They can hurt us, but we can't hurt them.
Wonderful summary. Many thanks!
China now dominates the Western Pacific militarily, thanks to its bigger, more modern, better armed navy and its vast array of specialized missiles.
One airborne missile exists solely to destroy AWACs and theater command aircraft. Another drops torpedoes close to submarines...Read and weep: All Your West Pacific Belong China Now..
"...The really interesting question is whether the political, systems of the West can learn to live with this situation..."
Well, live with or understand? I think we have a colossal case of crimestop here. Orwell classically defined crimestop as a kind of protective stupidity...the inability to think things that will get you into trouble. For the leadership of the collective west right now doubleplusgood crimestop on the topic of "Ukraine=good=winning, Russia = bad = losing" is needed, and the only real question is When (or, God help us all, if) does the whole affair collapse?
I'm hoping it's *before* a general thermonuclear conflagration, but I'm not too optimistic. It seems to me that the Nordstream destruction is likely an act of desperation, but we're way outside the realm of rational acts here, and it's not inconceivable that it was an act of demented overconfidence.
Ugh, I think I'm going to have to hide under the covers for a bit.
Well done, thanks. The advantage of massive numbers of sophisticated missiles should have been clear to the West, but I would guess they simply weren't profitable enough in comparison to ungodly expensive stealth aircraft and floating coffins called aircraft carriers. Makes it all look like a huge boondoggle, weapons they never actually expected to use in a real war against a real opponent, and instead they insanely relied on nukes to handle that situation.
That's an outstanding analysis. Well done.
Both Sweden and Finland are suddenly reported to not want NATO troops or nuclear weapons on their soil. Semantic games as regards NATO vs. bilateral or the the realization that what Russia does to the energy infrastructure in Ukraine could easily be repeated elsewhere? Countries outside of the former Soviet union, and especially outside of the former Soviet block do not have anything resembling Soviet-level resilience built into their energy systems. They have not had Ukraine's population outflux either, which added to the redundancy. Northern climates and green energy policies like shutting down nuclear energy make matters even worse.
Excellent article. Just as your comments at Naked Capitalism are invariably helpful.
The west has invested in fighting colonial wars: just as the British did in the late nineteenth century whilst Russia is focused on defending its own borders. The folly of Britain spending so much money on “prestige” pocket aircraft carriers and F35 jump jets is super obvious from this.
Long term, I totally agree that this is the denouement of the US alliance and of NATO. The US resembles a tired boxer trying to cling on to its vestiges of power and stay as the overlord of Europe. Ultimately, this will be futile. Europe, as you say, is going to have to accommodate Russia (and China) and stop asserting so much moral superiority. As you suggest, European populations will struggle with this but it will happen. The question is just how long it takes and how much destruction and dislocation is needed to get there.
We need clear sighted leaders who see the end game and move towards it. I fear there are very few of those. Viktor Orban seems one of the very few who show publicly that they understand it.
"The really interesting question is whether the political, systems of the West can learn to live with this situation."
The key problem of the West is the corruption of the political system, the poltical class. That corruption is not necessarily, or even, brown envelopes but constant lobbying with incentives and disencentives if you are disobedient. If you become PM of Lichtenbourg in the end it doesn't really matter much to you if you are booted out by the electorate providing you have said and done the right things as far as the dominant Western narrative is concerned, because you know you will be provided for à la Blair, Van der Layen, the EU commissioner class etc. If you don't skeletons will pop out of cupboards and thngs wll be difficult. The US has been brilliant at managing this system.
Broadly the acceptable view is Western style universal sufferage, "our values", support for US real politik and support for hostile actions, economic, political and where feasible military against any state or politician that takes a different line. What the electorate want must be ignored or circumvented. At the same time the electorate must be brainwashed by a compliant media to adopt views that make this as easy as possible. It is about the suspension of disbelief.
The key problem is the intrusion of reality, eg Italy and Greece economically, LGBT and immigration in Eastern Europe. The western system of government now operates on the principle that true 'you can't fool all of the people all of the time ' but you can fool enough of them long enough to put through the policies you want for the time being. Naturally constant repetition of this type of governmental behaviour becomes less and less effective over time. How long can you go on persuading people that Russia has a tiny weak economy when it is as plain as the nose on your face that it has a large effective one? The answer is a surprisingly long time, all the more so because the people putting across the false story have convinced themselves it is true. But not for ever. Eventually a majority of the British electorate noticed that membership of the EU meant loss of sovereignty despite being told the opposite.
The other key problem is the not necessarily honest but atypical politician who pops up and throws sand in the machine and denounces the Emperor's nudity. It is interesting in this conection that the key European leaders who decisively marked their countries history during the WW2 period did not go to university - Churchill, de Gaulle, Hitler, Stalin. Today Orban in Hungary or Putin, Farage in the Brexit movement. For better or worse they refuse to conform.
I think that Putin and Lavrov, who both know the West well, do not rush things precisely because they want to give European politicians time to come to their senses. They invaded Ukraine because the US deliberately encouraged Ukraine to make it unavoidable.
Thank you for another excellent essay. A question s’il vous plaît, could the missiles not be launched from submarines, in this way putting Paris and London on the list of possible targets?
Great analysis. I've never seen this so clearly put before. The decline of the 'west' is well under way. The only question left is whether German industry will force it's government to leave the sinking ship.
Funny how Russia keeps using tanks, infantry and artillery, despite their devastating missile superiority. Funny how they keep getting pushed back, too.
"Confronted for the first and only time in its history with the kind of crisis for which it had been designed, NATO took effectively no direct action at all, and is paradoxically substantially weaker as a military alliance now than it was a year ago, because it has given so much equipment away. "
Choose one. NATO supplied weapons. NATO is weaker because it supplied weapons.
Mostly off topic, but I thought I'd ask anyway, especially since you're familiar with the region.
Would political calculations similar to the Europe-Russia dynamic also apply to Israel-Lebanon (actually, Hezbollah)? The former is assumed to have ultra high tech weaponry (and useless nuclear weapons) versus many thousands of missiles and drones, most, perhaps, not particularly accurate, but some much more so. It would appear that there is a balance of terror that would argue against either side initiating hostilities. And secondly, how do relatively cheap drones alter the balance? The recent impoverishment of most Lebanese and the election of Netanyahu add some poignancy to the situation.