Thursday, January 29, 2015

Putin's Game In Ukraine

Nolan Petersen over at BlueForceTracker has a very sobering overview about what is happening in Ukraine that deserves a full read.
It has been like this in Ukraine for more than ten months. And it bores you. The words, “war in Ukraine,” mean nothing to you anymore. It’s a back page story that doesn’t scare you. It’s normal, expected and just a drowned-out voice in the chorus of world news. Those like me, who claim the war in Ukraine could turn into a world one, no longer frighten you. Nobody believes it could actually happen.

But there is going to be a war in Europe. In fact, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers are already dying in it. So what are we, the democratic nations of the world, going to do about it?
I am roughly in alignment with him, but I am not so much bored with Ukraine, as I have developed a detachment - almost like the puppy that puts its head under the couch, hoping that means you can see it.

I am detached as there is nothing I can do to move the needle, and even if I could - it won't make a difference.

Europe is tired, lazy, and distracted. What national security concerns it has are focused on the Islamist monster of its own creation, or Kabuki theater like putting AAW assets round a ground battle whose only air threat is a bunch of cargo helicopters dumping 55-gallon drums out of side doors on someone else. 

As for the USA, there simply is no leadership here to rally the West. It isn't here because they don't want to lead anyone.

Without American resolve, the European powers to whom it has become a crutch will not fill the void - and the few European nations who would in spirit, are too small in body.

Yes, in some ways it does smell of the mid 30s.
In 1935, as war clouds gathered in Europe, the great American author and war correspondent Ernest Hemingway wrote, “War is no longer made by simply analyzed economic forces if it ever was. War is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misrule.”

Does Hemingway’s 1935 assessment of Hitler and Mussolini apply to Putin as well?

Russia’s economy is stagnant and on the verge of recession. Putin’s fifteen years of trying to integrate Russia into the international community was reversed almost overnight with his takeover of Crimea and subversive war in eastern Ukraine.

So maybe Putin’s war in Ukraine is a shroud lowered over the eyes of the Russian people to blind them to his failures as president.

Or maybe there is another, much more terrifying possibility. Putin may see himself as a historical figure destined to rebuild the Russian empire, no matter what the cost.

The U.S. and Europe must have the courage to confront what must be done if Putin reveals himself as such. His references to Novorossiya and his famous lamentation that the collapse of the USSR was the “greatest geopolitical disaster” of the twentieth century should send chills down your spine.

Because if Putin’s wars are motivated by his personal ambition to secure a place in history, then no think-tank analysis, presidential finger wagging or wonky economic scheming can bring him to his knees.

In that terrible scenario, the only way to stop him is war.

The Spanish Civil War was the first great conflict between fascism, communism and Western democracies in the lead-up to World War II. It was perhaps a missed opportunity for the democratic nations of the world to put a stop to the imperial lust of Hitler and Mussolini.

Hemingway was in Spain to report on that war. He witnessed Italian and German fascist troops fighting there, and he sensed the larger conflict that was to come if the West did not stop the fascists then.

From Hemingway, speaking about the Spanish Civil War in 1938:

“But because it has gone on so long the people who do not have to go hungry, fight and die in it, get quite tired of the whole thing. They do not even want to hear about it. Perhaps these pictures will make it seem a little more real. Because these pictures are what you will look like if we let the next war come.”

For all its unknowns, the future rather predictably echoes the history that precedes it.
I am sorry Europe, and I am sorry world. You will just have to get along best as you can without us.

We twice voted for this - and the international community on a whole wanted us to - so bask in it. Nothing we can do about it - and odds are, in a couple more years, we will have lost almost all desire to. Winning and leadership are habits born of culture and habit - and they are intertwined. 

After a few cycles of ingratitude and tepid support from Europeans - do not be shocked when they call for it, the answer comes between meh & feh.

It didn't have to be this way - but it is. 

Sadly, unless a positive black swan come roosting in our pond, it only gets worse ... just like in the 30s.

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