It’s been another day and another provocation in the ongoing ICBM-measuring contest between Russia and the US that started sometime around when Obama’s State Department appeared to have first touched off the chaos in Ukraine and then threw salt in Putin’s eyes with sanctions for his predictable response. Or before. Maybe it was the missiles we put in Poland. Or when we kept pushing NATO further and further east. Or when we accused them of rigging the 2016 election. Or way back when we made the Serbs stop killing everybody (that’s around when Lord Zedd was still running shit in the Lunar Palace for all the Millennials in our as-yet-non-existent audience). Who remembers?
I should emphasize, being that this is my first post on this shiny new blog, that I’m not one of those alt-Right Putin Lovers (my wife thinks he’s hot, but she denies being deeply attracted to anyone who assassinates journalists before she’s had a chance to meet his mother). I am, however, of the opinion that his conduct is largely driven first by his own rational self-interest and his own nation’s security interests. That doesn’t make him a good guy or us bad guys, necessarily, but I do question why so many in DC are so eager to inflame a situation that is both avoidable and unwanted by those of us in the “hey, let’s not die in a fireball in 2018” faction of middle America. I see Putin as a rational actor and I wish I could say for sure that this is also true of our own American leadership
I’m probably closer to a 1940-style isolationist Republican. Sure, those guys look bad in hindsight and nobody is saying that the world isn’t better off that Germany lost WW2 (though I like to argue it would have been better if we let them win WW1); but it should be said that it’s true that if we didn’t want the Lusitania to get sunk we shouldn’t have loaded it up with weapons for the British; if we didn’t want war with Japan, we might have chosen not to back them into a corner with a crippling oil embargo over their conduct in a war that wasn’t ours in China; and if we weren’t itching to get into a war with Germany, there wasn’t really a need to help the Royal Navy hunt U-boats. I see the events happening in Eastern Europe and Syria that are bringing us into conflict with Russia as….well…mostly being driven by our own actions and I hate to think we’re doing this to ourselves again.
Realistically, Russia is not a threat to the United States. Red Dawn is even less likely a scenario than Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 in terms of Russia’s military capability. They can’t invade us and I very much doubt they could even nuke us into oblivion if they wanted to. We would win if it came to a hot war, of course, but it would be ugly and wouldn’t be easy.
To that, I have to ask, “So what if we win?” Really, what is there to fight with Russia over that is absolutely essential to our own survival? Ukraine? Where much of the eastern half of the country identifies more with the Russians than the they do the western Ukrainians? Eastern Europe and the Baltic Republics? I think they’re nice people, but vital to us? No. The Free Syrian Army? Don’t make me laugh, I’ll blow vodka out of my nose. It’s like picking out the oldest, most broken down drunk in a bar to start a fight with because you saw him looking at some other guy’s girlfriend.
I sincerely cannot see any area where Russia threatens our future, but I see a whole bunch of ways we are threatening theirs. Putin may one day have to face the same equation the Japanese did in 1941: completely submit to American authority under threat of economic ruin or war. The Japanese carried out Pearl Harbor in the surprise manner they did because they understood that they were fundamentally a weaker country attacking a stronger one. Putin too knows his own country’s limitations. He’s not a madman, but at what point does he have to make a choice and what can he even do? Probably nothing good and even if it’s self-destructive, it will be us-destructive enough too.
This is one of those moments in history during which we need to examine what our foreign policy objectives are, the rationale for them, reflect upon the likely consequences, and then beat stupid the career diplomats, intelligence officials, members of Congress, and business interests who are pushing those objectives. We can stop this. Nothing is inevitable right now.
If WW3, is what we’re heading for, then I fear it’s going to be the same story as too many of our previous wars: if/when we get ourselves sucked into it, it will be our own fault and it won’t be any great consolation to all the dead people and their families that it was some sort of just and noble cause brought on by some other power’s atrocious response to our own attempt to force our will on them.
Ah, but what do I know? I’m a lowdown Putin Bro Internet troll for suggesting that our foreign policy should serve our national interests instead of warmongering millionaires or (more likely) misguided, moralistically warmongering idiots like John McCain.