SIX months ago, I wrote a piece on Ukraine predicting a quick defeat, after Russia launched its attack on February 24: "In the coming days Putin will unveil his endgame. Thousands will be dead and those that fled the cities are the lucky ones. Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odesa will be reduced to rubble, proverbially comparable to when Tokyo and Japanese cities were firebombed, systematically killing civilians toward the end of World War 2."
I was terribly wrong! It's now been 223 days — and counting, and the conflict drags on with no end in sight. But I was spot on when I anticipated that:
"America will not shed blood for Ukraine. No 'boots on the ground'! With its NATO allies, the US will simply arm Ukraine, encourage it to resist, and Russian and Ukraine boys will die. Victims all for a surrogate war for democracy. Not a drop of American blood spilled. But this act by America and NATO using Eastern Europeans to butcher each other is pushing Putin into a corner. Putin will not allow Russian boys to die in hordes in a protracted war with Ukraine. Putin has alternatives at his disposal, one of which is almost unthinkable. But as a superb poker player, Putin has gone 'all-in' and put his nuclear options into play. But nuclear war will not happen. Putin understands only too well the theory of mutual assured destruction (MAD)."
In any case, this war has left in its wake the lament of those that are affected the most — Ukrainian and Russian mothers!
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Sanctions — who loses
Aside from the armaments of conventional war boosting Ukraine's arsenal, the West has imposed economic sanctions as a calibrated alternative response to military intervention. The strategy of economic sanctions has always been the penultimate weapon of America and her allies. In conflicts past, it partly worked in the wake of the 1990 Kuwait invasion by Saddam Hussein. But the incalculable damage to the Iraqi civilian population was disproportionate to the harm it did to Saddam and his government.
Sanctions were also applied by the West when Putin annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014. Both Russia and the Western countries suffered — though the Russian populace suffered more. These sanctions did not prevent Russian adventurism nor the subsequent invasion of Ukraine. After the 2014 Crimea occupation, Russia must have anticipated Western allied sanctions as a consequence of its current invasion — planning long in advance and preparing for it. This time, not only have the actual protagonists suffered but the effects of the sanctions have spilled over, a global collateral damage — oil, gasoline, food, and agricultural products have become scarce, causing severe inflation. Experts are predicting a global economic recession. And for what?
"The idea is that sanctions cause economic damage and coerce the target to change its objectionable course of action. Although economic sanctions are widely used, their effectiveness is often debated. Recent research on sanctions has generally concluded that economic sanctions seldom change behavior, especially those aimed at disrupting military interventions. If national security is viewed as being at stake, sanctions simply aren't sufficiently costly." (Sylvanus Afersorgbor, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada)
Now US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his visit to Ukraine just announced the latest tranche of a $2.2 billion foreign military financing package for Ukraine and 18 other countries deemed at risk of future Russian aggression. The latest package includes $675 million to be shipped shortly in arms, supplies and ammunition. Another $1 to $2 billion comes in the form of US grants and loans that will enable countries to purchase weapons and defense equipment made in the US. Now things are becoming clearer as to the motivations and direction the war is going. If conspiracy theorists were to be believed — and the evidence to this is overwhelming, the military-industrial complex are the primary beneficiaries. And we can all draw our own conclusions.
American global military might is a given. Since the Second World War America assumed a world-dominant position never before seen in the annals of the rise and fall of empires. The symbiosis between its economic and military components is directed toward serving each other's vested interest — one twin obtaining war weapons, the other paid to supply them. The armed forces of the US and the defense contractors, all orchestrated by the Pentagon, need the enabling participation of a complicit US Congress forming a three-sided triangle — now aptly called the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC).
US military aid to Ukraine since the invasion is now estimated at $15.2 billion. Weapons sent to Ukraine are drones, armored vehicles, artillery pieces, and perhaps fighter planes soon. So far, Javelin, Brimstone and other anti-tank weapons, as well as 16,000 artillery rounds have been delivered. Another set of weapons pledged or already sent include "...72 155mm howitzers, 72 vehicles to tow them, 144,000 rounds of ammunition, and more than 120 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones recently developed by the US Air Force specifically to address Ukraine's needs."
These Javelin missiles jointly made by America's Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Technologies and the British/Swedish-made NLAW missiles are particularly effective as accordingly, they have destroyed 5,000 to 6,800 Russian tanks. And anti-aircraft Stinger missile systems manufactured by Raytheon have practically cleared the skies over Ukraine of Russian Mig jet fighters.
America even sent the deadly High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars), a technologically advanced weapons system that took out more than 100 "high value" Russian targets. These could turn the tide for Ukraine.
And Ukraine is asking for more and more weapons as the US is more than willing to deliver. Supplies and weapons components are drastically affected by supply-chain concerns complicating any ramp-up of production. The US Congress obliged by legislating an additional $52 billion for US chipmakers to expand operations. The business of war for America's MICC has never been so good.
US presidents' wars
American administrations, from many of us looking in, whatever their political shade — the conservative GOP or the liberal Democrats — share a commonality, an ethos harking back to their history and character — "the individualistic gunslinger cowboy of the western frontier." This archetype has been collectively transliterated to the world stage allowing America to assume its role as the world's primus inter pares, resulting in America waging a total of 102 wars and bush fires and low-intensity conflicts during the 20th and 21st centuries, inclusive of the major ones since 1900: World War 1, World War 2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the two Gulf wars. They have even pompously designated their wars with their presidents. Johnson's Vietnam war, the Bush pere Gulf War, Dubya Bush's Iraq war segueing into America's longest — the Afghanistan war which was also attributed to Obama winding the war down.
Thus, it could be argued that the Ukraine war, initiated by Putin, may be serendipitous to American hegemony and the benefit of the MICC. In one sense, this could be construed as Biden's war, coated of course with the traditional mantra of the preservation of Freedom, Liberty and Democracy.
So, is Ukraine winning? Who cares? Business is good!
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