Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ukraine, Russia, And America

As if it weren't perfectly obvious from his entire record in the public eye, it is now pellucidly clear that Vladimir Putin means to reconstruct the Soviet Union -- not its political system, which would confine him too tightly, but its sway at its most territorially extended.

The United States can do little to nothing about it. Geography is against us. It's equally against those smaller states that would prefer not to be reabsorbed into a Greater Russian Empire. Not one of them could resist the forces at Putin's disposal with any hope of success.

Our hope lies in the NATO Alliance, and a feeble hope it is. The nations of Europe simply will not approve a military campaign to check Russian expansion, perhaps not even should Putin direct his forces against the NATO member states of Eastern Europe and the Baltic coast. Only an American response is even faintly plausible -- but without European cooperation, it would be fatally hobbled from the outset.

As with so many other maladies of the day, we did it to ourselves.

NATO has become an impediment to American power projection. Our unwillingness to proceed unilaterally has doomed us to wait for endorsements that will never arrive. Worse, the militaries of Europe are jokes from first to last, pitiful fractions of those that preceded World War II and utterly insignificant compared to our own. Even were the states of Europe to join an American military campaign, as they did in 1990 for the first Gulf War, their participation would be token, fraught with annoying complexities, and accompanied by strident demands for all manner of military and political accommodations.

That our pledge to defend Europe was a terrible mistake should now be perfectly clear.

But wait: there's more! Our very own "leadership" has embarked on a campaign to reduce America's military capabilities. the Obama Administration seeks to reduce our ground strength by 130,000 troops: just under one quarter of our current forces. It seeks to reduce the size of our blue-water navy and our strategic forces as well. The rationale? "Budget constraints," a plaint never heard when the subject is some aspect of our ever-expanding Welfare State.

With geography as a retardant, "allies" nearly as hostile as declared enemies, and a political elite that lacks all interest in the use of military power in service to freedom, the odds of an American expedition to limit Russian expansionism are slim and none -- with "none" being the more attractive pole.

Several commentators have opined that Putin's initiatives toward Ukraine will not stop with Crimea. Their position is strong; Russian forces have swarmed the Russian / Ukrainian border. Perhaps the Russian satrap is awaiting a "provocation." Perhaps he just hasn't finished his buildup. And perhaps it's a feint, intended to deflect our attention from his intention to reabsorb Estonia. We must wait to see. However, two things are clear even today: first, that Putin wants his Greater Russia more than anything else; second, that the political elites of America and Europe are reluctant to the point of paralysis to do anything but bluster about "the wrong side of history."

The Obamunists' bluster, the posture of the Europeans, and the pitiful "sanctions" add up to a losing hand. We cannot intervene usefully. Given Europe's unwillingness to wage war, its economic dependency upon Russian natural gas, and America's steadily diminishing willingness to spend the blood of its sons for others' benefit, whether we will ever again be able to do so is open to question.

It's possible that America's days as "world policeman" have come to a close. We were never really suited to the role; our natural inclination is to mind our own business. Our titanic military prowess is almost irrelevant when it's under the hand of unwilling statesmen. Since the close of our Vietnam adventure, there's been very little will to repeat anything of comparable magnitude. What arose under Bush the Younger seems to have been dissipated by our missteps in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, maintaining at least a piece of the "hyperpower mystique" is important to the world at large. Deterrence is a mental phenomenon. It wasn't necessary that potential aggressors be convinced we would intervene against their initiatives, but it was vital that they think it possible, even likely. The sort of calculation that goes into the decisions of a "rationally evil" potentate takes account of probabilities and possibilities along with facts and certainties. "Nations in general will go to war whenever there is a prospect of getting something by it," as John Jay said. That makes "getting something by it" a prospect nations ardent for peace must cloak in uncertainty. That task has fallen principally upon American shoulders since the fall of the U.S.S.R.

It's not a role we can relinquish. The states immediately after us in military potency -- Russia and China --are anything but peaceably inclined. They demonstrate their aggressive tendencies regularly. Nor can the job be passed to any "international body," the fantasies of the One-Worlders notwithstanding.

The deterrent value of the "hyperpower mystique" depends mainly on the maintenance of a large and capable armed force, the ability to swiftly deploy it anywhere in the world, and a public posture, at least, of willingness to do so. All three ingredients are currently under attack, by a political elite that openly prefers American impotence to American strength. No other explanation is consistent with the many anti-military moves of the Obama Administration, most especially the choice of the odious Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

You already knew that much of immediate domestic importance is riding on the outcomes of the next two elections. Add the peace of the world, and the futures of millions who would rather not be made into unwilling subjects of enormous tyrannies, to the list.


Col. B. Bunny said...

An excellent post, Fran.

I don't think the U.S. had any rational strategic vision at any time in the last 25 years, possibly longer. There is little appreciation in modern America for anything so antiquated as the Constitution of the First Republic. Clinton's campaign for the presidency was saved by the Chinese. Bush '43 thought that teaching Afghans and Iraqis how to crochet was an advancement of U.S. security. Which president has sounded the tocsin v-a-v Islam itself? Certainly not Bush, who wet his pants in his rush to get to the Islamic cultural center in D.C. the day after 9/11. And the current occupant of the WH began his campaign to get there in the living room of two communist terrorists, especially when we tolerate European freeloading on the backs of our military. I know you were impressed by the mine sweepers the Germans sent during the first Gulf War. I was. No lie.

A nation so confused as to elevate people like this to high office has little to instruct the world on.

A random thoughts on foreign policy v-a-v Russia: why do we never call for Russia to return to Finland what Soviet scum stole from it in WWII. In the scheme of things, that just happened yesterday. And Kosovo is going back to Serbia. Has to.

Col. B. Bunny said...


"has had."


. . . two communist terrorists.

Consequently, until we get competent, patriotic leadership, nothing east of the Moulon Rouge is worth the bones of a single Iowa grenadier, especially when we tolerate European freeloading on the backs of our military.

Col. B. Bunny said...

and . . . . . Moulin.

Emperor Misha said...

As always, nailed it in one.

We are shouting into the wind, my friend. This nation has been circling the stove, ignoring every single one of our warnings.

It's time to let the spoiled, ignorant little brat get his fingers burned.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I know I will be censored, but please write me why I am wrong at:

I understand why you say Europeans are weak but in one case ist your fault.

Once Germany was a warrior culture but after WWII you allies decided to emasculazte this warrior culture. Read SHAEF JCS 1067 article 4c:
Essential steps in the accomplishment of this objective are the elimination of Nazism and MILITARISM in all their forms, the immediate apprehension of war criminals for punishment, the INDUSTRIAL DISARMARMENT and DEMILITARIZATION of Germany, with continuing control over Germany's capacity to make war, and the preparation for an eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis.

I wrote certain words in capiital letters.

Now say again the Germans are wimps.
They are so because you wanted them to be wimps. Congratulations, after less then 60 years you succeded. The great Goal of Roosevelt and Churchuill has been achieved.