Tag: Ukraine

“Your Longest, and Your Worst, Day”


“If you threaten us, it will be your longest, and your worst, day.” — Jim Mattis.

The Russians’ longest day occurred on February 7, when 500 (including Russian mercenaries) launched an attack on a base housing Syrian opposition forces along with US military advisers.

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Oooo…whatta title!

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the controversies around Donald Trump’s relationship with the Russian government and analyzes the trajectory of Washington’s relationship with Moscow.

Syria, Russia, and Trump


I’m not sure how much news about Aleppo is filtering through the non-stop election coverage. Although my sense was that Gary Johnson did, indeed, know what Aleppo was (and just flubbed the question through some kind of inattention), that kind of inattention is only possible if the subject just isn’t something you think about all that much.

I don’t know whether he’s typical of American voters. It’s not something the next president will be able to ignore, though, that’s for sure. Aleppo’s now a hellscape reminiscent of the Battle of Stalingrad. Even by the horrifying standards of the Syrian war, the past week’s events Aleppo represent a new level of depravity. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes killed more than 300 people, most of them civilians and many of them children; more than 250,000 civilians are trapped. They’re under attack by the Syrian military and by thousands of foreign militiamen commanded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah fighters, and Russian ground troops; and they’re under bombardment by heavy Russian and Syrian air power — the most sustained and intense bombardment since the beginning of the war. A genuine Axis of Evil, if anything ever was, has emerged from this. Most of the civilians are, according to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, being killed by Russians. I don’t know how reliable they are, so take this with the usual caveats:

Why Wars Break Out: Bucharest Declaration Edition


Claire has started two excellent discussions here and here about the causes of war. I look forward to reading her argument in subsequent posts. But I also wanted to throw out my anticipatory two cents on the subject without being constrained by commenters’ 250-word limit. In the case of The Big One – China – the causes of war, if there is to be one, will be the same structural ones identified by Thucydides 2,500 years ago. Like Athens and Sparta, this is a paradigmatic case of rising and declining powers clashing. But in the case of lesser conflicts, one can never overestimate the role of ordinary human stupidity and inability to grasp the perfectly predictable consequences of foolish actions.

Nuclear Disarmament Doesn’t Pay


And the Ukraine example proves it, writes Andreas Umland in World Affairs Journal:

Not everyone in Europe agrees with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent description of Russia’s annexation of Crimea as “criminal.” Across the EU, Kremlin lobbyists, America-haters, and those the Germans call Putinversteher (“Putin-understanders”) disseminate justifications and apologies for Russia’s absorption of the Black Sea peninsula and its hybrid war in the Donets Basin, also known as the Donbas. Such “explanations” partly succeed because most citizens of the West are, in fact, not particularly interested in Crimea, the Donbas, or Ukraine as a whole. First and foremost, EU citizens want calm. International law is not national legislation. Ukraine’s problems ultimately belong to the Ukrainians.

ISIS’ Other Victims


These monsters — we run out of words, don’t we? — have victimized so many more people this week than the maimed and murdered in France. So many desperate refugees — fleeing monsters like them — will now again drown in the sea, like they have been, or be shot at the borders, or returned to be imprisoned, starved, tortured, sold into sexual slavery, and barrel-bombed.

That so many in the US are now agitating not to accept refugees breaks my heart. You aren’t wrong about the security risk. But as someone whose entire neighborhood was just turned into an abattoir — as someone who could easily have been in any of those places — I still say: Find a way. We’re America. We’re this country, remember?

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On Monday, Vladimir Putin met briefly with Barack Obama at the United Nations because he was  hungry and wanted to eat the president’s lunch, drink his milk shake, and then gobble up other nations for dessert. Actually, we think that only happened metaphorically, but we’re not 100% sure because it’s hard to imagine President Dweebypants […]

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The Strategika Podcast: Angelo Codevilla on Our Ambiguous Russia Policy


Codevillo-Angelo-bio-photoThings always get lively when Angelo Codevilla joins us on the Strategika podcast. In this installment, Angelo looks at the history of American policy towards Russia and Ukraine and argues that we’ve been weakened by a tendency to say one thing and do another. To hear his full diagnosis of the situation, listen in to the podcast embedded below or subscribe to Strategika in iTunes or your favorite podcast player.

The Strategika Podcast: Victor Davis Hanson on Understanding Putin


victor_davis_hansonAt the Hoover Institution, we’ve just released a new set of podcasts from our Strategika series on military history and foreign policy (subscribe to Strategika on iTunes here). We begin this series — which focuses on Russia and Ukraine — with a conversation with the great Victor Davis Hanson, who, amongst his many other accolades, chairs the Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group at Hoover that produces Strategika. In this episode, Victor attempts to get inside Vladimir Putin’s mind: analyzing his motivations, his ultimate goals, and the possible means of deterring him.

What Ukraine Should Do Now


Vladimir_Putin_12024In a new piece I have up at Forbes, I lay out exactly what’s at stake for the West with Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine. In short, Putin wants nothing less than to unravel NATO. The U.S. has been decidedly unhelpful in assisting Ukraine, even though our allies there are much more reliable than the ones we’ve been arming in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. So what should Ukraine do now? My suggestion:

If I were Ukraine, I might concede Donbass and Crimea on a de facto but not de jure basis. Russia will not let them go under present circumstances. Let the Donbass (or that part that it presently holds) be a problem for Russia and the separatists to contend with; don’t let its self-appointed leaders dictate Ukrainian policy. When the time is right, the Donbass can come back into the fold. I would maintain a formidable standing army to defend the remaining Ukrainian provinces that have come to hate Putin’s Russia with a vengeance. I imagine that Odessa, Kiev, Zaporozhe and Lviv will make short change of self-appointed Muscovites when they arrive to proclaim new people’s republics. Who knows? If active hostilities ended, maybe even Barack Obama would supply defensive weapons. He’s good at shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

The upshot:

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From the front page of the Sept. 1, 1939, New York Times: Charging that Germany had been attacked, Chancellor Hitler at 5:11 o’clock this morning issued a proclamation to the army declaring that from now on force will be met with force and calling on the armed forces “to fulfill their duty to the end.” […]

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Putin’s Russia: A Cornered Bear


High energy prices have been a boon to Russia for years. Shrewdly, Vladimir Putin spent this mountain of cash solidifying his grip on power. He eliminated rivals, silenced critics, and propagated a cult of personality to create a millions-strong volunteer army of often violent devotees. In the minds of many Russians, l’etat c’est Vlad.

But with a massive oil glut from North America and OPEC, Russia’s economy is crashing. The ruble has been dropping for a week. To prop up the currency, the Russian central bank suddenly and surprisingly jacked up interest rates to no avail.

Putin Sends a Message… and Bombers


President Obama has spent most of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing trying to avoid Vladimir Putin. For his part, the Russian leader seemed amused at the cold shoulder, gamely trying to force photo ops with his American counterpart. The result was a collected, smirking Putin and an exhausted, peevish Obama. The body language of the photo above tells the story almost as well as Russia’s latest troop movements.

As Obama bumbled at APEC, Putin moved his army into Ukraine:

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Yeah, those guys. Forgot about them for a bit, didn’t we? Scotland was fun to chat about, but they aren’t the ones with the planes and the ships and the nukes. So, a few hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Canada’s Parliament, this happened: Preview Open

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An Appeal to the West from a Ukrainian Patriot


With Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko scheduled to address Congress tomorrow, we must understand that he faces both the external problem that we follow closely and an internal problem about which we hear little. The external problem is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which has led to over 3,000 deaths. The internal problem is Ukraine’s political crisis which Irina Gokieli addresses below.

The Maidan revolution was a popular uprising against Russian domination, against a corrupt political class, and against a society that lacked a rule of law. In her essay, Irina describes Ukraine’s hard road in fighting both an external and an internal conflict with a parliamentary election looming in the near future. As Mikhail Gorbachev before him in Russia, Poroshenko faces a parliament that reflects the corruption and abuse of the ruling elite that has held sway over Ukraine since independence. She issues an urgent appeal to the West to pressure Ukraine to deal with its internal problems, without which Ukraine has little hope of prevailing over Russian aggression.

A Teachable Moment for Rand Paul?


We now have on our hands Barack Obama’s War, for our latest Middle Eastern war belongs entirely to him. And someone — let it be me! — should alert Sen. Rand Paul to this teachable moment, for Obama’s War (which Rand Paul supports) was brought on by the very policy of non-intervention that he, his father, and the Cato Institute all championed. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has testified in word and deed, there is essentially no difference on foreign affairs between left-wing Democratics and arch-libertarians who sometimes vote Republican.

This war might have been avoided. Had Obama taken the trouble to arrange for a few thousand American soldiers to remain in Iraq — as he easily could have — the Iraqi’s coalition government between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd would have held, despite Maliki’s perfidy. That, in turn, would have prevented al-Qaeda’s reemergence in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Iraq. Moreover, ISIS would not be in control of great swathes of Syria had the president followed the advice of his advisors and allies and backed the secular-minded opposition to Bashar al-Assad from the start.