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Peace and Punishment: “Saving” Ukraine or Embarrassing Putin?

Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe

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As we near 100 days of the special military operation in Ukraine it would be good to take a strategic-analytical step back and see where the current situation is in real terms. Unfortunately, despite all sides and all parties giving extensive and continuous rhetoric to the interests of peace and the cessation of violence, the reality is the Ukraine conflict does not seem to be close to ending and instead seems more poised to hunker down into an old-fashioned military quagmire. Unlike quagmires of the past, where historians and political scientists tend to examine missed opportunities and strategic missteps that made said conflicts almost inevitable devolutions into non-progressive stalemates, the Ukraine conflict today does not seem to structurally mimic those previous lessons. As such, the question that needs to be asked is not whether this is about striving for peace and peace alone as much as it might be about how one side is striving for peace AND punishment.

On May 9, President Biden signed a new Lend-Lease Act which would facilitate the easier transfer of weapons systems and other military aid to Ukraine in its defense against Russia. The US Senate passed the bill unanimously, a rare act of unity given the current state of domestic politics in America. Unfortunately, this bipartisanship is no signal of new-found friendship across both aisles between Republicans and Democrats. They still mistrust each other as much as they ever did. But, interestingly, the bipartisan unanimity of the bill does show that despite their differences and animosity for each other, the desire to “send a message” to President Vladimir Putin and the overall desire to continue to cause problems for the Russian military within Ukraine is a “single-issue unification” factor for the United States Senate. No matter what President Biden says publicly on the microphone, this military aid and the delivery of major weapons systems is not aimed at solely achieving peace. At least, not a constructive peace in which both sides are able to walk away with a semblance of dignity and self-respect (which is truly the only way this conflict will end and stay ended). Aid like the Lease-Lend Act is quite literally the opposite of the wiser intention of trying to create a “Gentleman’s Exit” that would be enticing for Putin. Rather, the peace Biden is really talking about with this measure (but never explicitly explained to the American people) is a peace in which Putin is first embarrassed and Russia is humiliated. THIS is the real goal. So, in this way, the so-called peace measure instead adds fuel to the fire because President Putin is neither naïve nor blind. It will not be difficult for him to see the real essence of the maneuver. Consequently, it will quite possibly force a reaction in which there is no capitulation but instead a ratcheting up of conflict.

Why else would all of these declarations of new military aid take place on “Victory Day” in Russia? Do not forget the Lend-Lease bill is reviving a form of military aid from WWII, where the US was helping the UK fight Germany more readily. Thus, in a humorlessly ironic way, the US is sending a signal that Putin is the Hitler-like figure, exactly on the day when Russia celebrates its own victory against actual Nazis in WWII. It is without doubt a vicious message. The West says it had to be sent because they were more worried Putin would officially declare a formal war against Ukraine on this day. But one must ask: logically speaking, does it make sense to say America is worried about Putin going deeper into war with Ukraine so therefore it must send even more weapons and deadly munitions into Ukraine? In other words, more weapons will make it “less” of a war??? It is almost laughable if not so tragic.

If one is relying on the acute intuition of the American people to see through these contradictions and put a stop to such counter-intuitive “peace” initiatives, then frustration can be expected. Unfortunately, the American public attention span has held true to form in that most people are no longer really paying that much attention to Ukraine. Unquestionably, they still generally support Ukraine as Americans always love supporting and rooting for the underdog. Especially when cheering for the underdog in this case not only comes without any physical risk to American soldiers but also adds on the benefit of getting to humiliate your rival while assisting the lesser power. That is a “win-win” in American public eyes.

But the fevered following of the news and exhaustive social media blasts garnering endorsement for Ukraine’s efforts do not, to me, seem as intense or as comprehensive as they did just two months ago. Thus, the frustration: this lack of attention to conflict details means no one can expect any kind of pressure from the American people seeking an end to the conflict. They will simply follow, sheep-like, the narratives being provided. Ergo, providing more weapons is the way to “peace.” Embarrassing Putin is the only way to “save Ukraine.” Humiliating the Russian military is what brings “greater security.” If there was even a modicum of greater introspection by the American people, there would be more questions about whether or not this is really the most efficient and best way to achieve peace. You would think after America’s own travails this century in Afghanistan, it would understand that quagmires benefit no one except the military-industrial complex and the many powerful corporations that feed into it. While not trying to be overly cynical, this is really the only side that truly and most obviously benefits from an extended and protracted military stalemate in Ukraine.

As for reports and rumors that the United States was actually considering the Lend-Lease Act back in January, that is, before the actual Russian declaration of a special military operation, I would not put too much conspiracy theory into the idea that this proves the United States was already intending to foment violence itself in Ukraine with Russia. The reality is tension between the US and Russia has existed over Ukraine for quite a long time and the United States Intelligence Community is extremely good at its job, ie, acquiring data and collecting information that gives it insights into the future maneuvers of other countries. I have no doubt the USIC had an inkling of suspicion that the special military operation was coming or at least quite likely. And as soon as this suspicion emerged, it would have instantly begun preparing responses and counteractions to undermine said operation. More importantly, this isn’t even the right question to focus on for the global community. The right question is this: are we truly convinced these American initiatives are aimed only at achieving the quickest and most efficient end to the conflict and establishing peace or is it aimed more than anything at using Ukraine as a field of play to ensure that Russia is damaged and weakened for decades after the conflict is finished?

The US and UK have made it rather clear that peace alone is not enough. Tranquility in Ukraine is not the only goal. Peace AND punishment is. Which is without a doubt the most depressing and dangerous aspect to the whole affair. The United States currently is trying to deftly balance itself on a knife edge of military and psychological speculation: how far can it go in helping Ukraine inflict damage on Russian military units? How much weakening of Russian power can occur before the situation becomes desperately untenable and the Russian side might be inclined to enact “more reckless” initiatives? It is not coincidence that American mainstream media pushes out daily reports about the worries and concerns NATO and the West have about Putin intending to utilize chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons as the conflict in Ukraine gets ever murkier and more unclear for his side. What the media leaves out, however, in this lament is the fact that it is not Ukraine creating the murkiness: it is the weapons systems being pumped into Ukraine and the Western “advisors” on the ground and embedded within Ukrainian units, teaching them how to use the systems with deadly efficiency, that potentially push Russia toward a so-called reckless edge. In short, the Americans declare concerns over dilemmas that are their own creation. And that, again, is because what is transpiring today in Ukraine has nothing to do with peace exclusively. The West does not want peace as soon as possible and by any means necessary. It wants peace with a lesson attached, with a weakening of power that places Russia back into a docile and less assertive state.

In which case, if true, perhaps everyone in this conflict is focusing on the wrong Germany. On both sides, the imagery constantly being invoked is of Nazi Germany, the Germany of WWII. In reality, the country everyone should be worried about is WWI Germany, the one that simply had to be humiliated and laid low for its hubris and aggression. The country that everyone had to make sure would never be in a position to threaten the world again. It was that Germany that directly led to the insanity and atrocity of WWII. We would be well-warned to remember the lessons of one hundred years ago when pride in the punishment was a higher priority than peace itself. When security was thought better established through humiliation and emasculation rather than through diplomacy and enhanced collaborative communication. Hopefully, the West remembers eventually that even an imperfect peace is preferable to peace through punishment. The former allows for development and evolution. The latter brings only destruction and devolution.

Dr. Matthew Crosston is Executive Vice Chairman of ModernDiplomacy.eu and chief analytical strategist of I3, a strategic intelligence consulting company. All inquiries regarding speaking engagements and consulting needs can be referred to his website: https://profmatthewcrosston.academia.edu/

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Americas

The Despair of American Youths under an Overly ‘Critical Society’

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A recent tragic incident in the United States has stunned the world. This incident, is not merely “domestic terrorism”, but its root cause, that of a “critical society”, is far more serious than people think.

Payton Gendron, from Conklin, New York, drove a few hours to Buffalo, which is about 200 miles away, to a predominantly African-American, low-income neighborhood, about 3 miles north of the central Buffalo. It is surrounded by residential areas, a university, a nearby Family Dollar store, and a fire station. –

In an act that shocked everyone, Payton Gendron pulled up his rifle and walked into the supermarket, and started killing people, women, the elderly, and cashiers. Not only did he shoot at the unarmed people, but he also broadcast the gory scene of the massacre live on Twitch. This vicious mass shooting incident left at least 10 people dead and 3 others injured. Of the 13 victims, 11 were black.

In the aftermath, it was horrifying to discover that the white young man who did the mass shooting was only 18 years old. “This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now”, said Mayor Byron Brown.

After the incident, President Joe Biden urged unity to stem racial hate as a remedy to get rid of the “hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.” Biden said that, “violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group. A hate that through the media and politics, the Internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced”.

The so-called “Great Replacement Theory” alluded to in the speech of President Biden in his condemnation of the massacre refers to the belief that immigrants or other people of color are “replacing” white Americans. Propagated by the media and the Internet, and deliberately exaggerated by political shows and politicians, there are those who become firm believers that the “Great Replacement” is the reality and the future of the United States. The Buffalo massacre is but one of the countless hate crimes. In today’s American society, no one is completely happy, and everyone seems to have different reasons for dissatisfaction, disappointment, and hatred.

The reason for this is that the U.S. is typically a “critical society”, which does not often offer much justice and truth. Instead, discrimination, grievances, conspiracies, and hatred more often than not emerge in such a society seemingly plagued by despair and pain. The real United States might not be exactly like this, of course. Yet, countless people from all over the world are eager to come to America by all means to seek hope there, not knowing that Americans, especially young people who are overwhelmed by disappointment, are not hopeful about the future.

There are many reasons why the U.S. has become a critical society.

Education in the U.S., with its strong emphasis on critical thinking, trains young people from an early age to not only possess critical spirit, but also to have critical point of view. This started with English composition among young children, and continues to dissertation among college students. Such critical spirit is like a contagious disease, which is easily transmissible. In books, in movies, in TV shows and newspapers, in culture as well as in fashion, Americans are always criticizing all the time, trampling. Yet, their critical mind does not come with constructive strength. There is a serious lack of respect for the classics. It is as if only through crushing the past and the traditions that allows them to show their superiority.

The cultural model that balances the critical and classical, empirical and traditional do not seem to be the dominant model in American society, nor an integral part of its popular culture. American institutions of higher learning, which are supposed to be places where the classics are taught, are now the venues that instill radical critical thinking. Therefore, the non-technological departments in colleges there are nothing short of houses of madness. This has led to a pernicious consequence of increasingly polarized critical thinking, turning the U.S. into a very harmful critical society.

In such as overly critical society, it is difficult for people to see the presence of the classics that represent all things positive. Since everything can be criticized, then everything is problematic, where there are flaws everywhere, where everything is imperfect. In an overly critical society, no one is normal, and everyone has a vicious side. If one cannot find shortfalls in a person, then standards will be raised up or lowered down, or new standards are invented, so that everyone becomes the target of criticism. All doubts are noble, and the classics themselves are the best objects of doubt.

The biggest problem with a society like this is that there is no hope, only hate. All that is left is despair. A young man like Payton Gendron is actually just a victim who goes astray in such a society. In an overly critical society, every young adult is in despair.

The U.S. today is already very worrying enough, its future is even more so. With the Internet, disappointment and hatred are ubiquitously amplified. From the country’s power center to its legislature departments, in terms of constructing, developing, and protecting the nation, the professional politicians there contribute less than regular nine-to-five office workers. These politicians expose, create, amplify, and criticize any possible flaws of political opponents without hesitation, in accordance with the modus operandi of professional politicians there. Such amplification and role model effects have made the United States a desperate country.

The world of information is complex, and not everyone possesses the ability to process information objectively, and not everyone should be expected to do so.

In the face of all kinds of information sweeping in, using the “believe it or not” mentality to deal with the survival challenges of the modern information society is a major blunder. The right approach is to recognize and analyze information, but this is too difficult for the average person and requires good training in information analysis. In China, it seems that there is only one think tank that has that kind of training in both critical and empirical information analysis. In this sense, Chinese academia does not always lag behind its counterpart in the United States. As for the U.S., the path of seeking science and technology to solve overly critical problems through specialized information processing is most certainly not going to work. Technology will always be objective, and as it can be used to clarify doubts, it can also certainly be used to create problems.

To bring things to a close, the sole way for the United States to get more people to see the light is for its society to make changes and move out of an overly critical society.

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Americas

Are Biden’s Troubles of his Own Making?

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

What a fractious world we live in.  The somnambulist Biden has woken up in his nocturnal wanderings to hear complaints about China for its sea incursions close to the littoral areas of allies like Taiwan and Japan.  Thus at the “Quad” (Australia, Japan, US and India) meeting in Tokyo, he reaffirmed US support for Taiwan, militarily if need be, to defend Taiwanese independence in what appeared to be a reversal of policy as earlier the US had recognized it as a province of China.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) an economic union of the Quad and other Asia-Pacific countries has been revived — Trump had buried it earlier, aiming presumably higher but missing.  Mr. Biden announced its reincarnation as the new Inter Pacific Economic Federation (IPEF).

All of which is the least of Mr. Biden’s headaches.  There’s a full blown war in Ukraine to consider.  And he promptly announced a $40.1 bill military aid package for Ukraine.  Defense contractors couldn’t be more pleased.  Lockheed Martin stock is up 6 percent in two days as it ramps up production of the Javelin anti-tank missile, doubling it according to the CEO to supply Ukraine.

Congress has now passed a $40 billion aid package.  The amount is not trivial.  For comparison, India, a country of more than a billion people with the third largest defence budget in the world, spends less than half that sum on weapons procurement.

The real question is going to be Mr. Putin’s response.  He might well call it a move aimed at slaughtering young Russian boys, when he himself is asking for peace talks.  Even President Zelensky, the quintessential blowhard politician, has been forced to admit that 50-100 Ukrainian soldiers are dying daily.

American interference in Ukraine has a long history.  The planning and participation in a coup eight years ago (when Biden was vice president) and the selection of future leaders thereafter are all documented.  On lack of European support for it at the time, Victoria Nuland, the then Deputy Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs responded famously, “F–k the EU.”  She has the dubious distinction of being the chief promoter of the so-called “soft coup” which led eventually to the fall of the elected Viktor Yanukovych government and thence to the divisions in Ukraine.  The results have been the deaths of an estimated 13,000 people and the displacement of millions.

Since 2014 about one million refugees have left the country as a result of wars in the Donbas.  Another 1.6 million were internally displaced.  Following the latest fighting in 2022, the number of Ukrainians who have left the country has risen by another 6.6 million and another 7.7 million are displaced from their homes to other parts of the country.  That in total is over a quarter of the country’s population of 44 million. 

It is painful, pitiful, atrocious and appalling that in the 21st century, political leaders instead of resolving disputes have behaved in a manner ending in a human tragedy of these proportions.  Let’s just say, none of the participants need queue up for a Nobel Peace Prize, although one had already received it before this and other misadventures. 

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Americas

The WW III that Biden and All Other Neocons Are Leading U.S. Toward

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Official White House Photo by Erin Scott

The intensely neoconservative U.S. President Joe Biden is leading the world into a World War III against both Russia and China, but despite the U.S. spending annually around half of the entire planet’s military expenditures (not only in its ‘Defense’ Department but in its Treasury Department and other Government agencies), America is actually inferior to both Russia and China regarding leading-edge geostrategically crucial technologies of both nuclear and laser weapons, and is getting farther behind each year, because for both Russia and China their own national sovereignty is what their enemy, the U.S. Government, aims to conquer, whereas no one poses a threat to the U.S. Government’s continuing rule over its own people (it becomes increasingly a police-state). The U.S. Government is the only and supreme champion of sanctions and coups and invasions for regime-change producing the creation of new vassal-nations throughout the globe, whereas both Russia and China must protect themselves from that or else become themselves new U.S. vassal-nations. So: they are laser-focused on NOT allowing America to grab their nation. Truly, for them, this is an existential issue, NOT a matter (such as is the case regarding the U.S. Government) of growing to become the world’s first and only all-encompassing global empire (a luxury that only America’s billionaires, who control the U.S. Government, require). This basic distinction is the reason why whereas the U.S. has over 800 military bases spread throughout the planet, Russia and China are concerned ONLY about not allowing U.S. forces to be based so near to their borders as to enable a U.S. missile to annihilate their capital’s command-and-control within less than ten minutes and so to enable the U.S. Government to grab control of them so fast that the targeted nation’s (Russia’s and China’s) retaliatory weapons won’t be launched in self-defense.

Consequently, for example, the geostrategically-focused CRUX youtube site headlined on May 23rd “Why The World Fears Putin’s ‘Flying Chernobyl’ Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile”, and reported on Russia’s emerging “Buravestnik” nuclear-powered nuclear-warheaded missile that will be able to avoid all known types of anti-missile detection and tracking technologies and that will be able to fly for any distance because of its nuclear fuel. Though that pro-U.S.-Government, anti-Putin, CRUX-produced video says “Experts have underlined the threat that … this weapon may pose to the environment and human health” due to radioactive waste that’s released into the air during its flight, because there is no space inside the missile to store waste, even America’s National Defense magazine has admitted that “the amount of nuclear waste that this will produce is very tiny, … basically negligible,” which is hardly what CRUX headlines it as being — a “Flying Chernobyl.” CRUX went on to say, “Experts say that Putin’s Cold War mindset has normalised the development of such doomsday weapons.” It’s all regime-change-in-Russia propaganda.

In other words: the neocons’ aim to destroy Russia so fast that Russia won’t be able to destroy America in retaliation, is hogwash that’s probably funded, ultimately, by corporations such as Lockheed Martin, whose sales are exclusively or mainly to the U.S. Government and its allied governments (vassal-nations), which U.S.-and-allied weapons-making firms’ stock-values have soared ever since the end of the Cold War in 1991. It ended only on Russia’s side in 1991, but this supercharged it on America’s side.  This unleashed a solely military-industrial-complex-controlled U.S. Government, which demands an ever-increasing percentage of the U.S. Government’s expenses to go toward its military, which, nonetheless, is privately owned and controlled; and its profits have soared.

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