The Bear has awoken from hibernation and boy is he grumpy!
That is to say, Russia is on the march again and is doing what Russia does – expand.
Putin has seized Crimea from Ukraine with all the subtlety of that note attached to the brick you found in your living room by your shattered window.
This was initiated by an elaborate false flag operation by “self-defense” militias allegedly made up of ethnic Russians who all happen to have Spetznaz training. Followed by a quickie “plebiscite” organized by baseball bat wielding community activists to legitimize things.
Does Putin expect anybody is going to believe this was all on the up-and-up?
Short answer, no. And he doesn’t care.
Why go through the charade then?
For the benefit of those in the West who very much want to believe this was legitimate and are scared to death of what it means. It gives them a face-saving way of caving in to Putin’s aggression.
What does it mean?
Large philosophical answer, that the world hasn’t changed. That nation-states continue to act the way it is the nature of nation-states to act. That the world is still a dangerous place. That, in the worlds of Edmund Burke, “There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men.”
Immediate practical answer, Putin sized up the West and saw this was the moment to act.
NATO minus the United States is a military pygmy. The United States, he saw after the Syrian crisis, is led by a man in love with the sound of his own voice but is clueless, weak and vacillating when it comes to meaningful action.
He saw the people of the United States are weary of military adventures in faraway places that never seem to change anything and never seem to end. And that many are more than a little resentful of a lot of backbiting from West Europeans who sat behind a ring of American steel for two generations, contributing little but sneering much.
So is this over now that Putin has what he wants?
No it isn’t and no he doesn’t.
This was what violence professionals call “the interview” in the five stages of violent crime. That stage in which the potential assailant seeks the answer to the question, “Can I get away with this?”
This is what is going to happen:
*Putin is going to take more of Ukraine, starting with the Russian-majority eastern part of the country, if unchecked he’ll take all of it.
*Putin will attempt to reabsorb the non-ethnic Russian countries once part of the Soviet Union that have substantial ethnic Russian minorities. First either the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia or perhaps Central Asian states such as Kazachstan or Uzbekistan. Because the latter are in Neville Chamberlain’s words, “far away countries of which we know little.”
*In the longer run Putin is going to move to bring the former Warsaw Pact countries back into the orbit of Russia.
*Putin is going to come down hard on dissent within Russia. A lot of good men and women who worked and hoped to make Russia a free nation among free nations are going to have a very bad time. This has already begun.
How soon is this going to happen?
I have no idea.
What can we do about it?
Who do you mean we?
If you mean the Western alliance, maybe this will revitalize NATO to the point the European countries start taking their military readiness seriously now they are not so certain they can rely on the U.S.
If they don’t, they may come to the point they have to abandon a NATO member or six – at which point the alliance will cease to exist.
If you mean the United States, probably nothing at present. The U.S. can avoid making empty quasi-threats that accomplish nothing but to make us look like foolish weaklings.
In the long run, get a rational energy policy in place. The U.S. is poised to become an oil and natural gas exporting nation again, if only we allow the exploitation of our immense reserves. Russia has the capability of dominating Europe through the energy pipeline. We can counter that easily, if we only will.
But if you mean us – as in men and women of good will, think long term.
*Keep lines of communication with dissident groups in Russia who oppose resurgent Russian imperialism open. Publicize their plight. Make the names of those arrested, beaten, imprisoned known.
*Raise awareness of the danger faced by the small nations reborn after the fall of the Soviet Union. Help build and maintain social media networks across the region.
*Support independent journalism by reporters willing to go there. For decades now major news organizations have shut down foreign bureaus in the name of economy. The profession of foreign correspondent is almost extinct. As a result we are getting canned news from a very few sources which are vulnerable to intimidation and heavily politicized.
Independent journalists such as Michael Yon have shown how crowd-funded journalism can work in places like Iraq and Thailand.
*Most importantly, recognize there is still hope. A world of despotism is not the destiny of mankind and America can still be a beacon of liberty to the world.
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