I’ve been watching both the Chamberlin Brigade and War Brigade go at it for the last few weeks, and shaking my head. We are well past the point where adult discussion is needed, but we also appear in no danger of such taking place anytime soon. Instead, there is a whole bunch of reeeeing within the Beltway involving Presidential politics while the American public outside the Beltway is just looking at those inside the beltway like the purple-clothed guy in the meme.
The Chamberlin Brigade is breathlessly touting peace-at-any-price because oh my stars we might have WWIII and it might go nuclear. No shit! Really? That was a possibility from the start, and Vladimir has played it to the hilt because that threat has worked for him on many levels and with far too many leaders. Let’s just say that when one world leader tells another he’s scared to death of nuclear war and will do anything to avoid it, it gives the other a tremendous amount of leverage. Especially when the one with the leverage knows that the other leader is a demented meat puppet who’s Regency is incompetent and more focused on day-to-day venality.
It also doesn’t help that quite a bit of the world remembers the guarantees made when Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons on its soil. Those watching now know exactly what those guarantees were worth, and the quicksand on which current promises are made. Especially when one looks at the divisions within NATO. Particularly the division between those newer members who have been serious about their commitments and readiness, and those older states who have chosen to ignore those commitments and count on the United States to fund (directly and indirectly) their social programs and provide true defense for them. Particularly one member who rather cheerfully bet their whole future, energy and otherwise, on partnerships and other agreements with a known unfriendly power — and who’s companies continue to defy sanctions to provide that unfriendly power with tech and more. In regard that member, this is an interesting read. Of course, they are not alone on that and it is amazing the number of companies around the world cheerfully joining in on that short-sighted effort, including (apparently) some in the U.S.
The Chamberlin Brigade lives in the fantasy that since the U.S. is the major provider for the Ukraine, that it can impose an immediate cease-fire and settlement. That they can force Ukraine to cede territory, stop the fighting, and all will be well. Peace, light, joy, all joining together to sing Kumbaya, and cute fuzzy predators and prey frolicking peacefully together in the fields. This, of course, demands ignoring things starting with 2014 and going backwards. It also demands ignoring most world history of the last 300 or so years, especially the politics of the region.
The fact is, that even before Russkiy Mir, the Baltics, Poland, and others were inclined to look at Russian promises askance, if not flat out disbelief. They know very well what Russian promises of peace, of friendship, and other such things are worth. As it is, they have paid far more attention to the efforts to create the new Russian Empire than the over-educated idiots in DC who are far more focused on internal politics and empire building than in external affairs or even rudimentary competence. The memories of what it means to be a neighbor and then vassal of Russia linger, and the centuries do not dim them. Most have experiences far more recent, and if you want but one example ask an Estonian about the Soviet bombing of Tallinnn during WWII, and the interesting targeting of same. These are people who know in the marrow of their bones what any Russian peace or non-aggression pact or promise is worth.
They are also well aware of current Russian efforts to destabilize their countries. If you think Moldova is the only country where such efforts are underway, again I have a bridge for sale cheap. It even extends beyond the former client states, as seen here. All of the former Soviet-occupied countries are aware of such fifth columns, just as they are all aware of Russian intelligence and sabotage efforts, such as what was just broken up in Poland. This is all a rich tradition that goes back decades, and is far more extensive than many realize. Just look at Soviet involvement with the environmental movement, Greens, Green Party, etc. If it would destabilize the West and undermine the concepts of the Enlightenment, they were and are all-in.
The War Brigade is just as willfully short-sighted in their efforts. They see an “easy” proxy war fought under many of the same rules as Vietnam et al, not accepting that the world has changed a bit since then. Heck, or even since the proxy wars in Central and South America, some of which technically are still going. A good proxy war could last a long, long time and offer all sorts of opportunities for graft, money laundering, and other delights. That assumes that everyone is willing to play by the old rules, and Xi and others haven’t shown a particular desire to do so. Yep, bringing up Winnie the Xi as this is NOT just a regional conflict.
It is already WWIII on many levels, as the players extend far beyond just Russia and Ukraine. It extends well beyond the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. It includes North Korea, China, Iran, and even a few others. Both the Chamberlin Brigade and the War Brigade are ignoring that reality for all they are worth. Just as they are humming and drumming their feet over the reality on the ground in the region. They are ignoring the fact that the Ukrainian people, not just their leadership, are pissed off and fighting the invasion. They are ignoring that the Baltics and others would rather slag their own countries than return to being any part of the new greater Russian empire. They are ignoring that the last time this was tried we went from less than a million dead to tens of millions dead in less than a generation. They ignore that peace-at-any-price has never worked at any time in history.
What is the answer? I don’t know. The worst long-term outcome is for the Chamberlin Brigade to win, as it guarantees a much worse bloodbath not too far in the future that is likely to include non-limited use of nuclear or other special weapons. The worst short-term outcome is likely to be if the War Brigade gets its way, as things may escalate in ways not anticipated. My take remains that if Vladimir can’t take Ukraine, he will make sure no one gets it via using the destruction of the nuclear plants to render it, and even parts of the Baltics, a wasteland. That it might do so to parts of Western Russia is just the cost of doing business.
Factor in that the U.S. can’t afford to keep sending billions of dollars and tons of weapons to the conflict. Our economy and banking system are a tottering house of cards. We have already sent critical stocks of multiple weapons/systems that will take us years to replace. If we got into a shooting war with a major power (cough, China, cough), we are like NATO in that we will be doing good to have three days of critical supplies. We are well below critical levels in a number of areas, and that fact has indeed been noted by our enemies. While there are some token efforts to boost production, at current levels it will take not years, but decades, to replenish peace-time stocks. Here’s a clue for free: peacetime levels are always massively below wartime needs. In peace, the beancounters rule and why maintain massive stocks when DIE and other nice-to-dos need funding? War requires massive amounts of stocks, unless you are willing to expend troops in place of munitions. Might want to ask the Russians how that’s working out for them. The War Brigade might also want to look at our falling recruitment and retention numbers, and may also want to look at the percentages of same going back a decade or so that involve actual combat troops and leaders.
My personal take remains that I hope Ukraine kicks Vladimir’s ass and gets back ALL their territory. Russkiy Mir needs to be stopped, not encouraged. I also still feel that this is not a fight that needs even one drop of blood from our troops. Our ability to continue to provide funds and war stocks to the Ukraine is already well beyond unsustainable. We can’t fight a one front war under current circumstances, much less a two-front war as called for. What is done and how do we do it? I don’t have an answer. Of those I’ve seen who say they do, reality doesn’t seem to be a factor in those plans.
There is more I wanted to get into today, such as demographics, the role of prison culture in Russian life and high-level politics, the Enlightenment and why Russia hates the British, and other factors, but the above is where my Muse led me. Tomorrow is not likely a day when I get to delve into any of those areas as it is a medical day. Joy.
In this, as in all of life, there are no easy answers. Beware anyone who tells you there are such. The best I can offer for now is to be prepared, be patient, keep your things where you can find them in the dark.
NOTE: If you need anything else to disturb your sleep, read this.