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The Summer of Fraying Threads
On April 23, 2021, I wrote the following:
“Ukraine has two options: accept its role as a buffer state, or be dismembered. If the US goads them into an attempt to subjugate the Donbass, Russia will slice away eastern Ukraine and assimilate it — and there is *nothing* the US can do to prevent it.”
Of course, we all know what has happened since then. And now, as the summer of 2023 slips away here on our increasingly vexed planet, I note the following salient developments:
1) The empire's proxy war in Ukraine is a lost cause, and Russia will emerge from it exceedingly stronger than when it began.
Matters have reached the point where the imperial masters will be forced to choose between a humiliating disengagement and abandonment of Ukraine to its fate — or otherwise blunder into a calamitous direct military intervention.
In recent months, many of the most influential voices in Russia have reiterated the demands made of the NATO bloc in December 2021: it must withdraw its military forces to their pre-1997 posture.
NATO presence in and military support for Ukraine must cease forthwith; Ukraine must be entirely demilitarized, and a neutral regime must be installed in whatever Ukrainian rump state the Russians choose to leave unrestored to mother Russia.
Additionally — and this demand has been explicitly stated — American missiles must immediately be removed from Poland and Romania, and NATO military presence in all the Russia-adjacent nations must be withdrawn.
Many geopolitical analysts have commented to a limited degree on Putin’s address to the world delivered even as Russian forces had commenced their “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, but few, if any, have focused their attention on the equally portentous address Putin delivered three days earlier.
In his February 21, 2022 speech, Putin meticulously recounted the relevant history of the region dating back multiple centuries, and focused specifically on the events that followed in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In addition to Putin’s history lesson, he makes particular reference to a detailed proposal Russia delivered to the United States and its NATO allies in mid-December 2021 — a proposal that effectively amounted to a “final warning”; a last-ditch effort to avoid war in Ukraine.
Consider his words carefully, and especially in light of how Russia has unswervingly adhered to the three primary war objectives Putin articulated in his February 24th speech.
Last December, we handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states.
The United States and NATO responded with general statements. There were kernels of rationality in them as well, but they concerned matters of secondary importance and it all looked like an attempt to drag the issue out and to lead the discussion astray.
We responded to this accordingly and pointed out that we were ready to follow the path of negotiations, provided, however, that all issues are considered as a package that includes Russia’s core proposals which contain three key points. First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc's military capability and infrastructure in Europe to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.
Clearly, the Russians are emboldened by both their burgeoning military strength as well as NATO's manifest military debility.
This war has achieved precisely the opposite effect envisioned by its imperious authors: it has served to strengthen Russia, and also forged an unbeatable alliance between Russia, China, and Iran.
That said, I cannot shake the haunting worry that the Empire At All Costs cult may yet succeed in persuading the powers-that-be in the Pentagon to test the myth of American military supremacy against what was so long imagined to be Russian military ineptitude.
I believe we will see the answer to that question between now and the vernal equinox in March 2024.
2) Like its new allies in Russia and Iran, China has now declared in unmistakable terms that it will no longer abide by the arbitrary "rules-based international order".
They will no longer tolerate US meddling in Taiwan, nor permit the US to dictate the geopolitical relationships of the nations in east Asia and the western Pacific.
The days of a patient and grudgingly submissive China have come to an end.
To punctuate this reality, we have recently seen the unprecedented development of joint Russia/China naval patrols in the Pacific — including off the coast of Alaska.
In other words, we have well and truly arrived at a hinge point in time.
The first global empire in human history has long-since receded from its high-water mark and is now in rapid and increasingly chaotic decline.
"I have touched the highest point of all my greatness; And, from that full meridian of my glory, I haste now to my setting ..."
Great dangers and momentous changes lie ahead — some in the relatively near future; some not far over the horizon.
Prepare accordingly ...