Wednesday, October 19, 2022

How Are Things Going in Ukraine?

I trust that we all know that the Ukraine war is going swimmingly for the democratic West. By news accounts the Ukrainian army is laying waste to the incompetent Russian forces. It is taking back lost territory and allowing our favorite Hegelian Francis Fukuyama to come out from under his rock and to declare victory for liberal democracy.

One hesitates to have to say it, but the West has gotten itself involved in a propaganda war. The media, whether the press or social media, only reports one side of the story, the Ukrainian side. If you think you know what is going on in that godforsaken country, think again.

To find out the truth behind the propaganda, noted crank Spengler has chosen to check in with the spirit world and to ask the noted foreign policy expert, Cardinal Richelieu to offer his views. Of course, the seventeenth century figure is still respected as a master of Realpolitik, so he is eminently qualified to offer an explanation that is probably more to the point than is the nonstop propaganda.

Spengler opens his chat with Richelieu by offering the conventional wisdom. Ukraine is winning; Russia is losing:

“But Eminence,” I protested, “Russia has done poorly in its war on Ukraine. It is bogged down with high casualties and missed its chance for a quick victory, and it has succeeded only in uniting the whole of the West against it.”

“I expected better from you, Spengler, than to repeat the nonsense one reads in the newspapers,” Richelieu spat back. A glowing blob of ectoplasm stuck to my Oculus visor. “A quick victory, indeed? And what makes you think that Putin ever wanted a quick victory?”

That stumped me. “Pardon my effrontery, Eminence, but if Putin didn’t want a quick victory, what did he want?”

One tends to agree with Spengler that Putin has failed to achieve the quick victory he wanted, but then, if Richelieu thinks otherwise, what is his analysis? 

I stood in the CGI recreation of the palace on the Place des Vosges in stupefied silence. At length, I whispered, “What will happen to Ukraine?”

“Putin will leave Ukraine as he left Chechnya – although Boris Yeltsin deserves a good deal of the credit; he directed the First Chechen War in 1994, when half a million of Chechnya’s 1.3 million people were displaced, perhaps 100,000 civilians were killed, and half the country was ruined. Perhaps another 100,000 civilians died – so many fled it is hard to tell. Russian troops leveled the capital Grozny in 1999, at high cost to themselves. I find it amusing that American commentators hold up Yeltsin as an exemplar of democratic benevolence when he was every bit as brutal as Putin. There is only one way to govern Russia, and it does not involve lace doilies.”

So, Putin is more concerned with reducing Ukraine to rubble, especially by destroying the infrastructure of a city like Kyev. Freezing to death, famine, starvation… those are his current weapons:

The cardinal chortled. “Now, my na├»ve friend, Putin commands Chechen shock troops in Ukraine. Putin understands ‘the systematic exploitation of time as the deadliest of all weapons.’ Ukraine was hollow before the war began. It had one of the world’s lowest birth rates, and its birth rate will fall even farther. Twelve million Ukrainians, fully half the able-bodied population of working age, left before the war started. Another five million have fled. As Russian artillery pounds Ukraine’s cities, more will flee. How many will return? Large parts of Ukraine will fall into ruin. Centuries of Ruthenian resentment against Russian overlords encrusted over the centuries will be consumed in a few weeks of war, and in its place, there will be nothing but a dull sense of horror.”

But then the good cardinal makes a more subtle point.  He says that winning was not the primary objective. Apparently, drawing the West into a protracted conflict with Russia and the world’s developing autocracies is more important:

Most foolish of all, the West imagines that the stolid, brutal war of attrition that Russia is fighting denotes a failure to achieve its objectives, when the war itself is Putin’s objective, just as it was Father Joseph’s objective at Regensburg in 1630. The Protestant cause in Germany was on the verge of collapse, and Imperial victory was close. Nonetheless, I found the means to keep the war going. Father Joseph flattered Austria’s ally, Maximilian I of Bavaria, until he demanded the dismissal of the Imperial Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein. Meanwhile, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden had landed in Pomerania, with a subsidy from the French treasury. The Swedes ravaged Central Europe and fought the Austrian Empire to exhaustion in 1635. Then I declared war on Spain, once the great land power of Europe, and bled it dry.”

So, keep an eye on the upcoming European winter, watch closely as great nations are obliged to shut down their industries for lack of energy. And watch what happens when the winter cold descends on people who have only limited heat.

Anyway, Richelieu accuses Spengler and the rest of us of being far too squeamish. Time will tell who is right. For now, the Russian military is in the process of destroying Ukraine. The war is not over, yet.


Anonymous said...

The destruction of Ukraine
is Belt and Road gentrification.

Callmelennie said...

Ive seen this channeling Cardinal Richelieu to explain current politics before. Great stuff.