Below is the first person I’ve read who has explicitly come out and said that we should be fighting the Russians—not with sanctions but with weapons. The author is Zoe Strimpel writing at Bari Weiss’s Substack site. Click on the screenshot below to read (and subscribe if you read frequently).
Strimpel is identified this way:
Zoe Strimpel is a historian of intimacy and gender, journalist, author and commentator based in London.
And she’s a columnist for the Sunday Torygraph.
Strimpel’s thesis is that we must show Putin that we’re resolute, and Biden is too dotty or too cowardly to do that. So long as we respond timorously, says Strimpel, and with tepid sanctions instead of flying lead, Putin will steamroller eastern Europe. Why would he stop at Ukraine?
Not only that, but if we don’t defend Ukraine, why would we defend Taiwan, which the Chinese have been eying hungrily for some time. This is all in Strimpel’s article, and I’ve put two excerpts below:
There is only one country that can bring this relitigation to an immediate end and restore order not only to Ukraine but the whole of Europe. To do that, the United States would have to convince Putin that it is willing to go to war to protect Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. But no one believes it is.
“Deterrence is a simple equation: capability times will,” former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told me. “I think that many of our adversaries today think our will is about zero. I think we’re set up for a cascading crisis now in large measure because of the perception that our will is diminished.”
The problem is not just that the United States has, over the past two decades, waged two unsuccessful wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor is it just that Americans are tired of fighting and don’t care about the former Soviet Union, although there’s some of that. (In a poll just released by the Associated Press, just 26 percent of Americans say the U.S. should play a major role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.) Nor is it just that Joe Biden is a weak president who lacks the energy needed to do battle with the likes of Vladimir Putin. (See, for example, the statement Biden put out shortly after the invasion was announced.)
. . . .When Putin announced that the war was starting in a televised address Thursday, he emphasized that any countries that interfered would face “consequences they have never seen.”
The question is: Will anyone test that threat? Will anyone interfere?
The Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Estonians—they’re wondering: What happens if Russian troops steamroll over us, too? If one of those countries was invaded by the Russians, it would, no doubt, invoke Article Five of the NATO treaty, which would compel all other NATO members, including the United States, to come to their defense. But would they? Or would they retreat and cower? Would they say what so many myopic and inward-looking voices have been saying for years: The Soviet Union is dead. Or, Putin just wants to control his sphere of influence, just as we do ours. Or, Who needs NATO?
What about China? The Chinese are watching the showdown between Russia and Ukraine, and they are thinking, If the Americans won’t defend Kiev, will they defend Taiwan? Will they?
So, not only do we have to convince Putin that we’ll go to war with Russia if he doesn’t back off; but to make that threat credible—because you know Putin isn’t going to believe us—we must actually go to war with Russia in defense of Ukraine. That’s what Strimpel is suggesting, or so I think.
Now we all have immense sympathy for the long-beleaguered Ukrainians, who will die by the hundreds, but deaths would skyrocket if we follow Strimpel’s advice. Has she forgotten what would happen if the U.S. and Russia cross swords? Does she not know that Russia has nuclear weapons, as do we, and that Putin has already threatened to use them should anybody intervene? Does she know that Russia does not have a “no first use” nuclear policy, and that Putin himself said that he’d be okay about responding to conventional weapons by using nuclear ones?
And even if there’s some gentlemen’s agreement that both sides will rely only on conventional weapons, Putin is not going to fold and retreat once the U.S. military starts shooting. It would be a long and bloody battle, and America doesn’t have the stomach for it more of its citizens coming home in body bags for a cause that is not crystal clear. And if we intervene, we’d have to occupy Ukraine for ages, as we did in Afghanistan.\
Following Strimpel’s advice would, pure and simple, launch World War III
Unless I’m missing something in this article, Strimpel is on the fringe of being unhinged, if she’s not there already. It’s simply too damn late to convince Putin that we would go to war if he doesn’t back off, and a threat that is idle isn’t a credible threat.
How much blood does Strimpel want spilled? And are the deaths worth the gain? These are questions she doesn’t ponder. And all I can conclude from reading this saber-rattling from a Brit is that Bari Weiss herself has no problem with Strimpel’s views. Her site is not an op-ed site where all views are aired, and I haven’t yet seen a column that I didn’t think Weiss would approve of.
Of course, if you think we should begin shooting at the Russians, by all means say that in the comments and defend your views. In my own view, Biden and the allies have done a pretty good job so far. Now if Putin decides to really play Hitler and go after more Lebensraum, then all bets are off.
79 thoughts on “Zoe Strimpel on Bari Weiss’s site: “Let’s get into this war!””
My inner cynic says that the US military-industrial complex is delighted with the prospect of war – more trillions to be made.
General Giap supposedly said that one should only start a battle you are reasonably sure to win.
Right now the US simply does not have the power to engage 200000 Russian troops in Eastern Europe. NATO doctrine was to try to hold the USSR back to a line somewhere in Germany till the US can bring up adequate strength from the US. In the current picture this means let them take over most of Poland, the Baltic countries, etc.
We can plan for the future, but realistically, cannot fight in Uncraine.
I believe Clausewitz made a similar observation well before Gen. Giap.
I get the feeling that younger folks have missed a few chapters of international politics in the big leagues. Never have two nuclear armed countries really gone to war with each other. Pakistan and India have come close and it is always a big rush to step in when they do. We have even been in coventional wars and refused to go nuclear when some wanted to go nuclear. The Korean War comes to mind. But for us to start shooting at another Nuclear country you have to be a little more than nuts. Wars almost always escalate. When the countries are Nuclear do you know what that means. Do you understand what MAD means. If not, suggest you look it up.
Men Are Dumb?
That’s a good one….
The first thing I thought of when I got wind of this article was the point that two nuclear armed countries have never really gone to war with each other. Plus Ms. Strimpel
not seem like someone who is an expert on foreign policy, Russia, Ukraine or anything in those areas.
I’m not disputing the idea that we should go to war, but am questioning which ‘we’ is relevant. I wouldn’t mind the UN going to war, and I wouldn’t mind if more military infrastructure were shifted to that political level. That said, it wasn’t that long ago that we individuals went to war, outside of the scope of our own governments. George Orwell chose to fight in the Spanish Civil War. I can’t even count how many people have signed up with the French Foreign Legion.
At any rate, if the US goes to war, the US Constitution demands that Congress issues a declaration of war – the first since 1942.
So, if we go to war like you suggest, you do realize that, with the UN going to war and NATO as well, there will be NUCLEAR WEAPONS USED? Are you really okay with that? Remember, Putin said he’s okay to responding with nuclear weapons against conventional ones used by the other side.
Seriously, you favor a nuclear war, because that’s what you’re implying. And it’s not Hiroshima any more: we have much more powerful weapons and lots of them.
I agree with Jerry.
Of course, Putin saying he would unilaterally use nuclear weapons has an intended effect of its own whether he means it or not. I’m not necessarily saying that we should call his bluff, of course.
And that’s the difficult call, Jerry. Yesterday we had a nuclear power start a war using conventional weaponry because it thinks the other nuclear powers won’t respond or retaliate because what ‘right-minded’ person wants to start a nuclear war. Yes, it’s a huge risk to the entire world. But if Putin uses that veiled or not-so-veiled threat and we acquiesce each time, how much territory of other sovereign western european countries will it take to satiate Russia? I can’t help but feel that we would be feeding a tiger hoping it eats us last.
As I said, I don’t think we should countenance Putin’s taking over of one more country. But we have no obligation by treaty to defend Ukraine, whereas we do for the Baltic countries, Poland, and so on. I believe I said explicitly somewhere that we don’t just acquiesce each time Putin wants to take over another country.
Sir, I am not suggesting that we humans, either individually or collectively (via the UN) go to war; I am simply saying that I am not disputing it yet. I do not want the US or NATO to do so; if the US choose to do so, at the very least, it must be Constitutional, through a Congressional declaration of war. Congress has chosen not to issue such a declaration in the past eighty years!
For the UN to engage militarily, the Russians would have to agree. Not much chance of that, really.
Russia can veto the UN going to war.
“At any rate, if the US goes to war, the US Constitution demands that Congress issues a declaration of war – the first since 1942.”
How quaint 🙂
We should not get involved under any circumstances.
Today I’ve read several headlines saying this is Europe’s darkest moment since WW 2. Apparently people have forgotten that the USSR invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. And both times we did nothing.
I think that is not a particularly apt analogy. Both Hungary and Czechoslovakia were in the USSR’s ‘backyard’ so to say, part of the Warsaw Pact and all that, tryimg to break free to a limited degree.
The US did intervene in some South American countries too and even European ones (Greece or former Yugoslavia come to mind), not to mention the Middle East or Far East
If a NATO country is attacked or invaded, all the partners, including the US, have the obligation to intervene, to go to war, in other words.
Crimea could be compared to Austrian Anschluss, Donbass to Sudetenland and Ukraine to the invasion of Czechia (Bohemia).
Attacking a NATO country would be like the invasion of Poland. I know, these are not very good analogies either, but not as bad as the Hungary and Czechoslovakia ones,
Nothing is going to stop Putin except his own death. His vision and raison d’être is for Russia to be composed of all the lands it once was. He does not care about the Russian people, or any people at all, just his ideal of Russia as a country. There will be many deaths in Ukraine as he storms on. If the US were to go to war with him, it would not stop him, just stall him, as many more die, so it would not be helpful to do so but instead make things worse. He will not stop after he gains control of Ukraine – he will then be planning and carrying out ways to regain control of the other countries that were formerly part of Russia. The best occurrence for everyone except him is that he die before causing more deaths of others.
Yes, I agree. Putin – like Hitler, knows that violence works
“Now if Putin decides to really play Hitler and go after more Lebensraum, then all bets are off”.
In the Hitler/lebensraum analogy, would Ukraine be the Rhineland or Sudetenland? Who will be Poland? How far does Putin need to go so we can risk nuclear war?
Ukraine is the Sudetenland, but I don’t want to play this game. If he invades a NATO country, we have a treaty obligation to defend that country. Now we may be cowardly and not do anything, but that would violate the very purpose of NATO.
And NATO is the strongest pillar of US power. Without NATO the US would cease to be a superpower. And, as far as superpowers go, despite some horrible warts, far from the worst superpower, arguably even the most benevolent ever.
There is going to be a lot of confusion, distortions and contradictions during this conflict- that’s how Putin wants it. And the propaganda model (as defined by Herman and Chomsky) will be at full-tilt. Anyone out there have any suggestions as to the best media to follow re. this conflict? I usually look through the lens of liberal outlets (yes, I know they’re biased), but I’m not about to watch Fox or any other extreme right-wing outlets as their mission is to simply strawman Biden. Maybe the BBC and WSJ? I feel at a loss when it comes to the “truth” on the ground over there. I didn’t think I’d ever despise a leader more than I did Trump, but Putin has taken the prize…for whatever that’s worth…nil.
I toggle between Al Jazeera, AFP, journos on Twitter & NPR. It’s a mess right now but the AJ Livestream seems on top of it.
Al Jazeera reports that hundreds of anti-war protestors have been arrested in Russia.
Thanks for the recommendations. I forgot about Al Jazeera. I think “toggling” is the best strategy here.
You are quite right, her commentary is unhinged and actively idiotic. Modern nation states, such as the USA don‘t go to war on whims, or refrain from fighting on personal shortcomings of their leaders, regardless of what one thinks of Biden. People who don‘t know about geopolitics and national interests should rather restrict their opinions to, say, gardening, or reporting
on royal families.
Her baseless speculation that NATO might not do for what it was founded is particularily telling. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are in the NATO, Ukraine is not. Being part of a military alliance, backed by tons of paperwork, negotiations, imtegration, heaps of money, national interests and diplomatic frameworks has an enormous effect on the game theoretical considerations, and everything that follows.
Another barrel burst for Bari Weiss.
I was not aware they are part of NATO! [Facepalm] Good to be reminded of that. It makes bits of my other posts irrelevant and out of date, but this is a “I’m happy to be wrong” moment.
It’s a very good question and I think realistically, “he won’t” must be considered a strong possibility.
Unfortunately in terms of realpolitik, I doubt the American public would back the US *leading* a hot war response in eastern Europe. Between Afghanistan and Trump beating the drum of isolationism on the right, we don’t have a unified national will to jump in here. If our European allies committed to doing so, our public might support sending troops in support of a broad-based western response. But realistically, we’re not going to lead from the front on this one.
As for the Balkan states, best option for them is probably to start making (non-NATO, maybe bilateral) alliances with the west fast and firm, as best they can. But again, in this case I can’t see the US leading from the front. This has probably got to be a European-to-European effort where the US plays a supporting role at most.
I don’t buy Strimpel’s logic that we must defend Ukraine if we want to later defend Taiwan. Call it hypocritical, call it inconsistent, but the fact of the matter is you’re talking very different theaters, different opponents, different past agreements, and different interests. Certainly the Chinese are watching and taking Biden’s measure. If they think our administration lacks the will to defend any ally, that could be trouble. But Strimpel is wrong to think that lack of military intervention in one place determines a lack of military intervention in the other. One consideration that is probably on China’s mind is: is the US holding back here and now so that we don’t have to hold back later on Taiwan.
I think you may be conflating here the Baltic states with the Balkans, Eric.
Yep, wrong word. Also the Baltics are part of NATO and thus may not need bilateral alliances, which is a more substantive error in my commentary (although taking the ‘belt and suspenders’ approach, maybe they want those too). As I mentioned to Aneris, I’m very happy to discover I was wrong in thinking they weren’t.
Eric, you probably meant Baltics, but Balkans are also relevant: some of the Balkan states (Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Slovenia) are also NATO members; some pan-Slavist movements want to integrate a Slavic state from the Balkans to the Baltics to Siberia; some pan-Slavists are also irredentist and want to annex territories that were formerly but no longer Slavic (Macedonia, Albania) We’ll see how this one develops.
I think you mean, the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania,and Estonia), not the Balkan states
Anti war demonstrations have broken out in Moscow and St Petersburg. I think this is going to make it very hard for Putin. He has made a big mistake. Further sanctions, including those against member of the Russian Security Council have been made from the EU, Nato Nations, and the US. I think this is more effective than fighting Russia because that’s not a war anyone can win. Perhaps we can entice Finland to join NATO now.
Yes, people are too quick to throw in the towel and think that Putin has anything sewed up. I believe he will come to regret the hell out of this move. This is Afghanistan part II for Russia. Does anyone remember what happened after part I?
Indeed! Many Russian notables and journalists are risking their careers opposing this invasion. They are brave people.
Not only careers…their risking their future freedom and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration that they’re risking their lives.
Oh the homonyms have struck me again.
From what we know from Putin (a former KGB officer, after all) and have seen, I think you are perfectly right. They risk their lives, and probably the lives of their relatives too.
I admire the courage of those demonstrators. I demonstrated against the Iraq War, but all I risked was (mild at most) frostbite, not jail.
I wonder what the equivalent of “the long telegram” would have been today, and whether it would have had any effect? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Article
Dang, who’d’ve thunk that a historian of intimacy and gender could be so hawkish?
The overheated professor needs to go sit in some shade for a spell before addressing this topic further.
“So, not only do we have to convince Putin that we’ll go to war with Russia if he doesn’t back off; but to make that threat credible—because you know Putin isn’t going to believe us—we must actually go to war with Russia in defense of Ukraine. That’s what Strimpel is suggesting, or so I think.” – in the UK, we “actually went to war” over Poland in 1939 – something that Hitler wasn’t expecting. Should we have? The reaction in the US was certainly rather different.
I get a whiff of “you are a wimp if you don’t want to fight” from this piece too. Like Biden is weak simply because he works with allies to try other ways that may be more successful.
Neville Chamberlain’s notorious quote from a 1938 broadcast. “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war” How did that work out for him? I’m afraid I see a lot of Chamberlains in leadership positions but no Churchills. Best roll over, let Putin shaft us and make the best of it.
I have to say I don’t see why, if defending Ukraine from Russia is a no go because of how horrible nuclear war would be, we would do anything no matter what Russia does. Poland? Well, are we really going to risk nuclear war just to enforce the provisions of the NATO treaty? Is it worth New York getting nuked?
This is why France acquired nuclear weapons, they didn’t trust the U.S. to actually enforce it’s “nuclear umbrella”. Why would we sacrifice New York City to protect Paris?
Let’s face it, as long as a nuclear power is willing to credibly threaten the use of nukes for any reason, they can always get their way.
If you oppose war with Russia because of nukes, I do have a question. What if Putin were to say “These sanctions are acts of aggression against the Russian people, failure to lift them will force me to consider removing the governments enforcing them through force of arms, even if that requires the use of nuclear weapons to decapitate the sanctioning states”. Should we remove the sanctions out of fear of nuclear retaliation?
I don’t know what the best thing to do is, I am not saying avoiding war because of nukes is necessarily bad, but it seems like these otherwise weak nuclear states, are going to see they can actually engage in brinkmanship safely if they see the other side as unwilling to risk Armageddon for anything less than an existential threat.
Among the dangers of deploying NATO troops inside Ukraine would be that Putin might deploy tactical nuclear weapons inside Ukraine itself — which would create a very volatile situation indeed.
Putin knows that an attack on any NATO nation will be met with force, per the mutual-defense provisions of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and that he cannot cow NATO nations from doing so by threat of a preemptive nuclear attack, because he knows (and he knows that everyone else involved knows) that any such preemptive nuclear attack would be met by massive nuclear retaliation that would reduce Russia to rubble (especially given the US’s nuclear triad capabilities).
To compare the deployment of NATO forces inside a non-NATO nation such as Ukraine to the deployment of NATO forces to defend against an attack on a member state is to mix apples and beets.
“Putin knows that an attack on any NATO nation will be met with force,”
Ken, we know that, but I’m not so sure that Putin knows that, especially if victorious in Ukraine. He may have this power-drunk notion that he could get away with it (we’ve seen that kind of overreach before). I think that would be, well already is, a highly dangerous situation.
I just hope the Ukranians are up to the challenge and make this invasion a painful one for Russia, a failure. It could even topple Putin. But that is the best case scenario, of course.
Bullies will bully until stopped or reformed. They will threaten and bluster and convince, in turns. Cowering doesn’t stop abuse, it transfers power from the victim to the oppressor. Telling the bully that you won’t play with him/her if they are mean won’t work unless your group of supporters is bigger than the bully’s and projects a united willingness to extract a form of justice costly to the bully. We need a strategy that will extract a high price from Putin and the oligarchs while, to the extent possible, sparing the Russian people. One possible model is Bush 41’s approach to convincing dozens of countries to band together to drive the Iraq army out of Kuwait after Iraq illegally occupied the country. The coalition drove the invaders out of Kuwait then said, let’s stop now, go home and resume our lives. Any non-military response needs to include an expansive coalition of determined allies and a toolkit of effective responses that target Putin and his rich cronies and destroys their wealth.
We weren’t fighting the Russians then, and now we would be, and they have nuclear weapons and will use them. Are you seriously suggesting that the U.S. and its allies go into Ukraine and drive the Russians out and then go home? Do you really think that would work? Russia is not Iraq. Frankly, I’m surprised that so many people are suggesting military intervention against Russia.
According to The Guardian :
I’m not sure that assisting Ukraine in the ways that it has requested necessarily equates to “military intervention against Russia”, just defensive measures in support of a threatened independent state?
I am guessing that we are doing all we can for Ukraine considering the situation. I know it is also much easier for those sitting on the sideline, not participating, to be critical of others that are in the game. People like Trump who never served in anything and has no respect for those who did. We certainly are not going to be negotiating with the Guardian or anyone else on the issues.
Yes, that would be the best the West can do. It would seriously impede the invasion, actually help the Ukranian army, without getting directly militarily involved.
Jerry, why would Putin use nuclear weapons over a Ukraine kerfuffle? I don’t think our military would have let Trump use them and I’m not sure Putin or his military would use them either unless the motherland was threatened. He wants the Ukraine for legacy reasons and destroying the world with nuclear weapons won’t help obtain that objective.
In a limited way as a deterrent. It’s not just Ukrainian “kerfuffle” (bu the way, you demean the brave soldiers of the Ukraine by calling it a “kerfuffle”). If you read the post, you’d see that he might use them if the U.S. or NATO allies start shooting at Russians. At any rate, the U.S. has a “no first use” policy and Russia doesn’t, and he’s mentioned using them, and do you really want to take the chance that he wouldn’t use a nuclear missile or two if we started a shooting war with him? I wouldn’t. Nor did I say that Putin was aiming to “destroy the world”.
Unlike any of the other nuclear-armed nations (AFAIK), the Russians maintain a stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons – i.e. very small megatonnage bombs intended to destroy an expeditionary force in the field rather than take out entire cities.
I haven’t heard Putin threatening nukes, but that would probably be the implied usage. You’re right, he’s probably not going to lob a nuke at NYC in response to the US putting 50,000 troops in the Ukraine. What he might do in that case – or at least, what he would threaten to do – is nuke our 50,000 troops in Ukraine.
One effect of Russia invading Ukraine might be that the European NATO members might seriously invest in their military. Another effect might be that the USA invest seriously in conventional weapons rather than high tech.
If Putin decides to attack the Baltic NATO states ((Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, situated on the Baltic sea and all three of part of Imperian Russia and the Soviet Union) , he can easily do so. Just look at the map. NATO supply lines over land go through Poland, and the distance from Grodno in Belarus to the Russian enclave Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania is just over 300 km. Cutting the connection between Poland and Lithuania leaves the three Baltic states easy prey.
I’ll not be the only one who doubts the US will risk nuclear war over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Since the Ukraine leadership have explicitly asked for military help, I won’t say anything against it. (Though I would on the general case.)
In fact, one of Sweden’s major parties want to send defense weapons there.
But mostly we are gearing up for the relief there and in accepting millions of refugees into Europe. And for the sanctions, increased cost et cetera.
Putin no acts as (and unhinged) dictator, and the irony may be that Trump was so similarly erratic autocratic that it held the then saner Putin back. Biden is a gentleman, and we’ll see what US will do – sanctions have a hard time going after Putins well hidden money – ironically Russia is doing it to themselves as I read that the rubel halved in value (but recovered to lie in between). Russians are protesting with Ukrainians all over the world, including demonstrants in Russia (who Putin goes after as ‘criminals’).
“Putin no acts as (and unhinged) ” = Putin now acts as (an unhinged).
I’m surprised that Jerry takes Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons at face value. How do we distinguish here between empty talk and a credible threat? When the US wanted to drum up support for invading Iraq the same arguments were made: Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and he can’t be deterred from using them. I.e., he’s not a rational actor (that is, concerned about his own survival).
Putin is a liar.
Putin is incredibly dangerous. He does not understand the world the way the old Soviet Politburo did. They lived through the Great Patriotic War, & new the cost. Putin does not have that experience.
So Putin does not know what retaliatory nuclear strikes against Russia would do to him? I beg to differ.
I am not taking Putin’s threat at face value; he may be bluffing. but I for one don’t want to take the chance. Putin is a mystery, but I’m glad that you, for one, know exactly what is in his mind.
Plus, you do realize that Hussein never had weapons of mass destruction; it was a rumor. We KNOW that Putin has weapons of mass destruction.
I know nothing of this Zoe but if anyone is unhinged, it is someone who goes to war over perceived slights.
“Putin is not going to fold and retreat once the U.S. military starts shooting.” Well, think about a previous Winter War. The Finnish army under Marshal Mannerheim inflicted such severe casualties on the Red Army that Stalin, in effect, folded part way. That is, instead of taking over Finland entirely, as in
the original Soviet plan, Stalin settled for just 9% of Finland: Karelia and two small slivers in the northeast. It is probably this experience that led the USSR, after defeating Germany in WWII, to allow Finland’s continued independent, though neutral, existence—giving rise to our term “Finlandization”. Putin’s Russia clearly wants more complete dominance over Ukraine than that—but maybe if Ukraine inflicts heavy casualties, Russia will be forced to re-enact this part of history. In aid of that, the West should provide as much military help to Ukraine as possible, short of direct military intervention.
In 1982 I met some veterans of the Winter War in the sauna at a spa outside Helsinki. They proudly showed me their scars from that.
(Said spa, Haikko, is a splendid place. Prior to the Revolution it was frequented by the Russian Imperial family and (I only learned this recently) is also the place where Grand Duke Kiril’s son Vladimir was born and christened. Vladimir became head of the Russian Imperial family.)
Attacking Russia would be equivalent to cutting off our nose to spite our face. The only serious geopolitical enemy we face at the moment is China. Unlike Russia, her productive capacity in many areas necessary for equipping and maintaining a large, modern military force is already greater than ours, and the discrepancy will increase as time goes on. She has a credible nuclear force, and one that she is apparently strengthening rapidly. Against this enemy, our only real enemy, Russia is a natural ally. It is in our interest that she be as strong and credible a force on her long border with China as possible. For that reason, the reunion of the primarily Slavic regions of the former Soviet Union is also in our interest.
China is making nice to Russia at the moment, but you can be sure that eventually she will bring up the matter of the “unequal treaties,” etc., and seek to reclaim her “lost regions,” threatening Russia the same way she is now threatening Taiwan. We should be doing all we can to strengthen Russia, not threatening to attack her.
The idea that Putin will seek to conquer eastern Europe should he succeed in reuniting what he obviously perceives to be his country is the purest nonsense. He is not such an idiot as to believe that an attack on NATO would be anything but suicidal.
Under the circumstances, attacking Russia and risking a nuclear holocaust over Ukraine would be inadvisable, to say the least. We can talk about fighting for fine principles all you like, but in the process, I suggest it would be well to keep the principle of national survival in mind, and the only real threat to our survival is China. In our discussions of the morality of what Russia is doing at the moment, we cannot afford to ignore that threat. It is not possible for anything to be more immoral than failing to survive.
I tire at comparisons to the Sudetenland/Hitler. In those days there wasn’t a NATO wall, a one for all and all for one hard alliance (set up for JUST THIS REASON – to stop the Russians) to make even Putin think twice.
He must know that when he alienates the West he leaves himself open to China. And China doesn’t have “friends”, only vassals.
FWIW, I just learned tonite that I have two degrees of separation from someone in Kyiv. A FB friend is friend of a Ukranian economics professor at Pitt who went back to Ukraine this past weekend(!). My friend shared this from him over there this evening:
Ukraine has held up quite well today. The attack started around 5am. Multiple cities were hit with missiles. Kyiv too. I woke up to the sound of it. It took some time to figure out what was going on. A bit later Russia attacked from all directions, from the north (Belarus), the east, and the south. Russian paratroopers landed at an airport close to Kyiv, about 15-20 miles from downtown, 34 helicopters, apparently preparing a way for Russian planes to land more troops. My house is not far from that airbase. By the end of the day, Ukrainian military has been able to recapture the airbase and kill and disperse the paratroopers. Most of the advances in the north (from Belarus) and from the East have been stopped. There might be some loss of ground in the south from the Crimean direction. The missiles in the morning hit many towns, including those in the western ukraine. But the government and business infrastructure appears to be functioning normally, and there is no panic. ATMs are operational, no line in grocery shops, Wi-Fi and cell networks are up, epayments go through, there is gas at gas stations, although there is at times congestion and lines. Tomorrow might prove decisive. I am certain Ukraine military will do its job and defend Ukraine.
There’s also this in the WaPO todaythat makes the point that Russians have little motivation to participate in this, while Ukranians do.
Putin is now terribly dangerous and I am afraid that there is real danger of escalation to nuclear war. I agree that a military reaction to the Ukraine invasion is not warranted for formal reasons, apart from the fact in my lifetime, I have yet to see a war that was worth fighting and that did not create more problems than it purported to solve. I personally would certainly prefer Putin rule over Germany (where I live) to war, and I think the best thing for Ukraine would be to surrender immediately. It’s not that Ukraine was a very functional state for its citizens, it’s a corrupt oligarchy masking a democracy
What I don’t understand is why Biden publicly ruled out US military action for Ukraine while Putin was amassing his troops, while at the same time not even moving an inch regarding Putin’s wish list. I’d say that was a big tactical mistake because it removed any true deterrence while at the same time preventing any face-saving backstepping on Putin’s side.
On second thoughts, I wonder if what I considered a tactical mistake was is deliberate (i.e. cynical calculation). The Biden government gains in standing for the upcoming elections, the drain of notoriously broke Ukraine will now be on Putin, Putin will most probably be weakened internally (Crimea had huge internal support, this one, not so much), and the unruly ally Germany will be weakened economically and will now be forced to do what it wanted to avoid: Spend a lot of money on defense, buy expensive liquid gas and end its special relationship with Russia.
At some point somewhere you’re going to have to get involved. Can’t always hide behind loss of lives and the fear of nuclear annihilation for not shutting down dictators. I also doubt Putin would use those weapons because it would absolutely obliterate Russia.
Nobody is preventing US-based chicken hawks from going to Ukraine, picking up any of the available US-supplied rifles and joining the fight. Go help those brave grannies who Zelensky claims are ready to defend Kyiv.
Ms. Strimpel is mighty good to admonish others regarding what they should do. She should go on a nation-wide tour of U.S. high schools and (try to) shame adolescents into joining the military to go in harm’s way to possibly (probably?) be killed or maimed for life.
Better yet, perhaps she herself could get an age waiver and join the U.S. Navy, her ship duty station being a Lower Level Machinist Mate of the Watch (MMOW) in the engine room, on an every six hours “Port and Starboard” rotation. Or maybe a Hull Technician, responsible for keeping the ship’s “sh—ers” unclogged. A fine billet. “Three Hots and a Cot.”
Let’s have a go at some psychological warfare. Offer the crews of Russian tanks $1 000 000 and asylum in the country of their choice if they turn over their tank.
The last person we want in charge of picking a fight with the Russians would be Joe Biden. Look at the sloppily coordinated pull out from Afghanisthan, and the BILLIONS of dollars in military equipment left behind, not to mention American citizens and Ally citizens caught without an exit route. Immediately upon being inaugurated, conflict erupted in the middle east. And classified information given by the Biden administration to the Chinese was then directly shared with the Russians! He’s seen as weak and he makes ill informed and naive decisions. Better to continue the current strategy, which is just to give supplies and arms. Even donations of arms can be seen as an act of war, though.