Every war is a part of a larger story of relations between the nations that fought in the war and the war in Ukraine is not an exception. This war started a year ago, but it is part of the story that started in 2014. of course, that chapter was preceded by the aftermath of the Cold War. In the case of the neocons driving American policy, their portion of this story begins during the Trial of the 193. Like all stories, the war will end and what will follow are more chapters to close out this story arc.
Within the war itself there are chapters. In the case of Ukraine, the first chapters could be called the pre-awakening. Both the Russians and Ukrainians, assumed this would be a short affair ending in rounds of talks. The Europeans, in contrast, thought it would be a short affair as well, but instead ending in a Russian collapse. They had been assured by their American handlers that Russia was a hollow country. Once the sanctions hit them, the peasants would revolt.
Interestingly, all parties kept on believing their version of the plot even after it should have been clear they were wrong. The Russians kept pressing for negotiations, even after Ukraine told them Washington would not allow it. The Europeans kept pushing new sanctions packages, even after it was clear the Russian economy was not going to collapse and there would be no peasant revolt. For a few months last spring and summer, everyone stuck with the old script.
It appears that it was the Russians who were the first to realize that the script was wrong and that they needed to rethink things. The mobilization of reserves along with a reorganization of their military structure in Ukraine followed. The Russians figured out that this is a long war of attrition between Moscow and its allies versus the American Empire and its allies. What we have seen for the last six months is a slow, deliberate grind of the Ukrainians by the Russians.
We are about to see the final closing of one chapter of this war and the opening of a new chapter due to developments on the battlefield. The first and most important bit of news is the encirclement of a town called Bakhmut. If you look at this pro-Ukrainian deployment map, you see the line of contact in Ukraine. In this case, pro-Ukrainian does not mean pure propaganda. It simply relies primarily on Ukrainian sources to assemble the map and unit positions.
If you zoom into the area dead center of the line of contact, you will find the town called Bakhmut and see a large grouping of Ukrainian forces. They have been throwing everything they can into this town in order to hold it. The Russians now have the town surrounded, with tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops inside it. It appears that Zelensky has instructed the forces inside this cauldron to fight to the last man, much as he did last year with the Mariupol garrison.
There are two primary reason Zelensky and the general staff are sacrificing tens of thousands of men for this town. One reason is strategic. It is the keystone to this defense line in the Donbas. If it falls, the Ukrainians will have to fall back to their last line of defense east of the Dnieper River. That last defensive line is not as built up as the current defensive positions. The Ukrainians are buying as much time as they can in order to build up that new defense line.
The other reason for this massive sacrifice of men and machines is the general psychology of the war on the Ukrainian side. They have been told since the start that they just needed to hang on until the Russians crumbled. Then they were told to hang on until the West could provide wonder weapons. Now they are hanging on because they have no other option. For Zelensky, this war is about buying time while hoping for some change that will save him from his fate.
Another reason for the great turning of the page that is coming in this war relates to that waiting strategy of the Ukrainians. They are running out of supplies. Reports keep coming in from Ukrainian sources that they are out of ammunition. The reason they are out of ammunition is the West cannot get ammunition to them fast enough. The reason for that is the West is running out of ammunition as well. After a year of ground war, the Western warehouses are now empty.
The issue has become so critical that the people running foreign policy had Biden sign “a presidential waiver of some statutory requirements (Waiver) authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to more aggressively build the resiliency of America’s defense industrial base and secure its supply chains.” This is the first step in transitioning the economy to wartime, which means prioritizing defense over civilian items.
Something similar is afoot in Europe. What the West has come to realize is they were all wrong about the Russian economy. It has performed better over the last year than the European economies. They were also wrong about Russia’s standing in the world, particularly with other major powers like China and India. They have not been willing to go along with Washington’s war on Moscow. Eighty percent of the world’s population now supports the Russian side in this conflict.
Another piece of this is a bit of reality Western leaders have ignored for so long they stopped thinking about it. That is, the industrial base of the West no longer exists as a practical matter. Generations of offshoring and global supply chain management have left Western countries with a tiny manufacturing base. China now has more manufacturing capacity than the U.S. and Europe combined. Throw in Russia, Brazil and India and you see the problem.
The shape of the next chapter in this new global war is still unclear, but one storyline will be the looming political crisis in the West. The sanctions regime is simply unsustainable for Europe so it must come to an end. It cannot come to end until the war in the Ukraine has come to an end. The trouble is European political leaders have ruled out any end other than Ukrainian tanks rolling through Moscow. Europe has created an unsolvable problem for itself.
Another part of the story could be a change in China. For a long time the Chinese have viewed their relationship with Washington as purely economic. If they did good business with Washington, everything else solved itself. Beijing now sees that things have changed and so they are changing. All of the war talk over Taiwan has finally convinced the Chinese to adjust their position. Sino-American relations will no longer be about business, but about great power conflict.
Of course, all of this will be happening against the backdrop of a political class in Washington that looks like the shuffleboard courts in Boca. Everyone who wants to be Pericles in this war is too old to say the name clearly. Of course, Washington is full of potential Cleons among the younger generations of politicians, but none of them are bright enough to understand it. As this war enters the crisis chapters, the West is desperately short of men who are good in a crisis.
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