That was the moment in the movie Chinatown when the detective confronts his adversary, and gets an answer he isn’t ready to comprehend… The rich and the powerful play by a different set of rules, which is how Jake Gittes might have summarized his meeting with Noah Cross, in order to reveal his own state of incredulity.
Let’s just take our own cognitive dissonance into account, concerning the war in Ukraine, or as McLuhan suggests, let’s study the effects, not of the movement of particles in space, in the manner of textbook physics, but the forms of energy which they countenance.
So this is the end of the Cold War. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, and it took thirty some years for the other shoe to drop. The corner in which Vlad Putin now lives was built by a few savvy politicians, but their policies were in no way decisive enough to bring this about, compared to what the response might have been if US intelligence had been aware what was going on, and if the [shared political will] resolve to bring this war to some conclusion, was in fact present in those who had control of the levers of power at the time. That is all for later musing.
The level of support on both sides in the various surrogate wars (Korea, Vietnam) varied, while the US held it’s own internal debate on the Limits of Power.. China entered the war in Korea, the US would not invade North Vietnam, and Vietnam and China fought their own war. In Ukraine the limits of American power have been greatly expanded.
There was a moment during the Bush 2 presidency when then DOD Secretary, Don Rumsfeld, pulled US troops back from the DMZ in Korea and President Bush admonished the people of Taiwan to accept reunification. Hence his moniker The Manchurian President… The Koreans, and the Chinese, were too smart to take the bait, perhaps, after Hussein was green-lighted to go ahead with his invasion of Kuwait by senior officials, after he had been misled into going to war with Iran in 1980. Green-lighted, Gas-lighted, often the same thing.
Putin is finding out that Ukraine is his roach motel. While the US pours lots of high tech weapons into that country. The Ukraine military is extracting a lopsided punishment on Russian troops, often conscripts. And while Trump was green-lighting Putin, the neoconservatives, and Joe Biden (same thing really, ask Victoria Nuland) were setting the trap, [or rather Trump was the inadvertent dupe in the matter] a trap conjured from Putin’s own insouciance regarding the waning power of the aging NATO alliance. [He bought the Trump line] Now he has to make nuclear threats to keep the West from escalating the war even a tiny bit. That kind of warfare is way asymmetrical against him.
What this portends easily enough is more US defense spending. Ukraine needs a refill on Javelin missiles, and importantly the kind of weapons that will help them in the next stage of the war, but our Intel has been all over this. Almost makes you proud of US resolve, and gulp, the DEEP STATE… The real question is what will be worse, Russia somehow extracting itself from Ukraine and Putin holding onto power, or the collapse of the current leadership, Russia being a pivotal supplier of various commodities. The last time the evil empire broke apart, the US was buying up weapons grade nuclear material on the black market to keep it from spreading to third world terrorist nations.
That probably isn’t the case here. What does Ukraine’s victory, (should it be construed as that) mean for other breakaway Republics with Democratic agendas?? Is the West going to be more willing to supply these regimes with the weapons they need? In those early days the CIA would plant a puppet government to project US values and then release the weapons and support. Now marginal regimes will need to create their own Democratic constitution, and demonstrate some powerful, freedom fighting images, like Zelensky, before the aid flows in their direction.
How how long can a strong authoritarian central government, like the one in Beijing survive, if North Korea accepts reunification under terms favorable to the government in Seoul? Or that situation devolved into war and we supply the right weapons to South Korea. It’s accurate to describe Taiwan as Beijing’s Ukraine. The degree of support Western nations are willing to provide, a pledge which was waning in the 2000s, might be swinging back in the other direct in the 2020s, which depends on the cohesion of the agreement between Neoconservatives and status quo Democrats [not progressives] in order to remain in control, or will the splinter group identified with Bush and Trump derail foreign policy.
In short how much stink will the insurgent Congress make about spending money to pummel Russia further down the smoking hole they have dug for themselves [if need be]…. We prefer regime change, but we aren’t using that term, yet. The axiom goes foreign policy never chooses a president, but perhaps that is because no president has had a clear victory to show since W2.
I don’t know who makes those Javelin missiles but I think I want a subscription to the franchise. It’s more than likely a going concern. Little countries see they no longer need fear their big bad neighbor, with a little help from their friends. Kurdistan may be next, a tribal corner of Turkey, Iran and Iraq, they have wanted sovereignty for a long while and they are oil rich, so there are deals to be made.
This is more to this that our foreign policy profiting off the tendency of central governments to dissolve in the modern age of instant communication, (while we manage our own tsunami wave of societal dispersion – blue voters taking over red states). This could be the new great political enlightenment, new Democracies are springing up all over the world, and revolution still comes out of the barrel of a gun, or anti-tank weapons, which are just the archetypal side dressing. These aren’t really wars.
This war in Ukraine is not a war at all. Russian troops are punishing civilian targets, avoiding military conflict, which the many many tanks were never meant to decide on the ground. Those tanks were only there for the artillery barrage, Putin’s version of urban redevelopment. To end this war the Ukrainians need to neutralize Russian artillery, but maybe the West has the right gadget in it’s toolbox. That success would carry over very well in the next third world brush fire. The Cold War is over and a spate of hotshots around the world, will likely flare up. If the GOP doesn’t get on the wagon they will end up under their own authoritarian wheels.
The next critical move is new government spending to answer the need where it exists. Will Trump and his Putin supporting contingent be able to direct traffic in the midterm elections? Or is the rubric of patriotism being ripped away from the GOP’s shallow vessel and being handed over to the statists; Republicans and Democrats who share consensus on geopolitical matters? The Trump insurrection is about a lot more than who has to weak a mask.
The US has shown incredible restraint, with the elections not far away. Bush 2 might never have been reelected, in 2004 but he had plunged the US into that war, and allowed Cheney and the Democrats to champion their odd couple coalition. John Kerry said “We can do Iraq better..” He was probably right but GOP voters pulled the lever for their VP as much as they did for him, when you’re ass deep in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your mission was to drain the swamp…. Trump later tried to blame the swamp. Good luck with that…