The View From Olympus: What Are They Thinking?

On February 5, the New York Times reported that “the White House is rethinking its opposition to arming Ukraine in what is turning into a proxy war with Russia.” A proxy war with Russia? Are these people out of their minds?

Unfortunately, President Obama’s request to Congress for new war powers to fight ISIS has crowded the Ukrainian situation off the front page. But in terms of America and its interests, Ukraine is more important. Since we have not cared about four defeats by Fourth Generation entities in the Middle East, a fifth defeat will presumably not matter much either.

In contrast, getting into a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine could matter a great deal. Wars have the unfortunate habit of not remaining within their initial confines. Should Russia find itself on the losing end of such a war, it could remember that it is a major nuclear power—the only other country that is roughly equal to the United States in nuclear weapons. Do we really want to find ourselves in a Cold War-style eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Russia, with the possibility of escalation very real? The fact that we must ask the question shows the utter folly of current American foreign policy.

Given Russia’s geographic advantage in Ukraine, a more likely outcome is that we will find ourselves on the losing end of a proxy war. For every anti-tank weapon we send the Ukrainians—that is not sold by corrupt Ukrainian officials to Russia, ISIS, or whomever—Russia can easily send ten tanks. If there is one thing Russia has lots of, it’s tanks. She is not likely to run out.

Should Russia tire of the proxy war, she can end it easily and quickly. As President Putin has said, the Russian Army can be in Kiev in two weeks. America has no such option, nor any conceivable military response. Drop in the 82nd Airborne? To a Russian tank army, it would not amount to more than a speed bump. Again, the very thought that we must consider a ground war with Russia deep in the Russian heartland shows that our foreign policy is made by imbeciles.

In case no one has noticed, the “sanctions” answer has already failed. The rapid fall in the value of the ruble, in part a function of sanctions, has worked to Russia’s advantage. Russians are turning to Russian products in place of imports, a fundamental economic change Russia has long needed.

On balance, the sanctions have helped Russia more than hurt her. The people who have gotten hurt are our European allies, whose economies are less robust than Russia’s. If Russia wants to push Europe back into economic crisis, all she has to do is say she will not repay loans to countries that are participating in the sanctions.

The fact is, we are entering a proxy war with Russia where Moscow holds aces and kings and our hand is twos and threes. This represents policy failure of impressive proportions.

America’s foreign policy now lies in the hands of women, children, escapees from the asylum at Charenton, Pee Wee Herman, Mr. Ed the talking horse, Methodist Sunday school teachers, and the Hare Krishnas; in short, with people who haven’t a clue what they are doing. Detached from reality, driven by hubris, ignorant of history, and blinded by a Pollyanna ideology of “human rights,” they have given us a series of disasters that should have gotten them exiled to Siberia, or worse, Nevada. Because Americans don’t care about foreign policy, the flight school rejects have been left at the controls. At some point, they will create a policy failure so magnificent everyone has to notice, possibly because Chicago or Seattle is a glowing cinder.

ISIS can’t do that. But Russia can. favicon