Friday, 2 December 2022 — The van says…
Soviet steel, but made in the US of A? If Blinken gets his way, the MIC just might start earning a fortune through remanufacturing of the old D-20.
With there being no breaking news from Eastern Europe, now would again be a good time to look at matters which are not of primary importance, yet do have a role to play in global affairs.
Waking the Dead
The last ten months have seen Ukrainian equipment decimated by Russian strikes, this being replaced first with mothballed stocks from former Warsaw Pact states and then with surplus NATO kit. Even with all this hardware having been sent to Kiev, Russia’s constant onslaught has meant that Ukrainian forces are again short of materiel, this prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to suggest that Western companies begin a program of producing former Soviet weaponry to cover Kiev’s needs. This may at first appear outlandish, yet looking at both East and West, this makes sense for very good reasons.
Not only are the Ukrainian forces short of guns, they are also using the munitions that go with them at a mind-boggling rate. Some estimates have stated that the Ukrainian Armed Forces alone are consuming as many artillery shells as NATO would be expected to do in case of a European land war, this being borne out in the way they have worn out the barrels of German self-propelled howitzers in a matter of months.
Soviet Superiority or Western Wisdom?
A lot has been said of the MIC’s (Military Industrial Complex) desire to re-equip the Ukrainians with NATO-standard kit, yet there are a number of reasons why this may not be such a good idea at this juncture.
1. NATO kit is more expensive to manufacture.
2. Soviet-era kit is cheap to manufacture.
3. Kiev is never going to be able to pay for any of it.
4. The Ukrainians know how the old Soviet-era kit works.
5. Most NATO kit does not appear to work very well at all.
6. Soviet-era kit is proven to work.
Production and Profit
There is obviously an opening here for the Western MIC to make a fortune as they feed an insatiable beast with the Western taxpayers’ dollars. With no development costs at all, weapons manufacturers can produce both the guns and their powder in the full knowledge that the purchaser has a blank checkbook specifically dedicated to this project. Quite how Europeans governments would take to the US making huge profits to continue a war that is dragging the Old Continent irrevocably towards a depression rather than a recession remains to be seen, yet with the Inflation Reduction Act already ringing alarm bells in Brussels, this may be overshadowed by more important concerns regarding a creaking transatlantic alliance.
At the same time as the Ukrainians are blowing the rifling out of everything they’ve got, the German government is coming under increasing pressure from the Bundeswehr. Berlin may have backed Kiev to the hilt, yet its misguided magnanimity has pushed the German Armed Forces into a corner. The Germans as well as others in Europe have now given so much to the Ukrainians that they have left themselves short. Moreover, with rampant infighting within the government departments of Berlin regarding who should rectify this situation, it appears that there are more than just cracks within the German administrative structure.
A French Failing
A French power supplier has stated that areas of the country may be subject to electricity blackouts over the coming winter. Due to nearly half of its nuclear power plants being offline due to the potentially dangerous condition of its reactors, company EDF has stated that customers may be informed to reduce consumption during peak times to avoid the risk of blackouts. In the light of events in Eastern Europe, it is doubtless that the blame will placed on the Kremlin’s doorstep, yet it would be interesting to know how power companies would have attempted to explain this situation had circumstances been different.
Judge, Jury and Executioner
This week has also seen the EU proposing to set up tribunals in order to condemn those Russians it believes are guilty of war crimes. Just as with NATO giving itself a free hand to create Kosovo out of thin air, Brussels is now attempting to appoint itself as judge, jury and executioner regarding matters that do not concern it. Notwithstanding the evidence provided by Moscow related to the development, manufacture and testing of biological weapons in what was the Ukraine, Ursula Von der Leyen is now hoping to preside over hearings related to an American war in Europe which she has supported since taking her current office in 2019. What is most noteworthy is the fact that in spite of abundant evidence, former French interests in Africa and the colonial crimes that went with them appear not to interest Brussels in the slightest.
Recent days have seen former US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien declaring that if Washington believes that an attack by Beijing on Taiwan is imminent, much of the island’s chip-manufacturing capacity would be ‘disabled.’ He is on record as saying:
‘If China takes Taiwan and takes those factories intact – which I don’t think we would ever allow – they have a monopoly over chips the way OPEC has a monopoly, or even more than the way OPEC has a monopoly over oil.’
This is not the first time that ideas such as this have been mooted; last year The US Army War College Press published a paper saying the same, this being their most downloaded document of 2021. Other than the methods that Washington may use to prevent Taiwanese installations from potentially falling into Chinese hands, what is most alarming is the fact that this would cause unprecedented upheaval across the global marketplace. Everything from smartphones to food processors needs a chip these days, and China aside, other nations are either not geared up to the quantities required or produce very small numbers of chips for specialist applications. The White House may have a chip on its shoulder regarding Beijing, yet should plans such as this be put into practice, many nations may give Washington the cold shoulder.
We today live in a very troubled world, yet the actions of Western administrations hardly auger better. As far as Europe is concerned, Brussels helping the Ukraine fight America’s war has only allowed Washington to help itself whilst Europe wallows in its self-inflicted predicament.
At the same time as the Old Continent is facing a very trying future, it now wants to put Russians on trial; the fact that videos of Ukrainians killing troops keep cropping up as well as Assange continuing to languish in jail are of little consequence to an unelected élite still hellbent in doing Uncle Sam’s business.
Europe today has given so many weapons to the Ukrainian cause that it does not have any itself, yet in spite of this, not only are nations promising to send materiel they do not appear to have, but they also wish to spend billions of dollars more on reproducing Soviet weapons of yesteryear. How this will sit with the ever-more impoverished Western public is only something that the coming months will tell us.
The French appear to be suffering more than most, yet remembering that its future failings have nothing to do with Moscow, one could be forgiven for thinking that this is merely the first signs of Western collapse rather than any malfeasance from afar.
The coming winter will be critical for both East and West; the new Cold War is now in full swing, a hot war in the Ukraine leaving many Westerners out in the cold. But in the dark. And very much out of pocket…