Sunday, May 29, 2022

Cardinal Richelieu on the Russia-Ukraine War

Because we maintain a healthy skepticism regarding the media-driven party line reporting about the war in Ukraine, we have done our best to offer contrary opinions and even contrary analysis.

We did so yesterday, and we will provide some extra added contrary analysis today.

The author of this analysis is the famed 17th century French foreign policy maven, one Cardinal Richelieu. The good cardinal was a leader of the French Catholic Church and simultaneously a minister in the court of Louis XIII.

David Goldman, who obviously has better sources than you or I, has channeled the good cardinal, allowing him to offer his analysis of the situation in Ukraine. We are grateful.

Therefore, these following texts should be understood as coming from one of history’s great foreign policy minds. So, pay them special heed.

Richelieu begins:

Did I not tell you at our last meeting that Putin’s object was not to do this or that with Ukraine, or to rule Ukraine or to compel Ukraine to adopt one policy or the other, but to be done with Ukraine once and for all – to ruin it utterly, depopulate it and eliminate the possibility that Ukraine might become a venue for Western weapons pointed at Russia?

Unsurprisingly, Richelieu has no respect for the lame analyses offered by Western pundits. In that he is in accord with the views we have expressed on this very blog:

One hears from self-deluding Western pundits that Putin wants to be a new czar presiding over a new Russian empire, and that his attack on Ukraine was motivated by national pride and territorial ambition. If that were true, mon ami, he would not scorch the earth and drive out the people! The damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure alone exceeds $1 trillion, in a country whose national output did not reach $160 billion a year before the war started! Simply repairing the country would require six times the country’s national product, which of course is impossible.

Even if the money could be found, who would make the repairs? Before the war Ukraine had 45 million people on paper but only 33 million actually in the country, because half the adult population had left to work elsewhere. At least 14 million of those have been driven from their homes, and most of them will not return. After all, the Poles, Hungarians and Germans are short of people and will gladly accept immigrants from Ukraine rather than from the Middle East or Africa.

It takes a large quantity of cynicism to imagine that the Eastern European countries are accepting large quantities of Ukrainian immigrants because they need more workers and because they would prefer Ukrainians to Syrians and North Africans. But, alas, such is the cardinal’s viewpoint. Of course, you thought that these nations were the souls of charity. Seriously?

But then there is the question about America, our very own nation. Richelieu is not overly optimistic about American moral character. Apparently, though he does not use the word, he sees America as a decadent state, in cultural decline. Who knew?

“About the Americans do not worry so much. They are becoming accustomed to humiliation. Does no one remember their unseemly departure from Afghanistan last year? They thought they were clever in cultivating Ukraine as a de facto member of NATO, perhaps with anti-missile systems that could be converted into short-range missiles with nuclear warheads if the need were to arise.

Putin believed that he had an agreement with the Europeans under Minsk II to keep Ukraine neutral and to guarantee autonomy to Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine in the East, and he believed – with some justification – that Washington sabotaged this agreement. So he attacked.”

About America’s management of the crisis, Richelieu is less positive than, say, Tom Friedman. The Biden administration, far from being a locus of foreign policy intelligence, is more like a ship of fools:

The Americans thought Putin’s economy would collapse! It did not. They thought the Russian people would revolt! They did not. They thought their expensive toys, Javelins and Switchblades and Stingers, would stop the Russian army. They did not. They simply killed a lot of Russians. But as Hitler’s best general von Manstein said of the Russians, just when you think you’ve killed them all, another bunch of them comes over the hill.

As for the Russians, the cardinal has no illusions about their awesome military: 

The Americans understand nothing about the Russians. The Russias gripe, they get drunk and they follow orders. They do not need America’s high-tech toys. They simply send drones to scout the location of the enemy, feed in the coordinates and fire vast numbers of artillery shells and rockets. They are unimaginative, stolid and unrelenting. If you want to know about the Russians, I will introduce you to von Manstein, Charles XII and Napoleon. But the ghost whom you really should conjure is Bismarck. He said: ‘Kämpfe nicht mit Russen. Auf jede List reagieren sie mit einer unvoraussehbarer Dummheit.”

Goldman translates Bismarck: “Don’t fight with Russians.” “To every stratagem of war they react with some unforeseeable brutishness.”

And Richelieu offers up a few words from Henry Kissinger-- recently attacked for suggesting that Ukraine will need to cede territory if it wants to negotiate the end of the war-- and he adds a view of history, especially the history where we Americans have run proxy wars, using other nations’ soldiers:

Every country in the world will call to mind Kissinger’s bon mot that it is dangerous to be an enemy of the United States – but to be its friend is fatal. America is generous with other people’s blood: Hungarians in 1956, Czechs in 1968, the Kurds in Syria and today the Ukrainians. American pundits say that from Ukraine, Taiwan should draw the lesson that it must prepare to defend itself now, like a porcupine. But it is quite a different lesson that the Taiwanese have learned – namely that it doesn’t pay to fight as an American proxy.

What will Germany and the rest of Europe do? Glad you asked:

The Germans will have the choice of rearming, and in particular restoring conscription, or accommodating Putin. Which do you think they will do? The Hungarians will congratulate themselves for refusing to join the sanctions against Moscow. The French will remember that Marine Le Pen came within a cannon-shot of beating Macron in the last elections by proposing to remove France from NATO command, and Macron will carefully distance himself from Washington. The Poles will make a terrible noise, but to no avail; the difference between the Hungarians and the Poles is that the Hungarians do not make the mistake of thinking that they matter. And India will continue to buy Russian oil and sell consumer goods to the Russian market.

And, as for China, here is the Richelieu analysis of the Middle Kingdom’s policy toward Russia and Ukraine:

“China will eat melons, to use their idiom; they will stand on the sidelines, watch and do nothing at all except enjoy the misery of the United States. They will show the instruments of torture to Taiwan in the expectation that their actual application will not be necessary. They will build more hypersonic weapons and other nasty devices that make the American navy rather unwelcome in their part of the world. And they will quietly tell countries of interest to them that the United States failed once again in Ukraine as it failed in Afghanistan, and that China will have to be reckoned with as a new pole of global power.

Given that we have offered the considered views of a great statesman and an expert in foreign policy, we will refrain from commentary this morning.


Anonymous said...

You can't trust's run by Democrats. As for the GOP, I have severe concerns,

Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to have some knowledge about this.

Bukovski said...

This virtual Cardinal Richelieu would do best if, regarding the motives of the Poles, he listened to the Poles themselves instead of fantasizing about it based on how he himself perhaps usually acts. The Poles have been subjected to Soviet and, before that, Russian occupation for years, and they understand very well what the Russians are capable of. For generations, hundreds of thousands of Poles were deported to Siberia, where they perished. Now Ukrainians are being sent that way. We in Poland know perfectly well what this means, because everyone in Poland either has a family member who was deported, or knows at least several people who had such a person in their family. Hundreds of thousands of Polish women were raped, a huge part of the Polish intelligentsia was murdered and the Polish economy was destroyed, blocking the development of the country for years. Russia is currently ruled by the FSB mafia, of which Putin is the face, a former agent of the service which persecuted Poles for generations. That's why today, in Poland, everyone is terrified of this invasion and welcoming Ukrainians into their homes is commonplace. I myself took in a mother and her pregnant daughter, who came from Odessa, where rockets are currently falling. We are not doing this to take in Ukrainians instead of people from Africa. You can see right away that Richelieu has never been to Poland. There is practically no African immigration in our country. If there are any African immigrants it is only in transit to Germany. We don't have demographic problems yet, and nobody is proposing to accept Ukrainians as a solution to demography, because we don't expect them to stay, nor do they expect us to. We are helping them by taking them in en masse and driving thousands of private cars with food and weapons to Ukraine, because we know we could be next. We help the Ukrainians out of fear of Putin. We are all afraid. The same goes for Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and many other countries that also experienced Soviet occupation and remember Putin and his cronies from that time. Poland got involved the strongest because it suffered the most from Russia. It also gained the most from the liberation so now it has the most to lose. Ukraine is our only buffer separating us from Russia. If it disappears, no one in Poland will sleep peacefully. No one in Europe or NATO planned to attack Russia from within Ukraine. This is nonsense. All the West wanted was to do business with Russia and do business in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russia, as a country ruled by FSB apparatus is a country of total lawlessness and it is only possible to do business there importing raw materials and fuels. More serious business is risky due to monstrous bribery. And as the deaths of people involved in Gazprom show, the fuel business is also risky. Therefore, if you wanted to do business in Ukraine, you should have supported the construction of a normal rule of law there, and not the rule of the FSB, because if you do business with them you could end up buried in a forest or poisoned with Novichok. That was the same thing the Ukrainians wanted - they wanted to be free of Putin, because everyone in the region is afraid of him. He's the reason why Ukraine wanted to join NATO, so if he wanted to protect himself from anything, it was to protect himself from the problem that his own person was creating.

Bukovski said...

And why did Putin attack Ukraine? Because of shame. There is a perception in the region that if you live in a post-Soviet country, certain things cannot work. A country that was ever ruled by the FSB mafia, to which Putin, among others, also belonged, will not develop. Many believe this. But after Euromaidan, Ukraine began to change. It was a slow process but clear enough to start giving the Russians food for thought. What is wrong with us that they are doing so well and we are doing so badly? That's why their soldiers are robbing there so much now. They take away cars, cell phones, furniture... It's envy, and their leader's motive is shame and a desire to hide the reasons for the Russian defeat. Specifically one reason. That reason is called Putin

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for an alternative analysis, from the region. As for whether Ukraine was doing so well, I have been hearing that it's the poorest country in Europe. Is this true? As for the destruction visited by the Russian military, this is undoubtedly true and has been true for decades now. But then, as part of anyone's analysis we need to note that it might be better to try to find a negotiated compromise than to watch one's country being destroyed. As even I have noted, the Russians are much more capable of destroying than of conquering.

Bukovski said...

Ukraine has existed as a state for only a short time and is constantly struggling with the legacy of the Soviet era. In addition, it has been engaged in a hybrid war with Russia for many years. Nevertheless, from the Polish perspective it was clearly visible that the country is changing. After the Russian invasion I went there several times with aid transports and brought refugees. The country is now at a stage where Poland was around the year 2000. I remember what it looked like in Soviet times, so it is easy to imagine the task ahead of them. Putin saw the danger of Ukraine's success. And it was clear that if he didn't interfere, they would eventually succeed. There is nothing to suggest the amount of economic emigration. This is a typical stage for post-Soviet countries. Poles started that way, too. After the liberation, the first thing we did was to go en masse to Germany and Great Britain to work. In post-Soviet conditions you can't earn it honestly and that money simply had to be brought in. They did what we used to do and even dressed similarly. Now, if they lose this country will simply collapse. And it is impossible to negotiate with Putin. There are no negotiations with the FSB.

Anonymous said...

"The Biden administration, far from being a locus of foreign policy intelligence, is more like a ship of fools:" And that would be a sunken ship of fools, in the Mindanao Trench.

Anonymous said...

The US did not fail militarily in Afghanistan and whatever the National Command Authority did there and is doing in Ukraine it is not something involving American conventional forces operating according to state-of-the-art doctrine as taught in our academies, War College, C&GS College, Ft. Irwin, and the like.

Our troops were employed as nose wipers, irrigation ditch diggers, and snipe hunters in Afghanistan and in Ukraine we send in trainers and special operators to school and edify someone else's troops to achieve some lunatic objectives with zero bearing on our national interests.

The US military can be a force to be reckoned with but our civilian leadership want to play a game called Belle of the Ball Forever but won't even emplace minefields covered by fire on our southern border. Which a serious nation would do. But we're a joke nation so that will never happen. Neither will keeping incompetent, minority female officers off the bridge of naval vessels, but that's another story.