fbpx
Politics Foreign Affairs Culture We're Hiring

Tanks? But No Tanks!

Hitchens on new weapons to Ukraine: 'I know what tanks are for, and it is not defence'
Screen Shot 2023-01-22 at 11.09.40 AM

In the news report from which that image above of a German tank was taken, the reporter leads with, "Who would have thought Germany would be criticized for not sending tanks to fight Russia?" Indeed.

Here in Budapest, I'm hearing a sense of dark resignation around the Russia-Ukraine war. A Hungarian said to me the other night, "The Americans want a war. And they're going to get one." He meant that the US, in his view, is bound and determined to fight a war with Russia, and is going to do whatever it needs to do to make that happen. Maybe he's right about that. But if he's not right about the US's motivations, he is certainly right about the effects of US policy. And the US is going to generate a lot of resentment from Europeans as more people come to understand that America's supposed interests in fighting Russia do not line up with European interests. Few Europeans, in my experience, have any sympathy for the Putin regime and its invasion of Ukraine. But they are quite worried that the war could easily spiral out of control, and cost them immensely.

Advertisement

Peter Hitchens gets it. In his powerful column today, he calls out the madness of Washington policymakers and their European supporters in the UK and continental European governments. And he decries the obscene fact that nobody can have a debate about it without being shouted down as Putin simps. Excerpts:

This was the moment at which we began the unstoppable descent into terrible danger which so many of us will bitterly regret in times to come.

I won't waste time here going over the question of who started the Ukraine war, or even why. Most people don't want to know and refuse to think about it, or to look up the facts. They defame and abuse anyone who tries to tell them. So to hell with that. I'm bored with trying.

More:

So it is left to me to tell you that it is an act of grave stupidity for the West to supply Ukraine with modern tanks. Unlike everyone else in the media and politics, I am not a military expert. But I know what tanks are for, and it is not defence.

What we have just decided to do is to prolong and deepen the war. Maybe Ukraine's new tanks will sweep all before them. Maybe they will bog down. Maybe they will try to take Crimea. Maybe they will soon be taking part in a Victory Parade in Red Square. I don't know. But if they cross into what Russia regards as its own territory, then do not be surprised by anything which happens.

Look, Vladimir Putin is obviously a sinister tyrant and, in my view, went off his head completely during the Covid panic (look at those huge tables he sits at). I think he is probably capable of authorising the use of battlefield nuclear weapons if cornered. But it could be worse. If he is overthrown in a midnight putsch, he will not be replaced by some jolly, liberal-minded chap. He will be replaced by someone who might view it as a positive pleasure to press the red button.

So there is the real possibility that a large chunk of Europe might be turned into a radioactive graveyard and that American conventional retaliation for this (which will be furious and powerful) will take us a stage further into the world of horror, loss, flight, pestilence and poverty which always follows war. If this happens, maybe more people might want to find out why it began. 

As Hitchens goes on to say, Americans are thousands of miles away from what would become the battlefield if this war expands, and, God forbid, goes nuclear. We are messing with a nuclear power here! We ought to be doing everything we can to bring Russia and Ukraine (and the US) to the peace table. Saying so does not make you a Putinista -- but those who want war sure would like you to believe that.

Advertisement

UPDATE: From Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall today:

Europe must fight. The realisation has been slow in coming. Yet almost one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, most western governments finally understand Kyiv’s war for survival is their war, too. It’s a fight to the death for Ukraine, but also for European democracy, rights and values. It’s a fight against the historical evils of fascism and imperialism embodied by Vladimir Putin, a dictator for our age.

Europe must fight. It really has no choice. 

Yes it does!

Fears of an escalating, even nuclear conflict, most often expressed by Germany’s government, are daily trumped by the horror of Putin’s relentless butchery.

This is insane. As horrible as what the Russians are doing to Ukraine is, nothing -- nothing -- is remotely close to the horror of a nuclear war. Nobody expects Ukraine to surrender to the Russians. But surely we all ought to do whatever we can to bring this hideous war to a halt. Instead, now we have Washington thinking about backing Kyiv's crackpot idea to reconquer Crimea, where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based. Simon Tisdall, speaking for the UK's metropolitan Left, says, I kid you not, that we should wage all-out war on Russia:

Europe, in order to prevail, must fight back with everything it’s got, even at the risk of national armed forces ultimately becoming directly engaged. Last week’s wrangling over sending hi-tech German Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv merely reprises previous, futile arguments about the level of weapons supplies. Ukrainians fight for all of us, so why tie their hands?

East and central European politicians have a clearer-eyed estimation of the physical Russian threat, rooted in history. They want Nato to send combat aircraft, too. How different things might be today, they suggest, had a less chary western alliance deployed such weapons last spring.

It’s a question Joe Biden, Nato’s de facto boss, should ask himself as he dithers anew...

These people are going to give us World War III. Who is speaking out to stop them? Besides Peter Hitchens, that is?

UPDATE: This:

Why should France and Germany trust Washington? These are the people who delivered the Iraq and Afghanistan disasters, and paid no price for it. They're at it again.

Comments

Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Crimea was the prize sought in the 2014 coup as well because of its strategic military significance. Note well, before the CIA coup that the country was peaceful. Victoria Nuland and John McCain weren't in Kiev just to hand out cookies. The State Department was deeply involved in "midwifing" the coup and installing the unelected replacement leaders and chasing the elected leaders by threat of death. An amazing armed "insurrection" against a sitting government, managed by the same folks who grossly exaggerate a demonstration of January 6 in Washington for partisan purposes. The United States triggered a civil war in the Ukraine by overthrowing genuine democracy in favor of a faction. As Russophobic National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote, the Ukraine was to be the prize that would undo Russia forever as an entity. His son is the current US ambassador to Poland.

Note well, the objectives hidden by a government mandated propaganda in supine media, in order to create supportive misinformed public opinion, are conquest and the final settlement of the Cold War through violence. The fall of Communism was not enough, rather regime change even if it takes hot war and unconditional surrender.

Please tell me how any of this supports Just War Theory. I keep asking, but tellingly no one will answer.
schedule 2 weeks ago
    Bogdán Emil
    Bogdán Emil
    Compassionate conservative George W. Bush's idealistic democracy promotion started all this in 2008, like it or not, but Obama and the Clinton State Department continued on that error-filled path, like it or not. Putin was perfectly willing to swallow everything, even Kosovo, until Ukraine and Georgia were invited into NATO. By the way, they also wanted to join. But we should have known better.

    Fine, I'll bite: the way any of this supports Just War Theory is via bystander nations coming to the defense of a relatively small nation innocently attacked by a third party Goliath. Just Cause is fairly easily fulfilled here. The way you know that Ukraine was innocently attacked is by affirming that nothing could possibly justify Russia 1)attacking Georgia in 2008, even though they were mad 2)attacking Ukraine in 2014, even though they were mad 3)attacking Ukraine again in 2022, even though they were mad.

    Russia is right to be worried in the great planetary game of positioning and jockeying for power, but wrong to be violently aggressive like this in Ukraine. They should let their displeasure be known in other ways, ideally by triangulating and consorting with our tentative aspiring competitors, doing some BRICS work, instead of poisoning people and attacking small neighbors.

    The international community defending Ukraine within reason is righteous, and you are ultimately correct, we (America) started this war, but partly just by our sheer presence--we were born an expansionist nation of immigrants from the start--so yes, it's up to us, we do need to finish it somehow. We're the 800 pound gorilla, and we have trampled a lot of flowerbeds.

    I will say, though, the fact that the Russians have a base on Crimea is not impressive to me, since they have plenty of Black Sea coastline. What's more impressive about Crimea is that it's geographically tied to Ukraine and has no real water supply of its own, except from Ukraine. Crimea, in other words, is not a self-sufficient peninsula you can just rip off the mainland. It's more naturally part of Ukraine than Russia.

    Crimea should be returned, but Ukraine should let go of all the East that wants to join Russia.

    All this should be accomplished via negotiation and international monitoring, obviously.
    schedule 2 weeks ago
      Fran Macadam
      Fran Macadam
      You didn't even address any of the necessary criteria of Just War Theory except to say the war you support is just. That's not a satisfactory or serious response and I'd expected better. But perhaps not, since a serious examination leads to a different conclusion. Only the Hans of God can stop what unregenerate human beings have in store for the rest of us.
      schedule 2 weeks ago
        Bogdán Emil
        Bogdán Emil
        All aspects of Just War Theory can be satisfied by sufficient verbal gymnastics, for the social sciences are an imprecise art. I addressed the first criterion, Just Cause. War is justified in defense of someone else who is being attacked. Any comment?

        Why don't you stop pretending that a difficult issue is easy.

        It ain't easy to just look at what's happening in Ukraine and do nothing but complain.

        Do you support any action at all against Russia, currently?
        schedule 2 weeks ago
          Fran Macadam
          Fran Macadam
          You're prevaricating about Just War as developed from Augustine. Not serious at all. Why should I want to "punish" Russia? Because media war propaganda wants the public infected with war fever to have an Armageddon style "final solution" of the Russian problem, which stalwarts like John Brennan says are genetic and inevitable? This is as crazy as transgenderism and the rest of the Woke agenda.
          schedule 2 weeks ago
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Both Russia and the United States are willing to use first strike nuclear weapons over territorial disputes in eastern Europe and Russia to avoid defeat by regular forces.

Note well, the nuclear weapons in Europe are entirely owned and wielded by the American military except for a small French cache. If they are used against Russia it is an act to be entirely determined by United States leadership. Thousands of these nuclear weapons are triggered and ready for use and are aimed at thousands of sites in Russia as well as China.

Do not expect that nuclear war will not involve highly sophisticated hypersonic missiles unstoppable by any defense, with thousands of targets in the continental United States and Canada and wherever in the world the United States stations its arsenal.

The idea that "Putin" is bluffing and that the elected Russian government would never use them - relying on a fantasy that Russia is now too "Christian" to do so, unlike the Woke US leadership - is simply more of the same deluded judgement that believes men can actually be women, among other madness.

All these weapons are not theoretical or hypothetical. They are designed to be used and can be. Their menace is meant to be real and should they be used, they will all be used until exhausted, just as the United States did with its entire nuclear arsenal to win surrender of Japan.
schedule 2 weeks ago
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Just War Theory is now irrelevant since it's been decided without serious moral examination of consequences that there will just be war.

As for The Guardian, isn't its transformation from the media organization that published the truth about illegal mass surveillance of ordinary people, to a wholly propagandistic hack shill for that same surveillance state absolutely amazing?
schedule 2 weeks ago
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Considering Russia's War is just in my reckoning, which seems obvious to anyone who isn't a QAnon Lover like Jon.

    But unpack that first paragraph a little.
    schedule 2 weeks ago
Theodore Iacobuzio
Theodore Iacobuzio
Wonderful to see the great man (for such he is) get a little play here. Let's highlight a little of his trademark throwaway irony: "Unlike everyone else in the media and politics, I am not a military expert."

And while Hitchens as always is concerned with his own country, which he loves so dearly, it is important to remember Germany, which shares a border with Poland, has so far refused to send tanks. No wishful thinking here, but it is significant, and has provoked the predictable wails of rage and pain:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/01/21/germany-ukraine-leopard-tanks-biden/
schedule 2 weeks ago
Giuseppe Scalas
Giuseppe Scalas
This is a hard problem.
But the likes of Tisdall mustn't have their own way.
schedule 2 weeks ago
Zenos Alexandrovitch
Zenos Alexandrovitch
Shouldn't it be pointed out that the 'horrible things' Russia has done in Ukraine is no worse than what Ukraine had been doing and continues to do to it's own citizens. Furthermore, nothing Russia has done compares to the crimes the US Military has committed globally since WWII or in recent conflicts such as Syria.
schedule 2 weeks ago
Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
Re: Fran Macadam

"You're prevaricating about Just War as developed from Augustine. Not serious at all. Why should I want to "punish" Russia? Because media war propaganda wants the public infected with war fever to have an Armageddon style "final solution" of the Russian problem, which stalwarts like John Brennan says are genetic and inevitable? This is as crazy as transgenderism and the rest of the Woke agenda."

What are you babbling about, rendering yourself a scandalous knave with all this, for you haven't actually said two words about Just War Theory, you haven't expounded on Augustine or Aquinas, you haven't even performed a simple thought experiment, furthermore, you're calling my coherent response "prevaricating..." Huh? Again: aiding someone who is being attacked fits most people's idea of justice. Ever heard of the concept? No? Absurdly, none of it is necessary anyway. Why not? Because there's a real life scenario unfolding constantly. You don't need to philosophize and conceptualize. There's actual stuff happening. For example, in the real world, even the Hungarian PM supports some of the sanctions. Why? Because Ukraine was attacked by an aggressor. Therefore, even Donald Trump would give support, aid and defensive weapons to Ukraine currently, I'm pretty sure.

"Not serious at all" is You, Fran, cartoonishly ignoring all these factoids, which are plain-as-day reality.

"Not serious at all" is You, sir Macadam, saying nothing about Russian responsibility. Have you been drinking too much Russian vodka? When consumed in overly copious amounts, it's a hallucinogen. Here's my impression of You, vodka-hallucinating:

"America is responsible. Ukraine is responsible. Europe is responsible. But Russia is saintly, and somehow exempt and not responsible. Russia, in fact, is probably pursuing Just War."

We know there's an argument to be made for anything, Fran, even for pure relativism, even for nihilism.
schedule 2 weeks ago
    Fran Macadam
    Fran Macadam
    OK, lots of name calling. I get that given the degradation of our culture that Just War theory now means nothing at all anymore, even as a fig leaf. Your tirade is of a piece with that. And that as Saul Alinsky's rules advise about personal attacks, they are preferable to engagement with the facts and that anything is allowable, as there is no basis for objectivity anyhow.
    I notice that historical facts are trash binned to fit a narrative.
    It's not my job to begin to educate you about the criteria for satisfying Just War theory. My point is that this reference has been totally abandoned.
    The biggest fallacy is that the conflict came out of nowhere. The reality is there was a 2014 coup against Ukraine fomented and funded by the United States, with the coup government leaders chosen by the United States, with the concerns about consequences for the Europeans, "F--- the E.U." in leaked conversations between the State Department's Nuland and U.S. ambassador Pyett as they "midwifed" their regime change of Ukraine right there in Kiev.
    That is the reality, with the Russian Ukrainians in the east to be eliminated on the march to eliminate Russia itself.
    schedule 2 weeks ago
      Bogdán Emil
      Bogdán Emil
      Not a word by you about Russian responsibility for meddling in Ukraine, repeatedly. America meddles, but not Russia.

      Your eternal silence about Russia's moral agency in this matter must be some kind of impervious shield, in your view. It isn't.

      The Russian emperor has no clothes, just like the American emperor, but you can keep ignoring it. Furthermore, America is still better than Russia, for Fran Macadam isn't in jail for stating facts.
      schedule 2 weeks ago
Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
Warmongering and repression, 10 years in prison for stating a fact. That's Russia, the heir of Constantinople, brother to the Ukrainians, both of whom should be our natural friends and allies.

Instead, we proud heathens all live by the dictates of Realism. We have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Those are called self-interests, by the way. And Russia is respected by virtue of its size and strength and nuclear weapons, while Ukraine is trampled by virtue of its inferiority on all those counts.

But to tease morality out of these power-plays is a mighty trick, and if anyone claims to have mastered it, I will know that I have met yet another charlatan. Realism is truly nothing more than a continuous exchange of friendliness for enmity. It has everything, including drive and excitement, but it has no Purpose.

The real tragedy is that those who try to imbue Purpose and create International Law based on universal principles are laying the foundation for world-government in a very real sense, which would be our planetary doom.

Therefore, my conservative dark side says I'll take this present shit-pile as a gift, instead of trying for Babel.
schedule 2 weeks ago
Frans
Frans
This war is a lot less one-sided than either side presents it as. I’m really not sure what the correct approach would have been. Give some sort of aid to Ukraine while calling them out for their own authoritarian and oppressive behaviour, and then working for some sort of settlement that presumably involves Crimea and parts of the Donbass permanently leaving Ukraine though ideally not joining Russia outright, I guess. But it’s almost certainly too late for all of that, I don’t see a reasonable way out at this point unfortunately. One thing is for sure: needs all the prayers we can give it.
schedule 2 weeks ago
    Fran Macadam
    Fran Macadam
    None of this need have happened had Trump still been President and he says it would not have. The people who profited from Ukrainian corruption after the coup are in power, thanks to media meddling and censorship. Even the impeachment was based on questioning the establishment foreign policies to do with the consequences of the Ukraine coup they arranged.
    schedule 2 weeks ago