This Washington Post article (via msn) captures a lot of what is not just wrong, but completely bonkers about US foreign policy. The headline: “US gambles on Russia’s Empty Threats” (link goes to article). I don’t even know where to start on this. Over the last 20 years Russia has on multiple occasions told the US “if you do X we will do Y.” Not taking them seriously, the US goes ahead with “X”, and Russia then does”Y.” Here’s just a few of the most obvious examples:
2008: if Georgia continues to attack South Ossetia we will intervene.
2014: if Ukraine threatens our bases in Crimea we will intervene.
2016: if the US continues to support the SDF/AQIL in Syria we will intervene.
2021: if Ukraine does not implement Minsk II agreement we will intervene.
In each case, Russia drew a bright line and said “if you cross it here is how we will respond” and in each case the West, led by the US, dismissed it as an empty threat. And in each case Russia did pretty much exactly what they said they would.
That’s not to take sides with Russia, but to point out that the attitude displayed in the article is delusional. It is vital to keep in mind that this conflict didn’t start overnight. Originally Russia was only insisting that their basing rights and the rights of ethnic Russians, be respected within the Ukrainian state, as well as that Ukraine not be turned into a base to threaten Russia. Only when those demands (many of which were reasonable, or at least a basis for negotiation) were ignored did they begin to take action. You can’t really argue they weren’t very clear this was going to happen, and that we didn’t really try to avoid it. Worse, if you read the articles written by several top administration officials, you will see key people in the US foreign policy establishment actually thought this conflict would be a good thing for the US, so rather than respond to Russian demands the US simply doubled down on the most inflammatory behavior. Rather perverse and heartless, considering the suffering it has inflicted on the people of Ukraine and increasingly elsewhere.
Whatever you may think about Russia or the present situation in Ukraine, Russia has been very clear about both “red lines” and paths forward. In each case the US has either not responded at all to the proposed paths forward, responded with ultimatums, or been otherwise dismissive. These previous gambles that Russia was bluffing have not paid off, so you would think by now that when Russia delivers a formal démarche demanding we stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, we would take it seriously. Yet the US continues to roll the bones … with very little chance of a “positive” outcome, the mostly likely outcome at best being more suffering in Ukraine, and the price if we really miscalculate the potential for nuclear war. It’s insanity.
I couldn’t decide on an appropriate image to accompany this depressing post, so here’s a picture of one of the вежливые люди (“Polite People”) of the DPR Militia and a rescue…
… and a mission patch saying “Crimean Spring, 2014 * Polite People.” Here’s some background for those curious where the phrase comes from (US State Sponsored Media).
It’s amazing how many pictures there are of soldiers on all sides of this thing with cats. Except for one particularly noxious regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard – which makes sense, animals can tell. Speaking of which, the story that the Ukrainians are using cats to detect Russian sniper lasers is false.
Important note: the above images are not to make light of this situation, but to further highlight the madness of this whole situation and point out that humans are capable of such compassion, and yet such stupidity and cruelty. I’ve seen many cases where hardened soldiers melt over animals caught up in wars, just as I’ve seen the same inflict horrors on their fellow humans. As I often repeat, wars are sometimes unavoidable, but this one was almost certainly avoidable without compromising our beliefs or world standing. Very definition of tragedy.