As this illustrious columncharges resolutely into the future, a few thoughts on geopolitical doings may, or for that matter may not, be of interest. I’ll try.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, massively different understandings exist. In America and countries controlled by it, it is believed that Russia invaded without provocation to begin reconstituting the Soviet empire, the Ukrainians are bravely fighting to save their country, and eventually all of Europe and the West must give them the weapons they need to oppose totalitarianism. Friends of mine in Washington are passionate about this and display Ukrainian flags in their yards.
Most of the world takes a far more favorable view of Russia, refusing to take sides, among them China, India, Mexico, almost all of South America, central Asia, ASEAN, the Arab world,and black Africa. Many countries continue trading with Russia. Recently 130 countries attended Russia’s Economic conference in St. Petersburg. Russia is a major source of grain, petroleum, gas, fertilizer, these wanted by much of the planet.
Further,, the Ukraine looks, from outside of the Usasphere, to be just another of America’s unending imperial wars. If you follow news from non-Western sources, you see that nobody believes America’s protestations about spreading democracy, fighting crime, promoting human rights, and so on.
Another reason, frequently mentioned in the international blogosphere, is the legacy of colonialism. conservative friends poopoo this, having no grasp of its emotional power. The countries supporting America against Russia are the former colonial powers. The countries declining to oppose Russia are those colonized. Many have been militarily attacked by the former colonizers: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya. They have noticed this. In former times most of the world outside Europe has been invaded, occupied, and exploitedd. They remember.
The hostility is very real. Further, the Usasphere almost seems deliberately to encourage the animus. For example, recently a Romanian official made what he apparently thought was a clever remark likening Africans to monkeys. This went viral. An African official, maybe Zambian, said in close paraphrase, “The West enslaved us for centuries, and now they want to lecture us on human rights?” One of the major hacks running Europe, I forget which, recently said that Europe was a garden and the rest of the world a jungle. This also went viral. Websites from Latin America often say ironically, “Aquí en la jungla….”
Outside of the New York Times and the wall Street Journal, students of geopolitics see the US as having deliberately promoted the current war. In 1991 when the USSR collapsed, there were 16 countries in NATO which immediately began expanding eastward in obvious military encirclement of Russia with, today, thirty-one countries. When the American coup in Ukraine in 2014 put an American puppet in Kiev, if Russia had not annexed Crimea the American fleet would have been in Sevastopol, US bases in Crimea, and US nuclear missiles eight minutes from Moscow. Washington was simultaneously encouraging accession of Georgia to NATO, which would have put American forces on Russia’s border and an a thin Azerbaijan away from the Caspian. Russia said repeatedly that it would not allow entry of Ukraine in NATO, the US kept pushing, and thus the war. In a sentence, the war is a carefully planned American imperial enterprise.
Have you heard this on CNN? How many Americans have ever heard of Sevastopol? Or, probably the Caspian?
The effects of the war? By cutting Europe off from the cheap Russian pipeline gas on which its economies depended, and forcing it to buy pricey American LNG, the war both tightens American control over Europe, makes lots of money for US petroleum companies,and makes European industry less competitive. It also ensures that Europe will buy many tens of billions of dollars worthof American arms. From Washington’s point of view, what’s not to like?
So, while Bidenites offer the war as a courageous defense against barbarism, much of the world sees it as Washington’s using Europe and Ukraine in an attempt to weaken Russia before moving on to China, as officials in Washington have admitted. China is quite aware of this. So, hundreds of thousands of dead Russians and Ukrainians. Perhaps more important in the long run, Washington has succeeded in causing Russia to shift its commerce eastward, selling to China and India and beginning to isolate the Usasphere. Europe may well regret this.
Now, the Grand, Indomitable, Horrific, and Really Scary Motingator Ukrainian Counter-offensive: It is a botch, as anyone familiar with America’s forgn policy and its military would have expected. Here it is, step by step, following Fred’s First Law, an American war begins with overestimating American power, underestimating the enemy, and misunderstanding the kind of war it is getting into.
Step one: Overestimate America’s capacities. NATO’s superior technology, armament, tactics, and training would overwhelm the Russians. But didn’t.
Step Two: Underestimate the enemy. Russian training, morale, and weaponry could not possibly stand up to Ukrainians trained and armed by NATO,so the Slavic horde would collapse. But didn’t.
Step Three: Give the Russians plenty of time to build heavily fortified defensive lines. They did. Brilliant. Just brilliant.
Step Four: Give up any hope of surprise. Of course, there was never any hope of surprise. Satellites do that.
Step Five: With half-trained troops using many cast-off weapons from other countries with which they are barely familiar, attack carefully prepared defenses across open terrain against an enemy with control of the air and massive superiority in artillery.
Step Six: Express surprise at the outcome.
If you do not believe that Washington runs on equal parts of arrogance, fantasy, and incompetence, here is former CIA director and US Central Command chief General David Petraeus who predicted on June 6, two days into Kiev’s southern offensive, that “the Russians will prove to be more brittle than the expectation is” when faced with Western-supplied armour, also claiming that Moscow’s troops were poorly trained, equipped and led and exhausted after a year on the front line without a break.”
Petraeus is not the only appalling dunderhead in the Miraculous City, but he is quite a good dunderhead. A freaking CIA director is clueless about exactly what he is supposed to know about?
America’s hugely expensive intelligence agencies catastrophically failed to estimate the military capacities of both the Ukraine and Russia, the effectiveness of weapons used by both sides, the weakness of the Russian economy, the degree of support for the war among the Russian population, the degree of world support for Washington, the effectiveness of sanctions, and the degree to which the confiscation of Russian financial reserves would drive the world away from the dollar. Washington’s financial sanctions were going to bring Moscow to its knees. Remember Biden crowing that “the ruble is rubble”?
As the war goes increasingly badly for Washington, the hawks double down, sending more potent weapons. Desperation grows in the Potomac bubble. Huge egos are on the line, elections and, probably, the future of the Empire. How crazy will they get?
In Washington, particularly dangerous are the aged, sometimes senescent draft-dodging pussies of the ancient war on Vietnam, now turned into Depends Napoleons. Among them, Biden, Bolton, Trump, Bush II. To avoid libel charges, I will do nothing to identify this example.
Leadership? In America’s colonies, Ursula Borderline and Stoltenberg seem pedestrian, limited, better suited to being motel managers than war leaders. Zelensky is the only one who seems to have brains, but combined with the character of an Amway salesman. Compare these to Lavrov, Putin, Xi Jin Ping, Zakharova, all smart.
Federal outletss, such as the NYT, the WSJ, the Wapo, the networks and social media, displayed their unequaled capacity for not acquiring information. They have told us:The Russians were out of missiles. Except they weren’t. The Russians were out of artillery rounds. Except they weren’t. The Russian population was turning against Putin. Except it wasn’t. Russia was retreating before the Ukrainians. Except they weren’t. And so on.
We come, gasping, to Taiwan
As many in Washington have explicitly said, the purpose of the Ukraine is to cripple Russia and even break it into several countries under American control before moving on to China, Washington’s real target. The same approach is being used that was used with the Ukraine: push toward a “red line” that China cannot ignore until Beijing either surrenders, which it won’t, or fights.
Why does Washington care about Taiwan? A major, major reason is that Taiwant has TSMC, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest and most advanced chip fab. America cannot make the most advanced chips, Taiwan and South Korea being supreme in this as the technological center of gravity of the world moves eastward. Before Trump started the “trade” war, actually a new Cold War, TSMC sold chips to any who wanted them. Washington realized that it could not compete with China in many fields if the Chinese could buy chips from Taiwan (also Chinese, note). Thus the urgent need to control Taiwan.
And of course a victorious war against Beijing would cement American hegemony, the purpose underlying all of everything.
Thus, though the American public is not being informed, Washington is rapidly and systematically doing things that can only be preparation for war with China. Among them, Getting Japan to rearm. Selling nuclear submarines to Australia to Deter China. Running the Australia-UK-US naval treaty aimed at China (AUKUS). Running the Quad naval treaty (US-India-Japan-Australia). Arming Taipei with massive arms sales. Opening or reopening four military bases in the Philippines. Getting basing rights in Papua-New Guinea. This is rapid preparation for war with China, boys and girls.
What is going through the minds of the China hawks? Do they think China will back down, as they apparently expected that Russia would in the Ukraine? Do they expect a quick, decisive victory as they always do, though their own think-tank Rand has said they would likely lose? Do they have no exit strategy or plan B as they never do, in case things do not go as expected? Do they have any idea of the effects of starting a world war with a country that supplies almost everything to almost everywhere? Stay tuned. News at eleven.