Monday, February 27, 2023

The West's Latest Crusade


Friends, in case you haven't noticed, the West is prosecuting its (indirect) crusade against Russia with an almost religious fervor, and with about the same amount of critical thinking that the medieval crusaders employed before they set off on their (mostly farcical and foolish) expeditions in the Near East.  My latest article takes the West to task for the deficiencies in its grand strategy in Ukraine.  If you read it, and you bleed blue and yellow like most establishment drones these days, you won't be happy!  That's fair warning.

No End in Sight

President Biden's victory/self-congratulation tour of Kiev notwithstanding, as we enter the second year of the Russia-Ukraine War that we helped to precipitate, there is no sign of impending triumph for either side, and certainly not for us. Russia continues to build up its forces for renewed offensives, while Ukrainian counteroffensives have stalled. A long, grinding war of attrition is looming.

The total cost of the war so far is incalculable, but it would have to include the $113 billion in aid that the U.S. has committed, over $50 billion in assistance from EU countries, the roughly 100,000 military casualties on both sides of the conflict, 8 million refugees, a staggering amount of damage inside Ukraine itself (valued at $350 billion +), tens of thousands of civilians killed and injured, tens of millions of people worldwide facing increased food insecurity, and trillions in lost economic production globally, due to sanctions, higher energy prices, and other disruptions.

These are the costs easiest to enumerate, but what is more intangible, and undoubtedly more serious in the long run, is the gathering sense of doom and menace that now haunts most of the world, as Russia and the West drift ever closer to a resumption of the Cold War, at best, and to World War III and universal armageddon, at worst.

The West has been shockingly cavalier about assuming these risks, and inflicting these burdens. Crude depictions of Vladimir Putin as the reincarnation of Hitler cannot hide the fact that aggression and inhumanity have been practiced on much grander scales in recent memory (think “the African World War” in the Congo, for instance), without the U.S. and EU/NATO countries demonstrating even a fraction of the outrage that they have focused on Putin and Russia, and sometimes without the West even showing cursory interest. What's more, Ukraine was, before the war started, a poor country, wracked with corruption, on the far fringes of Europe's geopolitical core, and universally judged to be ineligible for both EU and NATO membership. It was and is a curious choice, therefore, as the casus belli for what may become World War III, given how little demonstrable importance it has or had for either the West or for Russia, except as an occasionally profitable backwater trading partner, on par with Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Despite the seeming irrationality of the massive military and economic commitments that Russia, the U.S., and Europe have made to the present conflict, the tendency has been for both sides to raise the stakes inexorably, and for any and all peace feelers or suggestions of compromise to be shrugged off. Western propaganda assures us that the Russian army is close to obliteration, that the Russian economy is teetering, and that Vladimir Putin is sure to be overthrown by his own people. In other words, the war cannot but end with complete victory for the good guys, i.e. us (and, secondarily, our obedient proxies). The imminent exhilaration is so palpable that it can already be seen on the self-satisfied faces of many Western politicians and talking heads. The rather sensible objection that, if all or most of this did come to pass, Russia would have little to lose by nuking Ukraine, elicits yet more hand-waving and self-assurance. “Well, then we'll make 'em pay!” And where does that lead?

The fact is, though, that propagandists have been at work in Russia no less than in the West. The most recent evidence we have indicates that Russian support for the war is more or less unchanged since it began, despite the fact that Russians now realize the war will be longer and more costly than first assumed. What's more, Putin's approval rating is up, not down, as one might expect, in fact, for any commander-in-chief in wartime conditions – if, that is, one did not have the newspaper ink of the New York Times running through one's veins. Are a small number of Russians protesting the war, at great personal risk? Yes, and just as notable is the vicious public scorn that ordinary Russians pour on these dissidents, as the country rallies around the flag and girds itself for what their leader describes as an existential struggle against Western “imperialism” and “fascism”.

That Western policymakers and opinion leaders are unable to dictate public opinion in Russia is perhaps not surprising, but their failure to accurately gauge, or intelligently manage, world opinion is ultimately more telling. In China, for example, 79% of those polled in December/January view Russia as an “ally” or as a “necessary partner”, and just 20% see Russia as a “rival” or an “adversary”. The equivalent numbers in the U.S. are 14% and 71%, respectively: a near perfect reversal. Our failure to propagate our preferred narrative about the Russia-Ukraine War goes far beyond China, however. 80% of Indians view Russia as an “ally” or as a “necessary partner”, as do 69% of Turks (fellow members of NATO). The same poll finds the international community deeply skeptical of Western claims that it is fighting (indirectly) in Ukraine for “democracy”. Instead, the prevailing view is that obsessive U.S. and Western engagement in the conflict is generated by self-interest and a desire for “dominance”. Even the notion that the current war has exposed Russian weakness, which is almost universal in the West, is not shared internationally.

The key takeaway here should be that, while Americans and Europeans are more convinced than ever of the justice of their cause and of the inevitability of their victory in Ukraine (combined, of course, with their ironclad determination to do none of the fighting themselves), Russia and its key global partners see events in Ukraine in a completely different light. As long as they continue to do so, and as long as they continue to possess the means to resist the Western onslaught, we can expect that this war will grind on – relentlessly consuming the military and economic resources of Russia, Ukraine, and the West, and just as steadily eroding the credibility and legitimacy of the Western elite on the world stage.

In the end, we will be lucky if only the Western-dominated global order is extinguished by the Russia-Ukraine War. The greater danger is that a wider conflict could imperil the very existence of Russia and the West, not to mention countries like China and India, which for the moment are merely watching our and Russia's antics with a jaundiced eye, and believing little or nothing of what they hear about the conflict from us. They have yet to turn unambiguously against us, true, but we should be under no illusion that they are, or ever will be, “with us” either.

Instead, it is we, and we alone, who will have to beat back the rampaging hordes of barbaric Russians, or, perhaps, sit down with them and talk, as we did in days of yore?

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.


And here it is at American Greatness: 




In other news, Elon Musk has defended the comments made by Dilbert's creator.  Basically, he's pointing out that all the leftists gasping in horror at Scott Adam's "racism" happily and regularly endorse racism themselves, so long as it's targeted correctly.  Please also take note of the media's characterizations of Adams's comments as a "rant" or a "tirade".  Would they ever use those words in reference to the racist, anti-white utterings of a person of color?  Of course not.  Anti-white racism is always respectable, because whites are presumptively bad. 

Finally, the GOP is asking anyone who wishes to participate in its presidential primary debates to pledge to support the eventual nominee.  This is an interesting test for DJT.  Assuming he demurs, he would (probably) be excluded, which could be a big problem for his campaign.  Now, I think we all have our doubts about whether Trump would accept any result that isn't a win for him.  Let's say that DeSantis won the nomination -- would Trump then run as an independent, mainly for spite?  Let's be frank: we can't rule it out.


  1. Dr. Waddy from Jack: After the Battle of San Jacinto, Texan commander Sam Houston wisely spared the life of Mexican dictator Santa Anna and may well thereby have secured Texan independence.Most Texans and probably Houston himself would have gloried in avenging the Alamo upon Santa Anna's very person but Houston courageously refrained. Believe me, if we had known in say, 1980, that Soviet communism would fall soon, in our astonishment and relief we might have thought it a serendipitous miracle subsequent to which we should follow up and forever eliminate Russian power to terrify the world. And that's just what we set out to do and we succeeded beyond any hope which would have seemed plausible in the Cold War. We completely transformed Stalin's shield of captive Eastern Europe and built Nato to such strength that Russia would not have dared provoke it, SAVE for a fundamental affront or an existential threat! So then we went and did just that by countenancing the possibility of Ukrainian membership in Nato. It was a rash, ill considered position for us to take. The result is tragedy which already suggests 1914.

  2. Dr.Waddy from Jack: I think leftists resent Russia for its having renounced communism. Before the Soviets fluffed the left concentrated its disdain on the US, which had earned its scorn by keeping Stalin and his brood in check. Fanatics have a special animus toward apostates and I wonder if that motivates the leftists who dominate academia, the msm and the administration in their ill considered support for Ukraine.

    1. RAY TO JACK

      Just because Russia supposedly renounced communism, does not mean that they renounce aggression. Remember that Stalin was far more a Russian Nationalist then he ever was a Bolshevik or Georgian, and he wanted to preserve The pre-1917 Revolution Empire, of which The Ukraine had been a part. Putin is also a Russian Nationalist, as are many Russians. Kind of strange that in 1991, Russia gave independence to that area so quickly. Must have been Boris Yeltsin did that when he was drunk (literally), which was frequently. Which begs another question: What the hell is a Jewish Stand up comedian doing as president of a Orthodox Christian country? Did he convert?

  3. Ray from Jack: Lots of factors to be considered: Stalin certainly did play the Mother Russia card during WWII. But the Russians are usually pretty hard on other countries they rule. As a Georgian, could Stalin ( and his hellhound Polish secret police head Aleks Dzherzinski) have delighted in killing Russians? Was his collectivist effort an ideological or nationalist effort? He told Churchill that it was by far the most difficult task he had had in power and it certainly manifested a strong Marxist-Leninist conviction. I've seen monumentally naive american leftists displaying Stalin's portrait in their rooms; either that or that of "Che", a Stalinist murderer too. In many American intellectual circles it is possible to declare oneself a communist and be applauded. I think resentment of Russia for jumping ship by such people might be plausible but I am not certain of it. Yeah I was amazed that Russia let Ukraine go and though Yeltsin was a gutsy guy he did like his glass.

  4. Sorry: Feliks not Alex.

  5. Jack, I quite agree: Russia was ALREADY fully "contained", from the U.S. and NATO's perspective, before we decided to dabble in Ukraine. Basically, we for some reason won't take "yes" for an answer from the Russians, when the question is, "May we dominate the world, pretty please?" We insist on kicking them when they're down until they fight back (feebly) so we can enjoy rousting them some more. Ridiculous.

    Ray, Yeltsin's decision to liquidate the entire Russian/Soviet empire does rather smack of inebriation, and it certainly doesn't change the fact that Ukraine and Russia are historically and culturally attached at the hip. I continue to believe that Ukraine HAS NO FUTURE except in friendship with Russia.

    Agreed: Zelensky is an very odd figure to be leading Ukraine, and to be the West's front man in Eastern Europe. Politics makes strange bedfellows?

    Does nostalgia for communism color Western leftists' present anger at Russia? I dunno, but I've never seen any evidence of it. Remember: Russia today IS mostly socialist. I think all major industries are public. Are Russians heavily nationalistic? Yeah, I guess so, but so are Ukrainians, especially right now, and the Western Left loves every minute of it!!! I'm not sure there's any making sense of it, frankly. It's classic us-versus-them myopia and stupidity.