The three day war Russia thought it started a year ago is still going strong.
There are a lot of "One Year" think-pieces out there that are long and detailed. I want to keep things short.
On the day the war started I made 7-points. Let's review them and see how I did back on 24 FEB 22.
1. The remaining delusions about the post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe should be firmly buried. History is back and she has her Festivus pole front and center. She has some issues with us, and we’re going to hear about it.
This continues to get firmer and displayed in stark relief. All the "offsets" and "transformations" and "war is new" snake oil sold the last few decades really should not be allowed to have any public space besides to say, "I was wrong." Rest assured, that won't stop them - but the issues we raised over the almost 18-yrs of this blog and 14-yrs of the Midrats Podcast remain true. From the shallow magazines to the fact you never have enough large caliber guns to no war is short ... we - and a lot of other people tut-tut'd for years - were correct.
2. NATO has a German problem. While all the “right people” will not shut up about how wonderful former Chancellor Angela Merkle was, people need to be very clear eyed about what a complete disaster she and the German political class have been over the last two decades. They have starved what should be continental European NATO’s most potent military into irrelevance. Her disastrous feel-good, ethno-masochistic immigration policy weakened European cohesion and fed the worst parts of European political subcultures. Yes, she made a lot of well meaning Germans feel good about themselves, but it was a sugar-high that rotted the teeth and poisoned the national metabolism. While willing to defend Europe to the last Pole and Germany to the last American, she decided to preen in her neo-pagan EuroGreen superiority onomastic politics by ditching clean nuclear power and through the complete corruption of her elite, shacked herself to Russian energy oligarchs and thus the Kremlin. Germany needs to fix herself, and NATO needs to work around her and punish her until she starts to behave like a constructive 21st Century security partner.
Germany has made great progress, but is being dragged kicking and screaming in to the 21st Century.
3. As our friend Jerry Hendrix pointed out yesterday, the moral leaders in NATO right now are the Baltic Republics and I would add Visegrad nations. You can throw Romania in there too. France will go hot and cold as she fights her desire to do the right thing for European security while at the same time nurse her 1,000 year old drive to be the premier leader of Western Europe. Serious but weaker nations will lean on a reluctant USA and limited United Kingdom … simply because - to be frank - much of the rest of the alliance is not that capable.
I think this graph tells that story well;
The front-line nations are putting their money where their existential threat is.
4. In line with #1 above, it is time for Finland at least, and probably Sweden, to join NATO. They both have a long and bloody history with the Russians and should see clearly what time it is.
5. Ukraine waited too long to rearm. Weakened and distracted by a corrupt elite, the good parts of her nation could not get ready fast enough. After the first Russo-Ukraine war of 2014 she should have modeled the armed neutrality of Switzerland with a civilian populace trained and armed to the teeth. As we’ve discussed here before with the former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact nations, every village needs a few ATGM militia teams trained to slow any advance through their patch of land. If Ukraine can, in whole or part, survive without vassalhood, perhaps they could get there. They can only get there if they build a nation people are willing to fight and die for.
Everyone is rediscovering the utility of a good military-industrial complex that can quickly grow to scale. Amazing what the green-eye-shade accounts forced those who actually are supposed to study war to believe.
6. Remember, the Russians hold the Presidency of the UN Security Council. The UN is a joke. OSCE is a joke. The EU is little more than a nest of rent-seeking, clock-watching grift-fest. NATO is, well, dysfunctional but better than nothing. Nations must take ownership of their own security. Yes, Taiwan and Japan I am talking to you. Study history. Be ready.
Well, this was kind of a lame point. The UN is, well, lame. However the end of the point is solid. We'll call it a draw.
7. Is everyone clear what Russia is now? She has a small GDP and apocalyptic demographics, but she is taking what she has and is invading her neighbors, killing people, and taking land. If your nation, company, or neighbor is buying anything from them – they are paying for this military adventurism. If the press wants to do its job, start pulling that string.
Not enough thread pulling on the economic support for Russia around the globe. Make no mistake, a lot of the worst people are making money doing business with Russia. That money buys influence and silence.
Where is this reporting?
So, what are the lessons a year later? We'll discuss that Monday.
Greatly appreciate your insights. As to your last point? Back in the day, Mike Wallace of 60 minutes would have done a nice "tear me a new one" on this... but corporate media means ad revenue... means tread carefully.
Solid work. My one point of contention is a lack of analysis and investigation of what role our Soggy Bottom and the alphabets played in getting us to this point: Orange, Maidan, Minsk, NATO expansion, red lines, etc. Russia revanchism isn't happening in a vacuum. It's how we got here and how poorly our policy is being managed right now in line with a fantastical belief that Ukraine can win this, or we can cripple Russia by bleeding it via a prolonged proxy war that won't have unintended or surprising consequences and outcomes. Our nat sec geniuses should be pursuing de-escalation and containment. Right now, we are wading in that river in Egypt.
Oh, and the grifting. You have to address the spectacular channels of money laundering, bribes, corruption and malfeasance. Some on our side are sucking so hard the tit will fall off.