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September 7, 2023

The Coming American/NATO Phase of the Ukraine War

On a recent trip to America, my first since 2019, I was struck by a lot of changes in American life. The jump in profanity, for one. People who on my last visit rarely swore inevitably used «f*cking» for emphasis. «sh*t» has become synonymous with «stuff.» Women have lost all sense of style and rarely dress with greater elegance than a track suit, their hair pinned up or shaven or left laying around their shoulders like party streamers. Maybe the long periods of home isolation in loose-fitting garb have dumbed down their sense of aesthetics. Or maybe I’m accustomed to Spanish women, who never leave home without checking the mirror.
And prices! I paid 24 bucks for three ice-cream cones. A glass of restaurant wine went for a minimum of 8 dollars. What’s happened to this cutthroat capitalism that’s supposed to keep prices down?And another change was the even greater sense of indifference to news from abroad; perhaps this too is a result of the cocooning years of Covid. Among educated, well-informed folks I found no interest — no curiosity, no concern — about the war in Ukraine. No anger either: the U.S. could have refurbished much of its dumpy infrastructure with the money it has spent on its ill-fated gambit there. No outrage either: it has destroyed this corrupt but inoffensive breadbasket country in pursuit of questionable geopolitical aims, and even if the reporting on it has been shriekingly one-sided, at least it has been a staple of nightly newscasts. But nobody I talked to knows anything about it or wants to know. The neocons are truly free to run the world.
Which must be a great comfort to them as the Ukrainian war effort sputters and staggers. Surely by now the willingness of low-level grunts to throw themselves into the meat-grinder is failing. Kiev desperately sends drones (with help) to Moscow, blows up (with help) Russian ships, bombs (with help) the Kerch Bridge, hoping to provoke some type of reaction; Russia simply lowers the bar on civilian attacks. The final collapse of Ukraine’s war effort, probably some time in autumn, is in the offing, and those slick neocons must be sitting around their cocktails with their top buttons undone and their ties much loosened — with apologies to Victoria Nuland, who’s probably baking some extra loads of cookies to take her mind off things, and will send these morale-boosters to the guys in the trenches, Maidan Plaza not being the cool place it used to be.

What to do? Ted Galen Carpenter, in a recent article, said what many analysts (outside the mainstream media) are thinking: «The apparent failure of Kiev’s current military offensive confirms that future significant gains are improbable. It is uncertain, though, if America’s foreign policy hawks are smart enough to abandon a used pawn.»


«Uncertain» is a polite term. Imagine a Ukrainian capitulation and President Biden shrugging and saying, «Well, we tried.» Just to say it aloud shows you how ridiculous that is. The Biden people cannot possibly walk away from Ukraine after spending 100 billion dollars and all their international prestige.

There’s talk in the mainstream media, as Carpenter mentions, about poor generalship and poor morale and poor effort — this to prepare U.S. public opinion (though as I observed in America, the public has none) for an exit. However, after hyping the obvious bravery of Ukrainians for so long, this excuse is not going to play well in Peoria. And after the debacle in Afghanistan, the Biden people no longer have the stomach to absorb another one.


Let’s look at history. What does America do when it finds itself in a foreign-adventure hole? Dig itself out? No, it digs itself deeper. It’s not even worth citing examples.


Let’s look at geopolitics. What will happen to NATO if Ukraine goes bust? Nothing good. What will happen to the foreign-policy establishment’s determination to stay Numero Uno in the world? China allied with Russia is an unbeatable foe. Either America eliminates Russia as an important power, or it must accept the new multipolar world with China as co-chair. It’s just that simple. It would take years to develop another severe provocation of Russia — in Finland or the Baltic countries, for example. America doesn’t have the time.


Probably the best thing that could happen to the neocons is a new coup d’e’tat in Kiev in which the generals took over, sent Zelensky more-or-less intact to his villa in Italy, and sued for peace with Russia. That would at least save immediate American face, and you can bet the guys with the loosened ties have mulled this one over.


But it wouldn’t solve their geopolitical problems: NATO, China, the multipolar world in which America would have one front-row seat among several others.


No, their only option is somehow to go to war with Russia. (And this, I believe, is why Putin has gone so slow with the war: he’s needed the time to build up for the inevitable, in terms of men, material, and allies.) The trouble with this option is the need to convince the American public. They might be asleep at the wheel of democracy, but war wakes them up, and they are not morning people. How to do it?


As I see it, there are three ways. One possibility is an incremental approach, which we may be seeing in attacks on Russian shipping. From there, one moves to a no-fly zone and attacks on its planes until — whoops! — a Russian commercial airliner gets shot down. (Well, the Russkies were responsible for that KLM flight, weren’t they? So we just got back at them for it.)


Another possibility is a classic false-flag event that those creative people at the CIA are so good at; practice does indeed make perfect. The American public would be aroused and angry and ready to send their army — as long as it’s all-volunteer — to shore up Ukrainian defenses and knock off a few of those damn commies (Whaddaya mean they’re not commies anymore?).


A third option is more risky, but what is risk to these folks so proud of taking them? After all, the NordStream sabotage went splendidly; the media helped out, and in Europe no one even mentions it anymore. That risk is a surprise nuclear attack. Surprise: the command structure shattered, but someone in charge left to threaten. Something like, «If you stand down now, you’re the new chief of the (bruised) Russia. And we’ll send lots and lots of folks to help you rebuild, and don’t worry about their uniforms, they’re just for show.» But only God and Putin know what their reaction would be.


In short, the war in Ukraine is not ending, but entering its second phase. For the neocons will not admit a mistake, a defeat, or a debacle. Remember that guy who said history is over?



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