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More Warmongering From The Swamp

Mitch McConnell says the Ukraine war is the most important thing in the world today. Really?
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Watch the first 15 seconds or so of these remarks by Sen. Mitch McConnell, explaining why Republicans approved Joe Biden’s $40 billion Ukraine war request:

McConnell says, “I think we all agree that the most important thing going on in the world right now is the war in Ukraine.”

Who is “we”? Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the Washington gang are marching us slowly into ever-greater involvement in a proxy war with Russia. Why is this in our national interest? I agree that Russia was wrong to have invaded Ukraine, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what we have to gain from risking war with Russia, or expanding this war to the rest of Europe.

Yesterday, I was stopped at a red light near a gas station. As I waited for the light to change, I saw the price of diesel fuel on the sign go up 13 cents. Living the past three months in Hungary, where the cost of living is low compared to the US, did not prepare me for the inflation shock when I got home. I bought a burger, fries, and a diet Coke at Burger King the other day: $11! And, in the city where I live, violent crime is rising. A friend of mine in Alabama is on his third round of Covid, and he’s been fully vaccinated. Do we really all agree that the most important thing going on in the world right now is the war in Ukraine?

Again: Washington does, and now we are at war with Russia. The US Government is openly bragging that its intelligence helped the Ukrainians kill Russian generals and sink a warship in the Black Sea. Is this really in our national interest, especially after twenty years of failed Middle Eastern wars? It boggles the mind. Here is Robin Wright, writing in The New Yorker:

America has crossed a threshold in Ukraine, both in its short-term involvement and its long-term intent. The U.S. was initially cautious during the fall and winter as Russia, a nuclear country with veto power at the U.N. Security Council, amassed more than a hundred and fifty thousand troops along the Ukrainian border. It didn’t want to poke the Russian bear—or provoke Vladimir Putin personally. Two days after long convoys of Russian tanks rolled across the border, on February 24th, the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, still claimed that America’s goal—backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid—was simply to stand behind the Ukrainian people. The White House sanctioned Russia—initially targeting a few banks, oligarchs, political élites, government-owned enterprises, and Putin’s own family—to pressure the Russian leader to put his troops back in their box, without resorting to military intervention. “Direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War Three, something we must strive to prevent,” President Joe Biden said, in early March.

Yet in just over nine weeks, the conflict has rapidly evolved into a full proxy war with Russia, with global ramifications. U.S. officials now frame America’s role in more ambitious terms that border on aggressive. The goal—backed by tens of billions of dollars in aid—is to “weaken” Russia and insure a sovereign Ukraine outlasts Putin. “Throughout our history, we’ve learned that when dictators do not pay the price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and engage in more aggression,” the President told reporters on Thursday. “They keep moving. And the costs, the threats to America and the world, keep rising.”

Forty billion dollars. More Robin Wright:

The Biden Administration has public support for its expanding role—for now. Despite war weariness after two decades in Afghanistan and Iraq, roughly two-thirds of Americans believe that the U.S. has a “moral responsibility” to do more to stop the killing of civilians in Ukraine, according to a Quinnipiac poll published in mid-April. In a country polarized on most other issues, a majority from both parties agreed. Three-quarters of those polled also fear that the worst is yet to come. And more than eighty per cent believe that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. Yet the public’s moral outrage “stops at the water’s edge when it comes to committing the U.S. military to the fight,” Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University analyst, noted. Only nineteen per cent of Americans believe the U.S. should do more even if it risks getting into a direct war with Russia.

That conviction may soon be tested. The U.S. role has evolved—from a reactive response to Russia’s unjustified war to a proactive assertion of American leadership and leverage.

Do you know that this is happening?
In Europe, Hungary’s Viktor Orban is once again being portrayed as History’s Greatest Monster because his government is holding up European Union sanctions banning Russian oil and gas. Why? Because those sanctions would destroy the Hungarian economy. Hungary gets 85% of its natural gas and 60% of its oil from Russia. And it is landlocked, meaning it could not receive shipments of oil and gas via tanker.
I agree that Putin is a bad man who should not have invaded Ukraine. But ask yourself: why is it in America’s interest to go deeper and deeper into the hole, committing itself to a shooting war with Russia, over Ukraine? Why is it in the EU’s interest to destroy its own member nations’ economies to cut off Russian oil and gas? Who is any of this benefiting?

UPDATE: More power to Damon Linker, who writes:

What the Biden administration has opted for is a form of proxy warfare in which Ukraine does the fighting, picks the targets, and fires the weapons, but we often supply the weapons and provide intelligence that enables Ukraine to choose targets wisely and precisely. This demonstrates American and NATO resolve while keeping us at least one step removed from directly engaging Russian forces. It’s good for Russia to know that our intelligence is strong enough to place their warships and senior military officers at serious risk — and that we are willing to share that intelligence with Ukraine. Both could well prompt de-escalation, as the Russian military command and President Vladimir Putin confront the reality that it might be impossible for them to achieve anything beyond relatively minimal war aims.

But such de-escalation becomes much less likely if the American role in inflicting pain on the Russian military is public knowledge. That’s because a big part of politics, even in authoritarian regimes, involves managing appearances. In order to sell a policy of de-escalation to the Russian people, Putin must be able to portray it as at least a partial victory. Otherwise, he would be risking looking weak and opening himself up to a collapse in support and/or a coup attempt that could leave him deposed from power and even dead. Humiliating Putin could also inflame patriotic rage among ordinary Russians, who could end up demanding retribution in the form of some face-saving action against NATO.

That’s how bragging to reporters about the American role in helping Ukraine inflict maximal harm against Russian forces could well initiate an escalatory spiral that culminates in direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia.

Read it all.I don’t believe we should be fighting a proxy war with Russia, but if we are, then we damn sure ought not to have our officials bragging about it!

UPDATE.2: People can’t buy baby formula in this country, but Democrats and Republicans in Washington and sending $40 billion to Ukraine.