Posted by Curt on 15 March, 2022 at 7:31 pm. 17 comments already!


By Michael Johns

On the surface, many of the lessons associated with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are fairly self-evident.
Trump’s Russia Policy 
First, for four years, former President Trump projected a healthy balance of both strength and political sophistication on Russia, arming Ukraine with lethal defensive military aid on the one hand, but also not provoking Putin or Russian nationalists with provocative commentary about Ukraine in NATO on the other.
This sent exactly the right message to Putin: That we were not tolerant of Russian aggression against sovereign states but that, in turn, we also were not seeking to present any security threat to Russia’s sovereignty either.
Biden’s Contrasting Russia Policy 
Putin saw weakness in Obama, especially following his dismissal of any Russian threat during the 2012 presidential debates with Romney.
In many respects, this led him to conclude he could seize Crimea without opposition, which he did two years later, in 2014. Then, in August 2021, like much of the world, he watched as Biden handed Afghanistan to the Taliban, abandoning our hugely strategic air base in Bagram and leaving Americans, Afghan allies, and billions of dollars of military equipment behind as the Taliban rolled into Kabul pretty much unopposed.
I believe he saw the opportunity for aggression in Ukraine very early in the Biden presidency, and he already had about 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukraine border. But watching Biden end the longest and costliest war in U.S, history by handing the country over to the very terrorist forces we had been opposing, again inspired him that it was an opportune moment for him to move on Ukraine.

I also think Putin’s newfound emerging relationship with Xi Jinping gave him confidence. Putin met with Xi on February 4 in Beijing. If you review the joint statement they issued, it is pretty clear to me that Xi green lighted Russian aggression. They both opposed the expansion of NATO and attempted to present themselves as representing some sort of emerging global consensus in support of their respective visions for the world, which is absurd but the message Xi has been preaching for years.

The hypocrisy in that statement is overwhelming. Two of the world’s most brutal dictators expressing support for “universal human values as peace, development, equality, justice, democracy, and freedom.” Xi is engaged in genocide of millions in East Turkistan as we speak, and has been declared “president for life” by a few of his Communist Party colleagues. He has no governing mandate from the 1.4 billion of China and is governing a nation in which almost all, or all, provinces under his governance would separate from China if given the opportunity. His government is behind almost all of the world’s illegal fentanyl shipments, much of the world’s organ harvesting, and controls the country’s legal system, its media, and suppresses any and all dissent.
Putin, of course, differs in some ways from Xi, but not on the fundamental issue of domestic liberties, peace, and human rights, which he also suppresses. There’s a long list of Putin opponents, from Galina Starovoytova to Sergei Yushenkov to Nikolay Andrushchenko and a long list of others who paid with their lives for opposing Putin. And, of course, we’re now witnessing Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, including military attacks on maternity wards and other civilian facilities.
The point is that these are probably the last two individuals in the world who have any standing to be lecturing the world about justice, democracy, and freedom. But none of this should be surprising to anyone. Mao said “communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.” And Lenin said “there are no morals in politics; there is only expedience.”
The Issue of the Afghanistan Exit 
The abandonment of Bagram Airfield in July with no pre-announcement, no handoff to the Afghan military, and leaving the Parwan Detention Facility unguarded, which housed over a thousand hugely dangerous terrorists and other criminals, was the first signal that Biden was not at all concerned about U.S. commitments or interests in the region. It did not receive much attention in the U.S., but Putin saw it in Moscow and Xi Jinping saw it in Beijing—and the result was this enhanced resolve we now see in Putin, in trying to take Ukraine by force and without much regard to the world’s perception of him. I believe this is also manifesting in Xi’s commitment to ultimately taking Taiwan by military or other means. And I think we are seeing it in the dilution of our alliances.
When the United States abandons its friends, its friends start looking for other friends, or for a third way, and Biden is overseeing this abandonment. It is an intensification of the so-called “managed decline” ideology that has been present in government for decades but never to this magnitude. We now have a government consciously and pro-actively seeking to weaken our standing in the world by diminishing global trust in us, by eroding the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and by handing over our sovereignty to multilateral institutions like the United Nations, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the like. These are not neutral bodies. They are deeply infiltrated and controlled bodies whose loyalties are largely to the CCP and associated interests. The very idea that some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, like China and Russia, can sit in judgment of other nations’ human rights conditions through UNHRC is a perfect example of the inherent contradictions and limitations associated with globalism.
Regarding Crimea 
Putin saw weakness in Obama and took Crimea in 2014. He saw strength in Trump and did nothing. He saw extraordinary and almost irrational weakness in Biden and is now engaged in a kinetic war in Ukraine that is proving very costly to human lives. I believe Putin has miscalculated with his aggression in Ukraine—and it obviously must be condemned and sanctioned in the strongest terms. But look beneath the surface in an introspective way, and even Biden’s response to the invasion lacks the sort of strategic and proportionate response we should demand.
U.S. Energy Crisis 
On one hand, because Biden so constrained our domestic energy production, we are paying Russia about $75 million a day for oil that easily could be produced here if it weren’t for his regulatory constraints on domestic energy production. And that $75 million a day in Russian revenue is largely controlled directly by Putin and his cronies and is funding this very war in Ukraine that we say we condemn in “the strongest terms.” Well, the strongest terms must include denying Putin those petroleum revenues.

Instead, however, Biden chose first to sanction Russia’s central bank and removed Russia’s financial institutions from the global SWIFT banking system, which predictably is sending the ruble into rapid collapse. Has anyone in the Biden administration even pondered where this all leads? For starters, these sorts of sanctions against a national currency, the burden of which is going to fall almost exclusively on the people, not the government, are exceedingly rare—and they are rare for a reason. For starters, they are essentially an act of war and likely to be reciprocated as such. Additionally, dictators and their associated allies have all sorts of places and means to move financial assets into foreign currencies, foreign or underground financial institutions, or many other options. The people do not largely have these options, so this becomes a war on the people more than a war on the government.
This is how it is playing out in Russia now. The ruble has lost 40 percent of its value already—and that slide is likely to continue. This devaluation creates a rush for withdrawals, and Russia has already responded by imposing withdrawal limits, which stops some bleeding but further intensifies domestic anxieties. Interest rates have more than doubled. This is all quite possibly a recipe for domestic rebellion and turmoil, and we’re not talking about domestic rebellion or turmoil in any nation. Russia remains a nuclear power. They have about 6,000 nuclear warheads, which is more than our own stockpile. What is going to happen as Russians rebel and Putin concludes his governing reign is over? What is Putin going to do as Russian military or intelligence forces see his political vulnerability and move against him? These are concerns and questions about as serious as they get in national security and foreign policy. We are not dealing with a controllable or predictable outcome. As the Reagan Doctrine began to force change in 1990 and 1991, I remember our focus shifted from the regimes we had opposed to the one that would emerge, and the fact that the Cold War ended peacefully was as great an accomplishment as the fact that it ended at all. The end of the Cold War aside, we do not have a very pleasant history with regime change. Quite often we have ended up with regimes even more oppressive and more hostile.
And domestic turmoil is not the only concern.

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