An article in the December 9, 2022 Wall Street Journal brought some rare good strategic news about the war in Ukraine. It seems that a few of Ukraine’s allies understand that a complete Russian defeat could bring about the dissolution of the Russian state, and that this represents the worst possible outcome.
The Journal article, “Ukraine Minister Urges Bold Support from Western Allies,” reports that:
Ukraine’s foreign minister called on the country’s allies not to fear a possible breakup of the Russian state as a consequence of the war. . .
Though Kyiv’s Western allies are united over the goal of preventing a Ukrainian defeat, not all embrace the objective of a full-blown Ukrainian military victory. . .
Some of these allies worry that such an outcome could destabilize the nuclear-armed Russian state, potentially leading to its fragmentation and wide-scale unrest, with unpredictable global consequences.
The Journal article does not identify the states that are expressing this concern, but hurrah for them. They are daring to inject a note of realism into a policy world dominated by Washington’s neo-Wilsonianism, which has already led to the destruction of several states, including Iraq, Syria, and Libya. These (undoubtedly European) governments expressing their concern about a potential Russian break-up seem to have grasped the central fact of the 21st century strategy, namely that a state collapse is a greater danger than state bad behavior. Europe would be facing fewer problems today if Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya were all functioning states ruled by tyrants.
As I have written many times, state collapse is the greatest danger we face and it is spreading. We may be witnessing it in Iran. I too would be happy to see the fall of Iran’s Islamic theocracy and the return of the young Shah, who’s father it might be remembered, was overthrown because he tried to modernize his country. But if the result of the ayatollah’s demise is a collapse of the Iranian state, which is a fairly fragile state because much of the population is non-Persian, then we are better off with the theocrats.
China, too, is facing unprecedented disorder, largely because of misgovernment by Xi Jinping. He botched the coronavirus problem (which probably started in a military lab in Wuhan that was tasked with developing biological weapons), collapsed the Chinese real estate market which is where most middle-class Chinese stashed their savings, and then rewarded himself with an unconstitutional third term. A more effective assault of the legitimacy of Communist Party rule is difficult to imagine. But as Washington delights in China’s problems, it forgets that China’s history is one of internal disunion, civil wars, and prolonged periods of warring states. Mix that with nuclear weapons and, as with Russia, it should be clear that stabilizing the Chinese state is a primary strategic objective. Of course, all the Wilsonians do is bleat more pathetically about “democracy” and “human rights.”
That is unrealism Washington may pay for heavily. If Russia or China break up into stateless regions, the world economy will tank the way it did in the 1930s, or worse. America will not escape a second Great Depression. If Washington’s folly results in nuclear weapons hitting American cities, the Blob (the foreign policy establishment) will find itself out of work if not hanging from lampposts.
America is deeply riven over irreconcilable cultural differences, to the point where all that holds it together is a seeming prosperity – seeming because it is built on ever-increasing levels of private and public debt. When the inevitable debt/financial crisis hits, that alone may endanger the American union. Add a weakening or vanishing of states around the globe and the 21st century could end up a repeat of the 14th century.
Let us hope those European states worrying about the potential break-up of the Russian Federation don’t lose their nerve.
Addendum: The recent “coup attempt” in Germany will go down in history as the “Clown Putsch.” Not only did the idiots behind it think a couple dozen men could overthrow the German state, they imagined they could put Prince Henry of Reuss on the Imperial German Throne. Every legitimist, monarchist and Reichsburger knows that the throne belongs to the head of the House of Hohenzollern and no one else. When Germany again becomes a monarchy, it will be through constitutional means and it will reflect a broad consensus among the German people that they want a Kaiser.