Tuesday 5 March 2024

Unintended Consequences.

The Basilisk’s Glare: From his eyrie in the Kremlin, Putin’s eyes remain fixed upon the United States. Not in fear does he gaze upon the world’s unconquerable continental Goliath, but with rising hope. In President Biden’s palsied hand, the sword of freedom is loosely held. Meanwhile, from the heartland of the continent, the people America has left behind are steadily pushing their comb-over Moses towards Washington.

TWO YEARS AGO, when Vladimir Putin sent his armed forces across Ukraine’s borders, he was expecting a quick war. His generals had reassured him that the Ukrainians wouldn’t fight, Nato would sit on its hands, and his soldiers would be welcomed with kisses and flowers. Kyiv, they told him, would be his within three weeks – tops.

Putin’s advice was ill-founded in every respect. The Ukrainians did fight – and are still fighting. Nato, far from sitting on its hands, has backed the Ukrainian war effort with massive quantities of munitions and economic aid.

Everything short of unleashing Nato’s own forces against the Russian invaders has been thrown into this war in Eastern Europe. More important, at least from Putin’s perspective, Nato has expanded.

Daunted by Russia’s naked aggression, and its disdain for international law, Sweden has abandoned 200 years of neutrality for Nato membership, Finland has done the same. Nato navies now control the Baltic from Copenhagen to Helsinki. And Russia has given itself an additional 1,200 kilometres of “hostile” borders to patrol. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: From the Gulf of Riga to the Black Sea, all the ancient nations of Europe are gathered behind Nato’s security guarantee – its tripwire for Armageddon.

And yet, from his eyrie in the Kremlin, Putin’s eyes remain fixed upon the United States. Not in fear does he gaze upon the world’s unconquerable continental Goliath, but with rising hope. In President Biden’s palsied hand, the sword of freedom is loosely held. Meanwhile, from the heartland of the continent, the people America has left behind are steadily pushing their comb-over Moses towards Washington.

Donald Trump’s army is distinguished not only by its enormity, but by its indifference to the rest of the world’s troubles. “Beware of foreign entanglements”, warned their first President, George Washington, and Trump’s followers are ill-disposed to gainsay their founding father.

“Why should we defend the borders of Ukraine”, they demand to know, “when Biden refuses to defend his own from hordes of illegal immigrants?” Sufficient unto the day are the troubles of these “deplorable” Americans.

“Make America Great Again” is embroidered on their headgear, but the greatness they invoke is not the greatness of the American military cornucopia that supplied the Red Army with the wherewithal to defeat Hitler’s invasion. With the food that fed them, the boots in which they marched to battle, and the heavy trucks that carried their ordnance across the limitless East-European Plain – all the way to Berlin.

Nor is it the greatness that saw America garrison Europe with its own sons: those young soldiers who stared down their Soviet opposite numbers across the narrow defiles of innumerable Checkpoint Charlies, all along the Iron Curtain, for the four frigid decades of the Cold War.

No, the greatness Trump seeks to restore is the greatness of White America. The America that looks right through Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and all the other vibrant elements of the great American melting-pot – as if they don’t exist. The greatness of Christian America which, in spite of invoking “Jesus!” at every turn, conducts itself as though the New Testament does not exist. Trump’s people are seeking the greatness they passionately believe can be theirs only by putting “America First!” – and the rest of the world dead last.

In the hands of these Americans, Putin is placing all his hopes. And yet, even if Trump wins the presidency and, to the cheers of his followers, tells Nato to go to hell, Putin’s dreams of a de-fanged Europe may still not come to pass.

Even without the United States, Europe constitutes an unanswerable challenge to Russia’s imperial dreams. Half-a-billion strong, possessed of a technological and industrial prowess that far exceeds the Russian Federation’s, the nations of Europe have the capacity to become, in very short order, a truly formidable military power. Two of its nations (the UK and France) already possess nuclear weapons, Germany could easily become Europe’s third.

Are these, the unintended consequences of his geopolitical hubris, truly the outcomes Putin was anticipating when, on 24 February 2022, his armies shattered the hard-won peace of Europe? An enlarged Nato, Germany furiously re-arming, and the Poles dreaming of once again rescuing Europe from eastern invaders, just as John III Sobieski did outside the gates of Vienna in 1683.

The West is not beaten yet.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 1 March 2024.


LittleKeith said...

I definitely think Putin guessed the US's political system so fractious their attention span would not last long and sure enough, 18 months was it. And how much has he bank rolled his good friend Donald?

He also guessed that Europe would not want to expand their military budgets and that they would falsely hope the US would continue to backstop their armed forces and true to form, Europe has been caught napping. Their dream of ending car ownership and suppression of the populations ability to move freely in the name of climate change religion, amidst a hundred other controlling measures, has blinded them to their old foe to the east.

I think the realisation came to Europe just last month as the US 60 billion dollar aid package to Ukraine, to be approved by congress stalled under speaker Michael Johnson via instruction of non anything member, Donald Trump. Realisation maybe, action, not so much?

Right now the staple diet of any half decent war, the 155mm artillery shell is in excruciatingly short supply and hotter on the market than anything globally including bitcoin and pointless hollow carbon credits. A per unit price going from around US $1000 pre war to over $5000. Ukraine simply do not have the hardware to kill enough Russian's with their cheap manpower that are virtual suicide squads. The kill ratio between the two combatants is obscenely in Ukraine's favour and yet they have to meter their meagre supplies of shells to something like 1 vs 5 to 8 of Russia's combo of dud aging North Korean shells and their own production.

Putin has miscalculated repeatedly but he also knew Europes deep bureaucracy, love of peace and dedication to the climate change fiction would assist his empire aspirations greatly, so unless Europe stand up their ammunition supplies very rapidly and throw the industrial (polluting) war production throttles wide open, Poland, Moldova, Hungary and the 3 Baltic states (who do get it), etc are about 6 - 8 months away from getting a new very violent neighbour already on a war footing accompanied by a hellish refugee problem that will render completely insignificant anything Europe has had to deal with since WW2. I think this has finally finally dawned on France just last week.

But for Europe as a whole, all bets are off if they cannot translate empty politicians words into blood and iron, real quick! Ukraine are holding on but only just. Time is no longer the EU's friend and the US isn't coming back!

Ray said...

"In President Biden’s palsied hand, the sword of freedom is loosely held."

This is a hell of a sentence, pithy and true, poetic.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many lose control of themselves when considering America? It is flypaper as a subject to bloviators and esp those of the Left who overestimate their own understanding. Is NZ too small for the big thoughts of these? Does it bore mighty minds fond of their own opinions? A cow has several stomachs and uses them all to turn the grass into flesh or milk - ignorant opining is using predigested American media lies, the tainted grass of others to produce noxious gas and output of no use to this country.
Who or what a person of this kind hates is all you really have to know about them.

Larry Mitchell said...

Europe has a border with Russia that it is bound to defend. No nice to haves ... no ifs or buts ... just sheer confrontational "don't step over the line" strategies that will give Putin pause.

However ... support from The West .. including the US with armed forces within Ukraine ... to foot it with Russia ... may be just around the corner ... really just an incremental creep from the current lobbing of rockets two and fro.

A huge step though nonetheless ... a step that the collective opposition to Russias encroachment are having to contemplate.

Lessons of ...appeasement... history tell us, comes with the need for the Free World to put its money ... and troops in harms way.

Now that! is the stuff Putin " gets". Forget his "don't you dare" ... poker hand.

Kumara Republic said...

MAGA is the latest in a long pipeline of darkness that's dogged America from its earliest days:

Slavery => Confederacy => KKK => Jim Crow => America First v1 => Southern Strategy => "Welfare queens" => MAGA/ QAnon/ America First v2

Some historians say the American Civil War never really ended, it just went cold for a century & a half while the defeated side fostered its own stab-in-the-back myth, the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy".

Anonymous said...

Rip Van Winkle
Wake up ! Twenty years has gone by! The world has changed
Your heroes are leaving ,quietly in the night. The mighty ship of State(s) has left the dock and is being sunk in the open sea.What began as a trickle is becoming a torrent
Nuland, the architect of the Ukrainian adventure has resigned.Her replacement is John Bass ,he who was in charge of the humiliating retreat from Afghanistan

new view said...

The biggest issue that both Ukraine and Russia's leaders have is the dead. For Russia it's the diminishing popularity of Putin if the losses continue, although there will always be more conscripts. In the Ukraine it is simply running out of young soldiers happy to die for their country. I agree with Chris. It is hard to envisage the UN pulling out and letting Russia take Ukraine. Apart from Belarus, most countries that were part of the old Soviet Bloc and now independent, will be wary of Russia's aggressive action against the Ukraine. No doubt Putin will be hoping for a Trump win in the pending elections, and with the change in the presidency a stop in the money train to the Ukraine, but I believe Europe will fill the gap then hope for US contributions later. Talk from France that UN troops are an option has had the expected reaction from Putin. Would he be prepared to go down in a nuclear war with Europe, possibly, would his generals let him do this, who would know, but that move would be irrational indeed. I believe Chris is correct in that Putin never imagined he would be in this position regardless of his recent win taking Avdiivka. To the public and media he remains confident, but can he be.

CXH said...

Once Putin's advance was stopped the West promised a quick end and defeat of Russia. Years later it is still going on. The rich making billions from selling arms. The poor paying for it with taxes. The Ukrainians getting ground up. Perhaps we needed some adults in the room at the beginning, instead we had cheerleaders with no skin in the game, but money to make.

As for -' The America that looks right through Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and all the other vibrant elements of the great American melting-pot' - I see such comments often. Yet how does this explain his high level of support among Hispanics and other colours. It doesn't, but it is easy to paint Trump as some white supremacist than look into why he has support.

Shane McDowall said...

In August 1914, the German chancellor and his generals thought they were going to win a short war. That did not work out too well.

The Americans did motorise and feed the Red Army, but the Soviets had thrown back the German army from the gates of Moscow in December 1941 with very little aid from the West.

To think the British could afford to send tanks and fighter aircraft to the USSR while sending third rate aircraft ( and not enough of those) and no tanks to Singapore. Churchill frittered away 150 tanks and two infantry divisions in Greece. These forces could have ejected the Italians from Libya before Rommel arrived. The Royal Navy suffered crippling losses supporting/evacuating Greece and Crete.

To think Freyberg cops the blame for Churchill's military dilettantism.

Singapore: Gibraltar of the East. Built a great big naval base and several airfields which proved of more use to the Japanese than the British.

Anyone even thinking of even joining a sub-branch of AUKUS should remember Singapore in 1942.

Politically Homeless Commie Weirdo said...

You haven't followed this story, have you, Chris? Tells. You might want to check out The Duran and The New Atlas, both available on Youtube. They'll tell you what actually happened, and what is now actually happening. I'll give you a clue. Pretty much everything you wrote in this column is wrong.

RedBeach said...

I generally like your work but this is a piece of pusillanimous claptrap. One would think you had only been reading the Herald and watching tv news the last couple of years
It is hard to know where to start in discussing this, unless it was meant as satire or fantasy.
Just one example:for a start the Russian forces at the onset of the war were numerically much smaller than Ukraine's NATO trained forces. They achieved the objective of bringing Zelensky to the negotiating table. Erdogan and the the Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, that in the talks in Turkiye there was an Initialled agreement on the table about safeguarding the Russian speakers in the Donbas and the neutral status of the Ukraine - out of NATO.
Borisov Johnson was sent down as the message boy to tell Zelensky to keep on fighting and the West would give him whatever he needed - if he signed he was on his own. One of his negotiators was assassinated by the neo-Nazi elements that had also previously threatened to hang him in the main square of Kiev if he attempted to placate the Russians so he knew his neck was on the line.
At Erdegon and Bennett's urging Putin withdrew his troops from Kiev as a goodwill gesture (40,000 troops was never a serious number to take a city the size of Kiev ) . This was subsequently played up as a great Ukraine victory.
An agreement could have been reached in March 2022. Since then this has been NATO's war and to no great surprise they lack the logistical base to maintain it. This is a result of believing their own narrative that Russia had a third rate economy that was going to collapse at the first round of sanctions.
Check out The Duran, Chris. Also:
Moon of Alabama, Dances with Bears,
Judge Napolitano, Consortium News,
Larry Johnson, Douglas MacGregor, John Mearshiemer, Scott Ritter, Andrei Martyanov,Jacques Baud, the Postil website to name a few of the sources that might enlarge your perspective.

Brendan McNeill said...


Some facts.

“The greatness of white America”

It appears that Blacks or ‘people of colour’ fared much better economically under the Trump administration and Hispanics in particular voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

“America first”

Surely it’s the duty of any political leader to put the interests of their citizens first? Anything else might be considered treasonous?

None of us can look inside the mind of Putin to fully understand his motives. What is clear however is that America installed twelve CIA spy bases on the Ukraine / Russian border prior to the Russian invasion. How would America respond to China installing the equivalent number of spy bases on the Mexican side of the US border?

Notwithstanding billions of dollars spent on US military support for Ukraine, this is a war they simply cannot win. Perhaps Russia cannot win it either, but Ukraine surely cannot. It doesn’t have the human resources to compete with the size of Russia in what has been a conventional war until the present time.

NATO’s entry into the war would be madness. The best option is a negotiated peace solution that was on the table early in the conflict but Boris Johnson flew to Kiev to scupper the deal. Someone mentioned the need for adults in the room in previous comments. It appears they are in short supply.

David Stone said...

@ Politically Homeless Commie Weirdo
He should also check out Judging Freedom's interviews of Alastair Crooke , Scott Ritter , Douglas Macgregor , Geoffrey Sachs et al.
I would also be interested to read transcripts of the advice Chris claims Putin's generals provided at the start of this action.
My impression of Putin is that he has a complete understanding of his situation and what to expect from the Western World.
I also think he will do exactly what he says he will do which does not include taking over the whole of Ukraine let alone any more of Europe. I do see though that by the MSM on behalf of Western Politicians wanting to establish the idea that that is his intention so that when he has secured for their Russian speaking regions their security and absorbed the Donbas and the other regions adjacent to Russia that have voted to Join Russia , they can claim that in some way he has failed because he did not take the whole of Ukraine .

Anonymous said...

"The Basilisk's Glare" ? Where on earth did this come from? What a bizarre characterisation of Putin.

We have family and extended family connections in that part of the world. The consensus in this household is that the entire post reads like fiction, the sort of thing Western MSM and Bellingcat would publish.

"His generals had reassured him...."
Not only did the narrative described here not happen, it could not have happened, given the situation at the time. It surely helps to be able to speak and read Russian, but even so, there were and are English-language news sources which have since 2014 been reporting on events in the Donbass. During those terrible years, even the RO church in NZ was sending aid to the people so very badly affected by the Kiev régime's war on them.

I'm an old Lefty. It's a puzzle to me that a piece like this would be published on what purports to be a left-wing blog site. It's the sort of thing I'd have expected to see on the now-defunct Whaleoil site, or on some other right-wing outlet.

David Stone: "My impression of Putin is that he has a complete understanding of his situation and what to expect from the Western World."

I agree with this, along with the rest of your comment. The Russian government has finally had the scales ripped from its eyes with regard to Western perfidy. The days of good-faith negotiations - on the part of Russia at least - are over.

In this household, there's been debate about whether Russia should have moved in 2014 to defend the Donbass. It did not, and my view is that, had it done so, it would have been in much the same situation as it now is, vis-à-vis NATO and the US, but possibly with fewer resources.

In any event, the Donbass, along with some other areas, has voted, not just for independence, but to return to Russia, whence they came, of course, a bit over a century ago. Russia now has its land bridge to the Crimea; I hope that it will take back the Odessa region as well. Odessa - that most Russian of cities, I've seen it described - was a late relative's favourite city in the Ukraine. It belongs in Russia, not in the Ukraine.

Anonymous said...

Your comments call to mind the words of a Ukrainian friend of mine talking about Odessa. Referring to the government in Kyiv and its supporters, she told me:
"They think that Odessa is their's, but really it is our city - it belongs to us.
Setting aside Western perfidity, part of the tragedy of this current war in Ukraine, is that in many ways it ressembles a civil war. It is instructive to examine recent voting patterns to the east of the Dnipr, as to where many Ukrainians place their confidence.