March 29, 2014

War fever is in the air. Fifty thousand Russian troops and armor are massed on Ukraine’s eastern border. Europe and Washington worry that the reborn Red Army may sweep west across Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics – even into Poland.

The West is suffering from a bad case of Cold War chills.

Not only are the Western powers worried, they are discovering that they likely lack the means to stop possible Russian incursions into what was the former Soviet Empire.

They should not be at all surprised that Russia is again showing signs of life.

Frederick the Great, the renowned Prussian warrior-king, warned: “he who tried to defend everything, defends nothing.”

Every young officers should have Great Fredrick’s words tattooed on his right hand. Soon after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a small number of strategists, this analyst included, warned NATO, “do not move east. It’s a bridge too far.”

Soviet chairman Mikhail Gorbachev had agreed to let rebellious East Germany escape Soviet control – but in exchange for NATO’s vow not to push east in previously Soviet dominated areas of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The US and NATO agreed, then quickly broke their pledge.

NATO’s advance into Eastern Europe, the Baltic and the Caucasus – not to mention former Soviet Central Asia – that brought the US-led alliance right up to Russia’s borders. US anti- missile systems were scheduled to go into Poland, close to Russian territory. New US bases were set up in Bulgaria, Rumania and Central Asia.

Unsubtle US efforts to bring ex-Russian Ukraine and the vital Sevastopol naval base in Crimea under NATO control – no doubt to punish Russia for supporting Syria and Iran – proved the last straw for the Kremlin.

Talking tough is easy. Defending Eastern Europe from a possible Russian invasion will not be. The main problem is that while US/NATO guarantees have been advanced to Russia’s sensitive borders, their military capabilities have not. In short, commitment without capability.

Russia’s military could take over the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in an afternoon. Sizeable portions of their populations are ethnic Russians.

NATO is not deployed or equipped to go to war over Ukraine: its troops are far to the west, without supply systems or air cover. Besides, European powers, aside from the little Nazis in Denmark and Ukraine’s nationalists, want no part of war with Russia – that’s left to the war hawks safely at home in Washington.

The barrage of trade sanctions Washington is imposed on Russia is an act of pre-war. We should remember that US sanctions imposed on Japan in 1941 that led Tokyo to attack the Western powers.

During the Cold War, the US had some 400,000 troops in Europe, 800 warplanes and potent naval forces. Today, the US has only 43,000 troops left in Europe: two combat brigades and the rest air force and logistics personnel. The old days when the Soviet Union had 50,000 tanks pointed at Western Europe are long gone, but Russia’s modernized armed forces still pack punch.

Meanwhile, the US has scattered forces all over the globe in what Frederick the Great would call an effort to defend everything. Most notably, US troops have gone to Afghanistan, Iraq, then Kuwait, and many home. America’s strongest divisions are now guarding Kansas and Texas instead of German’s Fulda Gap and Hanover.

America’s military power has been dissipated in little colonial wars, just as Britain’s were in the 19th century. When British imperial troops had to face real German soldiers, they were slaughtered. Similarly, the US military, reconfigured after Vietnam to wage guerilla wars, is in no shape today to face the grandsons of the once mighty Red Army.

Cautious, patient Vlad Putin is not about to invade Poland. The real danger is what would happen if the ethnic Russian inhabitants of the Baltic states, Ukraine and Moldova rise up and demand reunification with Mother Russia?

Would Russia go to their aid? Would Europe and the US be ready to risk nuclear war for obscure places like Luhansk, Kharkov, Chisinau or Kaunus?

In Ukraine and Crimea we are now seeing the results of overly aggressive Western geopolitics. Russia was woefully underestimated. A crisis between nuclear-armed powers should never have been allowed to occur. It’s sheer madness. Like nuclear-armed children fighting over a toy.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014

This post is in: Balkans, Caucasus, Crimea, Europe, NATO, Russia, Soviet Union, Ukraine, USA

7 Responses to “WAR FEVER IN THE AIR”

  1. solum temptare possumus says:

    Jeff is correct. The $400 toilet seats are still being billed to the American taxpayer for black research. From a trusted source that I believed back in 1975, the US Marines were testing in the California desert, laser rifles and laser rail guns on tanks. Now extrapolate continuous research in the last 35 years, and James Bond satellites with lasers is not a long stretch.
    I fear only the Neocons behind the scenes. They are trying to foment some type of escalated conflict in the borderlands of Mother Russia. The Russian intellingence and their leaders intellect will stop the conflict from becoming anything but a local “lebensraum”.
    I think Cicero’s point on China does not take into account that members of the Banking Cabal are in the Chinese Communist Party elite. To much instability would occur within China, if they called in all the Treasury Bills/Debentures. The American implosion will be slow and steady. With American’s armed to the teeth, another revolution is not what they want. That could lead to the abolition of the Federal Reserve.
    Far simpler is to steal stealthily from the American populace. To this point, I want all to watch this past sundays 60 Minutes 14 minute video titled “Is the US Stock Market Rigged?”
    “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him POWER.”
    Abraham Lincoln
    I think the character of all parties involved is woefully lacking.
    ad iudicium

  2. The quote by Frederic the Great can only be described as an absolute truth and valid warning for anybody foolhardy enough to disregard it.
    Not only is the US spread out very thin around the globe, it also has far fewer friends than they like to claim and think. The opinions of the people in the different countries under the heel of the IMF and other related institutions pay lipservice at best. Then consider the threat of a far mightier and far farther advanced powerhouse than the main stream media will tell you, China and you can clearly see, that the US has made a couple of critical mistakes on the political chessboard. The US ventured too far away from its king, the dollar as a world currency and now China just has to wait for the most opportune moment, to pull the rug from under uncle Sam`s feet and the whole house of cards is going to implode.
    When Jewish people in the Ukraine start worrying about their safety and they rightly do with a fascist ultra right wing party in power, that not only uses a semblance of the Hitler greeting, but is openly anti Semitic, then one can be justifiably wondering, how the US and even Israel can back that party. And that does not even take into account the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government with the aid of a slew of imported thugs and instigators from the same source as those, who are fighting in Syria. If we dare to deny the same rights to Russia, which the US claims for itself, we may be heading for WW 3, in which case the disaster area around Chernobyl is going to look like a safe playground, because that will be the end of the human species. The survivors of such an exchange will envy the dead, because they will die in agony for lack of medical services, clean water and safe food, that will not exist anymore and the offspring to be born yet will be so disfigured from the genetic mutations caused by the radiation, that whatever will live on, will not even resemble a human being, as we now know it. Whoever starts that war has to be the most insane person the world has ever known and history registers a fair number of them, even fairly recently.

  3. As in the 1991 Gulf War, when the USA had its secret stealth war planes, the U.S. has something that any opponents will not expect. Just where do you think America’s military budget has been going? It is the largest military budget in the world and in the history of the world. Just do the numbers. There is just no way that America’s presence in Afghanistan or Iraq comes anywhere near the cost that the U.S. military budget draws. Anyone who has done any research on the internet as to what has transpired over the last decade, with the U.S. military, will understand that the big push has been into laser technology. 767 jets with top mounted lasers that can shoot 300 miles. And that is at the speed of light. No waiting around for a missle to arrive. And who needs feet on the ground when you can send a drone to do more damage than a brigade, and without risking U.S. soldiers’ lives.
    There was an interesting commentary that was written by the editor of Veterans’ Daily, regarding an action that happened off the coast from San Francisco in September of 2012. There are several reports of this event from various media sources, but the editor of Veterans’ Daily tends to give the rumors total credibility. All I will say about it here is that it involved lasers. Successfully, apparently.
    America is the world leader in technology and Russia knows that.
    If Russia moves any further west, it will be in Ukraine. Ukraine supplies Crimea with all of its water and electricity. 80% of the water that it supplies is used for irrigation of Crimea’s crops. Ukraine has been using intermitent black outs of Crimea’s electricity lately. Ukrainian leaders are saying that they do not want to endanger Crimean residents, who they still considers Ukrainian citizens, but at the same time they do not want to continue with regular power supply to an occupying force. It would take years for Russia to build the necessary infrastructure to supply Crimea with water and electricity, and so it is likely that Russia will invade the east of Ukraine to supply a water and power corridor to Crimea, that Russians will be able to control. Russia obviously did not take into consideration, this glitch in their occupation of Crimea. They wanted Crimea (probably for newly found, unannounced, oil and gas reserves in and around Crimea) and were using the old “We are protecting the rights of Russian speakers” bull poop line. But they did not take into consideration, the water and power issue. Russia has taken a move that is a step too far, but now they have little choice but move to invade eastern Ukraine or else do some serious negotiating with the current Ukrainian government. Russia’s Putin and Lavrov have said that they would not negotiate with the current government in Ukraine, but lately, primarily due to their oversight of the power and water issue, they have little choice but to negotiate with the government that they branded as illegal. And so Lavrov has said that he would, indeed , negotiate with them.
    Do not underestimate the military power of the United States. Just because they no longer have the conventional forces that were previously the measure of military strength, don’t think that they have sat around on their asses while the world, largely lead by the USA, is going through a technological revolution. They lead that revolution and you can bet your bottom dollar that they are secretly leading a military technological revolution as well.

  4. I should have added, “Would Russia go to their aid? Would Europe and the US be ready to risk nuclear war for obscure places like Luhansk, Kharkov, Chisinau or Kaunus?”
    I would suggest as far as the US is concerned, ‘likely’. On a good day, most American citizens are ignorant of anything beyond their immediate borders.

  5. If you take a look at a Geopolitical map of the area and a map showing the voting patterns, it’s pretty obvious that other portions of the Ukraine may want to secede and join Russia… Crimea happened quickly, and I think caught the rest of the Ukraine by surprise. It may not be so ‘clean’ for other areas to leave.

    The US and UN (one in the same, to me) have let other countries separate if in American interests… but are applying a different set of rules for Crimea.

    It’s not a matter of Russian intervention, but the will of the people in Crimea.

  6. If I understand Eric correctly the US is not militarily capable of stopping a Russian invasion of the Baltic states and the Ukraine. If true the vehement anti Russian rhetoric and punitive sanctions are but impotent posturing aimed at thwarting further Russian incursions into their own political sphere of influence. I suspect the Russians will now play a wait and see role before taking any further precipitous action in the Ukraine. However I don’t believe the Russians can afford to have a hostile Ukraine armed by the West on it’s immediate border. I suspect they would accept a neutral or non aligned unarmed Ukraine even with western economic integration but not as a armed member of NATO. So, if the US and NATO continue to press the former then they are inviting another European war or more. Perhaps it’s high time for Europe to cut it’s military ties with the US and make friends with Russia. It is a geopolitically natural partnership if they could only give up their historically irrational and unwarranted fear of Russia.

  7. Americans need to realise one fact here. I they attack Russia this will be a war that will come home with them. Unlike fighting the farmers they are used to fighting the Russians can take out their supply transports, and attack their communications systems. Imagine Americans if they lose their GPS or cell phones. They’d freak out.

    Also remember when the Americans took on the farmers, they lost.

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