Six weeks ago, I wrote a piece explaining my ambivalence on US policy towards a Russian invasion of Ukraine. In that piece I said: “much of the US deterrence credibility has also been undermined by its energy policy.” This reality has now come home to rest! Russia is now conducting a “peace keeping” operation in the eastern Ukraine. The US has done nothing to increase its credibility with respect to its energy policy. This is fatal!
When the Biden administration first came into office it declared that global warming was one of the critical national security threats facing the country and the world. In this one statement it signaled to Russia and maybe China that its center of gravity is energy. This has been borne out by its policy:
- Reducing exploration in Alaska
- Stopping the keystone pipeline construction
- Asking OPEC to increase oil production to offset US reductions
- Now, several days ago, suspending exploration leases on federal land
We may see the administration try to reach an unfavorable nuclear agreement with Iran as a way of opening an oil source. However, Iran has been able to sell black market oil to China and thus there is not much more oil there to reach the global market.
Americans are complaining about inflation and part of that complaint is the cost of fuel. But nothing has been done to stop the rising costs of heating homes and operating vehicles on the highways. The supply chain problems, of course, were compounded by over restriction of trucks in the ports of California.
At the same time the US military is now seen as partly emasculated by wokeism and critical race theory. This is problem that we warned against some time ago, but no one of consequence listened, or they just didn’t care. It is hard for me to accept that our leaders don’t care about our military readiness, but……..
So, Russia has annexed part of the Ukraine and will now suffer through some sanctions. What has gone mostly ignored in the main stream media that supports US weakness and all of the policies that are causing it is the agreement that Russia and China entered into just before the Olympics started. This agreement constitutes part of Russia’s sanction avoidance channel. Russia can shuttle goods and capital through China thereby greatly ameliorating the impact of sanctions. The other avoidance effort by Russia is the saving of significant cash, which sustain it for months. Will this arrangement with China help limit China’s push towards annexing Taiwan? We can hope. But as my former boss and friend General (ret) Gordon Sullivan used to always say: “Hope is not a method.”
A lesson learned from this experience is that threats of sanctions don’t work. Sanctions should be applied before the action and then withdrawn as a reward when aggressive actions are not taken. What a way to learn this lesson again!
One can expect two possible outcomes:
- Continued aggression in Ukraine in phases until all of Ukraine is subjugated. This will result in a Chechnian type resistance from the Ukrainian people that will result in significant Russian and Ukrainian casualties.
- Continually more painful sanctions imposed upon Russia and their domestic impact in the west.
- The beginning of a new cold war to contain Russian expansionism both in Ukraine and most likely in the Baltic states that are now members of NATO.
What must happen now? Once eyes are diverted from Ukraine and movers and shakers in the US realize the terrible box we are in, then personnel changes and policy changes must follow. Some of this will come from the 2022 elections. Others will come from internal ruminations by the administration. In the middle 1960s Bill Clinton was able to do a complete reorientation of his administration and exit the presidency with an almost 55% approval rating. Can Jill Biden be convinced that this is what needs to happen? Only time will tell.
As my readers can tell I am not optimistic about the near-term future for our beloved country. But I have confidence in the American electorate to right this ship of state that is taking on water and to steam a new course back towards prosperity and global power.