Saturday, 5 November 2022 — The van says…
The war in the Ukraine may be the conflict that Washington yearns, but will the western world as a whole want to fight it? More importantly, will the collective West be able to bear the consequences?
This week saw an excellent article published in the American Conservative by Douglas Macgregor, he questions Biden’s stance regarding the Ukraine and the possibility of an intervention by the US and certain allies outside of the NATO framework. This article will also examine the same theme, yet from a different viewpoint and look at some of the philosophy and fallout should such a plan be put into action.
Before we explore the ins and outs of any potential intervention by western powers, we have to look at the ups and downs that have led to this situation appearing in the first place.
In very blunt terms, the Western world is facing a recession the likes of which has not been seen since the 1930s. More worryingly, the conditions that certain markets are already finding themselves in as they face much worse to come is a real worry for the world at large. The only thing that saved the US and others from even greater pain as the Great Depression of ninety years ago bit hard was the Second World War, a wartime economy erasing the ills of previous peacetime speculation. Since then, a policy of ensuring that governments keep the military fed whilst guns point and fire in the right direction has meant that at the expense of deficits, the Western world has sat on a relatively even keel. In the last ten years however, a pandemic, a resurgent China as well as real challenges to Western supremacy are really starting to rock the boat. To this end, a collective West that considered itself invincible a decade ago has embarked on a mission to browbeat both Moscow and Beijing, hoping that with enough pressure, both will acquiesce to unbearable economic pressure.
Bullying the Bear
The Maidan coup was the opening act against Moscow, DC knowing that sooner or later, Russia would react. Russia’s lack of any military reaction was nonetheless followed by action from Western capitals, sanctions and measures raining on the Kremlin. As was to be expected, once Russia’s Military Operation in the Ukraine was under way, this only intensified exponentially. This has over the last year or so backfired in a most ignominious fashion for European states however, the effects of sanctions boomeranging back and causing untold damage to any nation that has decided to follow the western path. Put bluntly, a lot of hot air from Western leaders has left their populations quite literally in the cold. Should those leaders attempt to enter the Ukraine militarily however, things might go very hot, very fast.
Craving for Combat
Former General David Petraeus, erstwhile commander of the International Assistance and Security Force in Afghanistan and CIA director has mooted the idea of the US, along with certain willing nations such as Poland and Romania among others, forming a force to actively intervene in the conflict. Quite what those governments hope to achieve is a very difficult question to answer at such an early stage. One thing is for sure however: the US needs this war to happen far more than the Ukraine needs to win it; by fair means or foul, Washington will endeavor to do all it can to keep a big war afloat whilst attempting to sink Russia.
Striving for Strife
As debt, social issues and a loss of supremacy begin to take their toll on the West, past remedies are being applied, a big war being created in order to use a war economy to bandage the ills of peacetime problems. A need for the US and its hangers-on to not only maintain their position in global affairs was necessary way back it 2014; fast forward to today and it is a war which certain Western nations need (and not want) in order to keep their sinking ships on top of world affairs. In a very few words, that is the absolute and only raison d’être behind the whole affair regarding the war in the Ukraine.
Assault, but not Article Five
With this theoretical operation being outside of the scope of any supranational organization, any coalition of individual states which decide to go on the warpath will not be doing so under the protection of NATO’s much talked of Article Five. Notwithstanding, if a number of the Atlantic Alliance’s members do decide to go rogue, it can only be expected that the others will be acting against Russia in a de facto if not de jure fashion in any way they legally can. This intervention being outside of Brussels’ mandate however, means that Moscow will be able to take actions that would not only cause difficulties for those participating, but also their allies in Europe. This could mean anything from a complete cessation of business between Russia and most nations in Europe to Russian forces downing any satellites that may be of benefit to the western coalition.
Once it has been understood why nations are acting outside the alliances they champion, we have to examine how this will happen. As recent decades have seen, the manner in which the West has invariably chosen to strike has been that of ‘shock and awe’; lightning punitive strikes being made against key targets in an effort to not only do as much damage to critical objectives as possible, but also to reduce the possibility of counterattacks. This has been very effective over the last forty years, yet this time it is already happening in Europe against a peer opponent, just with no western boots officially on the ground. Should the US, Poles, Romanians or others enter the theater, other than the equipment from their own arsenals, they would not have anything that has not already been facilitated to the government in Kiev. As quoted in a previous article,
‘The first blatant and uncomfortable truth is that other than NATO forces actually and overtly taking part in this conflict, the Atlantic Alliance has already gone all-in, yet its Eastern European ally has to date got nothing out.’
Absence of Arms
The last year has seen huge resources of arms channeled to Kiev, this meaning that at least in part, inventories are not as replete as they were previously. Much of the kit has been ex-Soviet equipment or the munitions compatible with these systems, yet great quantities of anti-tank and anti-aircraft launchers and their missiles are now gone. This would not create so many difficulties if it were not for the fact that the manufacture of the modern weapons that western doctrine relies on so heavily is slow and costly. There is no shortage of arms for western powers to take to the Ukraine, but once their initial shock and awe have been expended, the dreams of triumph for western puppets in Eastern Europe may rapidly turn into a nightmare.
That is where affairs will begin to differ from those seen in the West’s recent wars, the gung-ho tactics used to attack the defenseless being much less effective against a heavily-armed Russia than they were in the Middle East. More importantly for much more people however, is the fact that the Russians are more than capable of wreaking the same havoc upon those who have wrought it upon them, millions of EU citizens either being woken up in the dead of night or waking to find they have no water or electricity. Modern societies may be very good at banging political drums, yet if Russian bombs start going bump in the night, very comfortable lifestyles may soon come to a very abrupt end.
Sleepwalking towards Slaughter
With there being soldiers from the West on the ground, this situation would become an all-out war, and a no holds barred conflict, yet in contrast to current events, it would now be America fighting Russia to the last Yankee rather than the last Ukrainian. With other nations on board, their governments would not only have to justify this move to their peoples, but also take the flak as many of the sons who left with duffel bags return home in body bags. Kiev has been very coy as to the number of casualties it has suffered, but should the same fate befall other nations’ armies, the public will require concrete answers.
A Sticky Situation
The first matter we must consider regarding cooperation is the fact that it is the divisions within NATO that have meant that individual nations must operate outside of the Atlantic Alliance if they wish to go to war. There is a huge difference between aiding an ally and actually dying for his cause, this being the principal reason that NATO has not already entered the Eastern European fray.
If a select few Western nations do decide to embark on an eastwards crusade, the help rendered by their allies would be invaluable. Quite what form it could take and how assistance given by third parties would be viewed by Moscow remains to be seen, but a very sticky situation on the part of a few will definitely require others to stick by them as they push forward. In a situation very similar to the game of Risk, alliances will be formed, yet if those not actively engaging in hostilities begin to suffer as a consequence, a whole range of variables come into play, potentially causing the greatest of headaches for those who have chosen to participate.
Accompanied by the Albion
Although not mentioned in Macgregor’s article, we can be sure that the UK would also be even more involved in Ukrainian operations than it already is. London is today arguably suffering more than any of its allies, not only from today’s global problems, but also from the after effects of Brexit as well as an errant and unpopular government. Leaders, both political and military would jump at the chance for an opportunity to give relevance to their country and politics once more, yet for all the bravado this may give Sunak et al, should Russia hit back and hard, the UK is the worst-placed of all its contemporaries to weather the effects of a Russian counterattack.
Cui Bono et Qui Prodest?
There are very few who benefit from war and its effects, yet an unfortunate facet of the West today is it is that few who both control and then benefit from current affairs.
On the other side of the divide, it is ethnic Russians and Russia that have been taking a literal pounding for close to a decade now, the losses incurred now being immeasurable. For all those who think that Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine is a profitable operation, one only has to remember that whilst the Russian government pays a state company for every bullet fired, every time a Ukrainian or western weapon is fired, some corporation stateside turns a good deal more than just a dime.
A Very Sore Loser
Unlike the numerous similar ventures that Washington has launched over the decades, Russia and China today are its bêtes noires, the very foundations of the current western narrative being centered on challenging them at every juncture. In equal measure, as much a victory over them would give Washington a free hand over global affairs, a defeat would be absolute, a total obliteration of not only what made the West, but what it is today. Furthermore, a defeat such as this would do nothing to alleviate many of the current problems that led it to make rash decisions such as this in the first place.
Should America and certain other states decide to enter into the Ukrainian fray, this could for a variety of reasons be seen as a last chance saloon for the West as we know it. With the woes facing the West being as serious and pressing as they are, a solution is needed and must be effected fast. Moreover, with social issues accelerating the downward trend, leaders need good news to mask the bad economic prospects that their own decisions have over the last year ensured that the short and medium term offer. Just as in times past, Washington considers that bullets from guns are the magic bullet that they need, but as much a solution to their problems as this may be seen to be, the longer that the collective West continues along the path that it is following, the fewer options there will be as it moves into the future.
Another consideration is the fact that Biden and his associates have gambled their everything on a Ukrainian victory and a Russian failure. The midterms are upon us, yet after eight months and tens of billions of Washington’s money going to Eastern Europe, the White House has got little to show for its investment. In two years time, a failed proxy war by Biden will result in a failed election for the Democrats, ever more desperate measures being necessary if Sleepy Joe is to keep his job.
As the conflict has moved from phase to phase, a number of things have become apparent over the last eight months. The tenacity and success of Russian assets has shown what Moscow can do, yet all the assistance given by Biden, NATO and the EU along with their allies has shown what the West cannot. Further to that, in spite of the biggest economic guns firing for all they are worth, they are merely blowing back in the faces of those who fire them. Western armies have a lot of bullets to fire in the Ukraine should they wish, but should they do so, they may well end up shooting themselves in the foot and crippling their countries forever…