Tag Archives: Putin

The New Cold War

Cold War

Recent international activities are beginning to remind me of the cold war, and its heating up. Over the weekend the US shot down a Syrian SU-22 ground attack aircraft, after it had attack US supported Syrian and Kurdish forces who were in combat with ISIS. This action in and of itself is significant and indicates a sea change in US policy. But it is not an isolated incident and is a continuing march toward a new cold war that has been in development since the fall of the Soviet Union.

For those who do not remember, the cold war lasted from the end of the second world war in 1945 until the fall of the Soviet Union on 1991. During this time, there were both political and military confrontations between the West and the East. To correct the wrong impression while the term is “Cold War” there were some very hot spots during this time. From the Korean War through Vietnam and smaller conflicts in Africa and South and Central America, the west faced off against the agents of the Soviet Union in many ways. The main difference is that while the West (US) would engage directly with military force the East (Soviet Union) used proxy fighters.

Today we are seeing a rise in tension and a return to many of the same patterns we saw in the past. Both Russia and China have begun to once again challenge our military by close encounters at sea and in the air and by testing our ability to detect and react to air and submarine incursions.  The subs have mostly been in Scandinavian seas, we have not heard of others. Like the last time however this could lead to unforeseen problems. From the proxy side, we see Russia fermenting a civil war in Ukraine and a direct annexation of Chimera. They have also returned to the Middle East by propping up the regime of Assad in Syrian and this time they have committed their own forces.  China is challenging us in the south china sea by the expansion of territorial claims and an increase in military presence.

It may be assumed we won the last time and we will win this time. This time however there is a major change. The United States is seen by many as a paper tiger. Regardless of what we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan it is greatly assumed we will not commit to a major defense of the west. Some of this can be laid at the feet of the current administration for its talk about NATO and the need for Europe to be more proactive in its own defense. But for the most part, on a macro level, we have over the past few years reduced our own military and shown a reluctance to engage in any meaningful way with the growing threat from Russia or China.

During the last cold war, we stayed out of direct confrontation with Russia through something called Mutual Assured Destruction, (MAD).  The concept of MAD was that in the event of a major war both sides had the capability to destroy the other. In a true sense, it was not the fear of mutual destruction that held back the missiles it was the fact that retaliation was assured. Neither side doubted the other would retaliate. In diplomacy, much the same concept is valid. Why would one side bother to negotiate with another if there is no fear of a military response that could be devastating.

Why has Russia run roughshod over the west, in the last few years presidents from both parties did little to react to Russian military adventures other than wag a finger and level ineffective sanctions. The danger today with the sea change I discussed is that it may take a lot more convincing to reign in Russia and China. This will mean there will be violence and death. Should this however work, as history has taught, then if we are still in time it will be less violent that if nothing is done. If we are not in time then nothing will reduce the carnage.

I hope I am right and we are in time. We must however present a more united front to the world then the fighting and inexcusable rhetoric that is coming out of Washington. It is a dangerous time and it will take a strong front to deflect the carnage and save civilization. PLEASE THINK before you get all bent out of shape over some mundane action of a politician, your child could have been Otto Warnbier. I am not sure if we had a better reputation for protecting our citizens there would have been a different outcome, or if he would have been arrested at all. But we need to try. We need to be that country that other would rather talk to then fight.

 

 

 

Advertisements

What Did Trump Say

 

T&L

I have watched and read everything I could find on the Washington Post’s breaking story yesterday about the President revealing highly classified intelligence to the Russians that would compromise national security. I do now believe that national security was compromised, by the news media. Based on everything that was reported it is most likely that the Presidents discussions with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador was wholly appropriate and disclosed nothing that would harm the US, but help in assuring Russian assistance on the war against ISIS. The leaks that seemed to come from unnamed sources and the information that was released pertaining to sources and methods were more harmful than what those inside the meeting said was discussed. The only people that were in the meeting and in the know say that the premise of the story was false. There are those that are taking the denials and parsing the words to try and make it seem like a coverup, but in the end the answer is nothing was revealed that shouldn’t have been.

 

Two things of note to bring up. One is why is the press willing to subject themselves to the danger of proving they are not reporting the news but attempting to take down a government and two is there a connection to the timing of another story that indicates the young DNC staffer, Seth Rich, who was murdered shortly after a devastating email release. His computer shows major contacts with a British journalist and to WikiLeaks.

 

The press in its reporting continues to use inflammatory wording and statements designed to cause alarm and worry. The initial stories, with no attribution, said that the president had given the Russians Highly Classified Code Word intelligence and further that the way in which he did it exposed methods and sources as well as a foreign partner. What has come out is that the president may have given the Russians some sensitive information but did not expose any partners, sources or methods. Next, we need to discuss the difference between sensitive information and Highly Classified Code Word intelligence. We don’t actually, just let it be known that there is a huge gap between the two with a lot of different intelligence classifications between the highest and lowest. Even after it is established, or at least strongly suggested, that the information passed was not that sensitive. Even then all the news outlets continue to lead their stories with, “Sources say Trump gave Russia highly classified intelligence.” As this progresses we need to keep in mind that the stories are all highly suspect and attributed to unnamed sources while the people we know were in the room are denying anything wrong occurred.

 

PLEASE THINK of what is being said and use common sense and a large amount of skepticism for any story coming out of the main stream media regarding Trump. They have a great bias against the president and are showing an inability to report fairly.     

 

Great Expectations, Clinton and Russia

HRC

I had a thought while watching the news this weekend. The reports of collusion between President Trump and the Russian government have the underlying assumption that it is a fact. This is the same type of reporting that had declared Hillary Clinton to be the presumptive winner of the presidential election. This assumption lasted up until election night, with no major network showing any chance for the Trump campaign. By 3:00 AM the following morning the networks had to declare Trump the winner. None, save for FOX, did it willingly, in some cases very unprofessional, such as Rachel Maddow, but it was done. Almost immediately the resistance was born. Many Clinton supporters could not believe what had happened, there had to be a mistake or some occurrence. All the polls could not have been that wrong. There must be a villain.

It was then that the conspiracy was born. To be honest there were previous hints of what was to come. When the DNC was hacked President Obama immediately blamed the Russians. When candidate Trumps asked candidate Clinton to explain her mishandling of classified e-mails she immediately responded with a charge against Russian interference.  This was seen at the time to be a diversion away from the question. Trump, unfortunately for him, responded with a snarky comment about if Putin had her e-mails then he should release the missing 33000. This last gave the Clinton campaign an opening to falsely claim Trump was calling on Putin to spy on Clinton, and the media followed on.

We now have three ongoing investigations, the FBI, the Senate and the House are all looking into the claim that Russia attempted to interfere with the US elections. To-date nothing of substance has been reported and the former Director of National Intelligence has stated more than once that there currently is no evidence to indicate collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. There is no indication of Russian interference having an impact on the outcome of the election, the states that swung the election to Trump were blue states that voted economic issues. There is little indication of any contact between Trump campaign officials and Russia, what they have shown is of little consequence.

Now comes the big question, what happens if all the investigations come up empty? In the end it is declared that there is no collusion and no connection between the Trump administration and the Russian government. Will the country be able to move forward and get back to business. If as I suspect there is no collusion and Trump won fair and square I doubt the resistance will end. There must be a reason Clinton lost. No DNC post-mortem has been done that has reached the conclusion that they put up a bad candidate and ran a bad campaign. The fact remains the people no longer had faith in the Obama administrations direction or the government in general and were looking for a change, any change. To that end they looked for an outsider, any outsider.

Unfortunately for the country the so-called resistance, led by the senior democrats in congress, will never accept any outcome that does not lead to Trump being removed from office.  All I can ask is that the people PLEASE THINK about what is best for our country and call for an end to this division and ask our leaders to get back to governing the country

.

Does Russia Plan to Stop with Ukraine or Turn Left at Kiev and Continue to Poland

Does Russia Plan to Stop with Ukraine or Turn Left at Kiev and Continue to Poland

Today NATO has confirmed what the Ukrainian government has been saying for months; Russian troops have crossed the border and are in eastern Ukraine. Not some advisors, but troops, tanks and artillery with all the support required. Moreover, why not, the West has given them permission to invade and told Putin that nothing will happen other than economic sanctions. Sanctions that will only bolster his standing with the Russian people and lend credence to his claims of US support to the “fascist” in Kiev.

Unfortunately, most Americans will not know this is happening since the news media is still concentrating on the recent election results and current developments in Iraq and Iran. I suppose it is important to concentrate on who will be the Democratic nominee in 2016, devoting multiple columns on speculation while Ukraine is being invaded. While the troubles in the Middle East are important Ukraine present a larger danger to the West. Why is Ukraine important and what should the West do?

The short answer (or shortsighted answer) is that Ukraine is not very important to the US and only marginally important to Europe. The US does very little business with Ukraine and Europe is tied through the natural gas that flows from Russia through pipelines in Ukraine. The importance of a response to Russia’s invasion is in the long term. For the US, which has lost the respect of the world, is to reestablish the foundations of peace in Europe which has allowed growth and prosperity. It is further important to establish diplomatic boundaries; boundaries which when crossed do invite a military option. These boundaries use to exist; there was some certainty of a response when crossed. With the loss of those boundaries, invasions happen.

The invasion is moving slowly while Putin and his thugs continue to test Western resolve and capabilities. Recent activities, reminiscent of the cold war, are being used to judge us. Russian planes are flying near US, Canadian and European airspace causing fighters to scramble to intercept. Naval forces have also been involved testing the waters off Sweden. The “non-Russian forces”, disguised as Ukrainian separatist, who took control of eastern Ukraine and allowed Russia to annex Crimea, preceded these tests. Now that we have been judge and found deficient Russian forces are flooding over the border. The question is where will they stop? Once a Russian military force begins to move it will stop only when it runs into a force larger then itself or is sufficiently degraded that it can go no further. Of course, an alternative is to ensure it never begins to move.

It is somewhat late in the game to try incremental steps to convince the Russians it is a bad idea to invade Ukraine. It is not too late to show resolve and indicate that there will be a price to pay and that price will be painful. I doubt that the U.S. can pull it off and will need someone that the Russians believe will be true to their word. Germany, England and France, along with Poland and the Baltic states could provide a sufficient force to make a threat credible.

I hope that a united European front would be able to stop a war from happening or at least contain it to a limited war that would not lead to a major conflict. The problem, as I have written before, is the longer it takes to meet this challenge, the larger the war that will come. Make no mistake, unless Putin is stopped, there will be a war.

The New Cold War

The New Cold War

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin wall, we seem to have come full circle. On that day which began the true end of the Second World War, returning pre-war countries to the control of its citizens, the future looked bright. Country after country reclaimed its heritage, not without problems and adventures. Even the Soviet Union fell and gave back control of many of its vassal states to the people. The down side of all this was the closing of minds in the West to any potential reversal of these activities. In the intervening years, all eyes have moved toward the Middle East, with all the problems, wars, and barbarity that has become the Middle East.

To play down the dangers of groups such as ISIL or countries like Iran that can and have plunged the region into war and fear would be foolish. The darkness that has enveloped that part of the world has the potential of spreading outward to engulf the rest of the world. However, the immediate threat to the Western world is once again coming from Russia. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not remove the danger of men such as Putin; it only drove them underground for a little while. While the West went forward into a new age of freedom and prosperity, Russia remained, well Russian.

The West has forgotten the Cold War and what it pertained. The barbarity of ISIL notwithstanding, the current rash of Russian aircraft and ships testing NATO defenses in conjunction with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea must be understood in an older context then the current batch of leaders appear willing or able to do. I suggest a rereading of the book “Arms and Influence” by Thomas Schelling for all decision makers. Understand what Russia is doing and what responses are required.

First off, and this is important, we must understand that Russia will continue limited wars until its objectives are meet. That is until the price is too high. Lines must be drawn and aggression contained. If NATO and the West continue to fail to respond to Russian provocations, they will become more belligerent. Who is to blame? Schelling would likely say the West. By failure to up the ante, we are giving Russia permission to continue its actions. Economic sanctions are not going to contain military action. Russia, as Putin envisions it, is capable of self-preservation. The West, as Putin envisions it, is incapable of sustaining an economic embargo against Europe’s energy supplier. So then, the answer is to nuke Moscow, not really.

The answer is to show resolve in the face of this naked aggression. Movement of NATO forces into western Ukraine close enough to be a threat but far enough back not to be an immediate danger. Then it becomes quid pro quo. Russian forces advance deeper into Ukraine so does NATO. Is this brinksmanship or a game of chicken? Yes it is. Could it lead to a larger war? Yes, it could. But the alternative is to allow the Russians to continue to move west until??? At what point do we call a halt and at that time what would it take to stop the advance? The longer it takes the less likely Russia will feel anything is going to happen. The longer it takes the larger and more dangerous will be the response.

The new cold war can only remain cold while there is a credible threat of actual war. Currently Russia does not see that threat. I do not advocate war, just the opposite. We need to set the boundaries, to let Russia know what the limits are. A new cold war is a terrible thing and should never have been allowed to happen. However, it did happen and now we must respond. If we learn from the past, we can contain war and avoid conflict. If we ignore what was learned the world may pay a terrible price.

Why Putin is pushing the door open to a New Cold War

Putin

In a March 17th article in Foreign Policy Magazine Gordon Adams, a professor of international relations at American University’s School of International Service, advices that we “Don’t Poke the Russian Bear.” It is Professor Adams’ contention that the reasoning behind Russia’s actions in Ukraine is driven by traditional Russian paranoia, and I agree. He also states that American policymakers do not get it, and again I agree. He then goes on to discuss how there is not only little we can do about it but that we should just accept the current reality and accept these actions as an inevitable part of Russia protecting its interest and its borders, now I have to disagree. According to the good professor the current crisis:

“It’s not about democracy. It’s not about annexation. It’s not about aggression or a new Munich. It’s not about a return to the Cold War. It’s about centuries-old Russian paranoia about the states on its borders and what Moscow think the Europeans, the Chinese, or the Americans are up to in its near abroad.” [1]

I am sorry professor, but it is about democracy, it is about annexation, it is about aggression, it is about a new Munich and it most certainly is about a return to the cold war.

So let us discuss these points. Is it about democracy? When did Vlad the impetuous decide that the evil government in Kiev was subjugating the Russian-speaking people of the Crimea? If I recall it was after the Ukrainian people in a popular move removed the President of Ukraine who just happened to be pro-Russian and was refusing to accept a relationship with the European Union, supported by most Ukrainians, in favor of closer ties with Russia. Of course this raises the question, does the removal of a duly elected president, by popular rebellion, encompass democracy, or is it an undemocratic action. I would remind Mr. Putin that he became the second (and fourth) president of Russia due to the removal of the Soviet era government by popular rebellion, supported by the military. Russia will not accept the new government in Kiev and considers Viktor Yanukovych as the legitimate leader of Ukraine. This following an election considered by most to be free and open, even those in the rebellious east had an opportunity to vote. Understanding that a reason for keeping control of the Crimean peninsula was to maintain a warm water port for the Black Sea fleet, allowed under treaty, there was no attempt to discuss this with the new government. The democratic loving Putin fermented a revolt supported by Russian forces, even though Moscow denied it, and then sending in the Russian army to keep the peace. So much for democracy, let us try aggression.

Well I guess we kind of did aggression but let’s recap. A large country with millions of soldiers under arms backed up with modern equipment attacks a smaller country with a small army and little in the way of modern equipment and secures some land. That’s aggression, oh no I guess it’s not really you see Putin got permission from the Russian Duma (Congress) to use the army if needed to protect the subjugated Russian speaking population of a foreign country. You see that’s not aggression…its war. Of course, the professor wrote this article before the downing of Malaysian Air flight MH17 and before the revelation that the Russians were firing on Ukrainian positions from inside of Russia, but nonetheless to say that this is not about aggression is a little much.

What about this being a new Munich. This requires us to understand the full implication of what happened in 1938 and how it does relate to Russian and Western actions today. The short of it is that the United Kingdom and France in order to appease Hitler gave Germany a portion of Czechoslovakia based on the argument that it was home to mostly German speaking peoples, without the Czechoslovakian government being invited to the table. The Czechoslovakian government considered this a great betrayal as they had a pact with both Britain and France to protect Czechoslovakia. Ok so we have not signed a pact with Putin to cede eastern Ukraine. The military actions taken by Russia violates a treaty signed between the US, UK, Russia and Ukraine to protect Ukrainian borders in recognition of Ukraine giving up its Nuclear arsenal following the breakup of the USSR. Germany completed the takeover of the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March of 1939. While Britain and France protested, they could only increase military preparedness with no other follow on action. WWII started in September after Germany invaded Poland. This should also cover annexation.

As to the return of the Cold War, we would need to define Cold War. According to most, it is a heightened level of political and military tensions between two sides. In the old days, that was the West (NATO and others) and the East (Warsaw pact and others). While NATO still exists, the Warsaw pact is gone. Putin however is trying to reestablish it through a Russian federation. This new federation established the same way as the Warsaw pact was, through force of arms. The real question is this a new Cold War or a continuation of the original following a lull. Does not matter, ITS BACK.

Which raises the question, does Putin know what he is doing and does he care. From a Western mindset, it would appear that everything Russia is doing is counterproductive to a desire to be a full partner in the world community. Nevertheless, let us return to the last part of what the professor said. “It’s about centuries-old Russian paranoia about the states on its borders and what Moscow think the Europeans, the Chinese, or the Americans are up to in its near abroad.” [2] Russia has always been an outlier to the western world.

The cultural bias that drives the why a person or government thinks and acts is no small item. First, let us define cultural bias. Most of us view cultural bias as the problem with standardize test, such as the SAT. This is a good place to start to understand. When a group of people designs a test, whose questions are constructed in a manner that is unintelligible to the intended audience, based on a different worldview or understanding, it is cultural bias. There is a lot more to it than that but you get the idea. A case in point of the larger picture of cultural bias is a recent posting from Russia that set out side by side a photo of Putin petting a leopard and one of President Obama holding a dog. From the Russian perspective, this shows Putin as a “MAN” who is fearless and capable of standing up to a west as defined by Obama holding a tamed dog. From the western perspective we see a kind and humanitarian Obama (no politics here just an observation making a point) and a person doing something (holding an animal that can tear you to pieces) only a circus performer or an idiot would do. The photo was in a Tweet from the deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin and captioned “We have different values and allies.”

Let us now extend this to the current crisis. Is Vladimir Putin acting as a lone wolf, angry at the west for some perceived slight or is he acting like a, well, Russian. To re-quote the professor “It’s about centuries-old Russian paranoia about the states on its borders and what Moscow think the Europeans, the Chinese, or the Americans are up to in its near abroad.” This is not a condemnation of Russia or Russian leadership or a statement of good or evil, it is a statement. If we accept that there is truth to the statement, then we can look for answers to the crisis. I warn you these answers are not always the ones we want or want to deal with.

In a recent article in The New Yorker, David Remnick discusses the problems Michael McFaul, who recently resigned as the US Ambassador to Russia, had with Putin. McFaul an academic and an expert on Russia should have understood the culture and cultural bias. Like many Americans, however McFaul was caught up in his own worldview, which sees only the good. When nominated Dmitri Medvedev was President of the Russian Federation and US-Russian relations was OK, not great but OK. After his official appointment, Putin declared his intention to run for the office, which sparked demonstrations in Moscow.

“In the three months between McFaul’s appointment and his arrival in Moscow, a great deal changed. Putin, feeling betrayed by both the urban middle classes and the West, made it plain that he would go on the offensive against any sign of foreign interference, real or imagined. A raw and resentful anti-Americanism, unknown since the seventies, suffused Kremlin policy and the state-run airwaves.”[3]

From the beginning, Putin was set to prove that Russia was going to be a great power once more. As before, the concept of power was through force of arms and other traditional Russian methods. Most recently, the management of REN TV canceled a Russian political program, which was the last TV show to be critical of Putin and the current government. Is Vlad just being an impetuous leader out of touch with the Russian people? His latest approval rating is 80%.

We are in what appears to be a cold war with an advisory that is trying to compel us to do something. So what is the something we need to do. We can discuss diplomacy but to Putin that just give him more time to do what he wants. We can discuss economic sanctions, which will be of little effect on a country that does not have a strong economy outside of oil and gas exports and does not fear losing that revenue. We can discuss deterrence. Yes, we can discuss deterrence.

To be up front I am not suggesting that the next time Russian artillery fires into Ukraine that we nuke Moscow. What I am saying is that we can provide weapons and training, intelligence and logistics support. What I am saying is that the 6th Fleet can run some exercises in the Black Sea. We can make life more difficult for the Russian military as it tries to reinvent itself into what was the Soviet military. Back in June, some Russian bombers flow off the coasts of Alaska and California to within 50 miles of the US. Bing honest they were within their rights and according to the Air Force the encounter was “professional.” Next time maybe a little less professionalism and a little more swagger.

Putin is not going to stop until he sees the potential of an encounter that may cost him masculinity points. An old saying goes something like this “All evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” We need to do something to shut the door on this new cold war.

Adams, G. (2014, March 17). Don’t Poke the Runnian Bear. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from foreignpolicy.com: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/17/don_t_poke_the_russian_bear_ukraine

Remnick, D. (2014, August 11). The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/11/watching-eclipse

[1] (Adams, 2014)

[2] (Adams, 2014)

[3] (Remnick, 2014)

On the need to return the military option to US foreign policy

What is Old is New Again

By Paul Davis

As we grow older, we discover through events that occur around us that the world changes little and that history repeats itself regardless of what we should have learned and passed on. Not all lessons are benign, not all lessons that would keep us from harm are learned. I began my military career in the early 1970’s just as the war in Vietnam was winding down. The enemy at the time was the Soviet Union with its large army and nuclear capabilities. Through a series of deterrent actions such as the Berlin Brigade or direct actions such as the Cuban Missile crisis we out lasted the evil empire and watched as peace broke out around the world, or most of it, or some of it, well at least for a little while.   My analytic career as well began with the Soviet Union then progressed, both in the military and then as a civilian, from the Soviet Union, through North Korea and then the Middle East. So now, after all these years, and triumphs and the peace dividend, where are the hot spots, and which regions/countries threaten world peace, Russia, North Korea and the Middle East. The news and events of the day continue to remind us that the world is a dangerous place to live.

Russia (USSR, Czarist Empire) has always been paranoid and xenophobic. It has always relied on hard power, its military. Even under the Czars, it was never an economic power, though it had the potential after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today it has Oil and Natural Gas and uses these resources as a weapon to subjugate and control. It has always been expansionist and it has never gotten along with the West. Now today thugs run the country. These thugs envision a return to empire and to expand back to the lands they lost; historically they have expanded through force of arms.

The West apparently does not understand Russia. We rejoiced when the Soviet Union fell and elected the first president of Russia, a verbose alcoholic. We then saw a “democratic” transfer of power from the alcoholic to an unknown former KGB agent. The KGB agent then engineered another election in which his handpicked successor became President and he became Prime Minister. This was convenient since it allowed for no real transfer, which became official in the next election when the KGB agent was once again the President and his successor became the Prime Minister. During this time things started to get interesting. In 2008, Russia decided that the regions of a former Soviet Republic, Georgia, actually should be independent since they had Russian speaking separatist movements. Therefore, while the West tried to negotiate a resolution, Russia invaded and “freed” Abkhazia and South Ossetia; the US imposed economic sanctions, which did not last after the next administration reset the world. The thugs also decided that this whole experiment in a free market economy needed to be brought under the thumb of the thugs. How to do this? The KGB guy had an idea. In 2003, a privately owned oil company under the leadership of Mikhail Khodorkovsky was in direct competition with the government both economically and politically. The government, now stop me if you have heard this one, arrested Mikhail Khodorkovsky on trump up charges and shipped him off to Siberia. Next take the private company and roll its assets into the government run oil industries. The West will not object as long as they get their oil. The West did not object. OK now let’s see what can be done about all this foreign capital in Russia that the thugs don’t control. In 2007 a financial group called, Hermitage Capital Management was accused of trump up tax evasion charges and taken over by government goons. This time an employee of the firm, Sergei Magnitsky, thought he could help by bringing out the truth. He was wrong. He is dead. This time the West, after several years, did something. The US congress passed a law that barred some Russian officials blamed for the death from entering the US.

Now let us move forward to 2014. The thugs have now seen that the West in more interested in oil and peace then right and wrong. That when their morals are affronted they will resort to wholesale diplomatic finger wagging. So next, the thugs chopped off a piece of Ukraine that they claim is full of Russians and really should be independent like those parts of Georgia. No wait, the West did nothing then so let us not just say they are independent lets hold an open and honest vote with Russian troops in the street that makes this part of Ukraine part of Russia. This now is too much for the West that, after days of finger wagging, decides to punish the thugs by economic sanction of about seven people, most of whom have no economic interests that the West can control. You know the rest some additional sanctions imposed on additional people. Yes, the sanctions have hurt the Russian economy but as we said, they have never been an economic power so the thugs will not feel the pain.

Now the thugs have been trying for years to bring the whole of Ukraine back into the new empire but most Ukrainians do not like the Russians, and would like to be part of the West. Well the thugs cannot have that, so they send in special army units to pretend to be Russian speaking Ukrainians to arm and train Ukrainian thugs who may be able to chop off more land for Russia. To this end Moscow continued to arm the rebels with more and more sophisticated weapons, until it resulted in the deaths of 298 innocent people going home or on vacation or, for some of the top researchers in the world, to an AIDS convention. This horrific consequence of war shook the resolve of the Russians and their Ukrainian proxies for about 24 hours; long enough to remove the anti-aircraft missile launcher back to Russia. The Russians did hold back for a while until the Ukrainian terrorist started to lose the fight. The Russians then invaded with a small army to rescue the agenda they had set out, the annexation of Ukraine. Up to today. The west has failed, the Russians are looking more and more like they will annex east Ukraine and the Ukrainian government is helpless to stop it without western support. DIRECT western support.

HOW DID WE GET HERE

Now let’s get back to lessons learned or not learned. In order to do this we need to travel back in time (this is when you see the wavy lines and hear strange music) back to 1532. In his book, “The Prince” Nicolo Machiavelli asked “… is it better to be loved then feared or feared then loved…” The answer obviously is feared. Am I endorsing Machiavelli, of course not, but sometimes he does make a good point. Now let’s move a little forward in time to 1832. Following his death, the book, “On War” by the Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz was published. I will not go into all of what he wrote but one thing he did point out is that war is a continuation of foreign policy by other means. There are many interpretations of what he meant, but all agree that at a minimum when diplomacy fails, the state still has the military option. How does all this tie in. In 1966, Thomas Schelling an American economist and professor of foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control wrote “Arms and Influence” in the first chapter, he wrote about the “diplomacy of violence.” The diplomacy of violence states, amongst other things, that regardless of the size and capability of your military should your enemy perceive that it will not be used then the deterrent effect is nullified. In other words if the military option is off the table then the bad guy has nothing to fear. This is the lesson the leaders of today have not yet learned. That what has been passed down to us by all of the above and others is that without the military option there is no diplomatic option.

Russia has no reason to be concerned over its actions, there is nothing the West will do, we have removed the military option. As I stated above no iteration of Russia has ever been an economic power and the threat of economic sanctions is of little effect. In fact, I can think of no place in modern history where economic sanctions had any effect other than punishing subjugated populations.

This is not a call to arms every time someone pisses us off. Diplomacy is always the preferred method to conflict resolution. Nevertheless, we must understand that diplomacy has to be a two way street with both sides acting to come to a reasonable accord. When you are dealing with thugs, if there is no fear of a violent response, there is no hope for a peaceful resolution. There was nothing we could have done when Russia took the Crimea. Yes, we could have streamed ships into the Black Sea or sent troops to Kiev. This would not at the time been a credible deterrent since there was no belief of any actual engagement. Had there been, then maybe the threat would have been enough. Had there been then maybe the crisis would not have begun. Had Europe stood up to Hitler in the 1930’s would so many have died. In 1962, did the world become safer when the US confronted the Soviet Union over missiles in Cuba and the Kremlin understood that the threat of force was real? I do not believe that war is an answer to the world’s problems but I do believe that sometimes there needs to be a credible threat of violence to contain violence.

Benjamin Franklin said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Can we paraphrase that to say those who give up someone else’s liberty to secure their own temporary safety… well you get the point.