The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Knife's Edge

I have very mixed emotions about the proxy war we are fighting against Russian aggression in the Ukraine. On the one hand, Russia is the aggressor, initiating a land war, destroying a neighboring country's infrastructure, attacking civilian targets and killing thousands of innocents, along with being accused on war crimes. On the other hand, the Ukraine, despite the rainbows and unicorn image that is projected by the media, has corrupt leadership, is a less than a free, democratic and open society, and seems unwilling to even begin negotiations to reduce warfare and violence.

The history of this conflict is extremely complicated, with missteps and poor decisions taken on all sides. But one hard fact looms as our involvement in the conflict continues to escalate—Russia is a major nuclear power with the means to deliver both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons by the dozen. They are led by a man who is a thug, and if that man is backed into a corner, he and his generals just might resort to a nuclear strike. Once that happens, the escalation that we have seen will go exponential and the result could be catastrophic. 

I would be less inclined to be overly concerned if our national leadership (included the president) had a history of making good decisions that resulted in successful outcomes. Instead we have a Democratic party that thinks and acts in lockstep with an administration "led" by a cognitively disabled puppet who, I believe, is unable to think clearly about the strategic implications of the decisions made by the anonymous committee that sets national policy. We also have far too many GOP politicians who are more concerned about posturing as anti-Russian than they are about thinking about the best interests of our own country.

It's ironic that the Democrats always characterize the GOP as "war mongers" and yet, in the case of Ukraine and many others, the Dems seem unconcerned about the trajectory of their continuing escalation. Like most politicians, they don't have the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate the consequences of their tactical decisions, allowing emotion (and Ukraine's expert manipulation of our media) to force them into further and further escalation.

Glen Greenwald makes a few politically incorrect comments when he writes:

So, what we have in just 11 months is an extraordinarily rapid and multipronged escalation of the involvement of our government in that war on the other side of the world. It first began with assurances that we would do nothing other than help Ukraine with occasional expenditures in order to let them have a fair fight with Russia. And each month, literally each month, brought greater and greater add-first expenditures, culminating in a $40 billion package in May – $40 billion on top of the $13.5 billion immediately allocated. And that number is now at $100 billion: a funding package supported by the establishment wings of both parties. Remember, in May, the $40 billion package received a yes vote from every single Democrat in Congress, while six or seven dozen Republicans in the House and the Senate voted no – but the majority of the GOP caucus was in agreement with everyone from the Squad, Nancy Pelosi to Joe Manchin and Kirsten, saying that Joe Biden's war policy should be funded. And then, ever since, beyond the money being sent, we're now escalating further the way in which we're fueling this proxy war by sending increasingly sophisticated weapons.

Whenever I talk about the war in Ukraine and the U.S.’s role in it – before I delve into any of the other issues – I believe the paramount question is always this one: in what conceivable way are American citizens benefited or having their lives improved or increasingly secured by escalating the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine? Or conversely, in what conceivable way would your life or the lives of most Americans be harmed by changes in the governance of various provinces in Eastern Ukraine? How would your life be affected if the citizens of the Donbas region decided, as Kosovo decided 20 years ago, that they preferred to be independent or be governed by Moscow rather than by Kyiv? Why would that matter to your life? Why is the U.S. government willing to provoke so much danger to the globe, so much risk of escalation, and a practically direct proxy war now with the world's largest nuclear power? Over what? Over who rules various provinces in eastern Ukraine. How is it in your interest for the government to be spending so much of your money and spending so much of its own weapons supplies that the U.S. weapons supply itself is being depleted? 

Spend a moment trying to answer Greenwald's questions in the last paragraph. Jettison emotion and think critically for just a moment and then retry your answers. You can hold multiple ideas in your head at once—sympathy for the Ukrainian people, condemnation of Russian aggression and the unemotional answers to the questions raised above.

Given that we have already spent $100 billion on this war, it is reasonable to contend that we have every right to demand that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine begin in earnest. Ukraine, being a sovereign country, has every right to refuse, but they have no right to demand that we be further drawn into this conflict. 

We are walking along a knife's edge, led by an administration that has failed at virtually every major foreign policy attempt it has tried (e.g., Afghanistan, where it is rumored that the Russians are attempting to purchase from the Taliban some of the $80 billion in military gear that Joe Biden abandoned in his catastrophically bad exit from that country). None of this inspires confidence.