Looks like the Europe edition of “Syria, the overthrow.”
Remember: the ‘founding fathers’ of the US tried to put some controls on the government’s ability to go running off, starting wars. Good idea, bad implementation. It should have been the 2nd amendment to the constitution: “The nation shall not deploy military force without a 2/3 majority vote in the house, or a majority vote of the citizenry.” Or something like that. I am endlessly frustrated and infuriated by my countrypeople’s insistence that gun ownership is important, but controlling the nation’s military is apparently not.
Just reading between the lines of this makes me want to cry: [cnn]
President Joe Biden has said that sending US combat troops to Ukraine to fight a war with Russia is off the table. But special operations forces already rotate in and out of the country to provide training to Ukrainian forces and a senior administration official said it is possible that other agencies could provide some support, likely the CIA. CIA Director Bill Burns traveled to Kyiv last week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and discuss risks to Ukraine, a US official said.
Special operations troops are combat troops – if you’re putting them out in a dangerous place as a placeholder that might get shot at, they are being deployed into combat. Congress has the authority to do that; it does not lie solely with the president. Fucking hell, hasn’t anyone in Washington learned anything yet? “Providing training” and “providing support” is combat, because it’s freeing up other soldiers to do the fighting and dying. This is a military fact that has been understood by basically anyone who has done any thinking about warfare, since forever. A pile of rocks, if placed so as to support offensive operations is offensive warfare.
Also: the Ukrainians don’t need any training at how to resist a Russian attack. You don’t need instructions on “how to kiss your ass goodbye.”
“We are looking at a range of options to help defend Ukraine,” a senior administration official told CNN. This may include additional defensive arms sales, “advice,” and “helping Ukraine be able to stay in the fight against a larger, conventional Russian military presence.”
Additional defensive arms sales. I.e.: more. So, the US has been turning Ukraine into an armed client-state on the Russian border, just like the Russians said they really didn’t want anyone to do. Again, imagine how the US would react if Russia started “selling” weapons to Mexico. Or, I guess, in today’s political environment I should say “imagine if the Russians started arming Texas.”
The deliberations about supporting a resistance campaign reflect an increasingly pessimistic view inside the administration about Putin’s willingness to invade and occupy large swaths of Ukrainian territory. Russia has increased force levels since Friday, the senior administration official said.
That battle you’re gonna lose? We’re going to make sure you lose it harder and nastier. You’re welcome.
“Let’s be clear. Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. “And what Secretary Blinken is going to go do is highlight very clearly there’s a diplomatic path forward. It is the choice of President Putin and the Russians to make whether they’re going to suffer severe economic consequences or not.”
Let’s be clear: if there is a diplomatic path forward, then you don’t “have to” go arming anyone, or sending special forces to train people, or having the CIA do what the CIA does (set up torture prisons, mostly). If there is a diplomatic path forward, then none of those things are consistent with diplomacy. Diplomacy works best if you stop making the situation worse so you can start making it better. This tells you something about the mentality of the people who are making policy for the US: they are incapable of approaching the situation from any perspective that does not begin with “you do what I say.” I.e.: the opposite of actual “diplomacy” – it’s just dictating imperial terms.
Then comes a big heading:
As recently as late last week, Biden administration officials were conducting table-top exercises gaming out all of the possible US and allied policy responses, sources familiar with the planning told CNN.
I see the problem: the shitheads in Washington think the lives of the people in Ukraine are chips in a game. People of Ukraine, this is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the new Vietnam.
And, just to head off anyone who is thinking of saying, “but this is how it’s always been” let me remind you that “it has also never worked.”
Who Cares says
That current build up that Russia is doing on the border with the Ukraine? It started when the US began selling enough modern weaponry (and the training required to use of of the toys) to the Ukraine that it was looking increasingly likely to give Kiev the option to actually retake the east. Which Russia was not going to accept as happening until it got the hard guarantees that Ukraine would be a neutral zone. Something the US flipped them the bird on.
Marcus Ranum says
UK is also in on the act:
Marcus Ranum says
The Ottoman Empire
The Zulu Nation
He also said, “trust us old-school imperialists: national sovereignty is really important. It’s a moral issue.”
Changing times requires different rules. When the country was founded using the military against pirates and bandits
and indianswas a necessity. Trying to limit the use of force too far would have crippled the USA’s ability to trade. Heck, there is enough piracy today requiring a vote for every deployment of force would probably be too restrictive.
They did, a long time ago. Putting small special forces and training groups in countries lets the US fight a proxy war without enough US soldiers being involved to anger or interest the public.
That simply isn’t always the case. To get a diplomatic solution you sometimes have to show you are a credible enough threat also. If the US just stood aside and said “We would like a diplomatic solution but we won’t commit any military forces if you invade.” it doesn’t work.
Ukraine is in the wonderful position of having some limited choice in who’s puppet they get to be. Having seen the petty criminal dictators Putin as picked for other countries in the region they* have opted to side with the US and EU. Good idea? Hard to say. Risky? Very much.
* Ukrainian leaders, I don’t know what the view on the street is.
To me, it seems that Ukraine gets it in the neck either way. They are stuck between the rock and the hard place.
Russia is an oligarchic, proto-fascist, petro-state that is hell-bent on strengthening its foothold in the region even at the cost of open warfare and whose secret services were and are fomenting the conflict from the very start.
And that sentence holds true even when “Russia” is swapped with “The USA”.
I am truly bothsideist on this issue. Both Russia and USA are teh shithole countries.
These idiots are just itching to use their nukes on somebody. Its only a matter of time until one of the nuclear capable countries finds a “reason” to use a couple. We may not have to wait for global warming/climate change to kill us off.
The quote about fortresses reminds me of one of the bits I remember learning about WWI in grade 9 that always stuck with me.
Under the Schlieffen Plan, a German detachment was set up in a fortified position in Alsace-Lorraine, with express orders to stay there. They were primarily a distraction, meant to hold the attention of the primary contingent of French forces while the actual main German force was marching in through the Low Countries. They were just there to let the French bash their heads in against an immovable object, because the French ego wouldn’t allow them to ignore the Germans being there of all places.
Then there was one battle that ended particularly badly for the French, and they broke and ran, scattered. The German commander decided to be a glory-hound rather than follow orders, so he pursued them. While this led to the Germans taking more territory there, it also meant the French retreated to one of their fortifications, and the Germans were now the ones bashing their heads in against the immovable object, while the French could now more easily reassign some of their troops northward to meet the actual German advance.
So that fortification effectively allowed the French to turn a major tactical defeat into what was actually a long-term strategic benefit thanks to the unforced error of one German commanding officer.
Who Cares says
What diplomacy? The US hasn’t even bothered to listen to Russia about why the US should stay out of Ukraine (Keep in mind if Russia had done in Mexico what the US has been doing in Ukraine the US would have steamrolled the forces supported by Russia years ago saying fuck diplomacy). The US has only made demands. Diplomacy requires the capability to understand what the other party/parties wants and why. The US still hasn’t gotten past the period with Yeltsin where they could effectively hand diktats to Russia, the people in power have deluded themselves that they can still send those diktats and that they will be followed which then results in them wigging out when Russia flips them the bird. The most egregious example would be before the curb stomp of Georgia by Russia, Russia made some treaties with the postage stamps of land that seceded from Georgia and the US basically screeched “You are not allowed to do that without our permission”.
Even if diplomacy is being performed the US has made it very clear that it cannot be trusted. Treaties with unfriendlies last only as long as the benefits of not breaking them outweigh the breaking; As an example that Iran could not extract a guarantee from the Biden administration that if Iran started adhering to the JCPOA again that the US would not break their side during the Biden administration(s) and that was already scaled down from getting a blanket guarantee that the US would not break the treaty again. Breaking treaties for the US is as simple as it will allow us to get better poll ratings at home or why spend resources if no one in the US cares about the other side (that one was a stunt pulled with the US obligations towards North Korea after the Clinton administration managed to get them to stop developing nukes).
This untrustworthiness of the US was the major reason Iran only got to the negotiation table after Europe (GB, France & Germany), China and Russia decided to sit at that table as well. It also showcased that the US still has can do as it wants without the rest of the world being able to restrain or sanction the US for misbehavior.
Then you have to ask why the US is going to do exactly that. They will not risk WW3 (at least I hope so) defending Ukraine, just like they dropped Georgia after Georgia got green light from the US to retake the seceded areas and killed some of the tripwire Russian peacekeepers.
Ice Swimmer says
Concurring with Charly.
USA and Russia are both bad actors whose “legitimate security interests” are nothing but screwing over the rest of us and if you oblige to their demands they will only ask for more.
Marcus Ranum says
tripwire Russian peacekeepers.
“Uh Iosef? Why do we have these snappy red uniforms? What kind of terrain is this supposed to blend with?”
Raging Bee says
That current build up that Russia is doing on the border with the Ukraine? It started when the US began selling enough modern weaponry (and the training required to use of of the toys) to the Ukraine that it was looking increasingly likely to give Kiev the option to actually retake the east.
Retake it from whom? From forces supported by Russia. The US didn’t start that.
@4 Who Cares:
Lots of meetings and phone calls have gone on. How much real negotiations? Don’t know. I don’t trust anything either side has said about those meetings other then they have not worked. I’m not sure either side has gone to them with reasonable negotiation plans.
That is true of both sides. The US has been more aggressive about violating treaties, Russia has been more aggressive about invasions.
Pierce R. Butler says
Who Cares @ # 1: It started when the US began selling enough modern weaponry …
It started approximately during the American Revolution, when Catherine the Great & her sidekick Potemkin bit by bit pried what we now call Ukraine from the limply twitching fingers of the Ottoman Empire.
A lot of current Russia apologists in the west like to begin the story with the CIA-manipulated 2014 “Maidan Revolution”, as if the Yanukovych regime had had any legitimacy. The Ukraine conflict does not (yet) have the endless backstory of, say, the Vietnamese or Israeli-Palestinian frictions, but we’ve already reached the level where setting a definitive starting point becomes a propaganda exercise.
Of course, we’re a major world power you know.
/s in case anyone was in any doubt.
Marcus Ranum says
Over at Counterpunch there’s a good piece on Ukraine
See what I mean? It’s an interesting and thoughtful take on the situation, and I’m not just saying that because I largely agree with it.
Marcus Ranum says
Pierce R. Butler@#13:
The Ukraine conflict does not (yet) have the endless backstory of, say, the Vietnamese or Israeli-Palestinian frictions, but we’ve already reached the level where setting a definitive starting point becomes a propaganda exercise.
True. I am endlessly frustrated by our tendency to try to stick a pin in the time-line and say “history starts here!” I guess it’s not possible to do any subsequent analysis otherwise.
My first instinct was to look at Ukraine post-WWII, as if WWII somehow was a great big “reset” except of course it wasn’t even close to that.
I find it hard to tell who to believe in these sorts of international policy disputes. Most sources that one can easily find are strongly biased to one side or the other, and one needs to do quite a lot of research to try and find a less slanted picture.
I don’t think Putin is a relentless Hitler-style expansionist, but rather a Bismarckian practitioner of realpolitik who wants to assert Russia’s role as a great power. One of the things that great powers do is try to prevent the smaller powers near them from allying with rival great powers. I agree with the point made in the Counterpunch article that it is not in Putin’s interest to annex the eastern parts of the Ukraine, because then the remaining Ukraine would be more likely to join NATO on a wave of anti-Russian feeling. Keeping the Ukraine neutral is probably more important to Putin and Russian interests than gaining any more territory.
@ 17 springa73
Keeping the Ukraine neutral is probably more important to Putin and Russian interests than gaining any more territory.
It is unlikely Russia wants more territory at the moment. It’s the largest country in the world and, if anything, underpopulated. It takes large numbers of immigrants every year.
The Ukrainian East, essentially he two Donbass republics are even greater basket cases than much of the rest of the Ukraine. Russia really does not the expense.
A major problem is that the two republics are mainly ethnically and linguistically Russian faced with real discrimination, at least linguistically. Nazi militias from Western Ukraine have advocated genocide—check out the Azov Brigade or, IIRC the Right Sector..
I have joking said that every Muscovite has two cousins in Novorossiya which is probably a bit of an exaggeration but there are enough connections that Russia will never allow a massacre. In fact there are thousands of Russian citizens in the republics.
A first step in calming things might be to get the Ukrainians to implement the Minsk Accord.
I read a blog written by Gilbert Doctorow who has had long exposure to the former USSR and to modern Russia.
His most recent post is about a public affairs show in Moscow. I got a kick out of this bit
Gilbert Doctorow, 2022 https://gilbertdoctorow.com