I get it, alright, it is all done with the best of the intentions. Plus, The American Conservative, despite its gaping holes in knowledge of Russia, tries to position itself as a "realist" publication, and once in a while they do produce a sound idea or two, but in general they suffer from the same ailment characteristic to most modern "intellectual" publications--a complete inadequacy of experiences past and of understanding a modern world beyond the bounds of a few popular talking points such as West's moral decay and "economy" and "diplomacy". It is a feature now, even of those who position themselves as Anglo-American "realists", or, even, people who try to find some higher moral meaning in the chaos of a contemporary Western politics.
Anatol Lieven is a fine example of a field which I personally do not even consider a viable realm of expertise or study on any issue pertaining what we all know today as geopolitics and one would expect Lieven, who has a Ph.D in precisely this fraudulent political "science" to have issues with adequately grasping the modern day reality. Lieven is extensively quoted in the article in the said TAC by Bradley Delvin who is extremely critical of this:
Over a dozen House Republicans recently signed a letter to President Joe Biden encouraging the president to take stronger military action to help Ukraine defend itself against the possibility of further Russian intervention. While the Biden administration has not gone as far as these House Republicans would like, which is essentially impossible given an election year is just around the corner, the foreign policy establishment continues to make miscalculations that could become more than costly in the event of further escalation with Russia.
It is all fine and dandy, and I agree that those republicans are essentially neocons and that the US Congress is a collection of primarily bruised egos and war-mongers. We shouldn't be surprised with that--it is a well-established fact. What is fascinating that while speaking about "miscalculations" and, obviously, self-defeating policies, Delvin gives a wide berth to Lieven's "interpretations", which in many respects prove without a shadow of a doubt that "miscalculations", if not delusions are as wide-spread among the so called Anglo-American "realists" as they are among neocons. I'll start with Lieven's rather wrong assessment of the situation of NS2. This is not to say that Russia doesn't care, of course she does and wants NS2 to work--it goes without saying. But Lieven thinks that:
“The biggest deterrent by far is the threat of greatly intensified sanctions,” Lieven said. “Russia is anxious about its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany. Clearly in the event of a new war with Ukraine, that simply stops and goes out the window, and there are many, many more things that the U.S. or Europe could do that could harm Russia very badly in terms of its economic well-being.”
I don't know what Lieven's qualifications are for this type of conclusions, but he obviously contradicts a number of Russian experts, not least of them Rostislav Ischenko, a former employee of Ukraine's Government and a man who is situationally aware on the issues of Ukraine and NS2 order of magnitude better than Lieven will ever be, who in unison (I am one of those) repeat the point for years, that since roughly 2016-17 and on, the sabotage of the NS2, if it succeeds, means merely a discomfort for Russia which will be overcome, while for Germany and Europe it will be a catastrophe. I wrote so much about it for years, just type Nord Stream 2 in search bar in this blog. Moreover, I don't know how Lieven missed an obvious major shift of Russia's hydrocarbons' extraction and processing industry away from western borders towards the Far East. Everybody sees it, evidently not Lieven.
But that is not the main issue, in the end, if Europe wants to commit suicide it is not for Russia to prevent it. But Lieven decides to wax all strategic and military and says this:
“If America was planning to seriously prepare for a ground war with Russia, it would have to re-deploy tens or hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to Europe with full air cover, and station them in European countries, which might very well not be willing to receive them,” Lieven told TAC. “In addition, this would mean either preparing to fight a war of two fronts simultaneously with China and Russia, because if the United States goes to war with Russia, there can be no doubt whatsoever that China would move to take Taiwan the next day, and the U.S. would have to either fight on two fronts, give up on one front, or lose on both fronts.”
I deliberately highlight and underline what Liven states on the size of the force the United States will need to fight a "ground war" with Russia. It is not a detail which could be attributed to my nit-picking. It is not, it is very serious when a person who is viewed by many as an "expert" makes such a gaffe. Of course, I don't know WHY the United States will fight a "ground war" with Russia, I presume in Ukraine, but Lieven better ask Andrew Bacevich, his boss in Quincy Institute, and a former cadre officer (Colonel) of the US Army with combat experience. Maybe, I am not saying it will happen with 100% probability, he explains to Lieven what force will be needed to "fight" Russia near Russia's borders.
Of course, a lot depends on HOW the victory will be defined by the US, but judging by Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan (among many others) it could be defined anywhere between total and partial defeats inflicted by enemies on the US. Russia, however, is a bit different case here, EVEN if we assume that the US will not escalate to a nuclear threshold after a week or two of fighting this "ground war". Even if we assume that both sides do not use nukes, be them tactical or strategic, the purely conventional "ground war" against Russia in Ukraine will require at least one million of combat troops on the American side, granted Russia will even allow those to be shipped to Europe. I am, however, not 100% positive on the "cut off" number of the US troops (it could be 200,000 or somewhere near 400,000) concentrating in Europe before Russia will blow to smithereens most of the ports capable to receive US transports and then simply destroy airfields with whatever will be there.
I wrote about those wet dreams by US a few years ago. There, Ochmanek, evidently, was pulling numbers, pardon my French, out of his ass, still being enamored by a turkey shoot of a backward Iraqi Army. But exactly two years later he dramatically, to his credit, changed his tune and admitted:
We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment. We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary,” RAND analyst David Ochmanek told a security conference on Thursday. “In our games, when we fight Russia and China, blue gets its ass handed to it.”
Unsurprisingly, those admissions came on the heels of Vladimir Putin's address to Federal Assembly on 1March 2018 whose historic significance many people still cannot grasp. So, yes, million(s) of US (NATO) combat troops if NATO decides to commit suicide conventionally and see Washington and European Capitals' government quarters in ruins. There is no worse than some Ivy League or Oxford Ph.D in political "science" beginning to wax military and "miscalculating" by order of magnitude on the scale of force and, hence, slaughterhouse which will unfold if the US decides to fight a ground war with a "peer" and not some illiterate Arab soldier or Taliban. This is not a "miscalculation, it is a tour de force of military ignorance which defines modern Western politicum be they from "realist" wing or the neocon one. They better listen to this, again, between 7:00 and 16:00 minutes and see reactions of his political "science" interlocutors.
P.S. Wilkerson spoke about "ultimately winning", he really needs to refresh his memory on American wars of the 20th century.
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