By Peter Van Buren
Source: We Meant Well
The thinking in Washington goes like this: for the “low cost” of Ukrainian lives and some American dollars, the West can end Putin’s strategic threat to the United States. No Americans are dying. It’s not like Iraq or Afghanistan ’01-’21. This is post-modern, something new, a clean great power war, Jackson Pollack for war. Getting a lot of foreign policy mojo at little cost. It’s almost as if we should have though of this sooner.
Um, we did. It didn’t work out past the short run and there’s the message. Welcome to Afghanistan 1980’s edition with the U.S. playing both the American and the Soviet roles.
At first glance it seems all that familiar. Russia invades a neighboring country who was more or less just minding its own business. Russia’s goals are the same, to push out its borders in the face of what it perceives as Western encroachment on the one hand, and world domination on the other. The early Russian battlefield successes break down, and the U.S. sees an opportunity to bleed the Russians at someone else’s bodily expense. “We’ll fight to the last Afghani” is the slogan of the day.
The CIA, via our snake-like “ally” in Pakistan, floods Afghanistan with money and weapons. The tools are different but the effect is the same: supply just enough firepower to keep the bear tied down and bleeding but not enough to kill him and God forbid, end the war which is so profitable — lots of dead Russkies and zero Americans killed (OK, maybe a few, but they are the use-and-forget types of foreign policy, CIA paramilitary and Special Forces, so no fair counting them.) And ironic historical bonus: in both Afghanistan 1980s and Ukraine, some of the money spent is Saudi. See the bothersome thread yet?
Leaving aside some big differences that enabled initial successes in Afghanistan, chief among which is the long supply lines versus Ukraine’s border situation, let’s look at what followed early days.
Though NATO countries and others sent small numbers of troops and material to Afghanistan, the U.S. has gone out of its way to make Ukraine look like a NATO show when it is not. Washington supposedly declared support for Ukraine to preserve and empower NATO (despite the fact that Ukraine was not a member.) Yet, to keep Germany on sides in the Russian-Ukraine war, Washington (allegedly) conducted a covert attack on Germany’s critical civilian infrastructure that will have lasting, negative consequences for the German economy. Seymour Hersh reported the Nord Stream pipeline connecting cheap Russian natural gas to Europe via Germany was sabotaged by the United States. An act of war. The destruction of an ally’s critical infrastructure, and no doubt a brush back pitch carefully communicated to the Germans alongside a stern warning to stay put on sanctions against energy trade with Russia. It’s a helluva thing, blowing up the pipeline to force Germany to color inside the lines NATO (actually the U.S.) laid out. This, in addition to the U.S. treating NATO countries as convenient supply dumps and little more, shows that NATO will emerge from Ukraine broken. One does also wonder if the future of Europe is at stake why the greatest concern is expressed in Washington and not Bonn or Paris.
As with Afghanistan, there are questions if we Americans will ever be able to leave, about whether Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn” rules applies — you break it, you bought it. President Zelensky, portrayed in the West as a cross between Churchill and Bono, in actuality was a comedian and TV producer who won the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election. Zelensky’s popularity was due in part to his anti-establishment image and promises to fight corruption and improve the economy. He was also aided by his portrayal of a fictional president in a popular TV show, which helped to increase his name recognition and appeal to young voters.
Zelensky was preceded by the Ukrainian Revolution, also known as the Euromaidan Revolution, which began in late 2013 as a series of protests in response to then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to reject an association agreement with the European Union and instead pursue closer ties with Russia. The protests grew in size and intensity, with demonstrators occupying the central Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, demanding Yanukovych’s resignation and new elections. In February 2014, the situation escalated when Yanukovych’s security forces cracked down on protesters, resulting in violent clashes that left dozens dead. This led to Yanukovych fleeing the country and a new government being formed in Ukraine. The revolution also sparked tensions with Russia, which subsequently annexed Crimea and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine. None of those problems goes away even if the Russia army retreats to its pre-invasion borders. The notion that there is nothing going on here except a rough land grab by a power-made Putin is shallow and incomplete.
What’s left are concerns about the level of corruption in Ukraine, and the U.S.’s role in addressing it. Despite the U.S. providing significant financial aid to Ukraine, there have been reports of corruption and mismanagement of funds. Some have argued that the U.S. has not done enough to address these issues, and has instead turned a blind eye in order to maintain its strategic interests in the region. America’s history with pouring nearly unlimited arms and money into a developing nation and corruption is not a good one (see either Afghanistan, 1980s or ’01 onward.) Corruption can only get worse.
A great fear in Afghanistan was arms proliferation, weapons moving off the battlefield into the wrong hands. Whether that be a container of rifles or the latest anti-aircraft systems, an awful lot of weapons are loose in Ukraine. In the case of Afghanistan, the real fear was for Stinger missiles, capable of shooting down modern aircraft, ending up in terrorist hands. The U.S. has been chasing these missiles through the world’s arms bazaars ever since, right into the Consulate in Benghazi. It is worse in Ukraine. America’s top-of-the-line air defense tools are being employed against Russian and Iranian air assets. What would those countries pay for the telemetry data of a shoot down, never mind actual hardware to reverse engineer and program against? There are no doubt Russian, Chinese, Iranian and other intelligence agencies on the ground in Ukraine with suitcases full of money trying to buy up what they can. Another cost of war.
It is also hard to see the end game as the demise of Putin. This would mean the strategy is not fight until the last Afghani/Ukrainian but to fight until the last Russian. The plan is for that final straw to break, that last Russian death, to trigger some sort of overthrow of Putin. But by whom? Trading Putin for a Russian-military lead government seems a small gain. Look what happened the last time Russia went through a radical change of government — we got Putin. In Afghanistan, it was the Taliban x 2.
History suggests the U.S. will lose in a variety of ways in Ukraine, with the added question of who will follow Putin and what might make that guy a more copacetic leader towards the United States. As one pundit put it, it is like watching someone play Risk drunk.
Mais essa sempre foi a formula americana de combater o inimigo, que lhe poder dar-lhe imensas derrotas no campo do enfrentamento. todos sabem que os EUA e sua trupe só atacam países que não tem como se defender. Eles representam os pareias do pós-guerra fria. querem ser o xerife do mundo impondo sua ideologia. dizem através dos meios de comunicações do Ocidentes que os russos e os países que não comungam do sistema por eles impostos ao mundo são do mal e eles são o bem, o protetores da liberdade. Só analisar a história das destruições de países por essa corja…
English translation of previous comment via Google Translate:
“But this has always been the American formula for fighting the enemy, which can give you immense defeats in the field of confrontation. everyone knows that the US and its troupe only attack countries that cannot defend themselves. They represent post-Cold War peers. they want to be the sheriff of the world imposing their ideology. they say through the media of the West that the Russians and the countries that do not share the system they impose on the world are evil and they are the good, the protectors of freedom. Just analyze the history of the destruction of countries by this rabble…”
Yes, that seems to be the case at least since the end of Vietnam, when rising US casualties (and awareness of war crimes against innocent civilians) turned a growing majority against the war. Unfortunately the only lessons U.S. policy makers took away from the debacle are:
– Only directly attack militarily weaker nations (or covertly change regime).
– Only attack stronger competing nations via proxy wars.
-Use a tightly controlled mass media to censor opposing voices or damaging/embarrassing information and push false narratives (ie. fighting for freedom and not for plundering resources, maintaining geo-strategic dominance and keeping competing nations at a political and economic disadvantage).