International Man: Recently, the Biden administration threatened Russia over Ukraine.
What’s really going on? Is the US government toying with the prospect of war with Russia over Ukraine?
Doug Casey: Over thousands of years of history, governments have always threatened each other with war. It’s a good part of what they do to justify their existence, and it’s been said, correctly, that war is the health of the state. Nothing has changed in that regard.
The main reason that the US government is beating the war drums is that war has always been a distraction from domestic problems. Create a foreign enemy on whom to blame domestic problems, and it will reliably divert the news cycle from things you don’t want the hoi polloi to hear or talk about. A real or fabricated foreign enemy unites the public. The further the economy and the society deteriorate, the more war-mongering we’ll hear from Washington.
It’s especially perverse in that anything that happens between Russia and Ukraine is of zero relevance to the US. Ukraine is a backwater. It’s as illogical for the US to stick its nose into that hornet’s nest as to get involved in any of dozens of African revolts, coups, and border wars. I’m surprised the Jacobins in the Biden administration haven’t, for instance, gotten involved in Ethiopia’s ongoing civil war too. Most people are completely unaware of it—which is actually a good thing in the current environment.
International Man: The mainstream media has reported that Russia could be planning to invade Ukraine.
What do you make of this?
Doug Casey: The part of the Ukraine in question is called the Donbas. It’s occupied about 70% by Russians and 30% by Ukrainians, as is Crimea.
Theoretically, nation-states are all about the ethnicity of their residents. When there’s more than one significant ethnic group in a nation-state, it’s best described as an empire. Forcing different ethnicities into one country is analogous to putting tigers, cows, snakes, and birds into one cage together. In any event, these areas have been part of Russia for about 200 years since the Russians took them from the Ottomans.
Nikita Krushchev, a Ukrainian, arbitrarily transferred Crimea from the Russian SSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 to help cement his USSR leadership position in the turbulent time after Stalin’s death. It should be recognized that the very word “Ukraine” comes from the old Slavic term for borderland. It’s an area where borders have always been ill-defined and fluid. The place is more of a concept than a real country; it was only recognized as a country with the creation of the USSR. Until recently, the place was called “The Ukraine” in recognition of its amorphous status—although that term is no longer politically correct.
The idea of the US maintaining Ukraine’s territorial integrity is borderline insane. The US can’t even maintain its own border integrity. Apparently, just in the last year, 2 million illegal foreign migrants have crossed into the US, with more on the way. This whole thing is ridiculous and fabricated.
Will the Russians invade Ukraine? There’s been a low-intensity war on the Ukraine/Donbas border since 2014. The way I read it is that the two Oblasts that compose Donbas have wanted to secede from Ukraine since the so-called Orange Revolution was fomented by the US. The government in Kiev wants to keep them in. The Russians are informally aiding the secession. The internal politics of Ukraine are too murky and corrupt for an outsider to understand. I’ll just say the Russians are on the right side of the dispute—something you’re never, ever, supposed to say. But any power, anywhere, that backs a secession movement is almost always on the moral high ground.
The ideal solution, I think, is for Donbas to become an independent country. Of course, the West would never recognize that since Russia is in favor of it. Crimea should be recognized as part of Russia, partly because of its history but also because it’s where the Russians have their Black Sea fleet. In the world of realpolitik, no way will they give up Sebastopol.
Americans have notoriously short memories, but they might ask themselves whether it’s not best to let the locals just fight it out. For instance, the Israelis took the Golan Heights away from Syria in 1967. Would it be wise to get involved now to change things? Probably not. The French and the Germans have disputed who gets to tax Alsace-Lorraine for centuries. Should the US butt in with soldiers if that heats up again?
The Russians won’t invade Ukraine itself. Only the lame-brained Biden administration can even imagine something so stupid. The place is a net liability. We no longer live in the days when an invasion let conquerors loot a place of its gold, cattle, women, and artwork. At most, the Russkies want to solidify the Donbas/Ukraine border. The chances of their trying to occupy the whole country are about zero. All they could hope to get from it is a possible guerrilla war, not to mention sanctions and possibly a hot war with the West.
Of course, anything is possible because the Putin regime is actually failing. It’s propped up mainly by high oil and other commodity prices—much as the old USSR was.
Putin served a useful purpose for Russia early on, when it needed a strong man to rally around and “Make Russia Great Again,” as it were. Income taxes were slashed to about 10%; financial markets started, lots of companies and property were privatized, and much more. Putin handled the transition from a completely dysfunctional and criminal socialist regime to something that’s a reasonable facsimile of a normal country. And he did it without wholesale bloodshed.
But it’s degenerated from a chaotic free-for-all into a giant concrete-bound kleptocracy, where Putin is perhaps the richest oligarch in the world. At this point, he probably suffers from paranoia, with nobody he can trust. This happens to all dictators. He’s isolated from everything. I suspect things are getting unstable, both in his personal life and Russia as a whole.
The important thing to remember here is that Russia itself isn’t a threat to anybody. It’s really nothing but a gas station with an attached gun store in the middle of a wheat field. The paranoia all dictators suffer from makes Putin somewhat dangerous should the Russian economy collapse. But with oil high, and going higher, along with the prices of other commodities they export, there’s no immediate danger.
The idea of Russia rolling over Western Europe is ridiculous from every point of view.
International Man: How serious could a military move by Russia or the US be?
Doug Casey: Any war can escalate because one thing can lead to another. War is unpredictable by its nature.
However, it’s important to remember that the average people in any country—whether we’re talking about Russia, Ukraine, or the US—don’t want war. They just want to live their personal lives and increase their standard of living. They have enough problems just dealing with their families. Forget about the death and mass destruction of a war. The Russians understand that better than anyone—with the possible exception of the Germans. The effete neocon warmongers in Washington—not so much.
With few exceptions, the only reason people get involved in war is because their government beats the war drums, exciting the more naïve and stupid of their subjects.
If Biden and Putin get involved in some type of war, it’s because they’re acting like a couple of barons in feudal days. I promise you the average American can’t even find Donbas or Crimea on a map and knows zero about them. His congressman only knows what his aides and party chieftains tell him. Nobody is allowed to say it, but the charade underlines the fact that democracy itself is a sham.
Democracy is not the rule of the people because the people don’t want war. Only its leaders ever do. Washington may yet foment one. Biden’s vested interest in Ukraine likely comes from the many millions of dollars he and his degraded son Hunter stole from the place. Or maybe Kiev is holding some form of blackmail over his head. Although Kiev doesn’t want a real war in Donbas. They’d lose. And certainly not with Russia.
I suspect Kiev will just have to acknowledge Donbas and Crimea aren’t part of Ukraine and let them go. That’s how this will likely end.
International Man: Ukraine shares a border with the EU and with Russia. How do you think Russia perceives US involvement right in its backyard?
Doug Casey: It’s very reasonable on the part of the Russians to want the US out of Ukraine for the same reasons the US wanted Russia out of Cuba during the 60s. How would the US like it if Russian troops were in Canada or Mexico today? Although once again, I’d argue that Russia is a complete non-threat. To make the analogy realistic, we can substitute China for Russia.
No country wants an aggressive foreign power right on its border. And the US Government, with its giant military budget, combat troops in numerous countries, and the CIA everywhere, is a real danger.
International Man: What do you make of the US efforts to incorporate Ukraine into NATO?
Doug Casey: It’s absolutely insane in every way.
First of all, NATO should have been abolished in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell. What is NATO there for? Who’s it defending against? Certainly not Russia, which is a paper tiger at best. NATO’s existence is a provocation, serving no useful purpose. NATO is a self-maintaining bureaucracy; its interests are actually at odds with the people of Western Europe.
Apart from that, Ukraine brings nothing but liabilities to either the EU or NATO. The European NATO members understand that and don’t want Ukraine in. It’s funny, actually. If the US provokes a war over Donbas, they’ll probably only get places like Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Haiti to join it, in exchange for the customary bribes, so the invasion force can be called a “coalition of the willing.”
The colors of the map on the wall have been running since Day One, and that will continue. Some countries are more real and more stable than others. The idea of trying to maintain the artificial borders of Ukraine, which is just an ethnic area, is ridiculous and dangerous.
But of course, some Americans think that it’s important to act “tough.” It’s really just evidence that the US Government has become completely unprincipled and out of control. It’s thrashing around like a giant dinosaur in its death throes.
There are a dozen areas in the world where the US Government might decide to be “tough” for some arbitrary reason. It just makes us look ridiculous when we’re already a failing state. Acting tough when your country is literally falling apart gives real dimension to the concept of stupidity.
Reprinted with permission for International Man.