Saturday 23 September 2023

What is Biden going to do now?

A friend who's a retired academic just sent me an email.
What if the 'sides' in the Ukraine war are peaceful coexistence v. ruinous (except for a few, for whom it's highly lucrative) war?
I agree and have said this in this blog since last year. It's tiresome when I get attacked for being pro Putin and tiresome that there are people who are. They are as annoying as the ones who lose their temper if it's suggested that the Americans made mistakes which provoked Putin. 

But a Romanian friend of mine was not far from the truth when she said when the war broke out that America put Russia in a lose lose position. 

What does Biden do now?

Putin cannot afford to be seen to lose - that will lose him more support than even conscription according to the latest poll. He may prefer to bleed Ukraine and bleed the Anglo-Americans, a bit like Franco dragged out the Spanish Civil War.

I used to think Nato, unlike the UN, was a huge success. That was during the cold war. I now think that George Kennan was probably right to oppose it being set up. 

Now the danger to the West is from the south (refugees and illegal immigrants) and from within (terrorists and woke). These things are, of course, linked.

In his latest piece, Seymour Hersh says:

'The war continues, I have been told by an official with access to current intelligence, because Zelensky insists that it must. There is no discussion in his headquarters or in the Biden White House of a ceasefire and no interest in talks that could lead to an end to the slaughter. “It’s all lies,” the official said, speaking of the Ukrainian claims of incremental progress in the offensive that has suffered staggering losses, while gaining ground in a few scattered areas that the Ukrainian military measures in meters per week.
'The American intelligence official I spoke with spent the early years of his career working against Soviet aggression and spying has respect for Putin’s intellect but contempt for his decision to go to war with Ukraine and to initiate the death and destruction that war brings. But, as he told me, “The war is over. Russia has won. There is no Ukrainian offensive anymore, but the White House and the American media have to keep the lie going.

'“The truth is if the Ukrainian army is ordered to continue the offensive, the army would mutiny. The soldiers aren’t willing to die any more, but this doesn’t fit the B.S. that is being authored by the Biden White House.”'

Hersh has been unreliable for a great many years and an American government source (the same one?) told him a story that was not true about how the Americans blew up Nord Stream. He might be right about this, though.

Yves Smith in Naked Capitalism:

'Marguerite Yourcenar salvaged one of the finest lines in all literature from the first version of her masterpiece Memoirs of Hadrian: “I begin to discern the profile of my death.” We are approaching that point with Ukriane, not just its military campaign, but also its economy. That baked-in collapse has been camouflaged by the bizarre pretense that there will be a huge reconstruction push, even more absurdly, funded by private sector interests. One has to think that the “rebuilding” patter is part of the cover for the fact that Project Ukraine is a lost cause.'

A very interesting essay by Daniel Davis in Newsweek last week is worth reading.

'As leading American politicians, generals, and pundits continue advocating for open-ended support to Kyiv in their war against Russia, a sober, accurate analysis of Ukraine's nearly completed summer offensive reveals that the heroic sacrifice Ukraine continues to make is producing little to no meaningful progress toward the objective of evicting Russia from Ukraine's territory.'
I thought this for six months and though I read the mainstream media I almost wonder why I do. It reads like Pentagon, MI6 or Ukrainian press releases.


  1. "A penetrating New York Times article by Jason Horowitz (June 2014) has unraveled the family and friendship web at the core of this disproportionately powerful, silver-tongued group. Kagan emerges as dominant, not least in the wake of his spouse being the United States’s point-person on Ukraine. The journalistic hook for Horowitz’s New York Times piece is a May 2014 article by Kagan, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire: What our Tired Country Still Owes the World” in New Republic. At the start he complains about the “tepid” response to events in Syria and Russia/Ukraine. By the middle he is darned unsettled that in a poll “more than 50 percent agreed that it was ‘more important’ that the United States ‘not get too involved in the situation in Ukraine’ than that it ‘take a firm stand’ against Russia, which 29 percent found more important.” It is not long before everything boils down to the “p”-word, which is the final word of the sentence that follows, not its first: “Putin seeks to impose his view of a world order, at least in Russia’s neighborhood, just as Europe and the United States do. Whether he succeeds or fails will probably not be determined merely by who is right and who is wrong. It will be determined by the exercise of power.” SO IT CAME TO PASS that the State Department’s Victoria Nuland, former foreign policy adviser to Dick Cheney, helped direct and cheerlead the lamentable descent of Ukraine from civil and peaceful — if rough-and-tumble and unseemly — political discourse into a spiral of violence and collapse of civil order unknown to the everyday citizens of Ukraine since the 1940s. It was Ms. Nuland who publicly boasted, following her “third trip in five weeks to Ukraine” last December, that America had already sunk some $5 billion into the Ukraine morass. That was outdone in popular memory by her now-immortal quote of 2014, not intended for ears other than (“just”) the American ambassador to Ukraine: “Fuck the EU.” This because the European Union would have preferred a legal, nonviolent and democratic process of change in Ukraine. Beyond f-words and p-words, it became obvious that America was even stage-managing who would emerge in charge of Ukraine. (Incidentally, the disconcertingly obvious American Jewish component in the neocon mindset has masterfully been traced in Jacob Heilbrunn’s They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons.) In her testimony to Congress in May 2014, Nuland was questioned both by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chair of its Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, and by committee member Brad Sherman (D-CA). They both made clear that they understood Ukraine’s situation to be rather more complex than (Western) good vs. (Eastern) evil. They wanted to know more about the involvement of far-right and neo-Nazi elements in the actual Maidan Square violence that led to one government’s fall and another’s rise. Nuland gave less than fully forthright answers, and the matter seems to have quieted down for now — but it will not go away. The use of neo-Nazis and far-right racists to overthrow a European government, and the spin used in covering it all up, does not represent one of the finer hours of American diplomacy. Nor was it a high point of mainstream American and Western media, most of which caved in to presenting the neocon version, embedded in the Obama administration’s narrative, as simple fact."

  2. Both the Ukrainian government and the Russian government are committed to a fight-to-the-finish - there is no chance of compromise, one regime or the other will be destroyed. Both the British and the American governments have chosen the Ukrainian side - they have "bet the farm" that it will be the regime of Mr Putin that will fall.

  3. "Both the Ukrainian government and the Russian government are committed to a fight-to-the-finish - there is no chance of compromise" - agreed, for now. But unless Putin wants the war to continue forever to bleed the West of money and Ukraine of lives - which is possible - I think a compromise must happen. I don't see how it is possible for Ukraineto recapture all the territory she has lost and i hope it is not possible for Russia toconquer the 80% which is not occupied by the invader.

  4. Zelenskyy’s very unpleasant patron is described here.

  5. Since Russia could flatten Ukraine tomorrow if it cared to, it does look as though Putin's strategy is to bleed the West dry - it worked the other way round when the USSR was bankrupted by the arms race with the US. I've often thought that Israel is doing the Palestinians no favour by refraining from battering them senseless - there's often no end to a war until one side admits defeat and sues for peace.

    1. I think your enthusiasm for battering the poor Arabs senseless is disgusting. You regret mass immigration into the United Kingdom. The Arabs of the Holy Land regret it much more. Israel and Northern Ireland are the two great examples of the evils of mass immigration. The Norman conquest though appalling was not an example of mass immigration. As few as 8000 Norman's settled in Engkand, a country they still ruled until fifty years ago.

    2. It would be desirable for both parties for the state of continuous low-level war to end, and both parties to thrive economically. The Palestinians in defeat would find the Israelis benign and eager to help them rebuild. If the Arabs won, they would kill every Jewish man, woman and child.

    3. "If the Arabs won, they would kill every Jewish man, woman and child." That is absolutely not true and a shameful thing to say, and I think you know it, though I have heard it said before by silly people who emote rather than think. The Arabs might very possibly force the Jews to leave, which would be very wrong indeed. They would have done in 1948.

    4. I don't think 'disgusting' and 'shameful' are words to use between friends. The conflict, as in Ukraine, is like a family dispute over an inheritance - both sides have a case to make, and neither will be shifted one inch by the arguments of the other side. In the case of a family dispute, it can be settled by a judge passing down a determination in court. You would like to be that judge, presiding over history, while your massive following eagerly await your judgement, so they know what to think. I say this, because if you harbour the ambition to write for publication, you should realise that there is no market for that.

      As for what the Arabs would do if they could defeat the Israelis, nobody has a crystal ball, and it's never going to happen anyway, but I refer you to the Partition of India, and the massacres by mobs.

    5. I withdraw the words complained of. I tend to take the very simplistic view that had independence not been given to India partition of India would not have happened. In fact, independence was inevitable at some point. The way we pulled out must have been at fault. Mountbatten was useless. But as far as I know the Muslims and the others killed equal numbers of people. You do know that the Jews ethnically cleansed the Holy Land in 1948? I didn't until an Israeli told me and I looked it up. Benny Morris, a leading Israeli historian, has written about this but it is striking that English language readers did not know this before, as the Arabs certainly did.

    6. I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of who did what to whom. I'm interested in what a peaceful future for the region would look like, and I believe it comes only with one side defeated and suing for peace. Since only one side has the capacity to comprehensively defeat the other, it would be kinder in the long run to get on and do it.

    7. And thank you for withdrawing the words. I apologise for my own attribution of motives to your blogging.

    8. I didn't understand what you said about my ambitions and wanting to be judge or whatever. One side has won very comprehensively and Egypt and Jordan made peace in 1978. The Israelis did occupy the Gaza Strip but left of their own accord and I am pleased to say took the settlers with them. Many of the settlers are American Jews - another example of the harm Americans cause in the world.

  6. Paul Marks writes:

    N. Khrushchev spent some of his youth in Ukraine, but was born on the Russian side of the border - it was L. Brezhnev who was born and brought up in the Ukraine. Both men considered themselves Russian.

    Of course, President Z. is also a native Russian (not Ukrainian) speaker - but considers himself Ukrainian.

    It is all very subjective.