Tap dancing into World War Z
The Ukraine war has morphed into a bloodthirsty crusade. A horrified world is inching closer to direct confrontation with Russia.
It has always been the policy of the Biden administration to sacrifice Ukraine to achieve the larger goal of staying out of World War III, while containing Putin’s expansionist urge. There are (at least) two problems with this. First, Putin is not running a nation, he’s running a crime syndicate welded to a fascist kleptocracy. Second, the world is not going to allow Ukraine to be sacrificed.
The Senate just unanimously resurrected a relic from World War II called “lend-lease.” In WWII, the U.S. gave the Soviet Union 400,000 jeeps & trucks, 14,000 aircraft, 8,000 tractors, 13,000 tanks, and tons of cotton, food, and petroleum to fight the Nazis. Now, our Congress wants President Biden to give “critical military equipment and other critical supplies” to Ukraine to fight the Russians. It isn’t as ironic as you think.
This political cartoon is flinging around the Internet and it sums up the current Russian mindset—apart from the “traitor” globalists who read western
propaganda news—toward the Ukraine war. Yes, it’s also offensive. I’m sorry, but I have to show it to you.
Russia rapes the Nazis, then falls in love, and since Naziism is largely eradicated from the planet, the “Z” baby has taken up its cause, with the Orwellian purpose of “de-Nazification.” Since many Russians believe that Ukraine is and has always been a part of Russia, the reason Ukraine doesn’t want to resume its natural place in the empire can’t be “Russia is terrible,” and “Ukraine wants to be a sovereign nation.” It must be Nazis. A lot of Russians believe this, and don’t see the problem with forcing Ukrainians to accept it—by killing them.
There’s a basic problem even with the illogic of Russian nationalist polemic. The Nazis were true believers in their cause. In WWII, the Heer—the German armed forces—were well-trained, well led, and equal in doctrine to pretty much any western army in the world. The Germans lacked mobility and mechanization, namely a large quantity of reliable trucks. America knew how to build deuce-and-a-halfs, jeeps, as reliable as the sunrise and designed to be transported by train or ship. What beat the Nazis was what the U.S. could do, which at the beginning was lend-lease.
The Russian military has never—with the notable exception of Zukhov—been well-led. This is on purpose. As a police state run by paranoid autocrats, no Russian or Soviet leader has ever trusted the military. A well-run, ordered and disciplined military is not an asset in Russia. It’s a threat. Putin considers the military a threat, which is why he let it remain infested with incompetent crooks, and in fact purged popular generals after each major offensive. To draw comparisons to Hitler, yes, Hitler also purged generals, but he kept the ones he needed.
In Ukraine, Biden’s strategy of sacrifice failed on Day 1, when Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “I don’t need a ride. I need ammunition!” Biden thought Ukraine should capitulate, and he can focus on NATO. Now, the world has a humanitarian crisis that’s turning into a Holocaust. Russians aren’t fighting to capture territory anymore. They are fighting to butcher Ukrainians. The world will not accept it; even China is quietly distancing itself.
NATO has been flying E-3A surveillance flights near the Russian and Ukrainian borders, “seeing” well into the battle area. We know what’s going on, way more than the news (and yes, some propaganda) that’s flowing out of Kyiv. We know what kinds of weapons will beat the Russians and who it required to operate them. We know that the more the battle shifts to the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, the more atrocities we will see.
With lend-lease, we’ve taken a step toward direct engagement with Russia. Russia is already facing American-made weapons, fired by American-trained Ukrainian troops, some of whom are American volunteers. As the empty coffins pile up in Russia (Putin hasn’t bothered collecting his own dead troops remains), many rural Russians will not turn away from war, they will lean in to “Z”.
We think we can sanction away the war by putting pressure on Putin and his oligarchs. Maybe we can, but I don’t think it will have the outcome we expect. Russia has plenty of tanks it can refurbish and press into service. It may lose the “special military operation” in Ukraine, but it will not give up territory. As we press into lend-lease, we will surely tiptoe closer and closer to open war. Russians will react seeking vengeance, with more brutality and more killing.
The Russians will keep pouring men and materiel into Ukraine, also through Belarus. Eventually, someone will step over the line. More atrocities will pile up, and governments will demand something be done. NATO will expand, and the U.S. will be looked to as the productive powerhouse of the world once again.
Where does it go from there? Will Russia look to some kind of “Pearl Harbor” knockout against the U.S. or our allies? Will they pop a low-yield tactical nuke, in an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy? Will a NATO member draw us in with a casus belli from Russia against their own forces? There’s a million scenarios, but all of them end up confronting the Biden administration with a failure of the original intent. We will not be permitted to sacrifice the Ukrainian people, as they are wholesale slaughtered with America dumping more weapons into the war. Americans won’t stand by an witness another Holocaust (we did stand by and witness the original, didn’t we?) in real-time, tweet-by-bloody-tweet.
Biden will be forced to action. It might be something very small, because, yes, we ought not to charge into nuclear territory. However, we also should not give a nuclear armed nation a pass to simply do whatever it wants and commit crimes against humanity. The signal that would send to North Korea, China, and even Iran (who is close) are chilling to think about.
It really doesn’t matter how restrained President Biden is right now. Of course, it’s good—great—that he pulled the West together on crippling sanctions, and is now doubling down on those. Sanctions won’t stop the “Z” because this is no longer a rational issue of statecraft or extension of policy. This war is a bloodthirsty crusade, and telling Americans, and the world, to prepare for years of barbarism while we watch in growing horror won’t fly.
We will start with lend-lease, and then tap-dance ourselves into war. Best to prepare for it now.
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Every day through tears I ask “ how much longer, how many more dead before the civilized world screams ENOUGH? And every day there are more atrocities and war crimes and feckless leaders doing nothing to stop the mad man in the Kremlin. I don’t want to see us go to war but reason tells me if we allow this to continue Putin will venture into other countries. Please make this stop.
I get that it's a reflex to blame Biden: let's take a wider eye to the full history and actions of all involved, the mistakes made in the past, and of course what can/should be done going forward.
The assessment regarding how fast Ukraine would fall was solely based on size and technical capabilities of the armies: the poor state of the Russian Army's soldiers/equipement, and the "will to fight" that is present in Ukraine (and absent in Afghanistan) were unknown and in regards to the "will to fight" extremely difficult/impossible to quantify as it's an intangible thing. The will to fight helps explain the difference between expectations/assessments and reality for Afghanistan's and Ukraine's respective performances.
I'm not sure if this is revisionist or accurate, but Obama recently stated that he tried to get the EU/NATO to enact sanctions after Crimea: granted those were limited to the Crimea and not Russia as a whole, but the story itself speaks to the wider Western world ignoring the issue.
The US has been training and equipping Ukraine since the 2014 invasion. The Ukrainian military has evolved from a Soviet-style military to a modern, professional one: that's allowed them to perform so well thus far. If the plan was to sacrifice Ukraine, then why train and equip them?
It has been the US's policy during/since the Cold War to avoid getting into a direct shooting war with Russia. If the goal is to avoid direct engagement with Russia, then re-equipping the Ukrainians is the best move as it's going to be a war of attrition: and Russia, while having more resources at the moment, will be unable to reproduce the lost equipment/soldiers due to the sanctions - 'cause Russia relies on Western technology and machinery.