By Anthony Boynton
And the winner is… China!
Will Russia invade Ukraine? Probability is high, and not just because the Biden administration and the Ukrainians are afraid of it.
Putin faces a shit storm in and around Russia from Belarus to Kazakhstan the capitalist descendants of Stalinism are in trouble. Economically Russia is dependent on fossil fuel exports and Gazprom’s Nord stream 2 is still not operational. Ukraine and the pipelines that pass through it are vital to Russia’s tenuous economy, and to Russia’s hold on the post-Soviet regimes of the central Asian oil and natural gas producers like Kazakhstan. Ukraine has been inching toward joining NATO despite Russia’s annexation of Crimea and despite Russia’s cyber warfare and military threats.
On top of the “desirability” of annexing Ukraine, Putin also sees a clear opportunity. The United States is weak and declining, and it is preoccupied with the rise of China, and Donald Trump seriously weakened its military, intelligence and diplomatic apparati. Putin, no shrinking violet when it comes to armed conflict and brinkmanship, must be salivating. With more than 100,000 soldiers and all of the armaments that go with them massed on the Ukrainian border, Putin must be posed to act.
But what of the United States?
Joe Biden is in deepening shit. President Joe Manchin has blocked Biden’s agenda, the Democrats are flailing, the GOP is actively suppressing the right to vote, and the majority party looks like it could become a permanent minority party in a significantly more authoritarian and Republican party run country. What’s a poor country boy from Pennsylvania or Delaware going to do?
Biden has essentially two options in the face of a probable Russian invasion of Ukraine: the Chamberlain option and the FDR option. In the face of Hitler’s military pressure against Czechoslovakia in 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain caved and negotiated the infamous Munich Pact that sealed Europe’s path to WWII. In contrast, FDR provoked Japan to attack the United States in 1941, giving the United States the reason it needed to enter the war, and destroying the GOP in the process (Do you remember the 1938 congressional elections, and remember the Lindberg America First movement?)
Which one is he likely to choose. I would bet on the FDR option, Biden has always been a hawkish Democrat, and he would like to be remembered as a great Democratic president. He is faced with being remembered as an abject failure, the last Democrat in the oval office, if the GOP sweeps the congressional elections in November and goes on to retake the White House in 2024.
Provoking the Russians to go ahead and invade Ukraine makes a lot of political sense for Biden.
What might happen if the Russians invade?
Here, we are on very unpredictable grounds. The Russians can easily overcome the Ukrainian military and occupy the country. The subsequent guerrilla war might make Chechnya look like a Sunday school picnic.
How would the USA and the UK react? Not with nuclear weapons. The most obvious military targets are the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and Mediterranean, and the Russian naval bases in Syria and Sebastopol. They could be taken out from the air. Very likely, this overt military reaction would be combined with a massive cyber assault on Russia, possibly combined with other unconventional forms of warfare.
Europe would be forced to take sides, and it would almost certainly take the side of the Ukraine and the United States. Victor Orban et al. would be thrown for a loop, and the position of the USA in Europe would be strengthened overnight and without warning.
In the USA, the patriotism factor could turn the expected Democratic disaster this coming November into a democratic landslide against the traitorous Putin-loving Trump Republicans.
Really this is just speculation, but not unfounded speculation, and we are about to see how the chips fall.
If the chips fall more or less as outlined here, the big winner will be China. China will be able to be the peaceful option, the mediator unaligned with either of the awful militaristic aggressors. And, with the USA in the Ukrainian quagmire, China will be able to continue advancing in Africa and Latin America, not to mention is scooping up of the opportunistic academic, social democratic and Stalinist left.