Nobody Knows the Mind of the Bear

Paul Craig Roberts is an old paleocon, who used to be a regular on the talk radio circuit as a gadfly on foreign affairs. Like a lot of these guys, he has been slowly marginalized to the point where he has no mainstream outlets. if were up to the neocons, these guys would be reduced to using mimeograph machines and handing out their columns on street corners. Anyway, has an interesting take on the current mess in Ukraine.

Washington has no intention of allowing the crisis in Ukraine to be resolved. Having failed to seize the country and evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base, Washington sees new opportunities in the crisis.

One is to restart the Cold War by forcing the Russian government to occupy the Russian-speaking areas of present day Ukraine where protesters are objecting to the stooge anti-Russian government installed in Kiev by the American coup. These areas of Ukraine are former constituent parts of Russia herself. They were attached to Ukraine by Soviet leaders in the 20th century when both Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country, the USSR.

This is a popular refrain from paleocons, but there’s good reason top be skeptical about these Machiavellian schemes. Our princes are all that clever. They can reason through the here and now and even plot a few steps ahead, but anything beyond a couple of moves and they get into trouble. The State Department was mucking around in Ukraine thinking they had things under control. Then they didn’t and Putin found himself with a golden ticket to claw back some territory.

Essentially, the protesters have established independent governments in the cities. The police and military units sent to suppress the protesters, called “terrorists” in the American fashion, for the most part have until now defected to the protesters.

With Obama’s incompetent White House and State Department having botched Washington’s takeover of Ukraine, Washington has been at work shifting the blame to Russia. According to Washington and its presstitute media, the protests are orchestrated by the Russian government and have no sincere basis. If Russia sends in military units to protect the Russian citizens in the former Russian territories, the act will be used by Washington to confirm Washington’s propaganda of a Russian invasion (as in the case of Georgia), and Russia will be further demonized.

That’s the issue. If Team Obama is a bunch of bunglers, then it is hard to argue they have some clever plots going on to restart the Cold War.  On the other hand, they could simply be bunglers, deceived by the permanent foreign policy community. So maybe that’s what he is getting at here. On the other hand, there are old ethnic interests at work here, so the deep state could be even deeper that the State Department.

The Russian government is in a predicament. Moscow does not want financial responsibility for these territories but cannot stand aside and permit Russians to be put down by force. The Russian government has attempted to keep Ukraine intact, relying on the forthcoming elections in Ukraine to bring to office more realistic leaders than the stooges installed by Washington.

However, Washington does not want an election that might replace its stooges and return to cooperating with Russia to resolve the situation. There is a good chance that Washington will tell its stooges in Kiev to declare that the crisis brought to Ukraine by Russia prevents an election. Washington’s NATO puppet states would back up this claim.

It is almost certain that despite the Russian government’s hopes, the Russian government is faced with the continuation of both the crisis and Washington puppet government in Ukraine.

This is the interesting bit. No one wants to leave things in the hands of the voters, as they may vote for their own interests. That’s an important lesson of history. Elites are all for democracy as long as they can predict and control the results. The French, Germans, Americans and Russians will be spreading around money and hit-men between now and the election, trying to get a favorable result.

On May 1 Washington’s former ambassador to Russia, now NATO’s “second-in-command” but the person who, being American, calls the shots, has declared Russia to no longer be a partner but an enemy. The American, Alexander Vershbow, told journalists that NATO has given up on “drawing Moscow closer” and soon will deploy a large number of combat forces in Eastern Europe. Vershbow called this aggressive policy deployment of “defensive assets to the region.”

In other words, here we have again the lie that the Russian government is going to forget all about its difficulties in Ukraine and launch attacks on Poland, the Baltic States, Romania., Moldova, and on the central Asian states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The dissembler Vershbow wants to modernize the militaries of these American puppet states and “seize the opportunity to create the reality on the ground by accepting membership of aspirant countries into NATO.”

The War on Terror is winding down and a whole lot of folks will be looking for new dragons to slay. It is an old problem. A nation ramps up for war and then finds itself with a whole bunch of restless warriors looking for something to do. American motorcycle gangs are a result of World War II vets coming home and looking for action. Today, the decommissioned warriors are guys with advanced degrees and wearing suits.

Instead of buying a Harley and looking for action, they take a job at some quasi-government outfit full of ex-Seals and former intel guys. Maybe they end up at a defense contractor. Companies like this rely on their contacts to get contracts for dirty jobs like sending vehicles to Georgia as they prepare for war with Russia. War is a business and there are lots of people in the war business.

The time is approaching when Russia will either have to act to terminate the crisis or accept an ongoing crisis and distraction in its backyard. Kiev has launched military airstrikes on protesters in Slavyansk. On May 2 Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Kiev’s resort to violence had destroyed the hope for the Geneva agreement on de-escalating the crisis. Yet, the Russian government spokesman again expressed the hope of the Russian government that European governments and Washington will put a stop to the military strikes and pressure the Kiev government to accommodate the protesters in a way that keeps Ukraine together and restores friendly relations with Russia.

This is where the Western mind goes wrong. In Eurasia, waiting is the preferred strategy. In fact, it was the basis of Russian military tactics for close to a century. Let the enemy wear himself out attacking you then counter-attack in force. Putin most likely sees no advantage to doing anything but waiting for the West to make another mistake or run out of steam. If he is wrong, not much changes on the ground. If he is right, he can advance his cause a little more.

This is a false hope. It assumes that the Wolfowitz doctrine is just words, but it is not. The Wolfowitz doctrine is the basis of US policy toward Russia (and China). The doctrine regards any power sufficiently strong to remain independent of Washington’s influence to be “hostile.” The doctrine states:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

The Wolfowitz doctrine justifies Washington’s dominance of all regions. It is consistent with the neoconservative ideology of the US as the “indispensable” and “exceptional” country entitled to world hegemony.

Maybe, but it also looks like elements of the American ruling class are flinching at the price tag. Empire is expensive and the public appears unwilling to pay forever. The marginal return on investment of Poland is infinity higher than Ukraine. What we may actually be seeing is the water’s edge. The benefits from expanding empire further east are far outweighed by the cost. Russia is just not worth all that much.

1 thought on “Nobody Knows the Mind of the Bear

  1. I really don’t understand why we care what happens to Ukraine. It is the duty of every small country with a much larger neighbor to do everything it can to not give the larger neighbor a reason to gobble it up. Ukraine had 24 years to make a go of it and it failed. Ukraine should make a deal where it hands over eastern Ukraine in exchange for a ton of cash and natural gas.

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