The encirclement of Russia by NATO (i.e. America) is ‘very roughly equivalent to having Russian forces in El Paso Tijuana, and Toronto’
BY FRED REED
Given that pushing a third of Americans are functionally illiterate or close, that twenty percent think that the sun revolves around the earth, and seventy percent cannot name the three branches of the federal government, it isn’t surprising that few have much idea of how the war in Ukraine came about. What does surprise is that so few of the intelligent and schooled have much more grasp. Many of these, friends, say that Putin tries to reconstitute the Soviet Union, that Russia is a threat to NATO, that Putin is (sigh) Hitler, and everything from inflation to falling hair is Putin’s fault. No.
Let’s look at things from the point of view of people who pay more attention:
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and Reagan promised Gorbachev that NATO would not move eastward. As a well-known Russian has said, the United States is not agreement capable. It soon began moving NATO eastward, increasing from thirteen countries in NATO to thirty today in an obvious military encirclement of Russia. In 2014 the US attempted a coup in Ukraine aimed at putting an American puppet in Kiev but it didn’t work and Russia retrieved the Crimea. For the next eight or so years NATO, meaning America, trained Ukrainian forces in preparation for the war we now have. This is well known to military analysts and students of eastern Europe.
During this time Russia said over and over and over and over that it wasn’t going to allow Ukraine in NATO, de facto or de jure. This would put American forces on Russia’s border and in Crimea, as well as American naval forces in Sebastopol. American hypersonic nuclear missiles would have been about five minutes of flight time from Moscow.
Look at a map. Note where the Ukraine and the Crimea are. Note that America was wooing Georgia for membership in NATO: More encirclement of Russia. And after Georgia, Azerbaijan, giving American forces access to the Caspian and Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Astrakhan in Russia, and the northern coast of Iran.
This would be very roughly equivalent to having Russian forces in El Paso Tijuana, and Toronto. Do you see why Russia wasn’t going to do this? Which Washington knew, but kept pushing. This gave Russia a choice between two very bad ideas. First, let the Ukraine into NATO, a great victory for Washington, or, second, fight, hoped to be an even greater victory. This was all well understood, calculated, and apparently led by Vicky the Newt Nuland of the State Department.
In Washington, sophisticated people of my acquaintance have never heard of any of this. It isn’t that they disagree, but that they just don’t know. The power of the media to control thought is astonishing.
Why does Washington keep this war going? The proximate answer—as what’s-his-Raytheon, the Secretary of Defense has put it—is to rope Russia into a long, debilitating war that would exhaust it, end it as a world power, and overthrow Vladimir Putin.
The gravy on this sirloin was that, or so it was hoped, it would firm up Washington’s control of Europe, make Europe buy more American costume-jewelry weaponry, force Europe to buy high-priced American LNG, and bring more countries, such as Sweden and Finland into NATO. Also, and here we come to the Big Picture, or part of it, the war would end Nordstream II forever.
Blocking the completion of Nordstream II, the Russian under-Baltic gas pipeline to Germany, has been a high-profile goal of American policy for years. How many Americans have heard of it?
Why block the pipeline? Because Asia is rising. Asia is rising fast. Not just China, but the whole shebang. China alone has four times the American population, superb universities, several times as many engineering grads annually, the world’s best civil engineering and, in addition to being almost every country’s largest trading partner, is the world’s largest market for almost everything. In many fields it is still behind America, but the gap closes. Washington knows this, and knew that the pipeline would tie Germany into the growing Eurasian ecosystem.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its plan to link all of Eurasia—not Asia, Eurasia—into one huge trading bloc, is working, or at least the connectivity is happening. Here we could name many of its new, recent, or underway rail links—China-Vientiane, Pakafuz, China-Mandalay, Lanzhou-Tashkent, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Jakarta-Bandung, the now-old Nairobi-Mombasa line. If Asian countries link up and develop commercially, they will dwarf the United States. So much for empire.
Washington has pushed Russia, China, and Iran together into a de facto alliance. This was stupid. The first rule of empire is “never let your enemies unite,” but the US, perhaps not realizing that this is no longer 1955, seems to believe that it can overcome all of them at once. Now India informally leans East, saying that it will trade with Russia, no comments from Washington needed. Trade corridors in Asia open apace, for example the INSTC, the International North-South Transport Corridor, sort of Mumbai-Chabahar-Azerbaijan-Russia. Don’t even think about China’s heavy commercial investment in Latin America and Africa.
Nordstream II was part of a growing connection between Asia and Germany that Washington could not allow. It didn’t, as blowing up the pipeline showed. This was done apparently by England on Washington’s orders. It illustrates American desperation to prevent Europe, a football being fought over by East and West, from engaging commercially with Asia.
The list of Asian advances in commerce, technology, and connectivity could go on for hundreds of pages, and has, in many books. The bottom line, as we say, is that Washington is looking down the barrel of a gun. It has to stop the growing integration of the rest of the world by any possible means as the days of American supremacy wane. The United States has, or may have, a narrow window of opportunity to maintain hegemony. The first step is to exhaust Russia with the current war and then move on to strangle China.
Can it do this? We shall see, but it seems unlikely. The US can compete with China neither in manufacturing nor in building infrastructure—rail lines, cities, ports—for countries around the world. At home it faces poor and declining education, huge trade deficits and national debt, growing poverty as Washington prioritizes its wars over its people, massive corruption, an evaporating technological lead, crime and social disintegration, and domestic disunity. The military with its vast network of bases around the world swallows resources that might alleviate some of the foregoing.
China’s main weaknesses, apart from the Straits of Malacca in a world war, are Taiwan and semiconductors. This Washington understands. The details of the “chip wars” are complex. In a nutshell, America either makes the machinery needed to manufacture semiconductors, or controls the countries that do—chiefly the company ASML in the Netherlands, TSMC in Taiwan, Tokyo Electron in Japan, and South Korea. It prohibits the sale of advanced ships to China. However, control over the main countries in the chip business arouses hostility since companies do not like losing a vast market to further Washington’s global ambitions. Pushback by the industry, including in America, grows.
Regarding Taiwan, Washington seems to be playing the same game it played with Ukraine. China has said, over and over and over and over, that Taiwan is part of China. Under the famous One China policy, which kept the peace for decades, the US agreed that Taiwan was Chinese and Beijing tacitly agreed not to invade. Now Washington is salami-slicing the One China doctrine out of existence, first sending Pelosi to Taipei, then Congressional delegations, then sending arms, and in general ignoring Chinese objections. These are intentional provocations aimed at making Taiwan a de facto independent state. Washington’s intense interest in Taiwan exists because Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest and most advanced chip fab, is there. America currently cannot make advanced chips. It’s greatest nightmare is that China might get control of TSMC.
This will eventually force China either to give up Taiwan, which it won’t, or fight. Washington will then, as in the Ukraine, accuse Beijing of starting the war, perhaps send the Navy to defend the island, and supply weapons so that the Chinese can kill each other. Here again the US seems to think we live in the Fifties and the Navy is a fearsome force that will intimidate Beijing. It isn’t. See here: “Pentagon, Chinese analysts agree US can’t win in Taiwan Strait.”
None of this is original with me, secret, or hard to find. It is, however, suppressed by the highly controlled American media. Few notice.
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FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”
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