gliding Arabs from attacking them?

  8. David,

    Thanks for taking this task on, nicely done. I think Occasional Commentator encapsulates my argument especially in regard to Nuland (who I see as the cartoon villain in all of this) but I’ll extend my thoughts somewhat from the anti-funding side

    1) To OC’s point (and yours as well), we Americans confuse national interest with national strategy. We had a national interest in defeating Al Qaeda, but the national strategy of parking ourselves in Afghanistan for 20 years to do it was a complete disaster. We have a national interest in preventing the spread of WMD (remember that term) but invading Iraq and blowing up the Middle East wasn’t the way to go about it, We have an interest in making sure Ukraine survives and that countries like Russia aren’t awarded for rolling for tanks over borders, is this the right strategy given our limited resources, other global commitments, and let’s face it limited attention span?
    2) Biden’s public leadership on Ukraine has been a disaster. In 2022 we were told that sanctions and emergency aid would lead to the crushing of Russia and Putin on trial in the Hague. 2023 we were told that NATO equipment and leadership would lead to a successful counter-offensive and Russia suing for peace. I’m sensing a pattern here. Now we’re being told what? Another $60 billion is the difference between victory or defeat? Or is it just another hit on the national credit card because we’re now in too deep to lose a war we might not be able to win?
    3) Not only has the public leadership been a disaster and unworthy of the citizens of self-governing republic, but the information available to citizenry about the conduct of war is beyond poor. I find the information in DC and the media on the trajectory of the war to be little better than the propaganda from Moscow. We focus on what can be observed (casualty figures, tactical pictures) rather than trying to understand what is going on. For all the chortling about massive Russian losses with “meat assaults” and their converting museum pieces to the battlefield they seem to what? I commend EURCOM Gen Cavoli’s testimony to Congress where he said that Russia has largely reconstituted its armed forces from losses over the previous 2 years (https://www.politico.com/news/2024/04/11/christopher-cavoli-russian-military-losses-00151718) What are we missing?
    4) Our policy regarding Ukraine has gone off the rails. For the past 15+ years we have been intent on driving NATO up through Russia’s traditional sphere on influence and to its border under the assumption that we were the hegemon and they were merely a gas station with an army. Ok, we tried and we got called out on it (I’m being generous here); perhaps we need to do a rethink here beyond the next 15 minutes.
    5) The debate has been framed by the pro-Ukraine side into funding/no funding (and portraying Zelensky as modern-day George Washington) . Anytime national strategy falls into a binary choice like that , you can be sure that either 1) there has been a major scr*w-up and we’re backed into a corner and/or 2) the debate is being manipulated. I would commend J.D. Vance’s piece in NY Times which, whatever his ultimate intentions, at least adds some badly needed nuance.
    6) The debate seems to that this $60 billion aid package is the difference between defeat and if not victory than survival. I’m not sure we have that type of ability. All the money in the world, to Vance’s point, can’t procure the needed shells and missiles that don’t exist and won’t for years. To the earlier point regarding a poor public understanding, one of the most important factors in military victory is the ability to regenerate combat power. Russia seems to have done it. We seem to be unable to it given our inability to produce enough weapons and the very worrisome sign that Ukraine has had problems in mobilizing its population for a war of national survival. Finally when I read incredible stories about Macron, who has far better intel than anyone here has, wanting to cross a red line by sending troops to Ukraine I get worried- what does he know?

    Our national interest may be close to, but by definition never completely overlaps that of any other country. National strategy is not only linked to national interest but must take into account the ability to implement it (realism). Taking a step back we see with Russia, China, and Iran that we are fully engaged in an international struggle with Mackinder’s World Island, a recipe for disaster. We have fully reversed the Nixon-Kissinger strategy of separating our adversaries on Asia. Why do we think after Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam (etc) that we can avoid a strategic disaster simply by force of will?

    My prediction? Assuming Ukraine can make it through the year (I’m hopeful), Trump if he’s in the White House cuts a deal and ends the war. Trump’s superpower brings to the table is not only his ability to reframe debates but to creatively cut deals (see Abraham Accords) that other miss

    Two other points… The border? I only wish that Biden and the Democrats showed as much passion for defending it as they do for Ukraine. There’s money for both, especially you if take it out of funding “green energy” Finally based on the principle that people are policy, it’s pretty clear that our Ukraine strategy has a people ptoblem. Not only is the current foreign policy team discredited and needs to be overhauled (Nuland is the first, but shouldn’t be the last to go) but it’s pretty clear that Biden has continued the Obama policy of shutting Defense out of any useful role in policy-making (see Milley’s call for negotiations after the 2022 Ukraine offensive)

    Love the post and the comments, thanks for moving the debate along

  9. ”My sense is that the Biden strategy is not to achieve a Ukraine victory, or to force a negotiated settlement on favorable terms, but to drag the war out with the goal of bleeding Russia…”

    You’re too kind. That’s the strategy of the so-called hawks in the Democratic party (or what passes for hawks in the Democratic party) but not the Biden administration. The Biden administration is on Russia’s side, seeing them as their strongest ally in favor of its top foreign policy objective: the Iran nuclear deal. If you’ll recall they even said so publicly in March 2022 at a time when Russian tanks had descended on Kiev and surrounded it on three sides. A few days later they even floated a proposal to pay Russia $10 billion to assist Iran with its nuclear program. This policy of bleeding Russia came only after Russia pulled out of the Iran deal.

    ”…while minimizing domestic political risk…”

    It’s not domestic political risk they’re minimizing — it’s foreign. Europe is very much in favor of Ukraine and almost completely united in support of them. It was Boris Johnson, not Joe Biden, who organized the first several rounds of aid for Ukraine. Joe Biden only got in front of that parade once the Iran deal fell apart and he saw how united Europe was in their support of Ukraine. I suspect he only did so to slow the parade down, but with the Iran deal dead he had to at least pretend to be on the same side of his allies.

  10. ”If Ukraine falls…what effect will it have on our existence as a nation and people?”

    It will threaten both. If Ukraine falls, World War III is on, and we have long-standing treaty obligations to help defend many of the participants. Even if we didn’t, we couldn’t even keep ourselves out of World War I when we were a minor power or World War II when we were a major power but not a superpower. There is absolutely no chance we could keep ourselves out of World War III when we are the globe-spanning world hegemon, having created almost the entire modern world.

    ”Granting overwhelmingly that it is largely a matter of will, how does concentrating on the Ukraine as the priority affect our ability to marshal the will to defend our homeland?”

    It doesn’t. Those issues have nothing to do with each other. That was right there in the original post. The border is open because the Democrats want the border open. It has nothing to do with Ukraine.

    ”Meaning here that reality demands the European countries have to bear some of the bare costs of constraining the bear. They have to realize it is not in their best interest to plan on avoiding the load.”

    I see this argument all over the place. Where does it come from?

    The Europeans are not avoiding the load. They are spending billions of Euros a month providing services to Ukrainian refugees. They are spending billions more to keep the Ukrainian government afloat. They are providing Ukraine millions of artillery shells and dozens of F-16s. They are providing tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, cruise missiles, and ATGMs. They are training Ukrainian soldiers and pilots. They are providing air and missile defense systems. In fact, they’ve been providing far more aid than the Americans for almost a year now, maybe longer.

  11. Ah, the grand chess game of bleeding a super power by supporting an apparently puny adversary. Russia and China supporting North Korea….the result there would have to be called neutral, Norks being a pain and nuisance to the entire world. Same two supporting North Vietnam, because hey, it sorta worked last time. Vietnam has since fought wars with China and is a reasonably good friend of the US. US getting payback and supporting the Taliban, well that’s been bad all around. A major black eye for US prestige while at the same time Islamists have metastasized throughout the area and are staging attacks in Moscow. I don’t approve of Smoke Filled Rooms in domestic politics, but they have a place in diplomacy.

  12. Granting overwhelmingly that it is largely a matter of will, how does concentrating on the Ukraine as the priority affect our ability to marshal the will to defend our homeland?

    The greater danger for us is that our military has been greatly reduced over the last years, and we’ve been stripping our stockpiles to arm Ukraine. Those two nuggets combine to suggest that we may not be able to sustain a high-tempo one-front war, at a time when we’re facing the real possibility of a three-front war: Europe, the western Pacific, and domestic unrest. If, as some suggest, we are to send all the recent illegal immigrants home, we’ll likely need military support just from a manpower perspective. Plus, a goodly number might not not want to go peacefully. Kurt Schlicter’s novel The Attack might be prescient.

    I don’t think most people appreciate how small our current military has become, along with our industrial base.

  13. To mkent’s first point about the Iran deal, recall that Obama declared Ukraine was a ‘core interest’ of Russia but not of the U.S at the time of the Donbass and Crimea invasions while he was hoping they would assist in getting Iran to at least pretend they were abiding by his (and now Biden’s) failed nuclear agreement.

  14. A war is like a giant X-ray machine, revealing what’s lurking just below the surface but only as a fuzzy silhouette.

    The first revelation is that Russia is done. This inescapable conclusion is what certainly motivated Putin’s original incursion, not tender concern towards the supposed repression of ethnic Russians. Ethnic Russians still in Russia have not seen any reduction in their own repression and most seem anxious to take their chances anywhere else. This is the last gasp of a would be imperialist seeing every succeeding conscription cohort shrinking nearer to nothing at all. Use it now, before it disappears. This is not the Russia that could send 40,000 tanks through the Fulda Gap while in reality, that Russia/Soviet Union never really existed outside the fantasy of all those who’s prosperity depended on keeping it alive. This rump of former Soviet power is toothless unless you happen to be a Balt trying to maintain independence of what amounts to a bite sized morsel for even a toothless bear.

    This toothless bear is, for now, matched against the paper tiger of the West. Our various weapon platforms are unmatched, the few we can afford to buy and the fewer still we can afford to keep working at any given time. But an F-35 or an M-1 without ammo and spare parts doesn’t even make a decent club. We see that our “War Stocks” of everything from bombs and missiles to rifle ammunition would be depleted in the first weeks, if not days, of a conflict with an opponent, such as China, that can effectively shoot back. And we see that the pipelines for replacements are months, more likely years, long.

    If the “devastating” attack directed at Israel had instead been aimed at one of our carrier groups. It would likely have depleted the defensive armaments to the point it would have had to scurry to the nearest safe port while the Pentagon scrambled to ship reloads to wherever that was.

    For now, China’s attention is taken up with internal security concerns while it’s economy burns down. It may be in the first stages of one of its historic convulsions of self immolation. Iran has big dreams but limited ability to carry them out. Their drones were, and may still be, powered by modified snowmobile engines that they found necessary to steal from light airplanes throughout Europe rather than build for themselves. Russia lacks the ability to project what little power they have left more than a few miles beyond the nearest rail head for lack of everything from fuel to tires to trucks. All while Biden whispers; “don’t”.

  15. It is astonishing that some people seem to think World War III between the US and Russia (or Russia + China, or Russia + China + Iran) would not go nuclear — resulting in the Mutual Assured Destruction of the US as well as other countries. The message from Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil refineries, from Russian attacks deep into western Ukraine, and from Iranian drone/missile attacks on Israel is an update to the old — “the bomber always gets through”. In the age of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, that means every place in the continental US would be on the front lines of WW III.

    We can imagine situations where the alternatives are so bad it might be worth risking thermonuclear destruction — but protecting the corrupt Zelensky regime is not one of those situations.

    As for the hypothesis that noble Europeans are totally behind Zelensky and ready to march to their deaths to preserve the Ukrainian regime — Get Real! Public support (as opposed to Political Class support) for war with Russia was never strong in Europe, and has been declining.

  16. I note that the Soviet Union provided considerable support for North Vietnam during the Vietnam war, but that conflict never went nuclear. And the US provided considerable support for the Afghan insurgents against the Soviet invaders, but that war never went nuclear, either.

  17. David F: “… but that conflict never went nuclear.”

    To quote that famous movie line — Do you feel lucky?

    Neither the Vietnam war nor the Afghanistan fighting were on the borders of European Russia. Neither involved shelling of Russian towns or attacks on Russian infrastructure deep within Russia. Neither involved the US stealing Russian assets, as Our Betters now propose to do — something which has only ever been done during declared wars.

    This may be one of those situations where past performance is not a good guide to future results.

  18. Part of the reason for the low level of the debate is because many people — especially those who have drunk deeply of the “democratic” Ukraine nonsense — is that they ignore history. The same kind of person who today decries “genocide” in Gaza was quite happy to ignore a decade’s worth of Kiev’s civil war/attempted genocide in the Donbas. Such people seem to think that Russia for one day, completely out of the blue and for no apparent reason, decided to invade a peaceful Ukraine. They are completely ignorant of history.

    Does anyone still remember when Obama and Hillary were trying to get friendly with Russia? And how they got it hilariously wrong ? The present regime (ours, not Putin’s) is totally ignorant of economics. The attempted sanctions have hurt us, not Russia. Biden used the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for domestic politics. Biden thinks (or says) that inflation is caused by corporate profits. Does he, or any of his handlers, know what the profit margin from supermarkets is? Trump is used to high stakes negotiation. Biden has been attached to the government teat for 50 years.

  19. actually, if you read Phillip Short’s magnificient bio, on Putin, you get a very fine understanding of his what motivates him, and the Russian people generally, he doesn’t go for easy fruit like Ryazan, or some of the other elements about his time in St Petersburg the expansion of NATO was very much a niche thing to the populace, who would associate democracy with chaos and humiliation, the former was largely because of the policies that Summers and Sachs recommended to Gaidar, Sobchak and Chubais, the three horsemen that unleashed the oligarchs, an extension of the ruling class, the nonenklatura, that arose from the ruins,
    a similar aspect arose in the Ukraine under Kuchma, another Mudzik that had rebranded himself in the 90s, but much the same thug, this is where Akhmatov, and Pinchuk and Kolomoisky arise from, the latter is in bad odor,

  20. putin sees himself in the shoes of Peter the Great, who bested rivals to the North and the South, the Nord stream Pipeline terminus in Vyborg was a prize of the first contests, so when Sweden belly’s up to the bar, it’s like Bre’r Rabbit for him, thats from a cursory review of Robert Massie’s bio, and the subsequent one on Catherine the Great, thats where the battles for Ukraine started, thats why Russia was unlikely to give it up,

  21. To Gavin’s point on feeling lucky…

    Short time ago someone recommended to me Christopher Clark’s “The Sleepwalkers” which dealt with the run-up to WW I. If you are already familiar with the story I would still recommend the book as Clark adds a lot of background info (esp. Serbia) and makes a few key points.

    For Clark, the principals involved understood that there was a very good chance that a general European war wouldn’t be the “home before the leaves fell” but rather the long-drawn catastrophic war it became. However that possibility never materialized in the consciousness the way that lesser factors (internal factions and rivalries, historical grievances…) did. For Clark this lack of imagination and flexibility, as a Bismarck or a Cecil possessed, is what to led to a very avoidable tragedy.

    Clark directly contrasts this with the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the post-WW II world because those had already been used and thus were no longer an abstract threat. For Clark this is why there hadn’t (yet) been a nuclear exchange.

    I don’t think it’s a generational thing so much as our “betters” still live in the memories of the end of history and had forgotten the Cold War where the dangers of directly facing off with another nuclear power were taken more seriously than today

  22. The debate over the Ukraine war is the same as every other political question lately- the regime’s mouthpieces simply refuse to engage honestly with any dissent, attack the motives of every dissenter, and lie relentlessly about what their plans actually are, what they will cost, and what the end results will be. I recall good debates happening at this site, maybe there are some on X now, not so much elsewhere.

    The end goal of the regime’s Ukraine adventure appears to have been the partition of Russia, to get control of Russian resources. The method to accomplish this was to arm up Ukraine and poke at Russia until Russia responded, thus leading to a war that would cause the Russian state to collapse. This obviously hasn’t happened and likely won’t.

    What has happened is that the West has been exposed as a scheming, thieving, paper tiger that can’t admit what it’s been up to in Ukraine, either to its own people or the rest of world. And if somehow the West manages to defeat Russia and Ukraine remains intact, then I bet millions of “migrants” will be flooded into Ukraine in the same way millions have already been dumped upon the US and Europe. Whether or not the people of the US or Europe wanted that, it doesn’t matter. The regime does what it wants. It’s no surprise to see that the war continues after Ukraine has suffered enormous casualties that we’re not supposed to mention and economic devastation that we’re paying to maintain a pretense that it hasn’t happened.

    The lawlessly open US border and the insanity of the Ukraine war are intrinsically linked. They’re both efforts by the globalist cabal ruling both the US and the EU to retain power. They can’t win honest elections with their own people, so they need to import foreigners. Presumably they believe they need to destroy Russia as well, hence the Ukraine war.

    The actual fate of the people of Ukraine is of no concern to them.

  23. For now, China’s attention is taken up with internal security concerns while it’s economy burns down.</i.

    You remind me of Peter Zeihan, who similarly imagines China's dark fate. Meanwhile, China now has the world's largest navy backed up a robust shipbuilding capacity, so I will assert that not all their attention is taken up by internal security concerns.

    By the way, the US not only can't build ships very well it can't fix them either, having almost no shipbuilding industry at all.

    Funny how that never seems to be a matter of concern for the folks in DC, while they never stop handwringing about Ukraine.

  24. Apologies for all the italics above. I’m going to have stern words for my editor!

    The first revelation is that Russia is done.

    Anyway, I see no evidence of this. Russia seems to be doing pretty well for a country that is done, managing to produce enough munitions to sustain a continued if slow offensive in Ukraine. More, the people of Russia appear to support the war effort, considering how many Russians have volunteered for military service.

    This inescapable conclusion is what certainly motivated Putin’s original incursion, not tender concern towards the supposed repression of ethnic Russians.

    Putin repeatedly told the West that NATO membership for Ukraine was a red line- why is this so hard to grasp? And, also, Putin repeatedly attempt to negotiate to avoid war. Note the Minsk accords that Angela Merkel later came out and admitted were a sham intended only to give Ukraine time to arm, and the near peace deal that was aborted when Boris Johnson visited Zelensky and told him to keep fighting. Russia hasn’t been the problem here.

    Ethnic Russians still in Russia have not seen any reduction in their own repression and most seem anxious to take their chances anywhere else.

    Really? I’m dubious. I’ve seen stories of Russians fleeing abroad to escape a potential draft but I’ve also seen stories of Westerners moving to Russia for various reasons.

    This rump of former Soviet power is toothless unless you happen to be a Balt trying to maintain independence of what amounts to a bite sized morsel for even a toothless bear.

    Is there evidence the toothless tiger wants to reconquer the Baltics? Why would Russia do this? Because they want more problems?

  25. There is no conflict between defending Ukraine and securing our own borders.

    Many if not most of the illegal migrants entering the US claim to be “asylum seekers”, fleeing war or tyranny. Some actually are, to varying degrees. If Ukraine falls, there will be millions of genuine refugees, perhaps tens of millions; many will come to the US.

    Russian conquest of Ukraine would be a green light to aggressive tyrants in many areas, leading to further floods of refugees. Some of these people could become good American citizens, but some will not. The Boston Marathon bombing was perpetrated by refugees from Russia’s horrifically brutal conquest of Chechnya.

    Nor is there conflict with deterring China and defending Taiwan. If the US won’t support Ukraine, no one will believe the US will risk anything for Taiwan.

    Xennady: “More, the people of Russia appear to support the war effort, considering how many Russians have volunteered for military service.” There are essentially no volunteers from Russia. Young Russian men are swept off the streets by FSB press gangs and sent into battle with minimal training. Gullible foreigners come to Russia for supposed contract work, and meet the same fate. There are also some outright mercenaries from Africa.

  26. When Ukraine gave up their nukes, did they also give up their nuclear weapon engineers as well? If a nuke is put together and is set off somewhere in the area, who gets the blame and what would the reactions be?

  27. If Ukraine falls, there will be millions of genuine refugees, perhaps tens of millions; many will come to the US.

    There are already millions of Ukrainian refugees in Europe. I find it a dubious assertion that somehow tens of millions more refugees will appear if the present Ukrainian regime fails. And since Ukrainians are of European ethnicity, I have no doubt the regime will do its level best to ensure none of them are allowed to remain in the United States.

    Russian conquest of Ukraine would be a green light to aggressive tyrants in many areas, leading to further floods of refugees.

    Which tyrants? Where? People like Micheal Yon and others have noted that there is already a regime effort to funnel an endless stream of “refugees” into the US. If the present Ukraine regime gets put down, why would that change?

    The Boston Marathon bombing was perpetrated by refugees from Russia’s horrifically brutal conquest of Chechnya.

    You don’t say. That’s a good argument to keep violent foreigners out of the US, which the regime won’t heed. Instead, we get to pay their living expenses and treat them with the sort of respect most Americans will never experience from their government, ever. And if I recall the Russians warned the FBI specifically about the Boston bombers, which of course accomplished nothing.

    If the US won’t support Ukraine, no one will believe the US will risk anything for Taiwan.

    The US lacks the capability to defend Taiwan, period. You should know that. China surely does.

    There are essentially no volunteers from Russia. Young Russian men are swept off the streets by FSB press gangs and sent into battle with minimal training.

    It sounds like you’re describing how the Ukrainian regime operates, not Russia. No matter, provide evidence of your assertion, please. I’d like to see it.

  28. Rich R: “Russian conquest of Ukraine would be a green light to aggressive tyrants in many areas …”

    That sounds like the “Domino Theory” which Our Betters used to justify ripping US society apart, killing 50,000 Americans, and who knows how many million Vietnamese. The Domino Theory turned out to be junk then; there is no reason to expect it would be any more accurate today. Not only did Our Betters’ gross failure in Vietnam not cause other countries to fall to Communism, Our Betters are now trying to make Vietnam into the new manufacturing hub to avoid China. And knowledgeable US citizens are enjoying wonderful vacations in Vietnam.

    Our Betters (and their chorus) failed to understand the real motivations of the parties in the Vietnam conflict. Now they are failing to understand the motivations of the parties in their proxy war in the Ukraine. After the collapse of the USSR, NATO changed from a defensive alliance against the USSR into an aggressive alliance stirring up wars in Iraq, the Balkans, Libya, Afghanistan and expanding towards Russia in a threatening manner, US/NATO made this conflict in the Ukraine inevitable. Maybe it is time for Our Betters to stop being so damned aggressive.

  29. ”After the collapse of the USSR, NATO changed from a defensive alliance against the USSR into an aggressive alliance stirring up wars in Iraq, the Balkans, Libya, Afghanistan…”

    NATO stirred up wars? The Korean War started when North Korea invaded South Korea in an attempt to conquer it. The Vietnam War started when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in an attempt to conquer it. The Iraqi War started when Iraq invaded Kuwait in an attempt to conquer it. The Afghan War started when terrorists from Afghanistan highjacked four American airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. The Ukrainian War started when Russia invaded the Ukraine with an intent to conquer it.

    How you can blame any of those actions not only on America but on NATO is a mystery for the ages. I bet even the Vietnamese government is scratching its head on that one.

    ”…and expanding towards Russia in a threatening manner…”

    Allowing willing allies to willingly come together for mutual defense is “threatening”? I suppose it is, like the young ladies of the neighborhood banding together to obtain rape whistles and handguns is threatening — to a rapist. We normal men aren’t threatened by it.

  30. At least many of the hypothetical Ukrainian refugees would show up with means to support themselves. Some are already doing so in fine style, here and elsewhere.

    Reality check. There has to be a negotiated settlement to this. Or are you expecting Zelensky’s legions to march to Vladivostok? Or the Europeans to accept a total occupation of Ukraine and the Red Army on the border of Poland (again).

    Whether the recent dollop of US money makes the needed deal more or less likely is hard to say. Probably the result of the US election will. Nobody wants to make a deal right now. Trump can’t. Biden might not be allowed to but if he tried and the deal went Deep South he’d lose face.

    WWI is an interesting parallel. There were peace proposals floated pretty much from 1915 onwards. Hard to see how a deal that kept the existing borders and had multi Great Powers supervision of the Balkans would be worse than what actually ensued after Versailles. Some of which we are still paying for today.

  31. Theres too much money in keeping this war going yes macron like clemenceau would march a whole generation of french youth into certain death but would they follow

    Bin ladens fatwa was in 98 he sent an advance party who had been in bosnia to san diego two years later

  32. “The Afghan War started when terrorists from Afghanistan highjacked four American airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon ..”

    That statement should be nominated for the most historically inaccurate assertion in this whole thread. Saudi Arabian terrorists would be very disappointed Westerners are so ill-informed that they confuse them for Afghans. Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are different countries, far apart, speak different languages, and have different histories.

    This reinforces the point that the kind of people who have fallen for the ‘defend the innocent, peaceful Ukraine’ fantasy tend to be ignorant of history. Let’s all try to learn more about the real world, and set the government-inspired NYT/PBS/CNN coverage aside.

  33. People seem to be looking past the idea that Russia (or Putin, if you prefer) has a motivation beyond naked conquest. I think he does. It may not be a logical motivation, but that doesn’t matter if it’s guiding him.

    The motivation is that Russia keeps getting invaded. The Mongols, Napoleon, Hitler. They had imperialist motivations and a treaty giving them license in World War 1, but the incompetence of their military led to them being bled white by Germany, Austria, and the Turks. Remember, there was even a border war with the Japanese in 1939 where Georgi Zhukov made his bones.

    So Russians are sensitive about their borders. When an organization like NATO starts expanding, they (or Putin, if you prefer) get twitchy. Five minutes of rational thought would make Putin see that he probably had nothing to worry about, the decadence of the West meaning an invasion was not in the offing, but you can’t even count on five minutes of thought from someone like him. He’s ex-KGB, nationalist, and all Russians contend with literally a thousand years of misery.

    He thinks he’s fighting a defensive war, in my opinion. Russia still is strong, in a brute force kind of way, but the last time they swept across Eastern Europe, international communism was secondary to punishing Germany for its invasion. The Iron Curtain was a happy byproduct of a mission of vengeance. That’s not what this invasion of Ukraine is. I’d say the parallel to World War One is more on point, with similar results. It doesn’t strike me as relevant to the Domino Theory. In many ways, Russia has never changed, but there is a great difference between the USSR and Russia. There isn’t a strong ideological component to this war, except what is being imposed from without.

  34. We are living in the world created by WWI. The Western world is entering a time of retreat and submission to the third world invasion. The Muslim world is threatening Europe and Europe is surrendering. China is still building a military but the economy has weakened as Xi becomes more tyrannical. There is a huge Chinese expat community in eastern suburbs of Los Angeles. I just don’t know what will happen in China. The election will determine a lot no matter how it turns out.

  35. Mike K: “The election will determine a lot no matter how it turns out.”

    No. Sadly, the elections for Congress and the President will be meaningless, and have only cosmetic consequences. We know this with total certitude because:

    (a) We saw with President Trump’s term (when the nominal “Republicans” even controlled Congress for the first 2 years) that the Deep State rolled on regardless. No Wall to keep out the illegal aliens. No withdrawal of forces from Syria despite direct Presidential orders. No attempt to control the massive FedGov over-spending.

    (b) We see with “Joe Biden” that a potato-head can occupy the Oval Office and it makes no difference — the Deep State rolls on.

    Unfortunately, the only thing that will stop the nonsense is the hard knock of the coming economic collapse, with its likely disintegration of FedGov … that, or the global thermonuclear war which the Deep State is pushing us ever closer towards.

  36. Gavin Longmuir thinks:
    “The Domino Theory turned out to be junk ….gross failure in Vietnam [did]not cause other countries to fall to Communism,”

    The Khmer Rouge taking over Cambodia being a complete coincidence, I suppose.

    Frank wonders: “When Ukraine gave up their nukes, did they also give up their nuclear weapon engineers as well? If a nuke is put together and is set off somewhere in the area, who gets the blame and what would the reactions be?”

    A Tom Clancy plot has it that fissile warheads leave isotopic “fingerprints” which identify where and when the material was produced. A Soviet warhead has different traits than a US one, and a 1950s bomb differs from a 1980s one.

    One does wonder if, when the US took nukes from Ukraine and promised, instead, eternal protection from Russia, did everyone in the Ukrainian bunkers believe? Or is it possible at least one Soviet-produced warhead was misaccounted for, held back, reserved for contingencies?

    If the story went out that such a warhead DID exist, that Ukraine HAD one last 1980s edition Soviet nuclear once-missile that had been re-engineered to fit into a standard anonymized shipping container on truck chassis… Well, I suppose most of us would think it a bluff. Maybe. Hopefully. And even if the story going ’round had some slight basis in fact, more than a draft of a Clancy novel or NetFlix mini-series, well surely the actual Ukrainian military would never use such an escalation. Surely.

    So it wouldn’t make any difference, I suppose.

  37. “The Khmer Rouge taking over Cambodia being a complete coincidence, I suppose.”

    So very true. It had nothing to do with Nixon bombing Cambodia or the Democrat congress refusing to aid S, Vietnam. Things you learn these days,

  38. Cambodia and Laos, don’t forget, that had largely been occupied by North Vietnam. But there it ended. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia didn’t succumb. It’s conceivable that the outcome would have been different had North Vietnam not been crippled by a long war.

  39. I had the last few comments in the back of my mid as I finished up a piece by Eric Edelman regarding deterrence theory. He stated that since they were supported as reinforcing the credibility of America;s policy deterrence, we should see both Korea and Vietnam as essentially NATO wars in Asia.

    There have been persistent mutterings, soon to be revived ahead of the NATO summit this summer, about extending formal membership to Ukraine but isn’t essentially what is going on is a NATO war in Ukraine. I don’t mean a proxy war or , bur that essentially a war in all but name (and combat formations) that is putting the alliance’s credibility to both deter and defend against enemies on the line?

    To an earlier comment, I am not referencing our security guarantees to Ukraine in order to entice it to give up its nuclear weapons. That’s a nice historical fact, but nobody is rallying the resistance to the barricades to support the Budapest Memorandum are they?

    You can think that’s horrible thing to have happen and/or an obvious statement of reality but I don’t recall at any time pre-2022 that there was a national debate about extending the nation’s security perimeter to faraway places that I faintly recall a kid reading histories of the WW II Eastern Front.

    Just has seemed to have happened over the last 20 years hasn’t it? Step-by-step, each logically proceeding from the last until we seem to have reached a situation that is both obvious and would not have been supported by any American 20 years ago. Yeah I know, thanks for the history lesson Putin-lover because this is the here and now and how we stop the Russian murder machine. However we need to take both a mental and emotional step back and look at where we have come from and where we are going, because that’s how escalation ladders that we slide logically and inexorably into an outcome nobody wanted at the onset. See Christopher Clark’s “The Sleepwalkers”

    I should state that Politics 101 is about framing (manipulating) choices as a binary and that’s what this public debate is about right? Fund/don’t fund equals defend Western civilization/Making Putin the Master of Europe; I find it disgusting but I got to admit the Blob has got game

    Because make no mistake, from the US to France to Poland and the UK, this conflict is now being sold as NATO’s war in Ukraine, a must-win situation. We are being prepared for the next step (which Macron is pushing now) to declare that we cannot lose it all costs at the cost of sending forces into Ukraine proper.

    March of Folly

  40. A serious subject. The prospect of sending modern day French armed forces in to turn the tide is a welcome bit of levity. But I repeat, a negotiated end to this is eventually going to happen. Even those who believe Russia is running on fumes and is going to implode should give a moment’s thought to what comes next. Recalling perhaps that after our last “bleed the bear” venture in Afghanistan we did get a friendly Boris Yeltsin (and a whole bunch of graft opportunities). We also got the Taliban, Al Queda and in due course, Putin.

    Diplomacy is not a Risk board. Or rather, it is, but with nuclear booby traps you can’t see.

  41. Mike: “Because make no mistake, from the US to France to Poland and the UK, this conflict is now being sold as NATO’s war in Ukraine, a must-win situation.”

    There is a big difference from the totally pointless World War I — with the technology of that time, it was initially reasonable that a war in Europe would remain in Europe. With the long-reach technologies of today, it is certain that a war in the Ukraine will not remain in Ukraine.

    Now, if the overwhelming majority of a democratic country wants to go to war over Zelensky’s regime in a far-off country, so be it. But there is no indication that the great mass of the population of France or the UK, for example, want to pick up arms and risk seeing their own homelands destroyed over Zelensky. The same French population that has been pursuing their “Yellow Vest” protests against the French government? The same English that care for little beyond soccer and booze?

    The Political Class which is selling Zelensky’s war as a “must win” has got far out ahead of its population.

  42. MCS: “It’s conceivable that the outcome would have been different had North Vietnam not been crippled by a long war.”

    That is an interesting speculation. Then we have to consider the implications — What if Communists had succeeded in taking over significant Asian nations like Indonesia and Malaysia?

    In the real world, we see that still-Communist Vietnam is now a favorite place to which US companies are offshoring formerly-American jobs, and Communist Vietnam is now becoming a major source of imports to the US, making the goods which the US can no longer manufacture for itself. The US is increasingly dependent on Communist Vietnam, just as we are heavily dependent upon Communist China.

    So a reasonable observer might ask — If the Domino Theory had turned out to be correct and all of Asia had gone Communist, would we even notice today?

  43. David: Thanks for a long overdue post on Ukraine (specifically), policy (generally) and political discussion – or lack thereof (the actual point of the post). Rhetorically, why are we seeing a collapse of capacity in this space, as we do elsewhere and on other issues?

    Rarely does a thread last long enough (given time constraints) for me to get a word in, but here goes. Probably a sequence, otherwise TL:DR. Disclaimer: I am pro-Ukraine. I’m also sufficiently non-mainstream that I may come off like a poor sim of the Oracle at Delphi. Apology in advance,

    A precursor: Almost all “information” in the public space, regardless of orientation, has been managed, curated, selectively stated, fully or partly decontextualized, and placed in the service of an interested player creating or selling a narrative. i.e. it is no longer fully objective. Couple this in that it is sold/presented to a population that is:
    (a) more and more ahistorical – decline in historical awareness coupled with decline in pedagogy. This has consequences:
    (b) the population therefore is vulnerable to the historical fallacy of “presentism” – Most of the populace only “discovers” Ukraine when the issue surfaces and “discovers” them. So the search for fact and context begins – and it usually begins with the purveyors of (a) above with a narrative for each source, accepted or denied on the basis of compatibility with the recipients guiding narrative. Facts are incompletely/imperfectly related and are not allowed to stand on their own merit. Facts are instead judged by a narrative particular to -our- present day and context, not the day, place or culture in which they developed.
    (c) Once embedded in the popular narrative, “path dependence” tends to grab hold and positions/narratives rigidify (i.e. why are all Western keyboards QWERTY?”) Facts that stand outside this rigidified corpus become increasingly challenged, rejected, denied.

    (d) Why the obsession with narrative? (Here is where I become something of an outlier – if I haven’t already demonstrated that sufficiently)
    (d1) Complexity: We are drowning in complexity. There is exponentially more to know and master to be objective and the average person in the street simply doesn’t have the time or resources (or, in many cases, inclination) to master more than a handful of issues. And the narrative purveyors rush in to preempt the vacancy. Narratives replace objectivity and -all- narratives are, in one form or other, propaganda.
    (d2) Overload: One key to narrative generation and propaganda is repetition, repetition, repetition to the point of saturation. (Corollary: when the purveyors align, it becomes self-reinforcing) Compare to a citizen in the late 19th century – literate and reasonably informed, gets two or three newspapers plus magazines, pamphlets, debate, discourse, etc. They get it once or twice a day/week and have time to reflect, digest, think about it. Now look at things here in the postmodern – you will undoubtedly be aware that when something surfaces, you probably get bombarded non-stop with the header repeated -constantly- from multiple sources, 24/7 with little or no respite. (Case in point – Boeing has a problem or “problem” – you get 10 reps of the same headline i the day, plus constant returns to the evolving narrative line, plus all of the comments on social, and it seems to go on -forever-.). The body reacts to hold the load down to a manageable roar – either by complete shutting out, more often by deferring to one’s internal narrative without introspection, and in extreme cases, processing becomes more and more dependent on emotion, which is faster and easier than reason. (And we know from social,. how memes are tailored to go deliberately to emotional response). In effect, we are trying to run a society and the civil discourse that supports and maintains it in a frame that is being literally run “faster than the speed of thought”.

    This all happens in a populace and national culture that, -as an aggregate-, is (a) narcisssistic – although -all- cultures are to some extent – (b) increasingly atomized in solipsistic bubbles – we talk at far more than we listen to, (c) is increasingly disconnected from history and living within an ever-shortening horizon in time. i.e ahistorical. (d) increasigly vulnerable to propaganda from -all- aspects.

    Now that I’ve been sufficiently and bafflingly obtuse, I’ll take a break.

    Two recommended resources

    for Ukraine, specifically: “Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Discourse to Civil War” , Paul D’Anieri (UCal-Riverside), current edition runs from the breakdown of the Soviet Union up to Minsk 2, an update is in the works. (Editorial: For once, a historian who isn’t grinding an axe)

    For the actual topic – public discourse and its nervous breakdown: “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes”, Jaques Ellul. Still classic after 60 years.

    Thanks for the indulgence. I’ll try not to do it again

  44. they actually didn’t require a direct intervention, in malaysia, well a much smaller footprint as with indonesia, we know how t’he year of living dangerously’ ended,

    so why pick this spot, because it in a major part of Russian history, going back to 1783, the time of the battle of Yorktown, in our time line, they fought another war against the Turks, then the Crimean scrum, the battle of 1877 et al,

    so why are the worst people, like maher, schwab et al, all in on this enterprise, that is the fundamental question,

  45. My own problem with the Ukrainian matter is that I suspect that the Biden administration and our top political echelons generally neither know much or care about Ukraine, other than using the place as their personal ATM machine

  46. Factors that matter:

    1. Our CIA ran a coup in Ukraine in 2014 and is said to have all manner of labs and outposts there. It isn’t a democracy. It’s a dictatorship. Be nice if that could be addressed honestly.

    2. Ukraine isn’t just corrupt. It is corrupt and funneling bribes to the Bidens and other American politicians. And Ukraine’s leaders aren’t just skimming. They are fabulously wealthy and stealing us blind.

    3. Trump was impeached for mentioning that Biden was a crook (as he bragged on a live mic) regarding Ukraine policy. This seems like it should matter. As the USA sprints toward civil war, the key events taking us there ought to be worth considering once in a while.

    4. Biden and the Democrats have been spending as never before. When is this reckless spending going to be addressed? When is that a legit argument to have? Why not when shipping massive sums to a war that can’t be won by a nation that is corrupt to the core? If not then, when? Money don’t grow on trees. Inflation from this crazed spending spree is wrecking the working class. They’d love for SOMEONE in DC to quit pissing on them and tell them it is raining. Maybe even a Republican or two.

    5. Biden and the Democrats have become Big Brother and instituted all manner of tyrannical policies. Why in the hell should Republicans cooperate with this manifest evil? Just seems to me that this is another thing that ought to be mentioned. Maybe the GOP ought to use every single opportunity to fight against Big Brother? Before opposition is outlawed forever.

    6. There is not path to victory. What the hell is the plan? Shouldn’t that matter? Or do we just keep throwing hundreds of billions into the killing machine that is wiping out the population of Ukraine when all that seems to be happening is Z and his minions get ever richer?

    Just a few things that don’t seem to show up in the discussion.

  47. Midwest Observer…good comment. re Drowning in Complexity, the normal/workable way to deal with this is decentralization. In the US government, that traditionally meant federalism…for the most part, the voters in Iowa needed to concentrate on Iowa issues, not on New Jersey issues. As more & more powers have been assumed by the federal government…and as media has focused more and more on those federal issues…the information bandwidth problem has become worse.

  48. David F: “As more & more powers have been assumed by the federal government…”

    The root of the expansion of FedGov has been its self-appointed ability to spend money it does not have, by borrowing and (when it runs out of greater fools) by printing.

    We don’t call it corruption when FedGov tells a State that it can have money for Interstate Highway construction — provided it imposes a 55 mph speed limit. But the distinction between an incentive and corruption can become rather vague, and quickly results in States toeing FedGov’s line instead of being responsive to their citizens. A similar thing happens within States, where counties & cities become more dependent for funding from their State than from their citizens — resulting in the death of meaningful democracy.

    After the inevitable collapse, the survivors will have to fix that money problem. Maybe each level of government allowed to tax only the level of government below it? And a total prohibition on governments borrowing money? But this is another serious issue that is simply ignored today in the dearth of real debate on meaningful matters.

  49. Russia has been invaded many times – when it wasn’t invading and conquering other countries. Russia did not expand to the Pacific peacefully, nor into central Asia, nor Finland, nor the Baltic states, nor Poland, nor Moldova, nor Crimea, nor the Trans-Caucasus. Even now, after shedding much of its imperial dominions, Russia includes millions of non-Russians living in ethnically distinct “autonomous” areas like Tatarstan (somewhat like Indian reservations in the US). They too were conquered.

    Russian nationalists, including Putin himself, have described the loss of Russia’s former dominions as a great historical crime. Putin himself hints, and some of his supporters say explicitly, that Russia should and will retake all these countries.

    Russian fears that others mean to conquer them look very much like psychological “projection” – they “project” their own attitudes onto others.

    Xennady: why do you think that the millions of refugees having already fled from Russia’s attacks on Ukraine somehow indicates there would not be millions more fleeing Russian conquest?

    That’s a good argument to keep violent foreigners out of the US…” Which are the violent ones? Dzhokar Tsarneyev was 9 years old when his parents brought him to the US.

    It sounds like you’re describing how the Ukrainian regime operates, not Russia. No matter, provide evidence of your assertion, please. I’d like to see it.

    Ukraine recently revised its conscription law, lowering the minimum age to 25. They don’t draft the youngest men because the post-USSR fertility crash has left them with relatively few. Meanwhile, Russia relies extensively on the notorious Wagner Group – which gets its men from asylums and prisons.

  50. Rich R: “Ukraine recently revised its conscription law, lowering the minimum age to 25. They don’t draft the youngest men because the post-USSR fertility crash has left them with relatively few.”

    Come on, Rich! It would be more accurate to say that Zelensky dare not do the normal thing in a democracy and conscript 18-year olds to fight in an existential war because those active young people would revolt against his regime. The ones who wanted to volunteer to fight did so long ago. Many others ran away from the Ukraine when they could in the early times, before Zelensky closed the borders to prevent them leaving.

    The whole question of conscription in the Ukraine is clearly highly contentious, and undermines the fiction that Ukrainians are all standing shoulder to shoulder, ready to fight & die for …. something.

    “Russia relies extensively on the notorious Wagner Group – which gets its men from asylums and prisons.”

    The same Wagner Group that has effectively been shut down, except for the part that got sent to Africa? Wagner Group is effectively gone from the Ukraine, and yet Russia’s armies keep increasing in size and making life hell for the Ukrainian forces. Something does not fit with that assertion.

    There is always the fog of war, and both sides have reasons for increasing the density of that fog. But we have to be careful not to swallow the most dubious propaganda that gets put out.

  51. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment and apologies for the delayed reply.

    Russia did not expand to the Pacific peacefully, nor into central Asia, nor Finland, nor the Baltic states, nor Poland, nor Moldova, nor Crimea, nor the Trans-Caucasus.

    Now tell us about how the United States expanded to the Pacific.

    Russia includes millions of non-Russians living in ethnically distinct “autonomous” areas like Tatarstan (somewhat like Indian reservations in the US).

    Does this mean that the Tartarstanians don’t have to pay taxes and get free college paid for by ethnic Russians? In any case, I’m not interested in partitioning Russia so I’m not interested in digging into Russian history looking for aggrieved ethnic groups the Deep State can sponsor for their next war.

    Russian nationalists, including Putin himself, have described the loss of Russia’s former dominions as a great historical crime.

    So what?

    Russian fears that others mean to conquer them look very much like psychological “projection” – they “project” their own attitudes onto others.

    As I’m typing this there is quite literally a war being waged against Russia by a large and well-known military alliance with the oft-expressed desire to overthrow the Russian government as well as a less often expressed desire to partition Russia. This Russian fear of conquest is most definitively not projection.

    Why do you think that the millions of refugees having already fled from Russia’s attacks on Ukraine somehow indicates there would not be millions more fleeing Russian conquest?

    Why is this a problem for the United States? Oh, I know in actual practice the US is the dumping ground for every unwanted migrant the world over, all to be rewarded with endless benefits and endless privileges over actual American citizens- yet I still wonder why I should be so concerned about the fate of foreigners in Asia who have nothing to do with the US, certainly aren’t citizens, and don’t reside in countries I care about.

    Which are the violent ones? Dzhokar Tsarneyev was 9 years old when his parents brought him to the US.

    I would guess that out of the billions of foreigners the regime potentially could import into the United States, Muslims from Chechnya should be pretty Fing far down the list. But no, it seems the more likely to be hostile to America and American culture foreigners are likely to be, the more likely it is for the regime to import them.

    Ukraine recently revised its conscription law…

    Conscripts. That is, not volunteers.

    Russia relies extensively on the notorious Wagner Group – which gets its men from asylums and prisons.

    Not true, but in any case the Wagner group took volunteer inmates and gave them them an opportunity to earn a pardon by risking their lives in combat.

    Meanwhile, in the United States, criminals are often released over and over again to commit crime after crime, at no risk to themselves.

    Advantage: Russia.

  52. Of course, addressing every pro and con argument would have been beyond the scope of this post. However, as Gavin and others have pointed out, you did miss the elephant in the room; the threat of the conflict escalating into a nuclear exchange. As far as the argument that Russia will proceed to invade the rest of Europe if she is allowed to win in Ukraine, many do seem cocksure that will happen. While I must admit that the possibility of that outcome is finite, I believe that its probability is what people in the physics business call “epsilon,” meaning a very small number.

    As for those who strongly disagree with me, I hereby offer you a chance to pick up some easy money. I offer 10 to 1 odds that, should Russia win the war, she will not invade any NATO country within a year after a peace agreement is signed. I will accept bets up to $100 and, to avoid the stigma of inspiring a nascent plague of gambling addictions here at Chicago Boyz, will limit the number of bets accepted to 10. Be a sport! Put your money where your mouth is. As W. C. Fields put it, “Never give a sucker an even break.”

    By “winning” I mean that Russia emerges from the war following a peace agreement with territories she didn’t occupy prior to 2022. The attack must also be unprovoked by a direct attack on Russia from the territory of the country involved by air, missile, etc. By “invasion” I mean a direct attack across that country’s borders by a significant number of troops.

    How can you lose? Since you “know” that Russia will begin conquering the rest of the countries in western Europe just like so many dominoes, why not take advantage of my lack of geopolitical insight, my ignorance of the high probability of that outcome? In the vernacular, why not “take me for a ride?”

    As far as arguments go, it is beyond me how any outcome of this war, including Ukraine “winning,” could possibly justify the deaths of half a million of her young men, a number that will certainly climb far beyond that as the war continues. There is no way that even the complete reuniting of Ukraine with the rest of Russia would be worse than that.

Comments are closed.