It’s like ‘Elizabethan bear-baiting’: ‘Russia can’t win because even if it wins, it loses’
BY FRED REED
Today, disordered thoughts on a world allowing no other kind. We have yet another war. Always we have another war. Lousy medical care, decaying schools, but another war. Is that disordered or what? We see consequences of a government with the instincts of a menopausing wolverine but not the intelligence. We are doomed.
Ok, ok, after this I am never going to write about the Ukraine again. I promise. Or sort of promise, mostly at least. But in the Reed-Gonzalez household with Washington apparently intending to stretch the fighting out as long as possible, it is beginning to look like a generational international Super Bowl. What will happen? Will the world decently blow up? Will the bombing go on forever? Or maybe eventually come down to the two-minute warning and Tom Brady, in his early sixties, drops back and….
Hordes of people are writing that the war is the most historically gaudy, galacto-determinative, watershed sort of thing since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Well, yeah. Even a congressman could probably figure this out, at least with encouragement and some hints. But isn’t it the smartest bit of geopolitical jujitsu since who knows when?
I thought the first rule of strategy was to give the other guy only bad choices. So somebody smart at State (I know, I know, but weirder things have happened. Probably in Transylvania.) said Let’s push NATO into the Ukraine, and then Putin will have to surrender, a great victory for America, or start a war that he can’t win. And that too would be a great victory for America.
Russia can’t win because even if it wins, it loses. I mean, what are the possible outcomes? Well, Russia could conquer the entire country, and all of the American-controlled world would hate Russia like poison and leave the sanctions in place while smuggling arms to the resistance to suck Russia into a Slavic Vietnam. A victory for Washington. Russia could withdraw entirely, with NATO probably moving in behind, sanctions still in place, a victory for Washington. Or it could do something else, with the same results.
At the moment it looks as if the Yankee Capital gives Putin a choice of invading the cities in bloody street-by-street fighting, a victory for Washington, or face a lengthening war with increasing shipments of armaments to the Ukies, also a victory for Washington.
Even juicier, from Washington’s point of view, commercial integration of Europe and Asia will be stopped, or at least slowed, which is what the war is about.
Am I missing something? Probably. I’m just some mutt in west-central Mexico with a computer. People way smarter that I am say that the Ukraine thing is a great success for the Global South, the beginning of the dissolution of American hegemony. Well, maybe, but I figure if you believe this you must own several bridges.
Meanwhile, Washington sits back and laughs. It’s like Elizabethan bear-baiting: Have the bear tied down so it can’t really fight, and watch the dogs slowly tear it apart. For Washington, what’s not to like? They’ve got the Ruskies and Ukies doing the dying, the Ukies having their cities blown up and people starved, and Russia having its economy wrecked. Europe loses the minor amount of sovereignty it had, loses lucrative trade with Russia, and becomes yet more dependent on the Great White Father on the Potomac.
And of course, Biden gets a victorious war to distract attention from his catastrophic incompetence. He does good Sincerity and pretty good Sternness, and these, along with his war, make him just like Churchill. In time for the midterms. Brilliant.
It is customary to say that the wily Chinese play chess while America plays checkers. This time, I figure America plays chess while Russia plays hopscotch. I mean, somebody tell me: How is Russia going to come out of this better than when it went in?
Among pointy-headed intellectuals, the Ukrainian adventure will one day be played as a conflict of leviathans, of large international forces in titanic struggle on a darkling plain, maybe even a clash of civilizations, but it is nothing of the sort. The war is the work of a small number of people, such as Tony Blinken and Victoria Nuland Kagan at State, doubtless Pompeo and Bolton barking from under the sofa and of course Biden the Occasionally Conscious. Congress will make fierce noises with an eye to reelection and try to look like a deliberative body.
It isn’t. If you asked the entire lot what countries border the Black Sea, a few might know. The statistical centerline for Congress is a mediocre shyster from the second district of Nebraska, a watermelon-farming region, whose chief political interest is insecticide legislation. He doesn’t know whether Sulawesi is north or south of Lukashenko. In fact congressmen don’t read the thousand-page legislative goody baskets they vote on. You could include a paragraph ordering that the Navy nuke a major American city on the third Friday of each month and nobody would notice.
The media? I have never seen such a gush of unembarrassed bullshit as this war is producing. The first rule of television, being used to the hilt, is to get a woman to cry and fill the frame as this pulls at instinctual strings anchored deep in limbic recesses. Next, work the children, the children, the children and their sufferings, which has the same effect. Of course without the Blinkokagans and the Pompeoboltons in the shadows behind them, there would be no war and no suffering children but the rule in politics is ignore the mind, squeeze the glands.
It is a war of contrived reality. Early on, Violeta saw video purportedly of a Russian tank rolling over an occupied Ukrainian car and crushing those within. Why, she wondered, didn’t this Russian tank look like all the other Russian tanks she proceeded to look for? Maybe it was an idiosyncratic tank, with a streak of individualism? Russian tanks were green with unit markings, the Ukie tanks being black without unit markings. The crushing tank was black without unit markings. Perhaps it was a Russian tank in disguise, maybe on an undercover mission.
Vi has a powerful memory for images and swears that many devastated buildings presented as due to Russian artillery are in fact in Russian enclaves that Russians would not hit. On maybe CBS—anyway an American outlet—we saw that Russia is threatening to leave an American astronaut stranded in the international Space Station, utterly bogus and the station had to know it.
The Americans are winning the twaddle war hands down. To control the people, control their screens. We watch in Spanish Telemundo from Mexico, DW from Germany, Euronews, France24 from France, and Univision, none showing independence of Washington. We did watch RT, the Russian video outlet, until YouTube, meaning Washington, banned it. Why a quasi-governmental American entity has the right to decide what Mexicans can see is not something that springs to the mind. (RT Live can still be found at VK.com and RT.com, the print version, is still up, at least in Mexico. If you want the Chinese governmental point of view, globaltimes.com is it.)
Now for cosmic thought. (FOE is that sort of column.) So: the question is what the US will do next and what the world will do about it. Is Washington going to do with Taiwan what it has done with the Ukraine, provoke a war while it still has hopes of winning? Can anyone restrain Washington?
Not easily. America, it turns out, can cut countries off from the international banking system (Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and part, so far, of Russia). It can confiscate national reserves (of Venezuela by England, the most submissive of its poodles, of Afghanistan; and now of Russia. It can cut countries off from semiconductors (China and Russia). It now seems that it can decide what countries are allowed to see what online. And it can largely dictate the foreign policy of the vassals as if they were trained mice.
Can the world do anything about this? Will China, Russia, and the EAEU actually come up with a SWIFT alternative? Or just talk, talk, talk. If so, will the BRICS pile on, the Global South en masse? Will the A-A-rabs accept yuan? Or will the US be the uncontested hegemon, sacking the globe in an orgy of plunderment and corruption? Stay tuned, boys and girls, for the next exciting episode….
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.”
Hardboiled is back! (The exclamation point is to arouse wild enthusiasm int the reader, a boiling literary lust.) Gritty crime fiction by longtime police reporter for the Washington Times, who knows the police from nine years of riding with them. Guaranteed free of white wine and cheese, sensitivity, or social justice.