The war hawks’ view of the Ukraine situation

This panel discussion is interesting because it represents the thinking of the U.S. national security establishment.  I watched it with mingled anger and despair, but their ideas and opinions are important to understand.

The panelists point out that Vladimir Putin probably thought the invasion of Ukraine would reveal the weakness and lack of solidarity of NATO, but the result has been just the opposite.

The immediate result  has been to create a new sense of anti-Russian solidarity among the Ukrainian people and the NATO allies.  The NATO countries, particularly Germany, are remilitarizing.

The result of the invasion is the very thing Putin feared, an attack (although not a direct military attack) on Russia itself.  I think they’re right about that.

What the analysts say we can look forward to over the next few years is a long mutually destructive economic war, a dangerous cyberwar and a propaganda war.  But it’s all good, because Russia will suffer most and ultimately be defeated.

The cyberwar threat is the most worrisome.  The USA, other NATO countries, Ukraine and Russia are all dependent on electronic computerized systems that are vulnerable to being hacked, which would result in economic breakdown and chaos.

Both sides have held back because of the mutually assured destruction principle.  But now NATO and Russia are at war, so there is no restraining principle.

The panelists think Ukraine will be defeated militarily after a heroic resistance.  But it’s all good, because it means the U.S. government can support an insurgency, as it did against the pro-Russian government of Afghanistan in the early 1980s.

Even if the result is to leave Ukraine in ruins, it will bleed and destabilize Russia.

The problem, the panelists say, will be maintaining the will to wage economic war, psychological war and cyberwar for a period of years, and, for the Ukrainians and other front-line countries, to continue fighting and dying over the long term.

President Biden or some future president may prioritize his domestic agenda (i.e., the needs and wants of the unimportant American people) or the U.S. rivalry with China. That would be a problem, they say.

I can’t say their predictions are wrong.  I hate how comfortable and even pleased they are with the war, but as a description of the sad reality, they could be right.

But there are things they didn’t talk about.

One is that Russia is not alone.  It is part of an emerging anti-American alliance, whose center is China and which includes Iran and the other countries the U.S. has targeted for destruction.

If Ukraine is fighting as a proxy for the United States, Russia is a proxy for China.  Whatever the outcome of the conflict, the USA and Russia will be weaker and China will be stronger.

The war hawk panel contemplates total economic warfare, which, at the extreme, would be an embargo on Russian exports and a complete cutoff of Russia from the dollar-based international financial system.  This is a weapon that can only be used once.

The leaders of any nation who think their interests conflict with those of the United States will try to get out of the U.S.-dominated “rules based economic order,” in which they could be subject to crippling economic sanctions if they ever went against the USA.  

They would have every reason to migrate to the alternate economic order sponsored by China.

The panelists do not take the potential destructiveness of economic warfare into account.  Some European countries depend on Russia for oil and gas.  India depends on Russia for fertilizer.  I’m sure there are a lot of dependencies I don’t know about.  

Russia is closer to being self-sufficient than the USA, and the United States is closer to self-sufficiency than many of its allies.  So are the allies or even us Americans ready for total economic war over a period of years?   I doubt it.

The United States is bitterly divided politically and culturally.  There are Americans who talk seriously about the possibility of a new civil war Our economic has been hollowed out.  

A war might unite us, especially if it is short and victorious.  But we might crack if we are defeated or if we face a long, stalemate war.

Russia is in the same position.  Victory might unite the Russian people behind Putin, but defeat in war would threaten his political survival.  However, I think it’s unlikely Putin’s successor would be more to America’s liking than Putin.

The main overlooked danger is the danger of nuclear war.  

Putin has indicated that Russia would use nuclear weapons if Russia is attacked directly or threatened with attack.  He said in an interview in 2018:  “If someone decides to annihilate Russia, we have the legal right to respond.  Yes, it will be a catastrophe for humanity and for the world. But I’m a citizen of Russia and its head of state.  Why do we need a world without Russia in it?”  

He threatened “military-technical measures” if Ukraine joined NATO.   Ukraine became a de facto member of NATO, and he ordered the invasion of Ukraine.  He wasn’t bluffing then.  I don’t think you can assume he is bluffing now.  

So a long destructive new Cold War is not the worst that could happen.  The worst that could happen is the destruction of civilization as we know it.

What I wish for in Ukraine is a truce, followed by negotiations whose aim would be to find a way to (1) assure Russia that it will not be attacked by NATO, (2) assure the small countries formerly under Soviet rule that they will not be attacked by Russia and (3) assure the world it will not be threatened by nuclear war.

This would be hard to do, even with good will on all side.  But never say die.  That’s why I so frequently write “may” and “probably.”  I refuse to admit that all is lost.  


Follow the money: how Russia will bypass western economic sanctions by Pepe Escobar.

Some economic consequences of the Ukraine War by Jack Rasmus.

The Single Most Important Question in the World Right Now by Caitlin Johnstone.

Why Wouldn’t the U.S. Negotiate With Putin? by Michael Tracey.

Hat tip to Fred (Au Natural) for the video.


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One Response to “The war hawks’ view of the Ukraine situation”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    My own view of this is that Putin surrounded himself with yes men and then the last two years of isolation have left him disconnected from reality. I don’t believe he is thinking clearly. He completely misunderstood the situation on the ground in Ukraine or the intensity of the feelings of the post-1997 members of NATO. If not for the memories of Soviet occupation in the past, I think Western Europe would have given Putin a pass.

    I don’t believe there has ever been a force in the new member states capable of offensive operations against Russia and probably not enough to have stopped him conventionally if he attacked. The Baltics are essentially indefensible.


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