The migrants at the Belarusian border are pawns in a wicked and heartless ruse. Russian troops are massing on Ukraine’s border. What is Putin trying to do?
This 2014 essay from Walter Russell Mead is worth a re-read.
Mead’s take is spot on. Mead explains,
“ What Obama’s belief in the possibility of deals with countries like Russia and Iran leaves out is that some countries around the world may count the reduction of American power and prestige among their vital interests. They may not be hampering and thwarting us because we are unnecessarily and arbitrarily blocking their path toward a reasonable goal; they may be hampering and frustrating us because curbing our power is one of their central objectives…American power is not a good thing if you hate the post-Cold War status quo, and it can make sense to sacrifice the advantages of a particular compromise with the United States if as a result you can reduce America’s ability to interfere with your broader goals...
When Ukraine escaped from the Soviet Union in 1990, Soviet nukes from the Cold War were still stationed on Ukrainian territory. After a lot of negotiation, Ukraine agreed to return those nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for what (perhaps naively) its leaders at the time thought would be solid security guarantees from the United States and the United Kingdom. The “Budapest Memorandum” as this agreement is called, does not in fact require the United States to do very much. We can leave Ukraine twisting in the wind without breaking our limited formal obligations under the pact.
If President Obama does this, however, and Ukraine ends up losing chunks of territory to Russia, it is pretty much the end of a rational case for non-proliferation in many countries around the world. If Ukraine still had its nukes, it would probably still have Crimea. It gave up its nukes, got worthless paper guarantees, and also got an invasion from a more powerful and nuclear neighbor.“
Who were the biggest advocates for the Budapest Memorandum? Globalists in the United States and the United Kingdom that’s who. Ukraine’s fate was sealed the moment that agreement was signed. The American and British gift to Russia was enormous.
To quote Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again.
Do globalists ever get anything right?
A storm is brewing and the Biden Administration believes that they can head it off by huffing, puffing, gesticulating and making strong pronouncements.
It’s not just Ukraine. We’re witnessing disturbing tidings in Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. Then there’s Poland and Belarus.
Has anyone considered the possibility that a Russian invasion of Ukraine might be the perfect time for China to move against Taiwan?
Biden and Blinken seem to think that the United States is so powerful that merely by suggesting that the American commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine is “ironclad”that words alone are sufficient to deter Russia. They seem to think that the same empty assurances are enough to deter China. Of course, they’re wrong.
The post World War order is finito. Stick a fork in it. It’s done. The rules-based world that prevailed so recently is like an aged man, a paltry thing upon a stick.
Globalists need to wake up and realize that it’s the ideology that they hold so dear that’s responsible for the collapse of the world-order who’s demise they lament. Trump, in his own buffoonish way, recognized that the coalition that ruled the world since the end of the Cold War was in extremis and needed to be replaced by something else.
Biden and his globalist ilk act like the United States (with its ailing allies who won the Cold War-Western Europe and Japan) are as powerful as ever. If only it were so.
Historians will spend generations debating who destroyed the liberal order that prevailed after the demise of the Soviet Union, but those of us living in the here and now already know the answer. The blame lies firmly in the laps of globalists (whether of the neoconservative or liberal internationalist variety) and the neoliberal economic policies championed by those globalists.
It’s time for globalists to admit that the world is reaping what they have sown.
Excellnt and interesting read. I fear the US is too deep in its cups to be of much use to Ukraine and Europe. Biden will play at it, but hasn't the chops to do anything serious. The Republicans are far too Trumpian to give a rip, on balance.
Again I say: one could be forgiven for thinking we might be on the verge of The Great War.
What Putin is doing seems clear enough. He's moving to emasculate and humiliate Biden-Harris--zir don't have the grace to know embarrassment, much less humiliation, but that doesn't matter; Europe will see it clearly enough--as a step toward isolating Europe and the US from each other.
Poland-Belarus is only a distraction at this point, a shaping of the battlefield for future reference. He'll make his move into Ukraine and the Baltics in his good time, but not until after he's frozen (perhaps literally) Europe by denying them oil and gas, which freeze will become especially available once Nordstream 2 is up and running, cementing Europe's dependency on Putin's good offices for their welfare. Those good offices have and will have nothing to do with his good nature.
Given Germany's decision not to bother with its own defense (see their military's OR rate, which is worse than the USSR's ever was) much less play a serious role in Europe's collective defense (see their decision to welch, again, on their own commitment to fund NATO), the energy blackmail will have the EU begging for mercy and accepting Russian reoccupation of Ukraine and the Baltics.
Meantime, Biden-Harris will satisfy zirselves with having zir UN ambassador emit a series of sternly worded press releases.
Regarding the Belorus portion of the Poland-Belorus distraction, there's a fair amount of personal friction and mutual extortion, such as it is, between Putin and Lukashenko, but once the dust settles (my estimate is that Putin sees late 2024 as a potentially serious deadline), Lukashenko will suffer a brief series of unfortunate events that will remove him from office.
I am happy that the Globalist has published this piece as I have wanted to debate this subject for a long time as I have some pretty sharp disagreement with Monique, Toomas, and other Globalists on this subject. First the only way the EU can reduce the ability for Russia to blackmail them is by a either a complete or massive reduction on there dependence on Russia for natural gas. It is not relevant whether the gas comes through Ukraine or Nordstream 2(something I disagree with Monique on strenuously) Europe needs to go off Russian gas cold turkey. Ironically the country with the most success in doing this is France but France has used this success to further it’s own autonomy in foreign policy i.e. France is more interested in sitting at the grown-ups table with the US, Russia, and China than being the oldest kid at the kid’s table with the Ukraine’s and Poland’s.
In terms of the mandatory sanctions against NordStream 2 that Monique is a big fan of I am not sure what the effect would be. One possibility is at this point there would be purely symbolic given construction of the pipeline is complete essentially closing the barn door after the horse is left. Could the sanctions be re-interpreted as trying to sanction entities from “using” the pipeline once it is operational perhaps, but I think would be an interpretation none of the parties involved would like to see happen. It is quite imaginable that in a shortage situation there would be enormous public pressure in Europe on govts and companies to “bust” the US sanctions which in turn would put both the US Congress in a Biden in a difficult position as to whether to engage in escalation dominance or to backdown in defeat. This could very well lead to the end of NATO and people like France’s Macron even to the extent they might be unaffected politically will use the situation to try to further there longstanding goal of more French and European foreign policy autonomy. Even some of the more pro American foreign policy thinkers in France like Bruno Tertrais and Francois Heisbourg now praise France’s refusal to sign the Budapest Memorandum guaranteeing Ukraine’s independence for giving up nuclear weapons as a grand and great decision of French foreign policy(Admittedly after a "certain" individual prompted the response).
Lastly I think it has to be acknowledge that Brexit is and was a disaster for Eastern Europe. The UK was the closest friend a lot of these countries had in Western Europe even with all the Russian money sloshing around in London and even outside of the EU now the UK is a much different country from what you might called the Atlanticist pro democracy orientation that every British leader had from Thatcher to Theresa May. This tradition has now been broken. A really key metric I would also look is not get drawn into the fight as to how many banks and bankers have left London since Brexit but look at which of the remaining EU countries they have relocated to. Almost all of them relocated from London to places like Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, even Milan and Madrid not the more Atlanticist skeptical of Russia countries to the East. The few crumbs that places like Estonia and Lithuania get in the post Brexit financial services spoils are things like cryptocurrency which itself is largely a tool for Russian influence and domination. The more “legitimate” banking industry all went to the Western countries and cities like Frankfurt and Paris that are ironically “soft” on Russia in the eyes of Monique, Toomas, Paul Massaro, and Olga Lautman. This is an important implications in terms of sanctions, counter-sanctions, and kleptocracy.