By Patrick ARMSTRONG
The wise men of that Academy of Wisdom (aka The Atlantic Council) tell us " How to deal with the Kremlin-created crisis in Europe". The piece is mostly codswallop, boasting, cheap threats and hot air but there is one good thing about it:
It doesn't threaten war.
Never mind that Russia won't "invade Ukraine" for a host of reasons which I (for one - I certainly don't pretend to be the only person who can see the obvious) laid out in 2014: Why Russia Hasn't and Won't Invade Ukraine. These reasons are only stronger now because Ukraine has become more decayed, more poor, more nazi, more corrupt, more divided and more hopeless. It is a huge hostile expensive liability that Moscow doesn't want to pay for and police. Let those who broke it, pay for it.
But these guys think "Moscow appears to be setting the stage for launching a major conventional assault on Ukraine". The signers are the usual " Putin whisperers"; none very tightly connected to reality: the lead signer suggested that " Ukraine should invite the United States and NATO to send a fleet of armed ships to visit Mariupol.". They'd better be pretty small ships - the Sea is very shallow. Especially near Mariupol. Another signer is the author of the ridiculous "Dragoon Ride". Another is the expert in wrongness.
However pitiful their suggestions, one may take comfort from the fact that they do not suggest that the USA/NATO go to war with Russia if it "invades Ukraine". The truth, of which one signer has a some dim awareness, is simple:
if USA/NATO get into a conventional war with Russia, they will lose;
if USA/NATO get into a nuclear war with Russia, everybody will lose;
therefore, there is no war solution for USA/NATO
What do they suggest? What are the "immediate steps to affect the Kremlin's cost-benefit calculations"; "raising the costs"? Only worn-out repetition of past failures. One may be encouraged because it shows the paucity of thought among the warmongers but, at the same time, discouraged because it shows their paucity of thought. Stasis. Decay. Petrifaction. But never a reflective silence.
Here they are:
- "a package of major and painful sanctions";
- "enhance the deterrent strength of Ukraine's armed forces";
- "NATO should act now to begin bolstering its military presence on its eastern flank";
- USA/NATO should utter statements and hold consultations "to highlight the unacceptability...";
- "the United States and its allies should continue to make clear their readiness for dialogue with Russia, to include concerns of NATO and other parties about Russian military and other aggressive activities".
All that need be said about still more sanctions on Russia is that the EU is complaining to the WTO right now about the effectiveness of Russian counters to the sanctions Europe imposed on it because of past alleged sins. In a word, sanctions have made Russia stronger. Food is the most obvious example but there are plenty of others: the latest being forcing the Russian aircraft industry to home produce wings and engines for the MC-21. Past sanctions have given Russia a degree of immunity against future sanctions.
Of course these strategists of Laputa don't miss this one: "prevent Nord Stream 2 from going into operation in the event of a Russian attack." What they haven't the wit to understand is that stopping Nord Stream will only cost Moscow money of which it has plenty but it will cost Germany much more. It's a curious state of mind that threatens enemies by damaging allies. (Although George Friedman would suggest that that is precisely the point.)
The weapons they suggest are "Javelin anti-armor missiles and Q36 counter-battery radar systems as well as Stinger and other anti-aircraft missiles." There won't be a chance to use them - if the Ukronazis provoke a Russian reaction, it will resemble this story: " Товарищи, отойдите от своей базы подальше. У вас 10 минут".
As to the threat of NATO bolstering its deployments to "its eastern flank", taking the British Army as an example, cuts, not increases are the reality; as it is now, it has one fully-staffed infantry battalion. The US Army isn't much better. Once a paper tiger, NATO is now merely a paper pussycat.
Nobody in Moscow cares any more about statements and consultations. And neither do they in Tehran and Beijing.
The withered carrot that makes up the final suggestion amounts to talk to Russia if it admits its sins. Too late: Moscow's not in the mood.
Altogether the work of epigones.
But at least it's not a call for war.