By Pascal Najadi
By Pascal Najadi
While much of the world wonders when Russia will invade Ukraine, the US Senate's number 2 ranking member on the Armed Forces committee has added something new:
When will the US invade Russia?
Senator Roger Wicker disclosed that a US invasion of Russia is on the table. He spoke on national TV immediately after the Biden-Putin virtual summit about Ukraine.
Wicker revealed that US military action against Russia is actually under consideration. When asked, he explained, "Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction on Russian military capability."
He emphasized that he "would not rule that out," nor would he "rule out American troops on the ground." Wicker even added, "We don't rule out first use nuclear action." As an afterthought he conceded, "We don't think it will happen." But Wicker concluded, "I think the president should say that everything is on the table."
To my knowledge President Biden is yet to endorse such military action. He's threatening more sanctions against Russia instead. I wonder what of this was discussed at the recent Biden-Putin virtual summit. News organizations have reported no substantial accomplishment at that meeting.
Putin, for his part, just wants US/NATO to agree to no further threats toward Russia, to not admit Ukraine as a member. Failing that, says one Russian official, Russia might even the score by adding defensive tactical nuclear weapons in its European territory. That would have been prohibited by treaty, but the US pulled out some time ago.
Wicker's aggressive comments, nonetheless, have stirred some alarm themselves. While he is a Republican, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, the former presidential candidate, reacted in horror over Wicker's threats: "We are being pushed closer and closer to a hot war, a nuclear war," she exclaimed. Sounding exasperated she added, "I mean, it literally is insane."
Here in neutral Switzerland it looks to me like there are now two unacceptable threats being promoted. The first is the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now the second is the threat of an American invasion of Russia.
However, I am not sure that either threat exists in a practical sense.
Russia denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine. Western politicians and media counter that with a report from American security agencies. These are the organizations that brought us reports of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and of Russia propelling Donald Trump into the presidency.
Time has shown in both instances that those reports were unreliable and lacked a factual basis. Is the Russian intent to invade Ukraine just more of the same?
I've seen reasons to suspect that it is. Allow me to present just two.
The first is the absence of a motive. Even Anne Applebaum, a sharp critic of Putin's, told CNN, "Rationally a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be insane." She points out if Russia were to occupy Ukraine it would be largely an unwelcome occupier and could face "a guerrilla war and violence for many years." She posited that an occupation wouldn't even be popular back in Russia.
Nonetheless, the Western media continues to assert that Russia is now preparing for an invasion. The primary physical evidence is the massing of troops and tanks along the Russia-Ukraine border. There well could be internal Russian troop movements. But there is no evidence that the action is aggressive and not defensive in case of a Ukraine-based attack on Russia.
Western media has given little coverage to why Russia might be making defensive preparations. What has been missing is accurate reportage about the NATO activities and build-up on the opposite side of the border with Russia. Is Russia just responding to that? Could that be the reason for Russia's build-up?
Here is a second reason for questioning the Russian invasion story:
The evidence of Russia's aggressive build-up is itself quite flawed. Ariel photography that I've seen shows an established Russian training facility, not a newly established encampment. That facility is not right on the border as the headlines suggest. It is over 100 miles deep into Russia herself.
That is not the only flaw in the invasion story. The evidence of a build-up focuses on troops and tanks being amassed. That suggests a planned ground war. But wouldn't initiating that kind of invasion be an enormous blunder by Putin? If Russia really did want to invade Ukraine, why would that be the chosen means of assault?
Russia has far more sophisticated weaponry at its disposal. It has hypersonic missiles against which the West has no reliable defense. It has underwater submarine drones to use against US warships in the Black Sea. Why send in tanks over the relatively flat terrain of Eastern Ukraine? They would be easy targets for the drones Ukraine acquired from Turkey. Why risk massive Russian casualties?
Massing troops and tanks makes more sense as a defensive precaution. They could be instrumental in repelling a ground war initiated by someone else. If you think about it, the invasion story we're seeing in the news doesn't really add up.
But who is actually giving it much critical thought? Judging by Tulsi Gabbard's remarks, official Washington is not. The absence of practical thinking there may be making Senator Wicker's "attack Russia" plan seem realistic.
Gabbard said, "The crazy thing is, Senator Wicker is not an outlier." She added, "You are hearing the same kind of rhetoric coming from Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the administration and in the media." She says they see "no problem with this because they actually agree with this. They are pushing this same narrative themselves."
I agree with Gabbard and Applebaum about the insanity of it all.
Shockingly, the insanity is not confined to the United States. The G7 has joined together to oppose Russia's alleged plan to invade Ukraine. Are they all insane? Why would they want to participate in further inflaming the dangerously tense relationship between the world's only two nuclear superpowers? Don't they realize what they are dealing with? The stakes couldn't be higher!
It surprises me that France went along with all that through the G7. She had the strength to oppose the US invasion of Iraq. But the courage of President Francois Mitterrand was behind that. Current president Emmanuel Macron, some say, is seeking to fill the pan-European leadership void created with Angela Merkel's retirement. But Macron is facing an election next April. Will French voters be impressed? Or are they more concerned with domestic issues?
While Macron postures, we still have two threats of military invasion on the table. On one hand there is fear of Russia moving on Ukraine. On the other there is US/NATO moving on Russia.
The timetable for the Russian invasion is widely reported to be early 2022. There are no reports that I've seen for the US/NATO initiative. One wonders what role the impending US mid-term elections in 2022 might be playing.
As I see things, the ruling party's ability to remain in control will be negatively influenced by general consumer discomfort: inflation fears, standard of living questions, and the outlook for the future.
The US economy could use a rescue plan.
One approach to that is actually available with Bitcoin A strong argument can be made that moving to a Bitcoin standard could fix the US economy. A national policy for that is yet to emerge, though. That leaves a troubling economic outlook and its potential for influencing the 2022 elections.
In light of that, and with reluctance, I offer this observation: A commitment to a major war, if it can be viewed domestically as patriotic, could give the ruling party an edge in the election. A war could also boost the influence of what would then be a wartime president. Let's hope it does not come to that. It's impact could be devastating for us all.